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Review – Arena – The Art of Hockey

Two passions come together in the forms of ice hockey and art as they become the best of friends in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s latest exhibit entitled Arena: The Art of Hockey. Artists from around the world show off their talents over three floors, with emphasis on the contemporary rather than the historical aspects of hockey.

It would not be possible to attempt to single out the best works. They all embody qualities that set them apart from the crowd. The incredibly detailed life-size Zamboni created by Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg and the interactive organ rink that emerged straight from a hockey fan’s dream by Graeme Patterson, entitled Hockey Organ are two examples that simply amaze.

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Andy Warhol projects his hockey influence in this show with his works showing Wayne Gretzky No. 99. The great Ken Danby, who left us in 2007, shows Gretzky in an emotional work: The Great Farewell. Blue Leaf Nation shows how the influence of hockey has permeated the nation of Canada thanks to Charles Pachter. The inspiration of something as simple as a one-dollar coin placed under the ice allows a nation to relive the thrills of the Olympic Games as Thierry Delva’s Loonie 2008 is presented to the viewer. Craig Williams shows us how something that may not, out of context, be considered art can become just that with his work: What An Ass.

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The volume of the works can overwhelm, as can the emotion gleaned by the viewer and shared by the artist. Anyone who has the opportunity to take in this show should make it a must to do so. For those who are not as lucky as to live near Nova Scotia, check out what you can on the internet and hope these pieces travel to a venue near you, as they will not disappoint.

Embrace what inspires you. That is the message from this extraordinary exhibit. Whether you get goose bumps from seeing a shot of Bobby Orr soaring through the air after scoring the winning goal or the adrenaline starts pumping after witnessing your favourite team do the improbable. It doesn’t matter what your passion may be, just take hold of it and use it to create and expand the dimensions as they are known presently. The talented artists of Arena did this and the world is lucky to bare witness to their creations.

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