Image courtesy of the AGO
Light streams through the Dr. Anne Tanenbaum Gallery School windows as a group of seniors gather around a pair of instructors. The group is learning a painting technique used by abstract artists whose work they’ve just viewed while on a guided tour of the AGO. Back at in the Gallery School, paint begins to fly and soon enough, conversations ignite and laughter fills the room. Sound like fun? It is, and it happens every second Friday of the month at the AGO’s new Seniors Social.
Open to everyone 65 years and over, the Seniors Social is a monthly workshop that helps older adults to create connections through art. By pairing themed tours of the AGO Collection with an artmaking activity, participants are invited to learn, share and engage with art and each other in new and exciting ways. Best of all, the workshops are free thanks to the generous support of Lead Sponsor Amica Senior Lifestyles, as well as funding from the Government of Ontario.
Whether you’re an absolute beginner or a seasoned artist, the workshops have something for everyone. During the January social, participants were introduced to several abstract pieces including Untitled by Paul-Émile Borduas in the Thomson Collection of Canadian Art, and Time Machine Series by Joyce Wieland on view in the J.S. McLean Centre for Indigenous and Canadian Art. During each stop, the tour guide highlighted the artist, the work and the significance of the piece before asking the group for their reactions. Throughout the tour, participants were encouraged to interact with both the art and each other, sharing their thoughts, asking questions and creating new connections.
Following the tour, the group headed to the Dr. Anne Tanenbaum Gallery in the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre, coffee and tea in hand. Here, instructors introduced small groups to the impasto painting technique they had just seen on display in the galleries. Using mini canvas as a flexible palette knife, everyone began colour-blocking thick layers of acrylic paints with one-on-one help from the instructors.