Arts: The Art Scene, Seen Through New Eyes
One of Grand Junction’s best-kept secrets is about to take center stage, thanks to the arrival of Grand Valley newcomer and Canadian native Meghan Bissonnette. Recognizing the need to connect its downtown art gallery with the greater community, Colorado Mesa University hired Bissonnette as an art history professor and the gallery’s first faculty director. She arrived three months ago, bringing a passion for art, a doctorate in art history, and an optimistic outlook for our local art community.
Bissonnette looks forward to sharing her fascination with art history, as well as the exhibit expertise she gained at the Toronto Art Gallery while earning her doctorate at York University. One of her goals is to raise the profile of the CMU Art Gallery (also known as 437CO for its location at 437 Colorado Avenue) so the community sees it for the great resource it is.
“I would love to see more people take advantage of the CMU gallery,” says Bissonnette. “It’s the chance to see contemporary art by national and international artists, and graduating CMU students they might not otherwise see. Some people are intimidated by art galleries because they have a reputation for being pretentious, but it’s not like that at all.”
Just one of her many creative ideas is to incorporate performances by the dance and theatre departments in the gallery space, which currently hosts exhibits, artist and professor talks, and art demonstrations.
Bissonnette sees potential not only for the 437CO, but also for the Grand Junction art community as a whole. Citing a Toronto industrial building converted into a collective space where artists live, work and showcase their art, Bissonnette feels Grand Junction is an ideal place for something similar.
“It would be nice if Grand Junction had additional galleries where artists team up and run initiatives,” says Bissonnette. “This is where I see room for growth.” She touts the new Omnia Contemporary gallery and studio on Main Street as an excellent example of artist collaboration.
While she puts her vision into action, Bissonnette has been taking advantage of Grand Junction’s livability – even walking to work from her nearby apartment – and getting to know people in the community.
“Everyone I’ve met is so welcoming,” says Bissonnette. “I love the downtown area. For a community of this size, it is very vibrant and thriving. There are so many options of things to do. Quirky coffee shops, art galleries, bookstores, restaurants, theatres, unique shopping. The kind of details Grand Junction has, such as art all along Main Street, make it an appealing place. And the landscape is gorgeous. Even after my first short visit I thought, ‘I could live here.’” Now here she is, enjoying Grand Junction’s friendly, small-town feel and its big-city heart for art.
Colorado Mesa University Art Gallery/437CO
437 Colorado Avenue
Open 12-5, Monday-Saturday
Admission is FREE.
For a schedule of gallery displays and upcoming events, go to http://www.coloradomesa.edu/art/gallery.html