It’s all about the journey!
100 Masters: Only in Canada is really about a trip I took across Canada (and to Minneapolis) – and all the fabulous art and amazing people I found in the thirty museums and galleries I visited. Traveling to these cultural institutions in twenty cities over the last year and a half, I got to see a lot – a lot of the country, the people, the museums, and most of all, the ART, which is the whole point of my journey. In the end, I gathered 100 amazing Canadian, European and American masterworks spanning five centuries from across the country – and convinced our friends and colleagues to lend them to the WAG for a few months this spring. So this is really about the trip and the discoveries that led to the organization of this historic 100 Masters exhibition for the WAG’s centennial. It’s also a celebration for Canada’s oldest civic art gallery.
Early in the research for the book, which accompanies the show, I asked my colleague, Marc Mayer, Director of the National Gallery of Canada, if he would write the foreword for the book. After sending me the draft, he mentioned that what he liked most about the project was the way in which the WAG had chosen to mark its centenary – by organizing an exhibition that showed what is truly great about Canada and its cultural holdings. You might call it a love letter to our sister institutions on our 100th anniversary or a sign of gratitude for their support over the last century. Marc Mayer’s perspective has stayed with me, and so when I sat down to write this, I decided to focus on the geographical rather than the art historical – because this is a celebration about the cultural holdings found in museums spread across a land mass that represents the second largest country in the world. (And there’s a lot of great art history in the exhibition and book). Beyond mapping the artistic assets deposited in ten provinces and one state, I’ve retraced my steps from coast to coast, highlighting the experiences that led to my selection for 100 Masters. It’s part travelogue and part diary. So I hope you’ll join me over the next few months as I look back to the 100 Masters expedition – and as we look forward to it all coming together on May 11 at the WAG! Make sure you’re there at the opening, and if you can’t make it – just follow my blog, and it should convince you to make a special trip to the WAG to see it all in person.
PS: Check out the 100 countdown as we roll out the 100 Masters represented in the show. You don't want to miss any of them. And if you catch them all, send me an email when we're down to #1, and I'll give you a personal tour this summer!