After more than three months closed, Gallery 2 in Grand Forks is ready to welcome visitors again. Armed with a clear plastic shield at a greeting desk in the old courthouse’s lobby and pumps of hand sanitizer, the art gallery and visitor information centre opened its doors to the public on June 25.
Reflecting on closing the gallery due to COVID-19 in March, director/curator Tim van Wijk said the hiatus has given staff some time to execute some needed changes.
“The bad news is that we can’t do things the way we’ve been doing them, [but] the good news is that we can’t do things the way we’ve been doing them either,” van Wijk said. An added plus through the pandemic is that the Gallery was able to keep all staff employed, and recoup some potential lost funds through a grant from the Vancouver Foundation. The institution’s annual August Taps and Tapas event has been cancelled, and its November wine tasting may be in doubt too. The two fundraisers, van Wijk said, netted the gallery around $18,000 last year.
From basic updates like replacing the 40-year-0ld carpet that lined the curling stairs and upper balcony, to revamping how the gallery interacts with people online, van Wijk and staff have adapted to a foreseeable future of blended in-person and online engagement.
“I firmly believe that viewing art in a gallery is something you can’t get at home,” van Wijk said. It’s fair to say that appreciating the scale of the immersive audio-visual exhibit in the Reid Gallery falls flat on an iPad screen. The hand-washing sequence in Ian Johnston’s “Fine Line: Check Check” now bears new connotations (though it is still available to watch through the gallery’s website.)
As do the panoramas in Meghan Krauss’ “Observer, Observed” series, which showcases dozens of tourists crowded around landscapes in Canada and Iceland, all seeking the perfect Instagram shot. The pictures are now snapshots of a time before social distancing was in the common parlance.
While visitors are permitted (with limits on numbers of people allowed in a given section at a time), Gallery 2 won’t be running in-person summer camps this year. Instead, the gallery will be sharing “Engage with Art” videos that showcase its permanent collection. Viewers are encouraged to ask questions about the pieces and take inspiration away to create their own.
On Thursdays, the gallery will share “Fun with Art” videos, which will lay out activities that can be done by all ages. These activities are designed to be fun and explore different, techniques, styles, and formats.
There is no registration or fee to participate in the summer art programs, and they are suitable for all ages. While we are not able to offer in person summer art programs due to COVID-19, we look forward to having you to join us this summer in making art!