A golden sunset; vivid abstracts; tranquil landscapes; brilliant sparkling spiders; colourful beaded purse decorations: these are just some of Ursula McDermid’s creations.

“Ursula is such a force of nature.” declares Jenifer Sim, Marketing Director of the Milton Mall. “Her passion for the Fine Arts Society of Milton as a group, and for the individual members, shines through in every conversation I have had with her. Since becoming involved with FASM at the Mall, she brought the Pan Am and the Hospital mural projects from conception to completion, both while going about the daily business of organizing exhibits and workshops. When faced with a move at the mall, Ursula somehow magically musters her troops and gets things done ahead of time and with style. She is a gift both to FASM and to Milton Mall.”

Artist Tina Newlove was the original creator of the design for the gigantic 33ft x 8ft mural, which was lovingly painted by FASM artists in an empty store in the Mall and now hangs proudly in the newly renovated Milton District Hospital foyer. She recalls how: “working with Ursula I always look forward to her smile, sense of humour and determination to get things done. Ursula has been instrumental in FASM being a part of so many important community initiatives such as the Youth Mentorship Program, the Milton District Hospital Mural and the Pan-Am Mural at the Velodrome”

The FASM website (fasm.ca) describes the mural in the Velodrome: ‘The Fine Arts Society of Milton and 80 of its visual artists presented the Velodrome Mural to the Town of Milton on April 25, 2015. The mural represents the blend of sports and arts in a depiction of the landscape of Milton featuring a cyclist. The cyclist, the velodrome track, and the flags embody the spirit of the cycling events of the Pan Am and ParaPan Am Games of 2015, held in Milton, and the promise and determination of the athletes who use the Mattamy National Cycling Centre for years to come.

FASM sculptor Nancy Cuttle hails Ursula’s drive and enthusiasm for cultivating new projects which bring the Arts to our community: “Her inspirations are so well thought out and because we work so well as a team; our members have no trouble jumping on board.” Long-time Milton resident Dave Haringa, whose outstanding photographic murals line many of the walls in Milton District Hospital, asserts: “From the moment I joined FASM as a new artist Ursula has made me feel very welcome. She has been and continues to be supportive and encouraging.”

Ursula worked for almost 25 years in the public sector. She has successfully led the Fine Arts Society of Milton as President for the past 4 years. She retired from this post in May 2018. Many artists in the group believe that she is the best President FASM has ever had, so no one feels worthy enough to take her place. “Without a leader, FASM may flounder.” worries Nancy Cuttle and several FASM members. Time will tell whether the group of creatively vibrant artists will be able to continue to flourish without a president.

Escarpment Artist and FASM member Diana Tuszynski observes that “Ursula’s dedicated leadership has brought FASM to the next level within the Milton community. Her creative ideas help inspire members to push through their comfort zone and engage in a bigger vision.” “While President,” says Ursula, “my greatest satisfaction has been to work alongside an excellent group of people and to meet so many wonderfully inspiring artists and community leaders. The Board of Directors has been extremely supportive of my ideas and shared in bringing FASM to a level of enhanced visibility in the community. The Pan Am Mural at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre and the Mural at the Milton District Hospital are two initiatives I am most proud that we achieved. The Youth Visual Arts Mentoring Program has been a real eye-opener to the fabulous talent of our Milton youth and has also been very gratifying.

“As I step down as president, I am confident that in my new role as Past President, I will continue to be an active member of FASM and with the experience I’ve gained in the past few years, help guide it upwards and onwards. I believe that new leadership will allow a fresh perspective and innovative ideas to emerge for the benefit of the membership. We have many members who bring professional skills to the table and would build on the strength that has developed since FASM began in 1997.

“In the months ahead, I hope to dedicate more time to painting, taking lessons in other mediums, overseeing the FASM at the Mall Gallery and next summer travel around our beautiful country. I can’t say that I am going to miss the people I have been involved with while President because I plan to keep in close contact with them and enjoy the friendships that we made along the way.” A Message from FASM to new prospective members: A special welcome to you–come and meet a wonderful group of artists (and possibly become a future leader!). Any questions email fasminfo@gmail.com
Photos by: Denise Cooperwite

Jenny Panda
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