Ontario artists can only be envious. Every two years, or sometimes three, Loto-Québec sponsors an exhibition at Galerie Montcalm in Hull for artists living in the Outaouais. It’s a competition of sorts, with the winners – and there are often several winners – having their work purchased and then incorporated into the vast Loto-Québec art collection for display in public buildings around the province.
In Ontario, most large cities, including Ottawa, have an art purchasing program, but the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. does not have a program similar to Quebec’s to benefit the province’s artists.
The current Loto-Québec show at Galerie Montcalm is called Reperage Collection Loto-Quebec. The word “reperage” is a muscular one with many meanings. In this instance, the exhibition title can mean “tracking” art for the Loto-Québec collection.
In each of the Loto-Québec competitions, Outaouais artists are invited to make submissions to be included in the exhibition at Galerie Montcalm. About 80 works were submitted this year. A jury picked 37 of them to be exhibited and it is from this group of 37 that Loto-Québec will decide which ones to purchase.
Now, one would think that Loto-Québec would send its art-buyers to Hull to view the exhibition and pick the best works. Alas, bureaucracies do not work this way. Instead, all 37 works will be shipped to Montreal. The ones purchased will remain there and the rest returned to Hull.
One can only hope that Paula Murray’s exquisite, meditative, but very fragile looking porcelain and wood arrangement called “Sanctuary,” can survive one, possibly two, trips down the Trans-Canada. Murray, being a pro, has probably taken all that into account.
The Canadian Conservation Institute, a federal agency researching the best ways to preserve and repair artworks, actually does crash tests to determine how big a bump ceramic items can take before cracking. Perhaps the institute has a handy guide made available to Murray.
Now, if I had been asked by Loto-Québec what works to buy, my first choice would have been Murray’s installation. I also fell for Johanne Lafreniere’s brilliant photo, “Je m’imagine, je m’imagine,” of a woman, the image having been captured from a video and projected unto a pitted steel plate and given a smooth plexi-glass finish. And who could not fall in love with Andree Prefontaine’s 28-second video “O Divine” showing an organic object, possibly a halved strawberry, moving like some man-eating plant looking for prey?
Of course, I dare not recommend the purchase of paintings in the show by such artists as Jean-Francois Provost, Reid McLachlan and Becky Mason. I own paintings by these three very different artists. Someone would surely say I was in a conflict of interest if I suggested their three works should be purchased, possibly boosting the artists’ overall standing and market value. Anyway, do take a look at these three paintings. Just don’t say I sent you.
Reparage Collection Loto-Québec continues at Galerie Montcalm, 25 rue Laurier in Hull, until April 21.