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This article was published 12/7/2017 (1530 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba is gearing up for a big party tomorrow evening to celebrate the launch of a new exhibition as well as a new venue.
The gallery is shutting down Rosser Avenue from Seventh Street to Ninth Street to host a giant block party — complete with free bannock tacos and live music by Jade Turner and Desiree Dorian.
"We’ve partnered in street events before, but this is going to be the first time we’ve done a big downtown block party like this," said AGSM executive director John Hampton. "It’s not very often that we launch a whole new exhibition venue."
The new public exhibition venue, the AGSM Billboard, is the largest project the gallery has ever done — spanning 12 feet by 30 feet on the outside of the building along Rosser Avenue.
"This is going to be a new venue … that will run six-month-long projects. We have two years lined up with four different Indigenous artists that are looking at this area," Hampton said. "A lot of public art is designed to exist forever — it’s made of bronze or it’s as a mural that exists with that building. We wanted to do a public art series that allowed us to work with a few different artists instead of investing all of our resources into a single, permanent project … It’s a good way to extend our exhibition space outside of the gallery to reach as many eyes as we can."
It’s also a step toward revitalizing downtown Brandon, Hampton said.
"We’re downtown citizens as a gallery, so we’re very much invested in downtown being a beautiful and vibrant cultural centre," Hampton said.
Colleen Cutschall will be the first artist featured on the AGSM Billboard with her artwork, "The Crossing," which marks a significant piece of Brandon’s history by marking a natural crossing point in the Assiniboine River that was used by various tribes before the city of Brandon was founded.
"Colleen’s billboard is marking Treaty 1 and Treaty 2 territory … this crossing just east of (Brandon) is the literal boundary between these two treaties," Hampton said. "It’s pretty remarkable that it hasn’t been known — being such a significant border. It’s a pretty significant piece in terms of identifying where we are, what our history is, and who the people of this land are."
AGSM is also welcoming Canadian artist Meryl McMaster’s first survey, "Confluence," which is currently touring Canada.
In a series of self-portraits, McMaster explores the dimensions of her own sense of identity as a woman of Plains Cree and Euro-Canadian heritage, as well as the complex history of the photographic representation of Indigenous peoples.
"(McMaster) is a rising photography star in the country and on the international stage … she does performative photos," Hampton said. "She embodies these characters and stories through costume and invented environments and tries to create a sense of the wonder and magic that exists within us to create identity."
The block party starts at 7 p.m. and goes until 9 p.m., at which point the event will move upstairs to the Main Gallery for an opening reception for "Confluence." McMaster will also be at the AGSM on Friday at noon to guide people through the exhibition and speak a little about her work, Hampton said.
"Confluence" will be on view until Sept. 9 in the Main Gallery. "The Crossing" will be on display on the north exterior wall of the gallery along Rosser Avenue at the corner of Seventh Street until January 2018.
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