Lawren Harris, "Mountains East of Maligne Lake," 1925, oil on canvas, 40.5" x 52.3" (photo courtesy of Heffel, Toronto)

FIVE THINGS

Fall Auctions Bring Solid Sales

1

Another Toronto art auction season, another batch of speculation about the heights Lawren Harris will scale. And we’re not talking about the peaks with which he sought painterly – and later spiritual – communion. This fall, the likeliest candidate was Mountains East of Maligne Lake, a mid-sized work Harris completed in 1925, just before he hit his true heights. It was offered by the Heffel auction house with a conservative estimate of $2.5 million to $3.5 million. Some expected the work to catapult higher, given the $11.2 million paid a year ago for the much larger Mountain Forms, the sale that set a new record for the most expensive Canadian work sold at auction. But Mountains East of Maligne Lake performed at par, selling for $3 million. It was one of eight Harris paintings up for grabs at Heffel – Morin Island, Eclipse Sound, North Baffin Island, Arctic Painting XXXVI, 1930, sold for almost $1.3 million and Cathedral Mountain from Yoho Valley, Mountain Sketch LXXXVI at $931,250. Meanwhile, Waddington’s recorded solid sales for Group of Seven works and Consignor sold a 1911 watercolour by Emily Carr, European Street Scene, for $276,000. Another development was a first sale by a new venture, BYDealers.com, founded by Quebec art dealers Louis Lacerte and Yves Laroche with CEO Marc-Antoine Longpré. One highlight was Serge Lemoyne’s Le Masque, 1975. Signed on the verso by Ken Dryden, it sold for $240,000. For more details and images, read Alberta art dealer Doug Maclean’s report on the fall sales here.

Stephen Wilkes, "Canada 150, Ottawa, Canada, Day to Night," 2017 (photograph ©Stephen Wilkes)

NEWS ROUNDUP

A Gift from America and Other News

Never has Parliament Hill looked quite so much like … Disneyland? The glowing “castle” is missing a few turrets, but those amazing fireworks, bright against the night sky, take this photograph over the top. But wait, isn’t that daylight on the parliamentary lawns? Things are getting strange, very strange, indeed. This surreal image, courtesy of American photographer Stephen Wilkes, is a gift in honour of  Canada’s 150th anniversary. Taken on July 1, it uses a special “day to night” process Wilkes developed to capture the temporal scope of notable public occasions. The piece, on view all month in the main entrance of the National Gallery of Canada, saw Wilkes shoot Canada Day celebrations continuously from one camera angle for 15 hours. He then electronically blended selected images into one photograph, a  process that takes four months. But, hey, who’s counting when you live in a magical place?

In other news:

  • American photographer Hank Willis Thomas is this year’s  winner of the $50,000 Aimia | AGO Photography Prize. Raymond Boisjoly (Haida Nation/Canada) was one of three finalists in the international contest organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario.
  • The Remai Modern and the University of Saskatchewan are signing a partnership agreement to encourage collaboration in research, teaching, public programming and more.
  • Douglas Coupland will create a 160,000-square-foot LED-based art installation for Calgary’s new Telus Sky tower, which will open in 2019.
  • Derek Besant has apologized for using the work of other photographers in a $20,000 public art installation in Calgary, the Calgary Herald reports.
  • Winnipeg artist R.F.M. McInnis has been elected to the College of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.
  • Quebec artist Valérie Blass has won the 2017 Gershon Iskowitz Prize at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
  • Edmonton’s Telus World of Science is opening an exhibit about Terry Fox’s heroic Marathon of Hope on Feb. 16.
John Patkau, “Cut / Drawn 4M," 2016, steel, 70” x 36” x 24” (photo courtesy of the artist)

FIVE THINGS

Architect as Artist

2

Acclaimed Vancouver architect John Patkau knows steel. It’s a key element in the buildings he designs – the Audain Art Museum in Whistler, B.C., the Polygon Gallery in North Vancouver and the University of Manitoba’s Art Lab in Winnipeg, among others. With Cut / Drawn, on view at Vancouver’s Gallery Jones until Jan. 20, Patkau has transformed a utilitarian alloy, industrial steel plate, into six remarkable sculptures. “I’ve always viewed architecture as an art form no different from sculpture,” says Patkau. “Architecture is more complex in that you’re dealing with a whole bunch of other issues, but for me the objective is similar. They both have a formal ambition. In architecture, form comes first and material is instrumental in achieving that. About 10 years ago, I began to think about reversing that priority, thinking about material first and then form. When you do some things to steel, what does it become?” Experimentation revealed that when scored with multiple cuts and then pulled apart by a crane, a steel plate changes from a flat sheet to a curved form in less than a minute. It’s hard to believe Patkau’s graceful, undulating forms started life as squares, circles or triangles. Weathering Steel, for instance, took 20,000 pounds of linear force as it was reshaped. Patkau shied away from computer-aided design or simulations, letting the material itself dictate the result. “This method allows for a much more complex, subtle, harmonic form than applying an idea to the material. It’s a dialogue. Steel and I are talking to each other and this is the consensus we’ve been able to come to.” More ►
– John Thomson

 

Debbie Wozniak-Bonk, "The Best Years of Farming 1," 2017, acrylic on birch, 36" x 24"

FIVE THINGS

Vanishing Prairie Stories

3

Regina artist Debbie Wozniak-Bonk painted woodland scenes for years before turning her attention to abandoned farmhouses and grain elevators. The struggle to make such well-trodden subjects feel fresh stretched her as an artist and allowed her to reflect on her own story of growing up on a family farm that has succumbed, like countless others, to the wave of industrial farming that’s destroying the material history of an earlier era of Saskatchewan agriculture. Her show, Light Within, at Regina’s Assiniboia Gallery until Dec. 8, has a strong narrative sensibility and a magical, yet somewhat naïve quality. Executed in a series of thin glazes, her paintings glow with an almost ethereal light but also make one think of drawings made with coloured pencils. “My style is a little bit like a fairy tale,” says Wozniak-Bonk. “It’s a little bit off, a little bit unsettling.”  There’s a sense of nostalgia, but she also acknowledges feeling anger. Some images show a burning farmhouse. Painting the flames, she says, was “quite therapeutic.” She often uses a palette with colours from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, recalling how her father would talk about that era as the best years for farming. “You could have a small farm and make a living and provide for your family and not be too hard on the environment,” she says. Things started to shift in the ’80s as more people moved to cities, and family farms were consolidated into massive parcels that could be harvested efficiently with high-tech mega-combines. The old wooden grain elevators started to disappear too, replaced by structures that resemble factories. Wozniak-Bonk honours their passing in The Best Years of Farming 1, which shows a derelict elevator, weathered yet rosy, positioned full frontal in the picture plane in an oddly flat perspective. Standing before a field of canola, under an impossibly blue prairie sky, nary a cloud in sight, it becomes a surreal vision of an agrarian past. More ►
– Portia Priegert

  FROM THE EDITOR

 
I keep a small bronze acorn on the bookshelf beside my desk. It was a gift from a Chicago artist who exchanges them for stories about trees. I thought of that artist, Gabriel Akagawa – and his collection of tree stories – as I wrote this issue’s cover article about a show with a fascinating concept: Every item is made with wood from the same tree, a centenarian black walnut that likely has a few stories of its own. As I wrote, I also found myself pondering the recurring presence of trees in Canadian art history, from Tom Thomson’s Jack Pine to Rodney Graham’s mesmerizing photographs of inverted oaks, as well as shows we’ve written about previously in these pages, including Forestrial Brain and Overgrowth.

From trees we get paper – and the theme of our next issue – books. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but I now have a stack of art books, freelance writers with similar piles, and a computer clogged with digital images of book covers. It’s our first foray into a themed issue, so like anything new it’s both exciting and daunting. My head starts to ache when I think about how to organize it all, but I’m always pleased to share news about books, which I love as much as trees – and art.

If you’ve got your own stack of art books, there’s still time to choose a favourite and send me a quick email about why you like it. I’m collecting recommendations for a special “readers’ choice” story and have been getting great suggestions of books past and present. It would be good to hear from you!

In this issue, you can check out the roundup about Canadian auction sales that we publish twice a year. It's always a lot of work, not only for Doug Maclean, who travels to Toronto and painstakingly records his impressions, but for the editorial team as well. We posted 37 images, including some rarely seen works. Short of digging through the auction house websites, it's one of the most thorough auction reviews published in Canada.

Other highlights include fascinating stories about Vancouver architect John Patkau, who somehow finds time to make art, and Faye Heavyshield, whose show at the Art Gallery of Alberta sheds light on her Indigenous worldview. We also have a thoughtful review of an important show about Scandinavian design influences in Canada by Amy Gogarty, a Vancouver artist and former instructor at the Alberta College of Art and Design, who hopes to encourage more critical writing about craft.

Until next time,

 

MASTHEAD

5 December 2017

Volume 2 Number 25
Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

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 Amy Gogarty, Agnieszka Matejko, 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

Velta Vilsons, "Wall hanging," 1965-1970, wool (collection of Gail and Gerry Crawford; photo by Toni Hafkenscheid)

FIVE THINGS

Scandinavian Design Influences Canada

4

Scandinavia’s impact on Canada’s national design sensibility is traced in True Nordic: How Scandinavia Influenced Design in Canada, on view at the Vancouver Art Gallery until Jan. 21. Organized by the Gardiner Museum in Toronto, the show assembles a striking collection of objects from museums, private collections and thrift stores to advance the proposition that Scandinavian design meshed uniquely with Canada’s ambition to embrace modernity and define its national character, particularly as the 1967 centennial approached. Curators Rachel Gotlieb and Michael Prokopow organize the show chronologically, locating the origin of Scandinavian influence in the early 20th century, when highly skilled artisans from Sweden and Denmark relocated to Canada. At this time, quality handmade goods were primarily the purview of urban elites, as evidenced by Carl Paul Petersen’s elegant silver tableware. Scandinavian influence entered a more populist phase after the Second World War, when rising incomes and expanding suburbs created fresh demands for household goods. Government-sponsored exhibitions and lifestyle magazines actively promoted these designs to the broader Canadian public. Presented as a softer, more organic and nature-inspired version of modernity, Scandinavian design was seen as sympathetic to the Canadian psyche because of its use of natural materials, which are plentiful in Canada, and because of social, geographic and climactic similarities between the two regions. More ►
– Amy Gogarty

Faye HeavyShield, “Calling Stones (Conversations),” 2017, detail of installation at Art Gallery of Alberta (photo by M.N. Hutchinson)

FIVE THINGS

Faye HeavyShield’s Calling Stones

5

Imagine a world where past and future seamlessly coexist: a world where not only our parents and grandparents, but an endless line of ancestors as well as future generations, are an ever-present part of our lives – not eerie or ghostly presences, but a caring, loving community that fills us with a sense belonging. This is the worldview embraced by Faye HeavyShield in Calling Stones (Conversations), on view at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton until Feb. 19. HeavyShield, a Kainai-Blood artist, took inspiration for this exhibition from the southern Alberta landscape near her home in Stand Off, as well as the many trips her family took to the Majorville Medicine Wheel (Iniskim Umaapi). She documented these pilgrimages over many years, taking photos of her son, daughter and grandson; solitary figures silhouetted against this sacred site on a hill overlooking the Bow River east of Calgary. The site, in use for thousands of years, is a place where offerings of sage, sweetgrass, willow and tobacco are still made and where spiritual activities continue to link the past and the future. The four installations and single video that comprise HeavyShield’s show are as spare as the prairie landscape, and give the gallery a sense of contemplative silence. As viewers wander through nearly empty rooms, delicate installations composed of feather-light elements come into focus. For example, many voices one story; one voice many stories is an airy column composed of small paper figures – people walking, children playing in the grass or doing cartwheels. Suspended, they sway in air currents created as visitors move past. On the floor is a spot-lit circle covered with laser print transfers of prairie grass. Inattentive viewers could dismiss this work as technically simplistic, but they would be missing its intensity of feeling and conceptual richness. More ►
– Agnieszka Matejko

 

5 December 2017

ONE TREE’S MAGICAL AFTERLIFE

Merlayna Snyder, "Mystique," 2017, black walnut, 52” x 39” x 10” (photo by Jon-Mark Wiltshire)

COVER STORY

One Tree’s Magical Afterlife

The moment Victoria sculptor Merlayna Snyder saw the bulky chunk of black walnut she knew she had to carve a whale’s tail. The wood was forked and, at four feet by four feet, it weighed 400 pounds. But Snyder didn’t realize the full power of her intuition until she got out her chainsaw and angle grinder. As she worked, the complex grain began to emerge. “The wood dictates how things will go,” says Snyder. “But you have to listen.” Her finished work is a mere 44 pounds. Buffed to a fine polish, it evokes sunshine glinting on the watery breadth of a breaching whale. “The grain,” says Snyder, “is almost magical.” Her sculpture, which she calls Mystique, is part of a group show with a fascinating concept – every work is made with wood from the same tree. In all, some 60 pieces are part of oneTree 2017, on view at the Robert Bateman Centre in Victoria until Jan. 31. With 53 participants, the show offers a variety of sculptures and wall pieces, but also tables, chairs, lamps, bowls and several musical instruments. It’s a crowd-pleaser to be sure, particularly at the height of the winter craft season. But the show also pays tribute to the long life of a tree and to the ingenuity of the artists and artisans, who collectively created more than $100,000 in economic value from wood that might otherwise have been burned. More ►
– Portia Priegert

Takashi Murakami (photo by Maria Ponce Berre, ©MCA Chicago)

NEWS ROUNDUP

Murakami to Vancouver and Other News

6

International art star Takashi Murakami will have his first Canadian retrospective at the Vancouver Art Gallery next year. The Japanese artist’s show, The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg, features 55 works, including a new sculpture and two multi-panel paintings created especially for Vancouver. It explores the influence of traditional Japanese painting and Buddhist folklore on Murakami’s art as well as  his engagement with media culture and globalization. Murakami, born in 1962, has been named one of TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” and is active in a wide range of artistic undertakings, from curating and collecting art to projects that nurture young artists. The show is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and curated by Michael Darling. It is on view from Feb. 3 to May 6.

In other news:

  • The Manitoba Craft Council and the Manitoba Craft Museum and Library have officially opened their shared space, the C2 Centre for Craft.
  • Wildlife Photographer of the Year is back at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, starting Dec. 8, after a one-year hiatus.
  • The TD Bank Group recently announced the appointment of Stuart Keeler as its senior art curator.
  • The Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada will co-present a major exhibition about humanity’s impact on the Earth next fall.
  • Ryan Doherty is stepping down as the director and curator of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in Lethbridge, Alta., after 10 years.

  FROM THE EDITOR

 

Lists and archives have been on my mind in recent days as I research our upcoming special issue on art books. I couldn’t find a comprehensive list of visual art publications released in Canada over the last year, so I’ve been spending hours online scoping out publishers, galleries and the like in order to to compile a list of our own.

It’s the first time Galleries West has tried a themed issue, and it’s a fun project that combines two great loves – reading and looking at art. It will be published on Dec. 19 – the last issue before the holidays – and it's recommended reading for last-minute shoppers who need gift ideas.

As part of this project, we're reaching out to people in the arts world – artists, curators, gallery owners and other people who enjoy art – to find out what they are reading. We'd love our readers to be part of this project, and would enjoy hearing from you. Simply drop a quick email to editor@gallerieswest.ca with “art book” in the subject line. Let us know your recommendation and please add a few words about why you like it. It can be something hot off the press (or just downloaded) or a musty old favourite, from Canada or elsewhere. Non-fiction or fiction are both fine, as long as the book has some link to visual art.

Archiving was also on my mind this week because of an update to the search function on the Galleries West website. One of the site's most useful features is the open-access archive of articles about Western Canadian artists and exhibitions from the last 15 years. The search box at the top of the page at gallerieswest.ca is now a comprehensive internal search, including separate tabs for Articles, Events, Locations and Tags. Try it out with the name of a favourite artist, or even one of our writers. And please send us your comments.

In keeping with the archival theme, this issue of Galleries West Digital has a historical flavour. Our cover story, by arts writer John Thomson, looks at the Polygon Gallery’s opening show, which explores North Vancouver's past and present. We also have stories about two senior West Coast artists – John K. Grande writes about Gordon Smith and Beverly Cramp tackles Sylvia Tait – and there’s also a preview of a Calgary show that features rarely seen paintings by Tom Thomson. Enjoy!

Until next time,

 

MASTHEAD

21 November 2017

Volume 2 Number 24
Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

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 Beverly Cramp, Paul Gessell, John K. Grande, 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

Tom Thomson, "Winter Scene," circa 1917, oil on board, 7.75" x 5.25" (courtesy Masters Gallery, Calgary)

FIVE THINGS

Rarely Seen Thomson Paintings in Calgary

7

A show that opens today at Masters Gallery in Calgary gives art lovers a rare opportunity to view two dozen little-seen paintings by Tom Thomson, an iconic artist who continues to fascinate Canadians 100 years after his death in Ontario’s Algonquin Park. Gallery owner Ryan Green says one of the show’s highlights is an oil sketch Thomson did in 1917 on a slat he pulled from a shipping crate when he ran out of his regular panels. Titled Winter Scene, it shows a snowy creek and trees with a hill in the distance. “It’s a really beautiful painting,” says Green. Another work done at the same time on a board from the crate is now in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario. The works in the show, mostly owned by Calgarians, depict scenes in and around Algonquin Park, where Thomson loved to paint. “Thomson’s creativity was unstoppable,” says Green. “He was so sincere about making art. He had to do it … He loved what he was doing.” Like most of Thomson’s oeuvre, the paintings in the show are modest in size – but not in value. Green notes the sales record for a Thomson sketch, as the artist’s small plein air paintings on wooden panels are known, is $2.8 million. That’s what Early Spring, Canoe Lake, a work from 1917, the year of Thomson’s death, fetched at auction in 2009. More ►
– Portia Priegert

 

Kelly Goerzen, "Boundary Bog Shoreline," 2017, acrylic on canvas, 48" x 64"

FIVE THINGS

Kelly Goerzen’s Atmospheric Landscapes

8

Saskatoon artist Kelly Goerzen has loved the outdoors since she was a child. Back then, she would paint wildflowers and pore over nature paintings by Ernest Lindner. At high school, she took art classes with landscape painter Reta Cowley, who continued to mentor her after she graduated. Goerzen studied biology at the University of Saskatchewan and worked for a time as a fisheries biologist, painting when she could. After starting a family, she decided to devote herself to art full time. For many years, that meant painting watercolours en plein air. “I used to joke it was an excuse to go out and sit in the country,” says Goerzen. She began using acrylics a decade ago when life circumstances tied her closer to home, often working from her own photographs, including urban scenes. But watercolour techniques continued to inform her acrylics. Her show at Art Placement in Saskatoon, Familiar and Unfamiliar, on view until Nov. 30, includes Boundary Bog Shoreline, an atmospheric scene from Prince Albert National Park, north of Saskatoon, one of her favourite painting destinations. Her work here has a watery feel, and not simply because the image shows a small lake ringed by stunted black spruce. Goerzen says she pushes the surface transparency by using multiple thin layers of paint. “I want the paintings to be magical in some way,” she says. “I want to express the place because it’s intrigued me for some reason.” More Images ►
– Portia Priegert

Greg Girard, “Untitled (Grain Terminal),” 2013, archival pigment print, 40” x 50” (courtesy the artist, Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver, and the collection of Roger Holland)

COVER STORY

Polygon Gallery Opens in North Vancouver

The new $20-million Polygon Gallery on the North Vancouver waterfront has launched its first show, N. Vancouver, with impressive work that looks at the city, past and present. The 25,000-square-foot facility, jump-started by a $4-million gift from art collector Michael Audain in 2014 – he’s also the chair of Polygon Homes – replaces the former Presentation House Gallery and is the largest photo-focused exhibition space in Western Canada. N. Vancouver, on view until April 29, includes newly commissioned works from 15 regional artists, with existing pieces from various public and private collections. “It’s really important to me that the first exhibition in this new building really reflects a view of our hometown but also of the North Shore and its long history,” says Reid Shier, Polygon’s executive director. “Tension around land, ownership and use is a conversation that is very evident in North Vancouver.” Conflicts between nature and industry and the community’s evolution from a working-class enclave to a cosmopolitan metropolis, form the underlying spine of the show. The keynotes of history and progress are realized through a variety of styles and techniques. For instance, Rodney Graham, known for creating staged setups, meticulously restaged American realist Thomas Eakins’ 1871 painting Max Schmitt in a Single Scull in a local river. The piece is called, appropriately enough, Paddler, Mouth of the Seymour. Graham’s contemporary, Stan Douglas, went one step further. Douglas created a picture of North Vancouver’s historic squatter community entirely from scratch, melding aerial photographs from the 1950s with archival pictures of old shanties to create Lazy Bay, a digital rendition of a lifestyle that no longer exists. More ►
– John Thomson

21 November 2017

POLYGON GALLERY OPENS

Sylvia Tait, "Florescence," 2017, acrylic on paper, 41" x 30" (collection of the artist, photo by Blaine Campbell)

FIVE THINGS

The Surprising Range of Sylvia Tait

9

Sylvia Tait, a senior West Coast modernist linked to the Group of Seven’s Arthur Lismer from her student days, is having a major survey at the Burnaby Art Gallery. On the heels of her recent painting show at Vancouver’s Bau-Xi Gallery, it presents a surprisingly multidisciplinary artist. Tait is known for her colourful palette and intricately patterned abstract paintings. What we learn from the Burnaby exhibition, on view until Jan. 7, is the variety of other media she has explored, particularly drawing and printmaking, but also illustration, design and sculpture. Tait grew up in Montreal and studied piano as a child, but her passion was painting and drawing. She enrolled at the School of Art and Design at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts when Lismer taught there. Other instructors were Marian Scott, Gordon Webber and Eldon Grier, who had worked as an assistant to Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Fellow students included Claude Tousignant and Guido Molinari. Tait graduated in 1953 at the top of her class. Her drawings from this period reveal a loose, lyrical style. More ►
– Beverly Cramp

Gordon Smith in his studio in 2009. (photo by Martin Tessler)

FIVE THINGS

Gordon Smith’s ‘Black Paintings’

10

Gordon Smith’s fifth exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, The Black Paintings, on view until Feb. 4, marks a full-circle return to the days of his youth. In Pachino 43, for instance, Smith paints on tarpaulin from the kitbag he used when he was a Second World War intelligence officer drawing maps from photographs. He landed on Sicily’s Pachino Penisula as part of Operation Husky, the launch of the Allied campaign in Italy, a test and precursor to D-Day, and was shot in the leg on July 20, 1943 in the Sicilian town of Leonforte. Smith is known for his West Coast forest interiors and landscapes, and like Claude Monet, in his later work at Giverny, has moved from a mix of figuration and abstraction to a more abstract, process-oriented style, even as he refers to scenes he has experienced. Painting remains a daily ritual, even at 98, and his recent paintings, which he calls Entanglements, are a sometimes chaotic, sometimes beautiful admixture of surface effects and suggested scenes. The Black Paintings are an altogether different initiative. Begun in 1990, and continuing to this day, they recall the experience of war Smith shared with young friends from the Fort Osborne Barracks in Winnipeg, from training in England to the war in Sicily. Though dark, even brooding at times, the work affirms one of the most vivid periods in Smith’s life. An earlier series of Black Paintings were lost or stolen but he returned to the theme, developing the sense of darkness and immeasurable, infinite space. Tanu (1995) captures that darkness, and though named after a village on Haida Gwaii, could equally recall Smith’s wartime experiences in Sicily. More ►
– John K. Grande

Nick Cave, "Soundsuit," 2015, mixed media including gramophone horn, ceramic birds, metal flowers, strung beads, fabric, metal and mannequin, 9.3' x 4.9' x 4' (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa ©Nick Cave, courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, photo by NGC)

FIVE THINGS

Canadian Biennial Goes International

11

On one side of the long gallery is Nick Cave’s gaudily decorated, life-sized mannequin, topped by a mouth-like gramophone horn. This kitschy sculpture, imported from Chicago, appears to be in a shouting match across the room with a primeval, over-sized, open-mouthed cedar mask created by the late West Coast Indigenous artist Beau Dick. Clearly, the curators behind the National Gallery of Canada’s fourth Canadian Biennial, on view until March 18, want to imply that Sound Suit, born of the concerns of a gay, black American man, is conversing with Bookwus Ghost Mask, an object rooted in ancient West Coast Kwakwaka’wakw culture. Both works are meant for use in performances. Both are excellent additions to the gallery’s collection. But what exactly are the two works shouting at one another? Sometimes art-based conversations are more than a little forced. For the first time, the biennial is exhibiting international acquisitions from the last few years alongside recent domestic purchases and donations. The goal is to see how Canadian contemporary art converses with foreign works. Since the gallery’s temporary exhibition spaces are filled this year with Canadiana to mark the country’s 150th anniversary, this was a chance to exhibit some international pieces. However, one could argue just as convincingly that, in this special year, the focus should have stayed resolutely on Canadian works. More ►
– Paul Gessell

  FROM THE EDITOR

 

It’s been a year since we launched Galleries West Digital to replace the print version of Galleries West. It’s been fun this week to flip back through the first 25 digital issues  that's one issue every two weeks  and reflect on how our online presence has evolved. If you want a tour, simply click on the three red bars in the upper right hand corner of this page and then the red box to see a drop-down menu of our previous covers. Click on any cover and you can browse through that issue.

One thing that struck me is the number of stories we’ve published. At six features per issue, that makes a whopping 156 pieces over the last year. Another thing I noticed was how our covers have been graced by the work of many fine artists – including 16 who were born in the West, live here now, or have been based here in the past. Seven covers feature work by Indigenous artists, four of them women. Our overall gender balance? Of the 15 solo shows featured on the cover, seven were by women and eight by men.

One goal for the coming year is to build a stronger sense of community around the magazine. We're exploring ways to raise our profile and connect more with readers. We'd love to hear from you – whether you post public comments or send an email directly to me or the publisher, Tom Tait. If you’re an artist, consider sending us a photo of your studio (studiophotos@gallerieswestdigital.ca) or one of your studio classes at school. We publish these images in the listings section in the back pages of Galleries West Digital.

In the front section of this new issue, we have stories about Victoria-based photographer Tara Nicholson, who has been documenting marijuana grow ops around British Columbia. Agnieszka Matejko looks at arresting portraits by a young Edmonton artist, Campbell Wallace. Beverly Cramp checks out a show of newspaper photographs of a century of protests and demonstrations, while Katherine Ylitalo catches up with former Calgarian Wil Murray, who is showing his latest work in London. Meanwhile, in Winnipeg, Stacey Abramson reviews an innovative show that connects contemporary Indigenous artists with ceramics of the past, and I chat with Vancouver artist Camrose Ducote.

Looking forward to the next issue, John Thomson is covering the opening of North Vancouver's Polygon Gallery,  the largest photography venue in Western Canada. Veteran Ottawa arts journalist Paul Gessell offers his take on the latest biennial at the National Gallery of Canada, and John Grande checks out Gordon Smith’s unusual black paintings at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

This last year has been full of exploration as we developed and honed our digital presence. We hope you’ve enjoyed this new chapter in the magazine's life. And, remember, it’s easy to sign up for the email reminder we send every second Tuesday when we post our newest issue.

Until next time,

 

MASTHEAD

7 November 2017

Volume 2 Number 23 Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

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 Stacey Abramson, Beverly Cramp, Agnieszka Matejko, Katherine Ylitalo
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

Corrinne Wolcoski, "Dawn at Phillips Head," 2017, oil on canvas, 40" x 60"

NEWS ROUNDUP

Vancouver’s Culture Crawl and Other News

Corrinne Wolcoski, one of hundreds of artists taking part in Vancouver’s Eastside Culture Crawl from Nov. 16 to Nov.19, is presenting four new paintings that depict the Great Bear Rainforest as part of fundraising efforts to support conservations. Wolcoski spent a week last summer in Rivers Inlet with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, a non-profit group that is preserving 1,130 acres of ecologically sensitive land in the area. “To enjoy the very landscape the Nature Conservancy of Canada protects, and to contribute to its preservation, gives me an overwhelming sense of happiness,” says Wolcoski. “My personal goal is to contribute and help protect one acre per year.” Her exhibition of about a dozen paintings of the area will premiere in February at Victoria’s Madrona Gallery. The Crawl, a visual arts, design and crafts festival, has welcomed thousands of visitors to artist studios in East Vancouver for the last two decades. For more information, visit culturecrawl.ca.
And in other news:

  • Halifax artist Ursula Johnson has won this year’s $50,000 Sobey Art Award, given annually to a Canadian artist under 40.
  • CBC News is reporting that Alberta College of Art and Design CEO Daniel Doz has reassured students the Calgary school is not about to close. His closed-door meeting with students followed an internal report that paints a bleak picture of the school’s finances.
  • Christienne Cuevas, of Kitchener, Ont., is the winner of the Kingston Prize for Canadian portraiture and Leslie Watts receives the  people’s choice award.
  • The Saskatchewan Craft Council is presenting Wearable Art 3, an exhibition chosen from pieces presented at the Saskatchewan Wearable Art Gala, until Dec. 2.
  • The Royal BC Museum’s international travelling exhibition, First Nations Masterworks from BC, opened recently at the Museo del Oro in Bogotá, Colombia.
Camrose Ducote, "Untitled #3,"2017, mixed media on panel, 30" x 30"

FIVE THINGS

Transience and Transformation

12

Vancouver artist Camrose Ducote works intuitively, layering spackle, gel and paint on paper. She’ll wipe bits of the surface away, add more, and continue the process until she is happy with the result.  “I never know where I’m starting and where I’m ending,” she says. “That’s what’s exciting for me. I just follow my nose.” Ducote, whose show, New Work, runs until Nov. 25 at Vancouver’s Elissa Cristall Gallery, says her abstraction is influenced by the big skies and empty spaces of her childhood in Colorado. She writes  in her artist statement that she feels she’s pursuing some elusive ultimate truth, making it hard to discuss her work in a definitive way, particularly as abstraction relies so much on sense impressions. But she says her themes – as well as her process – relate to transformation and the transient nature of life. “The work shows that structure eventually decays and what is left is a visceral quality, alluding to the idea that all is in transition – a seeping out from, a splitting up between, a breaking away from – all serving to remind one of the nature of life in its cycle of birth, decay, death and metamorphosis.” Her iconography has come to include recognizable elements, including squares that might indicate portals or even shields, and spirals that suggest tornados of energy. Ducote, who worked as a sculpture technician at Emily Carr University until her retirement two years ago, has lived in Vancouver since 1977, when she moved north with her ex-husband. She began as a textile artist, making sculptural pieces out of fabric. Over the years, her work became flatter, although it continues to express her interest in objects within space. Ducote is also represented by Calgary’s Wallace Galleries and SOPA Fine Arts in Kelowna. More Images ►

– Portia Priegert

 

 

 

Tara Nicholson, “Hidden Room,” 2017, limited edition archival pigment print, 42” x 42”

COVER STORY

Tara Nicholson Opens a Door on Marijuana

Tara Nicholson is curious about the world and she lets that curiosity steer her photography practice. Her latest exhibition, Cultivate, on view at the Vernon Public Art Gallery until Dec. 20, is a case in point. In it, she explores British Columbia’s marijuana grow operations, documenting spaces she describes as bizarre or otherworldly with their dense foliage, bright lights, dangling wires and high humidity. “It’s a very constructed, man-made, artificial environment,” she says. Nicholson, who is based in Victoria, came of age in the 1990s, when pot cultivation was shrouded in secrecy and people whispered about neighbours suspected of having plants in their basements. Some of her friends have worked harvesting pot, or even started their own grows. But when she started this project three years ago, she had never seen a grow op firsthand. Nicholson started asking around, chatting with friends of friends and trying to learn more about the province’s thriving pot industry while making the connections that would get her access. The availability of medical marijuana, along with the federal government’s decision to legalize recreational pot as early as next summer, means the sector’s notorious secrecy is starting to abate. That made it possible to for Nicholson to photograph grow operations around the province, including Vancouver Island and the Okanagan. The series is straightforward and documentary, largely devoid of recognizable people. “It looks at the reality of what these spaces are like,” says Nicholson. More ►

– Portia Priegert

 

 

7 November 2017

TARA NICHOLSON

KC Adams, "nii wawaa ichi gamin (we create a circle)," 2017, video, installation view (photo by Karen Asher)

FIVE THINGS

Connecting to the History of Indigenous Making

13

Artistic research and process-driven work take shape in a powerful group exhibition at Gallery 1C03 in Winnipeg. Shards, the latest in a wave of exhibitions making rich connections to the history of making in Indigenous culture, connects four local artists with ceramics used by women thousands of years ago. KC Adams, Jaime Black, Lita Fontaine and Wabiska Maengun (Niki Little) worked with independent curator Jenny Western and Kevin Brownlee, the curator of archaeology at the Manitoba Museum, in partnership with the Manitoba Craft Council. Western says the focus was to connect original female makers – the word shards refers to the relics of their pots – with contemporary Indigenous artists, trying “to place that once-held knowledge of ceramic production back into their hands.” The title of the exhibition, which continues until Dec. 2, was each artist’s starting point. Over two years, the four women connected with shards of historical pottery from both the Manitoba Museum and the University of Winnipeg’s anthropology collections, eventually creating new works that honour the stories and power in the original pots. The project realizes the artistic potential of deep cultural investigations into the narratives held by historical objects. Clay’s tactility is central to many works in the show, raising questions about how touch can hold memories and create new ones, and how hands from the past can teach hands of the future. More ►

– Stacey Abramson

Campbell Wallace, “The Ambassadors,” 2015-2017, acrylic and oil on canvas, 54” x 36”

FIVE THINGS

Portraiture Beyond Social Media

14

A carefully constructed and flattering self-image is hardly the invention of Facebook – portraits showing the subject’s status and success are seen throughout art history. Wealthy Egyptians immortalized themselves in tombs dating back to 1400 BC. In medieval times, donors were painted next to Christ, sometimes at a similar scale. Perhaps the main innovation of social media is the impression that everyone is always having fun, not to mention the ability to instantly gauge status based on the number of clicks. Campbell Wallace’s exhibition, The Third Face, at the Scott Gallery in Edmonton until Nov. 10, demonstrates a quintessential anti-social media aesthetic. His paintings are like peepholes into people’s private life, depicting them not as they wish to be seen, but as they actually are. Wallace’s unusual way of finding his subjects helps explain the stark impartiality of his gaze. A defining moment came when he discovered a stash of photographs hidden in a dresser he’d bought in a thrift store. This collection became immortalized in his meticulous oil paintings. Armed with a detachment and objectivity he had never thought possible, he began to search for more snapshots in trash bins, second-hand stores and, more recently, on the Internet. More ►

– Agnieszka Matejko

 

Clayoquot Sound logging protesters gather at daybreak in 1993 at the Kennedy River Bridge in preparation for another day of confrontations with loggers and RCMP enforcing a Supreme Court injunction. Photo by Mark Van Manen, Vancouver Sun.

FIVE THINGS

A Century of Protest

15

A mounted policeman charges through a crowd and another man’s face stretches into a grimace as he leaps out of the way. Nearby, a father grasps his baby tightly as he glances back anxiously. But in the corner of the photograph, is that a woman grinning? This disconcerting image introduces the Museum of Vancouver’s latest show, City on Edge: A Century of Vancouver Activism, on view until Feb. 18. The photo was taken Aug. 8, 1971 during the Gastown riot, when club-wielding city police clashed with a peaceful demonstration by marijuana activists. City on Edge includes 650 photographs from the Vancouver Sun and The Province newspapers that document marches, blockades, demonstrations, strikes and occupations from the early 1900s to the present day. The dramatic – and enlarged – images capture transformative moments when citizens stood up for a cause or exploded in anger, augmented by recorded audio of crowds, drumbeats, horn blasts and protest songs. The show considers a variety of issues and causes – the environment, labour relations, Indigenous rights and various social justice concerns – and features iconic events like Occupy Vancouver, the Clayoquot Sound anti-logging protest, and last year’s demonstrations against the Kinder Morgan pipeline. More ►

– Beverly Cramp

 

 

 

Wil Murray, “The Onlyes Power is No Power: Ituna to Athabasca,” 2017, Ditone archival pigment print mounted to Dibond, 56” x 69” (detail of installation at Vitrine, London, photo by Jonathan Bassett, image courtesy of Vitrine)

FIVE THINGS

Wil Murray Takes on London

16

Wil Murray shadow-boxes with painting and photography in The Onlyes Power is No Power, on display in London until Jan. 2. His installation extends the viewing experience, taking advantage of the unusual space and experimental focus of Vitrine, a long, shallow window gallery. Murray painted black acrylic brushstrokes on the windows that enclose and frame his work. They cast shadows into the display space while echoing the process he used to create his five large photographic prints. These works, shaped by their own inherent brushstrokes, are handsome graphic objects with a baroque sense of overlapping histories, techniques and aesthetics. More ►

– Katherine Ylitalo

 

Sara Robichaud, “Unapologetic – Romantic Notions of a Modern Woman,” 2017, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 72” x 72” (detail)

FIVE THINGS

Sara Robichaud Makes No Apologies

17

Vancouver Island painter Sara Robichaud has moved from the abstract to include recognizable domestic objects in her paintings, but not without a certain anxiety. She jokes that it feels like she’s cheating on abstraction as she discusses her fascination with antique lamps, dishes and other home furnishings. “I’m addicted to outlining, tracing their shadows, appreciating their formal beauty,” she says. In one painting, milky when wet, included in her solo show at Vancouver’s Gallery Jones until Nov. 18, a vintage hand-held blow dryer is nestled into a disembodied sink. In another, pressed and curled, the cord of a curling iron winds across the metal frame of an ironing board, an image so ethereal it almost evokes an icon. But just as the tenderness of a lover’s touch remains encoded in the body, the lessons of abstraction lurk in Robichaud’s paintings, prone to surface at unexpected moments. Unapologetic: Romantic Notions of a Modern Woman, the painting from which her show draws its title, features an antique tea trolley that she and her young daughter use for parties. Much of the canvas is left raw. Into this void, Robichaud has introduced a pencil tracing of the trolley’s shadow. A pale expanse of monochromatic pink occupies the base and right side of the canvas. An undulating form atop the trolley could be an abstract element, but also evokes the pattern from an antique china bowl. A creeping pool of paint that traces the bowl’s shadow resembles sparkling pink lemonade. Robichaud describes a final element, a hard-edged fluorescent yellow triangle with no real-life referent, as a nod back to abstraction. More ►

– Portia Priegert

Allan Harding MacKay, "Boreal Series #7," 2017, charcoal, chalk pastel, wax, oil pastel and ink jet on paper (courtesy of the Willock and Sax Gallery, Banff)

FIVE THINGS

Allan Harding MacKay’s Boreal Forest

18

Allan Harding MacKay’s take on landscape is contemporary; it feels intimate, relying on proximity, as opposed to the wide view, and on odd croppings that suggest a tilted angle rather than perfect perspective. His imagistic sensibility tends slightly toward abstraction. In the seven pieces grouped as Boreal Series at the Willock and Sax Gallery until Oct. 29, MacKay renders photo-based, over-painted views of the environment he inhabits and observes – mountains, skies and trees – in and around Banff. With the computer, he compresses his photos into a square format and prints them on inkjet paper as monoprints. Then, after splattering wax over the surface, he layers colours with thin oil washes, charcoal, chalk and oil pastels. The effect draws attention to both the image and the surface. More ►

– Steven Ross Smith

Judy Anderson, "This one brings me the most pride," 2017, beads, moose hide, otter skin and goalie mask, 15″ x 12″ x 18″

NEWS ROUNDUP

Salt Spring Prize Winners and Other News

Calgary artist Judy Anderson has won the $17,000 Salt Spring Prize for a work that honours the people in her life, including her youngest son, Riel. This one brings me the most pride, a mixed-media work that combines beads, moose hide, otter skin and a goalie mask, was hailed as a piece worthy of the National Gallery of Canada by juror David Garneau, a prominent Saskatchewan artist and educator. Anderson, Cree from the Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan, is an assistant professor at the University of Calgary. She was surprised at the news. “When I visited the opening exhibition in September there were so many works I admired that I had no inkling I would win,” she says. The prize includes $12,000 in cash and a residency worth $5,000 on Salt Spring Island, B.C. Meanwhile, juror’s awards went to Jan Little, of Kaleden, B.C.; Katherine MacNeill, of Oliver, B.C.; and Diana Thorneycroft, of Winnipeg. People’s choice awards went to Garry Kaye and Peter McFarlane, both of Salt Spring Island, and Dave Parsanishi, of Port Alberni, B.C. The other jurors were Denis Longchamps, artistic director and chief curator of the Art Gallery of Burlington in Ontario; and Naomi Potter, the director and curator of Calgary’s Esker Foundation.
And in other news:

  • British-born Julian Cox is the new chief curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario, filling a year-long vacancy. He comes from the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.
  • The $20-million Polygon Gallery, which replaces Presentation House Gallery, opens in North Vancouver on Nov. 18.
  • Ontario-based artist Ambera Wellmann has been awarded the $25,000 top prize at the RBC Canadian Painting Competition.
  • Open Space, an artist-run centre in Victoria, has named Kegan McFadden, a freelance curator from Winnipeg, as its next director, replacing Helen Marzolf.
  • The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art in Vancouver is planning a $1.5-million renovation to help mark its 10th anniversary in 2018.
  • KwaGulth artist Tony Hunt Jr., part of a long line of First Nations carvers on Vancouver Island, has died. He was 55.
  • Victoria artist Sandra Meigs‘ exhibition, Room for Mystics, is on view until Jan. 14 at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.
  • Canadian artists Fred Cameron, Michelle Grant, Brent Laycock, Erica Neumann, Jean Pilch, Doug Swinton, Linda Wilder and Robert E. Wood will participate A Timeless Legacy, a show that draws inspiration from Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, hit by devastating fires this year.
  • Michelle LaVallee, a former curator at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, is the new director at the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Art Centre in Gatineau, Que.
  • The Alberta Foundation for the Arts has posted a video about iinisikimma puppet-lantern performance that celebrated the reintegration of buffalo into Banff National Park.
  • Executive director Miriam Needoba is leaving the Oxygen Art Centre in Nelson, B.C.
Haegue Yang, "Sol LeWitt Upside Down," 2016, aluminum venetian blinds, aluminum hanging structure, powder coating, steel wire, LED tubes and cable, installation view in the main atrium (photo by Matt Ramage, Studio D)

COVER STORY

Remai Modern Opens in Saskatoon

On the drive from Regina to Saskatoon, I saw the most stereotypical of Prairie sights: streaked with orange rays from the late afternoon sun, a grain elevator with a long string of brown box cars coiled around its base. Set the elevator’s tower on its side and stack the brown box cars neatly on top and this Prairie idyll converts into my destination: the glass, rust-coloured steel and concrete colossus that is Saskatoon’s Remai Modern. This surprising link to the region’s rural economy is not lost on the building’s lead architect, Bruce Kuwabara, of KPMB Architects, who musingly framed grain elevators as proto-Modernist buildings in remarks to the media prior to the gallery’s official opening on Saturday. The preview’s atmosphere was restrained, with CEO Gregory Burke and chief curator Sandra Guimarães speaking to the assembled – many flown in from New York to write about Canada’s newest public gallery in important international arts publications. While it didn’t seem like anyone had rained on the parade, perhaps spirits were dampened by the intermittent sprinkles of controversy that have dogged the $84-million venue, which has been touted as an international arts destination to replace Saskatoon’s more modest Mendel Art Gallery. There have been construction delays and cost over-runs, not uncommon for major projects, but also community concerns about the abandonment of the Mendel name, the cost of ongoing operations, the inclusion of Saskatchewan artists and skepticism over whether international visitors will actually trek to a remote city few have heard of before. More ►

– Sandee Moore

24 October 2017

REMAI MODERN OPENS

Mary Anne Barkhouse, "Le rêve aux loups," 2017, installation view showing "Empire" (courtesy Esker Foundation, Calgary; photo by John Dean)

FIVE THINGS

Mary Anne Barkhouse Creates an Animal Empire

19

Mary Anne Barkhouse’s exhibition, Le rêve aux loups (The Dream of Wolves) at Calgary’s Esker Foundation until Dec. 22, examines environmental concerns and Indigenous culture through the visual iconography of boreal forest animals, including beaver, owl, wolf and coyote. The exhibition, organized by guest curator Jennifer Rudder, is the largest survey of Barkhouse’s work to date, and follows an earlier version at the Koffler Gallery in Toronto. It brings together work from major museum collections, along with three new pieces that respond to the horrific legacy of Canada’s residential school system. Prominent in all the works is the clash between the natural world and the “civilized” European elite. Barkhouse was born in 1961 in Vancouver and belongs to the Nimpkish band, Kwakiutl First Nation. Descended from a family of traditional Northwest Coast carvers that includes internationally recognized artists Ellen Neel, Mungo Martin and Charlie James, her practice incorporates exquisite sculptures of animals in wood, bronze, porcelain and glass that are juxtaposed against an elegant array of Baroque-style furniture and decor. At the entrance is Empire, where a lynx, hare, frog and weasel lounge on luxurious velvet and silk cushions nestled amongst a careful arrangement of tree branches. With treaties in dispute and continued human expansion onto the land, as Rudder notes in her exhibition essay, this work, along with Barkhouse’s other sculptural installations, are eloquent reminders of the consequences of Canada’s colonial history and the need for respectful cohabitation. More ►

– Lissa Robinson

John Kissick, "burning the houses of cool man, yeah No.5 (hang the DJ)," 2016, oil and acrylic on canvas (courtesy of Katzman Contemporary, Toronto)

FIVE THINGS

Untangling Contemporary Painting

20

Each generation of artists strives to carve out new meaning, to take from the past, make it more relevant and leave a distinct mark on the world. Nowhere is this reinvention more difficult than in painting. So much has been done. What new can be achieved? An ambitious show that includes 70 works by 31 artists, Entangled: Two Views on Contemporary Canadian Painting, on view at the Vancouver Art Gallery until Jan.1, tackles that question by surveying two approaches that have emerged since the 1970s. One group, corralled under the general heading of “conceptual painting” focuses on the primacy of ideas, or as noted in one of the show’s didactic panels, “art as idea as painting.” The other group, dubbed “performative painting,” is based on work that values actions and materials over ideas. The notion here is that doing and making is what largely defines a painting. More ►

– Beverly Cramp

  FROM THE EDITOR

 
It’s a big week for the Saskatchewan arts community with the long-awaited opening of the Remai Modern, Saskatoon’s new public gallery, and its first show, Field Guide. It took me several tries to find a writer to tackle this story and as I start to write this note, I’m awaiting a report from a new-to-us writer, Sandee Moore. I met Sandee years ago when I was director of the Alternator Gallery for Contemporary Art, an artist-run centre in Kelowna, and she was in town as part of an artist residency program we had started by cobbling together a few small grants. It is good to reconnect and be reminded of those days.

One of my big discoveries back then, as a latecomer to the arts after a career in journalism, was how much of the art world seemed to defy budgetary logic. Things happened because there was a collective will to make them happen. Someone made some art. Other people pulled together to support them. And then the roles would reverse. Someone would pull out a couch for a visiting artist. Local winemakers would drop off free wine for openings. Students would show up to repaint the gallery or help install a show.

That tremendous collaborative effort happens everywhere, of course, but as we assign stories we try not only to cover major events  like the $84-million Remai Modern  but also to acknowledge the efforts of artists from smaller communities. One of Galleries West's goals is to write about shows in Western Canada that might be overlooked nationally, creating exposure and helping build a dialogue amongst arts communities too often contained in narrow regional silos.

That's one reason I was glad to write about Vancouver Island painter Sara Robichaud in this issue. She lives in Nanaimo (yup, the place with the great bars) and has an unusual creative process. Artists and their obsessions never cease to fascinate me and Sara was happy to share, even passing along an impromptu video that shows the installations she creates directly on the walls of her house, so I could understand how they inform her paintings.

This issue also includes Steven Ross Smith's story about Banff artist Allan Harding MacKay, Lissa Robinson's review of Mary Anne Barkhouse's show at Calgary's Esker Foundation, and Beverly Cramp’s story about Entangled, the Vancouver Art Gallery’s major survey of contemporary Canadian painting, a show that includes work by Galleries West consulting editor Jeffrey Spalding.

Looking ahead to November, we are working on stories about Tara Nicholson’s photographs of marijuana grow-ops; Calgary/Berlin artist Wil Murray’s newest paintings; and City on Edge, a show of news photographs that document a century of protests in Vancouver. Also in November, we’ll cover another major gallery opening: North Vancouver’s Polygon, which will be Western Canada’s largest independent photography gallery.

As always, please drop me an email if you have seen a great show that merits a closer look.

Until next time,

 

MASTHEAD

24 October 2017

Volume 2 Number 22 Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

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 Beverly Cramp, Paul Gessell, Sandee Moore, Lissa Robinson, Steven Ross Smith
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

A scene from the movie "Bucking Broadway" by John Ford, 1917.

FIVE THINGS

A History of ‘Western’ Art

21

Growing up in Saskatchewan’s Red Pheasant First Nation, Cree artist and curator Gerald McMaster was spellbound by the Lone Ranger but had no interest in the masked cowboy’s “Indian” sidekick Tonto. “As a boy, I only knew good from bad: Cowboy good, Indian bad,” says McMaster. Such is the power of Western movie stereotypes. They’re with us still. McMaster relates the anecdote in a catalogue essay for a sprawling art exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts about Western movies. The exhibition, Once Upon a Time … The Western, traces the history and aesthetics of cowboy films, unmasking them as the myth that became “reality” and the impact they still have on “pressing concerns of today,” such as racism, misogyny and gun violence. Although Donald Trump is not mentioned by name, the exhibition encourages visitors to contemplate characters like the brawling, womanizing, politically incorrect U.S. president as a stereotype lifted straight from the Western. More ►

– Paul Gessell

10 October 2017

JOANE CARDINAL-SCHUBERT

Joane Cardinal-Schubert, “The Lesson,” 1989, chairs, books, apples, rope, mirror, whistles and chalk, dimensions variable (photo by Dave Brown, LCR Photo Services, University of Calgary)

COVER STORY

Joane Cardinal-Schubert’s Poignant Lesson

Joane Cardinal-Schubert – artist, activist and curator – addressed the conditions and events of her time, drawing from a well of personal experience, family history and her own Kainai/Blackfoot and Métis ancestry. Her generation includes singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie, Halfbreed author Maria Campbell, and the late actor Russell Means, a spokesperson for the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee. Cardinal-Schubert’s installation, The Lesson, a poignant indictment of the residential school experience and its tragic legacy, ranks with their achievements. Shown more than a dozen times in Canada and the United States since 1989, it’s now part of The Writing on the Wall, a retrospective on view at the Nickle Galleries in Calgary until Dec. 16 that honours Cardinal-Schubert’s contributions. The Lesson is  set in a schoolroom with two chalkboard walls. The writing on one is an oppressive liturgy. On the other, heartbreaking stories pepper a memory wall. Visitors are invited to add more. Each detail adds to the wretchedness: The chairs are lined up, tethered, painted black. A dunce’s cap occupies a stool at the back. Yet there’s also childish spunk. A textbook covers reads: “We Discover Columbus.” The spine adds: “Lost at Sea.” And there’s provocation, too, in the red apple skewered to each seat. Over time, they turn brown. When The Lesson was included in Made in Calgary at the Glenbow Museum in 2014, curator Nancy Tousley wrote: “Its relevance and the voice that Cardinal-Schubert gives to a long-hidden history and its continuing effects are undiminished by time.” Cardinal-Schubert wrote on a blackboard again after the Oka crisis, creating a powerful, three-part wallpiece, Where the Truth Is Written – Usually. On the left, a painted American flag is replete with imagery representing First Nations sovereignty and Canadian identity. In the centre, a diary-like entry by someone at the 1990 standoff is transcribed in chalk. And, on the right, framing a crucifix of paperwork, are the repeated, cleverly altered lyrics: “Don’t make your brown eyes blue.” More ►

– Katherine Ylitalo

FROM THE EDITOR

 

This issue’s cover has a provocative image that reconfigures the American flag. The red stripes are loosely painted, varying in width and brightness. Eleven maple leaves replace the stars, which are scattered instead throughout the stripes, some seemingly in the sky, others underfoot a herd of buffalo. Teepees weave in and out of the stripes, blending foreground and background, and atop it all are nine human handprints. The work, part of a larger 1991 reflection on sovereignty by the late Joane Cardinal-Schubert, remains as relevant today as when she made it.

You can see the piece in Cardinal-Schubert's retrospective this fall at the Nickle Galleries on the University of Calgary campus. The show is a fitting tribute for a feisty visionary who helped clear a path for other Indigenous artists. Indeed, one need look no further than the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and its current show Insurgence / Resurgence, for an example of something that owes much to trailblazers like Cardinal-Schubert, Daphne Odjig and Norval Morrisseau. In a review of the show, which includes 29 contemporary Indigenous artists, Stacey Abramson notes the major shift that’s underway: “Indigenous art in Canada has become a tidal wave of empowerment that is shifting the critical lens nationally.”

Elsewhere in this issue, we offer stories about Vancouver artist Angela Grossmann’s recent return to painting, and a new national craft biennial in Ontario. In Banff, poet Steven Ross Smith went out to the woods at night to write a firsthand account of a multimedia extravaganza organized by the Banff Centre. And I had an interesting chat with Vancouver-area artist Junichiro Iwase about his Zen-like work, which is essentially nothing more than a bubble of air.

Here at Galleries West Digital, we’re already looking forward to the next issue. We’ll be at the opening of the Remai Modern, the impressive new public gallery in Saskatoon, and are writing as well about a major show at the Vancouver Art Gallery that traces two competing modes of contemporary painting through the work of 31 Canadian artists. Out East, Ottawa writer Paul Gessell is on the road to check out a show at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts that explores the links between the Western film genre and the visual arts. So giddy-up y’all, and turn the page.

Until next time,

 

MASTHEAD

10 October 2017

Volume 2 Number 21 Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

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 Stacey Abramson, Beverly Cramp, Amy Gogarty, Steven Ross Smith, Katherine Ylitalo
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

Lou Lynn, "Iron," 2017, bronze, glass and steel, 18” x 16” x 5” (photo by Ted Clarke)

FIVE THINGS

First National Craft Biennial Renews Dialogue

22

When Denis Longchamps, chief curator at the Art Gallery of Burlington, was editing the now-defunct Cahiers métiers d’art/Craft Journal, he came to recognize that Canada’s vastness made it nearly impossible to develop a national craft dialogue. The first Canadian Craft Biennial, designed to coincide with Canada’s 150th anniversary, grew out of his commitment to nurture and develop such a discussion. Longchamps harnessed the expertise of Emma Quin, then the CEO of Craft Ontario, as well as the Canadian Craft Federation and other partners, to produce an event encompassing four exhibitions, two residencies, a ceramics workshop, three community projects and a two-day symposium, all designed to raise public awareness of the role craft plays in Canada’s economy and culture. To ensure national representation, the biennial established advisory committees of craft professionals across the country. The resulting exhibition, Can Craft? Craft Can!, comprising new pieces by 64 artists working in wood, ceramics, metal, fibre and glass, is on view at the Art Gallery of Burlington, west of Toronto, through Oct. 29. More ►

– Amy Gogarty

Junichiro Iwase, “Red Clock,” 2017, acrylic plastic, coloured water and metal swivel plate, 12" x 20.5" x 6.5" (photo by Junichiro Iwase)

FIVE THINGS

Zen and the Art of Nothingness

23

Junichiro Iwase became fascinated by the Zen Buddhist idea of nothingness – the point of transcendence – and wondered how to represent it in art. He settled on the idea of creating an air bubble within a plastic cylinder filled with coloured water. Everything except the bubble, he says, is part of the work’s support structure, not the actual art. Iwase’s show, Mu: Beyond Duality, is on view at Art Beatus in Vancouver until Nov. 10. As Iwase understands it, mu reflects the artificiality inherent in the binary opposites we use to understand our world, recognizing there is no absolute right or wrong, good or bad. Both polarities depend on context, where and when something happened, for instance, as well as the histories involved. Some of Iwase’s works are built using a plastic frame that resembles a wall-mounted clock. The clocks don’t tell time, of course – they always reflect the present moment. More ►

– Portia Priegert

David Hockney, "Self-Portrait," drawn April 6, 2012, inkjet-printed iPad drawing, Royal Collection Trust (photo ©Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2017)

NEWS ROUNDUP

Queen’s Artist Portraits and Other News

Portraits of many of the world’s greatest artists – Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, Lucien Freud, David Hockney and even Leonardo da Vinci  will be in Vancouver this fall courtesy of the Queen. The occasion is Portrait of the Artist: An Exhibition from the Royal Collection, which opens at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Oct. 28 and remains on view until Feb. 4. The exhibition, which debuted at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, in 2016, presents portraits and self-portraits from the Royal Collection. “Portrait of the Artist presents a remarkable group of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and works of art spanning six centuries from the Royal Collection,” says Kathleen Bartels, the gallery’s director. “These works highlight both the enormous richness of the Royal Collection and the complex and deep relationship that the British monarchy has had with artists.” The show includes a photo of the Queen posing for Freud in 2001. The image of Leonardo da Vinci is considered the most reliable surviving likeness of him and was drawn in red chalk by his student, Francesco Melzi. Vancouver is the only Canadian city to host the exhibition, which helps mark Canada’s 150th anniversary.
In other news:

  • Contemporary Calgary is holding a public meeting at 7 p.m. on Oct. 10 to discuss the breakdown in negotiations last month for a new home in the former planetarium. With its current location apparently sold, discussions were expected to focus on whether to pursue a  new location, a series of temporary spaces or collaborations with other organizations.
  • Commercial galleries in the Flats neighbourhood in Vancouver are fighting to save their building from being demolished as part of a new new public transit extension.
  • Ruth Cuthand, one of Canada’s leading Indigenous artists, is the first artist in residence at Wanuskewin Galleries near Saskatoon.
  • The Art Gallery of Ontario has appointed Georgiana Uhlyarik to oversee a department of Canadian and Indigenous art and Wanda Nanibush as curator of Indigenous art.
  • The Vancouver Art Book Fair, a celebration of arts publishing, happens Oct. 14 to Oct. 15 at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
  • The Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria will host a major new exhibition, Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs, from May 18 to Dec. 31.
  • David Folk is the new director of arts development at the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, where he will oversee grant funding programs.
  • Victoria’s Antimatter festival celebrates the moving image from from Oct. 13 to Oct. 28.
  • The Glenbow has inducted writer Aritha van Herk, photographer George Webber and George Bezaire, past chair of the Glenbow, as fellows of the Glenbow-Alberta Institute.

 

Angela Grossmann, “Lemon,” 2017, oil on Mylar, 68” x 44”

FIVE THINGS

Angela Grossmann Returns to Painting

24

After years of mainly producing mixed-media collages, Angela Grossmann picked up her paint tubes and brushes recently and returned to her original medium. The startling figurative paintings she made are on view in Mistressworks at Vancouver’s Franc Gallery until Oct. 23. “Going back and having this relationship with squeezing out some colour – it was so immediate, so fast and so exciting that it wasn’t about making a picture,” says Grossmann. “It was about expressing form and colour.” Pressing paint, some of it left over from her school days, directly onto paper, vellum and Mylar, she worked so fast that a tube’s metal edge marked one of her images, Lemon. She left the marks, which look like pencil lines outlining the kneeling woman. “That’s when I thought, I’m going to stick with this,” says Grossmann. Her next work was Ultra Marine, quickly followed by Tangerine, the latter with a figure that appears in mid-leap, arms flung straight back and head stretched forward. The right leg is bent, the left propels the body forward. More ►

– Beverly Cramp

Sarah Fuller and Moment Factory, “Illuminations: Human / Nature,” 2017, multimedia project (photos courtesy Rita Taylor, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity)

FIVE THINGS

‘Illuminations’ Lights Up in Banff

25

It’s early evening and we’re riding a bus from Banff, out onto darker roads. Environmental sounds fade up, blue and white lights flash on the ceiling, an Indigenous song drums in, and the narrative begins. We’re told that we’re in a national park on Treaty 7 land that’s been inhabited for thousands of years; spliced in are geological nuggets about the mountains. This is Illuminations: Human / Nature, the layered “deep time travel” narrative extravaganza that’s been in development for over a year, a collaboration between artist, photographer and former Banff Centre facilitator, Sarah Fuller, and Moment Factory, a Montreal-based high-tech multimedia producer. It is conceptual, archival and site-specific, designed to be immersive and participatory. We exit the bus at Lake Minnewanka, a dammed lake and tourist attraction northeast of Banff. It’s night now and there are 100 of us. In smaller groups, we’re directed into a blue cloud of rock-show smoke where bluer starlight sparkles on trees and on our faces and bodies. It is briefly magical. More ►

– Steven Ross Smith

Kenneth Lavallee, “Creation Story,” 2017, printed banner (collection of the artist)

FIVE THINGS

Insurgence and Resurgence in Winnipeg

26

A glowing orb is surrounded by undulating teal waves in Kenneth Lavallee’s printed banner, Creation Story, which is draped outside the Winnipeg Art Gallery, near the main entrance. After passing one of Kent Monkman’s Urban Rez paintings in the main lobby, visitors are greeted by a massive limestone staircase that leads up to the main galleries and the exhibition, Insurgence / Resurgence, on view until April 1. To ascend the stairs and enter the show, they must tread on a gold-foiled Plains Cree script by Joi T. Arcand. Titled don’t speak English, the opaque yet articulate statement creates a threshold for a show that takes over much of the gallery’s space. This is the revolution in Canadian art, and it has been building for some time. The gallery’s largest-ever exhibition of contemporary Indigenous art brings together the work of 29 artists from across the country. The show’s title dictates what to expect – Indigenous art in Canada has become a tidal wave of empowerment that is shifting the critical lens nationally. Curators Jaimie Isaac and Julie Nagam have thoughtfully brought together a cross-section of what they see as the most impressive and potent examples. More ►

– Stacey Abramson

Kapwani Kiwanga, "Flowers for Africa: Nigeria," 2014, Collection Nomas Foundation, Rome, photo by Rachel Topham

FIVE THINGS

Kapwani Kiwanga: Flowers for Africa

27

Kapwani Kiwanga is interested in Africa’s transition from colonial rule and has spent many hours searching for archival imagery of different independence celebrations. The images, she has discovered, share one common feature – floral arrangements that range from elaborate bouquets to simple boutonnières. For instance, Habib Bourguiba,the former leader of Tunisia, sported a boutonnière in his lapel when he spoke to a crowd celebrating independence in 1956, an event preserved in the grainy black-and-white footage of a British newsreel. Kiwanga, who was born in Hamilton, Ont., and is now based in Paris, takes these images to a florist, asking that they be recreated as closely as possible. The arrangements are then displayed in galleries, where they are left to wilt. Her show, Flowers for Africa, is on view until Oct. 14 at the Or Gallery,  a Vancouver artist-run centre. It’s the first exhibition to recreate all nine works in the series. Kiwanga, who exhibits internationally and has a degree in anthropology and comparative religion from McGill University in Montreal, eventually hopes to include all 54 countries in Africa. More Images ►

Eve Fowler, "a spectacle and nothing strange," 2011-12, series of screen print posters, 28" x 22” courtesy of Mier Gallery, Los Angeles, copyright of the artist

FIVE THINGS

Text and Image: It’s Complicated

28

A wag might quip that, as a medium for art exhibitions, text has an image problem. White walls, black words. Or, sometimes, black walls, white words. However it is done, text-based work in a gallery can feel very minimalist and very familiar, like the pages of a book writ large. Of course, there are other common tropes: altered books, words styled into 3-D objects, and text combined with images in various permutations and combinations. It can feel like déjà vu, all over again. So you have to admire Contemporary Calgary’s courage in launching extratextual, a group survey show about art and text, on view until Jan. 21, along with myriad outreach activities, including a recent two-day symposium. A heady mix of international and domestic curators, academics, writers and artists, the symposium had a title that echoes the challenge – Never the Same: What (else) can arts writing do?  More ►

– Portia Priegert

John Akomfrah, "Vertigo Sea," 2015, three-channel high-definition video, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, photo ©Smoking Dogs Films, courtesy Lisson Gallery

NEWS ROUNDUP

National Biennial Opens in Edmonton

The Art Gallery of Alberta will be part of the National Gallery of Canada’s latest biennial the show the Ottawa gallery mounts to show off its new acquisitions. The Edmonton portion of the show, Turbulent Landings, opens Sept. 30, three weeks before the main show in Ottawa, which includes works purchased since 2014. Turbulent Landings considers what Marc Mayer, the director of the National Gallery, calls “some of the world’s dark histories” – globalization, environmental crisis, the treatment of Indigenous peoples, and the legacies of slavery and forced migrations. It’s the fourth time the National Gallery has organized the biennial and, for the first time, it includes not only works by Canadian artists, but international artists as well. In Edmonton, that means works by Canadian artists like Shuvinai Ashoona, Rebecca Belmore and Beau Dick are displayed alongside those by John Akomfrah, Chris Ofili and Wael Shawky. Rounding out the Edmonton show are Mark Bradford, Julie Mehretu, John Noestheden, Edward Poitras, Kelly Richardson and Hajra Waheed. Mayer says many of the works in the Edmonton exhibition, including Akomfrah’s  video installation, Vertigo Sea, a highlight of the 2015 Venice Biennale, are yet to be shown in Ottawa. The Edmonton exhibition is on view until Jan. 7.
In other news:

Yael Brotman, “Waterfront,” 2017, installation view showing Blackfriars, Mooring I, Mooring II, Mooring III and Pier I (left to right) at Martha Street Studio, Winnipeg, photo by Larry Glawson

FIVE THINGS

Yael Brotman: Waterfront

29

When it comes to nourishing her artistic vision, no distance is too far to travel for Toronto-based artist Yael Brotman. Her show, Waterfront, on view at Martha Street Studio in Winnipeg until Oct. 21, is a collection of pieces that resulted from residencies around the globe, from Haida Gwaii to Australia and Scotland, and back again. Brotman’s work walks the tightrope ledge of landmasses that make contact with bodies of water. Her articulate interpretations of architectural impositions like bridges, rollercoasters and telephone poles remind us of the connections between human touch and the natural world. In one piece, she clatters paper-wrapped geometric rods out of smooth cylinders; in another, colour jolts the ends of an organic bend, taking the works back and forth between the constructed and the natural. More ►

– Stacey Abramson 

  FROM THE EDITOR

 

I love to break up my work routine. And while I no longer get early-morning calls telling me to pack a bag and head off to the latest crisis, as I did when I was a journalist, the open road still beckons. These days, I'm more tied to my home base in Victoria, so the chance to visit Calgary last week was a welcome change. After catching an early morning flight, I popped into 13 galleries with Tom Tait, the magazine's publisher. The next two days were spent at an arts writing symposium organized by Contemporary Calgary.

Observant readers will notice this issue of Galleries West Digital is somewhat Calgary-centric. Our cover story, by Karen Quinn, looks at Calgary artist Sandra Sawatzky's epic project, the Black Gold Tapestry, to be displayed at the Glenbow Museum starting Oct. 7. An embroidered history of oil inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, it is 220 feet long and took Sawatzky nine years to complete. Elsewhere in these pages, I write about the extratextual exhibition at Contemporary Calgary, which also includes a brief update on the gallery's ongoing relocation saga.

While in Calgary, I saw plenty of interesting art, including abstract paintings by Mark Mullin, whose show at the Paul Kuhn Gallery is also featured in this issue. Other favourites included a retrospective by the late Joane Cardinal-Schubert at the Nickle Galleries, our next cover story. And there's a fascinating show at the Esker Foundation by Mary Anne Barkhouse, who juxtaposes animal sculptures with ornate Louis XIV furnishings to explore ideas around Indigeneity, colonialism and the environment. I'm hoping we can write soon about her work.

It was also good to check out shows we have written about in previous issues  – Ideas for a Wall at the Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Diane Landry at VivianeArt and Oksana Kryzhanivska at Herringer Kiss. At the latter gallery, I also enjoyed the well-worked surfaces of Curtis Cutshaw's paintings. I'm a sucker for texture, which probably explains why Yechel Gagnon's gouged and scraped plywood pieces caught my eye at Newzones. There's too little space here to mention everything, of course. All I can do is to encourage you to get out on your own gallery hop.

Now, it's time to get back to work. Spending four days on the road was great, but a mountain of emails awaits. I bet if you stretched them out end-to-end, they'd reach all the way to Calgary.

Until next time,

 

MASTHEAD

26 September 2017

Volume 2 Number 20 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 Stacey Abramson, Agnieszka Matejko, Karen Quinn
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

Mark Mullin, "making animals," 2017, oil and acrylic on canvas, 80” x 78"

FIVE THINGS

Mark Mullin: Sticks and Stones

30

Mark Mullin has chosen a great title – Sticks and Stones – for his latest show at the Paul Kuhn Gallery in Calgary. And there are sticks, so to speak: stubby linear marks that contrast with smoky washes, globular shapes and other painterly gestures. In making animals, for instance, fallen “sticks” are jumbled in the middle of the canvas like the remnants of a collapsed building. Overhead, thin layers of brown paint drizzle downward like a series of frayed sheer curtains; warmer yellow hues dominate below. At the left, two large maroon silhouettes photo-bomb the scene, awkwardly intruding much the way people poke their heads into a doorway to interrupt a meeting. These rounded forms echo the shadows created in hand puppetry, an activity Mullin did as a boy with his father. Flat and still, these forms might well be the titular stones. Mullin describes this new body of work as less polished than his earlier efforts. The change, he explains, is related to his decision a year ago to try painting on paper. He found he was working in a “clunky, brutish manner” and was exhilarated by the results. So much so that he’s included some works on paper in the show, which continues until Oct. 7. Their mood seems to have carried over to his subsequent paintings on canvas. While the visual language is still recognizably his, he says it’s like a different dialect, one that occupies “a stage of playful awkwardness.” Mullin, who grew up in Edmonton, teaches at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary. He emerged quickly after earning his MFA at Montreal’s Concordia University in 1999. In 2004, he was a finalist in the RBC New Canadian Painting Competition. Later this year, he’ll be in a show of works on paper at the Beers gallery in London. More ►

– Portia Priegert

Joseph Hartman, "Chris Cran," 2016, digital chromogenic print, 27” x 34”

COVER STORY

Joseph Hartman Considers the Studio As Art

The artist’s studio, in the popular imagination, is a place of exceptional myth and, as a consequence, one of potent cliché. Romanticized depictions of these wombs of creativity dominate popular culture’s notion of artistic production – more so, often, than the art itself. Think of the 2000 film Pollock, where Ed Harris dripped and splattered his way to immortality either in the chilly gloom of a downtown Manhattan loft, or amid the glow of sunlight leaked through loose barn-board, or Joan Allen tracing the lissome curves of an enormous orchid in 2009 under the gentle arc of adobe walls as Georgia O’Keeffe. Real studios are much less mythic – places of work, of deadlines, of frustration, of endurance. They are less places of mystery than places of production, where things get made and, more than occasionally, destroyed. But most artists – those with a studio practice, at least – will tell you the romantic view isn’t entirely false. Studios develop with the artist, a relationship that produces a character of its own. As a reflection of the personality of their occupant, they’re often as true a mirror as you’ll find. Joseph Hartman, the Toronto-based photographer, set out four years ago to see what his lens might capture in these hives of artistic production. It was a natural draw, having grown up amid the broad canvases made by his father, the renowned Canadian painter John Hartman. The project evolved rather than emerging fully formed; some years before, he had taken images of Toronto-based Chris Temple’s studio, and found them interesting enough, but then moved on to other things. A commercial job a few years later shooting John Scott’s studio in Toronto jogged his memory: As a crew tidied the artist’s famously untidy space to make it picture-perfect, Hartman realized its natural state was far more captivating. And so, the project was born. Since 2013, Hartman has shot the studios of more than 120 artists across Canada, a selection of which are showing at the Peter Robertson Gallery in Edmonton from Sept. 21 to Oct. 10. There’s little to unify the project, beyond the broad rubric of its subject: A handful of images show the artist him or herself, like Duane Linklater or Shuvinai Ashoona. Some are shot square and tight, others wide and loose, angled off to one side. More ►

– Murray Whyte

12 September 2017

THE STUDIO AS ART

Exterior view of the new Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver. Photo courtesy of ECUAD.

SIX THINGS

Emily Carr University Puts Out Its Welcome Mat

31

It’s back to school with a difference at Vancouver’s Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as students start classes this week at the new $123-million campus. And probably no one is more thrilled than the university’s president, Ronald Burnett, who has spent recent days chatting with students, staff and faculty members as they get acquainted with their new 290,000 square-foot home. “Day after day we’ve been meeting with different groups … and it’s been great,” says Burnett. “I’m really impressed with everyone’s work. In general, our staff and faculty and students have been really involved and excited. It’s an exciting building.” Opened last week by Premier John Horgan, the building is equipped with plenty of cutting-edge technology, including networked virtual reality systems, a digital animation studio, and a motion-capture and visualization lab. Located in the Flats district east of downtown, it also boasts LEED Gold certification, sky-lit atriums and various exhibition spaces. The library is filled with natural light and studios have large north-facing windows. The building’s exterior features panels of coloured glass that refer to colours in Emily Carr’s paintings. One of Burnett’s favourite spots is the theatre. “It’s an intimate 400-seater that has surround sound and 3-D projection and it’s a wonderful place for lectures and performances,” he says. While the building is beautiful, Burnett also points proudly to the size of the new facility. “Its volume really makes a statement about the importance of the arts and humanities to B.C. and to Canada,” he says. More ►

– Portia Priegert

Michelle Nguyen, "Jelly Jamboree," 2017, oil and pastel on canvas, 48" x 59"

SIX THINGS

Michelle Nguyen’s Uninhibited Art

32

Fresh and uninhibited, Michelle Nguyen’s paintings offer up a steamer trunk of magical, loosely articulated narratives within distorted pictorial space. Rife with possibilities, these are complex mash-ups a Jungian psychologist would love. On view at the Bau-Xi Gallery in Vancouver until Sept. 23, they are packed with odd characters that seem utterly themselves. Brides in various states of undress cavort with pink flamingos in one painting. In another, humanoid monsters with four eyes or two mouths lurk in a decidedly macabre crowd. Nguyen includes painterly moments that call to mind other artists and movements. The loosely painted nudes tossed in at the bottom of Jelly Jamboree, her most recent work, seem to offer a naturalistic reading of Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’herbe, for instance, while the buxom women in Six Sisters romp though tropical flora that Henri Rousseau might have painted had he been a Fauve. Yet her paintings, while uneven at times, rarely feel derivative. More than anything, the viewer is destabilized, relegated to an almost incidental role, or perhaps, simply disregarded. Indeed, we do not gaze at these paintings, as much as step tentatively into them, psychologically, at least. More ►

– Portia Priegert

Bee Kingdom Glass, “The Saturnian,” 2016, inflated polyester, 20’ x 40’ Photo courtesy of Bee Kingdom Glass

SIX THINGS

Rocket-Launch Your Inner Art Nerd

33

A walk inside the belly of a whale-spaceship hybrid? A woman’s breast that lights up as you approach? Motorized flipbooks that create the illusion of a waterfall? Your inner nerd will get a workout at Beakerhead, a Calgary festival that mashes together art, science and engineering in wildly creative ways. The annual event, which runs Sept. 13 to Sept. 17, includes all sorts of technical wizardry, but perhaps none more playful than gigantic inflatable sculptures made from polyester by Bee Kingdom Glass. Part sci-fi and part childlike wonderment, both The Fabulist, a four-storey high “space ambassador” that brings together myriad Canadiana, including moose antlers and a beaver tail, and The Saturnian, complete with a narwhal tusk and rocket thrusters, will be on view outside Calgary’s science centre, Telus Spark. “Both of the sculptures are very cute,” says Bee Kingdom’s Phillip Bandura. “But we hope people will look at the different ideas, what we put into the sculptures, and create a story around it.” His usual fare is small-scale work made from glass in the collaborative Calgary studio he shares with Ryan Fairweather. But Beakerhead engineers helped the dynamic duo solve challenges around things like tensile strength, wind currents and public safety. Bandura says artists appreciate such technical help, while engineers enjoy working on creative projects. “The whole idea of Beakerhead actually really closes a very interesting social gap in between the arts and other industries in the city,” he says. Several Calgary galleries are participating in Beakerhead, displaying art that crosses into technological realms. More ►

– Portia Priegert

  FROM THE EDITOR

 

The crunch of leaves underfoot reminds us that autumn is fast approaching. While this seasonal shift can be bittersweet, it’s also a lively back-to-business time in the art world as galleries launch important new shows. So much so, it’s been difficult to narrow our focus, and in this issue, we’ve expanded by one our usual offering of “five things” to check out across the West.

Fall, of course, is when students return to school, which can also evoke nostalgia. I still feel an impulse to buy new notebooks at this time of year – the feeling of possibility offered by a blank page is enticing, even if we messed up the last one in every way imaginable. Of course, notebooks have a way of filling. Mine never stay tidy for long – I’m happily writing or sketching, and then, oops, a first doodle and then another, or perhaps a shopping list, or someone’s telephone number, and soon I’m looking at a familiar visual cacophony. I marvel at people who can maintain an orderly page.

Thus, I found Murray Whyte’s essay on artist studios, the lead article in this issue, particularly fascinating. Reflecting on the work of Joseph Hartman, who has photographed some 120 studios across Canada, Whyte observes that these spaces come to reflect the personalities of their occupants. My studios, like my notebooks, quickly become cluttered. Looking at Hartman’s images, I found kindred spirits, but also some who maintain an eerie order. Their notebooks are probably tidy too.

Hartman's images are memorials, in a way, to artists and the production of art, as well as the public's long fascination with the creative process. As I thought about this issue of Galleries West Digital, I realized it also includes other stories that reflect, however tangentially, on memory and memorials: remarkable drawings of the brain by a Spanish neuroscientist; a new public art project in Regina that reminds us of a discriminatory law of the past; and a Winnipeg show that critiques a colonialist monument, a timely topic in light of the ongoing dispute over the Edward Cornwallis statue in Halifax.

Oh, and that sixth thing? On Friday I picked up the phone and called Ronald Burnett, the president of Vancouver's Emily Carr University of Art and Design. He answered his own phone and was happy to chat about the university’s new $123-million campus. It’s his blank-page moment – before students make the pristine building their own, spilling paint, challenging rules, asking awkward questions and developing as artists, irrepressibly, through it all. Their notebooks, whether paper or digital, will come to mirror their personalities, and like the countless generations of artists before them, they will go on to produce work that reflects their world, with all its messy wonders, its joys and contradictions.

Until next time,

 

MASTHEAD

12 September 2017

Volume 2 Number 19 Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

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 Beverly Cramp, Edwin Janzen, Marcus Miller, 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

Xiao Han, "The Restaurant: Yee Clun, White Women's Labour Law," 2017, photography, 48" x 48" (part of a permanent installation in Regina's Art Park)

SIX THINGS

Xiao Han’s Remembrance of (Racist) Things Past

34

Xiao Han role-plays: she fictionalizes history. Her work is seductive and imaginative, but addresses trauma. She is the actor in photographic genre scenes that work as film stills for movies that haven’t been made. Her art direction is plush and nostalgic, replete with studied bric-a-brac and antediluvian fashion. While her beautiful Proustian memories combine with official history to affect her viewers, they never allow for settled conclusions. Instead, they produce what former German chancellor Helmut Kohl once voiced as his aspiration for the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin. He said Germans don’t need a denkmal, a monument; what they need is a denkpause, a thinking break. Han’s latest work is a new twist on public memorials, and comes as a coy rebuff to the horsey heroics of 19th century commemorations: photographs, dress-up, performance. Her memorial pays tribute to Yee Clun, a restaurateur and prominent member of Regina’s Chinese community who, in 1924, challenged a racist law that effectively prohibited Asian men from hiring white women. Three of Han’s images, commissioned by the Lost Stories Project at Concordia University’s Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, with funding from Canada 150, are now permanently installed in Regina’s downtown Art Park. Although modest in budget and scale, her project points to a more integrated approach to the production of public art. More ►

– Marcus Miller

Travis McEwen, “Fallen,” 2016, oil on linen, 18” x 20” courtesy the artist and dc3 Art Projects, Edmonton

FIVE THINGS

Travis McEwen’s Futuristic World

35

The boat, a floating place that travels from port to port in an infinite sea, is a metaphor the French philosopher Michel Foucault used to describe heterotopia, a Greek word that means “other place” – one where people outside the norm can find shelter. “In civilizations without boats,” he wrote, “dreams dry up.” For Travis McEwen, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota with an MFA from Montreal’s Concordia University, Foucault’s words are not abstract concepts but lived experience. McEwen, who describes himself as queer, grew up in Red Deer, Alta., where he experienced ostracism and isolation. His show, The Arch: Plans for a Heterotopic Space Opera, on view at dc3 Art Projects in Edmonton until Oct. 14, creates an alternative futuristic world where “otherness” is both welcomed and embraced. McEwen’s myriad small to mid-sized paintings – 66 in all – are individual works, but collectively form a seamless installation: a landscape inspired by science fiction with a continuous horizon line that encircles the viewer. Most paintings feature structures in the shape of rainbows or abandoned construction walls that hover ghost-like above vast, deserted spaces. These scenes, partly inspired by his visit to southern Turkey, diverge from the subdued ochres of the Taurus Mountains, projecting tropical garden hues that both beckon and repel. More ►

– Agnieszka Matjeko

Sandra Sawatzky, "The Black Gold Tapestry," 2017, wool thread on linen, 20" x 220' (detail) courtesy of the artist

COVER STORY

The Black Gold Tapestry

Beautiful and gentle, but with a political pulse like a metronome, the Black Gold Tapestry is contemporary fine craft based on a medieval masterpiece. Cinematic in scale, it unfolds the story of oil over seven millenniums of human discovery and technical innovation. Inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, and replete with tiny, intricate details to tempt our curiosity, Sandra Sawatzky’s hand-stitched tapestry becomes a sort of allegorical modern-day take on The Pilgrim’s Progress, both a testament to perseverance and a cautionary tale. It took Sawatzky nine years to complete her tapestry, on view at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary from Oct. 7 to May 21. At a length of 220 feet – but just 20 inches high – it could span the wings of a Boeing 747. Sawatzky, who lives in Calgary, meticulously planned and drew the design on paper before she began single-handedly embroidering linen sourced from New York with hand-dyed thread in colours based on ceramic glazes from Ancient China. Around the time she was starting the tapestry, American sociologist and philosopher Richard Sennett wrote a book called The Craftsman. In it, he discusses the human need to make things by hand, and after much practice, seek the point of perfection. He argues that craftsmanship is the path to personal fulfillment, and applauds the dedication and time it takes – attributes hard to apply to a machine. Over the last three years, Sawatzky spent nearly 10 hours a day sewing, moving through history, touching on landmarks like the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, before ending in today’s technological era. More ►

– Karen Quinn

26 September 2017

THE BLACK GOLD TAPESTRY

Hannah Claus, “passage,” 2017, digital print on paper, 38" x 58" Photo courtesy Hannah Claus

SIX THINGS

The Mystery of Hochelaga Rock

36

Sometimes the question of what to do with colonialist monuments is simply answered: remove them. Unlike the Edward Cornwallis statue in Halifax, however, Montreal’s Hochelaga Rock is a colonialist memorial to Indigenous peoples, rather a trickier matter, and one that Hannah Claus, a Montreal-based artist of Kanien’kehá:ka heritage, addresses in her exhibition at Winnipeg’s aceartinc. The memorial in question – a great boulder on the McGill University campus – was erected in 1925. Its commemorative plaque reads: “Near here was the site of the fortified town of Hochelaga visited by Jacques Cartier in 1535, abandoned before 1600. It contained 50 large houses, each lodging several families who subsisted by cultivation and fishing.” Whoever these people were, they seem to have vanished between Cartier’s visit and Champlain’s in 1608. The word hochelaga is foreign to the Indigenous communities around Montreal; but on a visit to Edmonton, a Dene elder told Claus it is Dene for “where many nations gather” and that Dene traders once travelled to Montreal. The so-called St. Lawrence Iroquoians, Claus surmised, were probably Dene occupying a temporary settlement. The show, on view until Sept. 15, examines this mystery in three series of works. More ►

– Edwin Janzen

Reta Cowley, "Late August," 1982, oil on masonite, 10" x 12" Image courtesy The Gallery / art placement, Saskatoon

NEWS ROUNDUP

Saskatchewan’s Art Fair Opens in Regina

It’s the second time around for Saskatchewan’s ArtNow! fair, which is showing work by some 80 artists from galleries around the province. The annual event, which runs Sept. 14 to Sept. 17, at the Soundstage in Regina, launches with an opening reception and preview of the show, which includes nine participating galleries. Tickets for the opening are $40, but the rest of the event is free. Activities include talks by artists like Wilf Perreault, Victor Cicansky and Val Moker, as well as educational sessions on resale royalties, the impact of social media and other topics. Participating galleries include the Slate Fine Art Gallery, the Assiniboia Gallery, the Nouveau Gallery and the Traditions Hand Craft Gallery, all from Regina, as well as The Gallery / art placement, the Saskatchewan Craft Council, the Void Gallery and the Boheme Gallery, from Saskatoon. The Lantern gallery from Winnipeg will also be on site. “We really want to make this event accessible to the community and to art lovers of all ages, as well as bridging the gap between the two major art fairs in Canada, Art Vancouver and Art Toronto,” says Julia McIntyre, administrative coordinator with SaskGalleries, the Saskatchewan Professional Art Galleries Association. For information, go to saskgalleries.ca/saskartfair/.
In other news:

  • Two Western Canadians, Sean Caulfield, from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, and Sandra Meigs, from the University of Victoria, have been elected by their peers as fellows of the Academy of the Arts and Humanities at the Royal Society of Canada, the highest honour given to Canadian academics.
  • The Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver and American artist Harrell Fletcher are launching a satellite gallery at Lord Strathcona Elementary School this fall, undertaking projects that reflect the artist’s interest in bringing together life and art.
  •  Xiao Xue, a student at the University of Victoria, is the winner of the BMO 1st Art! contest for post-secondary students across Canada.
  • Edmonton’s fall gallery walk runs in the art district on 124th Street from Stony Plain Road to 102 Avenue on Sept. 23 and Sept. 24.
  • An exhibition by 49 finalists for the Salt Spring National Art Prize opens Sept. 22 on Salt Spring Island. The winners of eight awards, with a total of $30,000 in prizes, will be announced Oct. 21.
Santiago Ramón y Cajal, "glial cells of the cerebral cortex of a child," 1904, ink and pencil on paper, courtesy of the Instituto Cajal in Madrid

SIX THINGS

The Beautiful Botany of the Human Brain

37

One of the last century’s great scientists, Santiago Ramón y Cajal, known as the father of modern neuroscience, yearned as a boy to be an artist. Later in life, the Spaniard made remarkable pencil and ink drawings of the brain’s mysterious inner workings, a creative undertaking that helped lead him to the groundbreaking discoveries for which he received the Nobel Prize in 1906. More than 80 of Cajal’s 3,000 anatomical drawings, work that’s reminiscent of the great Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci, are on view until Dec. 3 in the The Beautiful Brain at UBC’s Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery. It’s the first North American exhibition of Cajal’s work and may leave visitors wondering why Cajal, who lived from 1852 to 1934, isn’t better known outside scientific circles, where his work is still used for educational and illustrative purposes. One of Cajal’s images, the pyramidal neuron of the cerebral cortex, a 1904 ink-and-pencil drawing on paper, has such spindly lines it could be mistaken for a vegetable root. Indeed, many of his drawings have a botanical quality and are often described as tree-like. The scientist himself used such metaphors in his writing. For example, he described the brain’s gray matter as a “flower garden” and once asked “are there any trees more elegant and luxurious than the Purkinje cell from the cerebellum?” More ►

– Beverly Cramp

This piano, painted by Cat L'Hirondelle, can be found in Vancouver's downtown TD Plaza as part of the Pianos on the Street program. Photo courtesy of the Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture Society.

NEWS ROUNDUP

Artists with Disabilities Decorate Pianos for the Street

When Vancouver artist Cat L’Hirondelle was invited to decorate a piano that passersby can play, she thought of crows. “The imagery represents life on the east side of Vancouver,” says L’Hirondelle. She and another Vancouver artist, Rose Williams, were asked to take on the challenge by the Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture Society, a non-profit group that supports and promotes artists living with disabilities. L’Hirondelle liked the idea of having different people communing with her art as part of the Pianos on the Streets program, which was started by the Piano Teachers Federation in 2009. “The people who play the piano become part of the art piece,” she says. Williams was also thrilled to participate. “The piano itself is symbolic of another time, before the advent of electronic music, when music-making was a larger part of domestic life, entertainment and our relationships with one another,” she says. The image on her piano portrays waterways, forests and animals. A number of other community groups are participating in the program, which places pianos throughout the Lower Mainland. For more information, check out pianosonthestreet.com.
In other news:

  • Polygon Gallery, which replaces the former Presentation House in North Vancouver, will open its doors Nov. 18.
  • The exterior walls of the Vancouver Art Gallery will be lit up after dark with projections of work by 10 artists during the Façade Festival, which runs Sept. 4 to Sept. 10.
  • Carolyn Warren, a former CBC executive who has worked at the Banff Centre, is joining the Canada Council for the Arts as director general of the arts granting programs division.
  • The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria has received Canadian painter David Milne’s Entrance to Saugerties Harbour (1927) as a donation from local philanthropist Patrick Stewart. It’s the first of several works he will donate.
  • Peter von Tiesenhausen’s sculpture, Drawn by Desire, a hanging installation with 500 aluminum plates that show small human figures, has been installed at the Londonderry Mall in Edmonton.
  • Swarm, Vancouver’s annual two-day festival of artist-run culture, will be held on Sept. 7 and Sept. 8. One exhibition to check out: Rest in Peace at the Gam Gallery, where Canadian-born South Asian artist Sandeep Johal remembers murdered women from various cultural communities.
An exterior view of cSPACE, a new arts centre in Calgary's former King Edward School. Photo courtesy of cSPACE.

FIVE THINGS

Former Calgary School Becomes Arts Utopia

38

cSPACE King Edward in Calgary is billed as an arts incubator. But that’s not quite right – it’s more of an arts utopia. The classically proportioned 1912 sandstone building, a former school where boys in tweed knickerbockers once studied Greek, is now a community-focused, multi-purpose arts centre. The King Edward School’s first principal was William Aberhart, later Alberta’s seventh premier, and the building has served many functions over the years, including the training of military cadets during the First World War. Closed by the school board in 2001, it languished until cSPACE bought the property for $8 million in 2012 and undertook a thoughtful restoration budgeted at almost $26 million. Funding came from municipal, provincial and federal governments as well as private donations and the sale of a portion of the land to developers. Less attractive additions were demolished, and there are now two beautiful wings. One is in the original sandstone building, and the other, in a new glass-plated addition, includes a 125-seat theatre and a conference room with spectacular mountain views. Four high-ceilinged hallways serve as spaces to display art. The first exhibition, I Am Western, on view until Oct. 1, includes work by leading Alberta and Saskatchewan artists who explore the loss of traditional connections with the land in a region that has become an urban and industrial powerhouse. Highlights of the show include John Freeman’s photograph of a family farmstead rotting in front of what might best be described as gigantic “Frankenfarms.” Paintings in drab brown by Rosanna Marmont depict animals behind wire fences and men in cowboy hats pushing shopping carts, dreary stuff indeed. Lyndal Osborne and Sherri Chaba offer a fascinating installation of feathers, tobacco tins, hand-made tools, embroidery hoops, rifle butts and animal pelts that evoke an abandoned homestead. There’s also a photo by Kris Weinmann of a simple wooden chair placed in front of a dilapidated barn that’s close to collapse. More ►

– Karen Quinn

Richard Wilson, "Proposed United States Border with Mexico," 2017, courtesy of the Illingworth Kerr Gallery

FIVE THINGS

Artists Offer Ideas for Alternative Walls

39

Walls: Topical in contemporary times, of course, but also historically important, whether for protection, conquest or peaceful delineation between good neighbours. Tourists flock to them (think of China’s Great Wall or Hadrian’s Wall in Britain) and artists appropriate them (think Banksy and Swoon). But the ante is upped when it comes to political barriers such as the Berlin Wall, Israel’s “apartheid wall” in the West Bank, or Trump’s proposed barrier with Mexico. It’s this latest controversy, courtesy of the U.S. president, that’s the focus of the Illingworth Kerr Gallery’s threefold exhibition – a gallery show featuring international artists as well as public art and an online project. Curated by Lorenzo Fusi, and on view in Calgary until Sept. 16, the gallery exhibition, #ideasforawall, comprises artistic proposals for alternative walls between Mexico and the United States. Invited participants include art world luminaries Richard Wilson, Tania Bruguera, Lucy and Jorge Orta, plus Canadians Mark Clintberg, Richard Ibghy and Marilou Lemmens. The projects bridge a range of media, including drawing, sculpture, text and lens-based work. Clearly, many approaches are helpful when contemplating how to overcome cultural divisiveness. Wilson’s Proposed United States Border with Mexico features a 20-foot-high concrete wall, almost like Trump’s “beautiful” vision. But instead of rising vertically, this superstructure plunges earthward, save the top 20 inches: a witty and playful trip. More ►

– Dick Averns

Anne Meggitt, “Sombrio Rhythms,” 2014, oil on canvas, 36” x 48”

FIVE THINGS

Anne Meggitt’s West Coast Forests

40

More than anything, Anne Meggitt’s paintings, with all their leafy canopies, sun-dappled wildflowers and tangled underbrush, are about seeing. Her hand is subtle and loose: she places the right mark in the right place, the colours precise though generally within a limited tonal range that keeps the eye in motion, restless and scanning. “I only need to do each thing once,” she says. “I try immediately to have it exactly right.” Her paintings, at Victoria’s Martin Batchelor Gallery until Sept. 28, are largely forest views on Vancouver Island. They feel familiar. It’s easy to think you saw that small fir next to a favourite camping spot, or perhaps those six dead trees, their skeletal trunks gleaming through the brush, along a trail you’ve hiked. These are the humble spots passed on the way to the grand view, trees and bushes scanned quickly, like faces in a crowd, never consciously committed to memory, yet somehow there, nevertheless. Meggitt calls herself a “compulsive mixer” and her delicious greens, carefully blended from multiple colours, evoke the rich possibilities of foliage. Those with an aching hint of ochre drift to late summer, while the acid of a leaf gleaming in a beam of sunlight seems too sharp until you step back and it pops into place, resolving with the rest of the canvas. More ►

– Portia Priegert

FROM THE EDITOR

 

There ought to be a word for that all-too brief sliver of time after a holiday, when you are back home and feel chill – you know, before you sit down and start to catch up on all the work you didn't do while you were away. I was already making a to-do list last week on the bus home from the ferry after a blissful week on Savary Island, a seven-kilometre sandbar in the Salish Sea, perhaps the closest thing to a tropical isle in Canada. I even went on a three-hour cruise, but unlike Gilligan, made it back, and the skipper too. That would be my childhood friend, Kathy, who  generously invited me and four other women to her parents' cabin, and then tirelessly piloted us around in their boat. Internet access was spotty, so while I knew stuff was happening in the art world, I couldn't do much about it. Unplugging felt good. I recharged and was ready to put this issue to bed – once I got the sand out of my hiking boots.

Flip through these pages to catch up with Saskatchewan artist Joe Fafard and his latest show at the Slate gallery in Regina. Fafard is no slouch. He's turning 75, but is still working hard and plans to keep making art "until the cows come home." Meanwhile, Edmonton arts writer Fish Griwkowsky talks to Wei Li, a finalist in this year's RBC painting contest, about her show at Harcourt House. And Calgary artist Dick Averns reviews Lorenzo Fusi's latest offering at the Illingworth Kerr Gallery, a playful re-visioning of U.S. President Donald Trump's proposed barrier along the Mexican border. There's an online component that allows anyone to submit a work. I'm already drawing up plans for my "Alt-Wall." Perhaps you'll submit your ideas, too? Rounding out this issue is a story about a new generation of Inuit artists at Urban Shaman in Winnipeg; cSPACE, a new arts centre in Calgary; and my studio visit with Victoria artist Anne Meggitt, now in her 80s, who could teach us all a thing or two about the art of aging, not just gracefully, but with passion.

Looking ahead, we have a special treat for the next issue. Toronto Star visual arts writer Murray Whyte profiles Joseph Hartman, who has made a name for himself photographing the studios of prominent Canadian artists. Hartman's show at Edmonton's Peter Robertson Gallery opens Sept. 21. I'd tell you more ... but I can't. There's a mass of emails about the fall season in my inbox and I need to read them before I plan the rest of the issue. But first I have to sweep up more sand.

Until next time,

 

MASTHEAD

29 August 2017

Volume 2 Number 18 Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

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 Dick Averns, Paul Gessell, Fish Griwkowsky, Karen Quinn
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

Wei Li, "Long Way Home," 2017, acrylic and oil on canvas, 40" x 60" Image courtesy of the artist

FIVE THINGS

Wei Li’s ‘Curious Things’

41

Wei Li’s colourful and complicated paintings are impressionistic abstracts, full of motion and confident brush marks. But there’s something substantial and illustrative about them too. They look real world – just not our particular planet. With bulbous tubers, rounded corrugations and a definite, if crowded, feeling of life, you could interpret the 11 oils and acrylics in Curious Things, on view at Edmonton’s Harcourt House until Sept. 22, as landscapes, vibrant dissection trays or even figurative portraits – yearbook poses straight from another dimension. Li admits she sometimes sees faces in the paintings as she works. There’s surely at least one pair of mismatched eyes and lips in the unframed canvas, Diptych (Left), which hangs beside the show’s title. And while she uses the word landscapes to describe her newer work, she concedes the human linkage remains. “I still think I deal with people, with emotions and feelings. Because I’m concerned with how people feel, the starting point is from our bodies, from inside. And all mixed together. Different perspectives, all happening at the same time.” Li emigrated in 2010 from Chengdu in south-central China, a city some 15 times as populous as Edmonton. “That’s where pandas come from,” she says with a laugh. Throughout the show, the tension of overcrowding is palpable. Thickly painted elements seem to cry out as they’re squished together. Some paintings feel dark and toxic. Others look almost edible. More ►

– Fish Griwkowsky 

"Weird Woman," 2017, installation shot showing “Librarian’s Chain” by Mary Margaret Morgan in foreground. Photo by Jared Tiller.

FIVE THINGS

‘Weird Woman’ Disrupts Clichés

42

Weird Woman, a group exhibition at Jarvis Hall Gallery in Calgary, evokes a romantic, defiant and otherworldly feel. Curated by Calgary artist Sondra Meszaros, it features five Canadian and American artists who use a range of methods, including video, collage, assemblage, drawing and digital print. Disrupting clichéd notions of female intuition, aesthetic, currency and rebellion, these artists use meaningful motifs to explore the relationships between nature, production and what Meszaros calls wilful or wayward ways of representing women. An unsettling yet enchanting mood prevails, owing to the sparseness of the exhibition, on view until Sept. 9, and the rules governing each artist’s aesthetics and processes. Within each work, the material and the inspirational converge into entanglements of conflicting forces. More ►

– Lissa Robinson

FROM THE EDITOR

 

I found myself musing about the shows we feature in these pages in the wake of a new book by art historian Anne Whitelaw that explores the early development of public art galleries in Western Canada. The prompt was her observations about the paternalism of the National Gallery of Canada, including recent partner initiatives to bring work from Ottawa to the Art Gallery of Alberta and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. We have written about the National Gallery's regional shows – they are usually interesting fare, after all, even if some time has lapsed since their launch in Central Canada.

Here at Galleries West, we try to find a balance between stories about Western artists at Western galleries and interesting shows in Western Canada by artists who live in other parts of Canada, or even elsewhere in the world. Is that a disservice to Western artists? In some ways, yes. But I also think our readers  and many of them are artists – want to know about interesting shows and hear about new ideas, no matter where the artists are based.

How do we define balance? Along with regional concerns, we think about several other things. One is gender, because women artists have traditionally received less coverage than their male counterparts. We also make an effort to write about Indigenous artists and artists from under-represented minorities. Then, of course, there's the type of art produced  we look for a good mix of themes, subjects, and even media, whether it's painting, sculpture, installation, photography or something else.

There's no formula to figure this all out, and even if there were, it would probably be unworkable. Our choices are largely guided by what galleries are showing. Some weeks we scramble to find things to write about. Other weeks, there are tough choices to be made from a plethora of great shows.

Our aim, over the long term, is to cover many different artists from different places doing different types of work. Of course, the risk is that Galleries West may end up feeling unfocused  it doesn't cater exclusively to high art, but isn't truly populist either. Still, with arts writing in a free fall amid the collapse of traditional media models and uncertain visions for digital replacements  there is value in a generalist vision.

This issue covers everything from Stages, an ambitious Winnipeg project that takes contemporary art outside the white cube, to an immersive drawing installation in Victoria and a quirky photo-based installation that looks at small-town roadside attractions. We also cover two commercial shows, one of landscape paintings and another that disrupts clichéd ways of representing women. And, of course, there's our look at Whitelaw's book, Places and Spaces for Art, which prompted all this musing in the first place.

We always welcome feedback from our readers. What articles do you enjoy? What topics are we neglecting? What would you feature if you were the editor? Please drop us a line at editor@gallerieswest.ca. We'll read everything you send.

Until next time,

 

MASTHEAD

15 August 2017

Volume 2 Number 17 Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

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 Stacey Abramson, Lissa Robinson, Lorna Tureski
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

Scott August, "Clem T. GoFur Revisited," 2017, hand-cut collaged digital prints on recycled cardstock, varnish, wood and staples, 120" x 216" Photo by Scott August (installation view of "Furbish: Remnant Themes of Post Amusement" at the Lake Country Art Gallery)

FIVE THINGS

Another Roadside Attraction

43

A little girl, about six years old, skips around Clem T. GoFur in the Lake Country Art Gallery in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley. “Wow, he’s BIG,” she says, “and those boots!” Those boots, indeed, but look up! Clem, mascot at the World Famous Gopher Hole Museum in Torrington, Alta., is all shiny, cartoon new; the ceiling tile has been removed to accommodate his hat. Clem’s saucy, recumbent pose dictates the path of movement into Scott August’s exhibition, Furbish: Remnant Themes of Post-Amusement, on view until Aug. 27. I swerve past the boots and follow a wall of photos: here is the iconic peach hut in Penticton, the whale waterslide from Old MacDonald’s Farm in West Kelowna, and a newspaper clipping about Peter Soehn, creator of curvy statuary and the subject of August’s installation. The bottom of each photo curls away from the wall, evoking fragility, a temporary existence. Childhood memories. Nostalgia in bloom, next is the full-wall image of a decrepit billboard advertising Old MacDonald’s Farm, and here’s where it gets all lovely and tricky. To view the 17-foot-long collage, one is backed against the raw, two-by-four frame supporting Clem. It’s a disconcerting peek behind the magic, rubbing shoulders with the pretense of it, all while enjoying the beauty of it too. More ►

– Lorna Tureski

15 August 2017

WINNIPEG STAGES PUBLIC ART

Federico Herrero, “Landscape,” 2017, exterior latex paint, detail of site-specific installation, photo by Karen Asher

COVER STORY

Winnipeg Stages Public Art

44

Making contemporary art accessible to large public audiences is always challenging. Work by artists in contemporary galleries may leave viewers feeling ignorant, separated from histories they do not know and unsure how to read complex work. “The meaning of contemporary art isn’t supposed to reveal itself immediately,” says Jenifer Papararo, the executive director of Winnipeg’s Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art. “Sometimes, that’s just too great a deterrent.” Luckily, galleries are finding ways to bring high-calibre contemporary art to audiences in more approachable ways. The latest example is Stages: Drawing the Curtain, which runs Aug. 18 to Sept. 4 in various venues around Winnipeg. Plug In invited nine artists – Winnipeg’s Erica Eyres and Divya Mehra, Vancouver’s Ron Tran and Krista Belle Stewart, and Toronto’s Abbas Akhavan and Kara Hamilton, as well as three international artists – to create sculptures and performances that bring new life and meanings to public sites, from parks to empty buildings. The aim, as the event’s title suggests, is to consider the stage – “its function as a platform, its meaning as a point of attention and its physical design.” Featuring everything from an eight-foot-high illuminated Om sign hauled around town by flatbed truck to performances by drag queens and a vibrantly painted urban tunnel, Stages allows happenstance encounters, but also offers guided tours, promising two different but engaging experiences. More ►

– Stacey Abramson

Nicole Camphaug, “The Barree," 2016, photo by Justin Wonnacott, courtesy Axe Néo-7 in Gatineau, Que.

FIVE THINGS

Unorthodox Inuit Art in Winnipeg

45

The sexy bra and panties crafted by Nunavut artist Nala Peter would have been perfect for a young Brigitte Bardot, France’s most celebrated sex kitten, except for one thing: The ironic unmentionables are made of sealskin and the movie star turned animal rights activist only gets intimate with live baby seals. Bardot also wouldn’t be caught dead in Nicole Camphaug’s stylish sealskin stilettos, potent examples of the art, craft and fashion being produced these days by a new generation of Inuit artists who are far more political, mischievous and adventuresome than their soapstone-carving forebears. The sealskin fashions and many other examples of unorthodox Inuit art are part of the travelling exhibition Floe Edge: Contemporary Art and Collaborations from Nunavut, on view at Urban Shaman in Winnipeg from Sept. 8 to Oct. 14. The show opened last year at Axe Néo-7, a gallery in Gatineau, Que., near Ottawa, then toured to Canada House in London before landing in Winnipeg. It was curated by Kathleen Nicholls from the Iqaluit-based Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association. Floe edge refers to the springtime ecosystem, when the dark, open waters of the Arctic Ocean meet chunks, or floes, of frozen sea ice along the shore. The floes move with the tide, melt with changing temperatures and serve as a metaphor for the work of the artists, who often seesaw between creative pursuits and other jobs. More ►

– Paul Gessell

Jim Holyoak and Matt Shane, "Forestial Brain (in progress)," 2017, detail of collaborative drawing installation, photo by Miles Giesbrecht

FIVE THINGS

Forestrial Brain Explores Nature’s Mysteries

46

Jim Holyoak and Matt Shane are doing things backwards. They will hold their “opening” reception Aug. 25 at the end of their show at Open Space, the Victoria artist-run centre. Then two days later, they will take down their massive drawing installation, Forestrial Brain, and roll it into a storage tube. This is no small feat. The duo, friends since art school, have covered the gallery’s 14-foot-high walls with white paper, carefully cutting around doors and passageways. They are spending their six-week exhibition slot drawing through some 135 linear feet, an undertaking almost as physically demanding as the eight-day hike that inspired it, an arduous 47-mile slog on the notoriously difficult West Coast Trail through Pacific Rim National Park, along the southwest edge of Vancouver Island. They hiked the trail before starting work at Open Space, making notes and drawings, soaking up the energy of forest and ocean, and gathering stories from fellow travellers. They display pages from their sketchbooks in the stairwell up to the gallery, a place where the show’s title is drawn as if covered with hairy tree lichens, signalling the tone of the show, a kind of hobbit-informed natural history, or as Shane puts it: the blurry in-between of science and fantasy. “We’re looking at the forest as a mysterious place,” he says. “We’re looking at the mythologies that surround the forest and the whole spectrum of belief systems about forests.” Clearly, then, Forestrial Brain is no mere travelogue or documentary, though it does refer to their backpacking trip. Rich in varied marks, from misty ink washes that evoke the dank undergrowth of the coastal rainforest to a finely drafted dead sea lion they discovered on a beach, the installation also explores the idea of the forest as an enmeshed and interconnected organism, one where human presence is evoked minimally through a chain of ladders and walkways that snail, soddenly, over steep terrain, amid lush ferns and strange fungi. More ►

– Portia Priegert

Ahlam Shibli, "Untitled (Staring no. 10), al-Khalil/Hebron, Palestine and Kassel, Germany," 2016-17. Gedenkstätte und Museum Trutzhain, March 16, 2017. Puppets made by French prisoners of war at the Stalag IX A Ziegenhain prison camp. The site has been used since 1948 to accommodate Heimatvertriebene (expellees) and refugees of German descent from eastern Europe, becoming the municipality of Trutzhain in 1951. Courtesy of the artist, © Ahlam Shibli

NEWS ROUNDUP

Palestinian Artist Considers Meaning of Home

The latest web commission at the Remai Modern in Saskatoon continues to build the international flavour of the Saskatoon gallery, which will opens Oct. 21.  Staring, Nine episodes from al-Khalil/Hebron (Palestine) and Kassel (Germany), a work by Palestinian photographer Ahlam Shibli, is featured on the museum’s website this month. A suite of images that further develops Shibli’s Occupation, it brings together photographs taken in Palestine and Germany in 2016 and 2017. Shibli was searching for evidence of the notion of home, but found manifestations of an evasive place marked by politics, economics and ideologies. “Ahlam Shibli’s work is perceptive and profound,” says Geoffrey Burke, the Remai’s director. “There is a stillness and intimacy to her photographs that invites the viewer to spend time, to see and feel the humanity that is often obscured by polemics, preconceptions or apathy.” Previous web commissions by Ryan Gander, Tammi Campbell, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Thomas Hirschhorn, Taysir Batniji, Pedro Barateiro, Kara Uzelman, Rosa Barba, Amanda Beech, Ellen Moffat, Duane Linklater, Lynne Marsh and Raqs Media Collective remain accessible in the gallery’s online archive.
In other news:

29 August 2017

JOE FAFARD AT 75

Joe Fafard, "TLC," 2017, patinated bronze, 11.5" x 13.5" x 8"

COVER STORY

Joe Fafard: Still Working at 75

Joe Fafard wants everyone to know that, despite turning 75 on Sept. 2, he plans to continue making art for many years to come. That’s why he has titled his latest exhibition ’Til the Cows Come Home. It opens Sept. 1 at Slate Gallery in Regina. “I want to keep going until the cows come home,” explains Saskatchewan’s most celebrated sculptor. And if any city folk don’t understand the meaning of that expression, let’s just say Fafard doesn’t expect to retire any time soon. While the Slate exhibition is deliberately timed to mark Fafard’s birthday, it’s not his only iron in the fire. A travelling exhibition of his small steel works began earlier this year in the Alberta communities of Medicine Hat and Sherwood Park and will resume next year in Whitehorse and the Saskatchewan cities of Swift Current and Prince Albert. Fafard has been hoping to have about 20 bronze animal sculptures completed in time for the Slate exhibition. Many are new additions to the Fafard menagerie, best known for cows, coyotes and bison. New beasts on the block include a muskox, a donkey, a young deer sprouting antlers, a Poitevin draft horse and a mule. These animals range in height from just a few inches to 40 inches. Fafard, in an interview earlier this summer, seemed most excited about a planned larger-than-life prairie dog. “It’s almost a humorous piece, very Buddha-like.” More ►

– Paul Gessell

FIVE THINGS

History of Western Galleries Looks at Regionalism

47

The National Gallery of Canada’s “paternalism” in promoting its vision of Canadian art in the West receives a pointed critique in a new book about the history of public art galleries in Western Canada. Author Anne Whitelaw, an art historian at Concordia University in Montreal, says the recent move by the National Gallery to operate satellite spaces within the Art Gallery of Alberta and the Winnipeg Art Gallery is the latest incarnation of programs in the 1900s that offered fine arts programming to nascent galleries in the West. “Both as a service to smaller arts organizations and attempts to educate the Canadian public about art, these exhibition programs appear to share a certain paternalism – a concern over the qualities of exhibitions organized by smaller galleries and faith in the ability of the national institution to bring excellence to the regions,” Whitelaw writes in her epilogue to Spaces and Places for Art: Making Art Institutions in Western Canada, 1912-1990. Whitelaw points to current debates in arts communities in Winnipeg and Edmonton, where some decry what they see as the failure of public galleries to sufficiently support and present work by local artists. She notes that shows such as the Disasters of War and Los Caprichos by Francisco de Goya, an initial 2010 show provided by the National Gallery in its dedicated space within the Edmonton gallery, boost museum attendance but are of “little benefit to raising the profile of local artists.” More ►

Marcia Harris, "Peyto," 2017, acrylic on board, 48" x 48"

FIVE THINGS

Landscape Geometry

48

After taking a break to raise two children, now seven and three, Calgary artist Marcia Harris is back with a show  at the Elevation Contemporary Art Gallery in Canmore, Alta., that presents a series of landscapes, often with added geometric elements such as diamonds and triangles. Peyto, for instance, is based on a photograph of Peyto Lake in Banff National Park. Its vantage point is high, overlooking lake and mountains, but suspended in middle ground is the outline of a diamond. Harris is interested in the concept of beauty as it pertains to nature. “The architect in this natural world has designed a perfect image within the landscape,” she says. She enjoys the awkwardness that occurs when organic forms and precise geometry are juxtaposed and plays with how they both interrupt and complement each other. The show’s title, The In Between, refers to that tension. “I appreciate how the shapes and lines either settle in or appear to stand out,” she says. “There is a dichotomy between the reality and the uncertainties.” The show, which runs until Aug. 17, also includes paintings of suburban houses. Harris has done previous work about the destruction of B.C. forests by the mountain pine beetle and the collapse of bee colonies. Her work is in the collection of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.

FROM THE EDITOR

 

The dog days of summer – when I first heard the expression as a young intern at the Calgary Herald, I wondered what it meant. Well, here I am again, many years later, in the dog days, but now the Internet can effortlessly satisfy my curiosity.

According to National Geographic, the expression has nothing to do with dogs panting in the sun. Rather, it refers to a period of time when Sirius, the Dog Star, rises just before the sun, usually in late July, a reference that dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. And as dictionary.com notes, the dog days have come to mean a period of lethargy, inactivity or indolence.

While I won't admit to indolence – well, perhaps a few extra-long lunches – this issue, oddly enough, features two stories illustrated with canoes, a prime site for dog-day reverie. One relates to an exhibition in Calgary that explores Canada’s collective romance with the canoe. The other looks at a new book by National Gallery of Canada director Marc Mayer and the Indigenous work now displayed at the venerable Ottawa institution.

There’s also a focus on photography. Our cover story is about an exhibition culled from the photo archives of the Globe and Mail that's now on view at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton. There’s also a story about the work of early Japanese-Canadian portrait photographers at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, and another about contemporary Calgary artist Blake Chorley, who uses photo techniques from the 1800s to create images that seem to step back in time.

And what dog day would be complete without an idyll in the Greek Isles? Ours is brought to you by Calgary curator Caterina Pizanias, who organized a show on Tinos, an island popular with Greek artists and intellectuals, by three Western Canadian artists – Ron Moppett, Allyson Glenn and Colleen Heslin.

Looking ahead to future issues, our writers are at work on cover stories about the Stages project being organized by the Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art in Winnipeg. And we’re also talking to Joe Fafard, whose upcoming show at the Slate Fine Art Gallery in Regina will mark his 75th birthday.

Please enjoy reading this issue – perhaps even in a canoe.

Until next time,

 

MASTHEAD

01 August 2017

Volume 2 Number 16 Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

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 Paul Gessell, Fish Griwkoswsky
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

Hayashi Studio, “Kiyoshi Shirimoto and his dog,” no date, digital print and scan from glass-plate negative, courtesy of Cumberland Museum and Archives

FIVE THINGS

Japanese-Canadian Studio Portraiture

49

A small exhibition tucked into a back gallery at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria looks at the once-thriving business of studio portraiture – with an unusual twist. The images are by Japanese-Canadian photographers from the Vancouver Island village of Cumberland in the early 1900s. Mirror With Memory, on view until Sept. 4, shows a diverse range of residents sitting or standing in classic studio style in their best clothes. Six copies of a photo measuring five inches by seven inches cost up to $6 at a time when local miners earned $4 a day. But many of the Japanese, who had come to Canada seeking prosperity, thought it a good investment. “The serious and dignified demeanor of the subjects of these photographs, and the appearance of being in full control of their destiny, if only for the moment of the flash of the camera, is the reassuring image that was sent to parents and relatives back home in Japan,” Grace Eiko Thomson writes in a book about Japanese-Canadian photography. More ►

– Portia Priegert

Amber Bracken, "People carry an American and a Mohawk Warrior Society flag at a protest camp against the Dakota Access Pipeline, in Cannon Ball, North Dakota."

NEWS ROUNDUP

Edmonton Photojournalist Wins International Prize

Images by Edmonton photographer Amber Bracken, who won an international photography award for her images of a pipeline standoff in North Dakota, will be part of the World Press Photo exhibition at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa until Sept. 13. The show features 152 large-format photographs, including the work that earned Bracken first prize in the Stories section of Contemporary Issues. Her five-week series looks at the Dakota Access Pipeline standoff at Standing Rock. A section of the 1,886-kilometer-long underground oil pipeline close to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, was awaiting federal approval in 2016. The Sioux opposed the line, fearing water contamination and damage to sacred sites, and their protest gained wide attention. More than 5,000 photographers from 126 countries submitted some 80,000 images to the contest. The overall winner was Burhan Ozbilici, who photographed the assassination of Russian ambassador Andrey Karlov last year in an Ankara art gallery. Two other  Canadians  won awards in a sports category: Giovanni Capriotti, of Toronto, for his stereotype-busting portfolio of the Muddy York Rugby Football Club — a gay men’s rugby team — and Darren Calabrese, of Halifax, for his images of CrossFit athlete Lindsay Hilton, who was born without full limbs. The World Press Photo Foundation, a non-profit group that works to advance photojournalism, organized the contest. The exhibition is touring 100 cities in 45 countries, including Montreal, Toronto and Chicoutimi, Que.
In other news:

  • Some 50 artists from across Canada  including Winnipeg’s Diana Thorneycroft and Kae Sasaki, Montreal’s Corri-Lynn Tetz, West Kelowna’s John Hall and Vancouver’s Nancy Boyd, Ester Burghardt and Brigitta Kocsis  are finalists for the Salt Spring National Arts Prize. The winner will be announced Oct. 21.
  • Raymond Boisjoly, from the Haida Nation, is one of four artists shortlisted for this year’s $50,000 Aimia | AGO Photography Prize. An exhibition by Boisjoly and the other finalists – Liz Johnson Artur (Ghana/Russia), Hank Willis Thomas (United States) and Taisuke Koyama (Japan) – will open Sept. 6 at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.
  • Five Western Canadian artists  Vancouver’s Douglas Coupland, Derek Root and Jill Anhalt as well as Calgary’s Geoff McFetridge and Derek Michael Besant – are among the 13 artists selected for some $7.3 million of art in 13 Light Rail Transit stations in Ottawa.
  • A Winnipeg group, Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art, has received Canada Council funding to exhibit the artworks of 50 contemporary Indigenous women on billboards from coast to coast next year. Titled Resilience, the project is curated by Lee-Ann Martin as a response to the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
  • Liquidity Wines, a winery in Okanagan Falls, B.C., is showing work by Canadian artist Tim Okamura.
  • An image of a grizzly bear by Allan Hancock, represented by the Peninsula Gallery on Vancouver Island, will be featured on a new $20 silver coin produced for collectors by the Royal Canadian Mint.
  • Barry Till is retiring as Asian arts curator at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria at the end of September.
  • Curator Ben Portis has been killed in an auto accident near Barrie, Ont.
Blake Chorley, "Lake O’Hara," 2016, multilayer ambrotype, 24" x 20"

FIVE THINGS

Photographer Steps Back Into Time

50

Looking at Blake Chorley’s landscape photography is like stepping back in time. While it seems everyone is now posting quickie phone shots to Instagram, Chorley is carving a niche with painstaking labour over black-and-white images that not only use analog technology but reach further back to the old wet-plate processes of the 1800s. His approach evolved out of a need to be more thoughtful and focus on producing a few excellent images rather than the myriad so-so shots that digital photography enables. In essence, he says, he wanted to savour the landscape rather than focus on conquering a goal. “The slowing down really allowed me to start seeing all those other views that were along the way to the destination,” he says. “So that gave me motivation to try and slow down even further.” Chorley, who grew up in Toronto and moved West to do a Master’s degree at the University of Calgary, enjoys the outdoors. So he decided to focus on what he calls “pristine views” of wilderness scenes, primarily in the Rockies. Ten of those images are showing at the Christine Klassen Gallery in Calgary until Aug. 19. More ►

– Portia Priegert

Unknown Photographer, "Dorothy Cameron, Toronto art dealer," 1965, gift of the Globe and Mail newspaper to the Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada. (Every reasonable effort has been made to identify and contact copyright holders to obtain permission to reproduce these images. We apologize for any inadvertent omissions. If you have any queries please contact: reproductions@ngc.ca.)

COVER STORY

Stories of Newspaper Photography

An exhibition of newspaper photography sure as hell better tell a good story. But more than being some mere history of the Cold War era from which its black-and-white images are drawn, Cutline: From the Photography Archives of the Globe and Mail is a dog-eared shrine to the waning physicality of photographs as objects – chemically processed paper mementos that generations of cut-and-paste deadliners visually manipulated and labelled on the backside. These were then slid into the image morgue – though not forever, it turns out. The informative captions, the cutlines of the show’s title, play a big part in this fascinating exhibition, on view until Nov. 12 at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton. The images, housed in museum-style cabinets, are clustered into a dozen non-linear thematic sections titled with caption excerpts. The groupings are as specific as the humble architecture of the small port of Moosonee, in Northern Ontario, or more generalized arrays like sports, celebrity and civil unrest – one of the few places where not every face is white. More ►

– Fish Griwkowsky 

1 August 2017

NEWSPAPER PHOTOGRAPHY

Frances Anne Hopkins, “Canoe Party Around a Campfire,” 1870, Collection of Library and Archives Canada

FIVE THINGS

Romancing the Canoe in Calgary

51

Although we now consider canoes to be recreational vehicles, they have an age-old history that begins with the First Nations. Constructed from natural materials such as birch bark, canoes were a vital form of transportation as they were much faster than hiking through brush and clambering over rocks. They were quickly adopted by European explorers as far back as Samuel de Champlain, who arrived near what is Tadoussac, Que., in 1603, and also played a vital role in the subsequent fur trade and colonization of Canada. Thus, Romancing the Canoe, on view at the Glenbow in Calgary until Sept. 10, is timely, both as a summer show and as yet another marker of Canada’s 150th anniversary. Curator Roger Boulet pulled works – mostly paintings, though the show includes a vintage birch-bark canoe “in wonderful condition” – from the Glenbow’s storage vaults, and borrowed other pieces from private collections in Calgary, along with some from other institutional collections. He chose a roughly chronological approach, but structured the exhibition around a handful of key themes. “It’s kind of intuitive,” he says of his curatorial approach. “It’s not all kind of rational and calculated. You go with what’s there. You have a couple of ideas and you see what’s possible.” Early Europeans were impressed by how easy it was to manoeuvre canoes. “They marvelled at the design, speed and versatility,” says Boulet. The canoe became the vehicle of choice for fur traders who plied waterways into the interior of the continent. Frances Anne Hopkins, who traveled by canoe in the mid-1800s through the Great Lakes with her husband, Edward, a Hudson’s Bay Company official, is known for her paintings of voyageurs. Canoe Party Around a Campfire, painted in 1870, shows men using light from a torch to inspect an upturned canoe for damage that might need repair. More ►

"Canadian and Indigenous Art: From Time Immemorial to 1967," installation view, June 2017, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, photo by NGC

FIVE THINGS

A More Inclusive History

52

Winnipeg’s Katherine Boyer is one of three artists picked by the Canada Council for the Arts for a 60th anniversary project about “the future of art.” Boyer, a Métis, will spend a few weeks in December beading in the council’s downtown Ottawa gallery, Âjagemô. Yes, the council calls beading “the future of art.” Indeed, young Indigenous artists increasingly find it “cool” to bead, says independent Aboriginal curator Alexandra Nahwegahbow. Beadwork, like other Indigenous art, is playing an increasingly important role in Canadian art history. The National Gallery of Canada opened its new Canadian and Indigenous galleries this summer, placing scores of pre-contact to contemporary Indigenous works, including beading, alongside “settler” art to offer a more inclusive historical account. In conjunction with this recasting, gallery director Marc Mayer produced a coffee table book, Art in Canada, to introduce various genres and eras and to talk of things to come. This being the country’s sesquicentennial, the book contains large colour images of 150 iconic works, including William Kurelek’s Manitoba Party and Joyce Wieland’s Reason Over Passion. But also included is a 2013 beadwork by Aboriginal artist Nadia Myre titled For those who cannot speak: The land, the water, the animals and the future generations. There is also a late 19th-century bag beaded by an unknown Métis or Cree artist from the West. More ►

– Paul Gessell

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

ISSN 2561-3316

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

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

FIVE THNGS

Gordon Bennett: Be Polite

53

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

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?”
In other news:

 

 

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

54

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

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

FIVE THINGS

Saskatchewan’s Maritime Museum

55

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

18 July 2017

GLASS GEOMETRIES

Colleen Heslin, "Dark Matter," 2017, ink and dye on sewn canvas, 6.5' x 5'

FIVE THINGS

Greek Idyll for Three Western Artists

56

Works by three Canadian artists are on an idyll in the Greek isles until Aug. 20 as part of an exhibition, Open Horizons, organized by a Calgary curator to mark both Canada’s 150th anniversary and 75 years of diplomacy between Greece and Canada. The artists – Calgary’s Ron Moppett, Saskatoon’s Allyson Glenn and Vancouver’s Colleen Heslin – push the boundaries and hierarchies of art, says independent curator Caterina Pizanias, who organized the show for the Cultural Foundation of Tinos, an island popular with Greek artists and intellectuals. “In visually innovative ways, they speak of and depict the physical vastness of the Canadian landscape,” says Pizanias. “They favour covering the canvas, at times extending the works onto the floor, creating powerful installation works that tell stories of a world in a state of flux.” These are works, says Pizanias, that can withstand the challenges of the Aegean Sea – its endless blue horizon and relentless light and, above all, the myriad stories buried in its depths and washed up on its shores. More ►

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

ISSN 2561-3316

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

4 July 2017

MARIA HUPFIELD

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

57

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 ►

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

58

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 ►

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

FIVE THINGS

Paddy Lamb’s Broken Treasures

59

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

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)

60

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.
In other news:

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

FIVE THINGS

Adrian Stimson Honours Indigenous Warriors

61

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

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

62

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

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

63

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

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

64

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 ►

Karen Tam, "Flying Cormorant Studio (for Lee Nam)," 2014-2017, multimedia installation with paintings by Lui Luk Chun, Tam Yuen Yin Law, Huang Junbi, Gao Jianfu, Qi Baishi and Emily Carr

FIVE THINGS

Karen Tam’s Chinatown Studio

65

A Chinese artist who befriended Emily Carr in the early 1930s is the focus of a Victoria exhibition by Montreal’s Karen Tam. Little is known about Lee Nam, apart from several references to him in Carr’s writing. Tam, best known for recreating Chinese restaurants in galleries across Canada as a way of recovering lost histories about migrants, spent a month in Victoria searching for information about Nam. Her installation, With wings like clouds hung from the sky, on view at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria until Sept. 4, re-imagines what his Chinatown studio might have looked like. It’s equipped with brushes and inks for traditional painting as well as work by various artists, including Montreal-based Lui Luk Chun and Tam’s mother, Yuen Yin Law. Ultimately, Nam remains a shadowy figure. Tam was unable to find any photos of him, although she did a series of watercolours based on period photos of immigrants with the same name. She is not even sure the name that Carr recorded is correct –many early immigrants were “paper sons” who bought travel documents from other people. At the entrance to the show, Tam has posted an unsigned image of some chickens, thought to have been painted by either Nam or Carr. “It’s the closest physical evidence we have of him,” she says. More ►

– Portia Priegert

Jean Paul Riopelle, "Vent du nord," 1952/53, oil on canvas, 51" x 76.8" image courtesy of Heffel Fine Art Auction House

FIVE THINGS

Riopelle Tops Spring Auctions

66

The spring art auctions in Toronto saw Jean Paul Riopelle’s abstract painting Vent du nord fetch more than $7.4 million, a record for the late Quebec artist and the second most expensive art sale in Canadian history. The work, done in 1952-53, was sold by Heffel Fine Art for far more than its estimated value of $1 million to $1.5 million. Last fall, Heffel sold Lawren Harris’ Mountain Forms  for more than $11.2 million, more than doubling the previous record for Canadian art. Still, the sales season overall  was a bit of a roller coaster ride with plenty of ups and downs, reports Galleries West correspondent Doug Maclean. To read his full report, click here.
 

Tammy McGrath, “Adagio in G Minor: A Lullaby,” 2017, performance, installation and sound, installation view, photo by Claire Coutts

FIVE THINGS

Tammy McGrath’s Adagio in G Minor: A Lullaby

67

“Gone the way of the dodo” is an all-too-common lament, uttered when yet another species joins the growing list of recent extinctions. In Tammy McGrath’s exhibition, Adagio in G Minor: A Lullaby, at Calgary’s New Gallery until June 24, a fictional dodo plays a central role in an eloquent yet unsettling tale about truth, knowledge and history. The installation includes a 30-foot paper scroll listing every censored or banned book the artist has noted to date. This perpetual list has been meticulously recorded using an antique typewriter smattered with broken keys, resulting in the random censoring of words as the text is typed. Accompanying these objects is an audio piece infusing the space with the melodic sound of Calgary artist and musician Rita McKeough reciting McGrath’s fictional account of the enigmatic dodo devouring books. More ►

– Lissa Robinson

Installation view of "Oh Ceramics" showing work by Juliana Rempel (wall) and Martin Tagseth (foreground)

FIVE THINGS

Oh Ceramics Explores Canadiana

68

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, the Esplanade Art Gallery in Medicine Hat, Alta., invited 17 ceramic artists to explore Canadian themes and identities. The outcome, displayed in Oh Ceramics until July 1, offers diverse work that takes on added symbolic weight in a city known for its historical clay industry. For instance, Stewart Jacobs’ colourful work celebrates the Squamish Nation with traditional Coast Salish depictions of the landforms and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest. Meanwhile, Juliana Rempel, who was raised in Medicine Hat, created One By One, a series of 150 wall-mounted ceramic plates that feature the dramatic lines of the prairie landscape. The first platter in the installation is blank and each subsequent platter includes one additional line or decorative element. The progression to the final image – a farmyard – evokes the process of European colonization. More ►

– Quentin Randall

Keith Wood, "Non-Fiction 13," 2017, encaustic on paper, 22" x 30” Images courtesy Gurevich Fine Art, Winnipeg

FIVE THINGS

A Page From Keith Wood’s Book

69

Keith Wood chose a plucky name for his latest show of abstract works on paper: Non-Fiction. The two dozen or so unframed pieces on view at Gurevich Fine Art in Winnipeg until June 30 aren’t really about anything, he says, though they do resemble pages torn from a book. The title, he adds, “just popped into my head.” Wood likes ambiguity and avoids naming individual pieces. “The problem with titling is that people start looking for things,” he says. “You know, if you give it a specific title, then they try to find arms and legs.” His art is process driven, so he has little idea where he’s headed when he starts working. But he’s mainly interested in formal pictorial elements like shape, colour and line and how they relate to each other. “My work isn’t complicated and it’s not heavy work,” he says. “There’s no message in it.” Wood, 73, drifted into abstraction after many years of representational painting. He’s been using encaustic for about a decade, mixing pigments into melted wax, then quickly brushing it on before it cools and hardens. If you visit his Winnipeg studio, you’ll see a bunch of pots and pans that he uses to melt the wax. Wood was drawn to encaustic because of the way it holds light – pigments never dissolve into the wax but are suspended within it. “The light seems to come from inside the painting,” he says. More ►

– Portia Priegert

Andy Warhol, "Wayne Gretzky 99," 1984, serigraph, installation view, Art Gallery of Alberta Collection, gift of Dr. Robert Tate, 1986

NEWS ROUNDUP

Warhol’s Gretzky Gets Ice Time

70

The Art Gallery of Alberta and two East Coast galleries are teaming up to present famous Warhol prints of hockey star Wayne Gretzky in a new exhibition – Gretzky is Everywhere. Warhol was apparently a fan of The Great One back in the day. “He’s more than a hockey player, he’s an entertainer,” Warhol said of Gretzky in 1983. “An entertaining hockey player.” Four versions of Warhol’s 1984 print, Wayne Gretzky 99, are on view in Edmonton until Sept. 24. All are from the gallery’s permanent collection. One is being live-streamed simultaneously with two other prints, one at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown and the other at The Rooms in St. John’s, Nfld. Visitors can see the prints while also getting a glimpse of viewers at the two other galleries. Their interactions with the camera become part of the show, offering the fabled 15 minutes of fame, however modest. “Gretzky is Everywhere provides us the opportunity to work with colleagues and collections across the country while celebrating an iconic Canadian figure,” says Laura Ritchie, head of exhibitions and collections management at the Art Gallery of Alberta. “It’s a national endeavour that brings arts institutions and celebrity fans alike together in the spirit of Andy Warhol’s practice.” The show is curated by Mireille Egan and Pam Wendt.
In other news:

FROM THE EDITOR

When I was studying for a Master's degree at UBC, we read theory – a lot of theory. Often, the most profound insights were the simplest. Like Judith Butler's assertion that the self is never fully transparent to itself, an idea I disputed at the time but have since come to realize is achingly true. Then there is Eve Sedgwick's statement that "people are different." This I had less trouble accepting – I'd made that discovery as a young journalist. Over and over, I would think I knew what people were going to say, and over and over they would surprise me. One wonderful thing about talking with strangers, whether you're a reporter or not, is that you never reach a point where you can no longer be surprised. There is always something to learn.

While working on this issue, I had yet another surprise – a marriage proposal, of sorts. It was a first, popped out in that odd, lopsided intimacy that the best journalists seemingly conjure out of nowhere. "Hey," the artist said, "if you married me, you could have all my work." OK, maybe that's just what passed for flirting back in the day, but I took it more as an artistic cri de coeur of an existential nature: "Who will care for my work after I am gone?" It reminded me of calls I've had from strangers over the years – here at Galleries West and also at the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Arts, when I worked there, from relatives facing a studio crammed with work after an artist's sudden death. Bereft and overwhelmed, they are faced, on an intimate personal level, with preserving meaning or erasing a history.

I understand the pain of dismantling a studio. Before I moved to Victoria, my precious $100-a-month sanctuary in Kelowna was facing redevelopment. I sold what I could, gave away pieces to friends, and made a trip to the dump. There's something heartbreaking about standing at the lip of an open pit and tipping art you've worked and reworked, yet never quite resolved, into the abyss. It's not as sad as breaking up with someone you love, or scattering the ashes of your parents, but it's the loss of something close to the bone, something once imbued with such possibility.

Where is this all leading? Well, not to be too metaphysical, but this issue of Galleries West, like many before it, seems guided by an invisible hand. Stories I assign piecemeal, in haste, somehow morph back finding echoes in other stories, creating a network of invisible threads, a rhizomatic growth I could never have planned. In this issue, the last before a sesquicentennial both celebrated and contested, I feel the ache of history, identity and the passage of time.

As Canadians, our collective understanding of history is more complex than it was 50 years ago. We are less a country of mindless boosterism; we have a more nuanced, if still emerging, understanding of the shadow side of history, the human and environmental costs tithed at the altar of colonialism and the reductionist erasures of unofficial histories and cultural identities, to list but a few. This sensibility, to me, is reflected in the latest work of Kent Monkman, Karen Tam and Tammy McGrath, as well as some pieces in the Oh Ceramics show in Medicine Hat. They invite reflection about where we have been and how that understanding informs the future.

As always, I end this note with a gentle request to sign up for the email reminder  we send out when we publish a new issue each second Tuesday. As a subscriber to this free online magazine, you help sustain our growth, and we, in turn, help sustain artists and their work. Many in the West have been left out of national conversations about culture. Galleries West Digital is a way to make artists more visible. Canadians are diverse, different one from the other. In hearing the stories of others, we mature and become more transparent to ourselves.

Until next time,

 

MASTHEAD

20 June 2017

Volume 2 Number 13 Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

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 Paul Gessell, Doug Maclean, Quentin Randall, Lissa Robinson
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

Jason de Haan, "Hope, Love, Peace, Generosity, Purpose, Harmony," 2008, minerals, crystals, car speakers, amplifier, CD player and soundtrack, installation view, courtesy the artist and Clint Roenisch Gallery

COVER STORY

Jason de Haan’s Time Capsule

Calgary-based artist Jason de Haan is respected across Canada and abroad, and was due for greater recognition at home when the Esker Foundation stepped up with a solo show. Oh for eyes! At night we dream of eyes! gives his multidisciplinary work the space and support it needs and deserves. Curated by Naomi Potter and Shauna Thompson, it’s playful, captivating and, at times, elegiac – a gem of an exhibition that provides an effective framework to grasp why there’s so much buzz around de Haan. The show, which runs until Aug. 27, is a synthesis of de Haan’s abiding interests. It starts by immersing viewers in a soundscape of gentle vibrations, inviting them to listen, see and feel, as they breathe in de Haan’s art-making process. Moving through the spaces, you might think you are in a science lab or a sci-fi set, a cabinet of curiosities or a gallery of minimal conceptual sculpture. Or all of the above, but with a twist. The art takes various forms – installation, sculpture, photography and collage – but is always rich with associations, fascinating materials and unconventional processes. De Haan first showed Hope, Love, Peace, Generosity, Purpose, Harmony in 2008 at Galerie Sans Nom, an artist-run centre in New Brunswick, as “a gesture of good will” with a characteristic tone of gentle humour. The materials include a teenager’s dream collection of crystals and car speakers, along with cinder blocks and an old sound system. It’s rigged up in a do-it-yourself manner so sound waves oscillate from the highest to lowest frequencies perceptible to the human ear through a circle of the upturned speakers, each piled up with crystals that reverberate at various frequencies. There’s a healthy skepticism about the presumed “healing” properties of crystals, mixed with a dash of “what if?” The work has been shown in many venues, but at the Esker, de Haan magnifies its effect, using the scale and acoustics of the gallery to full advantage by enlarging the circle with two additional speakers and allowing the hypnotic, ambient drone to infuse the entire gallery. More ►

– Katherine Ylitalo

06 June 2017

JASON DE HAAN’S TIME CAPSULE

  FROM THE EDITOR

One of the pleasures of my life is talking to artists and writing about art. I especially enjoy art that engages with social and political issues, helping us consider the realities of contemporary life. In optimistic moments, I like to think art can help change the world, whether by prompting dialogue, offering space for contemplation, or reframing seemingly insoluble dilemmas, of which there is no current shortage.

The troubled state of the environment is one such problem. I recently watched a documentary film called A Plastic Ocean, at a Victoria screening organized by the Vancouver Island Surfrider Foundation, a group that works to preserve oceans and beaches. The film’s horrific images of animals that had starved to death after their stomachs became engorged with plastic waste – as well as chilling scientific research about the impact of the tiny plastic fibres that wash out of our stretchy, form-fitting garments and into lakes, rivers and oceans – has led me to see how much plastic I can remove from my life.

When I noticed a show in Manitoba by artist Kelly Jazvac, who has been making art from plastic refuse for a decade, I jumped at the chance to interview her. She offered a fascinating account of her work, but what most caught my imagination was her research into a new kind of rock, for lack of a better word, created by beach fires when melted plastic bonds with sand, rocks and coral.

You’ll find that article in this issue, along with a cover story by Katherine Ylitalo about Calgary artist Jason de Haan, whose fascinating show at the Esker Foundation includes crystals and fossils in works that both collapse and expand the perception of time. We also have a review of the latest Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art by Agnieszka Matejko, and a preview about Montreal-based artist Laurent Craste, who is showing his ceramic sculptures at Vancouver’s Back Gallery Project, his first show in Western Canada. There are also two stories from further afield by Paul Gessell, one about a show of Canadian art in Britain and the other about a new project to create art in Canada’s national parks.

I encourage you to sign up for a free email reminder. The magazine, which we post every second Tuesday, is free and we never share your personal information. As a subscriber, you support a dialogue about the arts and help artists reach a wider public.

Until next time,

 

MASTHEAD

06 June 2017

Volume 2 Number 12 Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

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 Paul Gessell, Agnieszka Matejko, Katherine Ylitalo
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

Kelly Jazvac, "Plastiglomerate Sample," 2013, displayed as a found object sculpture (Plastiglomerate is a new type of stone made by the fusion of molten plastic with beach sediment, such as sand, wood, coral and rock. It is researched by a collaborative team including Jazvac, geologist Patricia Corcoran and oceanographer Charles Moore.) Photo by Jeff Elstone.

FIVE THINGS

Kelly Jazvac Makes Art from Plastic Waste

71

Kelly Jazvac’s heart fell when she first saw the plastic littering Kamilo Beach on the southeast coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. “You could name a plastic object and find it on that beach,” she says. “You know, a door, a toothbrush, glue, a flip-flop, a pen that has a little sexy lady inside that slides up and down when you move the pen.” To scoop up a handful of sand on that beach was to see myriad bits of degraded plastic, scraps that birds and other wildlife often mistake for food. Eventually, those animals are so full of plastic they can no longer eat and starve to death. The garbage comes from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a vast soupy island of marine debris, mostly plastics, amassed by ocean currents from different countries around the world. At times, the beach is piled waist high, despite efforts by a couple of area residents to haul it away to a nearby dump. “It was devastating,” says Jazvac, a professor at Western University in London, Ont. Higher on the beach, she picked up what’s been dubbed plastiglomerate, a stony mix of melted plastics – things like ropes and bottle caps – bonded with natural materials such as sand, rock and coral. This is not a beach that tourists visit. But locals use it, starting bonfires and perhaps also burning the plastic waste, as is done in other parts of the world where plastiglomerate is found. Jazvac has displayed this strange new amalgam in art exhibitions across Canada and the United States. One chunk, about the size of a cantaloupe, is on view until June 30 at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba in Brandon as part of Jazvac’s solo show, Sharp and Numb. It’s a survey of art she has made from plastic refuse over the last decade. Her plastiglomerate will also be part of a group show, An Absolute Movement, which looks at climate change and environmental crisis, at Vancouver’s Or Gallery from June 17 to July 22. More ►

– Portia Priegert

Laurent Craste, "Révolution III," 2016, porcelain, glaze and axe, 30" x 12" x 17"

FIVE THINGS

Laurent Craste Wields His Axe

72

Montreal-based ceramic artist Laurent Craste sinks axes, as well as knives and baseball bats – the kind of weapons wielded by thugs and sometimes protesters against class privilege – into elegant porcelain vases. You might expect an explosion of clay shards, but it’s less the moment of violence that Craste exploits than the implied attack on the art object. For instance, in Révolution III, the vase’s white porcelain seemingly warps and distends to accommodate the axe, defying the brittle properties of fired clay and suggesting instead something more fluid and malleable, albeit frozen in time. Don’t worry, Craste jokes: “No vase was hurt during this process.” In other words, he builds the sculptures in their final punctured, battered and lopsided shapes, adding the actual weapon as a finishing touch after firing. “It looks violent, but it’s not a violent process,” he says. “It’s all completely controlled.” Craste is showing 17 pieces from Abuse, an ongoing series he has worked on for more than seven years, at the Back Gallery Project in Vancouver from June 8 to July 1. It’s his first show in Western Canada. More ►

– Portia Priegert

Damian Moppett, "Studio in Basement (Combine)," 2005, watercolour on paper, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, gift of the Rennie Foundation, 2017 © Damian Moppett, Courtesy Rennie Collection, Vancouver, photo by Blaine Campbell

NEWS ROUNDUP

Moppets Show at National Gallery

73

The National Gallery of Canada is presenting Related Works: Ron Moppett and Damian Moppett, as part of its ongoing Masterpiece in Focus series. The father and son duo are established Canadian artists whose works have been collected by the gallery for years. The Moppetts recently had a joint show at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton. This latest exhibition in Ottawa tells how key works by each artist became part of the National Gallery’s collection, whether through purchase or by donation from collectors or the artists themselves. The show considers the nature of artistic production and conceptions of the artist’s studio. It includes Ron’s multi-panel production Whatif/Twilight, a 2008 work nearly destroyed during  the 2013 Calgary flood. National Gallery conservators spent a year restoring the painting, which was donated in 2015. The show also includes a selection of more than 40 works from Damian’s Watercolour Drawing Project. Vancouver collector Bob Rennie acquired the entire suite of some 130 works, which he recently donated to the gallery. The show is on view until Sept. 10.
In other news:

 

 

 

Kristopher Karklin, "Home," 2016, vinyl, 144" x 216", courtesy of the artist

FIVE THINGS

Mixed Results at the Alberta Biennial

74

It’s hard to overstate the value of biennials. These bastions of experimentation and fresh vision can catapult artists to new heights while offering the public snapshots of contemporary art from around the world. Biennials are to art what the Olympics are to sport. The Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art, while smaller and less encompassing than the 100 or so international events, is nonetheless highly anticipated. Over the last two decades, it has featured 222 regional artists. This 10th iteration, on view until Sept. 10, is titled For the Time Being. Two curators from the Banff Centre, Peta Rake, curator of the Walter Phillips Gallery, and Kristy Trinier, director of visual, digital and media arts, visited studios across Alberta. They invited 24 artists to a retreat last summer at the Banff Centre. Internationally acclaimed curators led workshops on themes such as the status of biennials and their regional and global impact. The resulting conversations helped structure the ideas this cohort of artists subsequently developed into the work featured at two sister exhibitions. The first opened May 27 at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton; the second opens June 24 at the Walter Phillips Gallery. The results of this intriguing curatorial emphasis on collective engagement and discussions are mixed. Perhaps grounding the artists in the cultural impact and global significance of biennials prompted some amongst this relatively young cohort – at least half graduated after 2010 – to overreach. More ►

– Agnieszka Matejko

  FROM THE EDITOR

It’s been six months since Galleries West launched as a biweekly digital magazine. The constant deadlines are a big change from publishing three times a year, as we did with the print magazine. So too is our new interest in metrics and algorithms. But the change has made it easier to cover stories as they happen, and highlight exhibitions while people can still get out to see them.

Aside from immediacy, the digital magazine allows us to broaden our reach. No longer limited by press runs and delivery vans, we have seen more people accessing our stories – some 32,000 unique views over the last four months, some from as far away as Australia.

We’ve obliged by offering a mix of stories, reviews and news with links that take readers to our main website if they want more information. Some people are confused about the two websites. For me, the best analogy comes from the art world. Galleries West Digital is like a temporary show of new acquisitions, but the stories are also a part of the permanent collection – the website we’ve always maintained as a backup to the print issue.

We designed Galleries West Digital so it is navigated visually. You scroll across the images, but scroll down to read. If you’re on a coffee break, that may be all you have time for. But if you’re interested in a particular artist or want to see more images, you can click on the link at the end of the text.

Our focus is on finding engaging stories about artists and exhibitions across Western Canada and the North, regions that often get little attention from national arts publications. In this issue, for instance, we catch up with Tim Okamura, an artist from Edmonton who has achieved remarkable success in New York by painting portraits of people the art world often overlooks. We also look at a gutsy project by Nicole Bauberger, a Yukon artist who paints what is arguably the most common understanding of the Canadian landscape – the view from the highway. And Winnipeg writer Stacey Abramson is back with a review of Filipino-Canadian artist Patrick Cruz at the Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art in Winnipeg.

I encourage you to sign up for a free email reminder. The magazine, which we post every second Tuesday, is free and we never share your personal information. As a subscriber, you support a dialogue about the arts and help artists reach a wider public.

Until next time,

MASTHEAD

23 May 2017

Volume 2 Number 11 Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

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 Stacey Abramson, 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

Patrick Cruz, "Titig Kayumanggi (Brown Gaze)," 2017, mixed media, installation view, photo by Karen Asher

FIVE THINGS

Patrick Cruz: Brown Gaze

75

It’s impossible to turn away from Toronto-based artist Patrick Cruz’s show Titig Kayumanggi (Brown Gaze) on view at the Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art in Winnipeg until June 4. A stark contrast to the previous exhibition of American post-minimalist giant Fred Sandback, Cruz explores his vision of “maximalism” within the context of immigration and the realities within and around cultures. Viewers are bombarded with the loud and responsive movements of Cruz’s brush and lens in every inch of the gallery space. The Tagalog title suggests this is the view of a gaze of colour – in both the literal and cultural context. Drawing heavily on his Filipino-Canadian culture, Cruz explores the torrent of visual culture – both Asian and North American – in his life. Even the gallery floor is carpeted with vivid overlapping canvases. We are pushed to feel this overwhelming palette of colours and marks. Ghosts of amorphic bodies are displayed against dripping black linguistic characters on the walls. Treated with the same colours and gestural application, they hint at the countless people who, like Cruz, have moved through different cultures. More ►

– Stacey Abramson

Brad Woodfin, "Sacre coeur," 2017, oil on panel, 16" x 20"

FIVE THINGS

Brad Woodfin’s Menagerie

76

Montreal-based painter Brad Woodfin loves animals. A vegetarian, he grew up with pets and despises cruelty to animals. “When I see an animal being hurt, to me, it just breaks my heart,” he says. He started painting farm animals soon after finishing art school in Olympia, Washington, about 10 years ago. “It came from a social and political place, like the treatment of animals in everyday life, as far as eating them as food and things like that,” he says. Eventually, he started painting other creatures. His drive is expressive, not documentary. He scours books and the Internet for photographs that capture his imagination in the moment. “I just look at pictures and something strikes me,” he says. “I’m interested in their lives and their characteristics, but it’s always been more about expression.” It’s hard to describe his paintings as anything other than portraits, even though that’s a term usually reserved for people. And his subjects, on display at Christine Klassen Gallery in Calgary until June 17, have a surprising presence, even charisma. Take his painting Sacre coeur, which shows a roseate spoonbill, a bird Woodfin has seen in the Florida wetlands while visiting his parents. “I find them really striking,” he says. “I love the colour. I love the absurd bill and their strange legs that bend backward when they walk.” The bird does indeed seem a sacred heart with its almost coy gesture, head tucked back to preen its pink plumage, yet its eye radiating an unfathomable wisdom. More ►

– Portia Priegert

20 June 2017

KENT MONKMAN

Kent Monkman, "The Daddies," 2016, acrylic on canvas, 60" x 112.5"

COVER STORY

Kent Monkman Confronts History

Miss Chief Eagle Testickle usually struts across Kent Monkman’s canvases in her spike heels fearlessly battling – and ravishing – cowboys, settlers and Mounties. Monkman’s campy, cross-dressing alter ego has been given additional duties for the Toronto artist’s travelling exhibition, Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience, on view at Calgary’s Glenbow Museum from June 17 to Sept. 10. Miss Chief is the exhibition narrator and snippets from her “memoirs” are posted on gallery walls. “I am the light, the two-spirited gentle man and fierce woman,” Miss Chief tells viewers rather immodestly. Miss Chief still stars in some paintings, notably The Daddies, wearing only heels as she boldly confronts the Fathers of Confederation, demanding a seat at the table during their 1864 talks in Charlottetown. But later in the exhibition, another issue halts and silences the audacious Miss Chief – residential schools. Monkman tells the story in anguished paintings of priests, nuns and Mounties prying frightened youngsters from the arms of their distraught parents. Miss Chief is nowhere to be seen in those paintings. More ►

– Paul Gessell

David Garneau, "Surface Tension," 2013, acrylic on American flag, 36" x 61"

FIVE THINGS

Canada’s Flag in London

77

The Group of Seven fuelled Canadian nationalism a century ago with paintings of the untamed forest. The patriotism evoked by those trees was distilled in 1965 to a single red maple leaf that became our flag. Today, at the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we see artists deconstructing that flag. “This reduction of landscape to symbol continues to be investigated by Canadian artists,” Lindsey Sharman, curator of the Founders’ Gallery at the Military Museums in Calgary, says in a catalogue for an exhibition she has organized for Canada House in London. Felled Trees, which includes work by five artists, was to open June 6, but has been postponed due to the latest terrorist attack in London, which killed seven people. The exhibition, now expected to open later this month and run until Sept. 3,  grew out of another one curated by Sharman in 2015 at the Founders’ Gallery that presented silkscreen prints of landscapes by the likes of Emily Carr, David Milne and the Group of Seven. More ►

– Paul Gessell

Nicole Bauberger, "Get There From Here (between Edmonton and Grande Prairie)," 2009, oil on cradled panel, 12” x 12”

FIVE THINGS

Painting the Highway

78

You could say Nicole Bauberger is a stop-and-start driver. No, it’s not frequent washroom breaks or snack attacks. It’s her art project – Get There From Here. A Yukon resident, she has been taking long drives in different parts of Canada since 2008, documenting the journey in paintings that measure one foot by one foot. She stops every 50 kilometres, pulls out her brushes and sets to work. She has basically travelled across Canada from sea to sea to sea. Now, a pop quiz to test your understanding of Canadian geography. How many paintings would that be? Bauberger says 220, and, faced with skepticism, googles her route to confirm that it’s roughly 11,000 kilometres. Divided by 50, yup, that’s about right. Her paintings show highway scenes familiar to Canadians – overpasses, directional signs, multiple lanes of traffic – the transient vistas we see while driving, but usually don’t focus on. Her project is displayed at the Art Gallery of Swift Current in Saskatchewan until June 25 and then heads to its next stop at the Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre in Medicine Hat, Alta., from July 15 to Sept. 2. Bauberger’s images draw a response from viewers. “It is possible that the road, as Canadians, is our biggest common cultural artifact,” she says. More ►

– Portia Priegert

Tim Okamura, "Codes and Signals,"2017, oil and acrylic on wood panel, collaged book covers, vintage telegraph keys and wire, 36" x 36"

COVER STORY

Tim Okamura Lives His New York Dream

When Tim Okamura was a student at the Alberta College of Art and Design, he dreamed about living in New York. “I couldn’t wait to get here,” he says. Okamura was hosting a Calgary radio show about hip hop culture, which was just starting to explode, and was enthused with graffiti. He also liked Rembrandt and Caravaggio and wanted to see their work firsthand at the Met. Okamura was already painting portraits, often of friends, several of whom had already moved to New York. So when the chance came to do a Master’s degree at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, a place that boasts alumni like Joseph Kosuth and Sol LeWitt, he made the leap. That was 26 years ago. The years since have been good to Okamura. His work has been displayed in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington and he has a letter of commendation from Joe Biden, a former vice-president of the United States. He was on the short list for a commissioned portrait of Queen Elizabeth in 2006 and his work has been selected nine times for the prestigious BP Portrait Award exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Hollywood stars have bought his paintings and he was the inspiration for Uma Thurman’s love interest in the 2005 romantic comedy Prime. This month, Okamura comes full circle with an exhibition, Begin Transmission, at the the Peter Robertson Gallery in his hometown of Edmonton from May 25 to June 13. Okamura is still painting portraits, and this show features more of his longtime mainstay, gutsy images of women that juxtapose classic realism with the raw energy of urban street culture. More ►

– Portia Priegert

23 May 2017

TIM OKAMURA

Geoffrey Farmer, "A way out of the mirror," 2017, installation view at the Canada Pavilion for the 57th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, 2017 © Geoffrey Farmer, courtesy of the artist, photo by Francesco Barasciutti

NEWS ROUNDUP

Geoffrey Farmer at the Venice Biennale

Vancouver artist Geoffrey Farmer’s installation as Canada’s official artist at the Venice Biennale is drawing critical attention. For instance, the American magazine ArtNews noted: “It is moving, strange, and a little frightening, and it is one of the best shows being presented in the Giardini this year.” Farmer developed the project after discovering unpublished press photos from 1955 that show a collision between a train and a lumber truck driven by his grandfather. The work includes 71 brass planks, reminiscent of lumber scattered at the accident scene, as well as 3D printed sculptures cast in aluminum and bronze. The work reflects on a broad range of issues including family trauma, relations between Italy and Canada after the Second World War and the writers Kathy Acker and Allen Ginsberg. Farmer opens up and transforms the Canada Pavilion, which is undergoing restoration, into an outwardly facing fountain courtyard. “The water of A way out of the mirror translates a surfeit of emotion, and discharges it in spurts and drips as tears, ejaculate and sweat,” says curator Kitty Scott. “It is at once a monument and an anti-monument that memorializes individuals and stories in a gesture of generosity and inclusion.” The work’s title refers to the writing of beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Farmer, born in 1967, has earned international attention since his first show in 1997. His work has been in numerous solo and group exhibitions at venues that include the Louvre in Paris, the Tate Modern in London, the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton and the Vancouver Art Gallery. The Venice Biennale, which opened last week, continues until Nov. 26.
In other news:

Simon Andrew, "Early Spring," 2017, oil on canvas, 36" x 48"

FIVE THINGS

Simon Andrew Keeps Learning

79

Simon Andrew grew up in Britain and moved to Canada in the early 1990s. He’s based in Kingston, Ont., but his show of landscapes this month at Wallace Galleries in Calgary is less rooted in geography than in his own psyche. For him, art is about learning and keeping himself amused. “I don’t really sit down and think about my process,” he says. “After a while, a painting suggests where it’s going to go for you, so it gives you ideas as you’re actually applying the paint.” Some parts of a canvas might work, while others don’t, so he keeps making moves until he’s satisfied. “It’s a fairly intuitive process for me a lot of the time,” he notes. But Andrew also works from observation, which requires different skills. “I guess a lot of it is about getting a whole range of mental tools to solve problems,” he says. “You can’t take the same approach with all paintings. Any painting has it’s own set of problems. You’re looking for the idea, the approach you can take to make that particular type of painting go in a direction that might make it work.” More Images ►

Michael Fitzsimmons, "Forest Spirits," 2017, mixed media on panel, 48” x 48”

FIVE THINGS

Paintings that “Resinate”

80

The smell in Michael Fitzsimmon’s work space is overpowering. Not unpleasant, but pungent. And toxic. The Vancouver artist wears two hats (and a respirator), one as a furniture re-finisher and the other as an artist who turns those same resins and solvents into complex abstract paintings. His work is displayed at Vancouver’s Ian Tan Gallery until May 31. It’s been a circuitous journey. Fitzsimmons attended three art schools, eventually graduating from the Emily Carr College of Art and Design in 1980 with an honours diploma in interdisciplinary studies. But he stopped creating soon after, critical of what he saw as a shallow and vacuous art world. “I was put off by the art scene and didn’t do a sketch for 15, 20 years,” he says. “I just stopped altogether.” He took a job as a re-finisher to feed his family and only returned to making art in 2005 when business was slow and there wasn’t much to do. “So I picked up a panel that was lying around and started working on it to turn it into an artwork.” More ►

– John Thomson

Maureen Gruben, "Stitching My Landscape," installation on a section of the ice road outside Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., on March 9, 2017. Photo by Kyra Kordoski.

FIVE THINGS

Parks Project Communes With Nature

81

In the early 1990s, Vancouver artist Rebecca Belmore travelled the country with a giant megaphone so people could voice their protests to the land. Now, Belmore has created a large metal cone that allows participants to hear, rather than to address, the land and its waterways. Wave Sound can be found throughout the summer at three national parks – Banff in Alberta, Pukaskwa in Ontario and Gros Morne in Newfoundland – as part of the Landmarks 2017 art initiative, a signature Canada 150 project at 20 national parks and historic sites. Many of the artworks, like Belmore’s, offer opportunities to commune in new ways with this chunk of Earth we call Canada. Landmarks 2017 includes 10 projects by contemporary artists, along with initiatives by students at 16 universities. Many projects are collaborations with residents of a local community and many take an indigenous perspective. An example is Weaving Voices by artists Chris Clarke and Bo Yeung at the Klondike National Historic Sites. Living willow installations relay voices from the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation offering their view of the Yukon gold rush. Most projects, even ephemeral land art, will endure in films, documents, audio recordings and displays elsewhere beyond the official exhibition dates of June 10 to June 25. More ►

– Paul Gessell

MASTHEAD

09 May 2017

Volume 2 Number 10 Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

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 Beverly Cramp, Paul Gessell, Karen Quinn
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

James Wyper, "Artemisia Absinthium," 2016, acrylic on canvas, 40" x 38.5"

FIVE THINGS

James Wyper’s Transcendent Paintings

82

When I meet West Coast artist James Wyper at the Masters Gallery in Calgary, where his show, Transcend is on view until May 20, I tell him I have a brother who lives in Munich. I tell him there is a room there where one can sit all day and stare at Cy Twombly’s Lepanto, a dozen panels that depict a pivotal 1571 naval battle between the Christians and the Ottomans off the coast of Greece. I tell Wyper that a single mesmerizing triangle in one of his paintings evokes all the emotion, call it a pang, if you will, of this experience, distant in both space and time. I tell him I miss my brother. And Wyper tells me that the purpose of an artist is to ground consciousness in reality. He tells me his state of being while painting transcends, and that when I look at one of his paintings my consciousness makes a unique version only I can see. He tells me his paintings are not abstractions, but in some ways like landscapes. And they are no more an abstraction and no less a landscape than the sunlight dispersed and dappled by fluttering leaves or the pound and spray of surf hitting black rock and pale sand. He tells me he prepares the ground layer freely, with instinct and intuition. Then he disciplines it with meticulous geometry. And so Wyper’s paintings reflect back to us the dichotomies of our lives – the dying of fall and the birth of spring, the struggle between seeking perfection and the spontaneous thrill of the imperfect, the freedom of our consciousness pressed against our worldly constraints, all balanced like gently tipping scales. More Images ►

– Karen Quinn

Pablo Picasso, "Seated Woman (Femme assise)," 1927, oil on canvas, 51.5" x 38.5" Art Gallery of Ontario, purchased, with assistance from the Women's Committee and anonymous contributions, 1954, 63/44 ©Picasso Estate / SODRAC (2017)

FIVE THINGS

Picasso’s Lust and Violence in Winnipeg

83

Love, lust and violence are arriving at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, thanks to the innovative, volatile and philandering Pablo Picasso. Two simultaneous Picasso exhibitions are at the gallery from May 13 to Aug. 13. One, from the National Gallery of Canada, is Picasso: Man and Beast, a complete set of the 100 allegorical prints in the Vollard Suite. The other is Picasso in Canada – 30 paintings, prints and ceramics the gallery gathered from across the country to reveal how the artist is “received and collected” in Canada, says curator Andrew Kear. As in most Picasso shows, expect to encounter a partial roadmap of the artist’s tumultuous love life, a trail of acquired and discarded lovers. The untitled prints known as the Vollard Suite were commissioned, with no particular topic in mind, by Picasso’s Paris art dealer Ambroise Vollard in 1930. Completed by 1939, they were not marketed until the 1950s because of the Second World War. The National Gallery bought its set in 1957 and exhibited selections in Winnipeg in 1959. This time the complete set is on display. More ►

– Paul Gessell

Kimura Tsubasa, "Outline," 2007, sumi ink on faille fabric, 4' x 23' each, courtesy of the artist, photo by Fuyubi Nakamura

COVER STORY

Asian Art and Calligraphy

Calligraphy, the art of fine writing, is more than beautiful penmanship. This is especially true in Asia, with its great diversity of languages. Chinese, for instance, with characters that number in the tens of thousands, elevates the act of writing to more than mere communication – it becomes an aesthetic process. The blending of characters and images is also common in Asia, where words are combined with other visual elements to add greater experiential dimensions. These ideas are explored in Traces of Words: Art and Calligraphy from Asia, on view at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver from May 11 to Oct. 9. The title is explained in an essay by the curator, Fuyubi Nakamura, who says the show’s theme is “physical traces of time and space” both ephemeral and eternal to human life. “We leave traces of ourselves throughout life, be they visible or invisible,” she writes in the exhibition essay. “Words, whether spoken, written, imagined or visualized, are traces unique to humans. Some words disappear, while others remain only in memory or leave physical traces as writing or text.” More ►

– Beverly Cramp

Claude Monet, "Nymphéas," 1916–1919, oil on canvas. Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris. Photo © Bridgeman Giraudon/Press

NEWS ROUNDUP

Monet Blockbuster Opens in Vancouver

This summer’s blockbuster at the Vancouver Art Gallery is a crowd-pleasing show by French Impressionist Claude Monet. Billed as the most comprehensive Monet exhibition in Canada in the last two decades, Secret Garden includes 38 paintings from the collection of the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris. Featured are paintings Monet made in his garden in Giverny, where he lived from 1883 until his death in 1926. Monet’s weeping willows and waterlilies have become icons of Western painting. The Vancouver show,  the only exhibition stop in North America, runs from June 24 to Oct. 1. It is partnered with a show by contemporary American photographer Stephen Shore, The Giverny Portfolio. Shore produced a body of work during several visits to Monet’s garden between 1977 and 1983. It’s the first time the entire series of 25 photographs, part of the gallery’s permanent collection, have been shown in Vancouver.
In other news:

  • The Canada Council for the Arts is experiencing serious technical issues with its new web portal that will slow down funding to artists and arts groups.
  • The National Gallery of Canada announced a $3-million restoration of the Canada Pavilion in the historic Giardini di Castello in Venice.
  • The Art Dealers Association of Canada is marking its 50th year with a national Gallery Hop on May 13. Some 50 galleries in 13 cities are participating in the event, which features talks with prominent artists, curators and art dealers.
  • Artist Charles Joseph of the Kwakiutl Nation has unveiled his Residential School Totem Pole in Montreal as part of La Balade pour la Paix – An Open-Air Museum, an exhibition of public art organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in conjunction with the city’s 375th anniversary.
  • Marisa Kriangwiwat Holmes, a student at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design is the winner of the $5,000 Lind Prize for emerging photo-based artists in Vancouver.  Runners-up are Durrah Alsaif, from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and Natasha Habedus, from the University of British Columbia.
  • The Remai Modern’s latest web commission, Pretty Girl, by Duane Linklater, is based on a rock classic.
  • The Vancouver Art Gallery is hosting Deconstructing Diaspora, the inaugural symposium for the Institute of Asian Art, from May 18 to May 19.
  • Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art in Winnipeg has published Eleanor Bond: Mountain of Shame, which includes essays by Rodney LaTourelle and Johanne Sloan.
Linda Duvall, "Untitled (The Hole)," 2013-2017

FIVE THINGS

Saskatchewan Artist Linda Duvall Sits in a Hole

84

Tim Lilburn lived for a time in the arid lands of rural Saskatchewan, sleeping outdoors, watching the deer and digging a root cellar, all the while yearning for a union with the natural world. “You dig in the ground because you want to see,” he wrote in his 1994 poetry collection, Moosewood Sandhills, and: “You will wait here / in the slow place. / You will wait in a hole.” Artist Linda Duvall lives on similar land an hour’s drive south of Saskatoon, and she too has dug a hole, although in her case it is more accurately described as a trench, five feet wide and six feet deep, that circumnavigates a rose bush. Her initial impulse was more prosaic than poetic – she was curious about the plant’s root system, which extends deep into the glacial till above the South Saskatchewan River. “There’s something about the hole that’s so beautiful and so moving,” says Duvall, who is known for social art projects that explore things like grief, truth and intimacy, often through one-on-one conversations with strangers. “This land has never been tilled, so it’s this thick sod over your head, and the wind blowing through these grasses.” After living with the hole for five years, and documenting it in photographs, Duvall decided she wanted to share it with others. She put out a call inviting applications for informal short-term residencies, unsure what to expect. The response was overwhelming. Last week, 44 people from across Canada, and as far away as Europe, began arriving to spend a six-hour shift in the hole with Duvall. Some will read or sing. Others will meditate or dig. “There are a certain number of people who just want to be with the dirt,” says Duvall. “Often it was a combination of being physically in the space and open to what might happen. I say that on an emotional level, as well as the physical.” The sessions, which continue until June 17, are being videotaped and screened the following day at Paved Arts, an artist-run centre in Saskatoon, as part of a collaborative exhibition, In the Hole. More ►

– Portia Priegert

 

Valerie Butters, "Une Fille, c'est une fleur," 2016, acrylic on canvas, 48" x 96"

FIVE THINGS

Valerie Butters Uses Her Intuition

85

West Coast artist Valerie Butters gave herself a treat last year – a full year away from her commercial practice so she could explore her creativity without the demands of the marketplace. She had felt pulled in many directions, with people telling her what she should be doing. She needed to understand what she wanted to do. Her creative sabbatical, as she calls it, is over. But Butters says her work, including four large floral paintings on view at the Pousette Gallery in Vancouver until May 27 as part of a two-person show with Catherine Young Bates, is now more intuitive and gestural. “You can tell a true intuitive gesture from something that’s more contrived,” she says. “I’m trying to get away from the contrived side of it.” Butters, who is also represented by the Avenue Art Gallery in Victoria and the Tutt Street Gallery in Kelowna, is inspired by Quebec’s Automatiste painters, who were, in turn, influenced by surrealism and processes that emphasized the flow of consciousness. “It’s discovering your personal mark,” says Butters. “And that’s all energy that comes from inside you.” More ►

– Portia Priegert

Jan Grove, "Visitors from Pluto," 1971, brown engobe on fired earthenware, 31" x 14" photo Bob Matheson, collection of the artist

FIVE THINGS

Jan and Helga Grove: Life With Clay

86

Stepping into Life With Clay, a retrospective exhibition by Jan and Helga Grove on view at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria until May 28, is like turning back the clock. Two sculptures at the entry, Jan’s whimsical Explorer #1, and Helga’s Vanity, both dating from the time of Canada’s centennial, cause my brain to shuffle through old files: Where have I seen something like this before? Perhaps in an old publication about Expo 67? I never quite retrieve the memory, but it’s always fascinating to be plunged into a time machine. The two pieces are an apt introduction to the work of the German-trained couple, who have lived in the environs of Victoria since 1966. Vanity, a birdlike creature with spread wings, is accented with incised black lines. Explorer #1 looks like what you might get if you crossed a sea urchin with a pipefish – a round bulb with radiating snouty apertures that’s meant to evoke the Russian satellite Sputnik. Grove was fascinated by sci-fi, an interest also evident in his 1971 piece, Visitors from Pluto. More ►

– Portia Priegert

MASTHEAD

25 April 2017

Volume 2 Number 9 Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

 

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 Maggie Shirley, John Thomson, Katherine Ylitalo
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

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

9 May 2017

ASIAN ART AND CALLIGRAPHY

MASTHEAD

22 November 2016

Volume 1 Number 1 Copyright 2016

ISSN 2561-3316

 

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 Beverly Cramp, Paul Gessell, Sarah Swan, Katherine Ylitalo
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

MASTHEAD

06 December 2016

Volume 1 Number 2 Copyright 2016

ISSN 2561-3316

 

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 Doug Maclean, Melanie Scott, Helena Wadsley
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

MASTHEAD

20 December 2016

Volume 1 Number 3 Copyright 2016

ISSN 2561-3316

 

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 Beverly Cramp, Agnieszka Matejko, Sarah Swan
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

MASTHEAD

03 January 2017

Volume 2 Number 1 Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

 

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 Beverly Cramp, Agnieszka Matejko, Sarah Swan
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

MASTHEAD

17 January 2017

Volume 2 Number 2 Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

 

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 Paul Gessell, Rachel Rosenfield Lafo, Agnieszka Matejko, Jeffrey Spalding
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

MASTHEAD

31 January 2017

Volume 2 Number 3 Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

 

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 Paul Gessell, Quentin Randall
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

MASTHEAD

14 February 2017

Volume 2 Number 4 Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

 

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 Dick Averns, Beverly Cramp, Steven Ross Smith, 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

MASTHEAD

28 February 2017

Volume 2 Number 5 Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

 

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 Beverly Cramp, Rachel Rosenfield Lafo, Janet Nicol
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

MASTHEAD

14 March 2017

Volume 2 Number 6 Copyright 2017

ISSN 2561-3316

 

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 Paul Gessell, Alex King, Marlene Milne
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

MASTHEAD

28 March 2017

Volume 2 Number 7 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 Beverly Cramp, Agnieszka Matejko, 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

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

FIVE THINGS

Shifting Light

87

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

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

FIVE THINGS

Painting the Whyte

88

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

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

FIVE THINGS

Family Marks 150 Years in Art

89

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. Uhtho?, Edythe Hembro?-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.
Heather Cline, "Cows for G," 2016, acrylic panel, 24" x 36"

FIVE THINGS

Small-Town Canadiana

90

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

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

91

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

25 April 2017

EVAN PENNY GOES TO VENICE

11 April 2017

FOUR DECADES OF PHOTOGRAPHY

Jeff Wall, "The Destroyed Room," 1978, printed 1987, Cibachrome transparency in fluorescent lightbox, 70" × 98" × 8" National Gallery of Canada, purchased 1988.

COVER STORY

Four Decades of Photography at the National Gallery

So, where is Stan Douglas? And where, for that matter, is the Vancouver School of photo conceptualism? Those questions hang over a new exhibition, Photography in Canada: 1960-2000, at the National Gallery of Canada. It’s the first in a series of shows that examine both historical and contemporary Canadian art in this, the 150th anniversary of Confederation. This initial photography offering, limited to works held by the National Gallery, is a comforting family album, with brilliant innovators like Michael Snow, Lynne Cohen and Edward Burtynsky now seen, decades later, as more establishment than daring. Although Vancouver’s Stan Douglas is one of the most celebrated photo-artists in the post-Centennial period, not one of the 100 works in this exhibition of 71 artists is his, although the gallery owns several. As well, there is no mention of the so-called Vancouver School of photoconceptualism, to which Douglas is deemed to belong, although works from such other West Coast photoconceptualists as Ken Lum, Rodney Graham, N.E. Thing Co. and Jeff Wall pepper the show. Superstar Wall quite rightly gets his own room, at the end of the exhibition for his gaudy, messy lightbox image, The Destroyed Room, a 1978 image inspired by the Eugène Delacroix painting, The Death of Sardanapalus. Thus, the otherwise staid exhibition ends with a bang, Wall’s image as startling as a freeway car crash. Lum, Graham and the rest, are not grouped together in one cozy Vancouver-centric area. Instead, they are scattered around the five-room, summer-long Ottawa exhibition like a bunch of irate relatives who have stopped talking to one another. And yet, they are among the best-known and most celebrated Canadian artists of the late 20th century. New York and Berlin love them. They have made Canada cool. Don’t they deserve a collective pat on the back in an exhibition covering their heyday? More ►

– Paul Gessell

 

Andrea Kastner, "Home Again," 2017, oil on canvas, 22" x 26"