MJM&AG prepares for new offbeat exhibitions

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Two fantastic, quirky and fun exhibits are coming to the Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery (MJM&AG) this month. Their creators hope to elicit smiles, reflection, and (perhaps) a little existentialism from viewers.

Two fantastic, quirky and fun exhibits are coming to the Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery (MJM&AG) this month. Their creators hope to elicit smiles, reflection, and (perhaps) a little existentialism from viewers.

by Sylvia Zieman Keep your house at the end of the world and Todd Gronsdahl Saskatchewan Maritime Museum will share the Norma Lang gallery space at MJM&AG from May 27 to August 28.

Keep your house at the end of the world

Keep your house at the end of the world features a variety of paintings, drawings and audio-visual components, as well as a series of miniature dioramas with anthropomorphic animals such as donkeys, rabbits and foxes.

“It’s about apocalyptic stories, but in a very playful way,” said Jennifer McRorie, director and curator of MJM&AG. “I think audiences will find it fascinating, playful and humorous and something to discover and explore.”

Ziemann’s art pays close attention to detail that keeps viewers engaged in trying to discover what else lurks in each scene. The subject matter is surprisingly dark, pitting dystopia against utopia, and asking both how to react to the imminent end of the world and how to react to a world that has come to an end.

Some of his animal/human hybrids retreat to their homes in isolation and fear. Others protest vaguely and indefinitely, still motivated by fear and yet actively trying to do something, anything to make a difference.

The Saskatchewan Maritime Museum

“There’s a kind of absurdity to that,” McRorie said. “They’ll figure out pretty quickly that (Gronsdahl’s work) is very playful and they’re in for a joke.”

The Saskatchewan Maritime Museum focuses on a character Gronsdahl created named Charles Gaspar.

Gaspar is portrayed as a historical figure — a wealthy inventor and explorer who navigates a fictionalized version of Saskatchewan’s rivers and lakes.

While the absurdity of a Saskatchewan maritime museum is amusing at first glance, gallery visitors may want to deliberately suspend their disbelief for a short time to seriously explore Gaspar’s story.

What would it be like if Saskatchewan had to mobilize against German U-boats invading the South Saskatchewan River during World War II? What if the endless prairie skies and farmlands were part of the province’s waterways rather than the other way around?

McRorie said Gronsdahl “is about the fact that the stories that are presented in museums are always presented as the truth, and yet they are taken from certain perspectives. So is it always the real truth? Who owns the truth?

These are solo shows, but when McRorie was researching possibilities for the year, she noticed that The Saskatchewan Maritime Museum and Keep your house at the end of the world shared, fairy-tale folk connections that form a compelling combination.

“I think there will be an interesting dialogue with the two exhibits in this space,” she said. “I hope it will appeal to the public of Moose Jaw, but also to the tourists who will pass by this summer.”

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