Craig Alexander spent 25 years as a film and TV casting director, based in Toronto and Manhattan, before leaving New York just after 9/11. He bought property in Prince Edward County, and now Wellington is the town where he “wants to be a part of it.” He is still very much in the talent business, but, here in The County, he’s working with artists. Craig recently opened the Sybil Frank Gallery on Main Street, Wellington. He named it for his grandmothers and aims to bring contemporary modern art from far and wide to Wellington to share. Here’s his story.
I’m not an artist, I am the gallery Curator, and because of that, I now have the opportunity to show wonderful works of art. I am loving it!!! At first I was going to name the space, The Articulate Gallery, and show mostly Contemporary Modern art, but then I thought about those that aren’t drawn to that type of artwork, and I really wanted to share the different styles of art that I enjoy with everyone, so I named the space, the Sybil Frank Gallery after my two Grandmothers who were both stylish but different at the same time. I am hoping to make Sybil Frank a place where you can find Contemporary Modern art, but also find beautiful landscapes, florals and affordable sculptures. Diverse and beautiful. Not unlike Sybil and Frank (her real name was Francis).
My heart is always in The County, but I go back and forth to Toronto because I have a talent agency in the city. I go to galleries in The County all the time, and when I go cycle trekking, I stop into every gallery I find. I always thought it would be cool to own one. There are several galleries here that feature local artists, so I thought I’d do something different and bring in artists I’ve met and admired from all over – from San Francisco to France. I’ve been lucky to have met some wonderful artists and expose myself to new and exciting works of art, and I wanted to share that
Andrew Stelmack was first on my list. I represent him as an actor and he’s a terrific artist, too. He introduced me to Robert Slivchak and Lori Klassen. I’ve known my metal sculptor, Jean Pierre Schoss a long time. I do interior design, too, and his work is phenomenal, just magical. So, when I started this, it was a no brainer to bring them all in.
Now, the gentleman who does my glass is Pierre Bouchard and he and his wife, who is a brilliant potter, have actually just moved to The County. I love his creations, he’s fabulous. So the gallery is kind of morphing and developing. Just the other day, a number of artists came in to show me their portfolios, so word is out there that we have a cool little eclectic gallery here.
It’s early days for me, but I plan to change the shows a lot during the year. I already have repeat customers coming back from Ottawa and other places, and they’re going to want to see different pieces. Our current show features a summer theme, including a contemporary take on bicycles, summer florals, country landscapes and lighthouses. I enjoy themes, and I plan to change them with the changing seasons.
How did I come to The County? I had visited a friend who lives at Massassauga Point and we went for lunch in Wellington, at what was then the Devonshire Inn, now the Drake Devonshire, but this was years ago. I was sitting there thinking how beautiful it was, and there was a cottage just across the street and I said ‘If that ever comes up for sale I’ll buy it.’ Well it did, and I did. There were two cottages on the property in need of a facelift, so I bulldozed them and rebuilt them. But in reality I didn’t need two cottages, so I sold them and bought a cool old Victorian house a block away, which I share with my sister and brother in-law. I live here fulltime, and they visit as often as possible.
I lived in Manhattan for eight years. I left after 9/11 and moved to The County. When first I came here, I knew this is where I wanted to be. Not as many people knew about The County in those days, not like now.
When I moved here, I took up cycling again, I’m in love with it. I’ve done up to 90 miles in a day. I’m addicted. The roads are great. Even when it’s busy in town, there’s not much traffic on the side roads. Your biggest worry is maybe a dog chasing your heels.
So at Sybil Frank I am showing artists who are my friends, and new people I hear about. Robert Slivchak’s thing is to reuse, remodel and refresh. He even uses recycled latex, acrylic paints, old sail canvases, and even old sofas that have been discarded on the street, strips them, and refashions the wood frames for his own frames.
Lori Klassen, can do everything, beautiful portraiture and flowers. I love her work. This gallery is very personal for me, as my sister designed the logo and I named it after my grandmothers because they were very important influence in my life.
I have paintings of County lighthouses that are selling well. They were done by Michelle Rose who doesn’t live in the County. I sent her photos of the Wellington Lighthouse, Wellington beach and the Sandbanks and she painted them. Then she came here with her own camera, took photographs of beautiful barns and The County Landscapes, and now she is going to paint that, and is now talking about moving here as well.
Am I happy? Are you kidding? This is an amazing place, and great for families. I’ve noticed more families moving here lately in Wellington. All the new shops opening just in this one block are fantastic. The cycle shop Ideal Bike, a new ice cream place Nice Ice Baby, a yoga studio, Megan Marie Gates Yoga + Sound Healing, and of course Enid Grace with her food cart, Passport FC. I say her food is some of the best in The County! It’s a great place and it’s a happy place.
And my gallery? Well I love it. I’m always open to feedback, and always ask people who visit the gallery what they think.
I really didn’t want the gallery to be cluttered, so I am keeping the space simple and clean lined with a limited number of paintings and displays.
All the artwork that I do carry can be found on my website under each artist.
Initially, I was worried it would be too austere, but people are loving it. If you haven’t been to visit me yet, please do so. You can also visit www.sybilfrankgallery.com for more information.”
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