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Sarah Adams
Calgary
August 17, 2006
I’m suffering from a late summer malaise; the days seem slow yet I’m flabbergasted it’s somehow already mid-August. Calgary’s art scene has been chugging along but as autumn seeps in I don’t feel like I’ve seen much. Barbeques and cliff jumping have replaced gallery scouring. I did however poke my head into a few shows that merit note.
 
 
Joe Kelly, Areoscope, 2006, mixed media
 
The first was The Mechanics of an Image at The New Gallery. Curated by Programming Director Sigrid Mahr and featuring artists Michael Coolidge, Joe Kelly, and Pavitra Wickramsinghe, the exhibition’s theme centred on the work of Eadweard Muybridge and his invention: the zoopraxiscope. The work deliberated over the meaning of moving images from the technicalities of image production to the sociological implications of the images that surround us. I found the curatorial context for the show slightly redundant, but some of the art managed to peer above the thesis and engage onlookers on their own terms. Multimedia artist Joe Kelly’s workAreoscopewas particularly successful. It’s contraptiveness (made that one up, it means “like a contraption”) and giddy showmanship lured spectators to take turns pushing its big red button, which then spun small cards around to produce the illusion of a gaping fish. The intricacy and clever inventiveness of his work is always a pleasure to see.
 
 
Truck’s Contemporary Art Mobile Public Exhibition Rig
 
Another show I made a point of seeing was Sarah Holtom’s brief portrait residency in Truck’s CAMPER (Contemporary Art Mobile Public Exhibition Rig). Part of the Spitting Images exhibition at Truck and an ongoing endeavor that extends beyond the CAMPER residency, it began with Holtom choosing three Calgary artists and painting their portraits. She then asked each of these three to choose three more Calgary artists and so on, until she had painted 100 portraits. Unfortunately for me, on the day that I ventured to visit the CAMPER, it had yet to arrive due to a flat tire and the project was postponed. This minor deterrent didn’t dilute the project, however, as Holtom’s sittings could be found in locations all over the city (including my apartment).
 
 
Sarah Holtom, Portrait, Jason de Haan, 2006, oil on masonite
 
An exhibit that was truly electric for me was Trépanier Baer’s The Summer Show, with work by artists Luanne Martineau, Chris Millar, Ron Moppet, and Evan Penny. Although the show presented no theme or statement other than, “this is a summer show,” the dynamic between the individual works was like a shot of caffeine on a lazy afternoon. Martineau’s drawings and wool sculpture were easy to spend time in front of, every line and gulch leading to questions and contemplations about mass, texture, and misshapen sexuality. Millar’s painting Friend was a delight and I’m sure that each time I see it, I catch Mr. Spock in an even more ludicrous situation than the last time I looked at this enormous cluster of outrageous panels. I want to take Friend home with me to read in bed with a flashlight. Perhaps that’s why Millar’s works have occasionally been compared to the frenzied pages of Mad Magazine.
 
Moppet’s work didn’t contain the same enthusiastic, poke-in-the-eye qualities I got from Martineau and Millar, but his colors nonetheless contributed to the overall eagerness of the exhibit. And Penny’s work was, of course, dumbfounding. Its brilliance finished off the show with the precise measure of “kapow” to send me dancing out of the gallery.
 
 
Chris Millar, Friend,  2005, detail
 
Most recently I attended the closing for sculptor Evan Broens’ solo exhibit Kicking Stones at Art Central. Greeted warmly by the artist and handed a cold beer after a long day, the disposition of the work matched Broens seamlessly— poignant, refined, and considerate. His use of raw materials in both his drawings and sculptures (unbleached paper, unstained wood), in addition to his aptitude for knowing just where to place subtle details (delicate ink lines, tiny holes containing tiny houses) made for a show that vibrated with thoughtfulness and sincerity. This ambiance may have also come from the violinist performing in the corner of the gallery. As the musician switched from playing heartrending melodies to sipping beer and watching the exhibit patrons, the gallery’s atmosphere fluxed to the moods of the crowd. Maybe it was the alcohol on an empty stomach, but I was wooed.
 
 
Evan Broens, Mountain, 2006, mixed media
 
Sarah Adams is a visual artist and writer based in Calgary. She has exhibited across Canada and is a regular contributor to Beatroute Magazine. She enjoys scrabble, books, and gamecube.
 
 
See website for current exhibitions.
 
See website for current exhibitions.
 
See website for current exhibitions.
 
See website for current exhibitions.
 

 

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