This month’s offering at Glenhyrst Art Gallery is no ordinary exhibition. The People’s Choice exhibition takes the reins of authority out of the curator’s hands and gives them to the people; it’s a democratizing exercise that loosens up the way shows are normally organized at public galleries.
People’s Choice injects a wide range of tastes and life experiences into the selection-making. There was no bloody take-over of Glenhyrst, no uprising and storming of the old Cockshutt estate by citizen-farmers with pitch-forks. Au contraire! The front gates were open wide, people were invited into the gallery’s vaults, invited to choose from among the art treasures they found therein, and invited to explain why they selected what they did for display.
People’s Choice isn’t exactly a victory for the proletariat and wasn’t intended to be. Not yet, anyway. But it drew participants who normally do not spend much time at Glenhyrst or looking at art, and brought them face-to-face with beautiful paintings.
The thirty or so selectors looked long at their choices and wrote short statements about them. The range and depth of expression of these hand-written, posted statements are important components of the exhibition: they prove that we all have it in us to understand works of art and that it’s enriching to do that in our own ways, with what each of us brings to the encounter. Our fears and loves, hopes and dreams emerge in those moments of contemplation. Here are two excerpts from the statements:
Title: Les Canadiens sont la
Artist: Normand Ulrich
“This work reminds me of growing up in a house full of Montreal Canadiens memorabilia, of my father’s attempt to inventory his emotional ties to the Canadiens, and his own childhood. The more I think about this piece, the more I realize how much the Canadiens define my relationship with him. When Rocket Richard died, I cried a little because it felt like a family member was gone; I realize now that it was just about my feelings about watching my dad grow older.” - Adam Veri
Artist: Heidi Oberheide
“This piece looks as though it is telling a story – what story it tells depends on the person viewing it. The story I see is conflicted emotions, all entangled in one another. A cold sort of feeling, a numbness that can take you over if you let it.” - Ashley Grabauskas
People’s Choice: an exhibition of works from the Permanent Collection continues to Sunday, May 4,2015 at the Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant.
Blog written by Bryce Kanbara, Curator, Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant
Photo: Normand Ulrich, Les Canadiens sont la (detail), silkscreen, n.d.
For more information about the Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant, click to open the website in a new browser window.