When Laurentian University filed for insolvency in 2021, Gillian Schultze was one of the 200 people who lost their jobs.
Schultze was the Sudbury, Ont., university’s director of strategic research partnerships. But on evenings and weekends, she was also an artist.
“Doing art actually allowed me to lose myself in the stress of the day,” she said. “I often would say art fed my soul and Laurentian was feeding my kids.”
When she lost her “well-paying job with benefits” Schultze said, she decided to dedicate more time to her art and give it a shot as a new career.
“It was really a terrible thing for the community and for all of the people who lost their jobs,” she said about the job cuts at Laurentian.
“For me, it allowed me the opportunity to say, ‘I’m gonna go for this.’ And my husband and I sat down, and we said we’ll give it a year.”
Two years after that career change, Schultze opened a new gallery in Sudbury’s south end. Around 300 people showed up for the grand opening on Nov. 10.
Earlier in her career, Schultze ran some small businesses, including a vintage clothing store.
After losing her job at Laurentian, she said, she continued to work full-time hours, but applied it to making art and using her business background for self-promotion.
“There’s no question that I spend many, many hours creating, but I also spend many hours working on social media strategic planning for the business of my art,” she said.
Schultze is a mixed media artist. Her pieces depict scenes from northern Ontario’s natural landscapes. In addition to paint, she uses pieces of fabric, crayon and upcycled materials to create her art.
“We have way too much material in our world,” she said.
“So I take used material and I use my sewing machine to stitch it, and I paint on the material.”
Attached to a physio clinic
In an unusual arrangement, Schultze’s gallery is at the back of a physiotherapy clinic called Summit Physiotherapy.
She knew the owner, Cathy Coulson, who had a large unused room at the back of her clinic she no longer needed for storage.
“Our clients love it,” Coulson said.
“They are very interested in the art. Our clients come from all walks of life and it’s very interesting to see the types of art, or the things that catch people’s eye..”
Coulson said Schultze’s focus on nature in her pieces also aligns well with her clinic’s esthetic.
“We have a very holistic clinic and we believe in nature and the outdoors and movement,” she said.