FOR THE LOVE OF ART
Unique collection on display
It is a gift that will keep on giving.
The MacKenzie Art Gallery’s Love at First Sight exhibit is now open to the public, and features approximately 180 works from the private art collection of Morris and Jacqui Shumiatcher.
Two years ago, the collection featuring more than 1,300 pieces was donated to the University of Regina.
Alex King, curator/preparator for the U of R president’s collection, said the exhibit at the MacKenzie is the first public display of the Regina couple’s vast art collection, which includes one of the largest private Inuit art collections in Canada.
Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and Morris Shumiatcher knew what he liked.
“The title comes from a comment Morris Shumiatcher made during a trip to Lac La Ronge in 1954, the first time he had seen Inuit sculpture,” said King. “This was at a time when it was a new medium, it hadn’t really received the recognition that it has today. It wasn’t being widely collected or exhibited. It was still an unusual art form, but he said it was love at first sight.”
Despite criticism by his travelling companions, Morris purchased his first Inuit stone sculptures.
“The Inuit art really forms the heart of their collection,” said King.
Over the next five decades, the couple added other Inuit sculptures, carvings, and prints but that was not the extent of their collection.
King said the couple loved all kinds of art, which made putting together Love at First Sight even more difficult for the U of R and the MacKenzie curators.
She and Timothy Long, head curator for the MacKenzie, spent nearly six months carefully selecting the artwork for the exhibit.
“We spent a lot of time at Jacqui’s home looking at the pieces and we developed this thread and theory of Morris’s (collection),” said King.
As a young man, Morris won an essay competition and spent a few months living in Japan and learning about the culture, which helped develop his love for art.
“It gave him a certain curiosity and ability to see something in these Inuit works, when he went to Lac La Ronge and saw the sculptures for the first time,” said King. “It enabled him to think outside the box when it came to art, he was able to look at them with a slightly different eye and recognize them for the beautiful objects that they are.” Also featured are pieces from local, national and international artists.
King said they tried to provide a snapshot of the couple in the exhibit that showed their love of art, travel and multiculturalism. Included in the exhibit are photographs of the couple as well as a video of Jacqui sharing stories of her husband and how they came to amass such a huge collection of art.
“They literally had something from every continent and we couldn’t represent that,” said King.
However, it is only the first exhibit of many, she said.
Love at First Sight will run until Jan. 3.
On Oct. 3, the MacKenzie is to host Curators in Conversation with King and Long, which is open to the public.