PERIVALE – For decades, the unveiling of Little Current artist Ivan Wheale’s latest works at the Perivale Gallery has signaled the beginning of the summer season for art lovers, especially those with a passion for the rugged landscape of the artist’s beloved Georgian Bay. This year the opening took on a distinctly 21st century aspect as the pandemic forced the event online.
“It’s certainly different, that’s for sure,” laughed the unflappable Mr. Wheale. “But we adapt and move forward.” Having survived the Second World War bombings in England to come to Canada and inscribe his name among the pantheon of this nation’s most accomplished artists, the artist has seen tremendous change and witnessed many momentous events during his more than eight decades of life. “But this really takes the cake,” he said, going on to note that as a painter, the pandemic really hasn’t changed his life and routine all that much. “I am still working away in the studio every morning,” he said. “I have already finished a few paintings for next year.”
Mr. Wheale said that he was excited about last year’s work. “I spent a lot more time on the sky in these pieces,” he said. “I think it shows in the vibrancy of the works. I am really pleased with how they turned out.”
But Mr. Wheale did express sorrow over the loss of the annual meet and greet that takes place at Perivale Gallery each year. “It is a really wonderful time,” he said. “There are a lot of wonderful people that come each year, and with some of them, it’s the only time we meet up.”
“This is not the welcome to our 39th season that I was hoping that we would share with our loyal clients,” admitted Perivale Gallery owner Shannon McMullan. “These are indeed challenging times for everyone, as we await day-to-day for next steps to move forward. However, creativity does not stop, nor do our celebrations of the exceptional creativity of our outstanding Perivale Gallery artists.”
Ms. McMullan has moved the collection online. “Our annual opening show, featuring the new works of Ivan Wheale (in a collection entitled) ‘HURON MOODS’ opened at 7 am May 17 online on our website at PerivaleGallery.com/ivan-wheale.”
The gallery is also planning a new show ‘VISION 20/2020’ which will continue online until next May and will highlight the new works of all of the gallery’s artists.
As for sales, Mr. Wheale pronounced himself well pleased with the opening day results as red dots bloomed almost as healthily online as they did in person.
The gallery is open by appointment these days, with a very restricted number of people invited to view the works.
“When you are paying the kind of money that Ivan’s works command, a lot of people want to see the work first hand, especially if it is the first time they are buying one of his works,” said Ms. McMullan, “but we have built up a strong relationship with many of our patrons.” That banked trust provides an important foundation when it comes to online purchases.
This year the upstairs portion of the gallery has been closed off, allowing for a “wonderful flow” through the works to enable patrons to stay secure in their personal space, noted Ms. McMullan. “We have been able to hang all 23 of Ivan’s new works in the gallery this year,” she said. “When clients call we set up a time for them to come and view.”
In addition to the new works by Ivan Wheale, the gallery has a host of works from their other artists as well.
“Luckily, we were able to secure a lot of works from our featured artists before the pandemic restrictions hit,” said Ms. McMullan. “As you know we spend each winter travelling across the country to collect the works for the gallery.”
Ms. McMullan noted that her gallery is well positioned in its online space thanks to a number of young staff down through the years who have helped her learn to navigate the ins and outs of the online world. The Perivale Gallery website has seen a lot of development since it was established in 2013.
Ms. McMullan said that her gallery is secure on a sound foundation, but that she worries about other arts spaces that are not so blessed. “Some of the smaller galleries, especially those in urban settings who are paying rent have already closed their doors.”
But she goes on to note that “creativity doesn’t stop and artists are still producing wonderful works that we look forward to sharing. We will soon be adding a walk-through video.”
The gallery’s collection can be viewed, and ordered, online at PerivaleGallery.com.