AFTER 17 years, York contemporary gallery According To McGee is to close its Tower Street doors in September.
Acomb husband and wife and business duo Greg and Ails McGee are looking forward to the next stage but in the meantime they are “ready to go out with an incendiary confetti of contemporary collectibles”, as Greg puts it.
“Every chapter comes to an end,” says Ails, “And before we launch Part Two, we thought let’s finish our tenure at Tower Street by going full circle. We started back in 2005 with a Richard Barnes show, and I had just finished teaching his daughter Chantal Barnes as an A-Level student at Huntington School.
“Chantal is now an internationally sought-after artist and has work appearing in Vogue magazine, while Richard has retired from teaching at Bootham School and is now a full-time painter after moving south from York.”
Barnes at the double goes on show at According To McGee today. “This is a victory lap for us,” says Greg. “We are in many ways going back to our source with Richard’s York cityscapes, but the art scene in York has changed so much, and the paintings of both Barneses are now so collectible, that though we’re tipping the hat to our first exhibition, we’re much more excited about the here and now.
“The York that Richard paints feels very contemporary, very now, and the idiosyncratic vigour with which Chantal pushes paint around is a wholly new visual idea.”
Greg looks back fondly over the McGees’ Tower Street years. “Richard really helped to galvanise our business plan back in 2005, which was at that point a general desire to exhibit exciting art. He helped distil that down into an irreducible manifesto.
“Go primarily for paintings, paintings that are instantly recognisable as being from the McGee stable. Grab the attention of passers-by, paint the gallery front yellow, which, although a Choir of Vision inception, had its roots in the initial vision Richard helped us shape.
“Since then, we’ve exhibited Elaine Thomas CBE; Dave Pearson; ska legend Horace Panter, of The Specials. We’ve had exhibitions officially opened by Sir Ian Botham, when we launched art from Dubai celebrity artist Jim Wheat; 1960s’ painter and friend of The Beatles Doug Binder has had solo shows here.
“It’s been a wild and fulfilling ride here, opposite York’s most recognisable landmark [Clifford’s Tower], but the time has come to leave the building, and we’re doing it in style with Barnes + Barnes.”
Contemporary Painting: Barnes + Barnes’ straddles According To McGee’s past as gallerists but also looks forward. “As an exhibition, it transcends this building, and so we’ll be ready to run it again in the future,” vows Greg.
“Where that will be, we can’t yet say, but that unpredictability, with the liberty and excitement that come with it, was the reason we got into running an art gallery in the first place. This exhibition reflects that. As soon as Chapter II emerges over the horizon, we’ll let you know.”
Contemporary Painting: Barnes + Barnes runs from today (23/7/2022) to Sunday, September 25, at According To McGee, Tower Street, York. For more information, visit www.accordingtomcgee.com