Bruce and Carol Bentley's journey into the world of arts and culture is a tale of shared passion and a commitment to fostering creativity within their community. Bruce, influenced by his family's deep involvement in business, the University of Alberta and the arts, always considered such engagement a natural part of life.
Bruce's upbringing immersed him in art, with his family actively participating in the Edmonton arts community from the Citadel Theatre to the Art Gallery of Alberta. His mother's legacy manifested in a significant donation to the Art Gallery of Alberta when the new building was erected. Carol's parents were also active volunteers in their community, so she and Bruce shared a natural affinity for giving back and over time art became a focal point in their lives.
Their shared taste has shifted over the years, from landscapes and the Group of Seven to a current fascination with abstract and modern art. What's striking is their steadfast commitment to art as a personal and enriching experience; every piece they acquire holds sentimental value beyond its aesthetic appeal.
Bruce and Carol advocate strongly for audience development, emphasizing the importance of engaging new audiences through AGA programs like "Tours for Tots" and "Refinery," which are making art spaces accessible and appealing to a broad demographic. Exposure to art early on can also help individuals carry that appreciation throughout their lives.
Looking ahead, this couple sees the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in the visual arts as a fascinating development. Unperturbed by concerns, they are curious how AI will be harnessed to enhance creativity and streamline research processes. While technology may play a supporting role, they emphasize that the essence of creating art remains uniquely human, underscoring the need to continue supporting the arts for future generations.
The Bentleys' story is one of a shared journey through the diverse landscapes of art, from their personal collection to community engagement. Their passion not only enriches their lives but also contributes significantly to the cultural vibrancy of their community, leaving an indelible mark on the arts community in Edmonton and the Art Gallery of Alberta.