Art to Adore

I was fortunate to attend the National Gallery of Canada while the recipients of the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts 2016, were on exhibit.  When I attend such a large collection as is available at our national gallery, it is typical that I feel particularly drawn to some work.  Sometimes, it is because I have followed particular artists over my years…sometimes, it is because the work is new to me, but visually, very exciting.

One woman’s work that has been of great interest to me all of these years is that of Jane Kidd.  She is original and a technical-sensory genius when it comes to tapestry.  I’ve picked up brochures about the artist, read what I could and viewed a few excellent short films about her process.  Her work, for me, is always organic and, typically, elements of nature are embedded.  I relate with this work.  I was so excited to see that she was acknowledged so beautifully in the gallery this past summer.

img_0980

img_0979img_0985

 

Edward Burtynsky’s photographs have been represented very well in Calgary.  I’ve had the opportunity to connect with them in the Glenbow Art Gallery and in several exhibits that feature the best of Canada.  My own interest in environment and the exposure of the human mark on the landscape has always drawn me to Burtynsky’s work.  While I am involved in the rather sad practice of picking other people’s litter from the ground of a single pond ecosystem, Edward Burtynsky uses his images to speak to the collective about the impact of their choices.  His works have a lot to do with consumption and my favourite documentary has to be Manufactured Landscapes.

img_0983img_0984

Wanda Koop’s work, in its minimalist sense, always feels fresh and eloquent.  I’ve been blessed to have great space on her canvases in several instances.  I’ve always left feeling very blessed by  time spent standing in front of her work. This opportunity was no different. Her painting speaks about the collective conscience.  Many paintings, for me, talk about the consumption of land.  They are atmospheric in their nature.

img_0987

Bill Vazan was new to me.  This piece was a very potent image and I simply had to engage it and feel awed by it.  By connecting with it, I became fully aware that there was, inherent to the piece, depth of thought and energy and travel. The culminating piece is complex and intriguing.

img_0982

img_0981

 

Some years ago, I read Verna Reid’s book, Women Between: Contruction of Self in The Work of Sharon Butala, Aganetha Dyck, Mary Meigs and Mary Pratt.

In Women Between, Verna Reid explores the evolving perceptions of “self” in the work of four Canadian women – visual artists Aganetha Dyck and Mary Pratt, and writers Sharon Butala and Mary Meigs. All four came into prominence in middle age, doing their most significant work in their mature years. They, along with the author, are members of a transitional generation of women, occupying the space between the traditional world of their mothers and the postmodern world of their daughters. The multiple roles they have played are reflected in the strong autobiographical content present in their work. Applying feminist and autobiographical theory, Reid considers the work of Butala, Dyck, Meigs, and Pratt in light of the influences that have shaped their senses of identity. As a contemporary of her subjects, Reid infuses her interviews with the four women with sensitivity and immediacy, lending a unique perspective to the exploration of their lives and work.

Sharon Butala’s writing is some of my favourite writing.  And, I’ve enjoyed reading about Mary Pratt and her practice as I tried to find my own way, making art and raising a family at the same time.  But, what really intrigued me was, discovering through this book and a single lecture at ACAD, the interesting practice of Aganetha Dyck.  To encounter her work at the National Gallery of Canada, gave me chills.  A wonderful moment for me!  What a joy to share this viewing with two of my nieces.

img_0996img_0994

Beyond Canada…other pieces were in the gallery, to adore.  A progression of work in the exhibit, A Solitary Mexican Modernist: artist, Rufino Tamayo‘s (1899-1981) exotic use of colour mirrors, I think, the climate and texture of Mexico.  I really enjoyed this work and liked the experience of seeing how, over years, the work progressed.  This exhibit marks 25 years since the artist’s death.  It was an honour to see this and in some ways, a visual relief at that point.

img_0990img_0993img_0992img_0991

 

I enjoyed interacting with the dynamics of the Ai Weiwei’s tree.

img_0976img_0975img_0974img_0973

There are so many fabulous documentaries and things written about Ai Weiwei’s practice and the intolerance he has endured as an artist, a person, and a mind.  I was blown away that I had the opportunity to celebrate a piece of his work in our national gallery.  I recommend my reader’s further investigation.

Perhaps one of the most potent sculptures that I encountered was this one, by Brian Jungen.  Strong social commentary, Brian Jungen’s found object sculpture do not fail to impact.  Lots to read about Brian on line.  Enjoy.

img_0997

img_0998

If you have the chance to get out to the ‘big’ galleries…you will never be disappointed.  Canada…a prosperous and blessed Nation!  We need to celebrate our opportunities as artists and as citizens.  Never take the arts for granted!

 

 

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!

DSC_2208 DSC_2207

Chris Millar’s work…amazing…involving.

??????????

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.

DSC_2240

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

Art Museums

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.

“The Wheel” (detail), 1986, oil on line, courtesy of the Clark Estate Photo retrieved from FFWD Calgary.

John Clark: A Tribute opened about the same time as Dad arrived.  Recently, The Herald published an excellent article about John Clark and his work, an uncommon thing, I find, in Calgary news.  I really wish that the visual arts took up more space in our local papers.  So much is happening.  I guess I have to say that I’m really grateful for FFWD for such as this.  An excellent bit of writing appeared there as well.

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.