Chatting about Art with Jim Turner of 2gallery, Picton.
2gallery at 256 Main Street, Picton is the most recent entrant to The County’s flourishing, (pre-Covid), arts scene, opening in spring of last year. 2gallery is the result of Jim Turner and Craig Daniel’s long held ambition to relocate to The County following successful careers in media and high tech industries. “It’s such a shame, just as we were getting established…Covid -19 came along and really let the air out of the balloon,” reflects Jim. Many local galleries have responded to the ‘new normal’ by restricting access to appointment only or by placing more emphasis on their online presence, however 2gallery is fully committed to remaining open. “Following the obvious protocols, we will be open, and rather fortunately we have generous gallery space that easily accommodates social distancing.” And I can report a steady stream of visitors throughout our discussions.
Commenting on the recent permanent closure of Arts on Main, as a physical gallery, (though its online presence continues), “That is a matter of considerable regret, as I would like to see Main Street full of galleries.” He notes with satisfaction that, “Each and every one of Prince Edward County’s galleries is very different and has mined their own individual and distinctive niche. Really we are not competing directly with each other. Rather than fighting each other for a slice of the same pie, our combined presence makes for a bigger pie.”
I ask whether Jim sees any dangers in the increasing exposure to art through some sort of screen or device. “Interaction with art works online and in a gallery setting are two completely different experiences.” I seek to explore this a little further advancing my fear that the proliferation of online art galleries, (and physical galleries being obliged to operate primarily online), will eventually lead to a future where art galleries become little more than fulfillment centres. If there is no longer to be a social dimension to the role of an art gallery, then what in fact does the gallery offer to the public, and indeed artists?
Somewhat impertinently, I inquire, “Will artists continue to need art galleries?”
Addressing first the issue of technology, Jim observes that the march of technology cannot be arrested and just because things are changed by technological progress, it does not necessarily mean those changes are for the worse, just different. “Adapting to technology with be an evolving ritual.”
I raise my further concern that now, many peoples’ first point of contact with a work of art is via a screen of some kind, and this inevitably will influence, potentially adversely, the works produced? Will not artists be tempted to create work that looks good an a screen? Jim agrees my fears are well founded, in that for many young people their first contacts with the art world may well be online and he foresees this may lead to the demise of institutional galleries. “But” he adds optimistically, “Is not the human eye more sensitive than any screen or device?”
Firmly of the belief that the social value of the shared experience of interacting with art will never be replaced by technology, he comments, “From cave painting onward, art demonstrates the human need for expression and emotional connectivity. The latest research into cave painting suggests it was not an individual, shamanistic activity, but a group or even family undertaking.”
“Is not the case that however ironically, Covid -19 is the very proof of the value of social activity? Are we not all yearning for hugs and physical contact with each other? Look at the fate of Zoom calls…at first everyone was onboard with them and now everyone hates them. Convenience cannot replace genuine human contact.” I would liken the gallery experience to attending a live concert, rather than listening to a recording.
To the question of the continuing role played by art galleries, and what galleries do for their artists, Jim suggests that there are few totally independent artists, most have other positions whether in artistic disciplines or not. “It’s a myth that the Group of Seven spent all their time riding in box cars and painting the north, except perhaps, David Milne, who almost starved to death. They all had other jobs. Artists should spend as much of their time as possible doing what they do best, and what others cannot do, which is creating artworks.”
“Without galleries, artists would need to be business savvy, writers, web designers, advertising executives, pod casters, photographers, bookkeepers, picture framers, customer relationship managers and a host of other things: they would never have anytime to produce any artworks. All these things happen in a gallery, even if behind the scenes.”
Jim has been an art collector since he was about sixteen years of age, buying what he what he now regards as “terrible” painting…though he still has it. “Why should one buy art,” I ask just before leaving. “Because you love it,” is the unequivocal reply.
Craig and Jim seek to use the gallery for events of various kinds in future and particularly look forward to making use of their splendid grand piano. Follow their social media for updates on Deck the Walls events coming up soon. 2gallery.ca
For the future, they plan to “Shake it up a bit with more challenging works.”
Hours till December 21
Wednesday to Monday 11-5
December 22 to January 14
Jan 15 to March 25
Friday to Sunday 11- 5
Or by appointment to book
March 26 ongoing
Wednesday to Monday 11- 5
Current and upcoming Shows
Now running, 2gallery’s first annual Smalls Show presents a selection of affordable works in smaller formats perfect for gift giving. Fifty works featuring drawings, paintings, photographs and mixed media will be on display.
Look out for special Deck the Walls events (follow 2gallery’s social media and newsletter) and join Jim and Craig for libations and chocolate whilst chatting about art and enjoying seasonal music played live on the grand piano. To follow established social distancing protocols, admission to these events will be by timed appointment only.