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Fall/Winter 2007 Cover
Fall/Winter 2007 Cover
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Artist Takashi Iwasaki
Artist Takashi Iwasaki
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Takashi Iwasaki, "Tanuhanabi," acrylic on canvas, 16" x 16" Photo by Tumelo Mosaka
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Painter Jason Froese
Painter Jason Froese
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"Man With Gun 2"
Jason Froese, "Man With Gun 2," oil on canvas, 24" x 36"
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Jason Froese, "Epilogues," oil on canvas, 48" x 84"
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Artist Sarah Adams-Bacon
Artist Sarah Adams-Bacon
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"Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt"
Sarah Adams-Bacon, "Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt," 2004, drawing series, ink on paper, 12" x 10"
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"Transitional Phenomena: The Potential Space"
Sarah Adams-Bacon, "Transitional Phenomena: The Potential Space," 2003, Stride Gallery +15
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Artist Shima Iuchi
Artist Shima Iuchi
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Shima Iuchi, "Home 2007," resin, embriodery fabric, LED lights, steel, wood
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"Hanson Island: A Memoir of Telegraph Cove"
Shima Iuchi, "Hanson Island: A Memoir of Telegraph Cove," 2003, 2005, silver gelatin print
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"Memoir of Telegraph Cove"
Shima Iuchi, "Memoir of Telegraph Cove," 2003, wood, photo-etched zinc plate, quotation from a travel journal
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Scott August, "Hunter Series," 2002, silver gelatin print, 127 cm x 102 cm
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"Bull on Pink"
Scott August, "Bull on Pink," 2005, archival print on canvas, 12" x 18"
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Painter Tim Rechner in his studio space
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Tim Rechner, "Emily's Dream," 2006, oil and graphite on canvas
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Artist Nancy Lowry
Artist Nancy Lowry in her painting studio
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Nancy Lowry, "Brisk Blue" 2006, oil on Masonite, 12" x 16"
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Artist Charles Campbell
Artist Charles Campbell at the Brooklyn Museum
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Charles Campbell, "Jamaican Icarus," 2005, oil/paper/canvas, 36" x 36"
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Charles Campbell, "Meditation Rack," 2005, oil/paper/canvas, 36" x 36"
ON THE VERGE
8 artists building buzz in the West.
BY: Beverly Cramp, Kimberly Croswell, Amy Fung, Amy Karlinsky, Wes LaFortune, Daniel McRoberts, Portia Priegert, Steven Ross Smith
Takashi Iwasaki was born on the island of Hokkaido, Japan. His English teacher was from Winnipeg, and the place name stuck when it was time for Takashi to choose an art school after completing his Arts diploma in Osaka. It was a pragmatic choice, balancing the desire to study Art in English, and since graduating from the University of Manitoba in 2006, this creatively nimble artist has grabbed the attention of North American galleries and his work has surfaced in web and print publications from The New York Times Magazine, to celebrity-like citations on a list of URLs.
Artist and gallery director, web designer, translator, fashionista and self-proclaimed "art enjoyer," Takashi integrates artistic practice. He works in paint, drawing, collage, embroidery, web design and fashion, and is the originator and curator of the Semai Gallery, a narrow basement corridor in Winnipeg's Exchange that links to the Keepsakes Gallery. "I am interested in unusual spaces," he says, and indeed, the corridor is unlike any other space. If he sells work, he can offset expenses, but he knows how important getting that first solo show can be, and he only shows the work that he likes. No surprise, then, that his collaborations with a local writer are calledWarm Feelings of Intimacy. Takashi is a positive force. "I want to delight in what I can, when I can," he says.
In Takashi's second-floor sublet on Kennedy Street, stacks of paintings lean on the wall, abstract embroideries hang over the futon. The artists's computer is open on the kitchen table. He's just come in from Portage Place, Winnipeg's downtown mall, where he went to "look at clothes and shoes."
All of Takashi's practice is characterized by a mobile imagination. Like a 19th-century French flaneur, he surveys the urban spectacle, borrowing and transforming his grab bag of impressions with a lithe touch. He is at home with the playful canvases of Paul Klee (one of his favourite artists) and the dollar-store extravaganza of consumer gizmos, long past any notion of convenience or function. High and low meld deftly together. His creativity is organic, optimistic and entrepreneurial. As he puts it, " I like being in a fluid state."
Takashi has switched from oil to acrylic to construct his multi-layered and abstract works. While he has worked mural-sized and much smaller, the current canvases settle somewhere between two and three feet square. They are light and airy, beautifully coloured constructions that relate to the dream world of automatic drawing. They recall Vasili Kandinsky's Hinterglasmalereis, Klee's whimsical allusions and colour palette, and the decorative patterning of a Hundertwasser. Takashi is inspired by architecture, nature and biology.
There is little that is dark and brooding. Months ago, he sent out jpegs of his new paintings and I stole one for my desktop. Small wonder that most of the works have vanished from the studio, and are at Gallery Lacosse in Winnipeg, or on their way to Le Gallery in Toronto.
"I want my paintings to be compositionally sound, so that from far away, they are balanced and formally taught. When you come closer, you see something else." Takashi is fascinated by viewer interpretation, and his abandonment of figuration, though he is technically adept at realist drawing, engages multiple responses.
Takashi presents a chocolate-box-sized collection of tiny collages. Most are half the size of recipe cards. They are carefully built with stickers and coloured papers, torn and cut - the best are figurative arrangements of environmental disasters and urban follies, with miniscule architectural details and beasts. Takashi's precious scenarios, made solo, allow for the challenges of constructing space and cultural commentaries.
We stop to admire the embroideries that Takashi sews in the company of friends. The work is endlessly portable. Takashi credits Professor Suzanne Grierson with inspiring him to work in a decorative medium, and for him, the embroideries serve as a happy transition between drawing and painting.
Takashi's global interface has helped him gain gallery representation and inclusion into curated shows. His architect/handyman father has mounted an exhibition of his drawings in a library in Hokkaido, and the artist, in turn, has shown the work of Japanese art students studying in Canada. He has been included in an upcoming show in New York and has a relationship with the Hotel Gallery in Portland, Oregon. At 25, pink crystal earrings a-dangling, Takashi's self-reliance and up-start smarts make him one of Winnipeg's new golden boys.
-Written By Amy Karlinsky
Over the course of his life, artist Charles Campbell has traversed oceans and continents to pursue his art. Through it all, he has never strayed from his Jamaican roots. His newest work is included in the exhibition Infinite Island: Contemporary Caribbean Art, an exhibition that just opened at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.
Born in Jamaica in 1970, Campbell moved to Prince Edward Island with his family when he was five years old. He attended Concordia University in Montreal, where he obtained a BFA. In 1993, after completing his studies, Campbell returned to Jamaica. Living and working in Kingston for the next five years, he established his reputation as an artist and art critic.
In 1998, after completing an artist's residency in South London, he enrolled at Goldsmith's College at the University of London, where he received his MA in Fine Arts. After graduating, he remained in London, working as an artist, assistant curator and editor. In 2002, he returned to Canada and settled in Victoria, where he currently maintains a studio and coordinates the gallery at the Xchanges Artist Run Centre.
Campbell's art has changed significantly since he first gained attention in Jamaica. His early work displays an intensity drawn from personal response to issues of identity and race, as well as immediate social concerns. Many of his early works were figural and incorporated text to reinforce social commentary.
In 2004, Campbell turned from overt social commentary toward an abstract, coolly objective approach to art-making. His personal iconography bridges the personal and the historical and includes ocean waves, slave ships, migratory birds, crows, manacles and black figures in varying poses. Many of the images appeared singularly in his early paintings, but now Campbell has begun reproducing them in sequential patterns, overlaying and multiplying their forms in geometrical precision. The result is a highly individualized mandala motif.
Form is the final determining variable in the mandala, and it influences everything else. Campbell's process allows him to view each motif segment afresh as he meditatively builds upon the imagery. Each step offers a new perspective and requires a new set of aesthetic decisions. He paints his canvases primarily freehand, with some projections to help him prepare the initial images. His use of colour is sparse, and is originally drawn from the source imagery. As he develops the mandalas, he determines colour in relation to the forms as they emerge through the layers.
In the Brooklyn Museum, Campbell has painted one of his signature mandala patterns, the slave-ship motif, from floor to ceiling. The image is a significant icon in Campbell's repertoire. It is taken from a diagram representing how English slavers stacked captured Africans in their cargo holds. Rather than confront the viewer with this grim reality, Campbell offers a meditation on historical fact through geometric patterning. His technique provides a new perspective on his subject to the viewer: the mandala transforms already iconic imagery into a new iconography that is at once repeating and variable. By repeating singular images in multiple overlying sequences, Campbell transforms his emotional response to the subjects into a social metaphor. His motif transcends both personal and historical meaning and recasts it into patterns that draw from the past to reconfigure the present. In life, historical circumstance continues to drive contemporary society in an ever-widening pattern.
Campbell's slave-ship motifs expand beyond the immediate, localized perspective. His installation for Infinite Islandenvelopes the viewer within the mandala memorializing the tragedy of slavery, while reminding the viewer of subjugation's continued presence.
-Written by Kimberly Croswell
At 12 years old, Nancy Lowry walked into her first drawing class. The unexpected sight of the nude model was startling, but when the model shouted, "Nancy! What the [bleep] are you doing here?" Nancy was, "freaked out for the first hour or so." The model was a family acquaintance. But soon she was readily spending Tuesday nights drawing at the University of Saskatchewan Extension classes led by Saskatoon artist Degen Lindner.
Creativity was nurtured in Lowry's family. Her Irish parents allowed her and her four siblings to watch a half hour of television a day, and only if they could all agree on the same program -which rarely happened. "So instead, we were always making things. There were paints around, and our parents encouraged us."
Now 29, Lowry is a committed and well-regarded Saskatoon painter who starts from landscape and explores the territory between abstraction and representation. Her bright, eccentric oil paintings range from 6 x 8 inches on small masonite panels, to 5 x 5 feet on canvas.
Lowry says she is "fascinated with oddities and beauty found in the mundane or the obscure. Quirky things I see in daily life slip into my work reinvented." Her painted scenes may be rural, urban, or techno. They are rhythmic, emotional, textured and radically interpretive. "I feel the split between the natural world and the concocted, man-made world," she says. "Even a new style of shirt or unusual fabric catches my eye."
In Lowry's work, paint may be layered or scraped back. Images are suggestive but sometimes hard to identify, colours are vibrant and the palette is wide. The paintings feel primitive, energetic, intense. She also says that "memory plays a role, which I interpret through the process and layering of paint. I like working directly in the landscape, too, and playing with ideas of translation and metaphor."
Lowry counts surprise and travel among the perks of being an artist. "I've gone to places I wouldn't have expected," she says. A three-month residency in Brooklyn at the Triangle Artist's Residency Program stretched into seven months and enabled her to tour New York's galleries. BFA degree studies at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, completed in 2003, and meeting new artists at Pouch Cove Artist's Residency in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland, and at the Wells Artists Project in BC, have also inspired her.
One of Lowry's favourite places to paint is Emma Lake, in the boreal forest 200 kilometres north of Saskatoon. For several years she's participated in the reknowned Emma Lake Artist's Workshop, where she feels "the connection to the tradition, to the landscape, to the history of Canadian painting. I think of the visiting artists, writers and critics who've come there, like Clement Greenberg, Roy Kiyooka and McGregor Hone. There is a mix of culture and wilderness that feels parallel to the way I work."
Lowry is in her Saskatoon studio consistently, most mornings and evenings. "I just want to paint. I hope to continue to play with paint, to be captivated by it," she says. Perhaps her curiosity and daily routine accounts for what painter Jonathan Forrest -who is manager of Saskatoon's Art Placement, which represents Lowry -sees in her work. "It's almost a diary-like process," he says. "She has a very direct way of putting down the paint. It's intuitive, unpretentious."
Degen Lindner, who led Nancy's early figure drawing classes, and her first Emma Lake studio experiences, has been a constant guide. Degen is the daughter of Ernest Lindner, an Emma Lake creative pioneer. "From Degen I learned commitment and focus, and I learned about process," Lowry says. "Degen introduced me to new ideas, to new kinds of drawing and colour mixing, and to an oral history of the Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus. She was up-front with critique, but she was always very supportive. I'll be forever grateful for having her as my first teacher."
Lindner, who encouraged Lowry to go to art school, recalls that Nancy was "amazing right from the start. She's fearless, not afraid of taking chances. She's singular, eccentric, uniquely gifted. Her work isn't easy, but she's never tried to make it easy. It may never be easy. I have great respect for that."
-Written By Steven Ross Smith
Inside his singular dwelling space and studio, the workings of Tim Rechner's mind are splayed out for all to view. Mad scribbles line the studio walls from floor to ceiling -budding ideas spilling over immediate thoughts and untethered ramblings both energized and voracious, scraps of paper ranging from post-it notes to oversized hand-stretched canvases topple over one another. Layer after layer, level after level, condensed expressions and illuminated sketches piece together every inch of available wall space.
On the surface, Rechner's studio apartment in Edmonton's ArtsHab epitomizes a romantic notion of an "artist" space. Most people may have first seen his apartment in Trevor Anderson's short film, Rugburn (2005), where Rechner's actual day-to-day living space served as a set for Anderson's tempestuous artist.
Large in presence with a full head of massive dark curls and an even fuller dark beard, Rechner speaks in a very hushed and subdued tone accompanied with periodic small hand gestures. "I think the role of an artist here is to make Edmonton more culturally interesting," he begins once we settle inside the studio with his cats, Jimmy and Harold, nearby. "I don't want to sound spoiled or righteous, but I personally feel a drive to really create things as much as I can."
As the longest tenant in ArtsHab, the only city-sanctioned artist's co-op in Edmonton, Rechner has rooted himself into a steady arts community. With regular exhibition openings coupled with open studio visits every six weeks, he has a continuous feed of stimuli that conveniently lingers outside his front door.
A graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art + Design and Red Deer College, Rechner has built up his exhibitions from small cafe shows to public murals, culminating in his year-long residency at Edmonton's Harcourt House Gallery in 2006. Expressionistic and intuitive, Rechner's work often draws parallels to abstract expressionism, but Rechner himself doesn't feel aligned to any formal school of aesthetics. Working from his subconscious, there is a pure approach in his already-trademark expressions between line and colour.
"I'm moving in a more honest and free way than I have before," Rechner says as he sits up and moves one arm across in a single sweeping motion. "I'm now moving my arms, and not just my wrists, and my strokes are reaching my full length span."
At 6'1, the energy and physicality involved in each of his pieces have taken Rechner to a new level. After returning from a self-directed residency in Catalonia, Spain, this past summer, Rechner's daily ritual of art-making has spawned a tighter structure to his subconscious spurts. Taking note of contemporary Spanish artist Anthony Tapies, Rechner's signature style of abstraction is starting to crystallize into work that is structurally sound.
"I feel like I'm on the verge of something groundbreaking," he says of the drawings made during his residency in Spain, as well as the works completed upon return. Cash-strapped from his trip, Rechner has begun painting over older work in lieu of fresh canvas. Pausing to reflect this watershed moment, Rechner has no regrets. "I'm going over a lot of my older pieces and wondering if I really want to keep these, because I know I can do something better."
One of the results from painting over an existing work is "Morning Light," a piece he believes to be the best work he has yet to do. Picked up by Front Gallery this past year and completing his first commercial solo exhibition in the spring, the commercial world remains foreign to Rechner, who is more accustomed to a DIY effort.
Front Gallery Director Gregoire Barber describes Rechner as somebody she has "known of" for several years. She has come to know him personally in the last year and a half and believes he just needs time. "Tim's paintings and drawings are now starting to come together. The visual amount he was taking in overseas, it's just going to happen."
As the proprietor and director of a gallery representing only local artists, Barber notes that it has been an uphill battle since taking over Front Gallery three years ago. "I believe in the work, but it takes time for people to know that this work is here; that there this is a new body of work with a different style."
In the meantime, Rechner shares that he has begun applying for shows across the board from Victoria to Halifax. "I'm trying to connect as far as I can," he says. "I've shown a lot here and it's time to get to that next stage."
-Written by Amy Fung
Kelowna artist Scott August is a shy guy, but he readily dons outlandish outfits and poses for his own camera, using an acute but subtle eye for social satire to create quirky personas that challenge stereotypical notions about rural identity. He donned a bright red lobster outfit -a children's costume he found in a thrift store -to photograph himself cavorting in Lake Okanagan and posing on the rocks beside a scenic waterfall. He has also publicly erected a 25-foot digital cutout of himself garbed in a cowboy hat, plaid shirt and green oven mitts, parodying the small-town convention of creating something -anything -to claim as 'the world's largest.'
"If you're in a costume, you're somebody else," August says of his decision to create alter egos as fodder for techno-savvy art. He resurrects waning icons of popular culture in oblique commentaries. "If I present myself with a different identity, then it's a lot easier to come across in a way that makes sense for my work."
August spends countless hours combing second-hand stores for stuffed animals, vintage toys and other artifacts that trigger childhood memories of theme parks and roadside attractions. His installation at Kelowna's Alternator Gallery paid tribute to what he claimed was a threatened national treasure -the forests that grow plaque art. In August's eccentric imagination, the resin-coated plaques grow ready-made and merely need to be sawn off logs and sold to tourists.
A highlight of that exhibition was the artist talk. August, who finds it tough to speak before an audience, lip-synched his way through a prerecorded talk in the guise of an industry spokesman, giving a new twist to longstanding debates over clear-cut logging. The Q-and-A session was memorable. No matter what the question, August pressed the play button for a recorded answer. Whether rambling, non-committal or filled with spluttering indignation, the responses seemed oddly appropriate.
It's that kind of creative problem-solving that helped August's professors at Okanagan University College identify him as a particularly gifted student. "I always saw his potential," says Fern Helfand, a photography instructor. "He has a very original mind."
For all his creativity, August resists critical analysis of his work. "I don't like to have a lot of deep meaning," he says. "Art is a visual process. I like to create situations that can be funny, or that create a dialogue so you're not really sure what the story is. But everyone can bring their own ideas to it."
August's exhibition last spring at the Kelowna Art Gallery, Pine-Cone Junction, was an ambitious wall installation that stitched together hundreds of digital photos of trees and cottages to create a cozy hamlet of tiny woodland abodes embedded in tree trunks and pine cones. Puffs of smoke rose enticingly from miniature chimneys and small satellite dishes were perched perilously in nearby branches. When visitors triggered motion sensors, tiny windows lit up, revealing clues about the community's reclusive denizens.
August spent countless hours creating the work on equipment he uses for his home-based business, a digital art reproduction service. Yet despite his technical skills, he wants to avoid being labeled as a digital artist, explaining that the retro look of his work is a calculated strategy to avoid having it quickly relegated to a specific era by evolving technology. "I'm trying to make it so it doesn't necessarily have a place and time attached to it," he says.
August has a sideline in electro-acoustic music that parallels his visual production with its pastiche of nostalgic dissonances. He gained a quick following in experimental circles as a teenager, touring in Europe and cutting two LPs on the Vancouver indie label, Scratch Records, as half of Vote Robot with Kevin Rivard. August has also produced solo work as French Paddleboat.
Yet as much as the bucolic Okanagan has informed August's cultural production, he is planning to join the region's ongoing youth exodus by moving part-time to Vancouver to reconnect with old friends. He wants to share their creative energy and spend more time making art, particularly installations that immerse viewers in an array of technologies. No doubt Vancouver's many second-hand stores will provide rich fodder for his offbeat vision.
-Written By Portia Priegert
Shima Iuchi is a traveler. From her native Japan to the interior of British Columbia, through the Gulf Islands and further east to Banff, Alberta, Iuchi's peripatetic life has brought her into contact with new sources of inspiration for her art, while also reinforcing the themes and creative currents that have been constant in her past.
It's little wonder that movement and memory are two important themes in her work. Iuchi moved to Canada to study English and be immersed in North American culture. She had earned a Diploma in Art Management from Seian University in Kyoto, and had spent weeks evaluating the various locations for her ESL training. "I was so tired of making lists and trying to choose," she recalls. "I had this big book of English training centres and I just closed my eyes and opened it to a page, and it was Kamloops."
After being accepted into the tourism management program at Thompson Rivers University, another lucky coincidence put Iuchi on the path towards pursuing visual arts at the school. She found the artwork intriguing in the office of Donald Lawrence, chair of the university's visual and performing arts program. "I asked him if we could chat about the program and I don't know how long I was in there talking, but when I left, he handed me the form to change programs," she says.
Working closely with Lawrence, Iuchi earned a diploma and eventually her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from TRU, graduating in 2003. She cites Lawrence as a major influence in her work. He convinced her to keep a journal while traveling, a practice that has served as the basis for many of the works included in Iuchi's exhibitions.
Her solo shows, exhibited at galleries across North America, including Richmond, BC, Bellingham, Washington and the TRU gallery in Kamloops, have featured Iuchi's work with memory maps. Rising from her fascination with the connection between physical geography and human memories, these pieces start with the basic map of an area, and include the stories and recollections of people who have spent time in that place.
Her early forays into memory mapping were based on her own personal experiences, but with her most notable installation to date, Illuminations of Kamloops, Iuchi incorporated the memories of nearly 100 other people into her art.
Filling an entire room at the Richmond Art Gallery, Illuminations was a scale model of the topography of the Kamloops area, with recorded conversations placed in particular locations in the display. The result was an interactive piece that allowed gallery visitors a sensory experience beyond the visual.
Memory has also played a significant role in a series of work that centres on whales. Kayaking in the Gulf Islands, she encountered a pod of orcas, something that triggered childhood memories of family trips to Taiji, a historic whaling village in Japan.
Not only concerned with creating, but also learning about her subjects, Iuchi spent more than a year trying to contact Dr. Paul Spong, a noted whale researcher who runs a remote lab on Hanson Island, near Port Hardy, BC. After finally gaining access to Spong and his work, Iuchi was trained to recognize whale calls and now names the doctor and his wife among her biggest influences. "He and his wife are unbelievable people. Their dedication to the research is just remarkable," she says.
Artwork emerging from that experience has yet to be displayed, but Iuchi says she is hoping to have new gallery shows in the near future.
In the meantime, she has just wrapped up a year-long work study position at The Banff Centre, and she's also recently started teaching art classes for adults. The teaching work has exposed her to new media and new means of sharing her knowledge, but it has made it harder to focus on her own work. "That experience has been good for me," she says. "It will help me to manage my daily life and survive as an artist."
And after a year of work and re-focus, Iuchi is on the move again. She's recently accepted a position in the Fine Art department at the University of Lethbridge, where the southern Alberta city will likely soon emerge in her artwork.
-Written By Daniel McRoberts
Childhood lost and then regained in art is the through-line to the story of 28-year-old Sarah Adams-Bacon of Calgary. Recently selected to take part in the 2007 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art in Edmonton and Banff, Adams-Bacon's series of drawings, "Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt" was created when the artist was still attending the Alberta College of Art & Design. She graduated in 2006 with a major in drawing.
Adams-Bacon is open and forthright. With no hint of embarrassment or drama she details her childhood growing up poor in a family with six children. They moved from province to province she says because of her father's "bad business deals." A man she describes as, "a very imposing person that you didn't want to get mad. We were always bouncing around," she adds.
Adams-Bacon's peripatetic existence may not have been an ideal situation in which to grow up, but it has left her with an indelible sensitivity toward childhood that she now articulates through her artwork. Her first major group exhibition was Popular at the Art Gallery of Calgary in 2005 where she presented "Reconstructions Circa Then", a soft sculptural installation based on popular cartoon figures from the 1980s.
"Grabbing onto things I had," she says of her ongoing fascination with playthings. "We were really poor so my toys were really important to me. Every time we moved I had to leave them behind. I've gone through projects when I've grieved all these toys."
Reaching back to her past, Adams-Bacon takes memories and uses them as raw material for drawings, sculptures, animations and video-based works. "I dwell a lot on my own childhood,"she says.
Adams-Bacon's artwork often points out the dichotomies of childhood, but within her own environment she seems content. Divorced and now happily remarried she lives with her husband and infant daughter in a three-bedroom apartment near the core of the city. The birth of her first child at about the same time the Alberta Biennial was launched has provided Adams-Bacon the type of emotional satisfaction she has perhaps never before encountered.
The twin joys and responsibilities of motherhood and a burgeoning art practice offer new challenges to Adams-Bacon. Often deprived of time she steals away moments to create art driven by the past while remaining vitally aware of her happy present circumstances. "I want her to be proud of me," she says referring to her newborn. "I want her to be proud of my career. But I don't want to completely surrender myself to servitude for the rest of my life."
Although combining artwork and raising a baby is a new and often-demanding experience for Adams-Bacon, she is already planning her next project using videotape shot by her estranged father. "I have footage of my family in British Columbia months before my parents divorced," she says. "I was 11 and my younger brothers and sisters were little kids running around. It's an interesting time to look at. It's kind of manipulating my own past, digging into it. And in some way attacking him a little bit."
Projects that are guided by the artist's early life experiences have found a receptive public. "I've had people look at those drawings ("Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt") and say, 'I think I knew that person,'" she says. "I really enjoy that interaction."
At the end of our visit, Adams-Bacon hands me a slip of paper. She explains it's a makeshift biography completed in longhand because the printer attached to her computer is broken. Near the end of the sheet of paper she's printed, "Plans for the future include raising a perfect family, maintaining a wildly successful career, acquiring lush property and a loyal dog and vigilantly warding off irrelevance."
-Written by Wes Lafortune
As far back as he can remember, painter Jason Froese says he continually drew and painted. "I always had a sketchbook as a child," he says. "Initially, I sketched from my imagination. Then I started using photographs, which I tried to replicate in drawings and later in paintings too."
When he left Calgary and moved to Vancouver at the age of 22, Froese says that he continued to draw and paint in the evenings when he returned home from his day job. "I was putting a lot of effort into my art, becoming really serious. It wasn't just a hobby. I was doing a lot of research and something was happening."
Froese's growing obsession with art led him to apply at Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design. "I got rejected the first time. It fuelled me and I got even more serious. I waited a year, reapplied and got in."
Froese's work as an emerging artist continues to build on his early predilections for processing photographic images through his imagination onto the canvas. His recent studio work has been influenced by early archival photographs of western Canadian colonial history -pictures of settlers, prospectors and claimstakers. In Froese's third solo show, called Imperfect Pictures, which he held at Vancouver's Elliott Louis Gallery, there's no mistaking that his large portraits represent ghostly figures from the past. The impact of portraits is made all the more evocative by Froese's close attention to detailing the imperfections and damage often evident in old photos.
Froese does much of his research on the Internet, comparing archival pictures and information from museums. "A lot of museums have the same image but some have touched up the cracks and defects. Others leave the imperfections visible. This polishing of historical artifacts became interesting to me.
Froese met influential instructors at Emily Carr who helped shape his art practice. "It switched everything around and focused me on critical thinking," he says. "A few of the teachers, like Joy James who taught cultural theory, showed me the importance of being subversive and really doing something with my work."
He says that he isn't using old photos for sentimental reasons, rather he is "trying to subvert, not celebrate the colonial past. My work is a critique of history."
After graduation from Emily Carr in 2006, the painter's work caught the attention of Elliott Louis gallery manager Joan Miller. "Every year we do a show of emerging artists and we pick six or seven people who impress us. We liked Jason's work and the unusual use of old photographs in his work," Miller says. Miller decided to continue representing Froese after that first encounter.
Froese also won a scholarship to do a six-week residency at The Banff Centre after Emily Carr. He says the residency influenced him to move in new directions.
"I'm in a transition, becoming more elaborate. I used to focus my paintings on a single person." Froese is now working on a series he calls Epilogues that uses multiple images. One of them incorporates more than 40 different views. "I'm also using material from films as well as photographs. I've been taking the final frames from various movies and TV shows and painting them. Directors tend to linger on the final shot and it's what the viewer is left with. I like working with that particular emotional response."
-Written By Beverly Cramp