Thursday, 27 January 2011

Gallery Grand Opening

As many of you may know last night marked the grand opening of the MacDonald Island Community Art Gallery. Many people from the community had a hand to play in the formation of this new and exciting community resource. The newly formed community artists group, the Wood Buffalo Artist Forum (here in the WBAF) have been the championing voice of this initiative. As a group they have worked very hard to make this idea come to fruition, and are very excited to expand on this idea in the coming months by the way of 9 scheduled shows in the space, as well as an educational component. The title show for the gallery opening is Celebration. This inaugural group show, included works from 55 local artists. The collection of works showcased various artists from a variety of stages in their careers and practices. And as excited as I am to go into more detail about the wealth of talent we have locally, in this post I’m going to discuss the Gallery rather than the art within it. I am going to save my formal review of the exhibition for a post in February.

View of the gallery from the main entrance.
All photos were taken from the Wood Buffalo Artists Forum Facebook page.

So, back to the opening! When I arrived at the second floor of the Suncor Community Leisure Centre I was ecstatic to see so many people milling about the entrance to the new gallery space. The very friendly staff of MacDonald Island each looked the part of a gallery attendant, dressed in nicely pressed dresses and business casual attire. They greeted us (I arrived with my boyfriend Michael) with smiles and showed us where we could hang our coats. We received a ten page colour pamphlet which included an image of each work in the show and a small description of each artist. 

Once I had my first look into the gallery I knew it was going to be a wonderful success. The place was packed! I would say there were easily 150 – maybe 200 people in attendance. It was wonderful to see so many community champions in one place for the purpose of supporting the arts. The Mayor and a few council members were in attendance along with representation from the School District, the Municipal Senior Leadership team, local media, Keyano College, Events Wood Buffalo and many more. In addition to large number of the exhibiting artists in attendance there were many other artists there showing support of this initiative and networking amongst the crowd.

As I slowly wandered down the hall, I overheard many excited conversations punctuated with exclamations of joy and wonderment at this new resource and the talent showcased within.

The above is a group shot of a selection of the exhibiting artists

There were a great deal of local media present so I will not go into detail about the event, however I would advise you all to check local papers and radio stations for coverage. Its was such a great pleasure to hear each of the presenters express support for visual artists and acknowledge the importance of art and artists to the quality of life within our region. And I just want to say thank you again to Tim Reid for his kind and unexpected words – I was very much tickled pink (or perhaps red is more accurate) to be acknowledge for my part early on in this process, you were too kind.

Because of the amazing turnout I was not able to spend as much time as I’d have liked to with each work for fear of being an obstruction to others, so I will venture back to the gallery over the next week to spend more time with each piece and formulate a review of the exhibition itself.

Cheers to all who were able to attend and support this amazing new resource. Please keep your ears and eyes open for future exhibitions and educational opportunities that will be housed in the gallery.

Also here is a link to Russell Thomas's blog where he has a related post on the Celebration opening :

Connor Buchanan


  1. Very curious to read your review of the exhibition itself, can't wait. These are for sure exciting times!

  2. Thanks for your great work Connor is spreading the word about culture in Wood Buffalo!