When reviewing academic literature I have come across the idea that art and culture occur primarily in urban areas. Not so historically. It is certainly not a reality in our daily lives as Canadians.
In the age of globalization and electronic communication, more and more folks can live in areas of their choosing. Quality of life choices abound and community profiles in rural and rural urban communities are shifting to include art and culture as an economic sector.
So it should not be surprising that not only have art and cultural expression always existed in rural areas, as detailed in the writings of Canadian community development scholar Jim Lotz, but the rigour of art and cultural contributions to our smaller communities is changing nationally.
For instance in October 2008 AyrSpace Gallery opened our doors as a community economic development initiative based on social enterprise – offering those in our often-ignored art and cultural sector a place to exhibit and sell their work. After the global economic downfall a few months earlier much of our small downtown was in transition.
We were not the only small Canadian community gallery to morph out of an economic downturn. As a result of International Women Celebrate! our exhibition for the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day in 2011, we met scores of artists from around the world. We stayed in touch with a range of Canadian artists from coast to coast. With that opportunity came the awareness of other art galleries in small communities.
|Swoon Fine Art|
Karen captured the sentiment of what I believe is the key to developing a gallery that folks collect from and keep coming back to. We, as gallerists, take the responsibility of presenting artists that demonstrate the rigour of art making as part of their everyday lives. It is that exciting component of who they are as individuals, in orchestration with their formal or informal, academic or empirical training which attracts and compels us.
‘The artists I’m most honoured to represent – are the ones who MUST make art – they really don’t have a choice.” Karen Gimbel 2014
In fact all three of us are committed to showcasing working artists, not for only for the artworks they produce but as a catalyst of change in our society and in our local communities as a demonstration of professional creativity. Engagement is a thread in our discussion.
“Often an artist can feel like an outsider and misunderstood. Through years of being involved in the community I continue to build up a skill set in which I can not only represent other artists but also encourage and mentor them along the way. Having this personal interaction and watching artists grow and develop, impacts me just as much as it does those I work with.” Brandt Eisner 2014
What to expect from our destination galleries in the New Year? Brandt is taking “Swoon” away from bricks and mortar. Online, Pop-up exhibitions in the Halifax Regional Municipality and guest curating are included in his new direction.
Karen is expanding the already vigorous offerings of Bluerock Gallery to included art instruction, participatory art and meaningful ways of artists interacting with their following in Alberta and beyond.
AyrSpace Gallery is exploring partnerships in new community projects, presenting two interdisciplinary shows in 2015 and continuing to introduce folks to thoughts and daily lives expressed as works of art by exceptional professionals from across Canada.
Jill Yuzwa – Gallerist – AyrSpace Gallery – Ayr, Ontario Canada