14 March 2017

ART MEETS NEUROSCIENCE

Peter Tittenberger, "Thalamuseum," 2016, ceramic and mixed media, 24" x 18" x 18" (detail)

COVER STORY

Art Meets Neuroscience

Whether you follow the news about concussions in sports, cope with dementia, chronic pain or anxiety, or just ruminate and remember, it’s impossible to escape the central role the brain plays in our lives. It controls our every aspect – physical, mental and emotional – mediating our experiences, even our degree of empathy. As you read these sentences, the nerve cells in your eyes analyze letter shapes and synapses fire through your body. At the same time, your brain questions, perhaps in exasperation, how this text relates to art. The answer? Neurocraft, an exhibition that brings together art and neuroscience – the study of the brain and the nervous system. It’s on view at the John Buhler Research Centre at the University of Manitoba until March 31. Organized by the Manitoba Craft Council in partnership with the Manitoba Neuroscience Network, the project matched nine Winnipeg artists with nine neuroscientists, most based at the University of Manitoba. Neurocraft is aimed at increasing public awareness about recent research on the brain as well as the creative possibilities of contemporary craft. While the pairing may seem unlikely, scientists and artists do share common traits – things like curiosity, intense focus, acute sensory perception, attention to detail and a delight in discovery. The resulting show is exceptional, exciting, enlightening and empowering. More ►
– Marlene Milne

Editor’s Note: This exhibition closed two weeks early after two pieces of art were destroyed on Saturday, March 19. Winnipeg police were investigating. The show will open in Montreal in May.

 

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Diana Thorneycroft, "Group of Seven Awkward Moments (Winter on the Don)," 2007, digital photograph

FIVE THINGS

Diana Thorneycroft’s ‘Alternative Facts’

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U.S. President Donald Trump has no monopoly on “alternative facts.” Winnipeg artist Diana Thorneycroft also has “alternative facts” – hers present a bleak take on the 150 years since Confederation. And, unfortunately, they are true. Well, mainly true. Maybe Santa is not really a drunk. Thorneycroft’s examination of the last 150 years is not a celebration of achievement but an indictment of the smothering of aboriginal culture, hockey coaches that molest young players, the exploitation of the Dionne Quintuplets, the mysterious death of painter Tom Thomson, Robert Picton’s murderous pig farm and other tragic events in Canadian history. Two Alberta galleries, Banff’s Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies and Sherwood Park’s Gallery@501, are simultaneously exhibiting Thorneycroft’s large-format photographs of table-top dioramas of dolls and toys depicting both real and allegorical events from Canada’s past. Some are horrific, laced with black humour. Some are just plain creepy: Who can forget the priest doll leering at the boy doll? Both shows are called O Canada (I’m Sorry), although the Whyte exhibition is bigger, containing 30 photographs from four series, A People’s History, Group of Seven Awkward Moments, The Canadiana Martyrdom Series and Canadians and Americans: Best Friends (forever … it’s complicated). The smaller show of 13 works at Gallery@501 only has examples from the first two of those series. The Banff exhibition closes April 2 and the Sherwood Park one April 30. More ►
– Paul Gessell

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Lesley Finlayson, "River Valley Series 9," 2017, oil on canvas 18" x 36"

FIVE THINGS

Edmonton’s Autumn Crescendo

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When Vancouver artist Lesley Finlayson was offered a show at the Front Gallery in Edmonton, she decided to do a new body of work about the North Saskatchewan River. She spent a week last fall drawing in the river valley, focused less on geography and more on capturing the particularities of light and colour as she sketched weedy stands of poplar and the river’s lazy currents. Back in the studio, she used her drawings to create paintings that flicker between representation and abstraction. “I think the landscape always defines the mark-making as well as the colour that I choose to work with in a painting,” she says. Finlayson seeks what she calls the core of the experience: “The scale of the place, the sound of the wind in those trees that were getting super crisp. It really did feel like it was a finale I was in. It felt like a great crescendo happening in the landscape. I wanted to capture that sense of a year ending.” Finlayson grew up in Scotland, but came to Canada to do her Master’s degree at the University of Calgary. She then moved to Vancouver, where she raised a family and taught art at Langara College for more than two decades. She tried to instill a love of drawing in her students. “You’re drawing out the information you want,” she says. “I love the selection process of drawing. I see it as work in its own right, but it’s also a critical part of getting to the painting.” Finlayson’s show, Culmination, which runs from March 16 to April 10, is her first solo exhibition in Edmonton. She is also represented by the Elissa Cristall Gallery in Vancouver and Fault Line Projects, a new gallery on Salt Spring Island. More Images ►
– Portia Priegert

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Derek Sullivan, "Booklover," 2017, installation at Dunlop Art Gallery in Regina. Photo by Don Hall.

FIVE THINGS

Derek Sullivan: Booklover

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Booklover is a word with many lives. Its latest is the title of Toronto artist Derek Sullivan’s exhibition, on view until April 23 at the Dunlop Art Gallery in Regina. Drawn from The Booklover, an ongoing project started in 2008, it’s also an epithet ascribed to the artist himself, whose long-running ventures with books suggest earnest appreciation. Booklover details this 15-year preoccupation in which Sullivan playfully unbinds books from their traditional form and usage. His strategies of delimitation cover broad ground: the objecthood of the book and its contents in real, imagined and digital worlds along with conceptual positions, value, reproducibility and distribution. Sullivan, an artist with a history of rethinking institutional conventions, and director/curator Jennifer Matotek created an atypical retrospective that addresses the challenges of gallery book display. It focuses on three areas: the book projects (in various delightful guises), a 2014 bunting piece (also titled The Booklover) and a new series of wall drawings. Sullivan’s panoply of bookworks are arranged throughout the gallery on 1920’s library tables, with his trademark suspensions of books frozen in flight. More ►
– Alex King

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Lisa Johnson, "Massif," 2017, oil on canvas, 60" x 120"

FIVE THINGS

Spirit of a Place

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It’s hard to miss the energy of Lisa Johnson’s large triptych, which portrays a striking granite cliff that rises some 300 feet from the dark waters of Mazinaw Lake in Eastern Ontario. The painting, Massif, is unmistakable as landscape, but is also something more – gestural and physical, it embodies the energy of the massive rock form that stretches almost a mile along one of Ontario’s deepest lakes. Clearly, Johnson is not interested in photo-realistic painting. “It’s less about the details of a place optically,” she says. “It’s more about feeling the spirit of a place, the energy, just trying to capture that experience.” Johnson, who is based in Woodbridge, north of Toronto, spent many of her childhood summers at her grandmother’s cottage on the lake, and still visits regularly. Massif is one of the works she is showing at Gurevich Fine Art in Winnipeg until March 25 as part of a two-person show, Land Marks. The show also features fragmented and dreamlike paintings on board by Vancouver-based artist Neil Peter Dyck, who is from Manitoba. More ►
– Portia Priegert

 

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David A. Neel, "Mask of Ellen Neel," 1990, carved and painted alder and abalone shell earrings. Photo by Katie Hughes.

FIVE THINGS

Ellen Neel’s Totems

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An exhibition about Ellen Neel at the University of Victoria’s Legacy Gallery has a provocative subtitle: The First Woman Totem Pole Carver. While it’s risky to declare something the first, the tallest or the oldest – someone may well pop out of the woodwork with an example that puts such boldness to shame – Neel was undoubtedly a notable carver of her generation, renowned among the legions of tourists who visited the Totem Art Shop she ran with her family in a former military bunker in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. Born in Alert Bay, B.C., in 1916, Neel learned to carve from her grandfather, Charlie James, at a time when such expressions of indigenous culture were outlawed by federal statute. Neel, also known by her traditional name, Ka’Kasolas, was Kwakwaka’wakw. More ►

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NEWS ROUNDUP

Ross King Wins RBC Taylor Prize for Book on Monet

Saskatchewan-born art historian Ross King has won the $25,000 RBC Taylor Prize for his literary non-fiction book, Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies. King’s account, published by Bond Street Books, details the challenges Monet overcame in creating  22 panels for the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris. The book looks at politics, nationalism and culture in France during the First World War, as well as Monet’s personal struggles, which included the death of his wife and the destruction of his beloved garden at Giverny. King’s previous books are The Judgment of Paris, Brunelleschi’s Dome, Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling, Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven and Leonardo and the Last Supper. His work has twice won the Governor General’s Award for non-fiction. King holds degrees from the University of Regina, York University in Toronto and University College in London. He  lives near Oxford.

In other news:

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Pierre Coupey in his West Coast studio. He is represented by Gallery Jones (Vancouver) and Odon Wagner (Toronto). Want to show us your studio? Send an image that shows you at work to studiophotos@gallerieswestdigital.ca. We’ll feature the best images on this page.

EXHIBITION LISTINGS

Check Out the Latest Shows Across the West!

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Christine Klassen Gallery in Calgary. Want to show us your gallery? Send an hi-res image to studiophotos@gallerieswestdigital.ca. We’ll feature the best images on this page.

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Explore 500+ Galleries in Western Canada

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Fibre class at Alberta College of Art + Design

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14 March 2017
Volume 2 Number 6
Copyright 2017

 

Galleries West Digital is an online magazine published every second Tuesday to promote and advance the visual arts. Launched in 2016, it replaces the print version of Galleries West magazine, which covered art and artists in Western Canada for 15 years. Our award-winning website, gallerieswest.ca, the repository for all content, is an open archive of information about the arts in communities large and small throughout Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columba as well as Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

 

Editor Portia Priegert
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28 February 2017

Susan Point’s Vision

Susan Point, "Camouflage," 2000, acrylic, oxidized copper and red cedar, Private Collection, Photo by Kenji Nagai, Courtesy of Spirit Wrestler Gallery

COVER STORY

Susan Point’s Vision

Musqueam artist Susan Point, whose work is on view in a major solo exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery until May 28, is often credited with starting the current renaissance in Coast Salish art. But Point grew up with little awareness of her people’s traditional designs. Like many of her peers in Coast Salish territory in southern B.C., she started out using techniques based on formline, the flowing curvilinear element that gives power to Haida and other indigenous art from the province’s northwest coast. Then, in 1981, Point realized: “We had our own art culture.” More ►
– Beverly Cramp 

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Jennifer Wanner, "Periculum – British Columbia," 2015, hand-cut ink-jet paper collage on Stonehenge paper, 30” x 44”

FIVE THINGS

Jennifer Wanner’s Endangered Plants

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Your mind may undergo a strange warp when looking at Calgary artist Jennifer Wanner’s floral images. They play with familiar tropes of botanical imagery, from scientific drawings to the genteel watercolours of so-called “lady painters” of a bygone era. Yet there’s something decidedly creepy about the awkwardly jointed sprawling forms and mismatched flowers and foliage that emerge from a single root system. It’s almost like Monsanto meets Audrey II, the voracious plant from Little Shop of Horrors, with freaky results. Wanner soon sets things straight: Her series of 14 hand-cut paper collages to be displayed as part of Second Nature at the University of Lethbridge’s Helen Christou Gallery until June 2, are a commentary on endangered plant species. There’s one work for each province and territory, plus one for Canada as a whole, each containing many species of vascular plants that are close to disappearing. For instance, the British Columbia collage features 50 different extirpated or endangered species, including coast manroot, a large vine-like plant, and the pink sand verbena, a tiny prostrate perennial with succulent leaves. Also included are the phantom orchid, the limber pine and the coastal Scouler’s catchfly. “It’s a little tongue in cheek,” says Wanner, who points to recent developments in the genetic modification of plants. “But it’s not that far from the truth.” Wanner will also show the series in Calgary next fall at the Glenbow Museum, along with a related body of work at the Paul Kuhn Gallery. More ►
– Portia Priegert

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Fred Herzog, "Two Men in Fog," 1958, archival pigment print, Courtesy of the artist and Equinox Gallery, Vancouver

FIVE THINGS

Fred Herzog’s Urban Poetics

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Fred Herzog’s Two Men in Fog (1958) and Granville Street at Night (1959) are among 18 striking photographs of Vancouver and other localities featured in the exhibition Fred Herzog: Shadowlands, on view at the Audain Art Museum in Whistler, B.C., through May 22. Audain curator Darrin Martens wanted to examine how the use of shadow, the tension between light and dark, and the relationship of presence and absence all contribute to Herzog’s urban social narrative. The men in Two Men in Fog pass each other on an otherwise empty sidewalk, a few cars visible on the foggy street. The figures read as silhouettes, their shadows and those of telephone poles cast across the pavement. Despite their similar attire in overcoats and hats, and their proximity to each other, they exist in separate worlds, anonymous and unknown. Conversely, the Granville Street photograph is crowded with pedestrians, cars, buses, and bright neon signs that provide light, reflections and colour. Yet even in all its bustling vibrancy, the dark shadows of people seen from behind suggest that life in the city can be isolating. In addition to several self-portraits and photographs of window reflections, the exhibition includes the quintessential Herzog images of people on the street, going about their daily lives, like the smartly dressed father and daughter walking their dog on Pender Street (Black Man Pender, 1958). More ►
– Rachel Rosenfield Lafo

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Kristine Zingeler, "The Emptying Moonlight," 2016, archival digital print of collage, 16" x 24"

FIVE THINGS

Collages Reflect on Time’s Passage

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Much art uses the strategies of collage, cobbling together disparate elements and exploiting juxtapositions and contrasts to explore and challenge boundaries. Perhaps that’s little wonder, as collage seems such an apt metaphor for many of the foundational experiences of adult life, whether falling in love, starting a family, or even just travelling to a new place. For Calgary artist Kristine Zingeler, that latter experience is distilled through images from the Life World Library, a series of American books about life in other countries that was published in the ’60s, a time when overseas travel was more of a luxury than it is today. After cutting images from the books without any explanatory text, Zingeler layers them together with paint scraped from her palette knife, creating mysterious reflections on place and the passage of time that she then photographs and presents at a much larger scale. The paint scraps become miniature abstracts juxtaposed with grainy photographic reproductions, effectively blending two modernist dialogues, one mainstream and matter-of-fact, the other metaphorical and emotive. With a sense of unity created by shared tonalities, or other formal qualities such as shape or size, the resulting combos point to new ways of reading shared histories. Indeed, Zingeler says she found herself wondering about the people portrayed in the books – whether they had ever seen their images, and what they would have made of the way Western photographers presented their lives. While there’s no shared theme between her pieces, she thinks there is common ground. “They’re not all about something specifically,” she says. “But I think what links them is this desire to give a voice to those who don’t have a voice.” Zingeler’s show, Terra Mobilis, on view at the Edge Gallery in Calgary until March 11, is her first in a commercial gallery since she graduated from the University of Calgary in 2011. Zingeler, who also maintains a painting practice, was a finalist for the 2013 Kingston Prize for Canadian portraiture.  More ►
– Portia Priegert

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Geraldine Moody, "Inuit women and children at summer camp, Fullerton Harbour, Nunavut, August 1906," image created from a 5" x 7" glass-plate negative, Collection of Glenbow

FIVE THINGS

Historic Photos of the North

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When Geraldine Moodie created a 1906 portrait of several Inuit mothers with their offspring, including two naked babies, her camera captured an atmosphere of maternal ease and warmth. Inuit women and children at summer camp, Fullerton Harbour, Nunavut, like many of her other images, reflects her affinity for northern women. Like her subjects, Moodie, who lived from 1854 to 1945, raised a family in isolated communities. Once her six children were grown, she and her husband, Douglas, a senior officer in the North-West Mounted Police, travelled to the Far North in 1903, where they documented the way of life in settler and Inuit communities for the following seven years. Now, the work of this talented and adventurous couple is the subject of an exhibition, Historic Photographs of the Canadian North, on view at Calgary’s Glenbow Museum from Feb. 18 to Sept. 10. “This is an extraordinary collection of vintage negatives donated to the museum in 2015,” says Melanie Kjorlien, the museum’s vice-president of access, collections and exhibitions. Using digital technology, the Glenbow reproduced 70 black-and-white images from glass plates. “They are high-quality, large-format prints,” Kjorlien says. “Viewers will appreciate the detail.” Most of the images have never been displayed for the public. More ►
– Janet Nicol

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Marina Roy and Graham Meisner, "Mal de mer," 2016, film still, 40 min.

FIVE THINGS

Landfall and Departure

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A group show at the Nanaimo Art Gallery on Vancouver Island looks at an unusual topic – harbours. The gallery, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, is just a block from Nanaimo’s  waterfront. “Harbours have their own particular features and histories, but they can also articulate shared characteristics as places of both refuge and dislocation,” the gallery says, noting he displacement of the Snuneymuxw people, the arrival of mine workers from China, Britain and Scandinavia, and the Second World War internment of Japanese-Canadians who ran herring salteries and boat-building companies. Landfall and Departure: Prologue, which runs until March 25, features a range of art including historical paintings by E.J. Hughes and Jack Shadbolt, as well as contemporary work by Stan Douglas, Hajra Waheed, Marina Roy, Graham Meisner and others. It’s the third in a series of three exhibitions that look at West Coast resource industries. Black Diamond Dust, in 2014, considered coal mining; the second, Silva, responded to forestry. Landfall and Departure is a two-part project that will continue until 2018. More Images ►

 

 

 

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Landon Mackenzie, "Simulator Neurostar," 2012, oil on linen, 87" x 118"

NEWS ROUNDUP

Vancouver artists among GG winners

Vancouver artists Glenn Lewis and Landon Mackenzie are among the eight winners of this year’s Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts. The awards, administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, carry a $25,000 cash prize and recognize outstanding career achievements. The other winners are Michèle Cournoyer, a Montreal animation filmmaker; Mike Hoolboom, a Toronto filmmaker; Shelagh Keeley, a Toronto artist; and Shelley Niro, a multimedia artist from Brantford/Six Nations of the Grand River. Toronto curator and writer Philip Monk receives the Outstanding Contribution Award and Halifax jewelry artist Pamela Ritchie takes home the Saidye Bronfman Award. “These men and women have made tremendous contributions to the arts and society over their rich careers,” said Simon Brault, head of the Canada Council. “Celebrating their exceptional work in 2017, as the council turns 60, reinforces the importance of investing in artistic creation today to grow the impact of the arts in the future.” The awards ceremony is March 1. The Winnipeg Art Gallery will host an exhibition by the winners from April 8 to Sept. 4.

In other news:

  • Vancouver artist Geoffrey Farmer will install A way out of the mirror at the Canada Pavilion for the Venice Biennale, which opens May 13. Curator Kitty Scott says Farmer, known for large and laboriously crafted projects, considers how personal memory and family history flow into a broader stream of reflections on inheritance, trauma and desire. “The pavilion itself, colliding with the artwork, is transformed, opening to the outside as its architecture is reimagined in the guise of a fountain.” Scott, a curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario, is working with the pavilion’s project director, Josée Drouin-Brisebois, a curator at the National Gallery of Canada.
  • The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has acquired two works by Winnipeg artist Sarah Anne Johnson. The pieces, given by the Cirque du Soleil, are Untitled (Schooner and Fireworks), a monumental installation, and Explosion Panorama, a photograph enhanced with coloured ink. Both are associated with her series, Arctic Wonderland, which she did after a residency in Norway.
  • Jacek Malec is the new executive director of the Harcourt House artist-run centre in Edmonton. Malec comes to Harcourt House from Calgary, where he was chief curator of the Art Forum Gallery
  • Jeff Erbach has been appointed director of the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie. He has over 20 years of experience in arts administration and curation as well as community outreach and event planning.
  • The Caetani Cultural Centre in Vernon has received $75,000 from the Department of Canadian Heritage Cultural Spaces Fund to upgrade the historic house so it can be opened for public access.
  • The Alberta government has appointed Carol Ryder,  Amanda Hu, Natasha Pashak, James Stanford and Dale Turri to the board of governors of the Alberta College of Art and Design. Ryder will serve a second term as board chair.
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