Be Contemporary art gallery in Stroud had been planning a sculpture exhibit this fall, showcasing the work of local and regional artists – and tying the show to International Sculpture Day 2020 (ISD2020) and the Town of Innisfil’s bicentennial celebrations.
Then COVID-19 hit, cancelling all in-person celebrations, shutting the doors of locations where artists had planned to install their sculptures for ISD2020, and temporarily closing the gallery itself.
When the Be Contemporary gallery reopened as part of the province’s Stage 3 recovery, curator Jeanette Luchese found another reason to go ahead with the planned sculpture show in September.
It was Luchese’s hope that the exhibit will provide “some respite in these challenging times.”
She explained: “The arts help us cope. Sharing the creativity and vision of these artists provides a much-needed grounding in these uncertain times.”
Abstract Realities, a Sculpture Exhibit fills the main gallery with works by Patti Agapi, Carey Cruise, Luci Dilkus, Gail Esau, Christina Luck, father-daughter artists Ted and Midori Fullerton, Tim Laurin, Jill Price, and Marlene Hilton-Moore, whose three small sculptures bring a sense of the monumental and mythical.
There is a whimsical piece by Chum McLeod, a sample of Bernice Vasey’s “useful” sculpture, and a clever installation ‘All under one roof’ by Amy Bagshaw that uses the gallery’s own structure as part of its framework.
Luchese describes a sense of abstract reality as a “tool,” that helps the viewer find a balance between truth and untruth, fantasy and reality, and discover meaning in a "fractured and disconnected" world.
Like Midori Fullerton’s found objects, each transformed into something mysterious or utilitarian — and Nathalie Bertin’s Metis beadwork face mask, a project Bertin launched to transform the face mask, a symbol of isolation, social distancing and disease prevention, into an object of beauty, cultural connection and healing.
A smaller side gallery houses A Drive in Three Dimensions, an installation by William Blakey that explores the connections between pattern, form and light in a way that turns suburban monotony into sculpture.
The works are not simply three dimensional but multi-dimensional, changing with the light and in relation to where the viewer stands, which is why it has been so exciting for Luchese and the other artists to be back in a gallery space.
Like Amy Bagshaw, who resides in Alliston. “It made her feel so good to have work in a gallery again,” said Luchese.
As for local artist Gail Esau, “she’s jumping for joy!”
That’s the title of Esau’s series of figures, which leap from a gallery wall. Esau herself has described the Jumping for Joy series, which she began on March 13 when COVID-19 and lockdowns were already part of daily life:
“It was my initial belief that people would be ‘jumping for joy’ to stay home, to slow down, to stop and listen and dream of a better way to live. It is now September 2020. I see how wrong I was,” wrote Esau, ending with the hope, “I trust you have found moments of joy during this time.”
Despite an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases recently, the gallery has opened the sculpture shows to the public, taking precautions that include requiring visitors to book a time to visit, and limiting the number of visitors allowed inside at one time to five.
“What I wanted to do was bring different aspects of sculpture together,” said Luchese. “These two exhibits are a wonderful opportunity to engage the community in the diverse interpretations of sculpture, with amazing artists – local emerging artists, alongside internationally renowned artists. I think the show has something for everyone.”
Be Contemporary gallery is located at 7869 Yonge St., in Innisfil's Stroud community. The gallery is open from 11 am. to 5 p.m., Thursdays to Saturday. To book a time to visit, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 705-431-4044.
To arrange for a private viewing, contact Luchese at 705-817-0348.
Abstract Realities, a sculpture exhibition and A Drive in Three Dimensions will be on display at the gallery until Oct. 17.
“It’s an opportunity to see if the words are true, that art can lead you through the ills and the pains of anxiety,” said Luchese.
It’s also an outstanding accomplishment: “In this tiny little town of Innisfil, there’s this amazing work here!”
For more information, click here.