Where Is Everybody?
Last Saturday I rushed out to see the Jack Bush show at the National Gallery of Canada. It was the final weekend for this retrospective of a major artist. Alas, as usual I had left my visit to the very end. I sighed as I envisioned the crowds I would have to elbow and the slow shuffle I would have to perform behind the hordes lined up and straining to see the art. I gave my ticket to the security guard, took a deep breath and opened the door to the exhibition. Nobody was there. I strolled slowly through room after room of breathtaking work, pausing occasionally to contemplate the life of this major Canadian painter.
Several months ago, I spent a day at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. The place was packed with people of all ages, including a large number of local high school and university tudents. The energy in the air was palpable. I bought a long-distance membership to the gallery, then tried to give away two day passes I had received from the hotel where I was staying. Nobody wanted them, not because of disinterest but because everyone I approached had an annual pass.
Where is the local support for the National Gallery of Canada? Do we honestly have to wait for blockbusters like Colville and Monet to draw the crowds? It’s a shame really. We should be proud of our national institution located in the heart of downtown Ottawa and embrace it like cherished and trusted friend, over and over again.