Pop-art collection streams in galleries across Canada
The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, is ubiquitous with the city of Edmonton since his record-setting career with the Oilers. A Gretzky encounter is not uncommon in the city, especially now that he’s joined the Oilers franchise in an executive role as vice chairman and partner. But for many across the country, an up close and personal chance to see Gretzky is rare.
The Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA), along with two other Canadian art galleries, are trying to change that by marrying pop art and technology to provide visitors with the opportunity to view a collection while sharing the experience with others who are thousands of kilometres away.
A live simulcast is set up in the exhibition rooms where the great Canadian icon’s portraits hang. Anyone who is taking in the art can share their experience live with their fellow art consumers despite being somewhere else. The galleries participating include the AGA, The Rooms in St. John’s, N.L.; and the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, in Charlottetown, N.B.
“It’s a wonderful time for us to talk about how images are shared with the help of technology,” says Laura Ritchie, head of Exhibitions and Collections Management and spokesperson for the exhibition. “When we think about what the internet does for moving images around the world so quickly, and when we think about how the popularity of celebrities and the icon status of celebrities is helped by technology, that aspect of images being transmitted goes back a really long way but became really popular with Andy Warhol and his practice of repetitive imagery of icons.” She adds, “The simulcast makes the world a little bit smaller in the same way that this famed print unites us.”
The portraits on display were created in 1984 by Warhol, a household name known for bringing pop art into the realm of fine art back in the 1950s and ‘60s. Gretzky was not available for comment on the exhibition, however there is a facsimile of a letter on display at the AGA that he wrote to Warhol, thanking him for the time they spent together and the impact it had on him at the time.
While the simulcast does not have sound, Ritchie says they expect message communciation between participants from each location.
“Already, we have seen people dancing and waving, because they can tell that they can see each other.”
Each gallery is showcasing the same versions of the portraits but the AGA has three additional variations on display.
“In our case we have the great opportunity to bring into our collection, what the artist has referred to as trial proofs,” says Ritchie. “We have a couple of what we call ‘test runs’ because of our relationship with The Great One and the Oilers, it made sense to collect these variations.”
Until Sun., Sept. 24
Gretzky is Everywhere
Art Gallery of Alberta, 2 Sir Winston Churchill Sq. youraga.ca