1 August 2017




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,



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.

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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.)


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 

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


A More Inclusive History


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

Blake Chorley, "Lake O’Hara," 2016, multilayer ambrotype, 24" x 20"


Photographer Steps Back Into Time


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

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


Greek Idyll for Three Western Artists


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 ►

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


Japanese-Canadian Studio Portraiture


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

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


Romancing the Canoe in Calgary


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 ►

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."


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.


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