Bridging connections with online art

·2 min read

Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre seeks to help bridge the gaps between people with its first-ever online exhibition launched Feb. 27.

Titled “Connection,” the show presents submissions from its members, featuring a wide array of mediums. Besides a physical gallery still viewable at the centre under additional public protocols, it is also available on the centre’s website, with a guided virtual tour.

Curator Laurie Jones said she learned about the format from the Ontario Society of Artists and it was a way to improve access.

“Not everybody’s comfortable yet with being around, especially in public spaces,” Jones said.

The exhibition is an annual salon show, drawing from local talent, Jones said. The pandemic prompted the move to an online addition – and the theme for the show itself.

“It came up out of my own cravings for connections and missing people,” Jones said. “In many ways, we’re looking for alternate ways to connect.”

Artist Rosanna Dewey’s exhibition piece depicts one of those ways. It is an oil painting entitled “Zoom Room” depicting a call on the online meeting platform. She said the show’s theme was poignant.

“It’s so hard to be connected,” Dewey said. “It really made me think about what was going on and what my connections were.”

She said she had some skepticism about the online concept but found it turned out appealing.

“You want to be able to get up close to the artwork and you get more of a sense of the piece,” Dewey said. “But I found that people were still interested. People still needed to go and experience art, even if it was through a Zoom format.”

Arts and Crafts Festival on pause

But the community will miss one big way to connect with art in the summer. The Haliburton Art and Craft Festival – the gallery’s flagship event and fundraiser – is cancelled for the second straight year due to the pandemic, Jones said. She said it would be too logistically challenging to ensure safety amidst the pandemic.

“We don’t want to introduce any risk to our volunteers or staff or vendors or patrons,” Jones said. “Maintaining sanitary conditions would be impossible.”

Jones said the centre needs to decide early to inform artists and give them time to plan. She said there might be alternate programming, but that is being worked out.

For now, the Rails End is still putting on exhibitions and bringing arts to the community.

“We’re not trying to sell anything. We’re trying to provide an experience,” Jones said. “Hopefully, they feel the connection with the creative arts.”

“Connection” runs until April 17 and is available at the centre itself or railsendgallery.com.

Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander