7 November 2017




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,



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
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
Tom Tait
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

We acknowledge the support of the Alberta Media Fund for our publishing program.


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


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



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


Portraiture Beyond Social Media


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.


A Century of Protest


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)


Wil Murray Takes on London


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


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


Connecting to the History of Indigenous Making


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

Camrose Ducote, "Untitled #3,"2017, mixed media on panel, 30" x 30"


Transience and Transformation


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




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


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.


Reminder email sent every second week when a new issue is published.