Barns in the Field (Reflections of the icscis New York Art Tour 2012) by Virginia Dupuis
Of all the places one would least expect to see a painting of a barn in the field, it would the leading edge Armory Show in New York City. All year long we Ottawa School of Art students heard Professor Yves Larocque caution us. “Do not paint barnsin the field!”, which is a metaphor for “do something different” “tell your own stories”. It is not from a dislike of barns or fields or the two together; in fact I suspect Yves admires the barn for its resilience, standing as a testament to the hard-working pioneer, the backbone of Canadian society.
This is my first time joining the annual bus trip to New York City, with art historian and my Art History Professor Larocque onboard. When Yves turned on the microphone for a short lecture, to introduce a movie and the planned galleries we would visit, we heard, “You will not see any paintings of barns in the fields at the Armory Show at Chelsea Peers. This is leading international and contemporary art, one of the most important annual events in New York City! I guarantee there will be no barns in the field, in fact if you find such a painting I will give you a reward.” This was followed by a buzz of excitement – what would the reward be ? how would one prove they saw it? – Well you would have to take a photo of the artwork and show it to Yves and he would judge the winning photo.
The next afternoon at the Armory Show, admiring booth after booth of contemporary extravaganza, I turned a corner and came face to face with the unspeakable – a beautifully rendered painting of a barn in a field, actually two barns in one field.
A few days later on the bus trip home, Yves announced that he would be coming around to look at the entries, at which point a frantic Jennifer Haney took a picture through the bus window of – a barn in a field! Although Sylvie Grenier was a close second, Yves pronounced my photo the winner and presented me with a trophy (see photo).
The possibility of a reward does bring out a good-natured competitive streak in folks, which leads to a suggestion for future trips– what about a scavenger hunt while in New York?
As the above frivolity suggests we had a grand time in New York City. Although a flexible schedule permitted opting in or out of various activities, most of us visited many galleries: the MOMA (Cindy Sherman) where Yves gave a talk on Picasso, the MET (The Steins Collect, Rembrandt and Degas, the Renaissance Portrait), and the Whitney (the best thing at the Biennial was the t-shirt purchased in the gift shop- sorry!), and the Guggenheim (John Chamberlain).
We enjoyed our hotel, (steps from the Empire State Building), a shopping trip led by Louise Butler to Pearl Art Supplies on Canal St, good food, lovely companions, and last but not least, the comfort of travelling under such well-organized conditions. Thank you to icscis – Monica for her organizational skills and to our wonderful art historian – Professor Larocque!