by Rhonda Massad
La Palette Art School opened in 1967 by well-known artist Renate Heidersdorf. Renate is the daughter of Ernest Heidersdorf, a renowned German-born painter famous for his love of flowers.
Much like his daughter, he was also an entrepreneur who enjoyed an established international reputation for his wallpaper and textile designs.
Renate and her family settled in Beaconsfield in 1953 on Circle Road.
“My mother saw the house on Beaconsfield Boulevard, where the school has been for 50 years and thought it would be a great location to exhibit my father’s art and open a tea room,” Renate explained in an interview with West Island Blog. “We were new to the country from Germany and could not get a mortgage because nobody knew us. Across the street was a butcher by the name of Mr. Godin. He ran the shop, Godin et Fils. Mr. Godin is the one who was very kind and gave my parents the mortgage. I was nine at the time.”
Renate went on to graduate from Ecole Des Beaux Arts in Montreal in Art Education which included a semester at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Munich and later completed a Masters in Art Education.
After completing her studies, Renate began teaching only one student which blossomed into thousands of students who have gone on to careers in graphic, fashion, interior, industrial design, architecture, movie animation and video gaming industries to name only a few.
“I was in my early twenties when I started with one student,” Renate shared. “Then her brother wanted to join, then the neighbor. I put an ad in the Lakeshore News. Every week I would get a few more students. Through word of mouth, I had a waiting list within two years. That was 50 years ago.”
There will be an open house on June 17 and 18 that will pay tribute to the gallery, the studio, and the garden.
“The gardens play a big role in my teaching. I take the children over there often. I try to instill a love and respect for nature in my students. I want them to see and feel the beauty of the gardens. I want them to know that love and kindness conquer all.”
What was Renate’s last act of kindness?
She bought 50 toothbrushes to give away on her last trip to Cuba. During a previous trip, she learned that toothbrushes were very expensive for the residents of Cuba.
To visit the upcoming exhibits and events held at La Palette Gallery, please visit the website at www.lapaletteartschoolandgallery.com