The Arsenal in Venice is an historic centuries-old shipbuilding site, converted into huge art spaces during the Venice Biennale. The Arsenal in Montreal is an over 200-year old shipbuilding site – converted into a contemporary art gallery – just launched with a private première – and what a party! (The Arsenal is also a rentable party space - and at 20,000 square feet, that’s a good thing.)
The huge (over 40,000 square feet) building (built 1843) was transformed by the decor. Possibly in a nice nod to calèche horses housed in nearby Griffintown, huge horses with lampshade hats - and you thought only drunk college kids did that – were placed throughout the room, flanking sofas – white, black and…silver. Large chandeliers lowered the massive ceiling to, well, still a massive height. And then there was the amazing art -graciously lent by Montreal collectors. Shown were artists Anselm Keifer (2 huge ones), Marc Séguin, Paterson Ewen, Monique Bertrand, Kim Dorland...There was also a dance spectacle, featuring the Marie Chouinard troupe. Black-clad dancers hurled themselves into positions echoing the Henri Michaux graphics on the scrim behind them. They moved to the beat of a different drum which echoed through such an excellent sound system that you felt it in your toes. The hot and cool crowd was hip & chic; collectors, VIP, media…. Checked in at the door – via iPads of course.
1,200 people reserved. Luckily a huge team of valet parkers whipped away ”500 cars”. In the SRO room were titans of industry / art afficionados / art collectors, and the bold and the beautiful; many in black. Noted were Tourism Montreal’s head honcho, director Charles Lapointe, and lawyer Pierre Lortie;
Serge Jean Laviolette from Boutique Etc; gallerist Donald Browne; Mary Anne Ferguson; New Yorker Andria Hickey, who just curated a show at the Darling Foundry; collector Anne Birks; Diane and Robert-Jean Chénier, vp of the Musée d’art contemporain (MAC) board;
Art collectors François Rochon, director Giverny Capital, and François Odermatt; Musée d’art contemporain director Paulette Gagnon;
The Art of Healing Foundation’s dynamic duo-founders Earl Pinchuk and Gary Blair; CIAC director Claude Gosselin; Julie Legault, Ville de Montréal -acces culture; Danielle Bitton, Betty Elkaim, Susan Alper and Charles Jacobs, and Cheryl Besner-Cohen.
The main collections presented were lent by François Odermatt and Anne-Marie and Pierre Trahan, the visionaries behind the transformation of the Arsenal.
Others who lent works were Jacques Champagne, Matthieu Gauvin, Franck Hénot and DannyTherrien, Sébastien Hudon, Robert Poulin, François Rochon; Alain Tremblay, Ville de Montréal;
and gallerist Jean-Michel Ross, who brought his 17-month old son..never too young to learn about art! Ross has lent other works from his collection to be shown at the NDG Centre de la Culture – part of accès culture. There are more than 200 artists in this Accès Culture event – it takes place all over Montreal, and it’s free! check out the site acces culture..not to be missed.
Art was also to be noted high above the cocktail party. Along the entrance corridor, the Trahan exhibit, called Majudia, showed an Opie video, Nicolas Baier’s Vanité..too many to mention. Go. It’s free. In the back, Galeries Division and René Blouin are go-to sites for some of the best contemporary art in the country – local and international.
The Art of Collecting OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.Until May 25, 2012. 2020 William Street (near des Seigneurs). You will Love It!
Griffintown has never been so hip.