By Mike Anderson

The Georgina Centre for Arts & Culture (GCAC) launched its first major exhibition of the year on January 20, with an eclectic drawing and sculpture show that appeals to both art and movie lovers.

The Drawing & Sculpture Show, from January 20 to March 3, features the work of Olexander Wlasenko, who creates large-scale charcoal drawings of scenes from critically acclaimed European films, mainly from the 50s and 60s — a period often described as film noir.

Amazingly, Wlasenko uses just his index finger to draw the scenes in charcoal, which sometimes takes hundreds of hours to complete.

Wlasenko says his fascination with film came from his father, who worked as an itinerant projectionist, screening Ukrainian-language films to Ukrainian communities across North America.

While Wlasenko started drawing scenes from Ukrainian films, he later discovered “art house” cinema from Italy, France and Sweden.

Wlasenko says he was inspired by directors like Federico Fellini (La dolce vita, 1960), Bernardo Bertolucci (Prima della rivoluzione, 1964) and Jean-Luc Godard (Vivre sa vie, 1962).

“I am interested in the “moment” when the dramatic structure of the movie plot changes in an instant,” he said.

The show includes sculptures from the GCAC’s permanent collection and Uxbridge artist Mary Philpott, whose ravens are particularly striking.

Charlotte with Olex
Paragina: L’Avventura, 1960. Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Mary Philpott’s Raven in front of Colosseum. La commare secca, 1962

Charlotte Hale, GCAC’s curator, says she wants to continue to mount stimulating and thought-provoking exhibitions like Wlasenko’s work.

“We now feel settled in our roles and getting to know people in the community more, and now we’re ready to fulfill the potential of this gallery,” Hale said.

“My role is to provide anyone that comes in the gallery with a vibrant, energetic, aha moment. So they are inspired and energized. A conversation happens, and they leave feeling invigorated and learning something.”

While Hale says GCAC will continue to showcase local artists, she also wants to attract artists from York, Durham and Simcoe.

“What I’m trying to do for 2024 is to have a balance of exhibitions that provide opportunities for regional artists to participate, and bring work here that visitors to the gallery would not normally see here.”

“Exposing everybody to Olexander Wlasenko is a perfect example. His work hasn’t been seen in this area. So a lot of people are going to benefit from seeing that.”

GCAC’s next exhibition, from March 7 to April 14, is called Letters to the Earth: Between Despair and Hope, which provides a stimulating conversation about the environmental crisis and will be guest-curated by Carmel Brennan.

“It’s a gorgeous exhibition, and we will have multiple events going on. There will be a concert and theatrical performances,” Hale said.

“We will also have school children writing their letters to the earth.”

Hale says the late spring and early summer will also be busy at the gallery.

On April 20, GCAC will host its first annual silent and live art auction at the Link. Then, GCAC will participate in the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival in May and, in June, will see another Juried Art Show.

In the meantime, Hale is excited about GCAC’s upcoming winter workshops, including Acrylic and Encaustic Painting, Memoir Writing, Printmaking and Fundamental Drawing.

“Workshops will start soon, and they’re filling up nicely. They’ll be structured over six weeks at the introductory level, and then we’ll follow up with an intermediate level in the spring. And, we also have some weekend workshops planned,” Hale said.

GCAC has also scheduled a March Break Art Camp for kids aged 7 to 11; it runs from March 11 to 15.

Hale is hopeful this year’s lineup of exhibitions, events and workshops will continue to grow the gallery’s profile and attract more visitors, including many people from out of town.

“We’re finding that people coming to the gallery are saying they haven’t been here in a while, or they’re coming back and bringing their friends. That, to me, is the best indication that people are having a great experience in our community gallery,” she said.

To learn more about GCAC’s exhibitions, events and programming, visit