The Curator’s View: Thomas Bouckley Collection, An Art Perspective

Today’s blog post comes from Sonya Jones, Curator of The Thomas Bouckley Collection.

When looking at images we bring our own history and memories to the experience. For me, coming from an art history background, there are times when I not only look at the images in the Thomas Bouckley Collection from a historical perspective, but also from an “art” perspective. There are many images in the collection that are not only historically significant, but aesthetically beautiful. The majority of the images were taken for documentation purposes—snapshots of events, buildings, or people—but there are many that were clearly taken by a skilled photographer. For example, the composition and lighting of this 1912 image depicting young men playing billiards at the YMCA is striking.

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Other times I’m pleasantly surprised to be reminded of famous paintings when looking at images from the collection. There are a couple that have always reminded me of artworks, for example the Oshawa beach scene and Seurat’s painting below.

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Beach Activities, Oshawa on the Lake 1915


Georges-Pierre Seurat A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte  1884

However, in preparing this blog I put on my art history goggles and even more jumped out at me. Although there are differences, the similarities are what are enjoyable to discover.

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T.N. Gibbs Daughter, c. 1850s, (detail)


Jean-Honoré Fragonard The Reader  c. 1776

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On the Oshawa Creek, 1900


Pierre-Auguste Renoir The Skiff (La Yole)  1875

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Oshawa Junction, 1912

Claude Monet Gare Staint-Lazare  1877

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Newton Home, located at 246 Albert Street, 1880 


Grant Wood American Gothic  1930

A new installation of photos from the Thomas Bouckley Collection opens Saturday 28 April. Music To Our Ears: Oshawa’s Musical History is on view until 23 August, 2012. 

The Curator’s View: Meet me at the MoMA

From the desk of Linda Jansma, our curator. 

I photocopied an ArtsNews article that appeared in the magazine this past winter. It described a unique program offered at the MoMA in New York City that brought patients with dementia and their caregivers into the gallery for tours and discussions on a monthly basis.


(all images via

I contacted the woman who has spear-headed Meet Me at the MoMA, a program that started in 2006, and arranged to watch a tour during a recent visit to New York. I was one of 115 people who met at 2 p.m. on a warm Tuesday afternoon (the day the gallery is closed to the public, making it easier for the groups to move through the gallery spaces). We were divided into coloured groups: blue, purple, green, red, orange and yellow and given name tags and stools and then each group was led into the gallery spaces by an instructor and volunteer. Our group had a second observer – Ali, who works at the Alzheimer society in New York, helping patients paint – he sensitively equated the disease with art, calling it an abstraction of the mind.


Our leader, Meryl, stopped in front of two paintings by surrealist artist Yves Tanguy. We spent twenty minutes contemplating the colour and shapes in each painting, and listening to the comments of both patient and caregiver. No one was in a hurry and there were no wrong answers: what looked like a desert to one, reminded another of the board walk of Atlantic City, while many could see the “body” after it was described. Meryl worked her magic by coaxing patients to draw on past memories to bring meaning to the work. She did the same in front of Willem de Kooning’s Woman I (William kept coming back to just how large that woman’s arms were!), and the minimalist sculpture of Lynda Benglis (definitely looked like duck-billed platypuses). What everyone seemed to agree on was that none of them would actually want to live with any of the work they saw that afternoon.


The disease had progressed differently in many of the patients: I spoke with Karen on the way to the gallery, assuming that she was a caregiver, and was told that she has had Alzheimer’s for “a long, long, long time,” while other participants could only whisper simple answers to the questions asked. The caregivers were equal participants in the program, an acknowledgement to the difficulty inherent in their jobs and that this was an outlet for them, as well.

The gallery deserves the accolades and awards it has received for Meet Me at the MoMA, a program delivered with sensitivity, awarding each of its participants with dignity by drawing on memories that tell of lives that continue to be meaningful.

Read more on the MoMA’s website:



The Curator’s View: COHCA & OSNAP Meet at the RMG

From the desk of Linda Jansma, our curator.


We had a great day at the RMG on April 2nd. We were hosting COCHA, as well as the newest members of OSNAP. You may be thinking: “what the heck?” Two seemingly disparate groups like COCHA and OSNAP meeting on the same day, and, for half that time, together?

Oh… you’re wondering what COCHA and OSNAP actually are…

COCHA is the former group known as CHAPS. Since 2009, we’ve been trying to agree on what that stands for: Canadian Historical Art Projects? Canadian Historical Art Professionals? Despite loving the acronym, in the end it really didn’t say who we actually are. So, on Monday we decided it was COCHA: Curators of Canadian Historical Art. We’re a group of 13 Ontario-based curators who are passionate about historical art and get together twice each year to discuss our collections, the projects we’re working on and any possible collaborations between its members.

As the host institution for this meeting, we decided to put our social media guru, Jacquie Severs, on the hotspot to give our group an overview of what she does on a daily basis (including posting blogs, of course!). We also invited the social media types of the COCHA galleries to join us.

Jacquie did a brilliant job of presenting the fast paced, ever changing world of social media, and how through it, we hope to capture the hearts, minds and imaginations of a generation who derive much of their information through social media sites. The medium certainly continues to be as important as the message, and the community that it helps build will be the backbone of our galleries moving into the future.

Jacquie was able to recruit the newest members to OSNAP, the Ontario Social Networking Arts Professionals. This is a group that started in 2011 as a way for marketing and communications professionals in the arts community to come together to explore social media best practices and build alliances for collaboration in galleries, museums and other arts organizations.

At Monday’s meeting, OSNAP worked on strengthening the links between Ontario’s art galleries, while COCHA members discussed presenting the past in meaningful ways. Many of us work in relative isolation, so days like Monday are not only rejuvenating, but inspiring – and yes, just plain enjoyable – there are some great arts professionals in this province.