Leemen International is relatively new to East York — a unique mix of entrepreneurship and support for local artists. Leemen opened its new location on Woodbine Avenue in early December; it’s part of a Canada-wide chain selling nautical, cottage and home décor and giftware.
Owners Joyce McCready and Jeanie McLaughlin bought the 25 year-old company in 2011.
“Because we just moved here at the beginning of December, we want to be a part of the community. We want to help improve the community and we believe in supporting local businesses, local artists and that’s what we actually want to do,” McCready said.
So this spring, they invited East York artist Renata Dusk to showcase her art in the first exhibition at Leemen International. It was called The Colour of My Soul.
Dusk, originally from Poland, is a full-time secondary school physical education teacher. She started painting four years ago as a hobby.
“I was invited by those ladies because I don’t have my own art studio, and I jumped at the possibility because artists are looking for places, and places are very expensive,” Dusk said of her April 14 exhibition. “So it was a beautiful space first of all and I was hoping my art was going to complement their stuff in here.”
Dusk describes her art as abstract. She says her favorite pieces are of trees with Toronto in the background.
“It’s the colour of my soul, what I see, what I feel. Sometimes I don’t even know what I am painting, especially with abstract. I allow the paint to tell me the story instead of me creating a story; the paint does it. And sometimes I just let it be,” Dusk said.
The owners at Leemen International plan more art exhibits and showcases at their Woodbine location. They will be selling Dusk’s art, and new art from other local artists, at their store.