A feast for the eyes

It was a feast for the eyes on March 9 as visitors entered The Gales Gallery, a new facility in the Department of Visual Arts in York’s Accolade West building. The pristine white venue was accented  by the contemporary art pieces of Here is Where we Meet, a group exhibition showcasing work by 25 graduate students in the visual arts MFA  program. During the student exhibition, artists, faculty members and guests gathered to celebrate the dedication of the gallery, named in honour of community leaders Barry and Joy Gales.

Dean Phillip Silver of the Faculty of Fine Arts hosted the evening reception and open house with York President & Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden. The event was part of the kick off for the three-week York Fine Arts Festival which ran from March 9 to April 1. 

Right: Phillip Silver (left) with Barry Gales, Joy Gales and Lorna R. Marsden

Marsden praised the gallery for its accessible and well-travelled location in Accolade West on York’s Keele campus. “We’ve put the art where it should be – front and centre and accessible – so the wide community can discover and enjoy and interact with it,” said Marsden. “This has been made possible thanks to the commitment and generosity of Barry and Joy Gales, and their wonderful support of emerging talent in the visual arts.”

York University Foundation board member Barry Gales and his wife Joy were on hand for the evening’s festivities with their daughter Amanda, who graduated in 2006 from York’s visual arts program with a degree in art history. The York University Foundation’s Susan Mullin, vice-president development, and Cathy Yanosik, vice-president operations, presented the Gales with a signed exhibition poster as a token of appreciation for their generous donation in support of The Accolade Project.

Right: Susan Mullin (left), Amanda Gales, Joy Gales, Barry Gales and Cathy Yanosik displaying a framed Here is Where we Meet exhibition poster

Speaking on behalf of her husband and daughter, Joy Gales said, “We appreciate the work Dean Phillip Silver is doing on The Accolade Project and support his phenomenal vision. It is important for students to have exceptional places to learn and grow.”

“One of the objectives of the MFA program is to connect the artists in the program with the larger community,” said Yvonne Singer, exhibition coordinator and director of the graduate program in visual arts. Singer highlighted the importance of exhibitions as a platform for conversations with curators, writers and theorists. “That’s the community that discovers contemporary art and disseminates contemporary art, and so we’re very thankful for the students and the program to have the opportunity to make that connection today.”

Left: Montreal artist Kristi Ropeleski beside her painting, K.R. Self Portrait after Andrea Ropeleski, 2007

Janet Jones, Chair of the Department of Visual Arts, stressed the importance of thanking the student artists for their perseverance. “If you choose to do this, you really need to be thanked!”

Guest curators Sara Knelman, curator of contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and Ben Portis, assistant curator, contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, concluded the evening’s reception with an account of their experiences with York’s MFA students. After the reception, guests were invited on a tour of See Here!, an open house in the Joan & Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts featuring more than 500 works in all media by emerging young artists.

This story was submitted to YFile by Earleen Dover, communications officer, York University Foundation.