Quinn’s of Tweed welcomes new owners. Interview by Orbi Montblanc.
Who are you guys?
We are Paul Kite and Paula Fitzpatrick.
Elevator bio: Paul Kite
I was born and raised in Toronto, moving to Ottawa in the early eighties and then spent several years in England. Most recently I was working in software design and development in the United States.
Elevator bio: Paula Fitzpatrick
I hail from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia and lived in many Canadian cities due to a long career in the retail world that is prone to transfers. My last position was in Calgary where my daughter also lives.
How did you end up in Tweed and owners of Quinn’s of Tweed?
Interesting story. The long version is quite funny but the telling requires several glasses of wine. It was a series of unforeseen events and a little luck. We love road trips and have been visiting Tweed over the past four years on weekends and during these visits we became regular visitors to the art gallery. In time we got to know Bev Caswell and Paul Dederer and of course became one of their clientele. In March this year my assignment with the company that I was working for in the United States came to an end. Not knowing what to do right away, we decided to take some time off and travelled both abroad and throughout Canada. In April, still undecided about the future we were on our way back to Toronto and again stayed overnight in Tweed.
Heading into town the next morning to have breakfast, we decided to drop in at the art gallery before leaving. Warmly greeted by Bev, as ever, with the usual pleasantries exchanged and informing her of our wandering status she mentioned to us that the Gallery was for sale! Paul Dederer was in the gallery and very briefly its sale was discussed. All the way to Toronto we talked excitedly about the opportunity of owning and running an art gallery. We both love art, Bev would stay on, a very important consideration, as although we were not experienced art dealers, we both have a wealth of retail and business experience upon which to draw. And the more we talked the more excited we became. Within a few short weeks we had agreed with Paul Dederer to purchase his business and the glorious building known as Quinn’s of Tweed. Setting October 1 as the transfer date, we then started making plans to relocate.
What plans do you have for the gallery?
Tons! But first we want to settle in to the business and the town. We want to absorb what it means to run an art gallery from the simple tasks of opening and closing, to the selection of artists and the presentation of their works. For certain we do want to continue the tradition and the momentum that Paul and Bev have developed over the past nearly eight years. This means supporting local and regional artists with a variety of styles and mediums.
Going forward we envision adding new artists and since October have selected three. Historical works, especially those of artists from the region like Manly Macdonald will be featured. Events with artists, both contemporary and historical, speakers, and fun evenings are being planned, plus the many ideas that we come up with daily! We have some wonderful artists with extraordinary works that range in price from several hundred dollars to several thousands and we would like to make our art gallery accessible for all.
Expanding our customer base to a younger demographic will mean focusing on some other forms of art, such as graphic, poster and digital art. Several artists are lined up that we will curate over the winter period to be ready for spring. And of course we are looking at changing the web site and broadening our social media reach. Hopefully people will enjoy visiting our website as much as they do our gallery and will explore the resources and information for pure enjoyment, to learn more about our artists and their works. Our framing services will be developed befitting Bev’s wealth of experience and excellent personal service that sets her and the gallery apart.
Great. You sound very excited and passionate. But what about attracting people to your gallery? And Tweed?
Good questions! And the answers will evolve over time as we learn more about the area and the people who visit us and their motivations. We have met some of the local business people, politicians, and the resident historians, yes there are two that we know of so far. Of course this is cottage country but there are many events all year long. Participation in these events will bring people in to the gallery. For example there is an Elvis weekend. We are researching Elvis art (and not just the velvet versions!) and our plan is to have some good examples to display and promote.
As we learn more about the town, especially the role that “Quinn’s of Tweed” has played, we hope to better promote Tweed as a destination. Quinn’s is a beautiful old building, virtually unchanged from 1880. We also plan to link our gallery with as many tourism sites and initiatives, especially in the near urban areas such as Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston and Belleville. And naturally we want to attract our local residents. This is very important not just for this business but for making Tweed a desirable destination for visitors from such places. Hence our hopes to make our art accessible for all, with as great a variety of local art works as possible. There are wonderful artists in the Tweed area and we want to include them in our gallery. People are welcome people to drop in, enjoy the art, the building and us. We love meeting old friends and making new ones. The coffee maker is always on!