by Treva McNally
The Eptek Art and Culture Centre in Summerside is part of a complex which includes the beautiful Jubilee Theatre and the P.E.I. Sports Hall of Fame. Approaching the Eptek entrance, the first thing you see are beautiful stained glass pictures hanging in the windows. Created by Muriel Lanque, they were donated to the Centre in her memory in 1994 and this donation is symbolic of Eptek Centre’s connection with the citizens of Summerside.
Nearly every display in the facility reflects its Summerside location. The foyer is hung with a sixty year retrospective of paintings by Summerside artist Georgie Read Barton. The corridor adjoining the Centre to the Jubilee Theatre has a permanent display of the history of Summerside, serving as a reminder that it was once the world capital of the fox industry, the largest exporter of potatoes in the province, and the home of the world famous Malpeque oysters. In February, Eptek hosted a temporary exhibition featuring a selection of photographs assembled by parishioners of St. Paul’s Church for its 150th anniversary.
The main exhibit this winter is Isle of Contentment, a beautifully mounted exhibit highlighting the story of the Scots who are the ancestors of more than 50 % of Islanders. Curator Boyd Beck used dark-stained hinged pine doors as a backdrop for information panels and for the artifacts which include a millstone brought to the Island by a Lord Selkirk settler. A painting of the MacDonald Lassie is prominently displayed alongside a portrait of the founder of MacDonald Tobacco, William Christopher MacDonald, whose grandfather led the first large emigration of Catholic Highlanders to P.E.I. Island Tartan is used generously throughout the display which will become a traveling exhibit after it leaves Eptek near the end of March.
The next exhibit, from March 25 until April 21, will feature the Summerside Art Club and the Ladyslipper Rug Hookers. Following that, the Centre will host the Arts Acadie to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Acadians, featuring visual arts and crafts from the permanent collection of Museum and Heritage P.E.I. as well as art work and hand crafted pieces from local contemporary Acadian artists and artisans.
The Eptek Centre receives strong support from the Friends of Eptek. For nearly twenty years, they have been running a weekly lunchtime film series which regularly attracts more that 75 people. The Friends have also raised enough money to buy the Centre a grand piano which has allowed Royal Conservatory of Toronto examiners to test Summerside area music students in their own community.
The staff of this little jewel on the waterfront is justifiably proud of its ability to support both the arts and the community. Eptek Art and Culture Centre is open daily in the summer and is closed Saturday and Monday in the winter.