The period immediately following her withdrawal from Le Groupe de la Place Royale was a difficult one for Jeanne Renaud, financially and emotionally. This was followed by what seems to be a total change of direction. At the end of 1971, along with her partner, photographer Ed Kostiner, Jeanne Renaud opened a space called Galerie III, in Old Montreal, on the third floor of 451 St. Sulpice. This gallery became a major showcase for contemporary art, theatre, music and dance - entirely in line with her interdisciplinary and avant-garde interests. In the first months of its operation, the gallery had three shows by artist-signatories of Refus global, by now all recognized as major figures in Canadian art: Fernand Leduc in December 1971, Marcel Barbeau in February 1972 and Françoise Sullivan in January 1973. The Sullivan exhibition proved most puzzling for newspaper reporters because advertisements announced that the show was on, but the gallery was closed. That paradox was explained after visitors climbed four flights of stairs to the gallery and found that the door was indeed locked and the windows were apparently covered with newspaper. Only when they looked through small holes in the newspapers could they see displayed intimate souvenirs of Sullivan's recent visit to Italy. Claude Gosselin, well-known curator and expert on contemporary art, who later worked with Jeanne Renaud at the Canada Council, remembers being completely mystified by this exhibition. To give some idea of the ecclectic nature of the works exhibited in Galerie III, here is a partial list of artists shown: American silkscreen artist Martin Spalatin; Raymond Brousseau's display of plastic and light that intrigued the press; Murielle Parent, a figurative artist from Quebec; Walter Ostrom, showing works in ceramics; a group of women artists, Rebecca Burke, Marcia Frankel, Lynn Donoghue and Norma Spector; and Nova Scotia College of Art and Design artist Bruce Parsons. In addition, the gallery became exclusive distributor of lithographs from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, as well as carrying a permanent collection of its regular contributors, including such well-known figures as Charles Daudelin. While Ed Kostiner was the business and technical director of the gallery, Jeanne Renaud was artistic director, coordinating not only visual art exhibitions, but also other artistic events such as a three-day series of concerts (in April 1972) of new electro-acoustical music - twenty-five music works in all.
In June 1973, Myron Galloway of the Montreal Star announced that, “The highly imaginative and enterprising proprietors of Gallery III, Jeanne Renaud and Ed Kostiner, having moved from Old Montreal to elegant new premises in Place Bonaventure, immediately inside the University and St. Antoine Street entrance, have now come up with something completely different for an art gallery.” He was talking about a gallery that held free jazz concerts (of a quality to be recorded for broadcast by Radio-Canada), held theatre events, and, for its May 31 opening, hosted a special performance by Le Groupe de la Place Royale. All of this highly innovative work was very well received by the public and the press, but required enormous energy for very little financial gain. In 1975, Jeanne Renaud found herself at the end of her partnership with Ed Kostiner, responsible for raising two children, with no predictable income. She was ready for a radical change of direction, and one came almost immediately with an invitation to join the institution that was having such an enormous impact on the arts, nationwide: the Canada Council. It was an opportunity to earn much-needed money while maintaining contact with, and even helping out, the arts community. This was the beginning of a career in arts administration that may be seen as equal in importance, in many ways, to Jeanne Renaud's career in dance.
©2009, Dance Collection Danse
Jeanne Renaud Exhibition Curators: Ray Ellenwood and Allana Lindgren
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