. . . the walls are silent. The entries in the Kingston Photographic Club juried exhibition, slated for April, are sitting idly in homes across the city. Or, in my case, gracing the hallway at the foot of the stairs and reminding me, as I pass daily, of my recent trip to rural Guatemala before the current paradigm shift.
When the gallery goes dark, what is a gallery goer/blogger supposed to do? What is there to see, to report on, critique, rhapsodize about? Well, when the gallery goes dark, certain corners of Netflix really start to shine and the Internet lights up in creative ways.
Let’s begin with Netflix. Early on in this era of self-confinement I latched onto a series called “Next in Fashion”. Yes: models, runways, impractical clothing. In a word, frippery. But wait, there are also designers, people who work with colour, contrast, texture, focal points, mood and harmony. Furthermore, they are talented sewers and pattern makers; they know their materials inside out; they elaborate on themes; their designs are expressions of their personal aesthetics. They are, in short, artists. OK, I know, Next in Fashion is a competition that slowly eliminates contestants, but along the way, I began to understand the artistry of fashion design and, much to my surprise, was completely drawn in. I, along with the designer hosts, actually gasped when the outrageous but stunning “show-stopper”—designed by the winning contestant—appeared on the runway, itself an artistic amalgam of lighting and projected images in keeping with the theme. The overall effect was mesmerizing and made total sense in the context of this art form and the challenges the fashion world presents.
One happy by-product of my immersion in this series was a foray into the Internet’s virtual world of fashion, more specifically, the collection of clothes and accoutrements worn by Frida Kahlo, which had for years been hidden away in La Casa Azul, her family home in Mexico City, now the Frida Kahlo Museum. A number of exhibitions of her clothing have since been mounted. Frida’s White Cabinet appeared there in 2012. Here’s a peek at a short video:
In 2018 the Victoria and Albert Museum in London mounted Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up. Here’s a video link:
Another short video gives us a glimpse behind the scenes to show how mannequins were designed for this exhibition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=RDCMUCmaflrfppKNfq8uuZVZZxQg&v=_YTsZkV-lqA&feature=emb_rel_end
And, finally, a link to Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving, mounted by the Brooklyn Museum in 2019. This video documents gallery goers’ responses to the exhibition. Notable is how we perceive fashion as an expression of personality, politics and aesthetics. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWKSEvgAR58
Closer to home, on the Digital Agnes site, Dr. Jacqueline N. Coutré, former Bader Curator and Researcher of European Art (now Eleanor Wood Print Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture before 1750 at the Art Institute of Chicago), tells us about Ruth and Naomi, painted by Jan Victors in 1653 at the height of the Dutch Golden Age. Dr. Coutré’s enthusiastic, clearly articulated discourse gives gallery goers interested in historical narratives and the Rembrandt school a concise description of the Old Testament story behind the painting, as well as interesting details about the image.
For francophones and francophiles, the Grand Théâtre Québec presents Règne artificiel IV in its new exhibition venue, Le Studio. Artist Rosalie D. Gagné’s inventive installation marries sculpture and technology to produce a subtly interactive atmospheric work that makes full use of the space, which is located in the largest theatre in Quebec City, where in safer times musical, dance and theatrical performances take place.
Lastly, a quick click on “Home” above, will take you to the Kingston School of Art main site, where you can watch the Art Share slide show highlighting student work on the theme of "Home." (Pictured here is Robin’s Nest.)
The WAG is dark, but now seems like a good time to send a shout-out to volunteers David Bird and Amanda Hobson, whom you may have seen at times manning the office, as well as Ilga Weiss, KSOA administrative assistant, at the moment working from home, but in normal times a good-humoured presence in the gallery office every weekday morning.