Great things of 2014 - Something in the Way. @Les Territoires Montreal, QC.

This past Summer I had the good fortune of stumbling into Les Territories in the Belgo building in Montreal, QC. on a sweltering hot day in august.  A set of workshops led by the Berlin-based sculptor Miriam Jonas. With title Something In The Way, the 2014 Creation workshops set out to examine the notion of limits as an enduring concern in contemporary sculptural practice. The resulting objects both interactive and playful riffed on this theme - the viewer became collaborator as they engaged with the objects pushing them around the space.  Simple in design and execution, this exhibition demonstrated brilliantly all that I love about sculpture, space and the thinking artist.

Participating artists:
Charles-Antoine Blais Métivier - David Martineau Lachance - Jean-Sébastien Massicotte-Rousseau - Lauren Klenow - Miriam Jonas

Great Things of 2014 - Anna Torma

This particular exhibition entitled Bagatelles  @ the Karsh-Masson Gallery in Ottawa, Ontario in August was a highlight to me in 2014.  Anna Torma of in Baie Verte, NB is a TEXTILE ARTIST that produces large-scale hand embroidered wall hangings and collages.  The scale and intensity of the work itself, of these beautiful multilayered marathons of embroidery really knocked me off my feet.  So much so, it was hard to put into words and has taken me a long time to get it here.   What I truly enjoyed seeing in this exhibition was that the back of the embroidery, as it was fully displayed, was just as interesting as the front. Moving between the different folds of silk as they hung like massive flags of her children's creative growth depicted in the beasts and monsters fire-breathing and stomping over-top of each other. Many at 210x280cm each, my fingers get cramps just thinking about the all that thread, delicately drawn with needle and thread. I would catch myself tracing the stitches back and forth comparing patterns or just losing myself in the texture and rhythm.  I am a sucker for a good monster anyway, but the joy of these works was impossible not to internalize.   Walking away from this exhibit I found myself light on my feet and with a silly grin on my face.  There are many things referenced in Bagatelles beyond monsters, from Fibonacci to imagined and historical plants, all these images fell into each other with a careless ease.  To read more about Anna Torma's work click below and do not miss it if she is showing in your area.

Michael Dumontier & Neil Farber

On a recent visit to Montreal I saw a great exhibition @ Division Gallery - After the Royal Art Lodge, works by former members of the infamous Royal Art Lodge of Winnipeg.  It featured works of:

Michael Dumontier & Neil Farber

Marcel Dzama

Jonathan Pylypchuk

Adrian Williams

Although, the bust-a-gut funny award definitely goes to the creative duo of Michael Dumontier & Neil Farber.  Beautifully curated and arranged in groups of common themes, these simple cartoons kicked the sometimes-stuffy white cube experience right in the nuts and I could not help myself from laughing loud and hard. Below is just a small sample of a hundred + images that were on display.

2013 Governor Generals Awards for Visual and Media Arts

The GG awards are funded and administered for the 14th year by the Canada Council for the Arts and hosted by The National Gallery of Canada. “They recognize distinguished career achievements in the visual and media arts by Canadian artists, as well as outstanding contributions through voluntarism, philanthropy, board governance, community outreach or professional activities.”

That is the official line from the Canada Council, but I see it as far more than that.  This is our chance to meet and thank these individuals for their sacrifices and decades worth of dedication to a severely under recognised part of Canadian society.  Ideas, and execution of those ideas are the catalysts of change. Thinking and acting differently from the norm and then to put oneself into public scrutiny, will consume many an idealist.  But to have done this repeatedly for decades is what makes these people so deserving of their awards.  Not only that, long after they have left us their work continues; continues to enrich our culture, continues to evolve and grow as we do, continues to give economically, continues to add to our collective vi

sual language and legacy - long after they have passed on.  It is far too often with the arts that we regale creators for their brilliance and singular achievements after they are dead and rare that we thank them while they are still here – this is our thanks, Canada’s thanks.

I was in this post going to write something about each individual, but their decades of experiences are varied and complex and honestly I do not think I could do them justice; rather I will point anyone interested in several directions that elaborate on their careers.  

The Canada Council has done a magnificent job on video biographies for each artist which I highly recommend.

The winners for the Governor Generals awards for visual and media arts 2013 are painter Marcel Barbeau, filmmaker William MacGillivray, composer/sound engineer Gordon Monahan and sculptor Colette Whiten.  Ceramicist Greg Payce received the Saidye Bronfman Award.  Chantal Pontbriand received an outstanding contribution award for her more than 30 years of work as a curator and art critic.

Anna Frlan - Interbellum

 Anna Frlan’s exhibition at the Ottawa School of Art (January 10 – February 21, 2013) "Interbellum" addressed a subject not often engaged – the psychological and emotional remnants of war and the long-lasting consequences on families/people and how this trauma passes on through generations.

Fruits are used as a visual metaphor for explosives drawing on the etymology of the word grenade, (from Middle French grenade "pomegranate" (16c.), earlier grenate (12c.), from Old French pomegrenate (influenced by Spanish granada); so called because the many-seeded fruit suggested the powder-filled, fragmenting bomb, or from similarities of shape.)  which she visually underscores by creating a pomegranate with grenade pin and lock. The work explores unaddressed or repressed trauma—several pomegranate grenades rest quietly on a fruit platter on the family’s bureau.

The exhibition was filled with rich poetry and texture underscored by her choice of medium - commercial grade steel. Anna wields a MIG welder alternately as pencil and chisel. She builds texture and form—sometimes delicately cutting flat steel to resemble lace, sometimes building density and volume that she later grinds into to the forms she imagines.

The result yields remarkable objects; the grey and silver steel communicate gesture, line and pressure much as a charcoal drawing on paper. It's uncanny because this is cold hard steel. I went back several times taking in the artistry and dedication to a single medium, the clever use of metaphor, and the pure fascination of how something we know to be so hard can be made to seem so soft and fluid.

Lycanthrope - Jim Holyoak @ Donald Browne Gallery - Nuit Balanche Montreal

After one too many encounters with individuals in various states of intoxication during the Nuit Blanche festivities, it was refreshing to sit down on the floor at the Donald Browne Gallery and take in this delicious combination of sight and sound.

Lycanthrope is a fantastic drawing installation that included a performance of the artist Jim Holyoak attacking a paper-lined fortification while musicians Nick Kuepfer & Neil Holyoak (Jim's younger brother) created an accompanying wall of steady sound. Jim Holyoak used an ink-slathered whisk and various graphite sticks and gouache-laden brushes to visually echo the soaring notes of  looping sonic trance/bat-chirping sound from electric guitars with great analogue assists: cassette tape machines, 1/4 tape looping machine, amplified bell and chimes, all whirling though what looked to me like a horn from a Hammond organ! Think Philip Glass on acid. 

Jim’s attention to detail and mastery of his tools and media are represented not only in this giant singular work, but also on the rest of the gallery walls, from floor to ceiling. Clever and articulate drawings of creatures and various abstract stalactite/stalagmite like drawings of various sizes and paper quality pinned to the wall.  Of particular interest are the drawings in which Jim incorporates his own ink stamped body parts into a bat wings or a hares elongated feet. 

This was the finissage so, unfortunatly if you are reading this you cannot see the show - except on line - Jim and Donald's links are below if you want to see more or just watch the videos I have inclued and it will give you a small taste of the evening.

Michael Snow Retrosepective - Art Gallery of Ontario

The AGO has done a fantastic job of assembling a selection of work by Torontonian artist Michael Snow, covering six decades of his sculptural career in a single room. All of the sculptures are, in the words of the exhibits' curators: "instruments in the artist's orchestration of thinking about looking." The collection underscores Snow's singular vision and pays homage to an artist who even today--in his 80s—continues to be at the cutting edge of Canadian and international art. Much of the work on display is interactive and, it its day, may have been difficult or obtuse to most viewers, is now (as is with much great art) simply understood and profound.

July 18, 2012 till March 17, 2013