Size Matters:
Steve Driscoll and Finn O’Hara
Opens March 11, 2017
Curator: Sarah Stanners

A Primary Exhibition organized by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection for Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival

Size Matters brings together the work of painter Steve Driscoll and photographer Finn O’Hara for their first-ever exhibition at a public art gallery.

These Toronto-based artists face a dichotomy familiar to many Millennials: urban lifestyles combined with a love for the outdoors. Their work is a creative response to the need for a sense of scale. The resulting images are moments of intervention on landscapes that are sharply foreign to the production and even subject matter of the paintings themselves. A wooded portage route joins passersby on Queen Street West; a giant northern lights landscape finds itself fireside in the concrete jungle; and a multi-panelled waterfall is juxtaposed with towers of commerce in Edmonton.

The process of photographing art is laid bare, but any sense of practicality is abandoned for wit, and Guerrilla-style set making produces a document of art documentation. The disconnect between seemingly impromptu outdoor sets and the landscape paintings they act to frame underlines the impasse reached between en plein air methods and Canadian landscape painting in the 21st century.

Steve Driscoll (born 1980), Portage 2014, Urethane on plastic panel, 198.1 × 198.1 cm (78 × 78 in.), Collection of Brian Whibbs and Doris Stamml

Finn O’Hara (born 1972) & Steve Driscoll (born 1980), I Saw All this Continue On 2014, Digital Chromogenic Print, 45” x 60″

Palaya Qiatsuk (born 1965), Shaman’s Transformation, 1997, stone, antler, bone, ivory with stone inlay, 25.7 x 20 x 21.8 cm, Purchase 1999, Reproduced with the Permission of Dorset Fine Arts, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 1999.7.A-E.

Arctic Echoes: Sound, Stories and Song in the New North
February – August 2017
Curator: guest curator Dr. Nancy Campbell
Galleries 2, 3 and 4

To [Inuit], truth is given through oral tradition, mysticism, intuition, all cognition, not simply by observation and measurement of physical phenomena. To them, the ocularly visible apparition is not nearly as common as the purely auditory one; hearer would be a better term than seer for their holy men. ‐‐ Edmund Carpenter and Marshall McLuhan, Acoustic Space

Music, storytelling, poetry and dance are essential expressions of Inuit cultural identity. This series of Inuit art exhibitions is themed to sounds and activities associated with sound as manifested in the Arctic environment, Inuit songs, instrumental performances and other aural/oral sources represented in Inuit visual art. This selection of contemporary Inuit art showcases the importance of sound with respect to its cultural significance as a core area of perception. This exhibition will also include some works on paper by Inuit women artists selected from the recent Museum of Inuit Art acquisition. Audio/visual components that complement the works on display are also included in the curatorial research process for this project.

Passion Over Reason: Tom Thomson and Joyce Wieland
Summer/Fall 2017 (Galleries 1-4)
Curator: Sarah Stanners

Consider this exhibition to be a love letter to Tom Thomson and Canada – two subjects at the core of the 2017-year as we celebrate Canada’s 150th year and the centenary of Thomson’s death. Passion Over Reason will take a critical approach to our fascination with Thomson and show how today’s current culture of hipster or lumbersexual fashion, as well as cultivation of outsider creed, has confirmed what Wieland pointed to in the 1970s: Thomson is Canada. This exhibition will also allow for an account of feminist approaches to the topic of Canada in art then and now.

Works on show will range from select Tom Thomson paintings and related historical objects, artworks by Joyce Wieland (including a screening of her motion picture The Far Shore), archival materials reflecting Wieland’s process in compiling her creative bookwork catalogue for True Patriot Love, which subsumed a government-issued compendium of arctic flora by infiltrating it with bits and pieces of photos, needlework, notes and other, at-times obsessive, annotations that pointed to a deep fascination and love for Thomson. This feminist lens on the iconic figure of Tom Thomson will also include a consideration of contemporary women artists responding to notions of patriotism and Canada, and the lore of Tom Thomson.

Joyce Wieland, Entrance To Nature, 1988
canvas collage with oil, glitter, wire, cardboard, staples and metal push pins
Courtesy of Paul Petro Contemporary Art, Toronto
Photo: Cheryl O’Brien

The Group of Seven Guitar Project
Summer 2017 (Galleries 8 and 9)

J.E.H. MacDonald once noted that Lawren Harris was compelled to sing a tune when he sat nearby the natural rhythms of water to paint en plein air. During the summer of 2017 – Canada’s 150th year – the McMichael Canadian Art Collection will become a place to wander, celebrate and delight in acoustic space.

The Group of Seven Guitar Project will take over the length of one of McMichael’s most honourable spaces. Eight masterwork guitars, commissioned from seven world-renowned Canadian guitar makers in homage to a particular Group of Seven member and Tom Thomson, will be presented in the round, allowing viewers to walk around and explore the various landscapes in wood and inlay hosted by the musical instrument. The luthiers and their respective artists are as follows: Linda Manzer (Lawren Harris), Sergi de Jonge (J.E.H. MacDonald), Tony Duggan-Smith (Arthur Lismer), David Wren (Franklin Carmichael), George Gray (Frank Johnston), Grit Laskin (F.H. Varley), and Jean Larrivée (A.Y. Jackson). The eighth guitar, inspired by Tom Thomson, will be a group effort by all the 7 luthiers working together.

The working plans and drawings from each luthier will be featured on the walls, along with didactics that will appeal to all generations. In addition, a documentary film on the making of each guitar will screen in feature length within the exhibition space.

An impressive anteroom to the presentation of the guitars will feature a special exhibition of paintings by the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson. These masterworks in paint will prime viewers to make the connection between the talents of each artist and the guitars that they inspired. Performances will occur inside the gallery alongside the guitars, stimulating the senses of sight and sound, creating a great space for the imagination.

Grit Laskin, Because Of Constance, 2015-2016
Negra Flamenco guitar
back and sides: African blackwood with sapwood centre; top: Sitka spruce; body binding: ebony with rosewood and holly (natural and dyed black); neck: Spanish cedar; fretboard: Indian ebony; bridge: Indian rosewood with ebony bone tiebloc
McMichael Canadian Art Collection, TD2016.6
Photos Courtesy of the Artist

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