I must confess to being a bit of a sucker for an art supply store. When I was a kid, growing up in Peterborough, I wasn't aware of any art supply stores. In those days, you picked up "art supplies" at Towers on Lansdowne Street. They were hardly art supplies as you might think of them, but to me, being 10 years old, I guess they fit the bill. Construction paper, scissors, bottles of glue with the red rubber squishy top—they were all readily available.
When I left Peterborough to go to art school in Toronto, that is when I discovered what a real art supply store could be. While the college where I went to school had some art supplies, they had nothing on Curry's, downtown on Yonge Street in Toronto. Walls of tactile papers, markers, paints and pencils, all taunting money from my pocket. In the years that followed, I found stores like Gwartzman's on Spadina and Aboveground Art Supplies that seemed to have a impossibly comprehensive selection.
These days, here in Peterborough, we are pretty lucky. Things have changed. We have more than department stores now as a resource when it comes to art supplies. If I suddenly run out of Yellow Ochre oil paint, lino-block or those nice small bottles of black india ink, I’ve got choices. Sure, I could go to Michael's on Lansdowne—they've pretty much got anything you might be looking for. But the ambiance is not really in keeping with the artsy feel I’d become used to. I like to go where like minds meet.
The Blue Tomato Art Shop on Hunter Street has art supplies. They also have gallery space, where they show and sell local art. Finding art treasures alongside lino-block and a lovely selection of Japanese paper makes for a nice experience. There is a gallery upstairs, too, which pretty much demands a visit. Local art is a top priority at the Blue Tomato.
Victory Art Supply, located in the Cox Terrace on Rubidge Street, has most anything you will need, sans the gallery space of the Blue Tomato. Here you will find a compact space, filled with everything from ready stretched canvases to fine pencils, and a wide selection of watercolour papers and frames. While the space is not large, there is still a lot of poking around to be had, which is all part of the fun.
If I were a young artist growing up in Peterborough, the resources are aplenty for creating and experiencing visual art. Make it.
—Jeffrey Macklin, PtboCanada contributor