June 18, 2010

“I’ve just got two dimes and a nickel.” I said, looking into my wallet. “Hold-on, I’ll get you a quarter.” Maura Broadhurst went back in her Latcham Gallery office to crack open another roll of quarters so I could catch a ride on the coin-operated horse. Maura is the curator of a solo exhibition of Mary Anne Barkhouse titled The Reins of Chaos. The show features four vintage mechanical horses, the kind you might see in shopping malls and grocery stores, along with a toy grey donkey on a rope tucked in the corner of the gallery. These equine effigies have been lovingly restored and are plugged in, “rearin’ to ride” at the Stouffville gallery.  

The artist welcomes the gallery audience to be viewers and participating riders. I really enjoyed the bucking yellow horse that I tried out, and Mary Anne’s installation in general. The four horses refer to the heavy topic of the Apocalypse as outlined in the Book of Revelations. In the case of Mary Anne’s art, they are toys after all. Moreover, let’s not forget, the Donkey of Eternal Salvation who waits in the corner to save the day. Proceeds collected, quarter by quarter, will be donated by the artist to a donkey sanctuary in Guelph.  

Mary Anne’s mirth and wit comes at a welcome time as people tense up with the approaching G20 summit and as the ominous 2012 dooms day scenario ticks closer. The artist is a member of the Nimpkish band, Kwakiutl First Nation and it is pointed-out in the exhibition text that it is rare to find an end-of-the-world belief system in Aboriginal cosmology. I too would like to believe in this and just enjoy the ride.

Holdin' on to the Reins of Chaos

PS–Happy Birthday Blog! It’s been a… a dynamic year.