By Fiona Campbell/Quinte Arts Council
An art gallery is more than just a place to see beautiful things. Galleries serve a functional role to incubate and promote the work of artists, and serve as a bridge between creators and the public. Galleries provide the opportunity to foster a more intimate relationship between art makers and art lovers, and cultivate a sense of community. Galleries educate and engage, challenge and inspire. As art acts as a source of joy and sometimes a salve for pain, galleries provide a place for people to immerse themselves in beauty and connect with something deeper. It is no surprise then that when the pandemic forced galleries to shut down, our community felt a collective void.
Although virtual galleries continue to be an important medium to see art (especially during COVID), there is something lost in translation: to see art in person gives viewers a truer appreciation of its scale, texture, colour and intricacies. And so when local galleries started opening again this past summer, we could together breathe a sigh of relief.
Since 1973 the John M. Parrott Art Gallery (located at 254 Pinnacle Street in the Belleville Public Library) has been a cultural hub for Belleville and beyond. As the only public art gallery in Quinte Region, the Parrott provides exhibition space for local, national and international artists, hosts workshops and artist talks, as well as the Gallery Shop, which showcases many regional artisans. The Parrott is also the caretaker of Jack and Bernice Parrott’s collection of close to 100 Manly MacDonald paintings and artifacts.
“The community felt a real loss when the Parrott closed its doors in March and while we’ve been so impressed at how [acting curator] Wendy and gallery staff found innovative ways to keep artists and patrons engaged, we’re thrilled to see the return of live gallery shows,” says Janet Jarrell, executive director of the Quinte Arts Council. “There is so much value in seeing how a work of art hangs amongst other pieces, and to experience it up close and in person.”
Artists and the organizations that support them are by nature creative, responsive and resilient and the Parrott is no exception. “The Gallery is working hard to reach our community in new ways. While most of our regular programming has been put on hold, we have been able to come up with some creative alternatives,” says acting curator Wendy Rayson-Kerr. “We have been offering artists the chance to show their work in online exhibitions, we have had an online Artist Talk with Leah den Bok in July and had a ‘Virtual Tableau Vivant Challenge’ [where people dress up and pose to look like a scene from history]. This past spring we created a ‘Spring into Summer’ video about local painter Manly MacDonald that is still available on our Gallery webpage [and] the next episode Fall into Winter’ [is] coming soon.”
The Belleville Art Association’s 53rd Annual Juried Show “Perspectives” featuring the work of over 100 members is available to view in person in Galleries 1 and 2 and online until November 19. Several pieces won juror’s awards, including Nadine Goulet’s “World Tilt 2020,” which reflects the artist’s own perspective of 2020 and took “Best in Show.”
Throughout the fall, the Corridor Gallery features the photography of Randy and Janet Googe in a show called “This Extraordinary World – a Travel Retrospective,” part of the popular “Armchair Traveller” series. While the world is still largely locked down, this show offers to take visitors (in person and online) around the world.
Next up (from November 26 to January 7) the Parrott will be hosting two separate shows by Prince Edward County artists: Gallery 1 will feature oil paintings by Terry Veevers, his first ever solo exhibition called “As I see it” and Gallery 2 will feature landscape photography by Bert Jenkins in a show he is calling “Turn but a Stone.” Both of these exhibitions will only be available to view in person, and not online. “We are looking forward to having many visitors this winter,” says Rayson-Kerr. “ We are of course practicing the usual safety procedures, [and] our space is warm, welcoming and safe to visit.”
She adds: “We will continue to use social media and our website as yet another platform to exhibit and educate, and while we are so looking forward to having Opening Receptions again one day, we will keep coming up with ways to share art with our community any which way we can.”
Other happenings in the Gallery District:
Quinte Arts Council (36 Bridge St. E.): While the QAC gallery is still closed to the public, the window gallery features the work of member artist Marc Poulin, who has recently been experimenting with intuitive painting to great result. Next month, the QAC will be showing the work of Belleville-born 21-year-old Tyler Tabobondung Rushnell of Wasauksing First Nation.
Gallery 121 (48 Bridge St. E): Currently hosting their Fall Show from October 13 to November 20, featuring guest fabric artist Cheree Rasmussen and member artist Barry Argyle. There is a “Meet the Artist” with Rasmussen on November 14 from 2-4 p.m.
Belleville Art Association (208 Front St.): New hours as of September 23 from Wednesday to Saturday, or by appointment. Check the website for more details. Visit the BAA’s virtual shop on the Downtown District Marketplace.