A pleasant surprise…

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The weather since Christmas has been quite brutal at times, with sudden swings above freezing at others. The past week saw the sky completely clouded over, and only now has the Sun reemerged to cheer us up once more.

I couldn’t wait that long, and decided to go out for a spin yesterday morning up to Owen Sound, to see the Tom Thomson Gallery. I had never been there before, but Monday’s story in the National Post had me quite intrigued as to their current exhibition relating to the death of Thomson in July 1917. A macabre centennial, which once again raises the question: Was Tom Thomson murdered?

So I consulted Google Maps, which suggested this as the best route:

The roads were snow-covered, but without any suggestion of black ice, all the way to Highway 6 just north of Mount Forest. After that, the way was bare all the way to Georgian Bay.

I spent 1½ hours there. It’s a pleasant, small gallery, and it has work by Thomson I had never seen before, almost all of which has been donated by his relatives. He grew up here, and apparently came back often after he had moved to Toronto. Besides his painting that we are all familiar with, there are also examples of other pencil and pen work, portraits of people and animals, and commercial work from his time at Grip, where he worked with five of the people that eventually formed the Group of Seven in 1920. All of it is quite revealing.

The current exhibition focusing on Thomson’s death, and recent work by forensic artists on the skull from the body found in his ostensibly empty grave in Algonquin Park, was rather fascinating. The artwork was somewhat strange, but the accompanying video was well worth watching.

There was another video exhibit called Floating World, which consists of an art film done as a triptych. No words, but rather eerie music, and strangely fascinating. It has to be seen to be fully appreciated. I gather that Owen Sound has a thriving artistic community, and that must have contributed to the excellence this gallery displays.

The Gallery has free admission, with donations suggested. There is a small gift shop, but not that wide a selection. It’s definitely worth a stop if you’re ever up that way.

The drive back was much smoother, as the roads had almost completely dried off by late afternoon, with the exception of a short stretch through Millbank once I had reentered Perth County. It was a good day.

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