25 April 2017

EVAN PENNY GOES TO VENICE

Evan Penny, "Self Portrait after Géricault's Fragments Anatomiques," 2017, pigmented silicone, fabric, resin and wood, 57" x 78" x 18" Photo by Dimitry Levanoff, Courtesy TrépanierBaer Gallery, Calgary

COVER STORY

Evan Penny Goes to Venice

Eight works by Evan Penny have arrived in Venice from his Toronto studio and are being installed for a solo exhibition organized by Calgary’s TrépanierBaer Gallery. Evan Penny: Ask Your Body shows the artist’s mature work in the intimate setting of Chiesa San Samuele, a venerable church near the Grand Canal. The exhibition, one of the myriad events running concurrently with the Venice Biennale, which opens May 13, gives international audiences a chance to see the work of one of Canada’s exceptional contemporary artists. Across town at the Canadian pavilion is Canada’s official representative at the Biennale, Vancouver artist Geoffrey Farmer, whose exhibition explores family history and intergenerational trauma. TrépanierBaer considers Penny’s show, on view until November, their unofficial Canada 150 project. Penny will debut four sculptures he has made over the last 18 months. Those who know his work have come to expect a fascinating technical finish to Penny’s uncannily lifelike representations of the human body. These works are charged by a more evident personal engagement with art history, pulling from Roman statuary as well as paintings by Northern Renaissance artist Hans Holbein the Younger and French Romantic Théodore Géricault. Penny’s works, in their tussle with the West’s cultural and religious inheritance, pack a visceral punch. The church’s ambience promises to heighten both the sensory and spiritual experience, inviting meditation on the temporal nature of life, mortality and the spirit incarnate. The spare structure, with its simple vaulted nave and groined vaults over the side aisles, affords formal clarity to the sculptures. The work’s scale will be compelling within the proportions of the space and the well-worn surfaces of stone, marble and plaster have a kinship with the material qualities of Penny’s sculptures. More ►
– Katherine Ylitalo

Barbara Milne, "Volume #7," 2016, acrylic on wood panel, 40" x 40"

FIVE THINGS

Painting the Whyte

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People can have strong connections to the objects in their life. Artists, in particular, are often avid collectors. But few are as active as the late Catharine and Peter Whyte, Banff artists who were instrumental in establishing the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. Catharine Robb, a debutante from a wealthy American family met Peter in the 1920s when they were studying at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. They married and she followed him to his home in Banff, where they began amassing the art and regional artifacts that would form the basis of the institution’s collection. The couple built a log cabin in the 1930s near the Bow River that became part of the museum after Catharine’s death in 1979. It was this cabin and its eclectic mix of memorabilia – gifts from friends, random purchases and things the Whytes picked up on their travels – that fascinated Calgary artist Barbara Milne. She spent months exploring the collection, foraging through the cabin, as well as the museum’s archives and vault, and photographed myriad objects. Then, during a 2015 residency at the Banff Centre, she cut up those images and created a series of collages. When Milne returned to her studio, the collages became her gateway into acrylic paintings that evoke a musty modernism. Both collages and paintings are showing at the Paul Kuhn Gallery in Calgary until May 6 as part of Milne’s solo show, Responding to the Whyte. “They all grew organically from the experience of being in the cabin,” says Milne. First shown last fall at the Whyte, the work creates an intimate sense of time and place with its odd distortions and angular juxtapositions of recognizable objects and mountain landscapes in a muted, earthy palette. More ►
– Portia Priegert

Laura Payne, "Hexadec I," 2017, acrylic on panel, 24" x 26"

FIVE THINGS

Shifting Light

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When Laura Payne started graduate school in Baltimore a few years ago she painted portraits and made videos. She was hoping to bring those interests together somehow into a more coherent practice. Then, in her second year of studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art, as she scanned photographs to refer to in her paintings, she became fascinated with the visual qualities of artificial light. Her painting practice shifted. Payne, who has a solo show until May 1 at the Darrell Bell Gallery in Saskatoon, is probably most easily categorized now as part of a newly revitalized Op Art movement. In her paintings, she uses shaped panels and various colours to create the illusion of folds and bends. She also creates what she calls “gems” – small hexagonal paintings with more personality. “They’re experiments in digital design being interpreted into paint,” says Payne. “Some of them do rely again on the illusion of light, but there’s a lot of patterning.” She groups these pieces on the wall to create an animated interplay of colour and form. And her video work? That has shifted too. She now makes light boxes that emit hazy shifting light in rainbow hues. Each box features coloured lights under a diffusing screen so colours mix and blend. She affixes dichroic film atop the diffusing screen, which affects the way people perceive the light. “Depending on where you’re standing in the room, you actually see different colours through the surface,” she explains. More ►
– Portia Priegert

Tanya P. Johnson, "Anthropomorph," 2015, found objects, animal bones and doll parts, 9" x 9" photo by Jeremy Addington

FIVE THINGS

Tanya P. Johnson: Edge of the Light

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Recently, I have been transfixed each evening watching American news channels. Entering Edge of the Light is reminiscent of this nightly ritual. The exhibition is disturbing. It makes one question what is real and what is not. It is entirely captivating. The exhibition, Tanya P. Johnson’s first substantive solo show, is on view at the Touchstones Museum of Art and History in Nelson, B.C., until May 28. Curator Arin Fay has populated the show with a large selection of re-assembled objects, several light boxes and various prints. Johnson’s process of deconstructing and reconstructing objects recalls the Dadaists and Surrealists as well as more recent artists, such as Betye Saar. Like Saar, Johnson draws on family photographs, found objects and spiritual fetishes to create ephemera that offer a political and cultural critique. The assemblages, the largest part of the exhibition, are created from antique books, dolls and photographs, as well as natural materials such as fur, bones and porcupine quills. For instance, in Anthropomorph, Johnson adds splayed doll legs to animal vertebrae, transforming them into two figures topped with a washroom indicator that reads either Engaged or Vacant. Some assemblages are displayed in old museum cases, recalling the Victorian cabinet of curiosities, a grotesque aspect of the colonial era when animals, spiritual objects and even human remains were brought back from far-flung regions and displayed for the titillation of European audiences. More ►
– Maggie Shirley

Heather Cline, "Cows for G," 2016, acrylic panel, 24" x 36"

FIVE THINGS

Small-Town Canadiana

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Regina artist Heather Cline is on a mission – to mark Canada’s 150th birthday with a series of landscape paintings and audio recordings that honour small-town Canadiana. Her 50 acrylics, Quiet Stories from Canadian Places, are on view until May 14 at the Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery in Saskatchewan. The show started in Yorkton at the Godfrey Dean Art Gallery and will travel to the Kelowna Heritage Museum in British Columbia, the Strathcona County Art Gallery @ 501 near Edmonton, and then back to Saskatchewan for a show at the Art Gallery of Swift Current, all before the end of the year. “I’m offering it up as a dialogue with official history, says Cline. “I call it community history.” The idea came to her a decade ago. Her favourite medium at the time was collage and she would glue newspaper clippings to her canvas before covering it with paint, allowing the printed text to bleed through. This created a physical connection between history and location. With Quiet Stories, she took a different tack. “I really wanted to collect oral histories to create artwork,” she says. So, in 2011 she crisscrossed the country with a digital recorder asking some 200 Canadians about their family, work and home. Their responses inspired a flood of paintings. Some depict a specific place while others are more symbolic. Subjects range from urban streets, shops and historic houses to parks, highways and even a herd of cows. “I’m trying to paint them so they feel like a memory instead of a photograph,” says Cline. More ►
– John Thomson

Mark Heine, "Anarchy," 2016, oil on canvas, 60" x 45"

FIVE THINGS

Family Marks 150 Years in Art

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Canada may be celebrating its 150th anniversary, but one Canadian family can boast its own landmark – a combined total of 150 years of making art. There’s a good chance you have seen the work of the Heine family of British Columbia on coins and stamps or in books and advertising. But along with commercial illustration, family members have created oil and watercolour paintings for galleries. The patriarch is Harry Heine, who lived from 1928 to 2004 and was the first Canadian elected to the Royal Society of Marine Artists in Britain. His children include daughters Caren, a botanical painter, and Jennifer, who is active in the Federation of Canadian Artists. Heine’s son, Mark, has worked for clients such as Disney, Sony, Microsoft and Starbucks, and Mark’s daughter, Sarah, is a photographer studying at the University of Victoria. Their three-generation exhibition, Canadian Legacy, is showing at the McMillan Arts Centre in Parksville on Vancouver Island from May 2 to May 27. Mark, who lives in Victoria, says the show is a tribute to their father. “He was a really big influence on the direction we all chose to go,” says Mark. “That’s why we thought it would be good to put together a Heine family show.” Mark, whose work is featured on 42 postage stamps in circulation in various countries, has been painting for galleries for the last 11 years, topping off 23 years as an illustrator. In Parksville, he is showing some 20 works from his Sirens series, which illustrates a young adult novel he hopes to publish. Mark started the manuscript during a sailing trip from Victoria to Hawaii. His sirens, conduits between sea life and humans, relay messages about marine pollution and environmental destruction. The family exhibits at The Gallery in Oak Bay Village in Victoria, and Mark is also represented by the Peninsula Gallery in Sidney, B.C. More images ►

NEWS ROUNDUP

Unheralded Artists Series Ends

Mother Tongue Publishing is concluding its Unheralded Artists of B.C. series in October with the release of The Life and Art of Arthur Pitts by Kerry Mason, says publisher Mona Fertig. Pitts, who lived from 1889 to 1972, documented the indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast in watercolours and photographs. The ninth book, released last fall, was The Life and Art of Mary Filer by Christina Johnson-Dean. Filer, who died in 2016, was a glass artist. Major examples of her cold glass sculpture can be seen at SFU Harbour Centre and the Vancouver General Hospital. Her work is in numerous collections, including the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. “Mary was an extraordinary woman” says Fertig. The Unheralded Artists of B.C. is a series of full-colour books about little documented artists from the 1900s to the 1960s. Other artists in the series include David Marshall, George Fertig, Ina D.D. Uhthoff, Edythe Hembroff-Schleicher and Jack Akroyd. Mother Tongue  is based on Saltspring Island. More images ►

In other news:

  • Vancouver Island potter Robin Hopper died April 6 at the age of 77. Hopper, who was named a member of the Order of Canada last year, was ill with cancer for several years. Hopper was also known for his garden, the subject of  an online book, A Potter’s Garden: An Artist’s Approach to Creative Garden-Making.
  • The long list of nominees for the 2017 Sobey Art Award has been released. It includes Western artists Amy Malbeuf, Divya Mehra, Erica Eyres, Kara Uzelman, The Ephemerals, Babak Golkar, James Nizam, Jeneen Frei Njootli, Raymond Boisjoly and Rebecca Brewer.
  • The Hnatyshyn Foundation has given 150 artists $10,000 each as part of its Reveal Indigenous Art Awards. The one-time program honours indigenous visual artists, media artists, craftspeople, musicians, writers, storytellers, dancers and actors. The laureates will receive their awards May 22 in Winnipeg.
  • Jeff Brinton has been named executive director of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.
  • The Vancouver Art Gallery recently acquired contemporary works by Vancouver-based artists Rodney Graham, Susan Point and Stephen Waddell as well as work by Beijing-based Wang Dongling and Montreal-based Sorel Cohen.
  • The Winnipeg Art Gallery hosts an exhibition by winners of the 2017 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts until Sept. 4. The show includes Vancouver artists Glenn Lewis and Landon Mackenzie.
  • Calgary  artists Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett are installing Cloud, a large interactive work made from 6,000  light bulbs with hundreds of pull-strings at the National Arts Centre this summer in Ottawa. The work will show from June 15 to July 23 in the centre’s main lobby to help celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.
  • Student Andi Icaza-Largaespada has won the Contemporary Art Gallery’s $2,500 prize for emerging artists in Vancouver.

MASTHEAD

25 April 2017

Volume 2 Number 9
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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