In: Canadian Art
Essay – Ron Hewson – Community GalleriesMarch 1, 2022
I’ve been putting a lot time and effort lately into a community gallery that I belong to. While doing this I’ve put some thought into why I feel it’s worth the effort. Here are some of my reasons to to belong to and participating in this endeavour.
I believe it’s important for local artists to have a place to hang their work. Putting my work on a wall in a public space means I feel that I have created something that is worthy of public display. This matters because the emotional investment in producing art needs that outlet. Showing in a gallery is the reward for the time and money put into our work. I know I would continue to work regardless of belonging to a gallery but knowing that I can share what I have made is incentive to keep working.
Belonging to the gallery means I have to finish things. Every couple months I need new framed finished work to display. As a photographer I can capture a vast number of images. However that really doesn’t mean anything if I don’t finish any of them. Sure I can do some quick editing and post them on Instagram or do some more careful work and post on a stock photo site but that’s not the same as taking the extra steps to print and frame something. The incentive to finish work is a big benefit of belonging to the gallery.
Preparing work for the community gallery on a regular basis is far less stressful that preparing for a major gallery show. I’ve done shows at “big” galleries. The thrill and sense of accomplishment that comes from that kind of show can’t be beat. But the investment in time and money can be overwhelming. Its not something that everyone is prepared to do or is willing to do and for most people its out of reach. The community gallery fills that need perfectly. It gives the opportunity to exhibit that is manageable for artists who want to exhibit without the stress of a solo show.
There are many other reason the gallery is worth my time such as the diversity of the art on display and the camaraderie of follow artists but what makes to gallery valuable to me is the incentive to keep working. I believe that everyone needs some form of incentive and that for me is to have my photography physically present in the world. While posting something online might get seen by lots of people we don’t paint or sculpt or create our art to be seen on a phone.
~ Ron HewsonRead More
dream listener | karen elaine spencer, 2006 – 2007February 4, 2022
dream listener | karen elaine spencer, 2006 – 2007
In a dream I saw a way to survive and was filled with joy. (Holzer)
I have dreamed a dream, but now that dream is gone from me. (The Matrix: Reloaded)
i wrote my dream on cardboard, went out into the street and held the cardboard dream in front of me. at the end of the day i abandoned the cardboard dream. over the year one hundred and ninety-four dreams were written on cardboard and shared this way. (karen elaine spencer)
There is a poetic brutality to karen spencer’s dream listener porteur de rêves works, and especially several that she’s shared online recently, looking backwards at this series. (The image I’m sharing here is from 2007)
These are stark images, both visually and in terms of what spencer has chosen to present. spencer and I became acquainted when she exhibited a postcard/billboard project (using an image taken from her first invitation with ATSA’s l’État d’urgence) in Saskatoon some time ago; we joked about how both of us liked to walk in the frigid temperatures of our respective cities, and how that gave us a different sense of the place and the people. spencer often seems to notice things that others ignore, in these images: sometimes those are discarded objects. Often they are detritus, or indicators, of discarded people. spencer’s work is very political, and often in the public sphere, as well.
“Her work questions the hierarchy inherent in use values and investigates how we, as transient beings, occupy the world we live in. The widely held belief in a linear movement forward, or “progress”, is confronted through her repetition of actions that lead nowhere. Rambling, dreaming, loitering and riding the metro are all activities spencer has previously undertaken as part of her practice. Actions are sustained over time (often a year or more) rendering her artistic practice indistinguishable from her daily life. She works with what is near at hand, materials that speak of our day-to-day existence: cardboard, oranges, bread, chalk. Through a détournement of materials or intentions spencer intervenes into spaces; hoping to shift, even if only ever so slightly, our perceptions of what is possible.” (from The New Gallery)
spencer’s words are plaintive yet engaging. There’s a sadness evoked that seems to speak to you, on a very personal level. Her other texts in this series are equally melancholic: I dreamed my insides were falling out astride a pile of domestic discards, i dreamt i wanted nothing more to do with death, i dreamt i was waiting but i don’t know what for and i dreamed i lay in a puddle and watched the rain fall on me (the latter two both on wood that we all recognize as that used to board up windows, an arbiter of damaged, empty – unwanted – spaces).
~ Bart GazzolaRead More
Annie Pootoogook | Life & WorkSeptember 30, 2021
Annie Pootoogook | Life & Work by Nancy G. Campbell
The Art Canada Institute has produced a number of fine books (all readily available at their site) on various artists that have informed and challenged the larger Canadian art world.
Nancy G. Campbell’s “Annie Pootoogook: Life & Work traces the artist’s life from her youth at the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative’s Kinngait Studios, where she began drawing in 1997, predominantly in ink and crayon, to her death in 2016. The book explores how in addition to depicting scenes of everyday life in the North—including people watching TV, playing cards, shopping, or cooking dinner—Pootoogook depicted such subjects as alcoholism, domestic abuse, food scarcity, and the effects of intergenerational trauma.”
There is a certain bluntness and brutality, at times, to Pootoogook’s scenes. Campbell’s engaging but also rigorous examination of Pootoogook’s life and work (as they were, frankly, one and the same) explores how “the life of Annie Pootoogook (1969–2016) tells an important national story, and her career marks a pivotal shift in the national consciousness around contemporary Inuit art. With a keen eye for detail and fearlessness in representing daily life—the celebratory, the frightening, and the mundane—she captured the attention of Southern audiences. Although imported culture and technologies have dramatically changed Inuit life, the North has also stayed true to tradition: community, food, and language remain sources of Inuit pride. In her drawings, Annie depicted what is still valued and unique in her culture and what is changing rapidly. She had a meteoric rise in the art world that was tragically cut short when she died in 2016.”
I encountered Pootoogook’s work at the Mendel Art Gallery (now the Remai Modern) in Saskatoon in 2009. The simplicity and directness – the truth, both celebratory and unsettling – of her images resonated in that place. From the legacy of residential schools that dotted the prairies, to the Saskatoon police’s starlight tours, to the ongoing shameful dismissal of murdered and missing Indigenous women, Pootoogook – though from Cape Dorset – was very loud, in Saskatchewan, and even posthumously has a power to disrupt our assumptions and ignorance.
More about Pootoogook can be read here.
Faking DeathJuly 24, 2021
Canadian Art Photography and the Canadian Imagination
McGill-Queen’s University Press
Penny Cousineau-Levine’s “Faking Death” is considered by many to come closest to defining the characteristics of “Canadian” art; specifically the photographic arts but her conclusions can be applied to visual, performing and literary arts as well. She posits that the photographs she used for her study (all artistic photos by a select group of artists taken between 1950 and the 1990’s) are rarely about the referent… as she puts it, “a pipe in Canadian photography isn’t usually a pipe. It’s probably a crucifix”. This “dislocation” is at odds with straight American documentary photography, where the “truth” of the image is its most important characteristic.
The book, although academic in tone (indeed it was written in an attempt to describe to her university students the notion of a Canadian tradition of art), is a captivating read and draws many more fascinating conclusions. Once enlightened by her observations, you can’t help but see the characteristics she lays out in almost every piece of Canadian work.
This book is a MUST read for all Canadian artists and art lovers. It is available at McGill-Queen’s University Press. ~ Mark WaltonRead More
Down the Old Bog Road: Frances Crossan BlanchardOctober 14, 2021
Our first Guest Curator Kim Fahner writes about the work of her friend Frances Blanchard. “When you stay in O’Neill Cottage, you see Frances sitting in front of you, but then can feel and sense a group of ancestors standing all around her, thanking her for bringing that homestead back to life. Her paintings, then, are full of details that conjure up stories of her family and the land they lived on.” Click for more!Read More
Sophie’s Choice – A Muse for StephenOctober 13, 2021
A muse, according to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, is a poet’s inspiring goddess or the source of inspiration for creativity. Fredericton painter Stephen Scott is not a poet, but he has found his muse and certainly an inspiration for creativity in his wife Sophie Thériault Scott. Stephen has known Sophie since 2000 and they have been married since 2010. She has been the subject of many of his paintings since that first meeting, but being his muse is far more than being a model for him to paint. Her presence in his life has affected all of his art. After all, that is what a muse is supposed to do.
Virgil Hammock offers some thoughts on the art of Stephen Scott in this article.Read More
Renée Mathews: Fluidity and IntuitionFebruary 10, 2022
Renée Mathews: Fluidity and Intuition by Glodeane Brown, Guest Curator SECRETS by Renée Mathews Renée Mathews is an artist currently living... Read More