Oh, Canada!

Art is everywhere in Calgary and I enjoy it so much!  The four-gallery exhibit entitled, Oh, Canada! is somewhat overwhelming for its extent and variety. It was nice, at introductory comments at the Glenbow, to meet in some respect, the curator of the project, American Denise Markonish.

Max and I got waylaid by a ton of fresh snow at the pond, so I didn’t get up to the Nickle Galleries or ACAD’s Illingworth Kerr for two of the first stops of the four-gallery art extravaganza.  Sometimes beautiful wonderful magical awesome life gets in the way of the plans we’ve made.  I just so absolutely loved my afternoon that I had to adjust for the wonder and the awe.

??????????For 6:00 p.m. I headed north on the train from Anderson, and landed at the Glenbow in plenty of time to enjoy a bag of chips and wander, in amazement, the fantastic exhibit of a portion of the original artworks on display.  At some point, my daughter Cayley and a friend landed there, so I had opportunity to share a glass of red wine and exchange some art banter as I did my second run at the exhibit.  It was fun to chit chat with and shake hands with such an iconic artist as Eric Cameron.

DSC_2206 DSC_2205I noticed in attendance, as well, artists such as Ron Moppett and John Will.  I feel invigorated about our arts community and loved this portion of the exhibit.

DSC_2204Great surprises…three more paintings by Janet Werner. (really really enjoyed her work at Esker in an earlier exhibit)

DSC_2196 DSC_2195 DSC_2194Wanda Koop’s work…powerful!

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Chris Millar’s work…amazing…involving.

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David R Harper’s work stirred up conversation and intrigue.  The most cell phones were out at this location.

I’m including the first paragraph of his artist statement here because it’s so relevant to the conversations I was overhearing…

“I am drawn to the form and idea of memorials, those markers that formalize links between memory and present experience. My main fascination is for the ways in which people bring facets of these ritual systems and objects into domestic spaces in order to amplify their personal identification with them, or perhaps with the cultures that support them.”

DSC_2214 DSC_2213 I stood in front of this piece, and wept.  All of the work coming out of Cape Dorset was powerful.

DSC_2211 DSC_2209Terrance Houle’s buffalo pretty much shouted off of a wall.

Given my mother’s Acadian side, I really appreciated the paintings of Mario Doucette and stood, captivated in front of the two featured pieces for quite some time.  Shary Boyle’s pieces were equally as mesmerizing and because of their location, it seemed that wee cubby was always very populated in the gallery.  Andrea Mortson’s canvases…romantic…warm and a relief. Of course, everyone who stood before the Douglas Coupland piece had a few things to say about Generation X and that is inevitable.  I enjoyed the art…I enjoyed the conversation.

DSC_2201Standing in line for the Bassbus, I chatted with Janet Werner’s friend from Saskatoon.  What a spectacular evening and live music performed by Chelsey Hazelton waited for me on the bus.  Chelsey’s beautiful vocals sang us quickly to our next stop and one of my favourite places in town, The Esker Foundation.

IMG_20150131_193047Once I had my coat checked, I entered into Esker and was first met by beautiful, Sue Hill…a generous and truly authentic woman, she once opened her place on Lake of the Woods to me and my family…shared chipping of wood…canoeing…crayfish catching…swimming off a dock…sitting in a biffy by candle light…good chats and refinishing furniture.  What a lovely way to make an entrance at the Esker.

The work at Esker was no less fascinating than the Glenbow, but perhaps I kept my camera more in my pocket. Kim Adam’s piece,Optic Nerve, did get a photo moment or two.  I enjoyed her work in the Winnipeg Art Gallery years ago.

 

 

DSC_2234 DSC_2233The Artist Collective, BGL’s La clôture also made the cut. (no pun intended)  The Esker runs programs for the public (please visit their website) and so I know that I will be returning again and again to this collection over the coming month.

DSC_2232 DSC_2231My favourite bit of work was an installation piece…quite complex and yet so simple.  I have a little bit of video from this space and when I get it ALL together, I might post it here.  You must see this work.

DSC_2225So from upended picnic tables…

DSC_2229…to backwoods cabin/pubs…

DSC_2236…you’ll see it all.

Treated to little dixie cups filled with seasoned french fries and on the other end of the gallery space, Nanaimo bars…the evening was a lovely and intoxicating one.  I hopped onto the Bassbus for another run, entertained by the music of Patrick Whitten.

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Back at the Glenbow, I made my way to the train, recharged and happy about my home town and the many beautiful people I have met over the years.

Calgarians, grab your passports and get out to these four venues over the coming month.  You will receive many insights into what is happening in the world of contemporary art and as Canadians, we have much to be excited about.

Oh, Canada Passport

Voted Most Likely

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.

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Painting by Robert Melville: Blue Glass Looking Out on Kootenay Lake

Painting by Robert Melville: Blue Glass Looking Out on Kootenay Lake

P1130993Bob 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.

DSC_0938 ?????????? DSC_0935 ?????????? DSC_0933 DSC_0932 DSC_0931 DSC_0930 DSC_0929 DSC_0928 DSC_0926 DSC_0922 DSC_0921 DSC_0920 DSC_0919 DSC_0918 DSC_0917 DSC_0916I 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.

Art Walking in Calgary

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.

Art Walk

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

Circle the Wagons by Douglas Williamson Photo Credit: Douglas Williamson

The Answer

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.

DSC_0635 DSC_0634 DSC_0633 DSC_0632 DSC_0631 DSC_0630 DSC_0629I highly recommend the current exhibit in the Glenbow Museum, Made in Calgary: the 2000s, where you will enjoy powerful work by our contemporaries.  Still on my list, Contemporary Calgary’s exhibitsHomecoming/Kim Dorland until January 18, 2015 at the Stephen Ave. Mall location and Voted Most Likely curated by Kim Dorland at the City Hall location.

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.)

Art Auction Martin Sadlong

 

 

 

The Esker Foundation: Terms of Engagement

Given my childhood, growing up in a military family, this exhibit really speaks to me.  Curator, Christine Conley, of the University of Ottawa,  introduced the tour participants to the Terms of Engagement exhibit, on view at The Esker Foundation.  Her special interests include feminism and art, questions of gender, trauma and issues of secondary witnessing, the ethics of performance, conceptualism and photography, and curatorial practice.  All of these things come into play in this exhibit.  This was a fine, however, general description of the art on exhibit.  There will be other opportunities to explore and revisit these themes as the exhibit continues through to December 14.

I appreciate the concepts of ambivalence, memory and identity that came up time and time again where these works are concerned.

DSC_0684DSC_0680Dick Averns was present to the tour, although at this particular time, he was not one of the presenters.  I’ve found his photographs very engaging when I’ve visited them at The Military Museum of Calgary.

At the two readings delivered by Nicola Feldman-kiss, I was left unable to breath…the circumstances of her observations of one small location in the Sudan, were so powerful.  In fact, when I got into my vehicle to drive home that day, I had to take a few minutes to collect myself…the images and the experience was so very important to me.

I do not wish to minimize the content/meaning of the works at Esker right now, but really encourage my local readers to take the time to consider the messages and archives that are provided through this collection!

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While investigating this subject, I thought that these related videos would be appropriate.

 

 

The final three videos feature a former teacher of mine, Bill MacDonnell.  His dedication to this subject matter and his research continues to amaze me.  Presently, one of his paintings is exhibited in the Made in Calgary: The 2000s exhibit that I’ve also recently viewed.  A must see!

 

 

 

Brutal Bus Tour With Esker Foundation

My 1,555th post…seems significant, given that I was born in 1955…not sure why!  Laughing about this!  I’ve been a blogger since 2005, my first post written on September 12, 2005 and titled, In the Classroom.

I didn’t know a single soul on the bus tour, but loved the anonymity of the event on that particularly dark and cold Calgary day.  Yet again, snow.  I enjoyed loading on to the bus with others and rocked gently while listening to a very interesting narrative about the Brutalist architecture that appears throughout the city of Calgary, unbeknownst, I’m certain, to very many Calgarians.

Hosted by Cynthia Klaassen, the President of the Calgary Heritage Initiative Society and Darryl Cariou, the Senior Heritage Planner for the City of Calgary, this guided tour was both fascinating and relaxing.  I enjoyed seeing both premier and lesser-known Brutalist sites, including some of the most controversial and nationally acclaimed.  It was fascinating to enter into the Science Center, a place where I had toured many times with my children when they were younger.  Once again, I felt a huge link to the University of Lethbridge, designed by Arthur Erickson and completed in the early 1970s.  I attended the university from 1973 until 1977 and lived in the main building residence on the fourth floor for two of those years.  Playing guitar in the abandoned stair wells and conversing with friends into the wee hours of morning on the main concourse are memories that stick with me.  The smell of concrete is not something everyone can easily get used to, but for me, a fond memory.

When we arrived back at the Esker, I purchased my 10.00 pkg of postcards and headed for the Blackfoot Diner, where I enjoyed a late afternoon breakfast, while reading over the descriptors on the backside of the postcards.  Another great day!

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Peter von Tiesenhausen Inspires

While fulfilling a contract, teaching grade one students, I still managed to get out to some arts events in town and now, as a matter of playing catch-up, I’ll archive a couple of them.  Last Thursday, I attended the Peter von Tiesenhausen opening, Concentrations, hosted by Jarvis Hall Fine Art and to follow that, attended one of two artist-talks given by Peter on his current Esker Foundation exhibit, Experience of the Precisely Sublime.

At Jarvis Hall Fine Arts, I enjoyed the intimacy of the pieces on exhibit.  There are some very monumental sculptures presently on exhibit at the Esker Foundation and these, along with Peter’s shelf of gestures, are very beautiful.  For those of you looking for biographical information, please refer to the links above and a fabulous write up for the present exhibit at Esker is located here.  The purpose of this post is to share some of the magic that I took with me after my experiences of the art.

First, art openings are awesome for the purpose of bumping into and connecting with treasured friends.  I was happy to chat briefly with Shannon, Michelena and Bruce.  I was really happy to have a short visit with Peter as well and to remind him that his work has impacted me in a special way for several decades now.

P1160467During the artist-talk at the Esker, I picked up on several short vignettes in reference to the pieces on the shelf.  I’m including a photograph here that will be fully credited later as I DID find it on the Esker Foundation website, on their ABOUT page, but the photographer is not credited there (I’m going to assume that it is a photo archive taken by Doug Haslam).  I want to use it as a map for Peter’s talk, as he explored these intimate pieces from right to left and shared brief narratives about each.

Photo Credit: Esker Foundation, About Banner Photo

Photo Credit: Esker Foundation, About Banner Photo

Photo Credit: Close-up Shelf of Tiesenhausen Gestures, Esker Foundation

Photo Credit: Close-up Shelf of Tiesenhausen Gestures, Esker Foundation

The following are a series of points pulled out of my notebook…

The Concentration = whatever you go through, you can manage. In the end, create what you want.

Peter decided that some of his difficulties through a specific period of time were created by his own head and RESISTANCE.

PERSIST….BELIEVE….Follow your bliss (Joseph Campbell) because good stuff happens.

-8′ section of picket fence painted white
-add an 8′ section every year to the west
-24 x 8′ straight line…new on one end and pickets splitting on oldest end, aging and weather-worn-incredible challenge
-conscious of what is lost
-conscious of passage of time
-remember the neighbours from your youth
-why did we not have the faith that transition happens?
EXAMPLE: The clear-cuts that created such a concern for environmentalists decades ago are now very vibrant eco-systems.
-if we are going to do damage, let us make it so that at least it’s over the parameters of our own life limitations
-How can we have the smallest impact?

THERE ARE THINGS IN LIFE THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH MONEY OR MATERIAL POSSESSIONS.  PAY ATTENTION TO THOSE.

SMALL OBJECTS ON SHELF = GESTURES  these taught Peter how to explore materials and ideas.

Wooden Face Profile

While attending the sculpture department of York University, Peter decided he was going to use ever machine that was in the department; drills, CNC scanning machines, laser programs.  He enjoyed the sound of the drills, the melodic and hypnotic sounds.

YOU NEVER KNOW WHERE THE BEAUTY IS COMING FROM.

Wooden Duck and Lion

Left on a railing for twenty five years in his studio.

Bark

One of 3000 eye symbols that led to the copyrighting of his land.  The eyes of the aspen trees are guarding-watching.

Mountain

Chainsaws/axes

Bronze Pieces

Sustainability ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS WANT TO
Lunenburg Industrial Foundry and Engineering – sunlight used to melt bronze
Use focused sunlight to heat bronze to 5,000 degrees.

Wood with cavity in it – contains a pebble

Karl Blossfeldt – Up Close and Beautiful/Art Forms and Nature

Garlic Plant: Karl Blossfeldt

Garlic Plant: Karl Blossfeldt

Rusted Camshaft – solar bronzed

Firewood

Home made Axe

-a mention, here, of Tim and Linda, people who lived off the land/$10,000 a year and farmed with horses

Wooden Axe

BEING FREE – I don’t owe anybody anything.

WHAT IS ALL AROUND YOU?

EMBRACE FAILURE. EXPERIMENT.

Cardboard Axe

Random Axe of Kindness – Banff

The very next day, having listened with my heart…not just my head, I noticed this beautiful dried strand of perfectly ordered seed pods.  Such a brutal, cold winter, Alberta experienced these last many months and to discover such perfection was surprising and beautiful.

P1160466 P1160464 P1160463I feel inspired to truly notice my surroundings because of the impact of Peter’s exceptional work in two Calgary galleries.  At the Jarvis Hall Fine Art exhibit,  I was most captivated by a glass cabinet filled with drawings tied together in bunches  with cord and then sealed in red wax.  I would like to encourage my readers to attend both exhibits while they are here in Calgary.

Sealed drawings

A Day Spent With Laura Vickerson

The Esker Foundation opened its doors for a sculpture workshop on Saturday. Working with concepts and cardboard, the day was a celebration of invention.  Laura Vickerson met with us, first, in the darkened theater where our eyes feasted on a collection of images; sculptures created by former students.  I have never thought in three dimensions and signed up for this workshop as a way of moving out of my comfort zone and into space and form.

(I also forgot my camera.)

I wish that I had photographs of the cyclone of cardboard pieces!  The Esker had all materials and tools nicely laid out upon our arrival…caddies filled with straight edges and X-Acto knives, saws and such….stacks of cardboard boxes of every sort…a glue gun section with generous loads of glue sticks.  It was a dream come true for a creative!  WHOOT!

As preparation, on Friday evening, I perused Laura Vickerson’s website and thought a little about paper.  I’ve been working extensively on genealogy and knew that I would be dealing with memory, nostalgia and family some how…blood lines, as inspired by several authors I’ve been reading, memoir.  I just didn’t know what would be happening.

I also read snippetts on line from a context that Laura would be using as motivation for the work, Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino.

“Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.”
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

“You reach a moment in life when, among the people you have known, the dead outnumber the living. And the mind refuses to accept more faces, more expressions: on every new face you encounter, it prints the old forms, for each one it finds the most suitable mask.”
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

“The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.”
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

As I went about the house harvesting my own collection of boxes, I knew that the labels were very distracting to me and wanted, already, to minimize the messages that were so dominant AND irritating.  I knew in the morning that I would bring along my bucket of gesso...and even applied a first layer to some boxes before eating my breakfast and while drinking my first coffee.

In the dark theater, I liked the topographical handling of foam core in a few of the student works we saw.  Given more time, I really wanted to build a model of land forms in just that way, but knew that it would be a monumental task for a single day.

The sort of impact I would like to create...given more time.

The sort of impact I would like to create…given more time.

Laura was very supportive.  In her first go-round she seemed to be most interested in observing whether or not we would be using the tools safely.  I know that I would be nervous in a room surrounded by artists carrying knives.  Gradually we all hit our groove…once the anxiety around ‘an idea’ filtered out and we tore into the experience.

Thanks to Doug Haslam and Esker Foundation for taking photographs of my sculpture.

Sculpture Kath 3

Photo Credit: Doug Haslam and Esker Foundation

Sculpture Kath 4

Photo Credit: Doug Haslam and Esker Foundation

Sculpture - Kath

Photo Credit: Doug Haslam and Esker Foundation

Sculpture Kath 2

Photo Credit: Doug Haslam and Esker Foundation.

I could not help but look around me and marvel at the huge variety of approaches that were taken.  I was so impressed with some folk and their ability to manipulate the materials to create crisp, balanced forms.  While my piece feels unfinished, I am delighted with the direction it was taking and with the sorts of things that I learned about myself through the process.

Thanks to Laura Vickerson for her inspiring session and for listening to me as I muddled my way along.  So generous!

Esker Happenings: The Way Air Hides the Sky

I’m thinking about the early-rise tomorrow morning.  I will drive over to my daughter’s place where we’ll watch the Canda-Sweden game together and share some breakfast.  4:00 comes early, but I wanted to archive a few more events/ideas before I head for bed, so that tomorrow is a fresh beginning to the week.  I feel so blessed for so many reasons.

Tyler Los-Jones presented an artist-talk at Esker this past week.  These sessions are always so rich and a multitude of connections are made.  Tyler’s piece is titled The Way Air Hides the Sky and is located in the Project Space tucked in at the entrance to the Esker building.

Tyler’s talk was both academic (heady) and in so many ways, humourous.  He was very authentic in his approach.  As a result of the talk, it is easier to enjoy the work…or form more of a relationship to it.  Also, I came home to do some more reading about Tyler’s process and intention.  I like the images found here.  The following image and the body of work related to it was most appealing to me.  Photo Credit: Walter Phillips Gallery

Tyler Los-Jones, we saw the reflected inverted image of our own age #6-2013

Tyler Los-Jones, we saw the reflected inverted image of our own age #6-201

I captured some images of The Way Air Hides the Sky, …and more reflecting…as the glass reflects my own image back to me…and I become an inclusion to the myriad of reflective surfaces already present in the piece.  An interesting program.

P1150249 P1150250 P1150251 P1150252 P1150253 P1150254 P1150255 P1150256 P1150257 P1150258On the Esker Foundation website, Shauna Robertson writes

December 16, 2013 – March 16, 2014

Much of Tyler Los-Jones’ practice is concerned with the way in which we frame nature and insist upon a detachment between it and ourselves: the anthropocentric assumption that we are distinct from it and not intrinsically linked to it, neither physically nor temporally. That nature is Othered to us and exists for our use, enjoyment, and consumption has long been inherent in the vernacular of landscape photography, and this type of mediated representation of the natural persists to this day largely unchanged.

The way air hides the sky suggests a meditative proposition for reframing or dismantling these invisible divisions, complicit hallucinations, and the uneasy relationship between humanity and the natural world. The installation borrows the language and materials of industrial and interior design as a vehicle for the natural image—light boxes, room dividers, rolls of wallpaper, and mirrors: tools for image-making—and deploys them within the conceit of a perpetually in-progress storefront. Situated in a space of commerce and high traffic, the sense of something in process—or, noticed eventually over time, in a mode of permanent stasis—gives us pause, for a moment, to become productively stuck.

Our expectation of the fictitious display window, with its conflation of sultry, slick, sexy, high-gloss theatricality and the serpentine infiltration of the provisional and the natural, operates—in the timbre of a whisper—as a permeable barrier that suggests that which we are already aware: the open secret that we exist not outside of, but within, an oscillating space between the real and the imagined, the interior and the exterior, the natural and the constructed, the opaque and the transparent.

Spending Time With Jeffrey Gibson at Esker Foundation

I didn’t even bring my camera…so, no images except  the scratches I made into my journal.  I attended an artist talk by Jeffrey Gibson at the Esker Foundation yesterday afternoon and learned so much about the context of his work/beliefs.  I am so grateful for having the time in such a magical environment, to hear Jeffrey speak.  Thank you.

The exhibit Fiction/ Non-fiction is shouting out for your attendance.  My readers will be floored!  I am consistently amazed by the arts events happening in Calgary, but this particular collection breaths a different sort of air into our city.

P1130207 P1130209 P1130211Of identifying with a cultural identity, Jeffrey summarizes, as he did yesterday, in this New York Time’s article written by Carol Kino…

“If you’d told me five years ago that this was where my work was going to lead,” said Mr. Gibson, gesturing to other pieces, including two beaded punching bags and a cluster of painted drums, “I never would have believed it.” Now 41, he is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and half-Cherokee. But for years, he said, he resisted the impulse to quote traditional Indian art, just as he had rejected the pressure he’d felt in art school to make work that reflected his so-called identity.

“The way we describe identity here is so reductive,” Mr. Gibson said. “It never bleeds into seeing you as a more multifaceted person.” But now “I’m finally at the point where I can feel comfortable being your introduction” to American Indian culture, he added. “It’s just a huge acceptance of self.”

On exhibit at the Esker Foundation, a fascinating and challenging exhibit of installation work and paintings, a show co-produced with the Illingworth Kerr Gallery of ACAD.  The curators are Wayne Baerwaldt, Steven Loft and Naomi Potter.

In brief, the Esker website describes this collection...

“The thirteen artists in Fiction/Non-fiction challenge mainstream cultural and political narratives by offering transcultural critique through works that propose counterpoints, rhetorical questions, and revisionist statements (often as increasingly abstract forms of representation) to official historical records or archives.”

Several different programs, both hands-on and curatorial talks/tours, will be given up until the end of December.  These programs, based on my experience, are consistently engaging and a source for new questions and knowledge.

Not to confuse my readers, but this painting by Brenda Draney caught my gaze and held it…so I wanted to post it here.

Brenda Draney. Tent, 2013, oil on canvas, 3′ x 4′. Photo credit Sarah Fuller.

Brenda Draney. Tent, 2013, oil on canvas, 3′ x 4′. Photo credit Sarah Fuller.

“Her paintings are drawn from stories, memories, and family photos, and consider how narratives are constructed and how they, in turn, construct our identities.”

 

Daughter

I love each of my three children so much.  My heart wells up when I think of each of them.  Each one, such an individual…so special, in my mind.  My remembrances and shared experiences with each, are so particular.  Each one holds in body, soul, mind and experience, such a special collection of attributes.  I am a proud mother.  No…the relationships I have shared with them are not perfect…but the humanity of this struggle called life and the blessing/curse of free will,  guarantees that imperfection is pretty much a given.

Erin…my first born…a young lady with a heart that swells with kindness for others.  Her young life fractured bits and pieces of her innocent and beautiful trust in love.  I didn’t do so well in protecting her from all of that.  Bit by bit, as a woman, she has been filling the wee holes with new love and experience…the love of a steadfast husband…and she has used some really durable glue to fix the fractures.

She treasures her brother and her sister and has been a formidable part of her grandparents lives…their moving from one phase of their years into the next and the next.  Erin values and treasures family.  She has always worked tirelessly and sometimes passionately to discover how to make peace…for everyone.  And sometimes I think that work has been too hard.

Erin is music…and I can not help but interject with this song, by Sinead O’Connor, The Singing Bird…because this is a song that comes to mind when I think of Erin.  I also think that O’Connor’s hands…her gestures here…remind me of my daughter.

“The Singing Bird”

I have seen the lark soar high at morn
Heard his song up in the blue
I have heard the blackbird pipe his note
The thrush and the linnet too
But there’s none of them can sing so sweet
My singing bird as you.
If I could lure my singing bird
From his (her) own cozy nest
If I could catch my singing bird
I would warm him (her) on my breast
For there’s none of them can sing so sweet
My singing bird as you.
My singing bird as you.
My singing bird as you.

Erin is about feasts…good food and good drink… parties and celebration.  If you have not attended one of her events, you must really get in her good books…you won’t forget her hospitality and alongside her husband, Douglas, you will feel the welcome of their home.

I love you, Erin.

Yesterday evening, Erin and I shared a meal at our favourite family restaurant, The Dragon Pearl, in Inglewood and then went on to wander the Esker Foundation. It was the last-day for Janet Werner’s Another Perfect Day, Dagmara Genga’s Scenic Route and really fun and engaging, Jillian McDonald’s Valley of the Deer.  Erin and I spent some time deciding which role our Cayley AKA ‘wood nymph’ would play in McDonald’s installation.  I’ve included the short piece of video What Does the Fox Say simply because it reminds me today of the exhibit.  The Esker Foundation never disappoints!  It was fantastic!

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