Art treasures hide amid the trees
Millie Chen uses a string line to share some chocolate with passers-by during her 12 hour stint in a tree at the Tree Museum. The artist took the snack food aloft to sustain her while she was shooting footage for her Hawkeye art exhibit.
MUSKOKAN - Art is much more than a painting on a wall.
It can be something that creates a particular feeling or an experience evoked by someone’s creative work. It can be as simple a coiled piece of wire or as complex as an entire building.
At the Tree Museum, art is everything from a photograph of a glass dome in the woods to a mirrored outhouse on a rocky outcrop. Located about 10 minutes east of Highway 11 on Doe Lake Road, the Tree Museum is ramping up for another unique exhibition.
The 2012 exhibition, titled What Is Land, kicks off Sunday, September 9. Featuring new work by a diverse group of internationally recognized artists, the exhibition will be filled with the kind of art you won’t see anywhere else in Muskoka.
Anne O’Callaghan, one of the museum’s curators, said the exhibition is a unique experience that really takes advantage of the Muskokan terrain.
“The artists here do amazing work, work you won’t see in any gallery,” said O’Callaghan.
“What happens with all of these artists is they absolutely bring attention to the site so that when you see the work you also see the landscape.”
This is the 15th year that the museum has been open. In that time, roughly 80 artists have presented projects at the site.
The format of the museum is unique in that patrons are asked to park their car at the entrance and hike several kilometers to see exhibits. While there are regular labels throughout the grounds, most exhibits are stumbled upon and the artists consider the act of discovering the work to be a key part of the art. This unique element of the museum is also a big part of its appeal.
“There are not many places anymore where you can go walking, except conservation areas, and what I’ve noticed over the years is people come for the walk and stay for the art. Then they come back for the art, and I think this year there’s a real cross section of work,” O’Callaghan said.
One of the new exhibits commissioned this year is called Fieldmark. Created by visual artist Gareth Lichty, Fieldmark is a series of brightly coloured field tape grids placed at particular points in the landscape.
Lichty said the work is meant to be a kind of exclamation mark within nature.
“An exclamation mark on its own is kind of ridiculous so I’d like to take that idea and sort of place them within the trees and the forest. Then people will walk around the trails and discover them,” said Lichty.
Earlier in the week, Lichty was at the Tree Museum constructing the loom he would use to weave the field tape tapestries. The checkerboard tapestries were then placed at particular locations around a nearby meadow.
Lichty said his main goal with the piece is to have the viewer enjoy it.
“The path that I’m going to make is not going to go directly to it, but sort of meander through. You’ll have different viewpoints in the meadow to look at this piece, and, at the end, you’ll be able to get up close to it,” Lichty said. “It’s meant to be discovered from afar and then you sort of walk into it, enveloping you.”
Another exhibit on display at Sunday’s opening is Hawkeye by Millie Chen. During the course of a day, Chen spent hours recording video within a tree at the Treetop Museum.
The recording of her roughly 12-hour experience explores several of Chen’s interests.
From her treetop perch, Chen said the work is about surveillance and recording a point-of-view not normally available to humans.
“It’s also related to my interest in what’s invisible within visibility,” Chen said. “In other words, what do we not see? What do we take for granted? Landscape is something I’ve been interested in a lot of my work.”
The exhibition, which opens at noon, will also feature work by Eve Egoyan, Alicia Marvan, Anne O’Callaghan, Warren Quigley and Johannes Zits. Additionally, the displays from older exhibits will still be present.
Egoyan, a classical pianist and sound artist (and sister to famed director Atom Egoyan) will unveil her new work and perform at 1:30 and 3:30. The sculptural component of the piece, which features the interior components of a piano serving as a wind mobile, will remain on view as a permanent installation.
It is suggested that visitors planning a trip to the museum have on a good pair of shoes as a significant walk is a mandatory part of the experience. The curators say the fall is a particularly scenic time to visit. The museum is open from May to October each year, and there is no admission charge.
For more information on the Tree Museum, visit their website at www.thetreemuseum.ca.