I have recently had the good fun to work with Ayami Stryck and Meinsje Vlaming, hanging the 2021 Members Show at the Old School House Art Gallery on Cortes Island. We received work from 24 island artists, and the resulting show is dramatically successful. How to describe what we did? I began to think of the exhibition as preparing a dinner party using 43 ingredients; the number of works we had to arrange.
So how does all that art work get on the gallery wall?
Not how is it hung there–with nails and fishing line and double sided tape–
but how does each piece find its good home?
A good party, whether of art or food, is benefited by a good invitation.
A feeling that something surprising is waiting for you.
The view into the gallery is like a quiet taste that invites and intrigues, but does not overwhelm. Easy for you to wonder, “what’s this going to be about?” By creating a black and white entry, the dazzle is saved for the main course.
And the first view of art is like an appetizer that is small but potent. The entrance door is a perfect place for small, strong work, as you must come close and be intimate with it, in order to pass into the gallery.
Then there is the dazzle. Something fiery and alien to the mind.
But Oh so tasty to the eye.
One of the challenges of hanging an exhibit, and of preparing a dinner party I suppose, is having to work with art and ingredients that have limitations. Work that is heavy enough to require a reinforced wall, pieces that are both large in scale and intimate in detail, delicate works that need protection.
Some areas of the gallery come together around a theme of colour or shape–
the bright umbers, gold and circles, accented by black,
repeated in 2 and 3 dimensions.
The themes of colour and shape can evoke what lives together
in the wild as well as in the gallery.
Other walls are organized around texture and surface complexity,
just like a crunchy topping is a good complement to a cream sauce.
As you come to the end of the viewing, or the meal,
dessert is a delight of vibrant intensity.
Just when you thought you had seen or tasted it all.
Like a small glass of port or flavored brandy
the art works in the foyer are delicately light
and meant for savoring.
You can enjoy this visual feast at the
Old School House Gallery on Cortes Island for two more weeks.
The 2021 Members’ Show: RE-OPENING
is open Thursday through Sunday, 2 to 6 pm,
August 5 – 8, and August 12 – 15.