Every Sunday, and every other Thursday, Sarnia art-gallery goers can tap into specialized, focused talks on specific works within the current exhibition.

Red-dot tours – groups gather around large red dots on the floor where docents, or volunteer gallery guides, offer up information on specific paintings – have returned at the Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery (JNAAG)

“It’s like a little microcosm of the exhibit,” said Anna Miccolis, community and art education coordinator with the gallery.

The JNAAG first used the technique, driven entirely by the passion of docents, she said, when it hosted the acclaimed Beaverbrook collection last fall and winter.

Several other galleries offer similar snapshot tours.

“It’s not always something we’ve done from exhibit to exhibit, but there’s so much information to share in this exhibition and the history of it all,” Miccolis said.

The current exhibition, Witness: Canadian Art of the First World War opened in September travelling from the Canadian War Museum.

Running until Jan. 7, it features more than 50 works by soldiers and war artists, including Group of Seven members A.Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer, J.W. Beatty and Frederick Varley.

The gallery’s permanent collection began with works purchased by the Sarnia Women’s Conservation Art Association in the aftermath of the First World War, including works by Group of Seven members.

“There’s a little bit of our own local history that is inherently connected to the First World War and to some of the art that we are exhibiting at this time,” Miccolis said.

A companion exhibition also includes local war artifacts from the Lambton Heritage Museum and Plympton-Wyoming Museum.

The gallery has about 40 docents among its 70 volunteers.

They also lead longer guided tours, but individuals signed up for doing red-dot tours because of the subject matter, Miccolis said.

“I know historical art really does grab their passion most of the times.”

The snapshot tours take 15-20 minutes focusing on a smaller group of paintings in the exhibition, she said, noting the longer, every-other Saturday tours typically go about 45 minutes.

Red-dot tours are also offered during Family Sunday programs, helping to expose the next generation to art, she said.

“We want to foster that sort of knowledge and growth in our community.”

They’re also being held this First Friday.

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Nov. 2 – 7 p.m., on posters of the First World War

Nov. 3 – 6, 7 and 8 p.m., on tanks, a young drummer, and WWI weapons

Nov. 5 – 1:45 p.m., on First-World-War horses

By Tyler Kula, Sarnia Observer

Original Article