Patrick McGuire, the Exhibition

I promised I would blog about the process of putting together the Patrick McGuire exhibition.

Writing this blog is the last task on my list before I leave on the ferry for the Vancouver leg of my internship.

I just went and stood in gallery two and smiled.

Seeing this exhibit become a reality has been a dream come true, it really has.

If you are going to visit Haida Gwaii in the coming weeks or if you live here and you haven’t seen the show it is up until September. 6th, 2015.

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This internship has provided me with so many opportunities.  Getting to work with my mentor, Nika Collison (Curator extraordinaire) has been a dream come true. I have been able to learn on the job. In other museum’s there are marketing, collections, conservation departments, etc. Here it is a small team of people working together and getting things done!

I have truly appreciated the help of my co-workers: Nika, Nathalie, Leah, Pete, Raven, Sean, Scott, Jennifer. As well as my lovely boyfriend and my brother who both came and helped us get the show up the night before the opening.

I was looking through the photos I had taken over the past few months of watching the exhibition become a reality.

I would like to share those with you and give you an inside glimpse into Museum preparations!

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Lesson #1: Curator’s are not necessarily artists.

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We are not very high-tech here at the Haida Gwaii Museum. This was one of our original lay-out options.

The final layout was switched continuously so Nika suggested that I make moveable mini paintings. We had three different layouts for the walls and cases that sat in the gallery so everyone could use them for reference.  Someday I’ll be able to look back on these planning documents and remember the wonderful process of curating this exhibition.

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The Haida Gwaii Museum’s Summer Students Raven and Pete- working hard.

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Argillite case glass-Me in the background, Sean (my fellow intern curator) , Pete (the case expert), Scott (Museum Director), and helping to lift the glass my lovely boyfriend who helped us out at the last-minute.

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I have no idea what I’m doing here.

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Argillite case up- Sean and Pete. And a photo-bomb. It was getting late – and we were getting a little bit loopy.

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My brother came in to help with the heavy lifting and stayed until we were done.

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Pete hanging up the rope so nobody could see in while we put in the last case on the day of opening night.

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The silly time of night.

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Paint chip clean-up and inside of the glass.

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Pictured in pink, my wonderful mentor Nika Collison ensuring that the piece was in the perfect place.

I guess I just cleaned a lot of glass.

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On the day of the exhibition I slept in – I think I got to work around 8:30 am!

The wonderful Haida Heritage Centre staff helped us clean the windows for opening night.

Duncan looks really happy about it!

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Pondering label placement

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Final decisions.

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Raven doing more glass cleaning in the background!

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I think we all need to take selfie lessons. Nika came to get me while I was in the back shaking and reading over my speech.

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I don’t have any photos of the opening. I spoke I was so nervous beforehand but something came over me and I was able to speak without stuttering.  That was a first. I had told Scott (Museum Director) that some of my family members might get teary eyed while they spoke. However, I was the only one to get choked up. It has been this incredible experience of learning about Haida Art, Patrick, Curating and seeing everything come together. I have had so many emotional moments throughout this process. When the show was hung I cried happy tears.

It had been this idea, this dream and to see it become reality was and is surreal.

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After the crowd had cleared we took some staff photos. Sean is missing from these as he has a young baby and went home to put her to bed. I was going to draw him in but figured I’d just give him a shout-out! You were an incredible support and second set of eyes during this process. Every-time I asked Sean a question it would go something like this me: does this look good here, Sean: yeah, that looks good. It is those kinds of re-assurances that make decisions easier. I’m not sure if he was actually agreeing with me- but it made decision making faster.

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NIka, I am so happy that I have the opportunity to work with you, to learn from you. You are incredibly real and honest. You let me know when I’m doing well and how I can improve. You are a wonderful teacher and friend, it has been an honour to work with you over the past few months.

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Tyson, thank-you  for flying up here to surprise me and helping us with the exhibition. Your artist’s eye and your opinion in figuring out lay-out was amazing. If you were to change careers I think you should consider curating. I love you.

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Lastly, my family. From L-R: Me, my brother Patrick (who flew in from Toronto), my Dad Michael (who flew in from Qualicum), my brother James (who allowed me to boss him around for a few days), and last but definitely not least Patrick McGuire’s daughter Shelly Vanderhoef. Shelly, I am so glad you could be with us to see your dad’s work displayed in an exhibition for the first time.

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Shelly- Posing in front of her Dad’s work.

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Haawa again, to each and every one of you who made this show a reality. To the First People’s Cultural Council, the Haida Gwaii Museum and Gwaalagaa Naay Corporation for supporting my curational journey. To the donors- thank-you for allowing Patrick’s art to come home for a while.

I’m off to Vancouver tomorrow to spend time working at the Bill Reid Gallery and the Museum of Anthropology. I’m nervous and I’m excited. I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes- because this is the last time I will see this exhibit at the Haida Gwaii Museum.

Haawa, Haawa, Haawa

Check out this wonderful blog written by Kelsey Pelton for CHN Haida Laas:

https://haidanation.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/patrick-samuel-mcguire/

Blog written by: Michaela McGuire, Intern Curator, occasional photographer and general Haida art enthusiast!