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.
Two of my paintings, “Lost Lake” and “Autumn Light, Victoria”, are in the show ´Scenes from Western Canada’ that runs until September 24th at the Federation of Canadian Artists Gallery on Granville Island.
Fall weather is perfect for gallery hopping, but if you can’t make it in to the Federation Gallery to see the show in person, you can view it online. Hope you are enjoying this beautiful September weather we are having here in BC!
My show “Light Visions” is an exploration of the way light transforms everything it touches, elevating objects of daily life from the mundane to the sublime. The exhibit is put on by the Granville Island Cultural Society, and runs for the next two months at Performance Works on Granville Island.
Ten of my pieces are on display until October 15th, and can be viewed an hour before theatre performances (check performanceworks.ca for showtimes), as well as by appointment on weekdays between 11:00-4:00 by contacting Una at 604.687.3005 (make arrangements the day before desired appointment). The venue kicks into high gear during the Vancouver Fringe Festival (September 7th-17th); hope to see you there!
‘It is those blinding moments when the eye sees, not what the head knows, but what the light shows that compelled me to paint these objects of daily life, food and its vessels, as they are elevated from the mundane to the sublime. Light transforms everything it touches. The complexity of light sources compels an equally broad response of the painter, from vigorous brushstrokes of saturated colour for direct light to slow calligraphic layers of diluted paint for refracted and reflected light. From the warm sensuous play of sunlight through maple syrup bottles, to the cool interior light etching water glasses, it is the action of light that transforms three dimensional objects to visions of line and colour and form and movement.’
Large format, conventionally framed watercolour paintings can be heavy, so I decided to try the “acrylic sandwich” frame for one of my larger works: two sheets of acrylic, the top one coated for UV resistance, bound at the corners with metal binding posts. The problem with every new technology is the possibility of unforeseen problems. That is why I entrusted my first such-framed painting to Prestige Picture Framing in Victoria. They’ve been framing my paintings for decades and I trust them implicitly. In particular, I would like to thank Lale, who researched at length before constructing and assembling my first “sandwich”. As well as being lighter and sturdier, I am pleased to see how the painting is free to speak for itself, unrestricted by matte or frame.
Enroute to Victoria airport mid-week, I stopped in at the Oak Bay branch of Winchester Galleries and enjoyed, among other works, etchings by David Blackwood and a photograph by David Ellingsen. David Blackwood’s work has been on my radar since the early 1970s; I own Farley Mowat’s “Wake of the Great Sealers”, a book illustrated with Blackwood’s dark, brooding etchings. Having recently visited Newfoundland’s Fogo Island, I recognized in the haunting images of a distant past, my own impressions of a harsh, striking landscape at the world’s edge, where only the most determined survive.
David Ellingsen’s work I saw at a more recent show at this gallery, “Obsolete Delete”. The large, incredibly beautiful photographs feature abandoned items from the not-so-distant past. This particular photo shows how one man’s trash—in this case discarded human technology in the form of an old cassette tape—has been upcycled to form the lining of a bird’s nest.
As always, I left the gallery happier and more inspired for the visit.
Stopped by the Winchester Galleries in Victoria to admire this Joe Fafard sculpture after dropping off a painting to be framed at my favourite framers: Prestige Picture Framing. I’ve decided to try acrylic frames as they are lighter, less breakable, and free the painting aesthetically from the frame. UV protection is still a part of the package. Looking forward to the results!
“Crossing Boundaries:Beauty of Canada” a collaborative exhibition between the Federation of Canadian Artists and the International Arts Gallery celebrating Canada’s 150th Anniversary, opened yesterday. Three of my paintings will be hanging in the show,’Morning Shadows, Tilting’, ‘The Old Bridge, Port Renfrew’, and ‘Deep Bay’. My paintings will be at the Federation Gallery on Granville Island from May 9th-14th (opening reception is Thursday May 11th from 6:00-8:00 p.m.), and will then be shown at the International Arts Gallery in Gastown from May 15th-21st. If you can’t make it to either location in person, you can view the exhibition online. Here’s to enjoying more of that beautiful Canadian outdoors as we move into spring.
On a cool and wet autumnal day, Saturday, April 29, I enjoyed a visit to the Waterfront Gallery in Ladysmith. The featured exhibit of textile art, titled Current Threads, 2017 was presented by the Vancouver Island Surface Design Association. I was struck by a particular work, featuring overlapping leaf skeletons attached to an earth dyed fabric – the work of Lesley Turner (Victoria). The mood of the day and the mood of the piece seemed to fit. The intricate delicacy of the leaf skeletons, blended with the umber tones of the underlying fabric, seemed very organic and served as a reminder that leaves come from and return to the earth. The effect was of a found object, simultaneously delicate and elemental.