Summer 2024 Exhibitions at Tom Thomson Art Gallery

Michael Belmore, waaskwaabkizi (detail), 2024, limestone, copper leaf. Photo: D’Andrea Bowie.

Michael Belmore: gawaatebiishin

June 22 – September 21, 2024
Opening Reception: June 22, 2 – 4 pm

The Anishinaabe word gawaatebiishin means to reflect on the water, or to cast a shadow on it. It evokes the sentiment of standing on a shoreline; a liminal site where we go to contemplate our personal connection to place while simultaneously being reminded of deep time. When we observe how a rock has been worn down where it meets the water, or feel the sand under our feet, we witness the subtle frictions that have unfolded between these elements over millennia.

The significance of the shoreline within the Anishinaabe worldview is meaningful in that it represents the threshold between two worlds—the underwater world that is the domain of the mishibizhiig (underwater panthers) and the world above that is the domain of the animikiig (thunderbirds). These two spirits were said to have fought in the place where their worlds met, leaving behind their copper blood. For this reason, the raw copper found along lakeshores is cherished by the Anishinaabe because it represents the connection between the spirits and the earth.

In this exhibition, Belmore uses copper, limestone, steel, wood, and water to create works that reference the subtlety of natural and man-made forces that have shaped the land over time—encouraging perspectives that extend beyond mortality towards deeper conversations with the environment. As he explains, “our perception of time is limited by lived experience to place and subsequently what one creates acts as a complex and divergent orientation marker or tether mapping culture…what does it mean to stand in a place where your parents once stood, to watch a sun set that perhaps your great great grandparents may have once watched.”

Digital scan of birch bark and a music score over birch bark. Courtesy of the artist.

Gordon Monahan: Sonic Shadows: Imagined Soundscapes for Tom Thomson

June 15 – September 14, 2024
Opening Reception: June 22, 2 – 4 pm

Parallel to Tom Thomson’s lifelong dedication to the visual arts was his keen interest in music. In letters written in the 1930s to Thomson’s first biographer, Blodwen Davies, his siblings reflect on this lesser-known aspect of the artist’s life, evocatively describing him as someone who was nurtured in a musical household, could often be overheard whistling or singing as he sketched, and played multiple instruments skillfully, including the cornet, trombone, and mandolin.

In this exhibition, Gordon Monahan has composed original music inspired by the soundscapes and environments that Thomson would have been exposed to during his lifetime, including selected hymns and popular songs of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, as well as loon and wolf calls, and even birch bark that Monahan has transposed into sheet music inspired by the similarity of its markings with those on a piano roll. Recordings of these compositions are transmitted through Victorian era artifacts, transforming them into sound sculptures that emit their own unique sounds through sonification, and that further activate the space through the sympathetic vibration of surrounding objects. The result is an immersive acoustic sound installation that evokes haunting soundscapes in homage to Tom Thomson.

Tom Thomson, Big Elm (detail), C. 1911, oil on paper, on board. Tom Thomson Art Gallery Collection, gallery purchase with funds from a bequest of Misses Dora and Jean Taylor, Detroit, 1974.

Tom Thomson: Homecoming

June 8, 2024 – January 4, 2025
Opening Reception: June 22, 2 – 4 pm

As one of Canada’s most recognized and celebrated artists, this exhibition explores the role that Owen Sound and surrounding areas played in Tom Thomson’s artistic growth and his emergence as a national icon.

Thomson grew up on a farm near Leith, just northeast of Owen Sound and after apprenticing at a foundry and machine shop in Owen Sound in 1899, he left the city to further his education and seek adventure in Seattle, Washington. A few years later in 1902, his parents sold the Leith family farm, moving to a home overlooking Owen Sound on the East Hill, near the present-day site of Georgian College. Three years later, Thomson would return to Ontario and work in Toronto as a graphic designer, but he regularly visited Owen Sound to see his family and friends and in 1908, Thomson’s parents built a new house at 528 4th Avenue East, providing Thomson easy access to the Sydenham River and surrounding hills in what is now Harrison Park. The artworks he created during these visits act as key markers in tracing his artistic development.

It is from the Owen Sound region that Thomson captured family members’ likenesses in early sketchbooks, recorded local scenes in line drawings using pen and ink, experimented with recording the landscape through black-and-white photography, and most importantly, transitioned from watercolour to oil painted landscapes, for which he would become famous.

Exhibition sponsored by Heffel

For more information about our current exhibitions, please visit our website.

About Tom Thomson Art Gallery

The Tom Thomson Art Gallery develops exhibitions and programs that enrich the region and contribute to national visual arts discourse. We promote and support emerging and professional artists, advocate for the creative sector, and actively research, preserve, develop, and exhibit the collection to promote scholarship and to generate and explore new ideas. We are committed to welcoming and inspiring people of all representations, ages, backgrounds, and abilities.

Tom Thomson Art Gallery
840 1st Ave W
Owen Sound, ON N4K 4K4

Facebook @tomthomsonartgallery
Instagram @tomthomsonartgallery

Gallery Hours:
Monday to Saturday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Tom Thomson Art Gallery is fully accessible. For more information, please visit our website.

The Tom Thomson Art Gallery operates with generous support from the City of Owen Sound, Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council.