The most anticipated Canadian art opening of 2020 is now scheduled for late November when the Winnipeg Art Gallery will unveil its Inuit Art Centre.
The Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) began collecting Inuit art back in the 1950s and it holds the largest public collection in the world – thanks in part to a 2016 deal with the government of Nunavut. The territory has sent more than 7,000 pieces south on a long-term loan, a collection that now accounts for about half of the WAG’s holdings. The art includes contemporary prints, drawings and sculptures, and rare historic pieces, most of which will be on public display for the first time. The centre will feature a glass vault, a system of open storage letting visitors see a larger number of works.
Meanwhile, the WAG is working with Inuit curators and artists to ensure the North has access to the collection, which will also be available online.
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Centenary of the Group of Seven
One hundred years ago, seven Toronto painters with a modernist approach to the Canadian landscape declared themselves a movement; today, international art lovers are increasingly intrigued by the Group of Seven. This centenary year, Frankfurt, Germany’s Schirn Kunsthalle is organizing a major Canadian show with help from the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario, which are both contributing loans of work never seen in Germany. Magnetic North: Imagining Canada in Painting, 1910-1940 opens Sept. 25 and will discuss the creation of national myths while including Indigenous perspectives.
At home, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ont. offers ‘A Like Vision’: The Group of Seven at 100, a year-long exhibition opening Jan. 25. It will be accompanied by a small show of canvases by Tom Thomson, the painter who inspired the Group, but died three years before it was formed.
Then in June, the McMichael will balance the all-male picture with Uninvited: Canadian Women Artists in the Modern Moment. As well as Emily Carr, that show includes works by Yvonne McKague Housser and Florence Wyle, artists who may yet become Canadian household names.
Similar to a rocket, Calgary’s newest art institution is launching in phases: The first installment of the Centennial Planetarium renovation has transformed the area that previously housed the children’s museum into contemporary art galleries. It will be unveiled Jan. 23 as Contemporary Calgary now moves to six-day-a-week opening hours.
The inaugural programming takes a cosmological theme. It will feature Museum of the Moon, a seven-metre reproduction of the moon created by British artist Luke Jerram using imagery from NASA, and a show in which 36 Calgary artists respond to the old planetarium site.
Riopelle at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts takes a fresh look at Quebec abstractionist Jean-Paul Riopelle with Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures, arguing the modernist painter was greatly influenced by travels to the Canadian North. The exhibition, which opens Sept. 19, will also include Inuit and Northwest Coast masks that inspired the artist.
Picasso at the Art Gallery of Ontario
The Art Gallery of Ontario is collaborating with the Phillips Collection in Washington to mount a major show devoted to Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period, which marked the Spanish artist’s first trips to Paris and introduction to Post-Impressionism. Opening June 27, Picasso: Painting the Blue Period will unveil recent scientific analysis of the artist’s subjects and techniques.
If you’ve seen one of the six needle drop boxes located in downtown Peterborough, you’d probably agree they aren’t particularly attractive. Intended for the secure and safe disposal of used needles (“sharps”), the mailbox-like drop boxes are painted bright yellow.
Now, thanks to a joint initiative by PARN-Your Community AIDS Resource Network and Artspace, the sharps boxes are getting a makeover. This past spring, the two organizations put out a call for proposals for local artists to submit creative designs to turn the boxes into works of public art, while supporting harm reduction.
Local artist Bethany LeBlonc recently completed her design on the sharps box located beside the trail at the King Street entrance to Millennium Park, near the Silver Bean Cafe.
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“This has been a really fun project, and also very close to my heart,” LeBlonc writes on Instagram. “Many people struggle with mental illness & addiction due to trauma and/or socio economic status. This can lead to homelessness, and further distress.”
LeBlonc’s design is not only colourful, but practical. She painted a map onto the sharps box to highlight social support resources available in downtown Peterborough such as Brock Mission and the YES Shelter for Youth and Families.
She says she did it “as a thank you to those who work to help our community, to know where to seek help if you need it, and hopefully encourage you to share with friends and strangers where they can go to seek help.”
To help raise awareness of available support services, LeBlonc also includes a link to a Google Map on her Instagram. The map lists resources and locations for those who may the services.
“We are all just people,” LeBlonc writes. “Please be kind and help one another.”
This isn’t the first time LeBlonc has created art in the context of social issues. In January, her paintings of local social issues such homelessness were on exhibit at Simply Delicious in downtown Peterborough. To see other samples of LeBlonc’s art, visit her Instagram account at @bethany.leblonc.
Peterborough’s needle drop box program was expanded in November 2018 in a partnership between PARN, Peterborough Public Health, the Canadian Mental Health Association – Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (CMHA-HKPR), and the City of Peterborough.
Four boxes were installed, with one behind the Peterborough Library, one along the Millennium Trail, one on the eastern side of the Otonabee River near the train bridge, and one in front the One Roof program at 99 Brock Street.
The four new boxes were in addition to the needle drop boxes in front of the CMHA-HKPR office at 466 George Street and the fire station at 210 Sherbrooke Street.
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“Our experience tells us that people who use injection drugs want to dispose of their supplies safely,” said former PARN executive director Kim Dolan when the program was expanded. “Hundreds of people come through the doors of our agency every year to return used syringes.”
“By placing these boxes at various points in the city, we will provide more options for people to return their used equipment and further reduce the instances when needles are found in public spaces.”
After closing in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Godfrey Dean Art Gallery has reopened its doors. The local art gallery will be featuring Summer Light for the remainder of August, which features local artists Val Morhart, Laureen Johnson, Garry Harris, Katie Miller, Phyllis Herman, Jocelyn Duchek, Barry Whitta, Kelly Paterson, Jean Spilak and Heartstrings fine jewelry.
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“It’s a continuation of when we shut down in March, and actually we have some new works in there as well,” said Kelly Litzenberger with the Godfrey Dean Art Gallery.
The gallery is opening slowly. For the first few weeks it will be running on reduced hours – 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday to Friday.
The Summer Light exhibition was one that people didn’t get much chance to see, due to when the Gallery had to close. Litzenberger said that while they do feature many provincial and sometimes national artists, it’s vital to be connected to the art scene that’s happening locally as well.
“It’s really crucial to be part of the community and be another extension of the artists and all of the hard work that they do around here.”
While the doors were closed, the Godfrey Dean was still showcasing local artists, with the 2020 Landscape and Memory exhibition going online for the first time. With over 60 entries, they posted daily for three months.
“It was really great. We did one call out for artists and we managed to have about 60 entries so we could put up something new online every day for two months. It was a great way for us to connect and stay, have that communication with our local artists.
Of course, opening in 2020 means taking precautions. The Godfrey Dean will have increased sanitation to doors and main common areas, as well as handrails.
“We are lucky in a sense, because the gallery is primarily a no-touch space. You come in there, you move around the space and you view things with your eyes, and not with your hands.”
This September will see two new exhibitions at the Godfrey Dean, one featuring the textile art of Hanna Yokozawa Farquharson and another by Jeff Morton. September will also see the gallery return to regular hours.
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