By Doug Hallett
An opening reception will be held tonight (Feb. 28) for a new art gallery that takes up half of the ground floor of the former civic museum building on Dublin Street, which is being reshaped as a centre for the visual arts.
The new Boarding House Gallery, which will be officially opened at 7 p.m., is an artistic partnership between the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre and the University of Guelph’s School of Fine Art and Music. “We are just thrilled to have a public component to what we are trying to do” with the building, which was a boarding house at one time during its long history, said Kirk Roberts, a principle of Tyrcathlen Partners.
The new name of the building at the corner of Dublin and Waterloo is the Boarding House for the Arts, he said.
Last summer, city council accepted Tyrcathlen’s offer to buy the building, which was vacated when the civic museum moved into larger quarters in the Loretto convent.
After renovations, space became available in December, and his building is already 75 per cent full, Roberts said in an interview Friday.
“Our vision for the building is to really create a dynamic centre for the visual arts,” he said, and “we are thrilled” by the progress so far.
Artists have established studios on the building’s third floor, and there’s teaching and education on the second floor, Roberts said. The main floor will have the Boarding House Gallery “and hopefully other public activities and events.”
The announcement of the new gallery was the second one for the building, and other announcements will be rolled out over the next several weeks, he said.
The first announcement was that Pablo’s Cartoons, a business offering adult art classes in the evening and children’s classes after school, had opened in the building.
For the Boarding House Gallery, the university and the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre have leased the main-floor space previously occupied by the Guelph Civic Museum’s children’s museum.
Admission will be free to the new gallery, which will present contemporary art exhibitions, the artistic partners said in a news release Friday.
The initial exhibit, titled “I,” will run to March 24 and includes the works of nationally and internationally recognized artists, the release said. It features 13 contemporary Canadian art works by faculty artists in the School of Fine Art and Music (SOFAM), as well as works from the art centre’s permanent collection and works that are on special loan for the show.
“The Boarding House Gallery is a venue for the exhibition of work by practising professional artists and for bringing the work and ideas of our best and brightest students to the downtown core,” School of Fine Art and Music director John Kissick said in the release.
“The gallery asserts our strongly held conviction that though the school has a national reputation for excellence and innovation, our home is in Guelph and it is within this community’s active cultural sector that we wish to make a meaningful contribution,” Kissick said.
“The Boarding House Gallery is the result of a fruitful partnership,” Macdonald Stewart Art Centre director and curator Judith Nasby said in the release.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for both SOFAM and MSAC to contribute significantly to the artistic community in downtown Guelph,” she said. “The Boarding House Gallery enables us to extend our gallery programming to engage the public and to reach out to the community in new and interesting ways.”
The 13 SOFAM faculty artists with works in the gallery’s premiere show are Diane Borsato, James Carl, Susan Dobson, FASTWÜRMS, Christian Giroux, Will Gorlitz, John Kissick, Nestor Kruger, Jean Maddison, Martin Pearce, Sandra Rechico, Monica Tap and Laurel Woodcock.
The show “sets the tone for the public programming planned for the space by featuring an exhibition of works by nationally and internationally recognized artists who, through SOFAM, embody and engender contemporary art practice both in Guelph and beyond our borders,” the release said.