Michael Peterson named Mann Art Gallery winter festival show guest curator

Photo courtesy Mann Art Gallery.

The 2019 Mann Art Gallery Winter Festival Show has its guest curator.

The Gallery announced Friday that Saskatoon’s Michael Peterson would be the guest curator for the 43rd annual show, which opens on Feb. 8, 2019.

Peterson, a printmaker, runs Void Gallery and Saskatoon’s annual Nuit Blanche festival. He is also the project manager for the Saskatchewan Craft Council’s Professional Practices for Artists, a provincial program of arts business training. He leads numerous community-focused projects including developing printmaking education with high schools, creating zines with newcomers and hosting Saskatoon’s only publicly-accessible printmaking studio.

Mann Art Gallery curator and director Jesse Campbell explained why Peterson was a good fit for guest curator.

“Over the last year and a half we’ve really been noticing increased attention towards printmaking from our local community and gallery members,” she said.

“People want to know more about it and do more printmaking in their practices, so we thought it would be really good to bring in that aspect for 2019 with Michael curating.”

The show always has a guest curator. As Campbell explained, it helps to make sure a variety of people with different practices, professions and types of experience can come to Prince Albert and work with artists in the region.

“It’s not often that practicing artists get a chance to have a conversation one-on-one with other artists working in the province, just because we’re spread so far apart on the Prairies,” he said.

“Individual artists definitely find it beneficial to glean information and perspective from a guest curator.”

Peterson, who knows some of the previous guest curators, as well as artists who have entered works into the winter festival show, is excited about the opportunity. He’s particularly pleased with the show’s community focus.

“I think it’s really nice how inclusive the show is,” he said, “creating the chance for members in P.A. to be able to show their work, and also bringing in artists from across the province … to expose some of the contemporary work being done. Whenever you’re hosting a show of that nature, it’s nice to be able to bring some attention to the work being done here in Saskatchewan.”

Peterson said that while his background as a printmaker will help him be aware of some of the aesthetic sensibilities that go with that medium, he feels his experience as a curator and community organizer will be what gives him a solid background to curate the show. Peterson likes to connect members of the community to each other and would like to see the winter festival show’s premise applied elsewhere.

“I try to work to bring opportunities with artists to work with different community members. Frankly, I think ehre needs to be more of this in the province, supporting and growing the local art community, bringing opportunities for artists here,” he said.

“It’s really nice to see the Kann putting such a focus on the whole arts community.”

While each artist who enters a work will be included, as in past years, there is a change to the 2019 show’s format.

Artists in years past have been able to enter two works each. However, as the show has grown, the gallery has been forced to reduce the winter festival show entries to one per artist.

“In the past few years, participation in this exhibition has increased significantly, and that’s made it difficult to get proper wall space and proper lighting conditions to show all of the submissions in their best possible way,” Campbell said.

The change could lead to artists being really focused and selective in what they choose to present, she said.

Regardless, the gallery is looking forward to the variety.

“It’s always an exciting exhibition, due to it being open to anyone in the province who is over 18,” she said.

“We have no idea what is going to come in. This is not a show that is one of our more typical exhibitions where I choose and curate the artwork ahead of time.”

As in previous years, it will be up to the guest curator to help choose which pieces win awards, and to arrange the show in a way that makes sense. Peterson will also host a tour a critique session on Feb. 9, the morning after the show’s opening reception and awards presentation.

Art is due at the gallery on Sunday, Jan. 27 and Monday, Jan. 28. Drop off on those days is from 1-5 p.m. All artists must be 18 or older and reside in Saskatchewan, as well, they must be members of the gallery for the 2019 year. Works must be ready for installation, and wire or string will not be accepted as a means to hang. All entries must be for sale.

For more information and full details, visit www.mannartgallery.ca.