McCloskey’s a featured site during Art on the Waterfront

Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

Planned video project, art displays, entertainment

Nelson Zandbergen
Nation Valley News

CHESTERVILLE — The McCloskey Hotel will also tap into the creative vibe of this weekend’s Art on the Waterfront.

McCloskey’s has been forging a local reputation as a place fusing art, live music and craft beer — in line with the vision of general manager Dan Riitano, an accomplished muralist with links to the Toronto bar scene who continues to bring a wide variety of musical talent to the 22 Victoria Street stage. Riitano also finds inspiration in the original path forged by Peter and Mo Breaks, who redeveloped the historic building a decade ago with a view to incorporating the arts, storytellers and artists.

Given that mandate, the place should fit hand-in-glove with an event deemed ‘Art on the Waterfront.’ And this year — with Riitano joining the festival’s organizing committee — it enjoys a more integrated role. 

Riitano plans to have a sidewalk art display in front of the old hotel for the weekend as well as larger pieces inside the building. “I’m having about seven or eight artists in here,” he says. Among them will be a couple of visiting artists from Toronto, he adds.

And then there’s a special project going on behind the building.

Video project to “get” Chesterville

At least according to an entry in the Urban Dictionary, Chesterville means “a town nobody’s heard of, even if you’ve been there,” pointedly notes smiling McCloskey’s employee Brian Talmey, spearhead of the project that is challenging this community to define itself through art.

During Art on the Waterfront, folks are encouraged to drop by the establishment and put paintbrush to canvas, or writer’s pen to paper, while captured by the camera’s lens for a contemporary pastiche exploring the subject.

As urban “outsiders,” Riitano (from Toronto) and Talmey (from Ottawa) figured their adopted village was ripe to collectively explain the soul of Chesterville, Ont.

“The idea is that everyone tells Dan and I that we ‘don’t get it’ because we’re not from here. So make me ‘get’ it. I don’t get it, so make me understand your town,” says Talmey, perched at the bar counter on a recent evening.

“They can tell us their own story, piece it together, and put on a show where the town is the star, as corny as that sounds,” he says. “Some of it’s video, some it’s photography,” he further explains, adding the final, edited product “is the art.”

Participants will work and create the raw material in natural light outdoors. “My idea is to set up enough space that they can paint, write or record, or take a picture” ? says. “We’ll set up a desk, we’ll set up a backdrop so they can take video or selfies, and the painting, too.”

The completed multi-media piece would only be unveiled during a special art show back at McCloskey’s this December, “when people are starting to get bummed out about the town, you know what I mean?”

The event offers no prize, just the opportunity to participate in a village collaboration, emphasizes Riitano. “We’re not looking for the best story, and we’ll make sure everyone is invited” to the unveiling in December, he adds.

And Art on the Waterfront may be just the start of the work, suggests Talmey. “Maybe it’s a continuation, who knows?”


When Art on the Waterfront’s impressive band line-up calls it a day and vacates the Mill Street courtyard stage and beer tent, the owners of the McCloskey Hotel welcome celebrants to head across the street for this weekend’s live entertainment indoors.

Locals Furious Gord are lined up Saturday night at the venue, and Waterloo Brewing’s promotional team will be on site with samples.

And the eve of Art on the Waterfront will see another community band on the McCloskey stage: Three Brothers Twice perform at the festival “pre-party,” Friday night, June 2.

The venue hosts no shortage of live acts, with the Weber Brothers having performed last Friday night.

Juno nominees and Bluesfest alumni have played McCloskey’s under Riitano’s leadership. The bands have so far come from as far away as Buffalo, NY, and Vancouver. But the distance record is set to be beaten when The Sunpilots of Australia play a two-night gig in Chesterville June 8-9.

See a small sampling of the entertainment at McCloskey’s in recent weeks, below.

McCloskey’s general manager Dan Riitano (left) and the featured performer on April 29, Trevor Alguire. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News




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