Lessons in Travel, Art, and Love with BeCa International Artists

Partners in life and art, Steve Behal and Jeannie Catchpole recently relocated from Sun Valley, Idaho to Gananoque Ontario, Canada. Known together as the innovative art duo BeCa International Artists, Steve and Jeannie make you believe in love. Their passion for each other transfers to their dynamic collaborative works, which are often bright, colorful, and full of energy--just like this wonderful couple.

ConciergeQ talked to BeCa International Artists about their move back to Canada, their life on a boat, and their new home, Gananoque Ontario.

ConciergeQ: Why did you choose to relocate from Sun Valley, Idaho to Gananoque Ontario, Canada?

BeCa International Artists: We searched North America for our dream studio with certain criteria that satisfied us individually, and as a couple whose marriage vows were all about supporting each other’s creativity. Water access was a large part of the equation, universal healthcare, and a progressive government were all important in our decision. We found a 2400sf space in this small town of 5,000 people that used to be a gym/bath house. We were able to convert it into a studio and put a gallery on the main floor right in the center of town.  

photo: 1000 Islands, St. Lawrence River--Gananoque Marina is in the top left corner, courtesy of Gananoque Boat Lines.

Gananoque is the Canadian gateway to the 1000 Islands on the gorgeous St. Lawrence River, which borders the US and Canada. It is close to Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and a half day drive to New York City or a full day drive to Chicago or Quebec City. It’s also twenty minutes from Kingston, a world famous sailboat-racing center on the Canadian side of the river, which is teeming with growth--new restaurants, galleries and two major Canadian Universities, Queen’s and The Royal Military College-–Canada’s equivalent to West Point.

When we first found Gananoque we thought it was ripe for change and that was the most exciting piece of the puzzle. There are currently two cranes building two large condo complexes with shops right on the river. We are participating in a new Arts Council and are members of a very dynamic BIA (business improvement area). 

CQ: What is the arts scene like there?

BeCa: Gananoque is developing into the perfect cultural destination. People come here from around the world. The Firehall Playhouse is well known (it even has riverdock access) of three local live stage theaters. A growing number of artists are moving here exclusively from larger centers. The O’Connor Gallery, a very successful Toronto gallery of fifteen years owned by highly respected curator Dennis O’Connor now operates his gallery on the main floor of our building and represents our art in the region.

photo: Lorraine Payette, Gananoque Reporter.

Gananoque has attracted a wide variety of culinary establishments, including a new Indian restaurant (a few steps from our door) who’s owner Ben Mukherjee was a previous Chef to Obama at the White House. 

An amazing number of musicians live here as well. The very first fund raising event we attended featured at least a dozen performances by musicians we mostly recognized by name or melody from our Canadian roots. This event cemented the feeling that we had chosen a great location to call home. 

CQ: Let’s talk about your boat. Why are you passionate about living on the water?

BeCa: We discovered Gananoque by water. Steve lived on the boat for six months a year every summer for the past dozen years or more on Toronto Island overlooking the city. I would join him for short stints--commuting back and forth to Sun Valley over the past ten years. Now we’ve moved the boat here to a fabulous marina, which is about to double in size and add a new restaurant… and from herewe can sail to Niagara-on-the-Lake or further–-right up the great lakes to Chicago, or further if we feel like it… or we can go down river, east to Montreal, Quebec City or the Atlantic… we could also go half a mile across the river to New York State… and from there we can take the inland Waterway all the way to Miami. Now we can walk to the boat from our studio door.

photo: Rafting overnight in the 1000 Islands (five minutes from our dock) with friends who sailed from Toronto... an Eagle landed on the photographer’s mast just after he took this photo of our boat, photo by Rick Francki.

CQ: Sounds like heaven! What do you miss about Sun Valley, Idaho?

BeCa: After 30 years living in the Wood River Valley, I miss mountain hikes, wildlife, clear blue skies, gallery walks, the Summer Symphony and River Run Concerts, The fabulous Spot, and Liberty Theatre, as well as the inevitability of spontaneous socializing with friends that we love at all of the above… and the post office… and coffee shops and local eateries… and… and!

Be sure to visit BeCa International Artists and discover new music by Steve here:

top photo: BeCa International Artists with work in progress, photo by John Service.

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