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New shows, online auction at Tom Thomson Art Gallery

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The Owen Sound and Grey-Bruce area’s artistic riches will be on full display at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery in the coming days and months.

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The gallery has recently launched two exhibitions – one made up of works from the gallery’s permanent collection and another highlighting a talented Owen Sound artist – while an online auction being held over two weeks in November will highlight seven of the area’s top artistic minds.

“One of the pillars of my curatorial vision for the gallery is to focus on the regional artists who are working in the community and around the community,” the gallery’s director and chief curator Aidan Ware said Thursday. “I think it is so important to recognize their work and focus on their work and there is an unusual richness in this area of artists and creativity and I think that is so amazing.”

A show by one of those talents opened this weekend in Alan Glicksman: The Process of Becoming.

The show is a mid-career survey of the Owen Sound’s artist’s works that documents his ongoing fascination with mark-making through richly layered and bold graphic compositions.

They are completed in a variety of mediums, including drawings, paintings and sculptures. And Glicksman is efficient in the use of materials that otherwise may be discarded. For example, included in the show is a group of mixed media works on brown paper called The Post Office Series (Owen Sound), done on discarded paper he retrieved from his work at the local post office.

“He was very resourceful and uses whatever material he can get his hands on,” said Shannon Bingeman, the gallery’s exhibitions assistant.

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The Post Office Series (Owen Sound) by Alan Glicksman currently on display at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery as part of the exhibition Alan Glicksman: The Process of Becoming.
The Post Office Series (Owen Sound) by Alan Glicksman currently on display at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery as part of the exhibition Alan Glicksman: The Process of Becoming. Photo by Rob Gowan The Sun Times

They are bold and detailed works that possess the same carefree expressiveness that is associated with children’s works and are wrought with psychological tension. Many of the works feature creatures that have sprung forward from Glicksman’s imagination, as well as text including song lyrics.

“He is really prolific in the amount of output he puts in his practice. He creates daily and is very dedicated to the act of making,” Bingeman said. “He approaches each piece without a specific idea of what is going to come out of it. For him it is all about the process.”

Some pieces in the show Glicksman actually worked on over multiple years.

“They would live with him in his studio and he would revisit them, take things away and add to it,” she said. “It is really like an evolving process.”

Bingeman said what stands out to her about the show is how it can really appeal to all ages. She said some of the first visitors to the exhibition was a grandmother and her grandchildren, and she watched as the youngsters really “lit up” in the space.

“They looked at the creatures and found humour in it. They were going from one to the other and kind of mirroring some of the gestures of the creatures,” said Bingeman. “There was something that really appealed to them as children, probably the colours and just the imaginative quality of it.”

Also opening on Saturday at the gallery was an exhibition called Drawn In: A Selection of Works from the Gallery’s Collection

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For the show, longtime gallery volunteers Joan Hawksbridge and David Taylor selected a wide variety of works from the gallery’s collection of 360 drawings by 80 different artists.

The selections vary in subject matter, material and approach, but all highlight the medium of drawing.

“We wanted to look at drawings because a lot of the time they don’t make it into other exhibitions,” said David Huff, the gallery’s curator of collections. “We have a fairly extensive collection.

“What they were trying to do when they were looking at it was they were trying to explore all the ways that artists use drawing to help tell their story.”

Huff explained that drawings can be everything from an early part of the long artistic process, such as a quick sketch of an idea, to works that had been conceived right from the beginning and are the way they are to be seen by the viewing public. The mediums include include pencil, pen, watercolour, ink and oil paint pieces.

“One of the arguments within the art world between curators and artists is on what is a drawing,” said Huff. “We are not trying to define that, because even we got into this whole big discussion of is this a drawing, is this not a drawing.

“We have put out a wide variety and we want the visiting public to come in and look at all the different ways artists have used drawing to tell their creative story.”

Among the highlights of the show are a series of works from John Hartman that detail the wrecking of the Midland grain elevators. The selection of six works from 1992 are part of a series of 59 pieces that Hartman donated to the gallery.

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Also included in the selection of about three dozen works in the show are pieces by artists including John Gould, Emily Carr, George Hawken, David Milne, Diana Thorneycroft and many others.

Both the Drawn In and the Glicksman show will be on display at the gallery until Feb. 5.

The gallery is also preparing to launch an online auction, which will run from Nov. 7 to 20 and feature a curated selection of works by seven artists from the region.

The auction, called A Grouping of Seven, will feature artists Becky Comber, Emily Kewageshig, Tony Miller, Kristine Moran, Janice Toulouse, Willy Waterton, and Glicksman.

The auction will feature two works from each artist – one at a lower price to encourage new and young collectors and one at a higher value.

“Part of the hope of the auction is that we can inspire new collectors to get into it,” Bingeman said.

“We are just really trying to promote the importance of being surrounded by contemporary art in your home and how enriching that can be. I think now more than ever we are considering our home environments and what surrounds us.”

The artworks will be available to view in person at the gallery by appointment. Details on the Grouping of Seven will be available at www.tomthomson.org

Funds raised from the auction will go towards supporting artists in Grey-Bruce and the gallery.

“One of the main ideas around the auction was thinking about the artists who have been so affected by the pandemic, and also the gallery because we were closed for several months and have had to cancel our film series which was a major source of revenue for the gallery,” Ware said.

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The auction is also a way for the gallery to bring attention to some of the work artists have been doing during the pandemic.

“I think many artists have been extremely productive during this time because they feel like they really had the time to focus on their studio practice,” Ware said. “It is exciting to put together a grouping of seven artists from the region and they are all artists we have been working with recently or will be working with very shortly and moving into the future.”

The gallery is also continuing to show The Group of Seven: The View From Here, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Group of Seven in 1920. The show uses works from the gallery’s collection to provide a visual tour across Canada as experienced by the Group of Seven and explores the unique connection between the group and Owen Sound.

The gallery is currently open Wednesday to Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Admission to the gallery is free or by donation and everyone is welcome.

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