House Guests: Contemporary Artists in The Grange

September 15, 2001 - January 27, 2002


Built by the Boulton family between 1817 and 1820, The Grange is Toronto''s oldest remaining brick house and a national historic site. The Grange was bequeathed at the beginning of the twentieth century to become the home of Toronto''s first art museum. During the nineteenth century, The Grange was at the centre of this city''s social and political activity. Today, with its collection of furniture, artifacts and art, it is an historic house museum and a unique part of the Art Gallery of Ontario. The house embodies the AGO''s development over the past century, when it grew to become the eighth largest art museum in North America.

The works of several contemporary artists will be special "guests" in The Grange, the Gallery''s first home, in celebration of the Art Gallery of Ontario''s first century and the fact that the Gallery was founded with the work of then living artists. The exhibition, which is entitled House Guests: Contemporary Artists in The Grange, provides the opportunity to interweave our past and our future. Drawing upon the continuous transformations that have characterized The Grange, its holdings and its social and cultural role, these artists have been invited to respond to this rich site with works that will be installed throughout the house. This co-mingling of historical and contemporary forces will reveal our artistic heritage as the living legacy from which many current artistic practices are fashioned.

The exhibition will be accompanied by the publication of a book, featuring an essay about The Grange by Charlotte Gray, author of Sisters in the Wilderness. The artists participating in House Guests will provide commentary on their installations and the impact that the house and its place in Toronto''s history and culture had on their creative process.

Among those currently conceiving special projects for this unique exhibition in The Grange are Luis Jacob, Robert Fones, Rebecca Belmore, Christy Thompson, all from Toronto, Elaine Reichek (New York), Elizabeth LeMoine (London) and Josiah McElheny, (New York).

The project was originally conceived by AGO Curators Christina Ritchie and Jessica Bradley of the Contemproray Art department, in collaboration with Grange Curator Jenny Rieger. The publication is supported by The Grange Council.



Sounds of The Grange is a series of short audio responses created by fourteen youth from Harbord Collegiate and the AGO’s Teens Behind the Scenes program. Working collaboratively with House Guests artist Luis Jacob and mentors from the Ontario College of Art and Design, young people discussed, recorded, sampled, mixed, re-mixed and manipulated sounds, navigating the spaces of The Grange in relation to their lives, histories and concepts of home.

While the project developed out of time spent in physical locations in The Grange, the medium of sound allowed those involved to consider the times, places and ideas represented in the house from a broad and contemporary perspective. The resulting thirteen audio projects range from abstract experiments, to fictional stories, to critical responses, to philosophical musings, to non-linear rants. Each project and artist’s description is located inside a

Virtual Grange and on a kiosk in the House Guests exhibition.

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