10 October 2017




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,



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
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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)


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

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


Angela Grossmann Returns to Painting


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)


‘Illuminations’ Lights Up in Banff


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)


Insurgence and Resurgence in Winnipeg


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

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


First National Craft Biennial Renews Dialogue


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)


Zen and the Art of Nothingness


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)


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.


A fibre class at the Alberta College of Art and Design.


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Wanda Lock in her Lakeland studio. (wandalockart.com) She is represented by Headbones Gallery in Vernon. (headbonesgallery.com) Want to show us your studio? Send an image that shows you at work to studiophotos@gallerieswestdigital.ca. We’ll feature the best images on this page.


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