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No Gimmicks at Front Street Perk showcase opening

With files from Katie Perry, QNet News.

By Demii Niles  [1]

BELLEVILLE –  These artists paint together. They fight their battles together. And, this year, they are holding their first art exhibition together in Belleville this month.

Christopher Bennett (a.k.a. SeRnA), Brad Macmillan (a.k.a. Sage), Jeremy Bertrand (a.k.a. Jerm IX), and Joshua Vhrooman (a.k.a. Saeb) are four artists showcasing their varied pieces until January 1, 2018. The art styles range from landscapes, coffee-stained paintings, graffiti pieces and merchandise.

Merchandise being sold by SeRnA and Jerm 1X. Photo by Demii Niles.

On Nov 30, the No Gimmicks Art show opened at a new coffee shop called Front St. Perk [2] in downtown Belleville from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Front St. Perk owner John Doherty said the idea for the show came out of a conversation.

“They approached me one day and said I had a perfect blank canvased wall and wanted to coordinate that with ladies night in the downtown core, it’s a win-win,” he said.

Bennett, a local artist for over 25 years, said he does a variety of different types of art from custom interior murals, paintings on canvas and window paintings.

Bennett was shy and learned at a young age that his best friend was his inner artistic child.

“I only got accepted through my artistic talents,” Bennett said.

Macmillan is another local artist who has travelled across Canada. He began showcasing his art in 2000, after starting out as a graffiti artist in 1993. Macmillan created pieces specifically using coffee for the art show.

Coffee Painting by Brad Macmillan (Sage). Photo by Demii Niles.

“The whole culture of coffee is just really interesting. It’s been used for thousands of years. I thought it would be interesting as a medium to express these images,” said Macmillan.

He went to the fine art Georgian College program for four years. At that time, he would keep his portrait work and his graffiti work separate until one of his professors noticed. Then, he learned how to combine the two to make unique pieces of art. Macmillan painted several pieces of coffee stained art at the same time.

“I like painting that way because it gives you a uniformed feel across your body of work,” Macmillan said.

Bertrand is a Peterborough-based artist who started street art and graffiti in Vancouver in the mid-2000. He is a poet, urban explorer, photographer and a street artist.

“It’s therapy for me honestly. I use to have addiction issues and suffer from mental health issues,” he said.

He said art fuels him, keeping him motivated and helps him socialize and relate to others. Bertrand is popular for his stencil quotes and graffiti.

“In society, we are taught not to express ourselves anymore. We are taught to really look a certain way, act like everyone else, listen to whatever everyone else is listening to. The thing that we got lost in is that we are not real anymore. That’s the difference here. I’m real and I’m saying what I feel and I’m standing up, behind it,” said Bertrand

The four artists had known each other prior to the art show and said that painting had brought them together. Bennett said they became aware of each other from being involved in the art and graffiti community.

Belleville resident Jason Morgan, 26, attended the opening and purchased a piece.

“What I like about art is that it speaks to you. Two people can look at the same picture and you have a different perspective of it based on who you are. No two people will feel or see the same thing in one picture,” he said.

Stencil piece created by Jeremy Bertrand (Jerm IX). Photo by Demii Niles.

The title of the show, No Gimmicks, means that they don’t have any gimmicks and rely solely on raw talent.

“Whether you want fine art, illustration, graffiti art or abstract we try to rely on the artwork so there are no gimmicks involved,” said Bennett. “Usually you rely on something to draw attention, puppets or even a slogan. You are getting the raw real deal here.”

The four artists are hoping to do the art show annually if they can. The artists are working with the local coffee shop to help give other artists opportunities to do a show after this.

“We are trying to break the ground so other artists can hopefully get involved, inspired and maybe do a different type of show,” said Bennett.