The invitation has been pinned by a magnet on my fridge for months, I added it into my phone calendar, and I even splurged on a new outfit to go. I am sure they missed me at the gala event last evening, but I had a ticket to the Tim Hicks concert so while the fancy cocktail dressed people where celebrating with hors d’oeuvres and drinking Champagne, I was singing “We have stronger beer.”
However, today was my day, because this small time twenty-five dollar art gallery member, swaggered up the steps with an invitation in hand for a special Member Event. A sneak preview of the grand-opening of the new wing of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton New Brunswick. Well ain’t I fancy.
I am actually an art enthusiast, I have been to art galleries every where I have traveled and I have some on the walls at my home. Prints of course; a couple of water colours and one genuine oil on canvas, but I digress. I walked in and I was handed a guide, by a volunteer, to the builds new wing. I could have been walking into the Louvre in Paris. People are hovering around in small circles chatting, the entrance way to the Harriet Irving gallery is congested, so instead of pushing through as I had practiced in the mosh pit of the concert last evening. I decide to go down stairs and work my way through that floor first.
I started in a familiar area at the collection of Joseph and Fanny Oppenheimer. These decorative framed paintings are so lovely. I turn the corner and walk into the Oppenheimer Education center. I think my jaw hung open and I got goose bumps. There is a grand piano on the left, this isn’t just a wing, it is a new building. It is world-class facility. I am almost in tears with pride and excitement.
I go all the way to the end of the corridoor here I find Bruno Babak the artist in residence has his studio. I follow the path of people passed a wall of youth art and into the Cafe Beaverbrook, and the Ceramic sculpture of Van Gosh done by Canadian artist Joe Fafard, is unique and I squeezed through the mass of people bending and twisting to get the only angle of it I can get using my phone for photos.
I continue to the back and go up the stairs. The next room impresses me even more. I walk the chandler lite hallways, there are rooms on each side and I feel like I am in any of the great museums of Europe that I have visited.
So many new pieces, a beloved Henri Matisse, which I believe I have seen before at the Ontario Art Gallery in Toronto, is now on displayed here. As I ponder the Matisse an elderly man walks by and say, ” what is that?” I say “it is Henri Matisse.”. He says “yes, yes, but look at it.. what is it?” He shakes his head and walks off. Another two ladies walk up, I hear the one say to the other, ” oh her she is”
I continue into the great room. The opening ceremonies, speeches and thank you’s are followed by a message to go and tell everyone what a world-class art gallery we have. He took the words out of my mouth. We make room for the First Nations Ceremony dancers and chanters to perform. While the crowd shuffles about I pull back but I can’t see and there is no chance I am getting to the Salvador Dali gallery. My best option is to walk all the way to the end to see the Canadian gallery.
I glide in and out of each separate gallery, I chat briefly with a lady at the Cornelius David Krieghoff, she says,” Have you only seen the one? they usually have several on display”. I tell her this was the only one I have seen. We pass by each other in close contact probably never to see each other again. A large tapestry fills the far wall I can’t get near, and some old paints dated 1500’s but I didn’t read their tag.
A few more contemporary piece and I hear there is cake downstairs. while the crowd scampers away to eat cake, I shoulder my way in the opposite direction into the Salvador Dali Gallery. It is so packed I get marginal pictures with my phone. I will have to return another day when the crowds are less and study these works closer.
But today I am so happy to be surrounded by art lovers like myself and I left the gallery wanting to tell every one how pleased I am that Fredericton now has a genuine tourist draw in its art gallery. The bigger better Beaverbrook is here at last.
Happy Travels From Maritime Mac