For Bevin Bradley, curating works for the 48th annual Winter Festival Art Show and Sale brought back plenty of memories.
Bradley, the assistant curator for the Remai Modern Art Gallery in Saskatoon, was in Prince Albert Sunday and Monday sorting through submissions as the show’s guest curator. Bradley said working on the project reminded her of displaying works in Toronto when she ran a commercial gallery.
“(There are) so many different mediums, so many different styles, so many different approaches, so that was that was my first inclination when I walked in,” Bradley said.
This year’s show features more than 130 entries, with the opening scheduled for Feb. 9. Bradley said she was struck by how many different materials the artists used in their creations, including one piece made from a bear’s jawbone.
“Artists are interpreting their lives and the world around them and then using those tools that they have at the ready to make art,” Bradley said. “To me, that’s interesting that someone from this area would be drawing on a bear’s jawbone for a medium and very telling of the experiences that people have.
“There’s another work in the exhibition that looked like it was made from wire and when I looked really closely it was moose hair and antique beads, so that’s really fascinating to me too, just the use of the variety of materials.”
Bradley said that she was surprised to be chosen as curator, but also excited.
“I love the north, so I was certainly happy to come up and be able to spend a couple of days near the forest,” she explained. “The road from Saskatoon to Prince Albert is very well travelled for me because I spend a lot of time up north. I was excited and just honoured to be able to be the guest curator and be able to see all the work that people are doing in this area. I know some of the artists are from down South as well, so that’s interesting to me that they’re applying and members of the Mann Gallery.”
Bradley is an Assistant Curator at Remai Modern with more than 20 years of diverse experience. This includes the not-for-profit sector, co-owning a commercial gallery, and working in the school system.
In the not-for-profit sector, she worked with underserved youth, using art as a tool for re-direction, and was the co-owner and co-founder of a successful commercial art gallery.
Bevin maintains an active studio practice, including art residencies within the school system. Her founding belief is that art needs to be publicly accessible, and relevant to local, national, and international issues.
Bradley worked at the Remai Modern for over eight years starting in the learning and engagement department as an educator.
“Then about a year and a half ago I started in curatorial, and so now I work with a small but powerful team of curators on collaborative projects, and I have a few of my own projects,” she said.
Bradley was busy creating a layout on Sunday for the Feb. 9 show. Her biggest concern was making sure each piece got the attention it deserved.
Bradley was also thinking about how the visitors come into and move through the gallery space.
“I’m thinking a lot about viewing distance and works that work with a larger longer viewing distance and ones that need a little intimate space,” she explained.
“I think on average people are not looking at pieces for very long. That’s what the science tells us, so any way you can move people in a way that asks them to slow down and spend some time looking at each piece is a good way of putting it up.”
This process was not just about putting similar pieces together, but rather working thematically
“I’m starting to work with an area with a lot of natural greens and sort of forest themes,” Bradley said.
On Sunday, she had started grouping works that resonated with each other.
“(They) maybe had some like colours but also colours that complement each other and then looking at kinds of extremes too so that you don’t have too many like paintings or too many like works beside each other, and then how works kind of talk to each other with their subject matter as well,” she explained.
With the Prince Albert art community being close, she could be placing works by people who know each other next to each other
“That’s the beauty of having a guest come in,” Bradley said. “I know I’m familiar with several of the artists—quite a few of the artists—from my time in the art world.”
She said that there were familiar names and some works that she recognized right away as well as others that she was not familiar with.
“It’s nice to come in from an outside perspective and do things differently that probably the folks here wouldn’t have thought of doing because they have been used to seeing works in the same or in a familiar way,” Bradley said.
Bradley explained that because she is also an artist she can appreciate the work that goes into both the creation of and preparation of a piece for installation.
“So much work goes into the framing or even just considerations of how they will be exhibited,” she said. “I can see that a large amount of work and a lot of care has been put into the exhibition and I appreciate that.”
The Opening Reception and Awards Night on Feb. 9 will see 20 artists receive awards for their works. Awards are sponsored by local individuals and businesses.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the show starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for non-members, $15 for Gallery members, and artists exhibiting in the exhibition are free.
The exhibition is on display to the public at no charge from Saturday, Feb. 10 to March 23, 2024. Visitors do not require the city-wide Winter Festival button to visit.
Gallery visits are always free, Gallery hours are 10 am – 5 pm Tuesday – Friday, 12 – 5 pm on Saturdays, and we are closed on Sundays, Mondays, and most stat holidays.
The Curator’s Walk-Through is Saturday, Feb. 10 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., where Bradley will give comments on the exhibition and select individual artworks. This event is open to the public and presented in person at the gallery.
The Mann Art Gallery stated that the walk-through will not be recorded or available online this year.