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THE NEXT 7 DAYS:     EVENTS (18)     +     OPENINGS (7)     +     DEADLINES (6)     +     CLOSINGS (12)
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Cliff Eyland
December 05, 2007

Corinna Ghaznavi was in town recently to install 18 Illuminations: Contemporary Art and Light, her touring group show (co-curated by Carla Garnet), at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. It’s a perfect exhibition for the winter. The installation, which looks like a flickering city at the end of a night sky, features a lot of art - including two works about moths and light! I took note because the Winnipeg artist team of Sharon Alward and Alex Poruscnyk had coincidentally just told me about their own research in Las Vegas involving moths and casino lights. One moth work is by Stan Denniston, who videotaped the black night at a cliff’s edge over a small stretch of the Grand Canyon as if waiting to shoot the occasional moth that flew toward his photo lights. The other moth-ish work is by Ed Pien, who tricked viewers into moth-like behaviour by drawing them under a white curtain, reminiscent of a giant flayed Noguchi lamp, to look at a suspended video monitor.

Reuel Dechene, Da Da Da, 2005, mixed media light wheels

There is much else to recommend this show, including works by Stephen Andrews, Kenn Bass, Janet Bellotto, Dana Claxton, Tom Dean, Sarindar Dhaliwal, Reuel Dechene, Luis Jacob, Bill Jones, Micah Lexier, Bernie Miller, Sheila Moss, Lisa Neighbour, Chrysanne Stathacos, Sharon Switzer, and Tim Whiten. Is this exhibition evidence that Canada's A-list artists are low-key, contemplative, melancholic people? 18 Illuminations seems to make this case. Despite our over-the-top Istvan Kantors and Diana Thorneycrofts, today's Canadian museum artists seem wistfully solemn.

Micah Lexier, All Numbers are Equal (Argon), 2005, nine clear glass numbers filled with argon

A second question: Have the dynamics of thematic exhibitions changed in the age of Google? Like the exhibition Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967, which I saw recently at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, 18 Illuminations could have included dozens of other equally suitable artists without the viewer feeling like anything was missing. My guess is that search engines make it easier to do thematic shows on very precise topics but harder to put together more general thematic shows such as 18 Illuminations, in which curatorial will counts for everything.

Larry Glawson, Failed Landscapes

Larry Glawson is part of Winnipeg's creative infrastructure, a selfless teacher and a serious artist who has assisted many fellow artists in innumerable ways. His latest show at Gallery 803 includes what he calls "failed landscapes," a concept that must make many a Canadian shudder.

Meanwhile, Plug In ICA's Board Chair Noam Gonick is part of a two-person show at Plug In called Wildflowers of Manitoba. Gonick's collaborator is Luis Jacob, who is everywhere these days (see above). Jacob is rapidly developing an international reputation courtesy of venues such as this year's Documenta. I'll bet Jacob's collaboration with Gonick helped clinch the deal for Gonick and installation art. Gonick, whose best known film is a biographical work on Guy Maddin, is now seen as a gallery artist first and a filmmaker second. Wildflowers gets at Winnipeg's hippie culture like nothing short of the Winnipeg Folk Festival, but with a decidedly gay spin. I saw it at last summer's Montreal Biennial and I'm looking forward to another look this Friday night.

Michael Benjamin Brown,
London, 2007, ink on paper

Winnipegger Michael Benjamin Brown, about to enter London’s prestigious Chelsea College of Art and Design as a grad student along with several other recent Winnipeg young ‘uns, is having an exhibition of "sky drawings" at Takashi Iwazaki's Semai Gallery that opens this Friday.

And at my own institution, Gallery One One One, Toronto artist Arnaud Maggs's Nomenclature is on view. Maggs, who is in his 80s and began his art career at 47, dazzled everybody at the opening with his charm and sense of fun. His wife, artist Spring Hurlbut, hinted that as she turns increasingly toward a photographic practice, he has taken up drawing again. Quite the family switcheroo I say.

Cliff Eyland is a painter and Director of Gallery One One One at the University of Manitoba School of Art. His performance art band the Abzurbs will play at Platform Gallery in Winnipeg on December 15.

Winnipeg Art Gallery:
18 Illuminations: Contemporary Art and Light continues until March 2.

Gallery 803:
Larry Glawson: Failed Landscapes continues until January 6.

Plug In ICA:
Noam Gonick and Luis Jacob: Wildflowers of Manitoba continues until January 26.

Semai Gallery:
Michael Benjamin Brown: Sky Drawings continues until January 14.

Gallery One One One:
Arnaud Maggs: Nomenclature continues until January 11.



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