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Two Peterborough art institutions celebrating 50-year anniversaries

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Two Peterborough art institutions celebrating 50-year anniversaries
Both Artspace and The Art Gallery of Peterborough are marking big milestones this year. The two art institutions are celebrating 50 years in the city. On this edition of Out & About Caley Bedore checks out Artspace in downtown Peterborough to learn more about the space and what they have planned for the 50th year. And watch for part two of this series, airing Feb. 29, where we visit The Art Gallery of Peterborough for a look at that organization and the current exhibitions. – Feb 22, 2024

Both Artspace and The Art Gallery of Peterborough are celebrating milestone anniversaries in 2024. Both institutions are marking 50 years in the City of Peterborough, Ont.

“We have been building up to it for quite a long time; 50 years is a very big deal,” said Leslie Menagh, Artspace artistic director.

“A lot of people don’t know that an artist-run centre has been in the community for 50 years, so we are making some noise about it.”

She said that artist-run model is something you will find across Canada.

“Artist-run centres have a deep history in our country. They emerged roughly 50 years ago to bridge the gap for artists that wanted professional experience but couldn’t get into those big galleries,” said Menagh.

She said they have started the year with a show featuring current Artspace members.

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“This exhibition is about celebrating our membership,” she said, referencing the downtown space.  “This year, we have a bigger membership than we have had in our last 12 years or so, so we wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate our members.”

Menagh said she believes that bump in membership is due, in part, to expanded public programming, including a public maker space and partnership with One City Peterborough, but is also a result of what she calls a “post-pandemic art renaissance.”

“People are in need of creativity, inspiration, meaning, and connection,” said Menagh. “I see Artspace providing that for many people. That’s one of my goals, anyway.”

The current exhibition is called through lines and is a juried show that asked artists to create work that captures the spirit of looking back and looking forward.

“This is the work of Samantha Chiusolo,” said Menagh, pointing at a piece on the wall. “It is an image of a vintage or collectibles shop, so it is an apt illustration of looking back and looking forward and there is just so much detail it is just incredible.”

Across the city The Art Gallery of Peterborough is also marking 50 years,  with the featured exhibition there called seams and strata, also giving a nod to the past.

“It is a big, juried exhibition that we launched in November to propel us into the 50th anniversary year,” said gallery curator Fynn Leitch.

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“Anytime you hit a milestone it often triggers a moment of reflection,” she said. “So, this exhibition is asking artists to bring works that are thinking about how we engage with our past, how we archive things, what we collect, and how do we engage with those things?”

A second exhibition, For Posterity: works from the Permanent Collection features pieces from the gallery’s past.

“We were founded in 1974 and we already had some art in our collection,” she said. “One of the things we did is pull artworks from those early years of collection.”

Seams and strata is on exhibit until March 17, For Posterity: works from the Permanent Collection is open until March 24 and through lines wraps up Feb. 24.

Both Menagh and Leitch said a number of exhibitions and events are planned throughout the year, including the annual ‘Book + Zine Fest’ at Artspace March 1 and 2 and a curator talk and tour at The Art Gallery of Peterborough Feb. 24.

For more information on both locations, you can find Artspace and The Art Gallery of Peterborough online.

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