03 January 2017

CLOTH ACROSS CULTURES

Indonesian textiles displayed in “Layers of Influence: Unfolding Cloth Across Cultures.” ©UBC Museum of Anthropology, photo by Kyla Bailey

COVER STORY

Vancouver Show Explores Global Fabrics

Even in dim lighting, these handwoven garments glimmer. Suspended from the ceiling, they’re a riot of sumptuous colours, textures and patterns. Layers of Influence: Unfolding Cloth Across Cultures, on view at the UBC Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver until April 9, is a feast for the eyes. The show’s 134 exhibits, each with its own story, were selected from the museum’s 6,000-piece textile collection, generally stored out of sight well away from any harsh lighting that could do irreparable damage. But, more than an aesthetic journey, these intriguing garments – whether Indian saris, Indonesian sarongs, Maori feather cloaks or West African adinkra cloth – also carry cultural knowledge. Curator Jennifer Kramer reached out to experts around the world to learn more about specific histories and craft techniques. “I started out with a purely aesthetic approach, looking at the colours, weaving and encrusted ornaments,” says Kramer. “Then I looked further and considered how clothes performed basic cultural needs and roles.” More ►
– Beverly Cramp

FIVE THINGS

New Book Reveals Story Behind Hockey Painting

1

A friend of Ken Danby donned goalie pads and mask in 1972 to pose, crouched, for what became one of Canada’s most iconic paintings, At the Crease. The artist showed the just-completed tempera painting to his 20-month-old son Ryan, who suddenly burst out crying, Danby recalled in a manuscript he wrote before his death in 2007. Danby was thrilled the realistic, menacing-looking picture had frightened his son: “I knew it was potent.” Danby’s previously unpublished manuscript forms the backbone of this new coffee-table book, Ken Danby: Beyond the Crease (Goose Lane Editions). More ►
– Paul Gessell

 

Edmonton yoga teacher Tori Lunden strikes a pose amidst the recent exhibition by Chris Cran at the Art Gallery of Alberta.

FIVE THINGS

Downward Doig, Anyone?

2

A first reaction to the notion of people in Lycra twisting themselves into yoga pretzels in art galleries might be disapproval. Are these institutions really so desperate to bump attendance figures? But maybe yoga classes can help build audiences for art. To paraphrase the late critic Robert Hughes, people can enter the nave of art without feeling obliged to pray. And surely to discover a work of art – or an entire exhibition – by accident, rather than overt intention, does not diminish that experience. Chance encounters have spawned some of history’s richest and most innovative inventions. Canadian artist David Milne once said a painting glimpsed even for a second through the crack of a door could influence one for life. So why not one seen upside down and between one’s legs while doing Downward Dog? A person holding a yoga pose must focus their gaze on something stationary to stay balanced – what better than a painting, drawing or sculpture? And looking at art while doing yoga would allow a slower gaze than is often achieved walking through an exhibition. In this, the aims of appreciating art and doing yoga coincide: to be completely focused and present in the moment. Public galleries in Western Canada that offer yoga classes include the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton, the Glenbow in Calgary, the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in Lethbridge, The Reach in Abbotsford, B.C., and the Audain Art Museum in Whistler, B.C. Yoga in galleries seems to be trending. Why not join in? It’s BYOM – Bring Your Own Mat. I’ll see you after Shavasana.
– Liz Wylie is the curator of the Kelowna Art Gallery.

Installation view of "It's in the Making," at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria showing “The Best Laid Plans” by Cedric Bomford, Nathan Bomford and Jim Bomford in foreground and Nicholas Galanin’s “Imaginary Indian” in rear.

FIVE THINGS

It’s in the Making

3

It’s easy to walk past this group show – after all, the entry is almost blocked by boards and stacks of lumber. Visitors may be excused for thinking the show is still being installed or the gallery needed urgent repairs. But look a little closer: that lumber is a little too artful, those steps lead nowhere, and few workers would fit under the scaffold passageway. And then, of course, the real giveaway – a couple pieces of art are tucked amidst it all. In fact, this ersatz construction site is also art – an installation titled The Best Laid Plans, built by the Bomford boys – brothers Cedric and Nathan, along with father Jim. Its quick wink is an apt introduction to It’s in the Making, on view at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria until Feb. 12. The show, curated by Haema Sivanesan and Nicole Stanbridge, takes as its subject the way art is made, its materials and processes, a topic that seems newly relevant given the recent trend to “maker” culture in wider society. More ►
– Portia Priegert

Pat O’Hara, “Spring,” 2016, acrylic on panel with resin, 24” x 48”

FIVE THINGS

Plucking the Strings

4

Pat O’Hara’s exhibition at the Bau-Xi Gallery in Vancouver is called Linearity and it’s easy to see why. Her painting Spring, like other works in the show, which runs from Jan. 7 to Jan. 18, is composed largely of vertical – or roughly vertical – lines. O’Hara says she starts with an under-painting to create depth and then adds the lines by dragging strings covered in acrylic paint across the surface. She has worked with the motif before, but in this series the colours are bold and the lines assertive. O’Hara is excited by the work, and particularly a final resin coating that the gallery suggested to give the paintings greater luminosity. “It looks like glass over the paintings,” she says. “It just gives it a whole new life.” O’Hara grew up in Vancouver and attended what is now the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. She started showing at the Bau-Xi in 1984, a few years after she graduated. Now 80, she still paints every day in her studio, atop her home in Point Grey. O’Hara hopes her paintings give people aesthetic pleasure. “I hope it’s something they can look at and look at again and find new surprises.” More Images ►

 

This arpillera made by Chilean women depicts a military attack on Carmen Gloria Quintana and Rodrigo Rojas DeNegri, who later died. Photo by Aaron Cohen, CMHR.

FIVE THINGS

Latin America’s Political Art

5

Quilting is often seen as a comforting display of hominess, but an exhibit about freedom of expression in Latin America on view until July at Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights lays bare an alternative use of the craft as a tool of protest. The display includes three arpilleras or patchwork pictures created by groups of women during the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. A particularly chilling example tells the story of Carmen Gloria Quintana, an 18-year-old student protester who was drenched with gasoline and set alight in 1986. The image shows Quintana sprawled on the ground, amidst a ring of soldiers, all set against a pastoral landscape. Quintana survived and, with help from Canadian diplomat Christian Labelle, was flown for treatment to Canada, where she now lives. More ►

 

MASTHEAD

03 January 2017

Volume 2 Number 1
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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