Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Fun at Gallery Openings

[MY APOLOGIES!! The opening of the Student Show at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery is next week, Friday the 15th, not tomorrow night as I wrote earlier.]

Years ago, an established Canadian artist displayed his large canvases at the Thunder Bay Art gallery. At the show’s opening, a seven year-old boy yelled across the crowded room, “This guy isn’t a very good painter, is he Dad?” Many cringed, some smiled. A man in a cream coat suddenly hunched and made for the doorway into the adjacent gallery. Upset his father was attempting to temporarily disown him, the boy quickly followed, yelling, “DAD! HEY DAD!”

Many parents don’t bring their kids to openings at galleries as children can express unfiltered opinions, like having a giggle fest in front of a nude painting, sitting on the art, or ripping a protruding element from an installation piece. But it can be endearing to see honest expression, a quality we adults have muted in order to be socially acceptable.

Most artists are genuine, sensitive and endearing and many artists aren’t about being quiet, modest, or socially acceptable. They can be characters, rebels, and miscreants, full of opinion about everything.  Some are outright hostile and weird, but it’s hard to tell if it’s an act. Even so, the stranger the artist, the better the story you have to tell later after the encounter.

A gallery opening is a great place to encounter artists, to learn what the art is about, and how people react to it. It’s also a place to meet people, and to share opinions. Artists aren’t shy about sharing their opinions, so why bother restraining oneself. Let opinion fly, hopefully without yelling.

And if you want to make an impression, the opening of a show is the best time to buy a work of art. When red dots appear on the tags, everyone gets happy, and the buzz continues for days after, sometimes months, even years for those involved. Red dots won’t appear on artwork tags at public galleries, but the work is most often for sale if one asks. Should you buy a work of art, or sell one, please brag about it. It does all us artists good. There’s no buzz if nobody knows about it.

Galleries in Victoria had a great turnout when a number of them held their openings the same night. Downtown restaurants and coffee shops benefited as well. An event called Art Zoom in Thunder Bay, begun by artist Linda Dell, had great turnouts for the three years that they ran, but its timing, during cold winter nights and competition for attention with a truck parade of lights, didn’t help. The amount of work involved in organizing the event was too much for the limited funding, and for Linda who did the bulk of the work. However, it would be great to have another Art Zoom some time in the summer or fall.

In Thunder Bay, there are a number of gallery openings coming up that are highly recommended. Tomorrow night, 40 artists of the Lakehead Visual Ats group and the Water Colour Society, are showing their work at a large opening at Gallery 33 from 7 to 9pm at 33 Cumberland St.

Also, the Thunder Bay Art gallery has an opening at 7:30, NEXT WEEK, Friday, March 15, of Major Studio shows for its fourth year students and a juried show for other students. The place will be packed, and it will be great to see who might become contributors to our local art scene.

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