Earlier in the week Lucky called, excited, and said she wanted to go to the preview of Heffel’s auction of Canadian art, most especially to see one particular painting by the Group of Seven painter Lawren Harris. She wanted to organize a trip to Vancouver so she, Barb and I could see a variety of paintings. “Should be fun,” she said, “but, are your eyes up for it?” Was she kidding? “Oh, yeah!” I whined, “I feel like a complete shut-in! Even if I have to stand two inches in front of paintings and see some colour and marks I NEED TO SEE SOME ART!” So Lucky and Barb co-ordinated the time they would both be able to take a day and Friday became our art gallery hop date. Yippee yay!
Naturally, Rumpole has to know of my movements and schedule, such as it is these days, and he disapproved of this upcoming play-date. “You are hopeless! You are going to stress your eyes and will spend the next two days whining about pain,” he rumbled, “but if you are so determined to go, at least wear your clip-on shades, a hat, and keep your eyes closed whenever you are not actually trying to see the art.” I reassured him that Barb would lead me about by the hand, me with my eyes closed, whenever we walked outside, and that I would take breathers whenever my eyes got tired.
Barb arrived early at our house. “Is that Barb sitting on our lawn?” asked Rumpole, “call her to come in for Heaven’s sake!” i trot outside in my housecoat and chastize her for not coming inside. ” I didn’t want to catch you guys in your underwear, charging about getting ready,” says Barb with a huge grin. (What? A sighting of two junior-seniors in their full early morning splendour is such a horrible thing to contemplate?) She comes inside, sits down in the kitchen and watches bemused as Rumpole makes a small fashion show of his tie selections. Once he has attained sartorial elegance, he kisses me on the lips and cautions “Take it easy today!” I roll my one good eye, like Quasimodo’s one eyed mother, at Barb; she rolls her two blue eyes in response. We giggle, conspiratorial.
Lucky arrives in her hot bomb of a car. It is very funny, but we have all decided to wear black pants today. Whenever we do anything that involves going out to openings or art shows I jokingly state that correct attire for such occasions is anything BLACK. At least today we are at half-way correctly dressed for a gallery hop. We pile into the car after some discussion of who is to sit up front beside Lucky. I insist on sitting in the back seat – “How can I back-seat drive from the front?”
On the way to Gallery Row in Vancouver , we discuss the ins and outs of living with 17 year-old daughters as both Lucky and Barb have daughters that age. I say a quiet prayer of thanks for never having had a daughter, because surely remaining in a state of sanity and equilibrium is really difficult while raising teen-age daughters. Or so I have heard.
We arrive at destination’s end and find a parking spot, quickly. (Thank you, Parking Angel!) The voracious meter swallows up quarters and gives 10 minutes per quarter. I do the required feeding, and we troop into gallery #I, for what we estimate might take a fifteen minute visit. An hour later, Barb and Lucky, having made themselves completely comfortable there, have explored the front show space, discussed at length the work there, put a number of good questions to the gallery attendant and have got her involved in discussing the work, artists, pricing and valuation, and have lingered in the back room looking, looking and talking to eah other and me about the differences in paint marks, surfaces, colour and tonal limits, concepts. I sit on the large block of wood that is meant for sitting in the main gallery, close my eyes and just listen to their comments, questions and expressions of surprise and wonder, very satisfied that they are finding so much to discuss and express their opinions about. When we finally leave, and check on the parking meter, we find it requires further feeding, and once we have done this, they grasp me by the elbows and we stroll three abreast the block to Heffel’s.
Lucky is so excited, and goes about looking at all the work up for the internet auction. She asks the attendant where the lawren Harris painting she so wants to see is being kept, and is disappointed that it is buried somewhere in the store-room’s bowels and would be difficult to unearth and be brought up for her eyes to see. “Rats!” she exclaims, but the attendant hands her a good reproduction to take away, and she is somewhat mollified. On show are about fifteen paintings by various Canadian artists from about 1920s onward guarded by a smiling man in uniform. Lucky exclaims that all the paintings are so different, and asks why all the pre-auction estimates are so high. So we engage the gallery attendant in a discussion about this. Soon three odd-looking, but sweet wire haired Dacshund gallery dogs meander out from the back office, curious about the noise, mill about our legs and sniff us up. All three of us are dog people and this visitation by furry, four-legged gallery attendants completely charms us; really adds to the whole experience. We leave.
The highlight of this gallery hop is a block up-hill on Granville, the Atelier Gallery. What is here is the reason I stubbornly insisted to Rumpole that I go on this excursion with the girls – a show of current paintings and drawings by BC painter, Robert Young, whose work I have admired for 40 years. On my last weekly visit with Dr. L my GP, he teased me with information about there having been an opening at this gallery for this show. Dr. L knows of my passionate regard for this painter’s work, as we have had spirited discussions in his office about matters pertaining to BC painters, and Dr. L jokingly commented that he was going to have his son start on a career as newspaper delivery boy so he could save up enough shekels to buy a Robert Young painting as a Father’s day present for him!
Well, we stayed in the Atelier a very long time, looking, considering, discussing, marvelling. This painter has a most remarkably restrained manner of working, and this has an effect of stilling a viewer into a thoughtful and contemplative state. Lucky has a preference for more visceral painterliness in handling materials, more energy, greater abandon. Barb, on the other hand has a liking for measured control in working with paint – a slow, dreamlike manner of constructing images. The result of their differing predelictions was a really thoughtful discussion, to which the gallery attendant paid close attention, and during which the gallery owner paused beside us to listen to, a satisfied smile on his face.
My eye was sore, but, so what, pleasure of seeing this remarkable body of work made me forget discomfort. The stimulating discussions among us had been most satisfactory. Barb and Lucky grasped my elbows and led me to the Alliance Francaise restaurant, where we ate light lunch and continued our discussion, most happily.
On the way home, driving through Friday afternoon rush-hour, I lounged in the backseat with eyes closed and listened to the continuing conversation between Lucky and Barb, most gratified that they had so much enjoyed this outing. And I had got my necessary Art Fix, which was worth two days of anticipated eye discomfort.
Thanks so much, you two gems, Barb and Lucky, for providing and sharing this marvellous gallery hop!
You can see Robert Young’s work in this show at : www.ateliergallery.ca Enjoy!