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Jock Macdonald at the Vancouver Art Gallery

While recently in Vancouver I did what I try to do every time that I make it to that city – visit the Vancouver Art Gallery and very specifically to visit their collection of Emily Carr paintings. The Vancouver Art Gallery occupies a wonderful old building in downtown Vancouver with the top floor gallery devoted to Emily Carr. There are however 3 other floors, exhibiting other shows and what ever I can see there is just a bonus for me. See my previous post about what I saw on the Emily Carr floor on this visit.

Perhaps the highlight for me on this visit was the exhibition “Jock Macdonald: Evolving Forms“.20141116_110656_1 I must admit that before I got there, I’d heard there was an exhibit of work by the Canadian painter J. MacDonald and I just assumed it was J.E.H MacDonald, one of my favorite painters from the Group of Seven.

But wrong I was. It was a different Macdonald and while I guess I’d heard the of Jock Macdonald but never really seen his work – I got a good education!

Jock (more formally James William Galloway) Macdonald was a leading Canadian modernist painter of the 20th Century. He was born (1897) and raised in Scotland before coming to Canada in the 1920′s. He first settled in Vancouver but would live in a number of places in Canada before passing away in 1960 in Toronto after over a decade there.

His early training was as a designer and some of his early work bears the influence of commercial design. In Canada he worked with Fred Varley of the Group of Seven  and produced some fine landscape canvases that fit right in with the work of the Group.

But most significantly (and enlightening for me) was his development as a leading modernist abstract painter. In fact he was an important member of the Canadian Painters Eleven group.

20141106_162403_2Accompanying the exhibit is a fine catalog (printed by black dog publishing), that I just had to bring home with me as a reminder and reference, after seeing the exhibition.

Jock Macdonald: Evolving Forms runs at the Vancouver Art Gallery until 2015 January 4th.

[link to Jock Macdonald at the National Gallery of Canada website]

Securing an Exhibit – Questions to Ask.

I was recently involved  in discussions with an art organization about technology options for securing an art exhibition. Unfortunately, theft of art, especially from exhibits in public spaces, does occur. There are an increasing number of options for monitoring and alarming an exhibit and the financial commitment can be significant. Without going into technical specific of different options, I recommend stepping back and asking yourself a few general questions.

The questions to ask relate to what you are expecting the security solution to do for you and what it can realistically be expected to deliver:

  1. Will it be a deterrent to theft? Will potential thieves be aware that there is a security system and be scared away from attempting anything?
  2. Will it help stop a thief in the act? Would the system trigger some sort of visible or audible alarm that might make a thief run away without completing their dirty work?
  3. Will it help recover a stolen work? Does the system have a way of tracking the stolen piece or provide a means of identifying the thief (e.g. a video recording)?
  4. Will it help the reimburse the artist for a stolen work? Maybe what’s needed is theft insurance?

There will probably be lots of other considerations but these questions should help an organization check if their expectations and deliverables from a security solution are a match.

If the technology does nothing more than tell you a piece of art has been stolen, is that really worth paying for?

post script: As a commenter (@lauxmyth) on my twitter feed mentioned “We do have to remind folks at times to balance alarms/camera with the locks/doors and INSURANCE”. The best security will be multi-faceted but you have to think about what is necessary/desirable and what you can afford.

Credit to a Curator

It might be said that a curator (of an art exhibition) is doing their job when they aren’t even noticed or thought about by the visitor to an exhibit. Most of the time, I never give any thought to who the curator was or how well they did their job. The exhibit either works and I enjoy it (the art work presented) or it doesn’t really make an impression on me so I just move on.

Last week though, while visiting the Vancouver Art Gallery, I found myself thinking “This shouldn’t be working but it does – Who curated this?”

The exhibit I refer to is “Emily Carr and Landon Mackenzie: Wood Chopper and the Monkey“, described in the exhibition guide:

Engaging in a dialogue with the work of eminent British Columbia artist Emily Carr, Vancouver-based painter Landon Mackenzie presents three thematically arranged galleries with more than 50 artworks that collectively span over 100 years of landscape paintings by these two artists.

Why I was skeptical about this exhibition working is because I hold Emily Carr in such high esteem. I couldn’t imagine presenting her work with anyone but, say Tom Thomson or the Group of Seven members. Landon Mackenzie is a contemporary artist, born in 1954, whose work while including some landscape elements also extends to large abstract paintings that at first glance would seem to have no way of being connected to Carr’s work. Somehow though, the juxtaposition of the work of these two artists works and delivers and pleasing and meaningful experience.

images of paintings by Mackenzie and Carr (from the Exhibition catalog)

images of paintings by Mackenzie and Carr (from the Exhibition catalog)

This exhibit runs at the Vancouver Art Gallery from 2014 September 20 to 2015 April 6. Incidentally this exhibit is the fourth in a series of exhibitions pairing Carr’s work with that of contemporary artists from the region. It was the first one that I’ve seen (or was even aware of) but my interest is piqued.

Oh, yes, the curator? Grant Arnold, Audain Curator of British Columbia Art – BRAVO!

 

Autumn Color

It is mid-September here in my part of the world and that means that autumn is arriving in a hurry. There is an exciting burst of color that will soon give way to 7 months of greyness. Fortunately images captured, can be images savored (and perhaps painted), during the long wait til spring.

Splash of Red and Green

Splash of Red and Green

Color Grain

Color Grain

Bending Gold

Bending Gold

O' Canada

O Canada

Orangey Shades

Orangey Shades

Down By the River (Part II)

In this post I share 5 more (mostly) black and white photos captured in one beautiful September afternoon beside the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton, Canada.

Ragged Wood

Ragged Wood

Lumpy Wood

Lumpy Wood

Bridge Angles

Bridge Angles

Stones in a Muddy Shore

Stones in a Muddy Shore

and finally, not really a black and white but pretty much mono chromatic except for the rust. This collection of hardware was just sitting on a rock beside the river.

Rusty

Rusty

Also see another 5 black and white photos from this shoot in Down by the River (Part I)

Down By the River (Part I)

This afternoon (2014 September 6) I got down by the edge of the North Saskatchewan River. the main purpose was to  throw the ball into the water for my retrieving-crazy dog, but I also had my camera with me. Between throws I took a number of shot of the things that caught my eye. After processing as black and white images, here are a few of them:

Rippled Sunlight

Rippled Sunlight

Shore Wood

Shore Wood

Shadow Angle

Shadow Angle

A Stone on the Shore

A Stone on the Shore

Drift Branch

See more related images in Part II

Artistic Retreat

For the second year, the first week of July has been an opportunity to escape the city and normal responsibilities for the serenity of the countryside and the inspiration of being around like-minded artists.

My makeshift outdoor studio

My makeshift outdoor studio

A group of 12 painters gathered at the Lazy M Lodge in rural central Alberta for five days of rest, relaxation and rejuvenation.

Alberta countryside near the Lazy M

Alberta countryside near the Lazy M

The North Raven River

The North Raven River beside the Lazy M

My main goal  for the week was to focus on painting but I knew my eye would be drawn to many more sights than I could attempt to paint. Therefore my camera would be close at hand and be put to good use capturing references for current and future landscape paintings  as well as for some things that are just more suited to photographic images than paint.

My goals for the week were pretty loose but I did want to focus on landscape painting and I did want to work larger and looser with acrylic than I had done the previous year. So I did away with the backpack and pochade box and working on by 9 by 12 inch boards. This year I wouldn’t be packing my gear – I brought some medium size (22 by 28 inch; 56 by 71 cm) stretched canvases, a portable easel and a (5 foot long) folding table. I pre-mixed my acrylic paints  half-and-half with a heavy gel to help hold the texture and to extend the working time. I also would use a couple of stay-wet, sealable palettes for color mixing. I used a split-primary color palette and would do mos of my painting thick and with a palette knife)

Paint for the week

Paint for the week

Lazy M Driveway

Lazy M Driveway

Of course, my eye was looking not only for landscapes that I could paint quasi-en-plein-air but also for inspirations for future studio abstract paintings. I re-visisted my long-exposure with camera-motion technique to generate some of these ideas:

Green Between Pink

Green Between Pink

A project that the group of 12 painters undertook during the week was to produce this composite canvas (4 feet square) to be left at the Lazy M Lodge:

Lazy M Group Project

Lazy M Group Project

It wasn’t a highly productive week in terms of completed canvases. In fact I completed only 2 (and one is not a keeper). I got a good start on another couple of canvases forming a landscape diptych. Nonetheless, it was a very beneficial week – the rest and rejuvenation benefits can not be understated.

For more photos visit my Lazy M 2014 Flickr album.

February 17 Abstracts (Part 2)

In my previous post I shared 5 abstract photos from a 2014 February 17 photoshoot. Here are another 5 from that particularly creative and productive batch.

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The Corner of My Eye

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Blues Three

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Brick and Blue Alley

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Swimming in Blue

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Urban Abstract 8636

As with most of my previous abstract photos, my basic technique is to use a long exposure (made possible by a neutral density filter) and then move the camera in a particular direction during the exposure. Post processing to emphasize color and contrast is usually also required.

Someday, I am looking forward to using some of these photographic images  as inspiration, starting points for large paintings.

February 17 Abstracts

After a few months where cold weather made me less inclined to take my camera out, I did finally do so and concentrated on some long exposure with camera motion abstractions. After a bit of post-processing I came out with some images that I am very happy with:

Green Orb

Green Orb

Shadow Fence

Shadow Fence

D80-8694 edit

Orange Band

D80-8630 edit

Winter Landscape

D80-8597 edit

Playground Color

More images from this abstract photo project can be seen in my follow-up posting.

Heartbeat Abstractions

Sometimes creative success comes upon me by happenstance. Today I was on my way to the studio to do some painting and as it was a nice morning I decided to walk through the river valley and take my camera with me. As I was leaving I realized that I didn’t have a polarizing filter with me but I did have my neutral density filter so I changed plans and decided I’d focus on some long-exposure camera motion abstraction,since it had been awhile since I’d done any photography in that vein.

As I reached the river valley I noticed runners, lots of runners, with numbers – there was a race going on. It was the Edmonton Heartbeat Run and that was very fortunate as it gave me lots of (moving) subjects and color to work in to my abstract photos. I snapped away, unsure of what I was really capturing but when I got home and processed the images I was quite pleased with what I had:

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