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Andrea Mortson

March 03, 2011

Andrea Mortson lives in Sackville, New Brunswick with artist Erik Edson and their two sons. Her exhibition of recent paintings Signs & Symbols is on view at the Owens Art Gallery until March 27th at which time selected documentation will be available here. The catalogue for the show includes essays by Denise Markonish of Mass MoCa and John Murchie of Struts Gallery. Michael Landry’s feature article on Mortson can be found here. Mortson is originally from Toronto.

1. Bagtown

I’ve heard Sackville described many ways by visiting artists and musicians: as life on a game board or in a David Lynch movie, a kind of Shangri-la or Hotel California. Its unique effects have been attributed to chance combinations of local features such as marsh gas, train whistles, radio signals and magic folk. To introduce his poster for OK. Quoi?! Arts Festival and Sappyfest 2010, Ray Fenwick noted that Sackville had “the most art-energy per square inch (…) allowable under Canadian art-energy dispersal law.” So what’s with Sackville? I’ve been a Sackvillian for twelve-plus years now and I can’t say for certain but I do know that despite its wrapping, it ain’t quaint. You can check Struts Gallery, Thunder and Lightning Ltd. and Owens Art Gallery for leads.

2. Studio music

I’ll usually listen to one album obsessively while I’m working on a painting. Recent albums to receive this treatment are Shotgun Jimmie’s Transistor Sister, Baby Eagle’s Dog Weather, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ B-Sides & Rarities, Talking Heads Sand in the Vaseline: Popular Favorites and Neil Young’s On the Beach.

3. The elusive chaldron

Yes, I’m referring to Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem. It’s been over a year since I read it so I can say with some confidence this book is one of my all time favorites. And after watching The Truman Show with my boys the other night, I have plans to reread it, which would give it a status shared only by Nabokov’s novel Ada. Do I have time for a quick quote? Here, the narrator’s counterpart, Perkus Tooth, is wracked with hiccups but continues in his role as relentless decoder:  “’So, the point is how we forget            the most basic fact of ourselves on            a daily basis, even while we go around            playing our parts, believing ourselves perfectly continuous….’” (p. 393)

4. Swimming

As an alternate method of moving through the world – right up there with unaided human flight.

5. Art Fag City & Michael Landry

An odd pairing but let’s try it. In my experience, two of the most important intangibles to an artist living in a small Maritime town are perspective and context. The latter can be attained by leaving town regularly; however, this approach is quickly limited by expense. To augment physical excursions, I like to visit the NYC area art scene through the provocative eyes of Art Fag City aka Canadian-raised writer Paddy Johnson. But how, you may ask, does New Brunswick position itself in relation to that world? Tackling this query weekly is The Force That Is Michael Landry, recently installed at the Telegraph Journal, Saint John, where he writes for its arts section, Salon. Landry could be writing for any national publication of his choosing but we’re fortunate that for now, he’s on a mission to contextualize artists’ practices otherwise in danger of being relegated to the Canadian art world backwaters. Someday Paddy and Michael will be on a panel together and I hope to be in attendance.



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