BMO Donates Wanda Koop Painting to Winnipeg Art Gallery

WINNIPEG, March 22 /CNW/ - To mark the occasion of its Annual Meeting of shareholders in Winnipeg tomorrow (Tuesday), BMO Financial Group today donated a painting by acclaimed Manitoba artist Wanda Koop to the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG). In addition, BMO made a $25,000 donation to Art City, a non-profit community art centre founded by Ms. Koop that provides an opportunity for inner-city youth in Winnipeg's West Broadway neighbourhood to work with contemporary visual artists.

"Across Canada, BMO is a strong supporter of the arts," said President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Downe, "and this amazing painting by one of Canada's most important artists is our way to say 'thank you' to the people of Manitoba for their support over the more than 130 years that we have been providing banking services in the province.

"Each year, the BMO 1st Art! Invitational Student Art Competition celebrates the creative excellence of art students at post-secondary institutions across Canada," added Mr. Downe. "Wanda Koop, as an artist and the creative visionary behind Winnipeg's Art City, is an inspiration to aspiring artists of all ages."

The untitled painting, from Ms. Koop's series "Hybrid Human," will be on display as part of a large scale survey exhibition entitled "Wanda Koop: On the edge of experience," and will be mounted at the Winnipeg Art Gallery this fall and later at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. Guests at a reception in the Bank's historic main branch at the corner of Portage and Main got a sneak preview of the painting this evening.

"It is always a pleasure to work with community leaders like BMO to celebrate and preserve art," said WAG Director Stephen Borys. "As the official repository and guardian of art for the province of Manitoba, it is the WAG's honour to be the recipient of this important art work. This act of generosity by BMO ensures that generations to come will enjoy excellent art by one of Canada's leading artists, Wanda Koop."

"This donation of a major piece from "Hybrid Human" piece strengthens the WAG's existing representation of Koop's work in our collection. The WAG currently owns 40 works by Koop that provide a strong overview of her impressive career, highlighting key aspects of her production," said Mary Reid, Curator of Contemporary Art & Photography, WAG.

The painting, which measures nearly 3 metres by 4 metres (9.5 ft X 13.25 ft), is acrylic on canvas. (see photo) On a vivid blue background, it portrays a solitary individual looking at a screen. The "Hybrid Human" series is based on sketches created in the early 1990s, which explore ideas around robotics, the disembodied experience, consciousness, creativity, and artificial intelligence. Ms. Koop's conceptual breakthrough centred on the notion of the screen.

"Contemporary living is dominated by watching a screen, be it a computer, cell phone, movie, or television; all of these screens filter information and are the mode by which we make sense of experiencing day-to-day realities," said Ms. Koop in describing her artwork.

About Wanda Koop:

Wanda Koop is one of Canada's most distinguished artists. Her painting career spans three decades and includes over 50 solo exhibitions. Her work is included in numerous international private and museum collections including the National Gallery of Canada, which is currently preparing a major retrospective of Koop's work in partnership with the Winnipeg Art Gallery. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including Doctors of Letters from the University of Winnipeg and the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, and Doctor of Laws from the University of Manitoba. She is a Member of the Order of Canada, and founder of Art City, an inner city art centre in Winnipeg.

About BMO in Manitoba:

BMO has been in Manitoba for 133 years; the first Bank of Montreal branch in the province opened in Winnipeg in 1877, the same year as the first shipment of Prairie wheat overseas, and a year earlier than the arrival of a railway line to the United States. Its 400 employees are dedicated to making BMO the bank that defines great customer experience, serving Manitobans through 22 branches located across the province. BMO also provides strong support to education, health and social services and arts & culture in Manitoba. Internet: www.bmo.com

About Winnipeg Art Gallery:

The Winnipeg Art Gallery is Manitoba's premiere visual arts museum. Now approaching its centenary in 2012, the Winnipeg Art Gallery has developed from a small civic gallery to Canada's sixth largest gallery with an international reputation. By developing and maintaining Manitoba's visual arts heritage, it ensures the preservation of this legacy for future generations. The WAG is also at the forefront in promoting Manitoba artists nationwide and abroad. Today the WAG has almost 24,000 works of art ranging from 15th-century European paintings to 21st century American multi-media art, and represents artists from countries and cultures around the globe. Internet: www.wag.ca

About Art City:

Art City is a non-profit community art centre located in Winnipeg's West Broadway neighbourhood. Art City is dedicated to providing high-quality, free-of-charge art programming to participants of all ages. Founded in 1998 by Wanda Koop, Art City is a storefront art centre. The goal of Art City is to bring together contemporary visual artists and inner-city youth to explore the creative process. Art City is not just about art, it is about belonging, it is about creating opportunities, developing life skills, enhancing self-esteem and self-respect within a disadvantaged community. Internet: www.artcityinc.com

/NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited members of the media/

SOURCE BMO BANK OF MONTREAL

For further information: For further information: Media Contacts: BMO: Ralph Marranca, Toronto, ralph.marranca@bmo.com, (416) 867-3996; WAG: Debra Fehr, Winnipeg, dfehr@wag.ca, (204) 789-1767; Art City: Cam Forbes, Winnipeg, director@artcityinc.com, (204) 775-9856


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