A chance stop at the new Christina Street Community Market prompted Sarnia painter Jorge de Guzman to get a new exhibit of his work together.
De Guzman hasn’t mounted a local show since 2014 but he knew it was time when he enjoyed a bite to eat at the downtown market and saw a mezzanine perfect for displaying art.
“I saw those huge walls and the shiny wooden floors and realized it’s a very good art space. Then I went home and realized I have done more than 50 paintings in the last year.”
The Christina Street Community Market near Cromwell offers food, bakery goods, crafts, home accessories and more on its main floor. The second floor has the mezzanine that de Guzman’s work will soon fill for the month of November.
Sarnians know de Guzman for many things: A martial arts instructor, graphic designer, humanitarian and leader within the Filipino community.
Not as many know he has painted for most of his life. He was never formally trained but earned a degree in philosophy and became self-taught in graphic design, sign making and painting.
“If you have to put bread on the table you quickly learn what to do,” he said with a smile.
De Guzman, 66, was born and raised in the Philippines where he worked as a journalist.
“I did political analysis at a time of dictatorship and was asked to leave the country,” he said. “The government called me a communist.”
He arrived in Sarnia with the promise of a graphic design position, but, when it didn’t materialize, de Guzman took a series of odd jobs. Eventually he landed a job at Haines Printing.
Meanwhile, he painted to relax, taking commissions, doing wall murals – like one in Sarnia’s Strangway Centre – and participating in several shows.
These days he’s retired and painting has become a bigger part of his life. This year, he’s been refining what he describes as a “stained glass” style that separates colour with black magic marker.
“I’m fascinated with this look,” he said. “I’ve been working almost every day on it.”
His small home studio overlooks a garden, which is a place that inspires painting, said de Guzman.
Apart from flora and fauna, he incorporates brightly coloured butterflies into many works. Local landmarks such as bridges, old barns and train stations often inspire de Guzman as well.
His show, called Colours, will also feature paintings he’s been commissioned to do for a high school text book in the Philippines.
The paintings depict mythological stories his father told him as a child. The many ogres, fairies and gnomes in those works also reflect the look of stained glass. While most paintings will be for sale, the commissioned mythology work is for show only.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Colours, art exhibit by Sarnia painter Jorge de Guzman.
WHEN: Opens First Friday Nov. 3, 5 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.; Nov. 4, 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Rest of month: Wednesdays and Thursdays 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Fridays 10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Saturdays 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Sundays 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
WHERE: Mezzanine floor of the Christina Street Community Market. 140 Christina St. North.