Friday, September 25, 2009

My letter to the AGO

Dear Art Gallery of Ontario,

My name is Sarah Bertrand, and I am a vengeful, passionate, 26 year old woman who is somehow associated with an artist, and this is my tale of woe.

On September 19th, 2009, I was forced against my will to venture to your establishment, because my girlfriend has just started her first semester in art school, and wanted to be accompanied. Since I support her work, I decided I would put on my fancy hat and good t shirt, and venture out for some culture.

I have one question, one suggestion, and one comment. I shall begin with the "suggestion".

There was one painting, up, up, waaay up on the fifth floor (we could not locate the elevator, so we walked up the spiraling staircase of death.. I had to use my inhaler immediately after), and it was brown. Not my inhaler, the painting. A light brown. That was it. It was about the size my cat, Sunshine, if he was standing up and had his arms outstretched. He is orange, and very furry. He also is blind in one eye. It was a rather tawdry shade of brown, and there was no pattern, no picture, literally nothing on the canvas except the shade brown. It was called, "Untitled". Well, duh! That would be the *obvious* choice to call it. I, however, have contrived several more imaginative ideas for what this "piece of art" should be called. "Bark". Or, "Chocolate". Or, "Brunette". Or, "Autumn". These are just a few working ideas to jazz things up a little bit. I also thought it would be quite interesting to catch people off guard, and give them something they wouldn't expect. Like, "Shazaam! Brown!" Or, "Whoooaaaaa!" Or, "Peanut Brittle." I don't mind if you use any of the ideas. In fact, I would be very flattered. I would, however, have to insist that my name be accredited, and a wing of your building to be named after myself: Sarah C Bertrand.

Now, the comment. On the first floor, there was one larger scale photograph that took up a small wall. It was framed, and looked like someone took a picture of various items in their house, and got it developed at their local Wal Mart, or Sooters. Is Sooters still around? It was a picture of an empty pack of Belmont's brand cigarettes, an almost empty glass of what looked like Coca Cola, concealer, eyeshadow, and a few nick nacks. My friend, Kevin Tramov (who also went with us that day), exclaimed loudly and abruptly, "This looks like my make up counter!" It did, AGO, look like his makeup counter. What constitutes art nowadays? It just seemed to be random objects in a polaroid taken out of focus. Was there a hidden meaning I didn't comprehend? Or, is this is newest art fad that's going to be taking over? Because, in that case, I have several pictures I'd like to send you, and have immediately displayed. There was a brief period I was experimenting with piles. I would wait until my cat, Mr. Bojangles, was sleeping, and then I would pile as many things as I could on him until he woke up and started to squirm, and I would take a picture. Books, blankets, socks, cds, pens, a Lean Cuisine one time. I'd never hurt him, but the pictures turned out pretty inspiring. I also have pictures of my brother wearing my bathing suit when he was younger, a really great one of my mother dressed up as a cowboy a few Halloweens ago, trotting around my room, and I even have a very endearing picture of my other cat, Ned, in laundry basket. He's looking up at me, pleading with his eyes, "I'm not dirty mom! Don't put me in with the wash!" And I didn't. But it's still a great picture. Regardless, my comment is this: I don't understand it, so I fear it. You should make exhibits that are less confusing, and thus less scary.

Speaking of scary, here comes my question. As soon as you walk into the AGO, and after you've paid your fee (a fee which I will be demanding back in a few short paragraphs), there is a large room with a large exhibit. Although I do consider myself an artist at sandwich making, I am not in fact an actual, conventional artist. So, from a non artistic point of view (unless we're discussing sandwiches), what I saw not only confused me, but horrified me. There was a massive mirrored dwelling. Some of the glass was cracked, and it was two storeys high. On top there were several budgies that had visited the taxidermist, as well as a mannequin that had the body of an angry businessman, and the head of a giant bird with pubic hair glued to its face. There were several dildos on display, some bedazzled with leather, and odd viney things that looked as though they were haunted. There was also another birdman, who looked like he was late for an appointment, and thus wanted to kill someone. I don't know why he was so mad. I don't know why the words, "scrotum" and "tongue" were scratched in the trees that surrounded the whole display. I actually don't understand, even a little bit, what any of it meant. I even tried to think like a pretentious jerk, and think about it in terms of "society", and I *still* don't get it.

My question to you, AGO, is how quickly will it take me to get back my $18 sent back to me before I implement an artistic protest outside your building, involving interpretive dance, picture taking, some melting ice (like that other presentation upstairs that made even less sense), and perhaps showing of artistic emotion. Like tears. Or passion. I look forward to my $18 immediately, as well as an apology. For the world to see. Post haste.

Sarah Bertrand

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