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Cliff Eyland
Winnipeg
January 27, 2010

Karen Asher is a recent art school graduate whose photographs at Platform Gallery have the intimacy of her teacher Larry Glawson’s pics, the raw truthfulness of David McMilllan (another of her teachers), and the purist formality that I associate with both mentors. She makes square C-print pictures the old fashioned way, with chemicals and film, and then has us identify with her subjects in images that are full of sentiment and colour. There is much empathy and not a glimmer of ill will in this art. Unlike one of her heroes, Diane Arbus, who often seems malicious in her portrayal of marginal people, Asher is deeply compassionate.



Karen Asher, left: The Ice Cream Man, 2008, C-print; right: Bella & Marvin, 2009, C-print

Her Ice Cream Man widens his old mouth into a smile below an oxygen tube that runs up his nose. He has reconciled himself with his looks and his ailments, and there is something brave about how he holds up a happy ice cream cone. Bella & Marvin are a most peculiar couple in a most peculiar room. Is it a hotel, a condo, or a movie set? The décor, the clothing, and even the hairstyles sing an ode to ersatz mid-century style in a picture taken, astonishingly, in 2009 (only in Winnipeg!).



A recent costume by KC Adams

KC Adams is now showing Native/American Apparel with Lita Fontaine at Winnipeg’s Costume Museum of Canada in an exhibition curated by Jenny Western. The installation puts work by Adams and Fontaine together with traditional native costume. (In a related note, the long-awaited appointment of a new director to succeed KC Adams at the aboriginal gallery Urban Shaman has happened. Amber-Dawn Bear Robe will begin her duties on February 9th.)



Evan Tapper, an opening day installation shot of Swoon, showing feathers and the projected animation.

When Evan Tapper lived in Winnipeg in the late 1990s, I aligned him with local artists such as William Eakin and Harry Symons whose art was inspired by vast accumulations of material they stuffed into low-rent studio spaces. Could Tapper‘s “more-is-not-nearly-enough” attitude prevail in rent-strapped Toronto where he now lives? The current TV series Hoarders has scared many local artists straight, including the redoubtable Eakin, but what about Tapper? Turns out that he now makes clean and spare installations. Swoon, at Gallery 1C03 consists of a large rectangle of feathers on a floor below a projection screen. A charming animation addresses the “Leda and the swan” myth, partly as an homage to a work entitled Leda and the Swan by print maker and Blake scholar Arthur Adamson and partly as a critique of all Leda depictions. The interrogation is gentle: to the assertion by the female in the film that all “Leda and the swan” images feed male rape fantasies, the male figure replies that he finds violence unthinkably repellent and unsexy.

Everybody is curious about how Sarah Anne Johnson will transform her traveling exhibition called House on Fire into a performance called Dancing with The Doctor, both of which are about Johnson’s grandmother, Val Orlikow, who was tortured in CIA-funded brain experiments in the 1950s. As mentioned previously in my Akimblogs, this art has traveled well. Now we’ll get to see how it performs beginning February 6 at aceartinc. (check their website for performance times).

We need the occasional Old Master fix in Winnipeg because the nearest large old-timey collection is many hours south at the Minneapolis Art Institute. Hence I encourage you to visit EUROfix at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Trouble is, local Marvel comics-obsessed young artists might skip this show even if it does speak directly to the technical problems of drawing that we see in all kinds of popular culture today. Coincidentally (perhaps?), Tony Scherman’s contemporary Old Master-ish paintings are also on view at the WAG.


Sometimes Cliff Eyland collaborates with the philosopher Carl Matheson, and one of their works has been included in FAX, a travelling exhibition currently at Plug In ICA in Winnipeg. In other news, he has contributed an essay about KC Adams (her again!) to Future Species, a book just published by Toronto’s MOCCA.


Platform Centre for Photographic + Digital Arts: http://www.platformgallery.org/
Karen Asher: No Cause For Concern continues until February 27.

The Costume Museum of Canada: http://www.costumemuseum.com/
Native/American Apparel with KC Adams & Lita Fontaine continues until April 4.

Gallery 1C03: http://www.uwinnipeg.ca/
Evan Tapper: Swoon continues until February 20.

Aceartinc: http://www.aceart.org/
Sarah Anne Johnson: Dancing with the Doctor runs February 6 to March 5.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery: http://wag.ca/
EUROfix continues until February 28.
Tony Scherman: A Major Acquisition continues until March 14.

 

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