What’s art without people to connect to it?

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    Drawing Bar 1

    Photos: Courtesy of the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery

    Visit the University of Lethbridge’s Drawing Bar

    Written by Tyler Stewart

    Images courtesy of University of Lethbridge Art Gallery

    That was the idea with the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery’s (ULAG) “art + people = x” series which began in 2009. This notion grew from the goal of supporting research by local artists into an opportunity for more broad engagement with the local community that has sparked new ideas and allowed creativity to flourish.

    “It’s an ongoing series that happens once a year to connect the community with the collection in a more tangible way,” says Assistant Curator/Preparator David Smith, ULAG. “This time we invited people to come view a selection of works from the collection and produce artwork that will form the basis of a new exhibition.”

    In lead-up to that, two exhibitions currently on display at the university set the stage for what’s to come. In the Helen Christou Gallery, Andrea Kremenik’s curated Work In Progress examines pieces in development – or perhaps they may only seem as such. “The exhibition has a David Hockney piece that looks like a really incomplete sketch, but the nature of it is that it’s an etching, which can fool viewers” David explains.

    Drawing Bar 2

    What looks finished may just have been started and what looks like a sketch may be a complete work. The artistic process is what’s really featured here, with sketchbooks and studies from a variety of artists in the ULAG collection. 

    Kaitlynn Smart’s curated exhibition Works For The Drawing Bar in the university’s main gallery takes a look more specifically at drawings, and connects with the gallery’s popular new program of the same name. The Drawing Bar monthly program mixes drinks and a low-pressure atmosphere together to allow for a more welcoming artistic space.

    “Kaitlynn went through the collection database to find all the works classified as drawings, then pulled out a selection of those for those who attended The Drawing Bar event to have a special viewing,” David says.

    This offered a unique opportunity for those attending to get the first glimpse at the works selected for the exhibition, giving them a more intimate relationship with the collection. From this viewing, members of the community were invited to submit their own pieces that may have been inspired by what they’ve seen to be exhibited as Works From The Drawing Bar in late February. Drawing Bar 3

    “Drawing Bar is a really fun event, where if you really enjoy art but don’t like the structured format of a class, it’s an opportunity to work on things in a really light and social atmosphere,” David says.

    This has helped bring in a new group of people to the gallery who may have felt disconnected from the university in the past by offering evening and weekend events for their busy schedules.

    “It’s been a pretty successful event for us,” David says. “It really ties back to the whole point of the “art + people = x” series, as it connects people in the community to the collection.”

    The opening of this community exhibition nicely coincides with the February 25 edition of The Drawing Bar, so bring a friend and take in one of the few art shows where you’ll be encouraged to make your own mark while you’re there.

    Visit www.ulag.ca for more information.

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