Friday, September 30, 2011

My first tour of the Rennie Collection. Martin Creed, a Scottish artist, is showing now. Your group is ushered through a room filled with balloons (half the air space of the room), which gets pretty claustrophobic by the time you get half way through and find that you have to push them behind you in order to escape (there were a couple of stricken faces at the other end). Several svelte runners periodically dash at top speed along the periphery of the galleries, which is also a bit unnerving (mission accomplished). A long row of metronomes click at different speeds, filling the space with white noise, while the visual noise of papers covered in pen/marker/highlighter lines surround the walls. And yes, that utility cupboard door that silently opens and closes on its own is part of the work. In the basement, an old grand piano repeatedly opens and slams shut.

Bob Rennie has one of the largest private art collections in North America (170 artists, 40 in depth). Born to working class parents on the East side, he quit high school and became a real estate agent, and has since become the biggest player in Vancouver, marketing locations such as the Shangri la, the Wall Centre, Olympic Village, and Woodwards. He is also on the Tate's American Acquisitions board, and the board at Emily Carr University. Known as "the condo king", Rennie has been maligned for gentrifying the neighbourhood.

The gallery is in the oldest building in Chinatown, Wing Sang, built in 1889. The interior was designed by MGB architects. The exterior walls remain, and original reclaimed wood is used throughout. In the lobby hang interesting photos of the gutted interior during renovation.

Final verdict: the space is incredible, and disregarding my personal opinions about conceptual art – which are varied, but let's say my interest wanes when ideas heavily outweigh technical skill (a crumpled paper ball sits importantly under a plexiglass case) unless the idea is great, like Creed's "Everything is going to be alright" neon sign at the top of the building – the exhibit was enjoyable, and the rooftop garden alone is worth a visit (lovely derelict views of DTES). And to top it off, the tour is free...


RodF said...

I'm down there all the time and didn't even know about it. Pet peeve: the non-word "Alright."

And say, whose gams?

Mia Hansen Vancouver, BC said...

The fab gams belong to one of the guides in the gallery. Her whole ensemble was top notch, and she was real purty.

I didn't know "alright" was a non word. Maybe I should start being peeved by it. Add it to "gotten".

RF said...

Actually, I was thinking the spelling might be intentional. It becomes a funnier piece that way - a self-defeating statement.

Art is confusing.

Mia Hansen Vancouver, BC said...

Hmm, now you have me looking into it. "All right" means either "all correct" or "good". "Alright" may or may not be a real word, and seems to mean "adequate".
In modern times, the form alright is first found in the 1890s. Presumably, it was created and/or popularized based on analogy with such words as already and altogether. These spellings, though, had been long established by that time, while alright, being newer, could be criticized. And criticized it was, from the early 1900s onwards.

RF said...

Reading up on it, I'm pretty sure Creed meant it ironically, or at the very least meant "alright" as adequate, so-so.

I'm equally sure Bob Rennie doesn't get it.