My dear friend, Bob, was in town and from the time we met up at the Central Branch Public Library, last weekend, until we got to my place to share dinner, we were able to fit in a few art events. I’ve posted about Bob before. We met at ACAD, sharing a third year studio space and conversed our way through many lunch hours. A lot of time has passed since 1998 and he has had a seat at many Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts. Likely our most memorable event was meeting up in Paris to enjoy art together and then some relaxed time in Monet’s part of the world, Giverny, France.
Over the years, I’ve commissioned Bob to paint several pieces for me, the most important being the ten magpie paintings through my final months of teaching, one to represent every season and one of Pauline’s window looking out onto Kootenay Lake. My treasured teacher from the University of Lethbridge is easily remembered each and every time I look up at the painting.
Painting by Robert Melville: Blue Glass Looking Out on Kootenay Lake
Bob and I walked over to C2, where the exhibition Voted Most Likely curated by Kim Dorland is happening and then I took him on to have his first ever wander of the Esker Foundation. Borrowed directly from the C2 description…Contemporary Calgary has invited Kim Dorland to guest curate an exhibition of artists who currently call – or have previously called – Calgary “home”. Featuring the work of emerging and established artists working in a variety of mediums, Voted Most Likely includes Chris Cran, Bradley Harms, DaveandJenn, Mark Lawes, Erik Olson, Annelie McKenzie, Tiffany Wollman, Pamela Norrish, Kent Merriman Jr, Stacey Watson, Kiarra Albina, Matthew Mark, Jeremy Pavka, and Chad VanGaalen.
I have decided that I much prefer attending these art exhibits in the quiet of my own time rather than during the busy and sometimes crowded opening events. If you are in the mood, however, openings are a great opportunity to meet up with the artists and converse about their process. Why not do both?
Regardless, it was a beautiful thing to meet up with my friend from Vancouver and share in delightful conversation about the work.
Here’s the thing. From Thursday on, each and every week, I tend to be out art-walking, usually some time just after Max-walking. But, for some folk, this might be an activity yet to be enjoyed and so I thought I’d jot a quick post about it. Each and every year, the city invites Calgarians out for an event titled Calgary Artwalk. This year, the celebration of our 31st anniversary took place on September 20 and 21.
I think that what this event attempts to do is to knock down a particular kind of boundary that seems to separate art from viewer OR artist from viewer. It is an imagined construct that comes out of some odd sense of mystery or entitlement. Sometimes I think that the public might even imagine that art-walking isn’t even fun. Artwalk is about the accessibility of visual art to the general public.
Because I’m ‘a single’ in the world, art-walking provides the perfect pastime. In fact, I met another single person at the cross walk heading for the opening of VANISHING ICE: ALPINE AND POLAR LANDSCAPES IN ART 1775-2012 at the Glenbow the other night and we shared a pleasant conversation about her living in New York previously and how she has a difficult time taking in all of the possible events that this city offers over time. Art-walking provides for opportunities to meet people you might not have bumped into in any other setting. It also helps artists reconnect with friend-artists who are important mentors and inspirations. This happens regularly for me.
Back to Artwalk…I had booked myself into several different things (some art related-some not) that particular weekend, but since I was flying along 9th Ave at some point, I knew that I wanted to stop into Collectors’ Art Gallery to view my friend Douglas Williamson’s recent work. There was only one person in attendance at the same time and he was in a deep conversation with the owner about the status of ‘real’ art and the gallery scene. Another magical thing about visiting art galleries is that they are generally quiet places where you can be privy to some very interesting dialogues. If you are someone who enjoys a more rowdy visual arts activity, attend a Gorilla or Rumble House event and see those boundaries removed at warp speed. These can be noisy places.
The work featured in the exhibit, FOUR, was varied and elegant, but I was drawn immediately to Doug’s work. He has tremendous ambition while exploring the traditions of very technical painting, through both process and directional lighting of his subject matter. There is always a bit of a back story, so I don’t make assumptions about his work. Usually he is exploring a theme of utmost importance to him at the time and uses his subjects, most often still life objects, to communicate a message. His works are always thought provoking.
Circle the Wagons by Douglas Williamson Photo Credit: Douglas Williamson
The Answer by Douglas Williamson Photo Credit: Douglas Williamson
Heh…I was in the neighbourhood, so I crossed over to DaDe Art & Design Lab where Greg Fraser and Darcy Lundgren were flopped out on a comfortable sofa while guests gathered at the fancy coffee bar in the other room. Always amicable and welcoming, we shared a laugh and then I went strolling, taking in the whimsical and layered works of Darcy Lundgren. This is a go-to place for art, design, furnishings and general inspiration. Handy to lovely eating spots (my favourite…the Dragon Pearl) and good music (The Blue’s Can and Ironwood), this is a fascinating place for a wander.
Some art venues provide opportunities for art talks, as well as hand’s on art projects and these are advertised in FFWD as well as through the individual websites. The Esker Foundation provides some of the most intriguing talks/events and I highly recommend you visit their website for registration through Eventbrite. Recently, I heard Dick Averns speak on the topic War Art Then: War Art Now. I enjoyed perusing his collection of family and other artifacts and learned about the Canadian Forces Artists Programs. Fantastic!
On a more local community level, I recently attended, along with my besties, an exhibit of art works at the Fish Creek Library where we enjoyed samplings of wines and cheeses provided by Springbank Cheese Company. Calgary Public Art programs are varied and generous. All you need to do is purchase a library card. A must!
In conclusion, I find myself, this weekend, enjoying a lengthy sojourn on my red sofa, drinking ruby red grapefruit juice and blowing my nose. Having participated in the Martin Sadlon Scholarship Fundraising Concert and Art Battle/Auction on Friday night, the weekend has been a Netflix fling ever since. As a result of my current situation, I have missed the recent opening of Sculpture at Trepanier Baer and the opening at Jarvis Hall Fine Art. Art-walking is something that needs to be done in moderation as it can take you over and can be hazardous to your health! I am sitting here laughing at that. (Pulling a tissue from the box.)
I can hardly keep up with the art exhibits! Dad and I have been busy this summer. I have some catching up to do. The Beaverbrook exhibit at the Glenbow escaped me…slipped right through my finger tips. I was fortunate that, back in the day, as a recipient of a Teacher Plus award from the Calgary Catholic School District, I traveled Canada, visiting each and every provincial art gallery and the National Art Gallery in Ottawa as well…a single summer immersed in art museums! During that summer, I spent a great deal of time in The Beaverbrook Art Gallery, enjoying the collection and other works. It was fun to hear my daughter’s reaction to the experience of standing before the Santiago El Grande (1957) by Salvador Dali, given that I had stood in awe of the piece as a young woman in Fredericton, New Brunswick in the 1990s. Cayley and I discussed the piece and I pulled out my brochures from the visit…we both wondered about how many people had stood before the piece during its life. She spoke of a woman who sat beside her and chatted quietly with her about this piece. Art is so wonderful for its mysteries. It’s important that we visit art museums.
I drove through Vancouver and missed the Douglas Coupland exhibit. This is one that I longed to see. A person could spend their lifetime viewing art, but one has to try to make a balance, especially when life offers so many wonderful things.
Regardless, I’ve got an exhibit on my hit list for today. It leaves C2 On August 31, so my readers may wish to also stop by to see John Clark’s work. There’s been some confusion as Calgary has had two galleries merge, with the hope that they will evolve into Contemporary Calgary. What’s required of the citizens of Calgary is support for a vision that is evolving and likely suffering the pains of transition in many ways. It can’t be easy.
“The Wheel” (detail), 1986, oil on line, courtesy of the Clark Estate Photo retrieved from FFWD Calgary.
Of John Clark, Jeffrey Spalding eloquently states, and this taken directly from the FFWD article linked above…
“John Clark was a seeker: he was somebody who sought enlightenment, sought meaning and sought deeper purpose in things,” says Spalding. “I’m not entirely sure that he found it, and I’m not entirely sure that we’ll find it through his work, but… you’ll find… his desire to try to locate himself in the world and to understand the interaction of himself, nature and culture.”
I think, interesting stuff…enough for me to grab the C train down for a light lunch and a browse. I hope that my Calgary based readers will take me up on my invitation to stand before these energetic works. Personally, given my connection with the Lethbridge landscape, I look forward to enjoying Clark’s response to the same. Tonight I will dish out my thoughts on this special tribute exhibit.
An exciting event took place down at Contemporary Calgary on Saturday night. Doors opened to an art battle of a different sort from what I’ve experienced before. This one involved on-line voting for three separate rounds; six artists competing for twenty minutes for two rounds and the top two of both of those competing in the final round. I found it interesting that the playing field was a level one, based on the consistency of media, colours available and size of the canvas. Silent auction, live auction, a very compact space and bumping into (in a true sense) old friends and new, all features of this particular night out.
I didn’t have the real sense that the works were resolved at the end of twenty minutes, but this event was an opportunity for audience members to observe the variety of approaches /techniques that artists use. I enjoyed the time out with my daughter and certainly felt proud of my artist-friends who had the courage to take this on. Congratulations to Mark Vazquez-Mackay who won the Calgary event, one of 250 artists in over 20 locations across Canada, battling it out in preparation for the National Art Battle.
It was nice to end the evening chilling at a backyard fire pit with good people.
The weekend held some real magic at Contemporary Calgary (Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)). My daughter, Cayley, and I spent a part of Saturday afternoon peacefully perusing the weighty and elegant Hardingham Sculptures 1990, produced by Douglas Bentham. When I say weighty, I refer to a lot of personal landmarks…moments of identifying with landscape, primarily the vastness of the prairies and central to southern Alberta. I’ve always been intrigued by the ordered rows of abandoned field equipment in the back yards of our Canadian farms, all of it that deep oxidized colour of abandoned wreckage.
I really encourage my readers to visit the artist’s website for a beautiful history and archive.
“This was a cool collection because all of the pieces made me want to climb up inside them and sit on them. There was quality to them like they were tractors or something. Also the big empty spaces I could imagine the Saskatchewan sky filling. They would be a beautiful addition to the flat open prairie that is Saskatchewan. This weekend the show closed.”
There are constantly amazing offerings in our city. The fine arts are alive and well. Support them where you can.
It’s the ‘morning after’ writing this post and as I read it, I think that it might be a particularly challenging post because Saturday night was so FULL to exploding with art and at this single venue, a lot was going on. For those who are not familiar with the physical lay out of the building that was once called the Art Gallery of Calgary, there are four floors, each separated by a very open stairwell. Presently, on three of those floors is an exhibit titled Made in Calgary: The 1990s and on the top floor, an aboriginal women artists’ exhibit titled the Deadly Lady Artist Triumvirate. This post will explore both, although, barely touching on the 1990s portion.
An upbeat evening was had at Contemporary Calgary on Saturday night…friendship (happy birthday, Jen), hugs, laughter, great catered food and fantastic art. In the 1990s, I remember making the acquaintance of several local artists in their studios…places like the Burns Building. I think that the exhibit nicely characterizes the sorts of things that were happening at the time and it was very reminiscent to be in connection with the ‘stuff’ again.
While I won’t be able to feature or write my connection with each piece, I want to showcase a few. For example, a nice little threesome of silver gelatin prints by Lawrence Chrismas were exhibited. I met Lawrence when I attended a powerful exhibit of photographs at the Esker Foundations some time ago. The exhibit was titled Splendid Isolation…and captured the intimacy and narrative aspects of spaces. At one of the art talk events, Lawrence (Larry) had shared, during question period, an encounter with photographer, Orest Semchishen. It was a highlight for me as I was taking in Orest’s historical images of small town Alberta.
I’ve made a visit to the Paintedearth Coal Mine with my friend, Bill Webb and so when I saw the image of these welders, I was so impressed with the fact that faces were ‘put on’ the history of the area. Art sustains our narratives so that we might always make reference. I felt engaged with a small part of the archive that is Alberta mining. Beautiful.
A Wayne Giles piece demanded the viewer’s attention by its monumental presence on the lower level. The first image is the AGC’s documented image and the following one is my attempt to capture its presence at my first encounter.
Wayne Giles Mondrian’s Cat 1992
Then I headed for the Top Floor gallery space…and THIS!
Contemporary Calgary, (formerly The Art Gallery of Calgary) is pleased to announce its first Artist-in-Residence (AIR) project, supporting local and ntional artists in the research, creation, and presentation of new artwork while building mentorship opportunities between emerging and established artists. Throughout the month of January, the AIR project features three Aboriginal artists; Tanya Harnett, Amy Malbeuf, and Brittney Bear Hat.
It is my hope that my readers will find opportunity to enjoy this exhibit that runs until May 4, 2014. Opening night, the voices of female singers and the sounds of their drums filled the Top Gallery and left me, in a few different moments, silently weeping. The exhibit of works was brilliant and create a composite of deeply felt moments…stories of family, identity and healing.
Miriam Meir, Tanya Harnett, Chantal Stormsong Chagnon and Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes
Next, musician, Olivia Tailfeathers performed with a young lady and gentleman…exquisite! Powerful!
I had done some reading about Chief Running Rabbit, just recently, and chose to depict him in one of my paintings at the Gorilla House. It was a quick two hour engagement with the subject and a bit more in research, but to have this encounter with his story during the night’s events, was a highlight for me. I’m disappointed that I didn’t meet Brittney.