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Three artists, one common bond: a strong sense of place.

Walking into my first art gallery opening, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  I thought, “Will this be too fancy for me? What do I wear?” Knowing my sometimes-clumsy self, I was also kind of afraid there would be lots of breakable things that I would mistakenly bump into.

Luckily, it wasn’t what I had anticipated at all. I was greeted by smiles and beautiful artwork. Fortunately, I didn’t knock anything over, either.

When I arrived on Friday, Oct. 3 at the commercial gallery in an old Victorian-style house that surely seen a few good parties, the wine was flowing, people were mingling and the artists also seemed to be having a good time at their exhibit opening.  The three artists featured were Glenn Hall, Ann Manuel and Monika Lacey. It was obvious they all had quite different styles.

The first collection of artwork that I saw was by Glenn Hall. He had well-detailed oil paintings of natural sceneries on board. I got the opportunity to speak to the artist, who was wearing a Beatles t-shirt and old jeans. Hall’s work is inspired by the surroundings of his shack in Kingston, Ont., out “in the middle of nowhere.”

Hall “would wander around the woods and make images from that.” The result is a very organic and coherent body of work, and it made me wish I had the skills to paint an accurate depiction of what was right in front of me.

Most of his work was of the outdoors. When asked about how he thinks the exploitations of our natural resources and ecosystems will affect the artists of the future, he was adamant that it would “not [be] in a positive way.” Hall is hopeful that things won’t get that bad though. “I believe in the human spirit.”

At the other end of the gallery, I noticed a different piece that didn’t resemble anything else presented. It wasn’t made out of board, wood, canvas or metal. It was actually made of white tarlatan, a type of mesh material. As someone who sews, it caught my eye. The tarlatan piece was created by Ann Manuel and was titled “Airing the Family Laundry.”

The piece had different layers, all of which could be individually sold. There was a layer with jeans, the next with a bathing suit and a few other layers with different prints of clothing. Behind all the different tarlatan tiers, there was a hidden family secret of the Manuels.’ The secret, as she told me, was a rumour shared by her brother: “A Manuel family member shot and killed a Beothuck and then dragged the body behind his boat.”

Although it wasn’t necessarily the cheeriest of stories, I really liked that she played up the name of the installation.  On top of her tarlatan pieces, I really admired Ann Manuel’s larger, darker pieces that were either on board or on canvas. They were dynamic, colourful and beautiful. I preferred these paintings versus her smaller, daintier pieces that showed minor differences between each other.

The third artist showcased in this exhibit was Monika Lacey, a younger artist that has a nostalgic and personal feel to her work. Her pieces incorporated pictures of her ancestors along with all kinds of different types of materials. Just one of her creations featured five different types of materials and techniques. This demonstrated her ingenuity and creativity.

In Lacey’s area of the gallery, there was also a book with rough drafts or concepts for oeuvres that would later be created. This let us into the creative process, which I found pretty cool. It was like a backstage pass. My favourite artwork of hers was definitely her “Sea and Sky” piece, which made me think of a day at the beach.

All in all, visiting Gallery 78 was a nice change of scenery and an experience I would recommend to anyone. These three talented artists will be showcased in this exhibit until Oct. 19.


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