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THE NEXT 7 DAYS:     EVENTS (6)     +     OPENINGS (13)     +     DEADLINES (6)     +     CLOSINGS (14)
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Sarah Adams-Bacon
June 10, 2008

It’s happening already: white cowboy hats and red t-shirts. They wander in pairs through the city streets, smiling, offering doctrine, and chatting all things Stampede. I couldn’t help but clutch my heart at the sight of a group of Stampede-ified children, likely promoting something totally worthwhile, but unfortunately assimilated into the scarlet vat of buckaroo atrocities. Gomorrah: 1. Dignified urban future: 0.

Le sigh. Despite these moral obstacles I was able to wander in and around some of the more promising cultural spaces and, although time to stand still is limited lately, I managed to stop and look at a few of these lovely oases. My eyeballs were slightly less generous this round, however. I blame the red children.

Jaromir E. Brabenec, Elated Eclipse, 2008

I popped into the Triangle Gallery to have a look at Fragments: Contemporary Czech Artists from Ostrava. There have been several international exchanges in the contemporary art community lately, injecting a freshness of perspective beneficial to all involved. As the title suggests, this is a group show consisting of works by fourteen Czech artists. My favorites of the exhibit were the Elated Ellipse series of colored plexi-glass wall sculptures by Jaromir E. Brabenec. Minimal and entertaining, they maintain a sophisticated whimsy that makes their abstraction completely approachable. Three of them are hung at a distance from each other and their strong presence help tie together an exhibition that otherwise verges on confusion. Also lovely and interesting are The Secret of Life I-III, a group of mixed media works by Eva Damborska. Pockets of string plastered in grid patterns, they resemble little cocoons assembled for a synth-nature staging. Otherwise the exhibit includes some strong print work, notably Jaraslav Rusek’s Fragments of Archives. Unfortunately there are some pieces that detract a bit from the show, not so much in terms of aesthetics, but in presentation (which weighs in on aesthetics to a huge degree). I’m a martinet for clean and professional management of artworks, and there are some cases in this exhibit where I was genuinely baffled by the slipshod display. Posters buckling and rippled behind the glass of their frame, wrinkled paper matting, and plastic-wrapped prints hung without so much as a quick wipe to remove dust and hair. These are complaints that can’t be overlooked in a professional atmosphere and any attempt by the viewer to engage in the works is lost through shoddy distractions.

Lynda Gammon, Salvaged 20, 2008

A superb show just down the street is Lynda Gammon’s Interval at Stride Gallery. Her installations consist of stacked and folded bits of foamcore, cardboard, and ply-wood. Salvaged 20 and Salvaged 21 take on near Frank Lloyd Wright-esque building forms. When I was a kid, I obsessively built houses out of cardboard; these constructions with their roughed-in nooks and illogical crannies took me back to that sense of rampant re-creation and architectural wonder. Not every door leads to something, and some of them have been abandoned as doors altogether. Inside you may see a chair, a side-table, a washing machine, but none of them fulfill their space completely. In the exhibition essay, Trudi Lynn Smith writes, “The place where memory is accumulated is the archive. An archive is a collection of moments compiled and constructed into an ordered sensible history- a kind of haunting ground for images… By bringing together the memory of the past and the promise of the future in her model-like structures, Gammon creates a space in which to explore notions of place.” The text pretty much says it all, citing Gammon’s investigation into memory as the pivotal concept of the work. Indeed, the installations exemplify memory of space almost to a tee: disjointed, fractional, layered, raw, and offering only glimpses of clarity. The work’s ability to impart a sense of authentic discovery in the audience is certainly one of its greatest strengths. I know I could’ve peeked for hours.

Chrissy Cheung, How to Tame Yellow, 2008

I moseyed (ack, the Stampede has infected my walk!) over to my old stompin’ grounds (ack! ack!) around artfirm gallery, and ambled (can’t… stop) down to take a gander. It had been a while since I’d had a good strong dose of good strong painting, and Chrissy Cheung’s New Relations was just the treat I needed. Lively, vivid, and commanding, the abstract plots and swashes of color are to looking what a fine, full meal is to eating. A little bit of red, a cascade of navy, some hits of yellow - all totally enthralling. There is a distinct urban flavor to the works, some pieces resemble brilliant cityscapes, and some display illuminated apartment windows outright. The thought that most assertively struck me while looking at the works was, “these are awesome and I will never be able to make anything like this.” I love feeling awed around artwork, it stirs my insides and lightens my heart a bit. And, as a side note, artfirm is one of the friendliest galleries in the city. Director Donna Chyz runs a stellar show and every visit makes me happy I stopped by.

Sarah Adams-Bacon is a visual artist and writer based in Calgary. She has exhibited across Canada and enjoys scrabble, books, and gamecube.

Triangle Gallery:
Fragments: Contemporary Czech Artists from Ostrava continues until June 20.

Stride Gallery:
Lynda Gammon: Interval continues until June 21.

Chrissy Cheung: New Relations continues until June 14.



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