Monday, January 22, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Gallery of memories

Mali's post about missing visits to the art gallery made me think about my own relationship to them. I have very little real artistic ability in terms of drawing & painting, etc. I don't remember art class being offered in school once I got beyond junior high and, growing up in small towns no closer than about 50 miles from the nearest city, art galleries weren't something I grew up visiting. (Museums, both large and small, were something we frequented more often.)

The first time I remember visiting an art gallery was when I was about 17. The Winnipeg Art Gallery was hosting a rare touring exhibit from the Hermitage in Russia -- this was in the late 1970s, peak Cold War years -- and one of my artistic friends was keen to go, so she, her sisters, mine & I all went. There were lots of Old Masters, names we'd only ever heard from books, and it was a pretty impressive experience.

As I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate art & art galleries more. Living in Toronto, I've been to the Art Gallery of Ontario several times, usually when there's been an interesting exhibit on. (They will soon be hosting the Infinity Mirrors exhibit that Mel wrote about a while back.) I especially enjoy their collection of Group of Seven works, and they had an Emily Carr exhibit a few years ago that I quite enjoyed.

For some reason, I have known about the McMichael Canadian Art Collection since I was a kid. I think I saw a documentary about it on CBC television, and I was enchanted by the idea of a log house out in the country transformed into an art gallery. Since I moved to the Toronto area, I would see stories about it from time to time in the local media. Dh & I finally took a day off & went to see it one fall day at least 10-20 years ago, and we both really enjoyed the experience.

As I've mentioned in some previous posts, we now live within an easy drive of the McMichael. Last year, I decided to take out a membership, and I am so glad I did. Two visits per year, and the membership pays for itself. We've already been there several times to view new exhibits, attend lectures, and just stroll around the lovely grounds (the fall colours, in particular, can be spectacular). 

It occurred to me, as I was writing a comment on Mali's post (which currently seems to be languishing in moderation...! ;)  ), that Robert & Signe McMichael, the couple who generously donated their beautiful property & art collection to the people of Ontario (which became the McMichael Canadian Art Collection), did not have any children. I did some Googling and found Robert McMichael's obituary, which does not mention any offspring among his surviving family. (I also learned that Signe McMichael used to personally greet groups of schoolchildren visiting the gallery.)

But what a legacy!

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.  


  1. Wonderful legacy! That sounds lovely. My parents are members at our Memorial Art Gallery, and they sometimes have tickets to special events that they can't go to so we snag them, and I think we should also become members because we always enjoy it when we go. The last exhibit was Escher, and it was INCREDIBLE. I'm not artistically talented either, but I enjoy the efforts of others! (We also recently went to a Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra concert, and wondered why we don't do more with that wonderful cultural resource as well!).

  2. Your comment is there now! I think it languished in moderation because you had a few links in it.

    I didn't really begin enjoying art galleries until my 30s and even 40s, though I've always loved museums, and it was only really as a result of visiting the big names overseas, and with the help of audioguides, learning more about art appreciation. I saw Picasso's The Blue Years in DC, and queued for hours for a place at Van Gogh's exhibit there, but missed out by ten people on a ticket!

    I/we bought a lovely painting from a gallery in Quebec City. They send us a card every birthday and Christmas, and I see they have a branch in Toronto! I think I'm going to write about it in my x365 blog next month. So maybe Toronto will be an "arty" trip!

    I love that extra snippet about the No Kids couple who donated their art to the community. What a loving act.

  3. Toronto, eh? I'd been guessing Hamilton.

  4. Greater Toronto Area (GTA) would probably be more accurate. 😉 Although to people who don't live here, it's all Toronto...!

    1. Ha, it's definitely all Toronto to me! I'll just stay in Buffalo unless there's a magical event like First 1000 Americans to Cross the Border Get to be Canadian. :)