Arts·Crash Gallery

The Crash Gallery guide to getting into art

Get off the couch and into the gallery! If you want to learn more about art, follow these six easy tips from the show's team of experts.

Get off the couch and into the gallery! 6 easy tips from the show's team of experts

We asked the stars of Crash Gallery to give us a crash course on getting more involved with the arts. (CBC)

Art is for everyone, so don't let Crash Gallery be the only gallery you visit each week. If you're not sure where to start, the show's stars are here to help.

CBC Arts asked Sean O'Neill, Paul de Guzman, Bridget Moser and Syrus Marcus Ware to share their advice for getting involved. We can't promise you'll find a local museum that specializes in underwater oil painting, but if the show inspires you to learn more about art and culture, these six simple tips will get you out there.

We can't promise you'll find a gallery near you that looks anything like this, but... (CBC)

1. No fear!

"I think people are intimidated to go into the gallery," says Paul de Guzman — and the Crash Gallery expert speaks from experience. The Vancouver artist is entirely self-taught, and as he told CBC Arts earlier this season, his art education really began when he started popping into independent galleries around town.

(Bonus tip: You should definitely do the same!)

"If you want to hit the galleries, don't be afraid," he says. "Most of the time, [people] are just going to leave you alone." And if what's actually freaking you out is the idea of flying solo, there's a solution to that, too. Drop by on the opening night of a new exhibition. They're typically open to the public, and as de Guzman says, "There's going to be a lot of people there. You don't have to talk to anybody, but you can just go and mingle and have some wine."

"Enjoy yourself," he says. "That's what art's all about!"

2. Ask questions

So you've made it to the gallery. The next step is obvious: "Have a look at the art," says de Guzman. "And if you have anything to say, then just say it!"

Don't feel like you absolutely have to say something, though. It's completely OK to just quietly take it all in. Go at your own pace and "just start slow," he suggests.

"If you don't say anything, [the staff are] just going to leave you alone, right? They're not leaving you alone because they don't want to talk to you. They leave you alone because they want you to contemplate the work, and when you're ready you can talk with them."

3. Check out free museum programs

When he's not hosting Crash Gallery, Sean O'Neill is the head programmer at Toronto's AGO — a public institution that by definition is yours to explore. Admission to Canadian museums isn't necessarily cheap (in 2010, ours were ranked among the most expensive public institutions in the world), so if you're hesitant to dip into your weekly coffee-and-donut budget, do some basic Googling. As O'Neill points out, most museums have "a time you can go for free" — or at a super-cheap discount rate, at least. (The AGO, for example, offers free admission Wednesday nights after 6.)

4. Explore artist-run centres

"You don't have to drive to a big city and go to a major museum to experience art and culture," says Syrus Marcus Ware. Maybe there's an artist-run centre in your community — a.k.a. a place that's operated by creatives in the community.

"Even in small cities, there are little pockets where independent artists have gathered together to create making spaces or showcasing spaces. I would say check those out."

Enjoy yourself. That's what art's all about!- Paul de Guzman, Crash Gallery expert

Whether you're interested in making art yourself or just curious to learn more about what's happening in your community, the Crash Gallery expert says that artist-run centres are an ideal place to visit. Get your search started with this directory of artist-run centres and collectives from all over Canada.

5. Connect with online communities

If you're a fan of Crash Gallery's Bridget Moser, check out Doored. It's a regular event that happens in Toronto — one featuring stand-up comics and performance artists. Moser's frequently appeared on the bill, and you can watch every show on their site or tune in live via YouTube.

Beyond being a spectator, Ware suggests becoming an active participant in the online artist communities that interest you: "There are lots of really great networking groups where artists meet and share resources." Finding them is as easy as searching Facebook.

6. Do it yourself!

Can't find what you're looking for? Says Ware: "Maybe this is the activist in me, but go out and start it!"

Whether you want to try painting or improv comedy, Ware is all about the DIY approach. "Just figure out ways of connecting with people — even if it means starting it yourself."

Watch full episodes of Crash Gallery online.


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