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2016 has been a year many people would like to forget. Despite losing artists like Daphne Odjig, Annie Pootoogook, and Marcel Barbeau, it’s also been a pretty fabulous year for introducing exciting art and artists through our exhibitions and a wide variety of programming.

We hear from our visitors regularly about what impacted them, but you rarely get a chance to hear what left a lasting impression with the different staff members. So we polled the staff, and here are some of our highlights:

Mitch Mitchell speaks during an artist talk about his exhibition Mitch Mitchell: I Will Meet You in The Sun.

I would have to say a highlight of my year was the opportunity to meet Mitch Mitchell and preview his exhibition with fellow staff members and volunteers. Mr. Mitchell’s exhibition moved me with its personal subject matter; hearing how his family history and their anecdotes informed the complex and intricate pieces brought his art alive for me. It was amazing to walk through the exhibition repeatedly and remember his story. It was a real privilege to have had that time with the artist!

Bahaiyyih Pride, Temporary Receptionist/Secretary

Participants enjoy the activities during an Artful Afternoon program at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax.

Artful Afternoon for those with Dementia and their Partner and Care  is a real programming highlight. The monthly interactive Gallery tours and studio workshops, designed in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia, are filled with lots of laughter, conversation, friendship, and creativity! Looking forward to celebrating Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in January with the official opening of the beautiful Artful Afternoon exhibition now on view at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

Dale Sheppard, Curator of Education & Public Programs

Image from the Maudie movie. Courtesy of Mongrel Media.

A definite highlight for me was to have the opportunity to attend an advance screening of Maudie, the film about Maud Lewis. Her story of overcoming poverty and disability has inspired many thousands of visitors to our Gallery, and I am excited that the theatrical release of the movie will bring her story and her artwork to millions.

Leslie Tinkham, Director of Development

This year’s very popular annual Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Yarmouth’s A Gallery Christmas featured a concert of Christmas music presented by The Accidental Consort, the Yarmouth Strings, the Yarmouth Shantymen and the Yarmouth Bell Ringers. Donations were raised by the crowd for the Yarmouth Food Bank and Fuel Bank in the true spirit of the season.

Selena Crosson, Reception/Administration, Yarmouth

Installation view of Terrior: a Nova Scotia Survey on view until January 15, 2017. 

Some of my highlights were:

•  Seeing Mitch Mitchell’s vision unfold in the Gallery and watching our public’s reaction to the work.
•  Discussions with David and Bruce about the submissions to Terroir and then getting to know the artists through studio visits and installation of the their work.
•  Holding the beautiful publication in my hands.
•  The power in the room at the opening reception to the 4th wall.
•  Seeing Graeme Patterson ‘s work delight and move fellow artists and visitors at the opening at the Confederation Center in PEI.
• Welcoming a new director to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and feeling excited by her vision and attitude.

Sarah Fillmore, Chief Curator

Participating in the Block Printing with Natural Dyes and Mordants workshop led by Terroir artist, Frances Dorsey.  

Participants of the Block Printing with Natural Dyes and Mordants workshop created elegant and dynamic silk scarves. Under the expertise of textile artist Frances Dorsey, participants learned about the terroir of natural dyes, used mordants to print organic and geometric designs and used natural dyes on silk, cotton and other natural materials. The workshop and the results were a huge success!

Laura Carmichael, Assistant Curator of Education

The Gala opened with a moving outdoor ceremony with Native drummers, dancing 15 foot tall puppets Glooscap and Summer, and an address by Chief Deborah Robinson. The four artists participating in the Main Gallery exhibition, The Path We Share, attended. The Path We Share exhibition was echoed by the Alma Square Mural Project, adjacent to the Gallery, designed by artist Dan Earle and assisted by Art Gallery of Nova Scotia staff and volunteers. One door, depicting East and West Aboriginal imagery has been donated back to the Gallery by Tusket Toyota and currently welcomes guests in the lobby. This event was the highlight of a busy year at the Gallery.

Angela Collier, Gallery Coordinator, Yarmouth

One of the key supports for Gallery programs from the Friends of the Yarmouth Art Gallery was the school bussing program which gives financial support to schools for visiting the Gallery. This brought in 1,150 students from the Tri-County Regional School Board and CSAP, the Conseil scholaire acadien provincial.

Virginia Stoddard

Guests look at artworks during the opening for Terroir: a Nova Scotia Survey.

I started at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in March and it has been an amazing eight months learning about art and artists and our rich collection. A true highlight of the year for me was the Gala Opening of the Terroir exhibition in June. Over 500 people came out for this exciting event that featured Pete Luckett wines, local food tastings and unique Nova Scotian art. Many people made a point of telling me what a fantastic evening it was!  We are looking forward to more like it in 2017.

Diane Chisholm, Chief Advancement Officer

An excerpt from the walking tour guide for the Artist’ Footsteps walking tour of Halifax. 

Normally I attend the American Historical Print Collectors Society meetings in May, but this year I went to Edinburgh to see the Modern Scottish Women Painters exhibition at the Scottish National gallery, because the curator, Alice Strang, had included Margaret Campbell Macpherson (one of the Two Artists Time Forgot) in her ground-breaking exhibition. It was wonderful to see Macpherson in the context of her Scottish, rather than Canadian, peers. AHPCS still featured in the year, however, when a cruise ship brought a colleague, Joan Wohl, to visit the In the Artists’ Footsteps exhibition in the John and Norma Oyler Gallery in September.

Mora Dianne O’Neill, Associate Curator, Historical Prints and Drawings

Artist Bria Miller in front of her work (right) in the 4th Wall exhibition.

The 4th Wall exhibition experience opened my eyes to the power that art has to tell stories that incite change and learning about current injustices in those near and far from the artist. Acknowledging that power and having my story valued by those involved in this project has compelled me to embrace my reality, create art from an intimate place, and collaborate with other artists who want to do the same. It inspired me to begin my career as an artist, honestly.

Bria Miller, 4th Wall Artist

In April, just after the Lucy Jarvis exhibition closed in the Main Gallery, the monthly Art Gallery of Nova Scotia Creative Minds series featured Roslyn Rosenfeld, author of Lucy Jarvis: Even Stones Have Life. Dozens of people turned out, some bringing little known works of Lucy Jarvis, who had painted in the Yarmouth area for decades and had sold or given her work to many local residents.

Dette MacMillan, Reception/Administration, Yarmouth

Guests make art in the studios during ArtParty

ArtParty is always a highlight for me. I enjoy working with our Young Patrons circle and seeing this exciting event come together. Not to mention seeing our guests interact with the Gallery in new ways. This year, we’ve added MAPLE by Southwest Properties as an entertainment sponsor in addition to TD as our presenting sponsor. This has allowed us to really continue to provide exciting interactions with local artists, music and Djs. Join us in January for the next installment of ArtParty.

Krista Wadman, Event Coordinator

Unknown, Sauvages de la nation des Micmacks dans leur canot d’écorce, de bouleau; au détroit de Canso, entre la Nlle Ecosse et l’isle, du Cap-Breton, 18th century, Watercolour and ink on laid paper, 22.8 x 32.3 cm S.E.F.. Nova Scotia Museum Ethnology Collection. Acquired through the generous support of John Risley, John Bragg, the Nova Scotia Museum Board of Gßovernors and the Canadian Maritime Heritage Foundation, 2015.13.8

One of my favourite things from the past year was the Return to Nova Scotiaexhibition. It’s small, but mighty and showcases some amazing historical artworks. The acquisition and exhibition gave curators from Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia a great chance to work together. It’s always exciting to be able to collaborate with our local experts, because we all learn so much from each other in the process – and hopefully that is conveyed in the exhibition!

The gem, to my mind, is the exquisite watercolour of a Mi’kmaw family canoeing through the Strait of Canso dating to the French period in the 1700s. [pictured above] The portrayal of the people, clothing, and the canoe is so moving and powerful that I visit it almost daily.

Shannon Parker, Curator of Collections

Installation view of the exhibition Spring in Cambridge: the Visionary Drawings of John Devlin on view from May to November 2016 in Yarmouth.

I was delighted to have a show of this size and depth in my native Nova Scotia. In some ways it is more difficult for me to exhibit in Canada than Europe, which made the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s commitment to my vision all the more gratifying. In 2017, I’m looking forward to NY for my first real exhibit there (not an art fair) 12 Jan-18 Feb at Cavin-Morris in Chelsea. This would have been impossible without the pump first being primed in Halifax and then Yarmouth.

John Devlin, Artist

We look forward to sharing more of our programming, events and exhibitions with you in 2017.

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