Today we were about to experience what “google” just could not re-create. We were about to visit Gallery Stratford and the exhibition by multi-media artist Ann Beam (M’chigeeng, Manitoulin) showing a selection of her monumentally scaled mixed media paintings as well as new works. Continuously Arriving Present Moment is a body of work based on powerful archetypal images in Beam’s life such as the Waterfall, which represents a continuum of occurrence and renewal. Her paintings incorporate highly textured recycled corrugated boxes, birch bark, cedar bark, photo transfer, acrylic paint, and found objects. This potent combination of symbolism and marginalized materials has created energetic new ground for her painting. Although we did not have an opportunity today to meet gallery curator Aidan Ware, we did have a great conversation with a staff member who welcomed us with great enthusiasm. She was about to start a program at Ryerson in the fall for film, media. She told us that her experience at the Gallery Stratford was an eye opener. She had no idea how challenging setting up a large exhibit just like the Ann Beam exhibit we saw today, as she actually had a hand in helping during construction week.
Another great component to Gallery Stratford is the amazing creative family area. Students, families and community residents and visitors can experience and try their hand at the many activities offered in a large room full of art, craft and creative supplies. Thanks to the generous donation from Tim Horton’s as sponsors, this area can be enjoyed and used by many. It was difficult to leave this area without my own creative mind racing. A large part of the Gallery was exhibiting local talent with a large array of mediums, styles, subject matters, sizes and more. The talent in the Stratford community is without a doubt outstanding!