TOAF Memories: Janna Robins Walters & Doug MacBean
March 9, 2021
To celebrate our 60th Anniversary this year, we are collecting stories and memories from past and present TOAF participants.
Read about one artist's pivotal experience at her first TOAF in 1989 and how it changed her life forever. Learn about another artist who encountered a stranger in the '70s who borrowed one of his paintings and how that experience led to Queen Elizabeth II.
Janna, who has exhibited at TOAF a few times since the late ‘80s, shares photo documentation of when she first started exhibiting at TOAF.
Janna also shares the pivotal moment in her life that happened at the Fair…
TOAF has been a huge part of my life, professionally and personally. It’s where I first exhibited over 30 years ago, where I met the love of my life and where I was able to re-emerge and reinvent as an artist after a much-too-long hiatus. I am so honoured to be a part of the TOAF community and encourage all artists of all ages and stages to come out and support each other.
Images courtesy of Janna Robins Walters, 1989
Image: Janna Robins Walters and family, 30 years later at TOAF 2019
1977 was the first year I had ever applied for such a large public event. I was very apprehensive about my level of skill up against some of Toronto’s best. I did my own matting and framing of all my work. Just the packaging and unpacking and repacking at the end of day makes one get organized in short order.
It turned out to be fun and a great learning experience. I made several new friends and was exposed to some truly talented artists. I also learned to bring sunscreen, water and snacks for such events!
A chap approached me on the last afternoon and asked me if I wouldn’t mind him borrowing one of my snow scenes to send to an associate in Ottawa. I found that surprising and befuddling. I recall sitting on pins and needles until I heard back from him by telephone the following week. He had driven to Gatineau with my watercolour and showed it to the director of what is now called the Canadian Museum of History. I was floored at the prospect he was offering to me.
The deal was to produce two more paintings of similar, simple snow scenes, but much larger. They would be used to reproduce posters for the museum in Gatineau. They were just about to open a new wing. They accepted the two final works which were enormous to my usual sizes. 36 inches across and about 20 inches tall. I threw 3 out because they really sucked, but finally came up with what I have included on the printed poster.
It was my recollection that Queen Elizabeth visited the opening ceremonies and therefore must have gazed upon it in her passing. One of my framed originals hung at the entrance to the Gallery and the other, at the exit. That was a big feather in my artistic hat and I am sure helped my career along the way.
I was accepted into the Outdoor Exhibition again in 1990 and 1991. By then, I had switched over to acrylic and oil painting. Now, living in Hamilton Ontario I use nothing but oil paints. I have been blessed with the art community here and connected with new friends and some recognition.