14 February 2017

COWBOYS OF THE AMERICAS

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
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Contributors Dick Averns, Beverly Cramp, Steven Ross Smith, John Thomson
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Luis Fabini took this 2011 photograph at dawn in Brazil's Pantanal region, home to one of the world's largest wetlands.

COVER STORY

Cowboys of the Americas

Cowboys – the Lone Ranger, Billy the Kid, the James Gang – these good and bad hombres of the frontier: They walk tall, ride hard and spend more time with guns than cows. That’s the Hollywood myth. A new book by Uruguayan photographer Luis Fabini gives a truer picture. Fabini has photographed real cowboys in eight countries on the two continents of the Americas. “As a kid, I stayed on holidays with my family on a ranch in northern Uruguay,” he says. “I remember the gauchos, the smell of meat being barbecued, the smell of the horses. It was like the world suddenly exploded in my head, in my heart, with the smells, colours, character – the trial of man, horse and work.” Those childhood memories led Fabini on a 10-year journey through Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, the United States and Canada. The result is Cowboys of the Americas, published in 2016 by Greystone Books, and an exhibition on view until April 2 at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff as part of Alberta’s annual Exposure Photography Festival. More ►

– Steven Ross Smith

Couzyn van Heuvelen, "Avataq," screenprinted mylar, ribbon, aluminum and helium, 16” x 30” (detail)

FIVE THINGS

Couzyn van Heuvelen Refashions Inuit Tools

1

Balloons shaped like sealskin floats greet visitors to Vancouver’s Fazakas Gallery this month. Avataq is one of seven pieces from Inuit sculptor Couzyn van Heuvelen. “I make objects,” he says, referring to the utilitarian tools he has refashioned into intricate art pieces. “Figurative work – I don’t have much of an interest in it. It’s so direct. I like to have something where the meaning is a little less obvious.” Four fishing lures, suspended from the ceiling, hang next to Avataq. In real life, anything handy and heavy would be tied to the fishing line to sink it, but with Muskox Lure van Heuvelen carved two small nuts out of muskox bone, replacing what would normally be an ordinary sinker with something delicate and refined. With Baleen Lure, the artist laser cut a spinner out of whalebone and etched it with an abstract pattern. Beaded Lure, comprised of red, black and white beads, emphasizes a random linear pattern and with Walrus Lure, the sinker is a tiny silver walrus skull that van Heuvelen created with a 3D printer. Now adorned with animal bone and symbolism, these lures transcend purpose. More ►

– John Thomson

Ann Kipling, "Untitled (two fish on plate)," circa 1964, ink on paper, 10.8" x 15.6" Courtesy of the artist

FIVE THINGS

Ann Kipling Finds Her Voice

2

Ann Kipling, now in her 80s, is known for her steadfast dedication to drawing. But she didn’t start out with this singular focus. Her groundbreaking evolution came between 1962 and 1967, after she moved from downtown Vancouver to the dense forests of the North Shore. This pivotal period is explored in Drawing the Line, North Shore Works, on view until March 25 at the West Vancouver Museum. At the time, Kipling was barely out of the Vancouver School of Art, where she had been inspired by expressionism and was taught that drawing was not a work of art unto itself but rather something done to support a greater purpose. Tramping through mossy forests with paper, pen and ink, and sometimes even a copper plate and diamond-tipped etching tool, Kipling began to explore a new way of seeing the world around her. She eventually dropped printmaking, realizing drawing was what she needed. The exhibition, guest curated by Robin Laurence, reveals the development of Kipling’s unique visual language. Those early drawings are filled with the recurring curly lines, crosshatches, curves and swoops – often densely layered to produce multi-dimensional perspectives – that would mark her mature work. Their visual lyricism is already unmistakably hers. More ►

– Beverly Cramp

Pierre Aupilardjuk and Shary Boyle, “Facing Forward,” 2016. Photo by M.N. Hutchinson

FIVE THINGS

Earthlings Links North and South

3

Critical value and artistic success are often ascribed through pinnacle achievements such as solo shows. Yet group exhibitions regularly offer opportunities for more diverse insights, particularly through irregular juxtapositions and thematic visions. Of course, curators constantly seek emergent themes and configure new relationships, but in the instance of Earthlings, on view at the Esker Foundation in Calgary until May 7, the project was pitched by one of the exhibiting artists, Shary Boyle. Bringing together drawings and ceramic sculptures by six contemporary Inuit artists, interwoven with Boyle’s pieces and collaborative works, a key question arises: what is the critical cultural value of such an initiative? More ►

– Dick Averns

John Akomfrah, "The Last Angel of History," 1996, video still, 45 min. Photo courtesy of Icarus Films.

FIVE THINGS

Akomfrah Questions Black Identity

4

John Akomfrah, a British artist of Ghanaian descent, considers questions of race and post-colonial identity in The Last Angel of History, on view at Regina’s MacKenzie Gallery until May 14. The 45-minute film introduces audiences to the data thief, a mysterious figure who travels through space and time seeking a key to the future of black culture. This influential 1996 cinematic essay considers science fiction themes of alien abduction, estrangement and genetic engineering as metaphors for the black experience of forced displacement, cultural alienation and otherness. Timothy Long, the MacKenzie’s head curator, says Akomfrah has developed a powerful approach to consider black history. “He uses montage as a working method,” says Long. “He’s interested in the collision of two images and the third meaning that is produced out of that.” Earlier this year, Akomfrah won the Artes Mundi 7, Britain’s leading prize for international contemporary art. His recent work, Auto Da Fé, uses the aesthetics of a period drama to consider the historical and contemporary causes of migration. He focuses on religious persecution as a major cause of global displacement through the centuries, combining subtle historical references with sumptuous costumes, locations and sets. More ►
 

Clint Hunker, "Alkaline Lake from the Flooded Old 27 Highway," 2016, oil on linen, 10" x 13"

FIVE THINGS

Clint Hunker’s Rural Saskatchewan

5

Clint Hunker regularly gathers his brushes and heads out of Saskatoon to paint what he calls the “utilitarian landscape” – the humble fields, alkaline sloughs and run-down grid roads within a 30-mile radius of the town of Aberdeen. “I don’t really think of them as landscapes,” says Hunker, who has taught art at the University of Saskatchewan since 1987. “I think of them as the recording of environments and events. As soon as you start using the word landscape, you’re talking about this tradition of the picturesque that comes from Europe. I’m really trying to examine the landscape as it is now, the environment as it is now, in its present state and not through the filters of some of those historical movements.” Hunker’s subdued and moody landscapes are part of a three-person show on view until Feb. 23 at The Gallery / Art Placement in Saskatoon. He is showing with Lorna Russell, a mentor he started painting with as a teenager, and the late Reta Cowley. They are part of the province’s strong tradition of landscape painting, which also includes artists like Dorothy Knowles and David Alexander, the latter now based in the B.C. Interior. More ►

– Portia Priegert

The new Emily Carr University campus opens in September. Image courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects.

NEWS ROUNDUP

New Brand for Emily Carr University

Emily  Carr University, which opens its new campus in September, has unveiled a logo inspired by the painting palette of the institution’s namesake artist. “Emily Carr University is setting out on a bold new future in a bold new building,” says president Ron Burnett. The logo, designed by ?Camp Pacific, features vivid colours that curve around the university’s name. ?It will be placed on the exterior of the building, under construction on Vancouver’s Great Northern Way. ?Designed by Canadian architects Diamond Schmitt, the purpose-built facility offers 285,000 square feet of state-of-the-art learning space. ?
In other news:

  • The Winnipeg Art Gallery will display work by Pablo Picasso from May 13 to Aug. 13.  Two exhibitions, Picasso in Canada and Picasso: Man and Beast, will feature paintings, drawings, engravings and ceramic works from Canadian museums.
  • Artists nominated for this year’s Scotiabank Photography Award include Vikky Alexander,  Raymonde April, Barbara Astman, Valerie Blass, Dana Claxton, Marlene Creates, Donigan Cumming, Nancy Davenport, Rosalie Favell, Shelley Niro and Jeff Thomas. The winner receives $50,000, an exhibition at the Ryerson Image Centre in Toronto, and a book deal with the German publishing company Steidl.
  • Along with Geoffrey Farmer, Canada’s representative to the Venice Biennale, three other Canadian artists will show work at the event, which opens May 13. They are Vancouver artist Jeremy Shaw, Montreal-based artist Hajra Waheed, and the  late Inuit artist Kananginak Pootoogook. They are among  120 artists selected for the Viva Arte Viva exhibition by French curator Christine Macel.
  • Canadian Métis artist David Garneau is the commissioned artist for Edmonton’s Tawatinâ Bridge, which links the south side and downtown portions of the city’s LRT system.
  • The Remai Modern in Saskatoon has commissioned international artist Amanda Beech to complete a web-based art project, This Time. A series of 10 short pop-up videos, it is featured on the Remai’s website this month.
  • London-based artist Elizabeth Price, winner of Britain’s 2012 Turner Prize, will be the Audain Distinguished Artist-in-Residence at Emily Carr University starting this spring. Price creates narrative works composed of moving images, often with themes related to the tensions between fiction and historical fact.
  • Winnipeg’s Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art has received $200,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts for a public art project this year. Stages: Drawing the Curtain, which organizers hope will become an ongoing biennial, invites artists to build sculptural stages that audiences can occupy.
  • Andrew Beckerman has pledged $100,000 and an art collection valued at $750,000 to support the planned expansion of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. The gallery also received two anonymous pledges of $500,000 and $200,000.

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