Member artists meet outdoors all summer long on the beautiful grounds of Rodman Hall Art Centre to explore arts and nature in community. This program runs Monday’s 1-3 pm for the following dates: June 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th; July 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th; August 13th, 20th, 27th.

Each week we will explore a different art medium or discipline (music, creative writing, watercolour, sketching, charcoal etc.) These classes are designed for playful discovery and expression. We call these classes “Make and Takes!” No art showcase in mind this summer, just easy outdoor art making with a great group of people.

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Photos by Steve Plews of Escarpment Photography.
Song of the Robin Breaks the silence of the woods

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belong empower create

They are more than just words. They are actions.

Join today as a member artist and let us support you as you discover your artistic interests, and grow your talents.

Much like you, our organization started a bit unsure, a bit scared, and a bit excited at the possibilities. We have come a long way as the little arts organization that could. We want to help you.

Come and check us out. Your friends, your talents, and your community awaits.

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Drawing the human figure is arguably the most difficult subject artists encounter. This introductory life drawing class was the study of the human figure from observation of a live, costumed model.

Process was the focus rather than product, but the final images produced from this class are quite visually pleasing. Using basic materials of charcoal on paper, artists exercised line, shape, gesture and contour. Read More

Link to event coverage from YourTV Niagara

May 31 to June 24
Opening Reception: Thursday, May 31, 6 to 8 pm
Rodman Hall Art Centre
109 St Paul Crescent, St. Catharines

The Willow Community is a non-profit arts organization that
provides free art classes to individuals in Niagara with lived
experience of mental health and/or addiction. Through a partnership
with Rodman Hall Art Centre, members attend workshops
at the gallery facilitated by local artists, musicians, writers, and
educators. These programs provide a safe space that inspire
ability, creativity, empowerment, community, and healing.

This exhibition will showcase works created by members this
season, including a collaborative abstract painting installation,
creative writing presentations, and performances from the forthcoming
Songs from the Willow music release. Seasonal member
showcases help to facilitate dialogue, reduce stigma, and
celebrate the value of diverse voices in our artistic community.
A free community event. Everyone welcome!

About Rodman Hall Art Centre/Brock University:

Rodman Hall Art Centre is a contemporary art gallery in the historic Thomas Rodman Merritt House, overlooking the Walker Botanical Garden that descends to the Twelve Mile Creek. Year-round, programming connects the community with art through innovative and thought-provoking exhibitions, events, and art classes for all ages. To learn more visit their website: Rodman Hall Art Centre



Member artists were thrilled with this fun and whimsy art class at Rodman Hall. Local artist Quinn Oberlein introduced her unique technique and thrifty up-cycle art style. We are pleased to introduce our crafty creatures. These will be on display at our upcoming Spring Member Art Showcase May 31st 6-8 pm at in the Studio Gallery of Rodman Hall Art Centre.  Read More

Hello to our current and hopefully soon-to-be instructors of The Willow Community!

I wanted to reach out and let you know of an exciting opportunity for the City of St. Catharines through an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant and in partnership with Workman Arts (Toronto). We were successful in securing a three-year grant to run an Arts Training Program through The Willow Community – a non-profit arts organization that provides free art classes to people with lived experiences of mental health and addictions. This project has The Niagara Artist Centre, Rodman Hall Art Centre, and Mahtay Café on board as well as the Canadian Mental Health Association, Niagara Region Mental Health, Start Me Up Niagara, and Oak Centre Clubhouse. Read More

In the Soil celebrates 10 years of bringing a bold showcase of new music, media, theatre, dance, installations and one-time, out-of-the-box performance experiences. Dig it in downtown St.Catharines 27 – 29 April .  More info ➡

Please join us to celebrate our incredible talents! Bring your friends and families. This will be an awesome event.

Venue:  Niagara Artists Centre
Time: Saturday 2-4pm
Category:  Music, Interactive + Workshops
City of Origin:  St. Catharines, ON
Price:  Free
Website: / Read More

The Humblebragger
Throwing himself at the exercise bike, he complained, “I can hardly wipe my butt any more.”
“Why?”, she asked, more out of obligation, than interest.
“I’m just too buff. It really sucks being in such amazing shape”, he said, puffing out his chest.
“I’m sure it does”, she replied with an eye roll, then surveyed the gym for an unmolested
piece of equipment.
“It’s like everything else in my life”, he continued, “I’m just too damned good at everything. Read More

Founder, Executive Director Shauna MacLeod had the opportunity to sit down with Mayor Sendzik to talk about The Willow Community, her own lived experiences of mental health, the realities of seeking treatment in the region,  Rodman Hall Art Centre and the vibrant arts community in St. Catharines, and stigma reduction.

She was invited to sit and weigh in on the second part of the show where the opioid crisis is discussed with Acting Fire Chief Jeff McCormick. He talks about the St. Catharines fire department now being equipped and trained with potentially life-saving medical supplies – Noloxone kits. Shauna also highlights Positive Living Niagara as an additional resource in the community for free kits and free training.

Click the link below to see the interview on YouTube



Help us help the community!

Since May 2017, The Willow Community has provided 65 free art classes and has serviced 655 members. Our members are 18+, reside in the Niagara region, and have lived experience of mental health and/or addictions. We celebrate our members’ incredible talent by hosting collaborative art shows.

Our members are often referred from service care providers such as: Canadian Mental Health Association, Niagara Region Mental Health, St. Catharines Hospital Outpatient Mental Health, Brain Injury Community Re-Entry Niagara, Start Me Up Niagara, and Community Addictions Services of Niagara. We provide enriched programming through partnerships with Rodman Hall Art Centre, the Niagara Artist Centre, and Mahtay Cafe. Read More

A big thank you to Catherine Parayre- Associate Professor at Brock University, Modern Languages (French) and Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture- for publishing our member artists in the online publication ti<.

ti< is a peer reviewed journal that publishes creative work combining text and image. The journal is primarily interested in creative work by Brock University students, their instructors, as well as by artists and writers whose work combines literature and the visual arts. Read More


Local artist Tammy Jane Lepp lead an intro class in the art of wet felting- a technique that involves binding sheep’s wool fibres via friction, agitation and compression to create a solid non-woven textile. Read More

Founder/Director Shauna MacLeod led members into discovering and their own creative writing voices with playful word games and a round-table narrative building exercise (a funny story about a mute pirate emerged). We then explored three writing prompts independently:

  1. Write a poem that starts with the line “I am the willow”
  2. Create your own “emoji” What does it look like and how is it used? Create dialogue using the new emoji with two or more characters.
  3. Where is Steven Hawkins? Create a short story or scenario of a day in his life now that he has passed.

Here is member artist Evelyn Bastos poem:

I am the willow in the mountain

I am the wind in the fountain

I am the wind in the willow

I am the music through the window

I look sad but I am not

I look hard but I am soft

I cannot walk but I can dance

I cannot walk but I can balance

I am powerful but yet flexible

I am a farce and yet reasonable

English is not Evelyn’s first language, but her creativity shines through her visual arts and words. Thank you for sharing your piece with us. More creative writing entries will be featured on the blog. Stay tuned!

~Shauna MacLeod

Members were introduced to a multi-layered process during this fun and imaginative abstract creative writing workshop led by Brock University Professor Catherine Parayre.

We began with creating light, watery lines on our papers using acrylic paints and a lot of water. We then wandered through the exhibits at Rodman Hall and explored a flash Read More

Expressive Arts Therapist Patricia Laraia created a safe and welcoming environment for our members to explore depth, creativity, chaos, and beauty. Our members rose to the occasion and created some beautiful, dark, poetic art pieces. This class was alive with feeling, honesty and discovery.  Read More

15 individuals came together to create an awesome, original song. How did we manage that? With the superior help and guidance from Joe Lapinski and the incredible talent of our members.

We started with listening to Neil Young and The Beach Boys to get us in the mindset of what is possible, and followed it with meditation exercises that led to creative writing.

Then the acoustic guitar players came up with a simple melody and we jammed out with member artist Paul Reslinski’s lyrics. By the end of class we were harmonizing!

This ongoing music making project will result in a record being released and live performances. If you couldn’t make it to the first two classes, there will be plenty of opportunities to join in. You won’t want to miss it! Click here for more info and here for the upcoming winter 2017 schedule.  Read More

Using craft paint, Gelli printing plates, rollers, paper, and random objects, members enjoyed a relaxing afternoon discovering the many ways to ink, distort, and produce fantastic abstract prints. With wonderful instruction from Rodman Hall Art Centre’s very own Michelle Nicholls, The Willow Community got messy and created prints worthy of being displayed. Read More

What a night! Thank you to everyone that came out in support of The Willow Community. I think we can all agree our artist Kim Overholt did a fantastic job. There was so much creativity, great music, and good cheer happening all around.

100% of the proceeds will go directly toward funding programs for the members of our awesome creative community. Your participation last night means so much to us. Thank you all again! ~ Shauna MacLeod  Read More

On a wing and a prayer…. we giggled, grunted, and graced our way through angel origami. Julia was a pro at keeping her cool while ours slowly unraveled, until suddenly- angels took form!

Our class began with a gentle reminder of mindfulness and the eastern teaching of origami. Read More

Artist Mary Burke walked the shorelines of Lake Erie and explored the Port Colborne Rock Quarry to provide us a unique and *FREE* canvas for our acrylics paints. Using the seasons as our inspiration, we expressed spring, summer, fall, and winter using literal and symbolic imagery. We rocked out to The Rolling Stones while we painted, chatted, and sang our way through another fantastic workshop. Read More

Henna Artist Shazia Khan led a fantastic workshop for our members last night at Rodman Hall. Providing an overview of the historic, cultural, and artistic significance of Henna, Shazia inspired the class to create their own Henna design.


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My home away from home is in the arms of Andy Dufresne

The one who teaches of music and how to dance in the rain

The one who’s spirit cannot break

No matter how many beatings he has to take


He teaches me of hope and how from prison hell break free

He teaches me to have dreams and allows me to become me Read More

Members of The Willow came together with music producer/maker Joe Lapinski for an inspired afternoon. We spent some time getting to know one another musically- talking about our favourite bands and learning just how much musical talent our members have (violins, pianos, guitar, choir, clarinet).

We then took some time to listen, really listen, to a song we’ve all heard many times with the intent of discovering new aspects about the melody, lyrics, and overall feel. Heart of Gold by Neil Young.  Read More

Squig I know how…

And I know why…

You chose to make me let this die…


There’s not one day that goes by…

That I don’t cry and remember why…

You told me the plan, you carried it out

And at that time, I then had no doubt… Read More

I am like a snail I carry my home where I go. Home is where my heart is, my memories, past experiences, dreams….

My home is my body

When I open the door, I let the world touch me. I feel the warm of the sun, the freshness of the wind, the smell of a flower, the colours of the world

My home has some cracks, that the years create, but also through them new light can come in.

Mystery Painting Oct 24, 2017

Artist/Facilitator Mary Burke introduced the class to a novel idea: take a small portion of a famous painting and run wild! Some of us recognized the original art piece, but many didn’t. Truly great pieces were created today- and the grand reveal at the end made the member artists see and appreciate their work alongside the famous image. This art will be showcased on December 18, 2017 at Mahtay Cafe & Lounge downtown St. Catharines.

Belong Empower Create with The Willow Community ~Shauna MacLeod Read More

Artist and paper enthusiast Judith Rudoler provided the tools, materials, and wonderful know-how for us to create our own “Renegade Book”. The goal was to create a book with items we could find around the house (or the local Dollar Store). The results? Fantastic handmade books that can inspire creative writing and future book making! I encourage you all to use these books for sketches or poetry and submit them to our Fall Member Art Showcase happening Dec 18th. Thank you for creating with us ~Shauna MacLeod Read More

I’m wearing two toned, blue coloured running shows that give my feet that salubrious effect of deep soothing comfort on the soles of each foot as if I’m walking on a fluffy, marshmallowy cloud way up in the deep, blue, exhilarating sky.

My colourful, easily seen by others runners lead my two feet in many various directions, depending on which ways, locations and destinations my leader called my brain wants my feet to walk, run, jog or stand and/or stroll around at its command. Read More

Dearest Universe

In the past, most correspondence was of a salubrious nature. In this moment I’m having more of a how and why mindset.

How is it we seem to know more about other planets and stars than our own oceans and forests yet we’ve never been there?

Why haven’t extraterrestrials embraced the dumb humans?

And have full out exposure and interactions rather than a few choice places for craft and mostly speculation on bodies when it comes to any sort of proof.

What happens to a soul when people/things pass?  Is there a difference between living things?

How am I still single? Why have I had to wait such a long duration for anything to happen?

Darryl Burr

 I wear a very special kind of shoes, they are magical shoes.

Oh! Really?

Yes, they lead my feet to very special places.

If I walk backward I can visit my past, and see it with my present eyes. Stressful, scary, funny, lovely moments don’t feel the same. They happened at one moment very precise in the past and now I am not the same, I am all the moments of the past. And it is magical to see new meanings to old moments. Read More


The Willow Community was happy to be invited to participate in this year’s Culture Days out-front of The Red River Gallery in the beautiful heritage district of Port Dalhousie. Jordinn, Mary, Patricia, Krystal, and Jenn set up their easels, unpacked their art supplies, and created some fantastic art. We are grateful for the members of the public that came out to learn more. I look forward to making more afternoons like this happen in the future. ~Belong Empower Create ~ Shauna MacLeod Read More

The Willow members were thrilled to have local artist Patricia Laraia back to teach her Freedom Through Art workshop this week. With instructions such as: leave your monkey brain at the door, yes you can paint your feet and dance on your paper, and come as you are- bring whatever you have with you and use it, our members explored and stepped out of their comfort zones to create some incredible and powerful pieces.  Thank you for trusting in the process and creating with us. ~Shauna MacLeod Read More

An inspired evening spent creating art, talking about our communities, and having some fun. Led by the multi-talented artist/educator Julia Blushak, The Willow members added to her world’s longest art project. The results? A unique and remarkable array of art.

Thank you for creating with us~ Shauna MacLeod. Read More

Through the dark and light, my shadow moves me

And I move my shadow.


He’s the masculine to my feminine

The capable to my cowardice Read More

The Willow Community was thrilled to be a part of the 8th annual Queenston Harvest Festival celebration that took place this past weekend. It was a joy to meet new people and see a lot of familiar faces. There was music, goodies, crafts, and art: the makings of a great day! We are proud to be a community partner with Start Me Up Niagara. Our family game nights will resume this Fall (Sept. 29 6-8pm) at their drop in centre at 17 Gale Crescent. A big thank you goes out to Joanie for all your help and especially to all the wonderful people who stopped by to leave us a doodle, message, or create a piece of art for us. This is what community feels like! Belong Empower Create ~ Shauna MacLeod Read More

Led by artist and educator Krystal Brant, our members were introduced to still life drawing. Recreating 3-D images onto paper is no easy task, but our artists produced some incredible work. Helped by some shadow-casting lighting in the art room at Rodman Hall Art Centre, we drew, shaded, textured, erased, highlighted and created real-life representations of gourds. And the company? Fantastic! Our members are great. Lots of laughing and sharing with plenty of encouragement to go around. Thank you for creating with us ~Shauna MacLeod

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The Willow Community’s first ever Annual General Meeting will take place on Oct 2nd, 2017 6pm at The Niagara Artist Centre. This is a great opportunity to hear from the board of directors, engage in discussion, mix and mingle with members of the community, and of course… eat! We ask that those attending please bring a dish to share.

Reports don’t have to be boring! We are going to celebrate all the hard work that has gone into taking this from a grassroots effort into a full blown arts organization. Read More

Sitting in my living room

Watching through the window,

As floats by a butterfly

Oh to be a butterfly

And to be able to just flutter by,

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You’d never believe me if I told you that I traveled through time, but it’s true, and I can prove it!

I wish I could say that I found a ring of magical standing stones that transported me to sometime in the distant past, but I must blame it on my friend Dexter. Dexter is a mad scientist, you see. I’ve known him since high school, and he was working on becoming a mad scientist even then, getting impossible grades of 100% in both Physics and Math.

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Led by the talented, local artist Cynthia DiSimone, our members were taught the fundamentals of lettering: measuring, planning, font creation, sizing, and colour choices. There was a lot of erasing going on, but the words came to life with the artist’s own unique fonts and designs.

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Even though I’ve been alive and living now for many years, I’ve never had the opportunity to see or meet my grandfathers from either of my parents. In my opinion, I opined that it would have been wonderful to have been old enough to travel back in time and travel to Europe during the period of better times before the second world war started and meet and hang out with both my grandfathers while they were still both alive, vibrant, free and the future seemed and appeared to be prosperous and glorious. Read More

My shadow is so lucky,

he doesn’t think or feel.

It isn’t even imaginary,

in fact he’s very real.

One day I might just follow him

for a time to a different place.

I just hope that we don’t find ourselves

lost without a trace.


The Willow Community member artists had their first ever public showcase yesterday evening at Mahtay Cafe. Art that was created during our summer program schedule was proudly displayed. Artists, friends, families, community members, and educators came together to celebrate. I am so incredibly proud of our members and look forward to an awesome fall program together.

Your art matters. Your voice matters. You matter.  ~Belong Empower Create~  Shauna MacLeod

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We sit at a table; the wood is hard on us. A profile from the province, a statue with scars, stands solid and lurks at us from under the veiled sun, a sliver of shadow stretching away from it. We smile and prefer comfort. At times, we step up and read a few lines from the paper. We flee and do not look where the shadows dig their holes. We fly with the wind, let the darkness and the twilight follow us when we don’t breathe and think of our friends. The shadows crawl on the ground where five hundred white boats once Read More

Dedicated to my grandmother Florence MacLeod

July 11, 1931 – July 28, 2017

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My grandfather. His name is Ron. He is a second-generation Mohawk Indian living off the reserve. His father’s parents were taken and put into Residential school. He served in the United States Military and when he came home, he married my grandmother Gayle, whom I’ve never met. They had my mother, aunt, and uncle. I remember him even though I wouldn’t say he was ever a role model or inspiration. He drank a lot, smoked, and listened to Patsy Cline. He watched me a lot when I was very young as my mother Read More

St. Catharines is the largest community within the Niagara region with a demonstrated need for accessible and inclusive recreational services form persons actively engaged in their mental health and addiction recovery journey. The Willow Community’s free, art workshops and social gatherings encourage membership activity and participation.

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The Willow Community
Fall 2017 Schedule

Welcome back members of The Willow Community! Class is now in session. We have exciting new workshops to offer, and we’re bringing back some of our favourite artists. One big change this season is we are now able to offer one class a month in the evening. We hope this will allow new members to join. For more information, please visit the website or call 905-328-9277.
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The sun was high in the sky while we painted our sunsets on the beautiful grounds of Rodman Hall. This was a fantastic workshop led by the multi-talented Mary Burke.

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Multi-disciplinary artist and active Willow Member M.R. introduced the class to the fundamentals of abstract art.  We looked at famous artist works that pushed the boundaries and began our class by practicing on smaller boards exploring colour and technique. Read More