Exploring the Glenbow on a Quiet Day

Some days, I just really relish the wandering and the peaceful consideration that comes with attending an exhibit on my own.  Exhibit openings are magical for conversation and that sort of electric energy that sparks the air as a result of the dynne, but truly, I am far more engaged by the art when I am alone and visiting at my own speed.

Concurrently, some interesting things have been on view at the Glenbow.  I think I visited last Sunday, but these moments all seem to blend together when you see so much as I do, so don’t hold me to the calendar.  On my exploration…these…

Kaleidoscopic Animalia: An exhibition designed and curated by Paul Hardy

Embracing Canada: Landscapes from Krieghoff to the Group of Seven

The Demise of 17th Avenue, one of the Glenbow’s Recent Acquisitions

One New Work, Walter May: Object Lessons

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I was welcomed by Widow.  The one venue I had missed during the exhibit, Oh, Canada, was the Nickle Galleries.  I was very happy to see this piece, Widow, an eight-foot bear sculpture made of wool and mixed media, donated by artist Janice wright Cheney, to the Glenbow.

The John Hartman painting in the stairwell captured my heart immediately.  I’ve been an admirer of his work for years and to see this monumental piece was just so exciting.  One of my favourite books on my art shelves is Big North: The Paintings of John Hartman.

Bad picture…but…really, I wasn’t in the Glenbow to collect photographs…I really was there to very consciously, take in the works.

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While I have no images to represent the time spent with the section ‘Embracing Canada’, I spent a long time standing in front of the countless images of landscape and in some cases, responding emotionally.  I think that at my core, I am a landscape painter, likely because of my huge connection with the Trans Canada highway and my life as a child of a military father.  I am truly the biggest fan of our nation, for its beauty and its expanse.  This exhibit is a strong representation of Canadian landscape painters and their art.  It was a physical collection of works…meaning, I felt its impact in my body as well as in my heart.  I remember feeling this same way while visiting the McMichael art gallery so many years ago.

Walter May’s work struck me as whimsical, humourous, light-hearted and sparse.  I liked the childlike freedom of the work and the materiality (if that is a word?) of his pieces.  The more dynamic angular pieces were difficult for me and I found his more linear works more appealing from an aesthetic stand point.  I liked his apparent inclusion of functional objects in unusual circumstances.

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I probably spent the most time exploring the works of Robert McInnis, the Demise of 17th Ave, mainly because I was seeking out the representations of the familiar and iconic people related with the arts scene at a point in Calgary.  I went looking for John Snow…Ken Christopher…Doug Maclean … Joane Cardinal-Schubert…and others.  The amazing story of the work is found here.  Given my own interest in history and family history, I feel this work is absolutely archival.  I remember meeting Robert McInnis several different times, hanging at the original CAG here in Calgary and once out at the Leighton Center.  He was living out in Cayley at that time.

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Finally, I thoroughly enjoyed the Kaleidoscopic Animalia exhibit curated by Paul Hardy.  A disappointment was that the gift shop downstairs had no documentation for purchase about how these potent spaces were curated.  From the time I was a child and watched Chez Helene and her pet mouse, Susie, teaching the french language over Mom and Dad’s black and white television set, I have loved the idea of little mouse houses, assemblages, spaces cluttered with amazing objects.  I am compelled to explore objects of affection and wonder about them…their historical significance…or what they meant in the context of ‘the ordinary’.

This exhibit fulfilled all of my curiosity about such spaces.  Loved this!  I could spend hours on a visual journey through these spaces!

Having recently written a post about my remembrances of the Oldman River, I stopped into the gift shop and ended up finding a single copy of Robert Girvan’s book,  Who Speaks for the River? The Oldman River Dam and the Search for Justice.  Happily, there is a chapter that describes the entire day at Maycroft Crossing, so many years ago.  This is something that I can give to Cayley and Erin who were with me that day on the river.

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It was a beautiful afternoon at the Glenbow Gallery and it was important that I post some of my thoughts about the magic that I experienced there.  If you can, take the time, to find your magic there.

2 thoughts on “Exploring the Glenbow on a Quiet Day

  1. Hi! I’m working on a project about the evolution of arts in Calgary for the Calgary Journal, and Robert McInnis provided his insight through a narrative piece. I was wondering if you would be okay with us using your photos of his paintings? We would give you full credit of course!

    • Really, Zoe? My photographs? Would the Glenbow have any reservations? I know that I asked permission that day. Well, sure…if you credit me for snapping them. My name is Kathleen Moors. Some pretty wonderful people are featured in this piece of Robert’s. I just don’t know if we are supposed to credit anyone else or what the score is on that? Let me know what you find out.

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