Living in the RMG Living Room

Sam Powless, manager of community and volunteer development at The Robert Mclaughlin Gallery, stands in front of the artwork of the Inaabiwin exhibit Photo credit: Cecelia Feor

Living rooms and art galleries aren’t often synonymous but that isn’t the case this Friday.

On the first Friday of each month, the Robert Mclaughlin Gallery (RMG) hosts an event called RMG Fridays. It features live music, a hands on activity, showcases current exhibitions and is entrance is free.

Sam Powless is the manager of community and volunteer development at RMG and oversees the planning of RMG Fridays.

“RMG Fridays is meant to be very accessible for people, art galleries can feel like they have barriers to entry,” Powless says, “So we try to present other forms of art to get them engaged with the gallery.”

This RMG Friday is titled Live from the Living Room. It will feature musical performances by Benjamin Raines & The Blood Machine Band. Members Patrick Dorie and Benjamin Raines are roommates, and in addition to playing music will share stories about cowriting and cohabiting.

RMG has also partnered with The LivingRoom Community Art Studio and the Durham Region International Film Festival (DRIFF), which will be screening a short film.

The hands-on activity will allow attendees to make soft, squishy type objects, according to Powless.

There will be an opening reception for the Inaabiwin exhibit, which has been running since September. In Anishnaabemowin, Inaabiwin means movement of light. This exhibit was curated by Danielle Printup who will be in attendance.

Powless identifies as Mohawk and is looking forward to discussing the exhibit with Printup. He says he wants to explore why and how the curator put Inaabiwin together.

The event will be Powless’s first RMG Friday in his role as community and volunteer development manager. He says the events are often planned up to six months in advance, and he is already looking into May of next year.

“We kind of look at something we want to show off and build RMG Friday’s around that,” he says, adding RMG tries to look for local talent.

Powless says although there is a usual crowd who frequents RMG Fridays, it is important for newer people to engage with the space and see how much this place means to the community.

RMG Friday for December will be called Shine a Light, working with Durham Mental Health Services.

“The focus on that will kind of be illuminating the struggles people have had with mental health issues,” Powless says.

He says there will be many artists as opposed to the usual two. They will perform their songs and speak to the audience about how art and music have helped them in their journey to cope with mental illness.

Arts and culture is important to a city’s identity, Powless says. He adds everyone at RMG works hard and is dedicated to making these things accessible to everybody.

“The RMG is such a beautiful place, I hope and wish that people will come down and have a chance to engage with it and take advantage of what we’re doing here,” Powless says.