The Curator’s View: Diverse Art Experiences

Curator Linda Jansma discusses some recent art experiences and how their diverse natures created three unique experiences.

I’ve had three distinct art experiences over the past four days. The first was this past Friday when I attended the 12th annual Toronto International Art Fair at the Metro Convention Centre.


Art fairs are primarily about selling art, its commoditization. From $600 8cm square paintings to large works closing in on $200,000 this is much more about business than what happens in a public gallery setting such as the RMG. Past art fairs are compared with this one; dealers woo both experienced and new collectors; lectures help the novice into the world of buying art for both pleasure and investment. Toronto-based artist, Kent Monkman’s installation maze spoke to the life of the artist: grants, dealers, curators, biennales, etc. Words were linked by four tableau rooms representing the artist, curator/museum director, collector, and galleriest, all with actors playing roles. Art imitating life right outside of the walls of the maze.



The second experience was the grand finale of the Office of Identity Collects on Saturday afternoon. Two Saskatoon-based artists, Heather Cline and Michele Sereda, spent a week at 16 King Street East, just east of Oshawa’s four corners. The 27 people who attended the “Citizenship Ceremony” were some of the people who had participated, earlier in the week, in Cline and Sereda’s art performance where they were photographed and interviewed as part of a piece that will result in an exhibition of Cline’s paintings and video work in September, 2012. Saturday’s group was sworn in and then asked to walk up and down King Street while Cline recorded the events from the opposite side of the street. As artists—for whom this was their first Oshawa visit—they revealed as much about Oshawa and those of us who live or work here, as they learned from us. I’m very much looking forward to September’s exhibition.


Monday morning’s experience was diametrically opposed to Friday afternoon’s. I came into work with my gardening gloves, tools and a tarp taken from my garage. And then I, along with other gallery staff and Sympathetic Hunting Magic’s curator, Gil McElroy, began to strike the exhibition. Striking usually implies wrapping and crating works of art to be returned to the artist or sent on to the next gallery. This was true in the case of Niall Donaghy’s sculpture, but Shelly Rahme’s work was disassembled and will be hauled to a landfill later this week. Shelly spent a week earlier in September assembling/creating three sculptures, primarily with twigs, roots, branches, and clay. They were powerful works that related to consumerism and longing. But they will never end up at Toronto’s Convention Centre, or in anyone’s collection. They are site specific work, meant to exist for the moment and only live on in the catalogue and installation photographs of the exhibition.

For three very different reasons, this has been a good four days.


Saskatoon artists collect stories from downtown


These images are from the The Office of Identity Collection project staged in Regina SK in the spring of 2009 and exhibited at The Art Gallery of Regina in the fall of 2010. 

The photograph is from the Citizenship ceremony and celebration; the painting in 10’ x 10’  digital imaging/acrylic/Canvas by mixed media artist Heather Cline.


article via Oshawa Express


By Jacquie Severs/Columnist

Artists in residence programs offer other artists and communities an opportunity to interact and collaborate. One popular format is for a gallery to offer an artist the chance to live and work in their town for a set period of time, supporting the venture with funding. This grants the artist the opportunity to work on their art free from ongoing financial worries, providing focus on their art practice.

In return, artists often run workshops and provide a window to the community into their art practice. Usually there is an exhibition at the end of the year of the art created. Artist in residence programs are not limited to fine arts however, and can also involve writers, architects, dance, design and more.

Residency programs are not a new phenomenon. Examples date back to the early 1900s. One Canadian example includes a variety of programs from Parks Canada. At one location, the program allows an artist to spend six weeks in Gros Morne National Park, exploring, photographing, sketching and participating in the park’s interpretive program. The program is designed to help connect people and the park through the arts as well as to draw attention to Gros Morne. Through artists’ participation, Parks Canada hopes to expand the way the park is seen by local residents, staff, visitors and audiences beyond park boundaries.

Kitchener, Ontario created Canada’s first municipal Artist-in-Residence program in Canada in 1995. The year-long program encourages conversation between artists and Kitchener residents and visitors, supports artistic innovation in contemporary art and offers workshops in neighbourhood community centres, lectures in the City Hall and exhibits in partnership with other agencies. One month of the residency year is reserved for the artist to use Kitchener City Hall’s Rotunda Gallery for exhibition.

The RMG is working with Saskatoon artist Heather Cline assisted by Michele Sereda from October 24 to 29 in a project called “The Office of Identity Collects.”

This project involves the artist taking up residence in a downtown Oshawa storefront located at 16 King Street East and recreating the atmosphere of a government passport office from the 1950s.



“Passport” photos will be taken of participants and interviews conducted asking people for stories about the downtown Oshawa area. After the artists have collected material, the artist will combine it with images sourced from the RMG’s Thomas Bouckley collection of historical photographs.

Then the artist will return to Saskatoon to paint a series of works specific to our city and the stories collected.

The work created will then be shown in an exhibition at the RMG from Sept. 1 to Oct. 28, 2012.

Be sure to visit the pop-up office downtown at 16 King Street East from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. from October 24 to 28 to participate in this artist in residence program. Those who visit will be asked back to the location on Saturday, October 29, where a “Citizenship Ceremony” will be held and each participant will be given a “Passport” which is a small woodblock print of King Street.

This unique project provides an opportunity to have fun, connect with artists and build on the existing history of downtown Oshawa.