Winnipeg is not always an easy place to live and make work in. Some artists stick it out here while others pack their bags, taking a part of Winnipeg with them when they leave. Bill Kirby, former Winnipeg Art Gallery curator and the stalwart founder/director of the Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art, has been working on the Winnipeg Effect project as a means of highlighting the contributions of former and current Winnipeg artists to the national scene.
Royal Art Lodge art and archival material from There’s More Than One Way
Organized together with the CCCA Board of Directors, The Winnipeg Effect: Should I Stay or Should I Go? was a symposium that took place this past weekend to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the CCCA website. It was focused on the artists who have stayed in Winnipeg, those who have departed, and those who have chosen to relocate here. Broken into a series of panel discussions and shorter spotlight presentations, speakers included Robert Houle, Laura Letinsky, and Diana Thorneycroft, with topics ranging from the Grand Western Screen Shop, the relationship of punk music to Winnipeg’s 1980s art scene, and the concept of institutional generosity. Less of a critical reading and more of a good-natured romp through our last fifty years of art making, perhaps the most valuable aspect of the symposium was the chance to hear about some of Winnipeg’s art history straight from the mouths of its principal players. In a city where our history is based more on oral tradition than written culture, the work of the CCCA is an important contribution, especially to Winnipeg aficionados.
As for related programming, the Special Collections Gallery in the University of Manitoba School of Art is exhibiting There’s More Than One Way: An overview of collective art making practices in Winnipeg, 1968 – NOW. Curated by Kegan McFadden (and – full disclosure – including work from my art collective), it highlights the Winnipeg art scene’s tendency toward collaboration through work and archival materials from General Idea, The Royal Art Lodge, and Places For Peanuts, among others.
Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art: http://ccca.concordia.ca/
Jenny Western is a curator, writer, and educator who lives in Winnipeg. She can be followed on Twitter @WesternJenny.
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