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“. 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.
Jock Macdonald: Evolving Forms runs at the Vancouver Art Gallery until 2015 January 4th.
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.
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!
2013 March 8 – the Alberta Society of Artists (ASA) New Members Show Opening
It started about a year earlier when I submitted images of my recent paintings to the ASA in application for full member status. In April 2012 I received word that I had been juried-in as a full member.
One of the things the ASA does to welcome new members is to give them an opportunity to participate in an exclusive New Member’s show. This year it was at the Artpoint Gallery and Studio Society in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
I had brought my three paintings for the show, from my home in Edmonton to Calgary a few weeks before the show, when I had drove to Calgary for a meeting. I came back down to Calgary for the Opening but this time chose to travel by bus.
I walked from downtown to the Artpoint Gallery for the opening – a pleasant 25 minute stroll in the late afternoon sun of a springlike day. I arrived at the gallery a bit before six for the Opening which ran from 5 to 9. The gallery was pretty quiet at that time, but the crowds built as the evening progressed and the room was pretty full by 7 when the artists each spoke a bit about their work (or in the case of Shona Rae, did a fascinating story-telling performance).
I was one of 8 new ASA members showing in this exhibition. The others were:
When my turn came to speak, I spoke briefly about my background – a lifelong Albertan with a longtime interest in the visual arts including painting, photography and sculpting. I then said a few words about each of my three paintings in the show (all were painted in 2012 but representing different approaches):
acrylic on hardboard
61 by 91 cm (24×36 inches)
This work is an example of by approach of working plein air. This work was developed in the studio based on a small sketch that I had done on-site. The particular location of this was near the central Alberta community of Markerville but it depicts a fairly generic and common prairie/parkland scene on a summer afternoon, when the dark clouds roll in from the west.
acrylic on canvas
61 by 91 cm (24×36 inches)
This painting is an example of an increasingly common technique in my work, of using my own abstracted photographs as the inspiration and reference for abstracted landscapes. I use a technique of multiple second exposures while I move the camera to create the abstraction/simplification of the scene.
oil on canvas
46 by 46 cm (18x 18 inches)
This non-representational (abstract) work was one of a small series of exploration I began in October of 2012. The key feature of this series is the technique of drawing into the wet oil paint, using a variety of tools, to leave marks and reveal the underpainting.
All in all, it was a great evening – a chance for me to meet some artists and art lovers I had not known and see some interesting work. It was an opening to a good exhibition that I am proud to be part of.
The show runs until March 30th (2013) in Calgary.
I’ve made three visits in the last couple of months to one particular exhibit at the Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA) and I suspect I will be good for at least two more visits before the show closes on February 20 2012. The show is State of Nature, Western Canadian Landscape Painting in the AGA collection, 1980 to the present. This exhibit is running concurrently with a couple of other complementary painting exhibitions Prairie Life: Settlement and the Last Best West 1930-1955 (just until 2012 January 29) and a Passion for Nature, Landscape Painting from 19th Century France.
While the Passion for Nature exhibit is larger and with some big names would probably be considered the more prestigious exhibit, I must say that State of Nature is my favorite! State of Nature features nine large works by Alberta and Saskatchewan artists. The paintings are bold and strong, some tending towards abstraction but all recognizable as landscapes and certainly capturing the essence of the landscape from the Western Canadian prairie and parkland. There were a couple of paintings that really connected with me, invited me to sit down in front of them, to absorb the atmosphere and be transported to a different place. One of these was David Alexander’s Swags in a Northern Swamp. This large (approximately 3 by 4 meters) piece features a dominant foreground swamp with reflections in the mid-ground.
My favorite piece in this exhibit is Rockface, Quiet Bay 2008 by Gregory Hardy. This large work dominates one’s field of vision with a rocky landscape refelcted in a lake. the colors are rather subdued but with a few exciting dabs of orange.
If you happen to be in Edmonton, with an opportunity to visit the AGA before February 20th be sure not to miss this exhibit. It is interesting in its own right but especially so when seen against the 20th Century French paintings and the other current AGA exhibits.
This week I made a second visit to the Saltus Illuminati exhibit at the Art Gallery Of Alberta. This installation in the RBC New Works Gallery at the AGA, is the work of Arlene Wasylynchuk. I liked my first viewing of this work and enjoyed this second visit even more.
Set in a small, quiet, darkened room, this installation metaphorically evokes the feel of a forest with internally lit tubes of color. There are 66 of these magical cylinders, all uniquely hand painted and illuminated from within. Most are standing vertical but a dozen are horizontal as if fallen on the forest floor. The viewer is able to walk around this display (which is set in the middle of the room) and peer through the “forest” from an infinite number of different views.
It is ironic that the inspiration for this piece is the devastation of the forest caused by the Mountain Pine Beetle. Nonetheless, this work is effective in delivering a message about this threat, while reinforcing the beauty and the reason why we value our natural forests. For a very interesting news/feature story on how and why this unique piece of art came together, you must watch the Alberta Prime Time Video Story.
This exhibit is located on the second floor of the AGA, in a small darkened room, immediately on the right as you come up the stairs – don’t miss it, as you are attracted to the entrance of the big French Landscape Paintings exhibit. Saltus Illuminati runs until January 15, 2012.
Today I paid a visit to the AGA (Art Gallery of Alberta) in Edmonton. The primary reason was to visit a new exhibit, 19th Century French Photographs. The show features 66 photos from the era that saw the birth of photography. I was fascinated by the historical description of the various technological developments in photography during that century. In fact I was a little embarrassed that I didn’t already know more of this history.
One of the things that excited me most about this exhibit is that it includes works by Eugene Atget, one of my favorite photographers. Truth be told, the half a dozen Atget prints were not as great as I would have hoped. He has captured some excellent depictions of French life in that era but I found the subject matter on the photos in this show to be just average.
This exhibit runs through to January 29th on the main floor of the AGA and I will definitely be back for a second look and especially to pay more attention to the photo technologies displayed
Also on display and worth a visit, on the main floor until January 29th is the Prairie Life exhibit, a display of two-dimensional works from the AGA’s collection.
I also made a second visit to the UP NORTH exhibit on the 3rd floor. It is interesting but I can’t say the installation pieces (a number of videos and found objects) really appeals to me like the photographs and paintings do. It is however worth a visit if you are at the AGA before it closes on January 8th 2012.
Today I got back to the Art Gallery of Alberta. My first motivation was to re-visit the Emily Carr exhibit. My second reason was a visit to the new exhibition of abstract paintings by Lawren Harris, renowned landscape painter with the Canadian Group of Seven.
Lawren Harris was a founding member of the Canadian landscape school but even in some of his later landscape paintings the move to abstraction was very apparent. This exhibit, simply and appropriately called Lawren Harris Abstractions, focuses solely on the abstract works later in Harris’ career. The core of this relatively small exhibit are six paintings from the Art Gallery of Alberta’s own collection. Supplementing those works are sixteen from the National Gallery of Canada. Probably half of the works are large (a meter or two) paintings and very interestingly there are a number of abstract sketches, some apparently preparatory sketches for the works on canvas. There is a certain spirituality to Harris abstracts relating to Harris’s following of Theosophy.
I really enjoyed these Harris works and spent some time studying the curves, colors, shapes, volumes and composition. They are interesting from across the room and intriguing up close. The Harris exhibit runs through to September 11, 2011.
For more about Harris and his abstracts check out this CBC story from 1961.
The other exhibit I had an opportunity to visit today was Nature and Spirit: Emily Carr’s Coastal Landscapes. I had seen this exhibit a few weeks ago and at the time vowed to visit again. It was just as impressive this time as it was the first time. I focused just on Carr’s paintings today foregoing the companion exhibit of Canadian west coast native art and artifacts. For more on my first visit see my earlier blog post.
The Carr exhibit runs until 2011 June 5 and I will get back, at least one more time.
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting “Nature and Spirit: Emily Carr’s Coastal Landscapes” at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton. Anyone that knows me well, will know that I count Emily Carr among my most favorite and influential painters.
I never miss an opportunity to see Carr’s work in person. A few years ago I took in a great show in Ottawa at the National Gallery. Any time I get to Vancouver I make a point of visiting the Vancouver Art Gallery with probably the greatest permanent collection of this west coast Canadian painter. Fortunately this AGA exhibition was organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and features many of their key, and my favorite works. Among the great works that caused by slow trip past the works to come to a complete stand still were Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky and some luscious views of the interior of the west coast rainforests (specific titles escape me at the moment).
Like the national exhibition a few years ago this exhibit of paintings is complemented by Haida Art: Mapping an Ancient Language, an equally large display of west coast native art and artifacts. The indigenous west coast peoples and cultures were a huge influence and inspiration for Carr so this pairing is ideal.
This exhibition (of 35 Carr paintings) began 2011 March 5 and runs through to June 5. If you are in the Edmonton area this is a must see exhibition. I’ll be back, a few more times – guaranteed!
I am excited by a very unique, upcoming art exhibit that I am planning to be a part of. The exhibit will feature post-card sized works of artists from around the world who have come together in an informal community via Twitter.
The exhibit is being organized by Norwegian artist David Sandum and will take place at a public library in his hometown of Moss in Norway. Given the talent and diversity of the Twitter artistic community this should be a very interesting exhibition.
Not only is this exhibit just a really neat idea but it is also for a good cause. All proceeds from the sale of the works on display will go towards the purchase of children’s books for the library. Each of the works is to sell for a very reasonable 100kr or about $17. To learn more about this project please visit the blog post of David Sandum.
To see the works of and to learn more about, the artist behind this project visit the web site of David Sandum.
Last Thursday (September 2, 2010) evening, I attended the opening of the “Guilded” show at the Profiles Public Art Gallery in St. Albert. The exhibition features the work of nine artists in the St. Albert arts guilds. Most of the works are paintings but there is a nice variety of styles of work, including a lovely textile work and a series of striking Raku torsos. Although I enjoyed all of the works, my favorites were the abstract paintings of Rick Rogers and the impressive, expressive landscapes of Mike Dendy.
Rick’s painting Attachments is one not to miss. This painting is done with acrylics on hardware cloth and has a delightful translucent quality to it. It looks good on a wall and not doubt would look even more magical if it were positioned to allow light to shine through it.
If you happen to be in downtown St. Albert before the show closes on October 2nd, it is certainly worth stopping in to have a look.