Cornwall Ontario – The last stages of the end of the thirty six year old public art gallery of Cornwall are about to start. The location itself closed in August.
The gallery’s permanent art collection; mostly collected during the 90’s in more friendly tax receipt days, will be going to auction.
During the closing of the Gallery this Summer certain historical artifacts were offered to both the city and Woodhouse museum without a single reply.
Two phone messages were left with the Museum, but Ian Bowering, the curator, never responded to the clear messages to donate items.
Likewise, City Council or management never responded to the gallery’s offer of first refusal for items like the framed set of images commemorating Queen Elizabeth II’s visit for the opening of the Seaway, which was sold personally to one City Councilor after no response from City Hall.
The auctions will be taking place in Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto with the proceeds being donated to charity as per Canada Revenue Rules. The gallery’s Barrie Wentzell prints were donated to Musicounts, a Toronto based charity.
Since 1989, annual scholarships have been awarded to exceptional graduates enrolled in post-secondary Music Industry Arts Programs.
A few of the works of art were sold back to local artists prior to the closing of TAG Cornwall.
The board and membership of the gallery voted to close the gallery finally after the City refused to fund it for the second year in a row, (the city stipend & bingo earnings covered the gallery’s budget) no support from an alleged local Arts Council, which ironically has now seen it’s city donation slashed, and a strange and illegal take over attempt by members of the Focus Art group board of directors who picketed the gallery at an evening that saw over 30 people attend a meeting to try and save the only true community art assent the region had.
The gallery simply could not recover after evidence of illegal wrong doing by current City Councilor’s Elaine MacDonald and Carilyne Hebert (as well as her mother) led to their entire board resigning from the gallery.
The gallery did regain its footing implementing a new up to date charter, membership structure, new revenue streams, holding two major star attraction shows featuring political cartoonist Aislin, and famed Melody Maker photographer Barrie Wentzell who donated more of his work and subsequently joined the gallery board himself, but the negative and at times abuse that was going on simply made it unfeasible.
Board members were also threatened into leaving as well as one losing a contract for their personal business to a client that was allegedly leaned on by corrupt officials at City Hall.
A final appeal to Ryan Gosling who grew up in Cornwall failed as well.
The paint was on the canvas and as Director of Communications Jamie Gilcig stated:
We were able to find the money to keep the doors open from support from outside of the community, but the historical lack of local support for the arts in Cornwall, and abuse by people like Betty Healey, and the Focus Art board simply didn’t make sense to move forward.
The gallery even saw former President of the Canadian Ass. of Journalists and Free Holder editor Hugo Rodrigues suggest that the gallery wasn’t a public gallery which made no sense as it was a registered public art gallery and charity for 36 years.
Local business simply failed the gallery as well including the Benson Group, Pommier Jewellers, Perkins Rona, OPG, Medical Arts Pharmacy, and several others, including the Chamber of Commerce, that were asked to help save the community asset.
While the city has made some noise at sugar plum fairy dreams of building a $10M plus art centre, there were similar plans in 1995 that never came to be.
The former location on Pitt Street is now home to a dance studio.