Visitors to the area had an opportunity to get refreshed artistically and spiritually, thanks to the arts festival, now in its second year, spearheaded by the Exploits Valley Economic Development Corporation (EVEDC) and supported by several stakeholders, including arts groups and federal and government departments, including the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), and provincial departments including Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, Human Resources, Labor and Employment, Tourism, Culture and Recreation, and corporate sponsors.
It was Art Ex - a celebration of visual art in the Exploits Valley - happening from July 7-10, with exhibitions, artist talks, panel discussions and workshops.
And if you took in the sights and sounds, these are some of the exhibits you would have seen and heard.
Glowing objects flowing down the Exploits River. Plants that roar, chirp or thrum a heavy plucked wire. A young woman in a flowery white dress, weaving a hammock with a tree and herself as the loom sitting on the ocean's edge, a riverbank, or a municipal park next to a dam and its powerful waterfalls. An artist teaching people in Millertown how to make mosaics.
Or another artist building what looks like an abstract patio, jutting out over the river in Sanger Park.
These were some of the scenes that could be found in the region, thanks to visiting artists from other parts of the province, the mainland and even Argentina and France.
The artists included photographer Will Gill of St. John's who created a light-based installation with glowing objects traveling down the river; performance and textile artist Wednesday Lupypciw, originally from Calgary; performance artist Liss Platt of Hamilton, Ontario; St. Etienne, France's Gregory Lasserre and Anais met den Ancxt, two contemporary artists working as a collaborative duo named Scenocosme, with their installation of live plants making sounds; Jose Luis Torres of Quebec, but from Argentina, an architectural artist; painter Di Dabinett, based in Shoe Cove; St. John's-based painter David Kaarsemaker; and Urve Manuel, based in Gillams as an artist specializing in glasswork.
Even one of the country's most famous artists, Newfoundland's Christopher Pratt, gave a presentation and talked with members of the public during the event's open house on Friday night.
Others welcomed visitors during the official opening and emphasized the vibrancy of the area's arts community.
"The diversity and vibrancy of the Exploits Valley is best reflected in the strong arts community that exists here," said EVEDC chairman Cyril Langdon.
"I'm not particularly artistic, but I have an appreciation for what that particular part of our culture brings to our overall community," said Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans MHA Susan Sullivan, also the Minister for Trade, Innovation and Rural Development. "We are blessed with what we have, and our arts community adds that extra layer to our community to make this a place where we all want to live."
Grand Falls-Windsor Councillor Roger Barnett said the Town wants to work to help this become a major event throughout the province in the coming years.
Also present was Mireille Eagan, curator of Canadian art at the Rooms Provincial Art Gallery.
Christopher Pratt, also known for the controversial revamping of the provincial flag, thanked the organizers for their efforts to promote visual art in the region, and shared some of his own experiences during a slide show of his work.
"I have been very fortunate to have been to spend my entire working life, my career as a painter, on this extraordinary island where I was born," said Mr. Pratt. "I was taught by my anti-confederate parents to respect Newfoundland and Labrador, to know it as a place of dignity and inherent sophistication, as an environment of ruggedness and strength, but at the same time extremely fragile."