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Patrick Howlett
PATRICK HOWLETT in London, Cambridge, and Waterloo 11/30/10
November 30, 2010

Parker Branch is a tiny storefront space just on the other side of the Thames river and downtown London. Conceived and co-directed by artists Anna Madelska and Jason Hallows, the project is labeled as a “micro-museum and archive.” The two have been curating shows that thematically connect collections of found objects and ephemera, usually paired with an actual work of “art” or two. The results are smart, playful and refreshing. The latest show, Blue Raspberry Rock Crystal Candy, features rocks from the collection of Nicole Vogelzang and Andrea Pinheiro colourfully set up on a Styrofoam platform that encourages endless looking. Sculptural works by Ella Dawn McGeough are hand-carved and painted objects that look like rocks, but retain a softness and surface that are un-rock like. Hung on the walls are a few photo-engravings of rock formations and crystals that also mesmerize. Total eye-candy, the show’s opening treat was its namesake.



Ilana Halperin, Boiling Milk (Solfataras), 2000

Museum London once again has a series of exhibitions that loosely revolve around a theme, this time including geography, locale, and mapping. These thematic connections, coupled with a wide range of work and varied curatorial emphases, enrich the overall viewing experience, and consequently balance the shortcomings of individual shows. A highlight is the Experimental Geography exhibition which features work by Deborah Stratman, Francis Alÿs, Ilana Halperin, and Spurse among many others. Stratman’s two series of parking booth photographs will certainly resonate with Londoners.

The multi-gallery project Mapping Medievalism on the Canadian Frontier is currently on display at Museum London, the McIntosh Gallery, and the D.B. Weldon Library. Anyone with a fascination with the visual and object histories of a place will find something in this project which proposes a novel approach to how and where the “medieval” is manifest in the area’s past. One of the stranger group of objects found at the McIntosh are a series of artifacts, projectile points, and items of personal adornment from the Neutral Iroquoian Nation circa 1550-1650 CE. They were collected in the Brantford/Hamilton region by a weekend hobbyist in the 1950-70s and then mounted in Victorian era frames in a purely decorative manner.  



Mara Korkola, No Place 241, 2010, oil on 8 panels

The show at Cambridge Galleries’ Queens Square location, Sequence and Passage, is a two-person exhibition featuring Toronto painters Mara Korkola and Monica Tap. Their combination is self-evident as you walk into a gallery full of paintings of trees. Korkola’s handsomely wrought works are mostly hung in a line of eight or six small panels depicting a “passage” through a No Place, as they are titled. They are so refined as small objects—almost jewel-like with varnished or oily medium and painterly mark-making—that my passage from one to the other is more episodic than fluid. The highly dramatic gallery lighting kept me from really connecting with the images as meaningful places. Perhaps this is what is meant by the titles. 



Monica Tap, Going to the Sun IV, 2010, oil on canvas,

Comparatively, Monica Tap’s six large-scale oil paintings (each 152 x 216 cm) called attention to themselves, taking me immediately to a place beyond landscape and to an awareness of a mediated experience of time and place. An impressionist project for the 21st Century, Tap has worked with recorded video as her painting subject for a number of years and this latest work is evidence of developing her own terms for a painted translation in which the digital is not simply being illustrated. Her colour and brushwork seems more varied and independent than previous work, sometimes looking like colour out of the tube, at others looking like an attempt to imagine colours that can’t quite be identified on a tiny screen. In this way, the large scale of the paintings inversely emphasizes the visual qualities of recorded experience. As reconstructions, the paintings are evocative, but they are not a simple critique of loss by way of the digital: they intimate the fleeting nature of experience itself.  



Derek Sullivan, Proposal for a painting to occupy bars, restaurants, libraries, universities, offices, dining rooms, board room and museums around the world (after Poul Gernes), 2006

Across the 401 is another two-person show at the University of Waterloo Art Gallery. Alongside Patrick Cull’s laser-cut canvases in the larger gallery is Derek Sullivan’s It is More Difficult to Hit a Moving Target. The varied works include installation, sculpture, textile, drawing, and book works, exhibiting Sullivan’s skill at using a dynamic range of formats and framing to layer his scope of conceptual, formal and design interests. With Proposal for a painting to occupy bars, restaurants, libraries, universities, offices, dining rooms, board room and museums around the world (after Poul Gernes) from 2006, eight repainted designer chairs sat in the middle area of the room offering either a point of rest or view for the rest of the show but also encouraging questions of how painting, sculpture, colour and design relate to situations outside of the gallery. Beside, an ongoing series of Print-on-Demand books hang from the ceiling at standing height perusal. Their content spans a range of material, but all seem to be at least a generation away from an original – they are printed matter – sometimes to beautiful effect and suggesting connections to other work in the show.


Patrick Howlett is an artist and writer currently based in London, Ontario, where he also teaches Drawing and Painting. His work has appeared in exhibitions in Canada and internationally. This is his first report for Akimblog.


Parker Branch: http://parkerbranch.ca/home.html
See website for current exhibitions.

Museum London: http://www.londonmuseum.on.ca/d.aspx?s=/Exhibitions/default.htm
Experimental Geography continues until January 2.

McIntosh Gallery: http://www.mcintoshgallery.ca/pages/home.asp
Mapping Medievalism at the Canadian Frontier continues until December 11.

Cambridge Galleries: http://www.cambridgegalleries.ca/cambridge.taf?section=2
Mara Korkola and Monica Tap: Sequence and Passage continues until January 2.

University of Waterloo Art Gallery: http://uwag.uwaterloo.ca/Past/?p=314
Derek Sullivan: It Is More Difficult to Hit a Moving Target continues until December 18.

 

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Posted by Wendy Ferroni, on 2010-12-06 11:11:05
 
Ahh! The project you were working on when last we talked? Reads well, Mr. Howlett. I see many more reviews in your future.


Posted by Fred, on 2010-12-06 09:58:23
 
What a wonderful review of art in your surrounding area. You are an excellent writer and I think you have started something wonderful. Best of luck on your new adventure.