Gretzky is Everywhere

Andy Warhol and Wayne Gretzky — while not naturally congruous icons to utter in the same breath, both are considered pop culture giants of the 20th century who are forever linked by a famous print, Wayne Gretzky #99

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In 1983, the Canadian hockey prodigy visited Warhol’s New York studio to sit for a portrait arranged by Frans Wynans, an associate of Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington. “He’s more than a hockey player, he’s an entertainer. An entertaining hockey player,” Warhol famously remarked. The artist created screen prints based on Polaroids taken at the sitting. Many of these prints ended up in gallery collections across Canada, including at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery (CCAG).

Gretzky is Everywhere presents Warhol’s famous print at multiple sites simultaneously via livestream: in Charlottetown, at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton, and at The Rooms in St. John’s. Gallery patrons can enjoy the artwork in the Young People’s Gallery at the CCAG, while peering in on fellow visitors experiencing Wayne Gretzky 99 and an opposite camera feed in Alberta and Newfoundland — a natural hat trick.

 Three Canadian audiences, artworks and art institutions are linked by a public web feed, brought into a conversation structured by repetitive imagery, the immediacy of the virtual experience, and the “everywhere” of sites connected by the Internet.

 “Collaboration has been an important strategy in engaging the public with visual art, so Gretzky is Everywhere is focused on both the gallery’s collection and the audience experience,” states Gallery Director Kevin Rice.  “We are really looking forward to presenting concurrently with two other public galleries and seeing how audiences respond at each venue.”

 ”We are still living in the age of Warhol, whose dissemination of celebrity images lay at the heart of his prescient practice,” offer the exhibition’s curators, Mireille Eagan with The Rooms and Pan Wendt with the CCAG.. “We now take the pervasiveness of celebrity for granted, as individuals are given heightened status through sheer repetition of their likeness.”

 They continue, “Art institutions seek to respond to these changes in digital technology, with its rapid circulation of images and identities, and an increasing demand for participatory experiences. Warhol’s embrace of repetition and the virtual seems more pertinent than ever.”

 Special thanks are extended to the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the other partner institutions.

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