31 January 2017

SANDRA MEIGS’ ROOM FOR MYSTICS

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
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Sandra Meigs, "Room for Mystics, No. 9," 2016, acrylic on canvas, 76" x 76"

COVER STORY

Sandra Meigs’ Room for Mystics

A hand-built model of a room at the Art Gallery of Ontario sits like a dollhouse on a paint-smudged table in Sandra Meigs’ studio in a non-descript low-rise in Victoria’s north-end industrial area. Peek over the walls and you’ll see Meigs’ concept: large eye-popping paintings, hinged one to the other, scattered through the space like so many A-frames at a holiday camp. High above, catapulting down the walls, are canvas banners painted with huge yellow spirals. The installation, Room for Mystics, will show at the Art Gallery of Ontario in the fall as part of her 2015 Gershon Iskowitz Prize, which recognizes outstanding contributions to Canadian art. Meigs, who received a Governor General’s Award in visual arts that same year, completed 15 paintings for the show last summer and plans to finish 15 more this summer, once she retires from teaching at the University of Victoria. Most are bright and bold, some dizzyingly so, yet their inspiration is calm.  “The paintings come from meditations that give entry to unlimited force, energy, love, being and presence,” says Meigs. “This allows a radical intervention into the practice of painting. The outcome of the intervention is exuberant visual energy coming forth through the work.” The first group of paintings, along with some maquettes, is on view until Feb. 11 at Winchester Galleries in Victoria. The preview’s title, fittingly, is En Trance. More ►

Portia Priegert

 

Leslie Hossack, "7:43:27 am, June 6th, Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer," 2015, pigment ink on cotton fibre, 28” x 42”

FIVE THINGS

D-Day’s Juno Beach at Dawn

1

Leslie Hossack instantly knew she had to photograph the German bunker, tilted and sinking, on Juno Beach along France’s Normandy Coast. “It was a visceral experience,” says Hossack, who divides her time between Vancouver and Ottawa. The decaying bunker is a symbol of the heroism of Canadian solders in defeating Germany along this eight-kilometre-long beach during the Second World War. It’s also a manifestation of nature’s power to erase an infamous past. Hossack had come to Juno Beach intending to capture a series of bunkers at dawn on the June 6, 2015 anniversary of D-Day. She wanted to see what Canadian soldiers saw as they landed on the beach at first light 71 years earlier. She actually shot the tilted German bunker a day before the anniversary. The next day she was all but paralyzed with emotion as the sun rose at 6:25 a.m. “I couldn’t even lift my camera because I was so overwhelmed,” she says. Instead of focusing on the bunkers, she photographed the sand where Canadians had fought, and where 359 died on D-Day. “This very sand was in their equipment, their hair, their eyes, their wounds, their souls.” The next day, she returned to the bunkers. The result is H-Hour, on view at Calgary’s Founders’ Gallery until March 5. Along with the bunkers and sand, Hossack is showing photographs of tombstones for both Allied and German soldiers as well as telegrams informing families of soldiers’ deaths. More ►

– Paul Gessell 

 

Jin-me Yoon, "Souvenirs of the Self (Lake Louise)," 1991, printed 1996 chromogenic print laminated to Plexiglas, 76" x 92" Purchased 1996 CMCP Collection, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

FIVE THINGS

National Gallery Celebrates Confederation

2

Works by Vancouver’s Jeff Wall and Jin-me Yoon and 69 other photo-based artists will kick off nine months of exhibitions marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation at the revamped National Gallery of Canada. Photography in Canada: 1960-2000 runs from April 7 to Sept. 4, and also includes such heavyweights as Michael Snow, Edward Burtynsky and Lynne Cohen. The show will explore topics such as sexuality, identity and community in conceptual, documentary, landscape and portrait photography. The gallery is holding media briefings in February to flesh out its 2017 plans, but Galleries West has already obtained many details. Most attention will be focused on the June 15 opening of the new Canadian and Indigenous Galleries, a replacement for the former permanent Canadian Gallery. Under the banner of Canada’s Masterpieces: Our Stories, this sprawling space for almost 1,000 works is being completely redesigned so indigenous art and photography from pre-contact to 1968 can be exhibited alongside other Canadian art from equivalent eras. So, expect to see Emily Carr paintings hanging near aboriginal works from the early 20th century, just as in Carr’s National Gallery debut in 1927, when 31 of her paintings were shown as part of Exhibition of Canadian West Coast Art: Native and Modern. More ►

Paul Gessell

Barry Ace, "Aazhooningwa'igan (It is worn across the shoulder)," 2016, mixed media, 72" x12" x 4"

FIVE THINGS

Barry Ace Unites Traditions and Technology

3

Ottawa artist Barry Ace says he’s honouring his Anishinaabe roots when he uses cast-off computer components – like tiny resistors and capacitors – to recreate traditional floral designs. Whether it’s digital technology or the glass beads his ancestors obtained from European traders, indigenous people have always “adapted popular culture and technology into our own cultural aesthetic,” he says. Ace uses the floral patterns made from his high-tech “beads” to decorate apparel, including traditional bandolier bags. Worn over the shoulder, the bags have long been important elements of Anishinaabe ceremonial dress. These friendship bags, as they are known, are often given to respected people. Three of Ace’s bandolier bags are showing at Winnipeg’s Urban Shaman gallery from Feb. 3 to March 11. The exhibition, Niibwa Ndanwendaagan (My Relatives), is a companion show to that of Saskatchewan artist Wally Dion, who has also married computer technology to traditional aboriginal art by creating “circuit-board quilts.” More ►

Paul Gessell

Gerard Yunker, “Landscape Study 4, East Iceland Seyðisfjörður,” 2016, digital archival carbon pigment print on cotton paper, mounted on aluminum composite panel, 20” x 60”

FIVE THINGS

Clockwise Journey Around Iceland

4

Last year, Calgary photographer Gerard Yunker spent eight days in Iceland, moving clockwise around the island and taking multiple exposures of the same scene that he then combined into digital panoramas. By maximizing each image’s resolution with his Hasselblad camera he was able to capture details beyond the reach of film. The photos show more than the eye can see – he later found birds and electrical poles, things he was unaware of as he was shooting. “They’re fundamentally visual landscapes, but they are also physical, in terms of sensing rather than just seeing,” says Yunker, who has worked largely in commercial photography since graduating from the Alberta College of Art and Design in 1986. “In this unknown environment, these frigid, metallic skies, that piercing light, the radically changing conditions and temperatures, I just surrendered to it; becoming part of it, standing inside of it, seeing it change.” The works become almost abstract, strange, yet familiar variations of cloud, rock and ice. Yunker selected 10 images from the thousands he shot during some 100 hours in the field for his show at Calgary’s Paul Kuhn Gallery, on view from Feb. 4 to Feb. 25. The show’s title Réttsælis, is an Icelandic word meaning clockwise. – Portia Priegert

 

Les Manning, "Cold Stone," 2011, coarse-textured stoneware with granite and perlite and smooth-textured porcelain with celadon glaze, 15” x 12.5” x 9” photo by Cecil Finch

FIVE THINGS

Fired Up About Home

5

When Jim Etzkorn arrived in Medicine Hat from Kansas in 2009 for a yearlong residency at Medalta, a ceramics hub in the city’s historic clay district, he didn’t expect to be living in the southern Alberta outpost seven years later. Etzkorn was among the first of a wave of ceramic artists from as far away as Singapore to become permanent residents, a migration that led Medalta’s curator, Jenna Stanton, to ponder what artists contribute to the communities where they live. The outcome is Home, a show that features Etzkorn and 12 other artists who have relocated to Medicine Hat. “Home is my love letter to the town,” Stanton says. “It is important for me to show that Medicine Hat is a city full of professional international artists.” The exhibition, on view until March 18, is headlined by Les Manning, who has earned international acclaim for abstract forms based on the Alberta landscape. Home has attracted attention in Toronto and New York. Work from the show will travel this year to the Toronto Design Offsite Festival and NYCxDESIGN, while the Alberta Craft Council has exhibition plans for both its Edmonton gallery and its new King Edward Arts Hub in Calgary. More ►

Quentin Randall

Simon Hughes, "John Grahamʼs 1963 mural 'Northern Lights' at the Winnipeg International Airport (now destroyed)," 2017, edition of 15 serigraph prints on Stonehenge paper printed by Andrew Lodwick, 14" x 52"

NEWS ROUNDUP

Print Recalls Old Winnipeg Airport

Winnipeg’s Martha Street Studio has launched a new print edition based on John Graham’s abstract mural, Northern Lights, which graced the city’s old airport terminal for almost 50 years. The edition of 15 serigraph prints by Winnipeg artist Simon Hughes is a scale replica of the massive abstract made from tile, aluminum and coloured Plexiglas.”The airport was a classic international-style modernist building that was torn down recently,” says Hughes. The mural, originally commissioned for the airport, which opened in 1964, was taken apart and sent to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, which plans to display it. Hughes says his project was driven by frustration over public indifference to the city’s loss of something he considers beautiful. “It expresses a nostalgia for a kind of golden age of ambitious public art in Canada, when artists, government and architecture seemed to share a common purpose within the project of modernism.” The serigraph, based on a watercolour Hughes completed in 2014, was reconstructed digitally and then printed by master printer Andrew Lodwick.
In other news:

  • Sunshine in the Drawing Room, painted in 1910 by one of Denmark’s most celebrated artists, Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864–1916), is now part of the European collection of the National Gallery of Canada.
  • Daina Augaitis will step down as chief curator and associate director in December after more than 20 years at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
  • Kim Nguyen has been named as curator at CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco. Nguyen was previously director and curator of Vancouver’s artist-run centre Artspeak.
  • British-born November Paynter has been appointed director of programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Toronto as it prepares to move into the Tower Automotive Building.
  • The Alberta Media Arts Alliance is holding its biennial conference from June 22 to June 25 in Canmore, Alta. The conference’s featured artist is Winnipeg’s Reva Stone.
  • David  Bershad, a popular art history professor at the University of Calgary, has died.
  • Artists can submit applications for the acquisition program at the Alberta Foundation for the Arts until April 1. For information, go to affta.ab.ca.

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