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I’ve always had a strong connection to visual art. When I was seven, appearing as Gretel in a production of The Sound of Music in Winnipeg, I earned $37.50 a week for the three-week run. That was a fortune to me at the time. My parents didn’t give us an allowance, so I wasn’t used to spending or saving money and, as a result, not quite sure what to do with my earnings when the weekly envelopes were distributed at the 1/2 hour call.
Back then my mother owned the Cardigan/Milne art gallery. It was this huge, wide open space on the edge of Winnipeg’s Osborne Village. I loved being there, and I loved being surrounded by the collections that would rotate monthly. I loved running around the space, stretching on the floor, dancing in the alcoves with spotlights focused on the art. For her it was a dream come true to open that gallery; for me it was a refuge of quiet cultural bliss.
Perhaps that’s why it was natural for her to suggest that, if I wanted, my weekly paycheque from The Sound of Music gig could go toward a gift of art as a reward for my work. Rewarding art with art. It enabled me to learn about investing in something … and about the importance of supporting and investing in Canadian visual artists. Soon theatre roles were coming to me right and left, and with that success my art collection grew and grew. To this day I still reward myself with art whenever I can. My collection has changed and evolved over the years (some pieces no longer resonate with me, some pieces I can’t live without) but each of them tells the story of how I came to be who I am as an artist and as an art collector.
That’s one of the many reasons GCTC is so special to me. Not only does this place present and promote Canadian theatre, but it’s also home to the Fritzi Gallery, where Ottawa theatre and visual arts enthusiasts can come by anytime to see the gorgeous, inspiring & thoughtful exhibits created by the immensely talented curator-in-residence Malika Welsh. (Can you believe my luck? A theatre AND a gallery under one roof?!) I’ve been fortunate to become friends with Malika during my Metcalf Foundation Artistic Director Intership, and have had the joy of witnessing her creative process. She’s passionate about promoting local artists and she’s doing an outstanding job of taking ownership for this space and keeping it relevant to GCTC and the community.
Who knows? You may be inspired to pick up a piece and start your own collection!