Saturday, January 16, 2016

Enjoying free visual art experiences

If at this point in time, I am only looking for ways in which I can enjoy art without any costs involved, a number of compelling options are available to me:

Obviously, I cannot go wrong with the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the University Art Gallery.  Public galleries not only house great artworks that you can see in person, they are also hubs that provide the learner with the means of engaging with the art world in a number of proactive ways; through free celebrity talks, exhibition talks, guided tours, workshops and educational projects. And free admission to shortlist exhibitions of some of the most high profile art prizes in the country (the Archibald Portrait Prize, the Wynne Prize for Landscape and the Blake Prize to name a few). In fact, I do not have to restrict myself to Sydney CBD; with a number of suburban arts centres that have year-round exhibition programmes; for example at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre.

Of course, there is terrific work on display at any of the many private galleries in the city. Good listings and details on exhibitions at these galleries are at Art Almanac, Art Guide, Art Collector and Art Monthly.

If I want to get up close and personal with public artworks without any admission fee, there are a range of permanent (monuments / memorials, sculptures / installations, fountains, street art / murals) and temporary works across the city. In fact, if I used this map, I could even fashion my own art tour, for nothing but my time and a good long walk and a quick commute.

I might also put the dates of free outdoor festivals into my calendar; the biggest in Sydney being, Sculpture by the Sea and Vivid. Even at festivals with paid programmes, there are often a range of free shows and activities; for example at the Sydney Festival in January.

If I am not too keen on getting outdoors, I might just decide to surf through the world art treasures online at any one of the massive open access art collections on the Internet including those by The MetropolitanMuseum of Art, The National Gallery of Art, the Getty Museum or the Google ArtProject.

Often art experiences without a price tag are available to us in unexpected situations and locations. My local library, the well-appointed lobby of a large corporate firm, the out-in-the-open work of a sidewalk painter; there are a multitude of scenarios that can provide an opportunity to learn from and enjoy great art. It only takes openness and a spirit of adventure to take us down paths that can enrich our lives well beyond our most ambitious plans.

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