18 JULY 2017

GLASS GEOMETRIES

FROM THE EDITOR

 

Circles. As I worked on this issue, I found myself thinking about them again and again. If you’ve seen the cover, you’ll understand why. It shows Transect, a new public sculpture in Edmonton created by glass artists Tyler Rock and Julia Reimer to mark Canada's 150th anniversary, and it's replete with numerous circular glass tiles held in a stainless steel armature. As soon as I saw the striking close-up photos by Galla Theodosis, I knew I had found this issue's cover shot.

At its most basic level, a circle is a simple geometric form – a closed curve in which all points are the same distance from the centre. But the symbolism humans have placed on circles is anything but simple. At various times, and within different cultures, circles have represented wildly disparate notions ranging from the individual self to the wholeness of the universe. Perfection, unity, the cycles of life … there are many more readings. Sometimes we sit in circles to share non-hierarchical conversations. Yet, paradoxically, circles can also be exclusionary: The inner circle is the elite, often with special privileges or access to power. I could go on, but I’m sure you have plenty of your own ideas about the meanings of circles.

As is often the case, when you notice something, you begin to notice more of it. As I worked on a story about Tyler’s Gronsdahl’s tongue-in-cheek exhibition, Saskatchewan Maritime Museum, I felt drawn to the circular form of an old-style diving helmet. Then came Australian artist Gordon Bennett’s exhibition, Be Polite, at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver. John Thomson begins his review with a discussion of one of Bennett’s notepad drawings, Seeing is Believing, which features an eye: Another circular element. Then there is the kitchen table in Tabletop Commander, part of a collaborative show by Sonny Assu and Brendan Tang. Above the installation's round table is a painting of a white house to which Assu has added Northwest Coast imagery – yup, you guessed it, a stylized ovoid form. Even Helen Mackie’s print of a mountain ash features many small red circles – the tree’s berries. I managed to break the trend with an image of  cacti in bloom by Karin Bubaš. But I'm sure if you examined it closely you could  spot some circular elements, as they are so common in flowers. Me? I’ve stopped looking. My pattern-seeking brain needs a break.

I hope you enjoy this issue. As always, you can join our circle by signing up for the email reminder we send out when we publish a new issue each second Tuesday. We call it subscribing, but there is no fee to read the magazine. Open access – yikes, that's another circular concept.

Until next time,

 

MASTHEAD

18 July 2017

Volume 2 Number 15
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
editor@gallerieswest.ca
250-382-0567 (Victoria)
Toll Free 866-415-3282
Consulting Editor Jeffrey Spalding
Reviews Editor reviews@gallerieswest.ca
Contributors Bev Cramp, Mary-Beth Laviolette, John Thomson
Publisher
Tom Tait
publisher@gallerieswest.ca
403-234-7097 (Calgary)
Toll Free 866-697-2002
Advertising Director advertising@gallerieswest.ca
403-234-7097 (Calgary)
Toll Free 866-697-2002
Social Media Editor listings@gallerieswest.ca
403-234-7097 (Calgary)
Toll Free 866-697-2002
Mailing Address Galleries West Digital
301 – 690 Princeton Way SW
Calgary, AB  T2P 5J9
Subscriptions gallerieswestdigital.ca/subscribe
Websites gallerieswest.ca
gallerieswestdigital.ca

We acknowledge the support of the Alberta Media Fund for our publishing program.

ABgov

Julia Reimer and Tyler Rock, "Transect," 2017, cast glass, images and stainless steel, 7' x 6.5' (detail), photo by Galla Theodosis

COVER STORY

Glass Geometries Reflect History

At first glance, Transect seems to channel some of the ambitious spirit behind Buckminster Fuller’s steel-and-acrylic geodesic dome at Expo 67. But this spherical sculpture, created by Alberta glass artists Julia Reimer and Tyler Rock to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary, is just seven feet in diameter. Affixed to a circular concrete base on Edmonton’s Capital Boulevard, the sculpture – with its connective stainless steel rods and handcrafted circular tiles in blue glass – both absorbs and reflects light. Its precise sphere-within-a-sphere geometry may inspire the imagination of the mathematically inclined and the despair of everyone else. The artists, however, prefer to focus on the rhizomatic function of their first piece of public art, and cite the work’s emphasis on “the interconnections of people that make a community.” To look closely at any of its 60 laminated glass tiles is to blend the present with reflections of the past – photographic images the artists culled from the Provincial Archives of Alberta and Calgary’s Glenbow Museum relating to the frontier and the relentless colonization of the Prairies. There are images of First Nations and Métis people, Fort Edmonton and the fur trade, the construction of the nearby Beaux-Arts legislature and, in an odd moment from history, a cart pulled by two moose, harnessed but still magnificently antlered. More ►
– Mary-Beth Laviolette

Todd Gronsdahl, “G.A.S.P.R. Helmet,” 2017, mixed media, 18” x 16” (detail)

FIVE THINGS

Saskatchewan’s Maritime Museum

1

A show called Saskatchewan Maritime Museum? It has to be a joke, right? Well, Todd Gronsdahl is kidding – and he isn’t. Of course, landlocked Saskatchewan has no sea, but Gronsdahl has created three fanciful stories about misadventures on regional waterways for an exhibition that, in the words of curator Leah Taylor, challenges “truth, fiction and the construction of historical narratives.” While plenty of recent exhibitions have interrogated different aspects of archives and museological practices, Saskatchewan Martime Museum, on view until Aug. 19 at the University of Saskatchewan’s Kenderdine Gallery, extrapolates local lore using irony and absurdity. With tongue-in-cheek humour worthy of a CBC comedy sketch, Gronsdahl confronts viewers with a completely fictional personage, Charles Gaspar, reputed to have invented insulation made from cattails and lip balm from sturgeon cartilage. It’s a play on a Prairie stereotype – the eccentric DIY entrepreneur, a character who seems to share some affinities with Gronsdahl himself. “The more I make this stuff, the more I find I am willing to be that eccentric character myself,” says Gronsdahl, who grew up in Saskatoon. “In real life, there are social boundaries where you have to act like a sane person. But when I make art, I get to take this part of me that maybe is just sort of out there and I can express it through my work rather than just being an eccentric myself.” More ►
– Portia Priegert

 

Gordon Bennett, "Notepad Drawings: Optical: Seeing is Believing," 1995 © Estate of Gordon Bennett

FIVE THNGS

Gordon Bennett: Be Polite

2

Australian artist Gordon Bennett’s exhibition, a powerful attack on systemic racism, is called Be Polite. It is anything but. The late artist, of Indigenous and Anglo-Celtic ancestry, expressed his disgust through wit and anger in a variety of styles and media. His largely unseen works on paper, on view at Vancouver’s Contemporary Art Gallery until Sept. 24, are a foundation of his practice, precursors to the larger conceptual paintings for which he has attracted the most attention. His 30 notepad drawings are the most compelling work in the show. Early in his career, Bennett travelled the continent documenting his observations in text and pictures while working as a telephone lineman. These drawings in gouache, ink and ballpoint pen criticize white paternalism and sanctimonious condescension. Drops of blood that morph into racist slang are a common element. In Seeing is Believing, a TV newscast reports on drunks and bums while a giant eye sheds tears of blood. The tears turn into letters of the alphabet – “a” for abo, “b” for boong, “c” for coon; all derogatory terms for Australia’s Indigenous people. Other works are not so subtle. Wall of Death depicts two people who have been lynched. Their spurting blood again turns into letters of the alphabet. More ►
– John Thomson

 

D. Helen Mackie, “November: Mountain Ash,” in “Leaves of a Year,” 1991, intaglio and stencil, A/P
 series of 12 calendar pages, Collection of Nickle Galleries, Calgary, gift of D. Helen Mackie, photo by David Brown, LCR Photo Services

FIVE THINGS

Helen Mackie’s Life With Nature

3

Helen Mackie has always been interested in biology and nature – a fascination that she translated into myriad prints throughout her 40-year career as an artist. Her solo show, Pressed, at the Nickle Galleries at the University of Calgary until July 28, features carefully observed images of the ordinary  things around her: Blossoms and berries, chickadees and hummingbirds, deer and horses, all culled from what curator Christine Sowiak calls “a life really well lived.” Mackie came to the opening last month to view the show of 196 prints curated from a gift earlier this year of one print from every edition she has ever created – some 350 in all. Sowiak recalls Mackie, now frail and in her early 90s, saying over and over: “It’s all just the little things.” But amassed over 40 years, Mackie’s little things add up to a rich collection of etchings and woodblock prints that Sowiak found deeply moving: “I’m surprised at the very personal emotional reaction I have to this whole project.” More ►

 

Brendan Lee Satish Tang and Sonny Assu, "Tabletop Commander," 2017, installation of various collaborative and solo works by the artists, wallpaper, vinyl flooring, kitchen and household objects and furniture, 8.5' x 7' x 6'

FIVE THINGS

Youth Culture in the Eighties

4

To say that Sonny Assu and Brendan Tang grew up in culturally diverse and difficult situations is an understatement. Raised in North Delta, in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, Assu believed he was one of the suburban white kids he played with until he was eight years old and discovered his Kwakwaka’wakw heritage. Tang was born in Ireland of Trinidian parents, studied in the United States and Canada, and now is a naturalized Canadian citizen. It should be no surprise then, that much of their work grapples with clashing cultures and ethnicities: Assu with his Indigenous roots and the impact of colonization; Tang with mash-ups of contemporary culture and art history through ceramics that bridge divisions between art and craft. The two recently collaborated to explore youth culture at The Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford, B.C. Their exhibition, Ready Player Two, on display until Sept. 3, focuses on places where Assu and Tang found sanctuary in their teens – the basement den, the kitchen, the arcade. The first gallery is a large installation with a kitchen theme that includes one of Assu’s cereal boxes, Lucky Beads, a spoof on General Mills’ Lucky Charms breakfast cereal. Hanging on the wall is one of his interventions, a painting from a yard sale or thrift shop with added Indigenous imagery – in this case a stylized ovoid shape. More ►
– Beverly Cramp

Karin Bubaš, "Cholla Cactus Garden in Pink," 2017, archival pigment print, 40" x 114" courtesy of the artist and Monte Clark Gallery

FIVE THINGS

Karin Bubaš in Hidden Valley

5

Karin Bubaš presents large-scale photographs of California desert flora in Hidden Valley, on view at the Monte Clark Gallery in Vancouver until Aug. 5. Bubaš, long interested in colour manipulation within analog photography, is known for surreal landscapes that both suggest and withhold narratives. She has explored painterly tints in previous work, including colour gels that shift hues and smoke bombs dispersed across landscapes. Much of the work in this show was shot over the last two years on LomoChrome Purple, a colour negative film much like Kodak’s Aerochrome, a now-discontinued infrared film developed for aerial cartography and surveillance, and LomoChrome Turquoise, another similar film. Bubaš is known for staging costumed female figures in park-like settings to create images that refer to art cinema and vintage Hollywood movies. She graduated in 1998 from what is now the Emily Carr University of Art and Design and has exhibited nationally and internationally, including solo shows at the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris and the Charles H. Scott Gallery in Vancouver. Her work is in the collections of the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Glenbow in Calgary. More images ►

 

Paul Walde, “Tom Thomson Centennial Swim,” July 8, 2017, production still of Paul Walde swimming in Algonquin Park's Canoe Lake, photo by Clayton McKinnon

NEWS ROUNDUP

Swimming in Tom Thomson’s Shadow

Victoria intermedia artist Paul Walde braved rough water to swim across Canoe Lake in Ontario’s Algonquin Park earlier this month to mark the 100th anniversary of Tom Thomson’s death. “It was really choppy,” Walde said after the swim in the lake where Thomson drowned. “I got lost and disoriented and blown off-course … I saw the white totem pole beside the Tom Thomson cairn on shore and I swam toward that. That was the scariest part.” Walde, chair of the  University of Victoria’s visual arts department, was accompanied by musicians, a synchronized swim squad and a canoe flotilla. “I grew up in Northern Ontario near where the Group of Seven did their first trip together,” says Walde. “This is what was presented to us as Canadian art, and through my work I’ve been trying to find other ways of engaging with the landscape, especially around issues of the environment and colonialism.” He intends to reframe Thomson’s legacy in a video of what he’s calling the Tom Thomson Centennial Swim. Footage from an underwater body-cam and mobile boat units will be combined with shots of the lake and locations featured in Thomson’s paintings. Walde is known for his innovative sound and video installations, including Requiem for a Glacier, performed by 70 musicians and filmed live on Farnham Glacier in B.C.’s Purcell Mountains in 2013. Thomson was the subject of Walde’s 1997 theatrical performance, Index 1036, a collaborative work with his wife, Christine, a librarian. It examined Thomson’s death in the context of contemporary performance art. “You get compelled by these ideas,” says Walde, a former competitive swimmer. “This one was gestating for 20 years. My career is about following these kind of ideas. The ones you can’t shake are the ones you end up doing. And there was a bit of that now-or-never sense to it, not only with the centennial but also with the swim itself. I’m 49, how much longer could I really wait to do this?”

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Laurie Koss in her Kelowna studio. She is represented by Hambleton Galleries - Kelowna, BC and The Grant Berg Gallery - Grande Prairie, AB. 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.

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4 JULY 2017

MARIA HUPFIELD

FROM THE EDITOR

 

I'm sitting at my desk on Canada Day, proofreading this issue and thinking about what to say in this note. By the time you read these words, July 1 will have come and gone, 150 years marked, and our American neighbours will be celebrating their national holiday.

While our biweekly publishing schedule means there's no sesquicentennial  issue per se, stories about various commemorative projects have been a recurring theme since Galleries West Digital launched last November. This issue notes yet another: a voyage through the Northwest Passage by a rotating roster of artists, a project duly covered by veteran Ottawa arts writer Paul Gessell. At the same time, we have also considered how artists are interrogating this anniversary. Our June 20 issue, for instance, featured a cover story on Kent Monkman and his critique of colonial history, work now showing at the Glenbow in Calgary. This issue's cover story is about Anishinaabe artist Maria Hupfield. Her work considers identity, community and how, as Murray Whyte, of the Toronto Star, has written, "meaning can change, sometimes radically, when the context shifts."

Whyte can turn an elegant phrase, and it's always a privilege to edit his writing. His story on Hupfield demonstrates again why he is one of the finest (and, let's face it, few remaining) visual arts writers in the Canadian newspaper industry. It's often said that teachers learn as much from their students as their students learn from them, and I think the same holds true of editors and writers. I know my writing has improved by editing other writers, mulling over things like clarity, brevity and (sigh) grammar, while trying to preserve voice and a depth of insight. Editing is an inexact art, a balancing act in which perfection, as with most things in life, is a frustrating chimera. But, of course, that's also what makes it interesting.

That said, I have spent some time working with a new writer from Calgary, Catherine Carlyle, who considers Adrian Stimson's fascinating project about Indigenous soldiers in the First World War. Poking through an array of websites as I fact-checked her review reminded me again how much I love the varied journeys that artists take, and also how important it is to encourage and develop new writers.

A good arts writer is much more than someone who knows the arts: Along with a sensitivity to language, it also takes curiosity and attentiveness, a willingness to dig for interesting details, as well as a clarity of vision to describe a piece of art so readers can visualize it. And, of course, let's not forget the courage it takes to set out one's honest response to the work. It can be a vulnerable place. Editors are a safety net, not just to catch spelling mistakes and other blunders, but to challenge assumptions and push for excellence.

We're in an interesting time, here in the chasm of the great analog and digital divide, watching lumbering old publications die, or transform into flimsy spectres of their storied past. Sure it's easy to set up a blog these days, and come and go they do, sometimes useful, sometimes not, but largely functioning beneath the tide of public awareness. It's often difficult for emerging writers to get the kind of attention they need to develop craft skills and critical vision. Gigs for arts writers are increasingly few and far between.

Galleries West has taken the leap into digital, asking writers, new and old, to produce stories under tighter deadlines and provide substantive and varied coverage that is accessible without sliding into triviality. Our writers track what's happening in Western Canadian art communities, large and small, helping to create a magazine that's fresh and timely. If you have already signed up for the email reminder that we send out when we publish a new issue each second Tuesday, we thank you. If not, this is a chance to support artists – and arts writers – as Canada embarks on its next 150 years.

Until next time,

 

MASTHEAD

04 July 2017

Volume 2 Number 14
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
editor@gallerieswest.ca
250-382-0567 (Victoria)
Toll Free 866-415-3282
Consulting Editor Jeffrey Spalding
Reviews Editor reviews@gallerieswest.ca
Contributors Catherine Carlyle, Beverly Cramp, Paul Gessell, Murray Whyte
Publisher
Tom Tait
publisher@gallerieswest.ca
403-234-7097 (Calgary)
Toll Free 866-697-2002
Advertising Director advertising@gallerieswest.ca
403-234-7097 (Calgary)
Toll Free 866-697-2002
Social Media Editor listings@gallerieswest.ca
403-234-7097 (Calgary)
Toll Free 866-697-2002
Mailing Address Galleries West Digital
301 – 690 Princeton Way SW
Calgary, AB  T2P 5J9
Subscriptions gallerieswestdigital.ca/subscribe
Websites gallerieswest.ca
gallerieswestdigital.ca

We acknowledge the support of the Alberta Media Fund for our publishing program.

ABgov

Maria Hupfield, "The One Who Keeps on Giving," 2017, two single-channel video projections with sound, 15 min. loop, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Hugues Charbonneau, Montréal

COVER STORY

Maria Hupfield: The One Who Keeps on Giving

Maria Hupfield has spent the last seven years in Brooklyn, a far cry – in every respect – from the decidedly less urban surroundings of Wasauksing First Nation near Parry Sound, Ont., where she grew up. It was a calculated move – Hupfield was positioning herself at a critical distance from the rising tide of Indigenous contemporary art making in Canada, determined to find her own voice. So for her first major homecoming at the Power Plant in Toronto last winter, an exhibition now on view at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in Lethbridge until Sept. 10, some careful introspection about her roots was very much in order. There, alongside her established sculptural practice of remaking everyday objects – a snowmobile helmet, a cassette tape player, boots, moccasins, a canoe – with industrial felt, an effort to neutralize loaded symbols and reduce them to simple, pliable form – Hupfield made a pair of videos. Called The One Who Keeps on Giving, they’re the same, but intensely different. In the gallery, they face off against each other, taking turns, one after the other. Both show Hupfield – impassive but peaceful – holding a small oil painting of turbulent blue waters. Around her is a procession of intense music and movement: Her brother and sister, both professional powwow dancers, perform the slow, deliberate steps of a ceremonial dance. Her sister, a powwow singer, gives voice to the unfolding scene. The difference here is the setting. On one screen, it unfolds under a wash of warm light on the wooden stage of the Stockey Centre in Parry Sound during an Indigenous storytellers’ festival. On the other, the same performance, but on the cool concrete floors of the Power Plant itself, the performers active against a backdrop of stark white. More ►
– Murray Whyte

 

Students take in the Pangnirtunug Fjord in Nunavut on a 2016 Students on Ice expedition. Photo by Lee Narraway / SOI Foundation.

FIVE THINGS

Artists Voyage Through the Northwest Passage

6

When Geoff Phillips, an artist from Maple Creek in southwest Saskatchewan, boards the former Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Prince for a unique voyage marking Canada’s 150th birthday, he plans to set one of his canvases out on deck and start working. Phillips is an experienced plein air painter and often straps canvases to his back as he mountain bikes from his home to nearby scenic spots in the Cypress Hills, where he is artist-in-residence at Canada’s only interprovincial park. But Phillips will encounter very different landscapes when he participates in a Canada 150 project that’s taking a rotating roster of artists, scientists and other passengers on a 150-day voyage of discovery from Toronto to Victoria through the Northwest Passage. The voyage, which began June 1 and ends Oct. 28, includes about 60 passengers at any one time. It is organized by an educational charity, Students on Ice, and is funded by the federal government and other donors. Each of the 15 artists picked by a jury spends a week or two on board the ship, renamed the Canada C3 (to refer to our three coasts), stopping at various communities along the way. Phillips, one of five artists from Western Canada and the North, will be on the second last of the voyage’s 15 legs, travelling along the British Columbia coast from Bella Bella on the mainland to Campbell River on the east coast of Vancouver Island. More ►
– Paul Gessell

Elad Lassry, "Devon Rex," 2011, chromogenic print and painted frame, courtesy of the artist, photo courtesy of 303 Gallery, New York

FIVE THINGS

Elad Lassry’s Unsettling Beauty

7

In the age of Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, almost everyone has become a photographer. The proliferation  – some might even say the visual pollution – of images staggers the imagination, making it harder for photo-based art to capture attention. But a solo show at the Vancouver Art Gallery by Elad Lassry, an Israeli artist based in Los Angeles, challenges perceptions of what contemporary photography can be. Lassry, born in 1977 in Tel Aviv, came of age as analog technology was being overtaken by digital. He moved to Los Angeles in 1998 to study film and photography. After earning an MFA, his work quickly caught the attention of galleries around the world. Lassry’s images – some 70 are on view until Oct. 1 as part of his first major exhibition in Canada – are both exquisite and disquieting. The subject matter is familiar – food, cute animals, everyday objects and movie stars from the 1970s – but presented in unusual ways. Take, for example, his domestic cat images. Selkirk Rex, LaPerm is, at first glance, a diptych of two shaggy orange-haired cats. But the backdrop is an acid green hue one wouldn’t expect; it’s unnatural and unsettling. The frame is the same green. More ►
– Beverly Cramp

Adrian Stimson, "TRENCH," 2017, durational performance on the Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation east of Calgary

FIVE THINGS

Adrian Stimson Honours Indigenous Warriors

8

Military coordinates – 50° 50′ 3″ N 113° 4′ 22″ W – indicate the pivotal location of Adrian Stimson’s latest interdisciplinary performance, TRENCH, created to honour the often-overlooked histories of thousands of Indigenous soldiers in the First World War. Stimson’s compelling durational performance from dawn to dusk for five days, from May 23 to May 27, on land near his familial home in the Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation, about an hour’s drive east of Calgary, was based on his research into conflicts like the 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge in France. Stimson decided to dig his own trench after learning about the complexity of trench warfare and the visceral physicality of life and death on the front a century ago. His work is part of the contemporary art contributed to War Stories: 1917, on view until Aug. 27 at Calgary’s Military Museums. The University of Calgary’s Founders’ Gallery, housed in the museum complex, also contributes two other present-day perspectives: Ontario artist Jason Baerg offers a contemporary take on an Indigenous soldier and Alberta artist Dianne Bos presents photographs of historic battlefields as they appear today. However, TRENCH, one of four performative interventions by Stimson, is a highlight. More ►
– Catherine Carlyle

 

 

Paddy Lamb, "Rapture of the Deserted," charcoal and wood, 90" x 114" x 24"

FIVE THINGS

Paddy Lamb’s Broken Treasures

9

Alberta artist Paddy Lamb studied history at Trinity College in Dublin as a young man, and his love of the past  has never left him. Now, a lifetime later, he is showing All Bones and Broken Treasures, poetic semi-abstract work that evokes the land and its stories. These latest pieces, on view at Edmonton’s Front Gallery until July 15, combine expressive drawing and painting with objects he has found out walking – animal skulls, bits of rusted farm machinery and the like. For his sombre installation, Rapture of the Deserted, for instance, Lamb uses old pallets, painted black and topped by two weathered fence posts. Behind are three charcoal drawings of bits of machinery he picked up here and there. The work’s religious overtones can’t be ignored. The pallets are stacked to resemble an altar. And, of course, triptychs have a long history in Christian art, although they typically feature golden icons replete with the promise of a wondrous afterlife. Lamb, who moved to Canada in 1985, says he was thinking about early settlers when he made the piece. “The formal traditions that they left behind in Europe probably would have included altarpieces and churches and things like that, and they would have been deprived of that in a way, but also forced to rely very heavily on pieces of equipment that were their livelihood, really. So I was just merging the two, in a way.” More ►
– Portia Priegert

 

David Robinson, "Draped Figure," 2009, unique paper and resin, 31" x 44" x 15" photo courtesy of Robinson Studios

FIVE THINGS

David Robinson’s Conditional Figures

10

Vancouver sculptor David Robinson is interested in the human body. An artist for the last 25 years, he describes his work as humanist realism that explores basic, often metaphysical, questions about existence. His show, The Conditional Figure, at the Pendulum Gallery in Vancouver until July 21, includes a dozen pieces that span the last decade, often showing the body in a dynamic way. His paper-and-resin sculpture, Draped Figure, for instance, features a reclining figure almost at the point of falling. The sculpture, made in 2009, started from a loose sketch of a suspended figure, a common theme in his work. “A lot of them have been grappling in some way with their means of suspension,” he says. “It was interesting to me to remove that grappling, struggling aspect and have the figure quite limp and leaning into the space in a different way.” Robinson says working with paper encourages intuitive exploration. “The way that material would hang and sway, and the weight of that form in the middle, begat this notion that the figure could almost be slipping, in the precarious moment of almost falling from that cradling hammock-type form.” The work thus becomes both a psychological and metaphorical commentary on the human condition. Robinson uses a range of media – everything from bronze, iron, steel and silver to polymer-gypsum, cement and hydrostone – and his work varies in size. Originally from Toronto, he studied at the Ontario College of Art and has exhibited nationally and internationally. He is represented by the Newzones Gallery of Contemporary Art in Calgary. More images ►

Sylvia Grace Borda, "John and Theresa Southam, Waits News, Baker Street," 2017, exhibition prints, 36" x 24" and Google street view dimensional tableau at http://tinyurl.com/y7bfbk4r

NEWS ROUNDUP

All You Need is Love (and Kisses)

11

Need a little love in  your life? Then check out The Kissing Project on Google Street View. Vancouver artist Sylvia Grace Borda has been staging images of people smooching in and around Nelson, B.C., as part of her  residency at the Oxygen Art Centre. Borda, who has worked with Google Street View since 2013, was inspired by a photograph of a Doukhobor couple kissing on a Nelson street in the 1950s. She put out a call asking people to suggest kissing partners. The kissers stood motionless while their image was captured by a panosphere camera, creating a 3D portrait with multiple viewpoints. Theresa Southam posed with her husband, John, at Waits News, a place they used to meet 30 years ago, before they were married. “We later fed our children ice cream there,” says Southam. “It’s the centre of town, and the meeting place for so many. To us, it’s really amazing that the shop still maintains its orginal layout.” Meanwhile, Holly Strilaeff shared a kiss on her 38th wedding anniversary with husband, John, outside the Nelson courthouse, the same spot as the Doukhobor couple. “With this image we hope to share our love with others,” says Strilaeff. An exhibition of 15 prints from the series, along with statements from participants, is on view at Oxygen until July 8. Curious how Borda does it? It’s too complex to explain here, but check out her website at  sylviagborda.com/kissing-project.html.

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