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Cliff Eyland
Winnipeg
November 19, 2009

Reading Scott McLeod’s Reinventing Comics for the first time inspired me to visit some local graphic artists, to attend a Winnipeg comic convention, and to take a side trip to Grande Prairie, Alberta to, among other things, see Edward Bader’s graphic work. He is a painter who also makes beautiful wordless comics.



Edward Bader, Traverse, 2008, thirty-two page, black and white comic book

Winnipeg’s annual Central Canada Comic Con was tough going, however. Stan Lee-worshiping, young superhero-drawing aspirants swirled pointlessly in their booths at the sea bottom of an industry that I’d guess is tougher to enter than rock and roll or even contemporary art. I wish them luck. Some of these kids will evolve into visual artists, but most are going nowhere very quickly.



One of Robert Pasternak’s microscopic wordless comics. This one, folded up, is less that an inch high.

There were bright spots. Adam West, once Batman, and Julie Newmar, formerly Catwoman, made appearances, and Robert Pasternak, a Winnipeg painter, filmmaker and delightful eccentric, offered splendid miniature books and other graphic wonders at his booth.



John Small, Black Hole, 2009, oil and mixed media on maple board

Perhaps the current show at The Graffiti Gallery, Legends, Heroes, Myths and Such, which includes work by painter John Small, offers hope that the superhero comics genre can be engaging.



An in-progress five volume stack of Ice Fishing in Gimli, a novel by Rob Kovitz

Rob Kovitz has been working for ten years on an eight-volume “image/text montage” book art project entitled Ice Fishing In Gimli. He uses appropriated photographs, drawings, and text to conjure feelings about Manitoba history. Kovitz is having a show at the Plug In ICA devoted to this work, and I’m guessing that Ice Fishing will become a prairie classic on par with Robert Kroetsch’s The Seed Catalogue and Joe Fafard’s cows.



Janet Werner, Catgirl 2, 2009

You might remember that no early artist-run centre made “painting” its mandate because that was the dominant medium way back when. But now we have specialist spaces – mostly photography and craft galleries – that treat a medium as if the ideas in the art were exclusive to this or that rendering technique. As a counterweight, Lisa Wood has organized a painting show called Added Value at the Platform Centre for Photographic + Digital Arts (a venue whose mission is clearly not painting). No doubt the “added value” has to do with a belief that a painting based on a photograph can add something that, since the photograph itself is already art, makes the work stronger. Wood is a Manitoba and Yale-trained painter who directed Platform not so long ago. The show is a great chance to see recent work by Stephen Andrews, Janet Werner, and Chris Dorosz. And Stephanie Aitkin’s work is completely unfamiliar to me, so I’m paying it special attention.



A Pinky Show logo

The Pinky Show has invaded Winnipeg via Gallery 1C03. Pinky is about all-purpose American dissent, but of a gentle sort. For example, their anti-apartheid video suggests that the lack of gay marriage rights in the States should provoke straight people not to marry out of solidarity, just as a white person of conscience might have avoided a “whites only” beach in South Africa during the apartheid era. But could these cats not have gone for bigger fish? Why not attack the apartheid system that we call “national citizenship,” which is an equally arbitrary and malicious division of people? I want more from Pinky…



Michel de Broin’s sculpture only looks as if it has yet to be unveiled.

Montreal artist Michel de Broin has installed a brilliant public sculpture entitled Monument (Night) in St. Boniface courtesy of the Winnipeg Arts Council. This is the first work for the new sculpture garden at La Maison des artistes visuels, a local community-sponsored gallery.



David Parrett on site at his bus shelter project.

Also on the public front, David Parrett is in the midst of his big Winnipeg Arts Council commission to make a unique bus shelter. Called The University of Winnipeg Gateway and Transit Project, Perrett tells me that he won’t make a dime from the  $150,000 commission, but he nevertheless seems completely happy about its progress.


Cliff Eyland, as Director of Gallery One One One in Winnipeg, just presided over a book launch for Oliver Botar’s opus on the Bauhaus artist Andor Weininger. Part two of the Border Crossings Study Centre also opened last night.


The Graffiti Gallery: http://www.graffitigallery.ca/
Legends, Heroes, Myths and Such continues until January 15.

Plug In ICA: http://www.plugin.org/
Rob Kovitz: Ice Fishing in Gimli opens December 12 and continues until February 21.  

Platform Centre for Photographic + Digital Arts: http://www.platformgallery.org/
Added Value continues until December 19.

Gallery 1C03: http://www.uwinnipeg.ca/index/artgallery-the-pinky-show
The Pinky Show: Class Treason Stories (excerpts) continues until December 12.

 

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