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Artistic asylum: local artist Deb Wiles builds international retreat

September 30th, 2011 · 1 Comment

By Jonathan Lee

Courtesy Deb Wiles

Annex painter and art instructor Deb Wiles had been looking at photos of a lake out in rural Nova Scotia, taken by her friend Tim Young, when she drew in her breath in response to the beauty in front of her.

From that moment, the Trident International Artists’ Retreat in Nova Scotia was born.

Wiles will offer week-long training at the retreat for any novices who sign up, as well as space for established artists. It will also act as a summer camp for students at her Annex-based arts school, Marks of Perception (69 Olive Ave.).

While Wiles remains tight lipped about the exact whereabouts of the retreat, it is a small cabin surrounded by several bucolic acres of land. There is lots of forest space and it sits by a lake.

“We spend most of our lives playing roles, being for others, the retreat is a place to just be who you are, for yourself,” she said.

The Trident International Artists’ Retreat is still a budding idea. Construction began in early August. Electricity is up and so is the plumbing, but there are still gas tanks to be replaced, a deck to be designed and built, and a multitude of other tasks.  “I feel like I’m nurturing the growth of the project.” Wiles said.

Courtesy Deb Wiles.

There is still a lot of growing to do. Wiles is looking to  raise $20,000 to aid in the construction, so she’s been drumming up support and fundraising where she can.

One fundraising method is through something Wiles calls “clowning.” Those who request to be clowned can email Wiles a photo of themselves and, for a fee of $50, she will doll it up and send it back to you—clown style.

Wiles has clowned many people, including Gleaner alum Nadja Sayej, who now writes for the New York Times and “leads the new wave of art criticism” as the host and producer of the online show ArtStars*.

“It’s true, Deb clowned me,” wrote Sayej from Berlin. “Far more strange than a caricature artist, she took a photo of me, revved it up in her Willy Wonka technicolor palette and splashed her signature in the bottom corner. Funny, rude and explosive, I couldn’t believe my eyes. She goes where most of would never dare to go in terms of portraits—so many people are afraid to insult, to ridicule, to even have fun with a person’s features. Not Deb. She left me laughing. On the floor.”

To contact Wiles about the retreat or to get “clowned,” visit Wiles’ blog.

Tags: Annex · Arts · People · General

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 John Deluca-Howard // Aug 30, 2012 at 5:31 am

    Wow, this place looks fantastic. You could really get your head on straight, and create something here.