Artist Raymond Dutrisac explains to viewers how he completed his painting.

Scarborough Arts hosts Holiday Dreams

Local artists debut their work and talent at Holiday Dreams Art Exhibition

Scarborough Arts played host to an exhibition Holiday Dreams on Dec. 12 at its main location at 1859 Kingston Rd.

The exhibition was held to showcase the work of local artists, letting them focus on their dreams and aspirations during the holiday season.

Artists began to display their work around 6 p.m. with festivities lasting until 8 p.m.

Tim Walley, executive director of Scarborough Arts, has been with the nonprofit organization for six years.

“We work with all ages and all disciplines with a community focus,” Whalley said.

The Scarborough Arts organization was established in 1978 and has been running for 35 years. The organization works in schools, community centers and holds festivals during the summer.

“With our arts creative space, people are able to have fun, they feel comfortable, they feel welcome and they feel confident because they have a chance to express themselves,” Whalley said.

One of the artists, A.J. Estridge, has been performing musically at his father’s church since the age of 3. He started to produce his own music at 17.

“It’s how I express myself; personal things just end up coming out in the music itself not only in the lyrics,” Estridge said.

Estridge sings, raps and plays the guitar under the stage name Aaron Ridge.

“It’s something that I intend to do long term; I wouldn’t call it a pastime or a hobby,” says Estridge.

Estridge’s family was not always supportive of his musical career.  According to Estridge, he was raised to believe that artists do not amount to anything in life.

“Anytime you are a musician of any caliber, people will tell you that being an artist isn’t practical, especially with parents,” says Estridge. “But that’s the entire part of the process and it’s a part of your journey.”

Estridge said exhibits, such as Holiday Dreams, are important for artists breaking into the scene.

“Exhibits like this are extremely important for the community. In order for any kind of art to become a scene, people have to know that it exists. The more people who get together in situations like this, the better it is,” Estridge says.

Members of Scarborough Arts are artists and residents in the Scarborough area. Estridge is one of many youth who is a part of the East Program, which allows artists between the ages of 15 to 29 to debut their work and talent.

“I felt like when I was seeing A.J. perform, I was seeing a future famous musician perform,” Whalley said.

Another exhibitor at the show, Marita Engel, is produces oil pastel paintings.

“I started this kind of art because I was a war child; I did not have any toys and I did not have anything but a pencil and paper. I began drawing when I was a very young child,” Engel said.

Engel discovered her talent for art after World War II. She was enrolled in a prestige art school in Austria and was the youngest of her class.

“Art is very important; it creates a different kind of mind and if you start doing art as young person, I think that your mind expands; you become different and you see the world in different ways too,” Engel said.

Engel has produced and sold several portraits. One of her produest  accomplishments was when she made oil paintings for her church.

“My nature is more spiritual and through my spiritual being, I was able to create beautiful paintings,” Engel says. “As an artist when I even look at nature, I see things that normally no one would see and that is because you train your eyes to see the right thing.”

Throughout the evening, local residents and members of Scarborough Arts had the chance to enjoy light refreshments and appetizers, as they watched performances by musicians and poets. Arts and crafts such as jewelry were displayed on separate tables for viewers to purchase.