This is our fifth year of operation – which may seem like a small milestone in the grand scheme of things but it is significant when you consider all the effort that has built it, the people who have contributed to its success and the challenges faced by professional artists and craftspeople trying to sell their work in today’s market.

I’d like to thank all of you who make a point of visiting us regularly to say hello, to see new exhibitions, to be inspired, to drink in the beauty of hand-crafted work. You often express how a visit to The General makes your day special, lifts you up and helps you to appreciate what the human imagination is capable of. Your enthusiasm and curiosity is infectious. Thank you for bringing your friends and family, for spreading the word with your networks of people and on social media.

Thank you to other downtown Almonte business owners who work hard to promote the core. In Almonte, we enjoy a strong and creative group of independent businesses, each with their own identities. Somehow we all complement each other, making for a wonderful place for locals and visitors to wander, eat, shop, experience the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum, and of course collect fabulous art and craft. We’ve seen Almonte blossom in recent times through the hard work of progressive-thinking individuals taking personal risks to have their visions come to life. And it’s quite amazing to see!

Speaking of people with vision… if it hadn’t been for this person dragging me out from the pub one evening in December of 2012, this gallery may never have happened. Thank-you Chandler Swain for your inspiration, determination and intuition that our combined experience and energy could build a little powerhouse for art in Almonte.

Huge thanks to our biggest supporters: our spouses Mike Reynolds and Chris Grosset who provided support, muscle, ideas, business advice, objectivity and endless hours. Thanks for the hard work of gallery assistant Meredith Kucey and bookkeeper Alex Lamer-Sentjens.

And thanks to these other wonderful souls who have helped in many ways: Vicki Veenstra, Barbara Mullally, Robert Pauly, Stephen Brathwaite, Kris, Rob and Rona at The Humm, Michael Rikely-Lancaster, Shaun MacLaughlin, Tiffany MacLaren, Jill McCubbin, art writers Maureen Korp and Nancy Beale… and all our regular visitors and collectors!

Of course I am also grateful to our gallery artists who have entrusted us with the responsibility of showing their work with integrity and respect. It is humbling and a real joy to be surrounded by your amazing work every day.

Our focus has always been on craftsmanship, which exists as much in a piece of pottery as it does in a painting. We live in a world that constantly needs to be reminded of the value of hand-crafted items of beauty, of function, of heart and soul. These are things that, when held in your hand or hung on a wall, remind us of our humanity, of our history and of our creative potential.

That leads me to the current exhibition, the theme and title of which is Exceptional. When I was considering how to celebrate our fifth anniversary, I took our mandate of showing high-quality, interesting, beautiful, skillful and innovative work- and put a call out to all our makers to submit a piece that somehow represents to them the idea of the exceptional in their work. It was up to them to define the term. Each piece has a short, sometimes very personal, description with it and I encourage you to read them as you appreciate the work.

We look forward to another 5 years of showcasing the work of local and regional Canadian artists!

Richard Skrobecki
General Fine Craft
63 Mill St., Almonte