Picasso: The Artist and His Muses is now showing at the Vancouver Art Gallery until Sunday, October 2, 2016
BY JOHN MENDOZA
If you want to inject a little more creativity and leisure into your life, start with a visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery this summer and check out this show on the first level, and wander around at the other three floors. You might be surprised at the value and pleasure derived from sauntering through an art gallery—you might even leave inspired.
Directions: Take Skytrain on the Expo Line westbound from Joyce/Collingwood station to either Granville Station or Burrard Station. For information on admission rates and opening hours, check http://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca. Admission by donation is Tuesday nights from 5 to 9 pm. If a recent Tuesday in mid-June is any indication, expect long lineups and certainly do not wait until the last minute to see the exhibit.
Let’s go back to October 2010. I’m at the Seattle Art Museum. It’s a monumental art show to say the least. Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris, takes up the top floor of the museum, and it features artistic highlights from Pablo Picasso. Its placement is apt. It’s right next to the arts of Africa and Oceania; people queued next to a stark display of African masks. (Picasso was influenced by the arts of Africa and Oceania.)
I follow the other museum visitors into the first crowded room. What I discovered was not only the results of an imaginative and unusual artist, but roomfuls of the different ways one can approach life in the name of creativity.
A good example of Picasso’s ability to think creatively was Bull’s Head. The name reflects the idea and shape of the sculpture, but what’s surprising is the medium of the work: a bicycle seat, some handle bars. Picasso had found these items in a pile of garbage in Paris. He simply welded the metal seat to the metal handlebars, mashing together two found objects to create a modern work of art.
There’s something still alien and uncommon about being able to see beauty and potential in discarded objects thought of as trash. Furthermore, sometimes context is everything. Picasso created Bull’s Head in the early 1940s during the Second World War. To create something beautiful is incredibly life affirming, especially in the face of turbulence and turmoil.
In total, I spent four hours looking at Picasso’s art that day in Seattle.
Fast forward to 2016, and the Vancouver Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver is exhibiting Picasso: The Artist and His Muses, a summer exhibition of Picasso’s artworks influenced by the many women in his life.
The pieces come from as close as the collections of the Vancouver Art Gallery and as far away as places like France. One particular artwork supposedly is still in the frame that Picasso himself picked out and is making a rare appearance outside of its usual museum home.
If you ever have been the least bit curious about Picasso’s life and career, it’s definitely a recommended excursion. You’ll find that publicly funded museums and art galleries are not bastions of elitism, but places where all can be transformed by the experience of seeing art.
If you are a night owl, don’t miss their FUSE program where the Vancouver Art Gallery opens late from 8 pm to midnight, and augments their art exhibitions with performance and music. Next one will be Friday, July 15, 2016. And don’t forget the admission-by-donation Tuesday nights from 5 to 9 pm.
John Mendoza is a long-time resident of Renfrew-Collingwood and a regular contributor to the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.
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