This radio broadcast was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative

The Old Schoolhouse Art Gallery will only have one show this year. While they cancelled their summer season because of COVID, the artists group has been mulling over some ideas for almost a year now. On September 10th, 2020, they bring the discussion to the public in a show called “What matters most?”

looking at an exhibit: what matters most?
2019 image - courtesy Old Schoolhouse Art Gallery
Cortes Currents: Roy L Hales interviews Kristen Schofield-Sweet and Oriane Lee Johnston about the upcoming member’s show “What Matters Most” at the Old Schoolhouse Gallery Sept 10 -20, 2020.

A Time of Pause

“I think the community, the province and the planet is in a time of pause right now,” said Kristen Schofield Sweet, one of the gallery’s directors.

“We had a spectacular season last year. The gallery has grown from an artist’s collective creatively run space, which Oriane Lee [Johnston] called ‘creative chaos’ … No one was in charge … People showed what they wanted, when they wanted … Over the last twenty years, the gallery has become more professional in that larger context: in terms of exhibitions, a selection committee, a set of procedures and protocols.”

She added, “In a way, this show is a return to a community based ‘just for us’ kind of exhibition.  The whole COVID-19 situation has created this pause, where we could say as board members, and community members involved in the arts, ‘What matters to us? What do we look like as artists? Who is emerging? What are some young people up to?’ It is an opportunity to get outside the box. We hope it will change things: not just for September, but for sometime to come.” 

Artwork for the Old School House gallery’s 2018 annual member’s show – Laura Balducci photo

Returning the Gallery to its Members

Another director, Oriane Lee Johnston, said this has been brewing for some time: 

“Last September, we went through a comprehensive review of the last twenty years since the founding of the gallery. That’s where the title of this show came from.We are returning the gallery to the members in a way. We purposely chose to wait until September … after the tourist season, to make it clear this is for the community, the artists and our own pleasure.”  

“It’s always fun to see the people who submit a piece, or several pieces,  every year for a members show - either their consistency or evolution as artists. I am particularly interested in emerging artists …” 

The old schoolhouse Art Gallery - Roy L Hales photo

In the Podcast

In the podcast above, they discuss:

  • Why there will be no reception or opening night for this show
  • protocols for this show: everyone must wear masks; only six people will be allowed in the gallery at a time etc.  
  • As they do not know how many pieces will be submitted, the gallery can promises that everyone who enters will have one piece in the show. If space permits, they may have two. 
  • A four step process to enrich your experience while viewing artwork. 
  • The gallery will not be receiving any commission from works sold at this show. Their only revenue will be from donations.
  • Much more
The exhibition: What Matters Most

Artists statements

Schofield -Sweet explained, “The best description of an artist statement I have ever heard is that it is like having the artist stand next to the work, helping you look at it. The artist isn’t standing in front of the work with their words, trying to explain it to you. Art should not need to be explained. Each person who looks at a piece will have their own engagement, their own stories, their own memories and emotional wisdom that emerges from it. That is how it should be. But if I take a few sentences to say: ‘here’s what I was experiencing’; or ‘here’s where this came from’; “or this is a real diversion from the work I usually do and this is how come …” - it helps the viewer get a context of the work.”     

“What Matters Most” will be on display at the Old Schoolhouse Gallery from 2:00 to 6:00 PM, Thursdays to Sundays, September 10th to 20th.