The Georgina Centre for Arts & Culture Permanent Art Collection

 “The Georgina Centre for Arts & Culture is a distinct and unique entity in the Ontario gallery system. It is home to a significant permanent collection. How did this happen? Why is it relevant?

 First, the symbiotic relationship of artist, appreciator, collector, and donor, has continued through the ages and is worth exploring as we consider the importance of a permanent collection in a gallery or museum. There are rich stories to share that become contextual as you make your way through the Georgina Centre for Arts & Culture Permanent Collection exhibition. Let’s start at the beginning…

  Not everyone can be an artist. It is a challenging profession; not to be undertaken unless one is committed to the long hours necessary to achieve a level of mastery of the medium of their choice. This is not to say that creative expression is only for artists. No, it is a fundamental element of our shared human experience. We all create, and we all convey our thoughts and ideas in one form or another. The artist walks a different path. They reflect our world back to us. There must be years of rigorous study to achieve a level of confidence spurred on by the compulsion to create. Whether in formal academic training or in a solitary self-guided pursuit, the artist, like the musician, or the doctor, or the electrician, must hone their skills every day. Essentially it is a service trade.

 The artist gives their fellow man respite from the mediocrity of our daily life and lifts our spirits, if only for a moment, as they show us their version of our times through colour, light, shapes, and texture. The artist documents, inspires, and provokes. 

 The appreciator is equally as important as the artist. What purpose does a painting have if there is nobody to see it? None. And this is the reason to go to a gallery and look at art. The very act of viewing opens our hearts and triggers new thoughts or feelings. This is good. It is not unlike being in a forest. We become instinctual again. The car, the job, the family troubles, the money, all slip away and we can dwell in a Chiarandini sky or contemplate a Piqtoukum spirit. There is peace and quiet; time to reflect. And if a child, or a dear friend is with us, even better. The sharing of thoughts with each other in that moment while observing art can be instrumental while or cathartic in the other’s growth and development.

 The collector is another animal all together. Wiley like a fox, they seek to possess objects of beauty to enjoy in their own den. It can easily become a very pleasant addiction. The art collector chases art. They are on a constant hunt for treasure and will travel far and wide to acquire a piece they desire. To them, the adventure is finding work that nobody else has, or discovering a new talent. The collector is integral to the existence of the emerging artist. To have a purchase made can enable the young artist to continue on their path. It validates the art they are creating. Historically, patronage was the formal structure of supporting a promising artist but today, it is more often the private collector. A good art collector will become very knowledgeable about an artist they are supporting. Oftentimes, they will form a working relationship and purchase multiple pieces over the course of their lives. Friendships are struck and it is a rewarding exchange for both. Albert Chiarandini and Bruce Smith are a perfect example of this dynamic in art.

 And finally, the donor. This is the art collector at their finest. The act of donation to a gallery or museum ensures preservation of the objects that they so lovingly collected and cared for over the years. It is a gift to the coming generations and says “Look at what I found in the world for you to study. There are stories to be told about it. Ask questions. Learn. Let it enrich your Life as it has enriched mine.”

 The donor is philanthropic. They have a larger world view cultivated by many years of experience and their spirit is generous. The donor is concerned for the greater good and for the future of the generations that will follow them. We are indebted to these wonderful humans for all of the magnificent art in galleries and museums around the world. 

 In all of this, there runs a golden thread of connection. The permanent collection at the Georgina Centre for Arts & Culture represents a rich tapestry of these relationships. It is dynamic and evolving. On the walls you will find paintings in the traditional style of oil on board by Italian Canadian Albert Chiarandini, a contemporary of the Group of Seven. There are over 150 paintings by Chiarandini in the collection donated by his student and art collector Bruce Smith. The Chiarandini family has also placed paintings in the collection. You will see the compelling work of Norval Morrisseau, totems and incredible Inuit sculpture that were collected over years of world travel by Jim Baillie and generously passed to the gallery for preservation. Powerful paintings by Travis Shilling share the story of the First Nation experience in Canada through a subtle palette with a stark and clear message. They snap the viewer to attention to understand what he is telling us. Early work by Toronto artist York Wilson forms part of the permanent collection and represents his foray into abstraction as a pioneer of that movement. Tom Zsolt’s vintage silver gelatin photographs are visual documentation of people and places that our local community will be familiar with. They are timestamps of a moment in our shared history and are relevant to the Georgina people for that reason.

 In closing, the Permanent Collection at the Georgina Centre for Arts & Culture is worth your attention. We have made a commitment to preserve it and to continue to acquire new work to present to you for research, inspiration, or simple contemplation on a rainy day.

 It is your collection. Come see!”

 Charlotte Hale
– Artistic Director/Curator