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AGH Review by Cassandra Ross

The bright rooms of the Art Gallery of Hamilton are filled with folk art! On view now until September 3rd, 2007, are the exhibits entitled Wit and Whimsy: Folk Art in Canada, and Canadian Folk Art from the Collection of Susan A. Murray. Wit and Whimsy is made up of two principle collections; one on loan from the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and one on loan from the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. In conjuncture with Wit and Whimsy is the exhibit of privately owned folk art from top Canadian collector Susan A. Murray. The Murray exhibit is organized and circulated by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, New Brunswick. I had a chance to visit both the exhibits on opening night. Needless to say, I was very impressed.

AGH exhibit room #1
A display from the Susan A. Murray Collection (photo by Mike Lalich)

Featuring artists from across the country, the collections are a celebration of the fantastical world of Canadian folk art. If you are a folk art fan (and I think I am preaching to the choir where that's concerned), you are sure to appreciate the quality and scope of the work on display. There are pieces here that will inspire you to continue building your collection, or to even create artwork of your own. The exhibit is bright, colourful and engaging, and as such would also serve as an excellent introduction to folk art novices. It's a cliche but in this case it's true - there's something for everyone and every age at the AGH this summer.

The exhibits include every form of popular folk art from purely aesthetic work like paintings and sculptures, to functional folk art like whirly gigs and birdhouses. There are smaller collections from prolific artists like Leo Fournier, as well as pieces from everyone's favourite artists such as Maud Lewis and Joe Sleep. Famous, well documented, and virtually unknown artists are all represented in the exhibit.

AGH Exhibit room #2
Susan A. Murray Collection Main Room (photo by Mike Lalich)

Folk Art on display
A few of the wonderful pieces on display (photo by Cassandra Ross)
Pegasus by Leo Naugler and Shotgun Wedding by Ewald Rentz

BC Fleming with painting
Folk Artist Barbara Clark Fleming next to one of her paintings (photo by C. Ross)
A group of her paintings are displayed in the Susan A. Murray Collection

Susan Murray
Collector Extraordinare Susan A. Murray (photo by C. Ross)

AGH Exhibit room #3
A room in the Wit and Whimsy Exhibit (photo by Mike Lalich)

If you are able to travel to Hamilton, Ontario in the coming weeks I strongly encourage you to view this wonderfully organized and beautifully displayed exhibit for yourself. You can read more about the collections, as well as take a short video tour, at the AGH website. You can also buy your tickets online. At $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $5 for children it's a very affordable way to spend an afternoon with some of Canada's greatest folk art. If you visit the AGH and see the exhibit, why not leave your comments on the folk art forum? We'd love to hear what you think.

My sincere thank you to Susan A. Murray, professional photographer Mike Lalich, and Steve Denyes at the Art Gallery of Hamilton for their support and collaboration.

Comments? Post feedback on the forum || Have an idea for an article? Contact Cassandra || Copyright 2007