Sunday, 10 March 2013

Kissing a Good Idea Goodbye

I fell in love with Janice Wright Cheney's coy-wolves in New Brunswick.

I find myself often saying that good ideas are a dime a dozen.  As such, we surely all find ourselves in the position of sifting through good ideas and trying to decide which ones to implement or put into action and which to kiss goodbye.  It isn't always easy.  Sometimes, the decision is made for us.

Some time ago, I wrote an article for the Surface Design Journal about Canadian identity and how it was reflected through our textile art.  It featured Kai Chan, Barb Hunt, and Sharon Kallis.  Kai teased me, "oh you're good Gloria, now you should propose a show to The Rooms and get me to Newfoundland".  Of course, I fell for the bait and proposed an exhibit that was to be a cautionary ecological tale, just in time for 2015 and Craft Year.  It would dovetail with an international textile conference planned for Gros Morne and I thought it was nearly irresistible.  It also included the talents of Doug Guildford and Janice Wright Cheney.  In my mind's eye it would be a fairy tale setting – think Little Red Riding Hood– a complete environment created through textile art.  I could see Doug doing nets and sea creatures, Kai creating the waves and moon, Janice's bears and coy-wolves could live in this forest and Barb's latest directions that hint at landscape would fit perfectly.  I have always believed that the highly charged world of objects that characterize fairy tales is synonymous with how craftspeople and artists regard materials and objects.  They are alive and have special powers.  (They do don't they?)
 Janice Wright Cheney's bears are life-sized.  The fragility implied by the flower is powerful and the red brings to my mind the meaning of the Veteran's poppy.

Sheila Perry, Director of the Provincial Art Gallery, asked for a one-page proposal to bring forward to an exhibitions committee meeting and I talked about the idea with Denis Longchamps who is the Manager of Exhibitions and Publications.  I offered to carry out the show as a guest curator or to have Denis take the idea and run with it without me.  The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery has added two curatorial positions since I last worked there on contract back in 2008 and I realized that they would need to rationalize those additional positions before hiring on contract.  I waited…and waited.  The longer I waited the more my hopes dimmed.  Eventually, I broke down and asked Denis point blank and the news was not good. 

Competition is always fierce at venues like The Rooms.  We have only one provincial art gallery and as the newest facility it has the best toys to play with.  Unfortunately, it is also part of the provincial government and in this day funding cuts and shrinking budgets is also part of regular business. (A 4 million dollar deficit over 3 years was the last figure I recall in the newscasts but that is for all budgets not just cultural industries). Curatorial staff and others in the province are nervously waiting for news about their "permanent" positions and contracts for other positions have not been renewed and are overdue.  No one really knows what to expect.  Granted, if the axe falls hard that may be good news for freelance professionals like myself but I wish no ill on anyone.  Onwards and upwards.  
Ever since I saw these sea-like net creatures in Toronto, and visited Doug Guildford's studio I have wanted to bring them to Newfoundland.

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