Hungry Heart Cafe opens with inspiring art exhibit

Danette Dooley
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Just hours before the opening of her art exhibition on June 18, Toby Rabinowitz admits feeling both excited and nervous.

Glancing at her work hung on the walls of the Stella Burry Community Services (SBCS) Hungry Heart Cafe on Military Road in St. John's, the 38-year-old says her interest in painting goes back to her childhood.

Artwork by Toby Rabinowitz is on exhibit in the Stella Burry Community Services (SBCS) Hungry Heart Cafe in St. John's. The Wish Upon a Star exhibit runs until July 11. Framed reproductions of the print Wish Upon a Star may be purchased from the Stella Bu

Just hours before the opening of her art exhibition on June 18, Toby Rabinowitz admits feeling both excited and nervous.

Glancing at her work hung on the walls of the Stella Burry Community Services (SBCS) Hungry Heart Cafe on Military Road in St. John's, the 38-year-old says her interest in painting goes back to her childhood.

"When I was a really little kid I used to draw and I'd cover the whole ceiling and all the walls in sketches and drawings, and watercolours. And I did a couple of pieces of birds and rainbows and my mom would get them framed," she says.

Rabinowitz says she finds inspiration in the simple things in life: cats, dogs, the family garden, her dad sitting in a chair.

"I'd play games with myself when I was little," she says. "I'd put a whole bunch of things in a hat and I'd pull out a couple of things and work with them to create a piece."

Rabinowitz was the 2007 recipient of a commission awarded by the Stella Burry Foundation.

Wish Upon a Star helps celebrate the opening of the Hungry Heart Cafe and the mission of the work of the Stella Burry Foundation.

According to a promotional brochure, the foundation was established three years ago to support the work of SBCS - a social services agency providing safe, affordable housing, educational supports, and employment and counseling services to some of the community's most disadvantaged residents.

The work in her current exhibition, Wish Upon a Star, is the result of that commission.

The lead piece is a scenic painting of stars, trees, water, and houses of different colours, shapes and sizes carved in hills and dotting the shoreline. It speaks to this province's landscape and represents areas found in both urban and rural Newfoundland.

The exhibition includes acrylic on canvas, wood and masonite, mixed media and watercolours. All highlight the artist's vivid imagination.

Using blue, pink, red, green, gold, yellow, orange and a blend of other acrylics, Rabinowitz creates puffins, horses, flowers and a variety of other images that make her artwork great additions to any room in the home or office. Her work is also on display at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's.

Rabinowitz holds a diploma in visual arts from Western Community College as well as a diploma in fibre arts from Avalon Community College.

She continues to hone her craft by studying with Valerie Hodder at the Waterford Hospital Art Program.

She's delighted to be represented by the Leyton Gallery of Fine Arts.

"We had a show together awhile ago. She's very nice to do that, very thoughtful," she says of gallery owner Bonnie Leyton.

Rabinowitz's work was also highlighted in a national juried show in Montreal. The exhibition entitled MIND SCAPES was sponsored by the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Rabinowitz says she's very grateful to her parents for being there for her over the years.

"They tried a lot of things with me. They put me in piano and in art. They had me working out at the gym and tried me in swimming, going to camp, doing crafts. They gave me a lot of options. But, when I finally finished high school, this is the one I tried and it worked," she says. "And my brothers, they load up the truck and help me set up my exhibitions. I'm really glad for all their help, too," she says.

Samples of Rabinowitz's work can be seen at Toby's Workshop - a studio open to the public that's housed at the family home and organic farm in Portugal Cove.

danette@nl.rogers.com

Organizations: Western Community College, Avalon Community College, Stella Burry Community Services Stella Burry Foundation Health Sciences Centre Fine Arts Canadian Mental Health Association

Geographic location: St. John's, Military Road, Newfoundland Montreal Portugal Cove

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