We all, each of us, has a personalized geography, says Guelph artist and curator Eric Allen Montgomery.
He is the curator of an ongoing series of exhibitions at community hub eBar in downtown Guelph. Most of the shows so far have been characterized by an eclectic and highly exploratory blend of approaches to visual art.
Montgomery said he recently became interested in the field of psychogeography, and in the ways we each map our own lives. We all have special places that act as signposts, reminders or directional guides for our inner life. Others may not see the special nature of those places and spaces, but they mean a lot to those they mean a lot to.
Psychogeography as a field puts a lot of emphasis on an adventuresome sense of play, and a free-flowing exploration of geography, particularly in urban landscapes, with an emphasis on the personal relationships we have to the geographical features.
Special and sacred places and spaces are those that have a strong connection to the heart, memory and experience of the person. They act as visual inspirations, Montgomery said, and as guideposts and scenes in the stories we tell or the art we create.
We use maps, charts, signs, markers, notes, objects and rituals to get us back to those places, whether geographically or in the imagination.
Montgomery put a call out and received over 30 submissions of 98 works from artist who were eager to explore this personal topography, this inner mapping, in their work for Personal Geographies: Maps, Signposts and Souvenirs of Special Places and Sacred Spaces.
The exhibition fills all the available wall space in eBar. It runs from now until Apr. 29. The opening was Wednesday evening. The work is for sale.
Montgomery said some of the ideas artists came up with were beyond his imagination. One artist riffed on the phenomenon of mapping in the world of gaming, much to the curator’s amazement.
There are artists from Guelph, Hamilton and Kitchener-Waterloo involved, and some from other parts of the country. There are examples of traditional approaches to painting, both film-based and digital photography, digital illustration, ceramics, and mixed media collage and assemblage.
Among the local artists involved are painters Sharyn Seibert and Vickie Martin, photographer Randy Sutherland, and ceramic artists Bunny Safari and Goldie Sherman.
Montgomery makes a point of including new artists in each of the shows he assembles. Of the 32 artists involved in Personal Geographies, 19 are showing at the eBar for the first time.
This is the 13th show that Montgomery has curated at the eBar over the past 14 months. Seven have been themed shows, with exploratory, even otherworldly themes like alien invasions, winged creatures, dreams, and toys. The next show, entitled Full Spectrum, is all about expressing diversity through colour, inspired by the rainbow colours of the Pride flag.
Montgomery said he appreciates diversity in artistic expression, and always expects a diversity of approaches in the work submitted for the Art@eBar shows.
“That comes from a few different directions,” said Montgomery, himself an assemblage artist. “One is my own love of different materials and techniques. I’m always fascinated with other artists and the different directions and techniques they work in.”
The eBar, he said, is not a formal gallery.
“It’s a community place, a hub of entertainment in the community for music, spoken word, performances and political discussion,” he said. “To me, the art on the walls is also about the community.”
The creativity represented in the shows reflects all the creativity that goes on in the city and around us, he added.