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Art is my Salvation: Hart House Art Tour

photograph of jellyfish suspended in a tank glowing a fluorescent pink against a purplish blue backdrop

This week has been like swimming through a tank full of jellyfish :(

This week has been a tough week for me. A lot has happened and a lot still remains to be going on. The majority of it has simply been personal, but sometimes personal obstacles are the ones that seem the most difficult. And in my opinion, rightly so, because to me personal battles are actually opportunities to grow in disguise.

In times of personal struggles, I have found that creativity and art are two things that ground me. Writing in a journal for instance, or even doodling in sketch pad. But sometimes inspiration to be creative doesn’t come easily when faced with a mountain that needs to be overcome. In these times, I enjoy finding inspiration in the more traditional way: that is surrounding myself with art. And what better way to do this than by taking advantage of Hart House’s free monthly Art Tour?

So here’s a bit of a backgrounder on Hart House’s art collection. It began in 1922 with the acquisition of A.Y. Jackson’s “Georgian Bay”. If you are a fan of Canadiana, then you’ll know that a Canadian art gallery should at some point have a piece from the Group of Seven housed within its walls. Of course, different rules apply to more contemporary galleries, but what I’m trying to get at is that this first acquisition was a significant one.

60 years later, the Justina M. Barnicke gallery (the Art Museum in Hart House) decided it was time to build storage for their quickly growing art collections. Today this storage room holds over 700 pieces of art which has and currently is dictated by U of T students. Some of these pieces are well known in the international art community and some have even been dubbed “National Treasures”!

a photo of a painting between to wall mounted light fixtures

If you decide to take the Hart House Art Tour you will be regaled with this story again, but at least you’ll be able to get this in person and ask any searing questions you may have about what I’ve just told you. In any case, when I last took the Art Tour I expected to be immersed in the Justina M. Barnicke gallery collection, looking at the works housed in there but surprisingly we were taken on a tour outside of the gallery.

What was amazing about this is that I was given the background and new information about art pieces that I passed by regularly. This effectively made the times that I have spent and the times that I most likely will spend at Hart House even more significant. Knowing who the artists were who created these pieces as well as understanding the context of their creation makes observing each wall with a painting so much more fascinating, adding a new layer of depth to an already overly astonishing building.

Not only that, but the tour was interactive. The discussions that stemmed from each work was enjoyable and provided new perspectives to each piece. In my opinion it brought a closeness to a group of strangers that is usually hard to come by. Though I most likely will never share a space with these individuals again, I can say that I have a fairly decent understanding of how they view the world based on how they viewed certain pieces, and I’m sure they would say the same about me.

a photo of a contemporary painting hanging above a stone fireplace on a purple wall, beside the fireplace are two glass display cabinets with a dark wood frame and infront of the fireplace is a pool table

This Art Tour only happens on the last Tuesday of every month, and depending on your tour guide different pieces will be discussed. So this month the tour is scheduled for August 30, 2016. Meeting time is at 3 pm right at the hub. If you are interested to go on this tour or want more information check out what the Hart House website has to say. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be going on this tour again and hopefully it will provide the grounding that I need to be collected as I continue climbing “my mountain”.

What are some ways that keep you collected when you are going through difficult moments? Leave me a comment a below!

a photo of wall going down a hallway with 5 photographs in frames hanging along the wall. the wall is a grey brick.