The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an interesting gallery with different types of art.
We were amazed when we first saw the gallery on Nov. 13, 2011. It is in the middle of a fairly small forest and over the next hill is a city.
At first sight, McMichael looked like a simple small building with a sculpture of a bear outside of it. On the inside, however, it was a huge building with 13 galleries full of art. It seemed like the founders of McMichael, Robert and Signe McMichael, worked hard to create it.
Robert and Signe were a lovely couple who believed art should be preserved. That’s why they decided to create
an art gallery. Signe and Robert were not exactly rich. They had to build the McMichael gallery using old cut down trees. It was the only material they had. At first, the gallery was nothing but a small cottage. Then gradually, it began to grow. The McMichaels went around the world collecting art and gathering more materials
to use. They worked and built their gallery until everything was perfect. All the hard work they did built the McMichael Canadian Art Collection that we have today. The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is owned by the province of Ontario. It keeps paintings for the joy of seeing the beauty of art. Since the gallery is made and
kept in the wilderness, it uses nature to help with electricity. Solar panels on the roof of the gallery make that possible.
Art is not the only thing at McMichael. Many people with knowledge of the artists’ paintings stay there too. One volunteer named Liese told us an interesting fact about the Group of Seven. She told us that there really were 10 people in the Group of Seven! There were originally seven members in the group, but one member quit, and more joined. The Group of Seven really should have been called the Group of Ten, but the name “Group of
Seven” stuck, and it stayed like that until all members in the Group passed away. Stephen Weir, a spokesperson of the gallery, not only showed us around the gallery, but told us about himself as well.
At first, he only delivered paintings to the art gallery. It was the First Nations that inspired Weir to come to the gallery. In 1978, a painter first hired him to write legends for the First Nations paintings.
Weir was extremely picky on what paintings he liked and disliked. The painting he hated was a painting called
Benedicta. At first glance, the painting looked fine. The painting was of a young girl standing on a beach. If you looked closely at the painting, however, you would see that the “water” in the ocean was just blue splotches. Weir also pointed out that the girl’s hands were huge – almost as big as the girl’s head! According to Weir, that was not right.
Although Weir disliked Benedicta, he had his favourite paintings as well. One very special painting that Weir liked was Shaman and Disciples by Norval Morrisseau, a First Nations artist. Weir liked Shaman and Disciples because, in his opinion, it was extremely native and original.
Weir also showed us a few sculptures created by First Nations artists. One is called To Do Da Ho. It showed gods on a turtle`s back, surrounded by serpents. It represented how the First Nations thought the world was created. Another sculpture was The Migration. It showed men rowing a boat. There were multiple copies of this
sculpture because it was a popular piece of art that many people would want. Those two sculptures were very famous First Nations pieces of art.
Some information about Lawren S. Harris, Emily Carr, and Tom Thomson were generously given to us. Lawren S. Harris was a wonderful artist. He was part of the Group of Seven and was very rich. He painted mostly mountains. Harris had a very special style of painting. He loved using geometric shapes and different shades
of blue. Plus, the lighting in his paintings was really something special. It seemed to cast a magical glow on the already beautiful mountains every time. Lawren S. Harris really knew how to mix modernity, shapes
and creativity to make beautiful paintings. Emily Carr was a woman who liked to push a baby monkey in a stroller. Though she was an artist, she wasn’t as respected as the Group of Seven or Tom Thomson,
as Carr was a woman. She got so discouraged that she even stopped painting! Only the Group could get her to paint again.
Tom Thomson was another contemporary member of the Group. Unlike Emily Carr, Tom Thomson was greatly respected for his art. He was a very poor man who liked Algonquin Park, for he painted many pieces of fine art based on it, such as his painting called Canoe Lake. Unfortunately, his love for Algonquin Park eventually led to his death. One day Thomson paddled out to Canoe Lake and was never seen alive again. A replica of Tom Thomson’s cabin was displayed outside the gallery.
The gallery does not only have artists that painted pictures; it includes filmmaking artists as well. One of them is named Jack Chambers. Jack Chambers was the first man to start filmmaking. He was very experimental. Every day at about ten o’ clock, he would go out to his backyard and take the same film pictures every day.
He wanted to make pictures look more like frames in a movie, so he started to use aluminum paint to try to approximate what you would see on film. Chambers enjoyed filmmaking but had to stop after a while because the aluminum paint fumes were making him sick. Jack Chambers was a great filmmaker.
Outside the gallery, people could enjoy famous arts too. The Sculpture Garden was part of the gallery outdoors. It showed sculptures of different kinds by Ivan Eyre. Even though we couldn’t go into the Garden, we learned that it was in the forest, and that there was a trail people could follow in order to see all the sculptures.
The McMichael Cemetery is a great place to pay respect for the famous people buried there. Six members of the Group, such as Lawren Harris, are buried in the cemetery, as well as other people who have helped with the amazing creation of the McMichael. Even Signe and Robert McMichael are buried there! That proves that the gallery respects all artists of today and tomorrow.