By Aaren Madden, May 2013
This year’s Fired Up! exhibition celebrates history, process, and function in ceramics.
When you describe someone as “the salt of the earth,” you are valuing their inherent goodness, their awareness of and commitment to something greater than themselves. The phrase takes on broader meaning as the compelling theme of this year’s Fired Up! Contemporary Works in Clay exhibition at the Metchosin Hall, May 24-26 (with a preview show at Eclectic Gallery).
By Aaren Madden, April 2013
Charles Campbell’s Transporter activates a present space from which to imagine possible futures.
In Open Space Gallery right now, five geodesic spheres a la Buckminster Fuller sit about waist high in random locations across the floor. They are made of heavy cardstock triangles with the interior spaces cut away, leaving only the open lattice of supporting sides held together from the inside by simple binder clips. A different repetition of a single image is overlaid onto the surface of each sphere. As such, from any distance, these spheres appear as light and airy as giant bubbles: attractive, playful, and fascinating. In fact, at the opening reception of Charles Campbell’s Transporter exhibition, of which these spheres form a major component, a few people couldn’t resist the temptation to set them in gentle motion, then retreat and watch as they slowly came to rest.
By Aaren Madden, March 2013
With a keen eye, accumulated experience and masterful intuition, Marion Evamy paints vibrant imagery out of “the mess.”
Though her work is consistently vivid, vital and bold in form and colour, Marion Evamy paints in a wide range of styles and subject matter. The common thread connecting her work is process: “Make a mess, then find the imagery in the mess. That’s the easy explanation of it,” laughs the artist.
By Aaren Madden, February 2013
Even while they amuse, Carollyne Yardley’s paintings ask the larger questions.
Consider the squirrel. Its ubiquity is, for most of us, inversely proportional to the amount of thought we devote to these creatures that share our urban and rural spaces. Unless, say, they are raiding your birdfeeder or digging up your daffodil bulbs, they live out constant but seldom-noticed dramas of survival under our noses every day.
By Aaren Madden, January 2013
Portrait artist David Goatley believes everyone has a story that’s worth telling.
The Reluctant Sitter” is an oil painting by David Goatley depicting a common scene in the Montmartre district of Paris. A suited man sits awkwardly at an outdoor café table while a thin man with graying, long hair, large clipboard propped against his waist, looms over and sketches. His face is angled to allow his gaze to flit from paper to his unwilling subject’s face. Though his back is to us, we sense the sitter does not know quite where to direct his own eyes. His dining companion’s are cast down, intent on his meal, actively ignoring the unfolding drama. The crimson café sets off the two main characters by contrasting their cool grey clothing, thrusting the tension forward. The painting is about looking; specifically how we look at each other, and what we reveal or conceal in doing so.
By Aaren Madden, November 2012
Ira Hoffecker’s paintings are inspired by the tension, energy and history of cities.
Before moving to Victoria with her family eight years ago, artist Ira Hoffecker had always lived in large cities: Paris, Lima, Cusco, Berlin, Hamburg. She studied French and Economics in Munich, then in 1984-5, worked as a translator near Paris. Every weekend she was in the city visiting galleries and museums, reading Camus, Proust, Zola, de Beauvoir. “It was my pivotal year,” she says.
By John Luna, October 2012
An upcoming exhibition displays the resourcefulness and innovation of Vancouver Island-area potters of the 1970s and early ’80s.
When she directed the Cartwright Street Gallery in Vancouver, Diane Carr used to find herself thinking that if she could take a box of Wayne Ngan tea bowls around to the heads of local corporations, extracting a promise from each to use the bowl every day for a month, the money would flow in. “I think ceramics are very contemplative,” she says. The day-to-day encounters with a humble tea bowl are part of a continuum that includes the artist’s movements, the behaviours of clay and fire, and the domestic impressions that form a rhythm over time; a texture carried in the hands, a contour brought to the lips. As Carr confirms, “you have to use more than just your visual sense.”
By Christine Clark, September 2012
The method—and community—behind the madness of printmaking.
When Victoria Edgarr and her long time partner Alain Costaz, with whom she creates collaborative prints under the pseudonym Chloé, came to Victoria in 1993, they almost immediately “took responsibility for Ground Zero Printmakers Society, [doing] everything from maintenance, design, provisions, keeping things moving, [and] generating the people to work in the studio.”
“We put a huge amount of energy into the community, the meetings…[and] the artists. Artists came through Ground Zero and later had shows or created portfolios, or came to work on six-month projects, and there were older people…working on learning to make art. There was lots and lots of community art and involvement,” she says.
By Christine Clark, July/August 2012
His questing intellect and impressive creative skills are on display in two shows this summer.
Many years ago, in the early ’90s when I first saw Duncan Regehr’s work (this was the Poetic Imagery Series at Winchester Gallery at their old location near the Oak Bay Junction), I was a very young painter and was completely enthralled by the seemingly impossible glow he achieved in his paintings. It seemed as though he had somehow installed a soft night light, or perhaps a star, beneath the skin of each jewel-like colour. Truly magical, the colours and the very texture of the work were so varied and rich, the stories told on each canvas were so spiritually and intellectually profound, that I had the impression, standing in the presence of his work, that he must be someone in possession of a great and mystical power.
By Christine Clark, June 2012
Emilio Portal creates a temporary memorial to commemorate the Lekwungen people.
The first time I met Emilio Portal, he had been accepted to create an installation at a gallery space I was then coordinating. In the beginning, his plan was to create a little shelter out of bamboo and other discarded items and to live in this hut for the entire length of the show, which was a month long. Interestingly, his ideas evolved the more time he spent feeling out the space and eventually, by the time his scheduled month had arrived, his installation became a performance during which he played a cajon (a box drum) in the night “To Honour the Spirit of this Forest,” as he called the piece.
By Christine Clark, May 2012
Creating perfect moments comes naturally to Linny D. Vine.
In Linnyland everything is golden. The skies are blue, the clouds are puffy, white and pretty, existing only as a metaphor. The cherry blossoms float, if cotton candy can float, in mounds above the gentle streets. The maple trees are always dressed in autumnal reds, casting soft, rich shadows across quaint corners. The houses and little store fronts curve radically inwards and outwards, welcoming and friendly. The few people around are pleasantly preoccupied, strolling alone or with a friend, looking into shop windows, or riding bikes fast and furious, kid-like.
By Christine Clarke, April 2012
Samuel Jan says it’s all about moving people with beauty.
Samuel Jan says he’s basically a loner, and that helps explain the comfort he gets from art. “[It relieves] the distance I have from my friends and my family. I moved a lot as a child. Art is something I can always rely on. My drawings and my imagination will never leave me, no matter where I move to. My mother raised me by herself. She had so many jobs. We lived inside a hair salon. We lived with two nuns at one point. People were constantly taking us in. Wherever she worked, we lived. I didn’t have too many childhood friends.”
By Christine Clark, March 2012
A physician and reproductive rights advocate has returned to her first love: art.
Growing up in St Andrew’s by the Sea in New Brunswick, population 1500, Mary Conley always wanted to go to art school, but says, “I didn’t even know where they had them.” She says that the public schools didn’t offer arts programming back then in the late ‘50’s. Instead, after graduating from high school, this daughter of a lobster wholesaler and his wife (a retired telephone operator), won a scholarship to the University of New Brunswick to study science and began what would eventually develop into a long and storied career in medicine as a champion of human rights, and in particular, women’s reproductive rights.
By Christine Clark, February 2012
The art of Lance Olsen contains both a wild complexity and a profound serenity.
It’s a surprise. The space is small. Much smaller than expected and very unlike any studio I’ve ever visited before. It’s oblique. His materials are there, but it’s so sparse. There are no posters or trinkets or oddities on display to illustrate his worldly experiences. Other than a block of paintings stacked in a dark corner, there are no finished works in plain view either. This is a work space and not at all romantic. It looks more like a storage room, filled with random objects. Everything seems grey or some variation thereof. It’s entirely utilitarian, like the office of a mid-level manager in a warehouse somewhere.
By Christine Clark, January 2012
Megan Dickie’s sculptures critique the status quo.
In the short video called Ready to Rumble you will see a slim young woman wearing a form-fitting black dress, tied at the waist, with black leggings and tall black boots. Her high heels clatter against the cement floor of a white room as she wrestles with a free-standing and uncooperative wall of bricks. She is wearing a flesh-coloured leather Lucha mask, a decorative full-face covering traditionally used in Mexican wrestling. After hauling the wall up from its prone position on the floor and struggling to keep it vertical and straight for a few uncertain moments, the young woman falls beneath the unwieldy weight of the bricks, only to extricate herself almost immediately. Freed, she crouches beside the fallen wall, smoothing down its tousled bricks and returning it to its benign original position.
By Christine Clark, December 2011
Rich and evocative, Brad Pasutti’s paintings glow with a mysterious life of their own.
Near the top of a painfully steep hill, with a long, endless view past rooftops and treetops and vague patches of greenery, all the way to the soft blue ocean, sits a formidable old grey mansion, towering over a wildly fecund garden filled with camellias and rhododendrons and soft grass. The house, composed of curved lines and towers and crushed curtains pressed against the window glass would inspire a Tim Burton movie; there’s a darkness there, foreboding and exciting. On a grey November day, with the clouds flying past overhead and the oak trees in sinuous silhouette, it looks like a witch’s lair, or a vampire castle in New Orleans. But no, it’s nothing so sinister. This is the home of a painter, a small and gentle man named Brad Pasutti.
By Christine Clark, November 2011
A printmaker with a secret ingredient and a love of the North.
Looking through Jenn Robins’ photographs from Tuktoyaktuk you see a vast expanse of blue white, the snow and the sky, broken only occasionally by a tiny airplane or an overwhelmed building. One picture shows the blue shadow of a woman in Arctic clothing stretching outwards across the windblown snow, a self portrait. In another is a close-up of Robins’ face, although all that can be seen of her are her black-brown English eyes, smiling and peering out from under several layers of protective clothing (pink and lavender) and snow encrusted fur. She looks happy.
By Christine Clark, October 2011
The costs and rewards of the artist’s life.
John Luna is telling a story. He is perched on a high stool, his face looking down at me as he speaks; there’s a continuous and agile flow of conversation, ideas and references, quite astonishing to experience. His dark eyes are tender with understanding; his voice is gentle; he uses his hands. He’s talking about inebriation; that seductive other reality that exists in perfect splendour alongside the sober day, eclipsing, for long moments, the struggle that is life. Not the drunkenness of alcohol, but of adulation.
By Christine Clark, September 2011
Drama, intensity and heartbreak spark the paintings of Frances Baskerville.
Frances Baskerville’s paintings are dark, restless and confused. The canvasses are almost always built up and broken apart with fragments of cloth, dried glue and sometimes plaster. There are often grid formations, drawn onto the canvas originally as a guide, but then painted over and redrawn as an overlay in chalk. The hundreds of brushstrokes look rapidly applied and sketchy; nothing is smooth; the paint moves in unusual directions. The finished images are essentially unfinished, there but not there, everything in motion—the figures, the paint, the canvas, moments between bodies caught, but barely, in the midst of a river of fast-moving mud. At least this is the lasting impression.
By Christine Clark, July 2011
When it comes to finding the “meaning” of Blu Smith’s paintings, you’re on your own.
In her 1966 essay, "Against Interpretation," Susan Sontag wrote, “In most modern instances, interpretation amounts to the philistine refusal to leave the work of art alone. Real art has the capacity to make us nervous. By reducing the work of art to its content and then interpreting that, one tames the work of art. Interpretation makes art manageable.”
This may not be exactly the way Blu Smith responds to interpretation of his work, but he does tell a funny story about an early show of his abstract paintings. He remembers that several people were so overwhelmed by what they perceived as sexual content that a few of them were quite embarrassed. He laughingly suggests that their reaction had more to do with their own thought patterns than with his paintings.