The Art Gallery of Windsor was thrilled to announced the opening of three new Winter/Spring 2017 exhibits which celebrate the talents of local artists and collectors at a press conference on Thursday, February 9, 2017.
The Winter-Spring exhibitions are Local Matters: Mary Celestino, Elio Del Col, Adèle Duck, Zeke Moores and Tony Mosna, Position As Desired: Exploring African Canadian Identity/Photographs, and Suzy Lake: Performing an Archive. During this program, the focus remains on the ways in which artists experience and materialize the notion of ‘home’. In keeping with celebrations of home, these groundbreaking exhibitions coincide with the City of Windsor’s 125th birthday and Canada’s 150th. The AGW is working to shape their own special sense of home through these exhibitions.
From the AGW collection comes Local Matters, featuring printmakers Tony Mosna and Elio Del Col, painters Adèle Duck and Mary Celestino, and sculptor Zeke Moores. Each of these artists has a sustained commitment to making art in Windsor and many of the artworks featured in this exhibition are new acquisitions that have yet-to-be-shown. Curated by Dr. Catharine Mastin, the exhibition challenges traditionally dominant subjects including the representational, the abstract, the landscape, the figurative, and the still life within the traditions of painting, printmaking, and sculpture.
“The title of the exhibit is meant to be a bit of a double-entendre,” explained Mastin. “As in local does matter and the works of arts speak to the various matters that concern the artists who are working here.”
Printmaker/artist Elio Del Col spent nine years in Olde Sandwich Towne. On display at Local Matters is his print of the Olde Sandwich Town Post Office. “At the time we were looking to raise funds for the Sandwich Towne festival,” explains Elio. “The building has since been purchased and restored as a coffee house. They’ve saved it which is great because it was beginning to fall into disarray and we would have lost it.”
Position As Desired: Exploring African Canadian Identity
Position As Desired: Exploring African Canadian Identity/Photography is curated from the Wedge Collection, a private collection of Toronto-based dentist Dr. Kenneth Montague. This is the first major exhibition to examine the history, movement, and experiences of African Canadians through contemporary photography. Organized in part by the Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto), where it first opened in 2010, the exhibition presents a wide variety of photographic works ranging from rare vintage portraits of the first African immigrants to Canada to contemporary works by established artists.
Dr. Montague commissioned The Windsor Project, part of the Wedge Collection, which is being shown as part of the Positions Desired exhibit. Montague explains, “the all important Windsor Project comes from a collective called In The Black Canada, three filmmakers from Toronto who came to Windsor and with the help of Jaclyn Meloche (Art Gallery of Windsor, Contemporary Art Curator) filmed stories about growing up black in Windsor.” Montague describes the Windsor Project as “thrilling because you’ll see people from high school students to those up to their eighties telling stories with a line that continues through those stories about inclusion and not being included. About being a part of and apart from things in this community. I think these stories are important to tell.”
Suzy Lake: Performing an Archive
Organized by the McMaster Museum of Art in partnership with the AGW, Suzy Lake: Performing an Archive continues the artist’s exploration and questioning of social issues and identity. Drawing on historical and personal ancestry research, Lake bears witness to the cycle of urban, demographic, and social development of working-class Detroit. Suzy Lake visits locations where her family of German heritage lived, focusing on a family history period from the mid-nineteenth century to the 1920s.
Although Lake’s project focuses on working class neigbourhoods in Detroit she considers Windsor, with it’s working class, home too. During the press conference an emotional Lake stated, “growing up in the East side of Detroit, Windsor was always part of Detroit to me, in a good sense. We used to come to Windsor all the time so to show this work where I think of home is a real privilege.”
Prior to reading his poem Windsor Ballpark 1900, Poet Laureate Marty Gervais, echoed the statements of Lake and Montague of neighbourhoods and stories being important. “Windsor is a city rich in images and stories. Those images and stories inspire, provoke and enliven our lives,” explained Gervais. Windsor Ball Park 1900 describes a baseball diamond that once stood where the Windsor Armories are currently located.
City of Windsor Councillor Rino Bortolin has built his career on supporting and highlighting local and what the Windsor area has to offer, especially when it comes to food and cooking. “The displays and the shows that we have here do that for the visual arts,” says Bortolin. “Art is something that influences us when we look at building stronger neighbourhoods and stronger communities. These exhibits are what I consider to be a special show with so many ties to the artists locally. This is truly a special exhibit for Windsor.”
For more information about these exhibits which run from February 11 to May 7, 2017 visit the Art Gallery of Windsor.