On May 7, 1920, a group of artists calling themselves the Group of Seven mounted their first formal exhibition at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario). Their landscape paintings captured the raw, rugged beauty of Canada, and although many of their works depicted scenes in Eastern Canada, members of the group also ventured westward and recorded what they saw, painting scenes in or around Ashcroft, Yale, Field, and other places in B.C. and Alberta.
Travel restrictions mean that it’s difficult to visit some of these sites, but Google Canada is inviting Canadians to celebrate the Group of Seven and this landmark of Canadian art history with virtual visits to the real-life locations that inspired the artists, alongside the paintings that the artists created.
The McMichael Gallery in Ontario has the world’s largest collection of works by members of the Group of Seven, and Google Canada is partnering with the gallery to digitize between 150 and 200 of the items. Alexandra Klein of Google Canada’s communications team says that they are “incredibly excited and humbled” to be working with the McMichael on the project.
“What Google can do really well is use their global platform to share Canadian culture with Canada and the world,” she says. “It’s especially significant given their importance, and the 100th anniversary.”
The original members of the Group of Seven were Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, Arthur Lismer, Franz Johnston, J. E.H. MacDonald, Fred Varley, and A. Y. Jackson. In 1945 Jackson visited Ashcroft, leaving behind a painting and a sketch of the town, both of which have been interpreted as glass mosaics (one on the Rolgear building and one in the Heritage Park).
While the artists and their works are now seen as landmarks of the Canadian art world, initial reaction to their paintings was by no means one of universal praise. One critic dubbed them the “hot mush” school of art, a reference to the texture of the paint they used, which the critic said made him think of gobs of porridge.
Google Canada recently released images of several of the digitized paintings, along with Google street view images of the locations where or near where they were painted, including the historic church in Yale.
“We’ve made a commitment to create a digitized, centralized Group of Seven ‘hub’,” says Klein. “They’re representative of Canadian art history, and they have a significant history in the west. They definitely had a presence in B.C. and Alberta as well as in Ontario. It’s important for people to know that’s reflected in their work.”
She says that pairing the paintings with street view is a way for Canadians to engage with our culture, history, and geography from home during COVID-19. “Now is the time when people are usually planning what their summer will look like. Street view allows us to learn about the Group of Seven virtually from the comfort of our homes, and plan future trips.”
Klein says that another thing Google is trying to do is democratize art.
“Not only are the Group of Seven known across Canada for their work, which represents a certain place and time, they’re known around the world. Google has art from around the world, and it’s not just for people who can access galleries. I hope people around the world learn about each other and each other’s culture.”
While Google has the platform, Klein says they are relying on staff at the McMichael to guide them in terms of selecting the artwork. “They’re the curators. What we’ve done is show a taste of what’s to come, and hint at what the experience will be like.
“Google allows us to work with art from around the world. The cameras are designed to best reflect the details of a work of art. There’s a difference between taking a straight-on photo and one that shows interesting details in, say, a watercolour painting.”
Klein says the paintings and street views can be found at the Google Arts & Culture website (https://artsandculture.google.com/).
“Everything is in there. And we’ll be making a second announcement when everything is online.”
Kids can make art to brighten Red Deer seniors’ lodges – Red Deer Advocate
The Red Deer Public Library is calling on young artists to help brighten seniors’ lodges.
The library is calling for “mini-artists” to drop off their paper creations — whether it’s flowers, drawings, letters or cards — into bins outside two participating Red Deer seniors’ lodges this week.
They are Timberstone Mews (42 Timberstone Way) and Harmony Care (200 Inglewood Dr.).
Staff from the lodges will “proudly display the creations,” bringing joy to residents and staff.
They are also planning to make some social media posts featuring art that is on display at the lodges.
A virtual Art in the Garden festival is happening on the North Shore this weekend – North Shore News
The North Shore’s annual Art in the Garden event is gearing up to go digital this weekend.
The event has been re-imagined as a livestreamed art and music demonstration this Saturday and Sunday evening, while encouraging community members to share pictures of their own green spaces online.
Last month, North Van Arts made the decision to suspend the 21st annual Art in the Garden festival due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges of practising physical distancing during an event which melds visual arts with some of the North Shore’s most extraordinary gardens.
The decision was made to offer an online version of Art in the Garden in order to keep the spirt of the long-running festival intact, according to Nancy Cottingham Powell, executive director of North Van Arts.
“Art in the Garden is the longest running North Shore garden tour and we didn’t want to just cancel this event that inspires gardeners, artists and nature lovers,” stated Powell, in a press release.
As part of its new online event, for the month of May the arts and culture organization reached out to visual artists and musicians who had participated in past festivals and asked them to create short videos outlining their work, inspiration and methodology.
The six artist videos were released weekly on North Van Arts’ social media channels and website.
This weekend, local painters Nicola Morgan and Pierre Leichner are set to take over the organization’s Instagram account as they livestream the creation of original artwork over live music performed by North Shore musicians Ava Maria Safai and Paul Silveria.
Viewers can tune in on May 30 and 31 at 7 p.m. each night.
North Van Arts is also encouraging people on the North Shore to comment and share pictures of their gardens and green spaces this weekend, as well as their own nature-inspired art, by using the hashtag #ArtintheGarden.
“These extraordinary times have forced us to look at how we connect with our community. Art in the Garden Online is an opportunity for us to support our members and local artists in a unique way,” stated Powell.
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