Celebrating 2017 at the MacLaren

July 6, 2017 - 9:43 am

Throughout 2017, we are celebrating Canada's 150th in a variety of ways, recognizing the diverse narratives that comprise this period of our national history.

This summer, our exhibitions bring our permanent collection to the forefront.

Summer Sketches features the conserved watercolours by 19th century Shanty Bay artist Lucius O'Brien from our holdings, presented alongside contemporary photographs of Barrie by local artist Garett Walker. While historically disparate, these renderings of our regional terrain are woven together by the insightful reading of author Andrea Curtis in her exhibition essay. Generational comparisons are also highlighted in the pairing of rare abstract paintings from the 1960s by Doris McCarthy from our collection opposite drawings by emerging Toronto artist Jaime Angelopoulos.

While photographs from the collection of artist John Hartman document the rapidly changing Canadian landscape of the late 19th and early 20th century, Re-enact brings together multi-faceted works by six contemporary artists from across Canada that draw attention to the more marginalized moments, and voices, residing outside of our official histories. We close this sesquicentennial year with two solo shows: works on paper by Governor General Award-winning Vancouver artist Landon Mackenzie and the stylized watercolour landscapes of local artist Ernest Conyers Barker.

This summer, we are also conserving and installing sculptures on our grounds from our permanent collection by Sorel Etrog (1933-2014) and Kosso Eloul (1920-1995), two individuals who immigrated to Canada, made their homes in Ontario, and became world-renowned artists. Etrog's Dream Chamber (1976) is a bronze cast of an interlocked head, its imagery and title suggesting the power to unlock our inner potential.

Eloul's Shlosha (1974) is comprised of three delicately balanced rectangular stainless steel forms representing truth, justice and peace in Jewish law.

As a public art gallery, we are committed to presenting a wide range of artwork by contemporary Canadian artists for our audiences, indoors and outdoors. We hope this initiative, coupled with essential repairs to the Spirit Catcher on the shores of Kempenfelt Bay, will ensure a profound and lasting legacy of inspiration, community and inclusivity.

Our revitalized sculpture garden is a special Canada 150 legacy project. In 2017, we also celebrate the centennial of our Carnegie library, which forms the heart of our award-winning building, and the 30th anniversary of the installation of the Spirit Catcher at Barrie's waterfront.

We are very grateful to the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the City of Barrie's Public Art Committee for their support and the generous bequest from the Estate of Charles McCrea Peacock for the long-term care of the Spirit Catcher. A special dedication on Sept. 29 will mark these important milestones in our collective histories.

We have much to celebrate, nationally, provincially and locally. Please join us on July 6 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the MacLaren for the launch of this exciting new season.

Carolyn Bell Farrell is the executive director at the MacLaren Art Centre.