For You/And Me

 

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I met Ashleigh Bartlett at the Esker Foundation. I was participating in a workshop that was a visual response/reaction to the Jack Bush and Colleen Heslin exhibit, one of the most powerful visual experiences I had had for a very long time.  Ashleigh really impacted me with her approach to the workshop and I saw the evolution of non-objective forms more clearly than I had in the past.  I also became very engaged in process, materials and colour.

Ashleigh is presently working out of Boston and she has become a social media friend.  I enjoy visiting the art exhibits she attends through posted images and sometimes get to see work that I admire, through her eyes.  Most recently…just yesterday…she posted an image of a piece by Kara Walker, an artist I’ve been intrigued by the past several years.  Her paper cut outs related to the topic of slavery are potent and important.  Anyway, point being, social media may have its downfalls, but more often than not, it creates interesting connections.

Ashleigh Bartlett curated the current/soon departing exhibit For You/And Me at the Paul Kuhn Gallery.  I couldn’t let it leave town without seeing it.  After all, yesterday was a snowy and grey day.  One other person was wandering the gallery, but soon, I was alone in the space.  And…my readers know how I feel about that glorious feeling of being alone with work.  I’ve snapped some photographs of my favourite works.  I’d describe this group show as elegant and restful.  While colour on the larger fabric collages is intense, there is a dominant sense of balance and that leads the viewer into an experience of meditation.

In regards to my experience, I was curious about the technical aspects of the work.  There were some very engaging approaches to use of media.  Jim Verburg’s approach in his two layer paintings was lovely…so subtle, that photographs would not do them justice.  Paint on mylar in front of paint on mat.  Nice.  Jessica Groome’s Glimmer, Gazer and Pearl, documented below…my favourites!

 

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This little piece was probably the one I wondered about the most.  Mark Clintberg’s Two Coins was simple, but complex at the same time.  I like the projection of the shadow onto the back mat.  I like the texture of the embossed gold leaf.  I wonder about the connections with Felix Gonzales Torres’ Drawings and Sculptures.  This captures the sensibility of the exhibit in full…elegance.  Congratulations to Ashleigh, the participating artists and Paul Kuhn.

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I’d love to have Erica Mendritzski’s Girls hanging in my home.  This is the stuff that dreams are made of.

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Ashleigh Bartlett Workshop

I never fail to be excited by the programs and resources available to us in Calgary.  Some weeks ago, I attended a workshop led by Ashleigh Bartlett at the Esker Foundation.  There, we explored the possibilities within abstract painting, with a lovely connection drawn between the works of Jack Bush and Colleen Heslin and process.  The process of exploration included elements of collage, painting and play.  Thank you to Esker for providing such hospitality and wonderful materials.

Thank you to Ashleigh, for sharing a clear and embracing experience!  I’m sad to see this exhibit go.  It has been so inspiring.

Since teaching this workshop, Ashleigh has received one of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards for Emerging Artists.  This made me so happy.

Ashleigh actually took the time to chat with me about my thoughts on being a self-taught artist versus ‘a real artist’ (one who has attained credentials).  Years ago I made a choice to attain a Bachelor of Education degree, with a double major in art and English and never did receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts.  As a result, when I applied for a Masters in Studio Art program some years ago, the wind was knocked out of my sails when I learned that my years and years of accumulated portfolio work was not in any way equivalent to ‘THE DEGREE’.  So, I registered with ACAD and completed my third year toward a BFA, while on Sabbatical from my school district, but when my friends moved on to their fourth year and graduation, I had to return to teaching.  All these years later, the registrars office people seemed less than impressed with my desire to enroll for my fourth year and the two studio courses remaining.  They were not encouraging.  Ashleigh told me to NOT lose hope based on the hoops that they have created for me to jump through.  She encouraged me and for this, I am most grateful.

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