Painting On The Edge 2018, the Federation of Canadian Artists‘ international competition and exhibition that celebrates innovation and experimentation is on until July 29th at the Federation Gallery on Granville Island. My painting “Autumn Water” is in the show; if you can’t make it in person, you can take a look online!
Nanaimo Museum‘s recently opened exhibit, “A Call for Justice: Fighting for Japanese Redress”, added a few, new to me, insights regarding the Japanese Canadian internment following the attack on Pearl Harbour. I had not realized, for example, that long after the rest of Canada had admitted the injustice done to these citizens, British Columbia continued with their forced expatriation to Japan. It seems their entrepreneurial success was resented. I now understand how the father of a friend, who had resettled in Toronto after being dispossessed of his Vancouver business, refused to ever again venture west of the Rockies. Haruko Okano‘s newspaper-covered mask, “Canada’s Shame”, with its metal tears and barb wire strapping, creates a powerful image of the media lens through which these citizens were viewed, and the mental and physical pain inflicted on a silenced people. Also on display was Takeo Tanabe‘s ethereal westcoast print, used to fund the marches that eventually led to Brian Mulroney’s national apology in 1988 to “the enemy that never was”.
Wonderful to see a bright, funky new art gallery in Nanaimo, Gallery Merrick. Everything from oils, acrylics and even watercolours, interspersed with sculpture. This amazing two level gallery in the heart of downtown sets a standard for revitalizing the city core.
Half frozen over, covered with snow in brilliant sunshine, Buttertubs Marsh was incredibly beautiful. The clumped snow on overhead bent branches and the cumulus clouds looked much alike against a cobalt blue sky. Red Hawthorne berries popped against the white, birds sang as though it were spring, ducks paddled within the encircling ice. Seeing the shadows on the snow in the bright oblique winter light were as blue as the sky overhead reminded me of the winter shadows in Monet’s painting “The Magpie”. Despite the beauty of this winter vista, I will certainly welcome an early spring.
‘Retro’, an online juried exhibition put on by the Federation of Canadian Artists opens today! This show remembers an earlier time, specifically anything pre-1980. My painting “Fallen Apples” is featured; one of my all-time favourites, painted in 1979. Check out the show until April 30th!
When we visited Newfoundland’s Fogo Island in iceberg alley a few years ago, our mentor, New York photographer Alex Fradkin, extolled the virtues of fog. Waking again this morning to the plaintive moan of foghorns, an oddly soothing sound, I remembered his advice and went to Lost Lake in search, not of dense fog, which I could view outside my oceanside windows, but of the light breaking through the fog. The steady drip of condensation from the sculptural conifers had created layers of brilliant green moss on the fallen logs and rocks around the lake. Ducks and drowning cedar snags fractured the still water reflections of surrounding cliffs. In a moment, between the light and the fog—constantly changing parameters—an evanescent, Emily Carr image.
If you can’t make it in person, you can view the exhibit online.
Hope your holiday season is off to a great start!
I celebrated one of these last lingering lovely summer days with a walk to the Nanaimo museum to view “Lawren Harris: Canadian Visionary”, on loan from the VAG. I’m familiar with many of Harris’ paintings, including those shown at the McMichael collection in Ontario, but this show contained several of the pencil sketches he subsequently used to paint many of his iconic works. Harris used these rough sketches in lieu of snapshots; perhaps this is why his paintings are more sculptural than textural. Early in his career he seemed to have had a spiritual perspective, though this becomes more pronounced in works created after his return to Vancouver from the USA. The later landscape paintings seem to feature lighting from several sources: one oblique and another, perhaps divine, from directly overhead.
I’ve long been a fan of Monet and seeing his recent show at the Vancouver Art Gallery reminded me once again of his brilliance – literally, his shining, his light. Cycling down the Seine to the sea in the 1970’s, I spent hours viewing his canvasses at the Orangerie and at his final home in Giverny. In the 1990’s I was fortunate to see more works in a Boston show: “Monet in the 90’s”. The VAG show included more of his later paintings when cataracts affected his sight if not his vision. Cataracts steal not only acuity and resolution but also diminish colour saturation. It was fascinating to see various versions of the Japanese bridge, increasingly portrayed in burgundies, and deep greens and blues, as he painted what he saw, not what he knew. Clemenceau, French Prime Minister and close personal friend, finally prevailed on Monet to undergo cataract surgery, a few years before his death. It apparently took Monet some time to reconcile himself to the required thick glasses.
Last week, on a chance visit to Robert Held‘s art glass studio in Parksville, I saw how he, too, had been affected by a visit to Giverny; on his return, he’d created the exquisite vase pictured above, with its reflecting, metallic waterlily pads, superimposed on the transparent glass evoking Monet’s painting. I can understand his unwillingness to sell this, his first work after returning from such an inspiring place.
We’ve just returned from a weekend in Vancouver, where we saw two Bard on the Beach shows: “The Merchant of Venice” and “Shylock”, neither an easy show to stage. For context, we visited the exhibit at the Italian Cultural Centre: “The Venetian Ghetto, 1516 – 2017”. This is the only showing of this exhibit outside the Doge’s Apartments in Venice. An amazing virtual reconstruction of the cramped Jewish ghetto allows the viewer to swoop in from the skies, then zoom along the narrow streets and canals illustrating the confined spaces and rich interiors in a way unimaginable without technology. Synagogues were carved into the interiors of existing buildings, which were themselves built upward within a very restricted perimeter. “The Merchant of Venice” in modern dress offered a contemporaneous and edgy, but enlightening, and very topical, interpretation of social scapegoating; “Shylock” explored subsequent generations’ difficulties dealing with historical stereotyping; and the ghetto exhibit grounded this fictitious character firmly in history. The gondola, pictured, was in one of the museum windows.