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Janice Wright Cheney

July 28, 2011

Janice Wright Cheney is an artist living in Fredericton and an instructor at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. Her textile-based sculptures and installations address the historical and cultural ideas that shape our understanding of nature. Wright Cheney’s work is currently on display at Halifax's Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery as part of the exhibition Dirt, Detritus and Vermin and at Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown in Rural Readymade. Her solo exhibition Trespass was also shown this summer at the Tides Institute and Museum of Art in Eastport, Maine. She was the 2004 recipient of the prestigious Strathbutler Award for Excellence in the Arts and has been elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (2010). Most recently, Wright Cheney was among artists selected by curator Denise Markonish for Oh Canada, a survey of contemporary Canadian art that will open at MASS MoCA in May 2012.

1. Paris Green

Lately I have become obsessed with the colour Paris Green, which, as you may know, is a crazy-intense hue of emerald green. I am interested in this compelling colour because it has a cultural, historical connection to both insects and rats. Apparently, Paris Green (aka copper acetoarsenite) is as toxic as it is beautiful. I first learned about its usefulness as a poison in an old entomology text (Manual for the Study of Insects, John Henry Comstock, 1895) in which the author recommends the use of Paris Green as a spray in the orchard to prevent the destruction of fruit by beetles. It was also used as a rodenticide to kill the rats in the sewers of Paris, hence its name.

2. Mold

I just finished watching the first season of Treme, and I can certainly see why everyone is talking about it. It is extremely well done. The opening sequence has these gorgeous images of mold on walls. Once again, a substance both beautiful and toxic. Treme has jazz and much joie de vivre. I really want to go to New Orleans.

3. The High Line

The High Line is a walking trail that runs on a section of abandoned freight railroad on the lower west side of Manhattan. I love the concept, i.e. the re-purposing of industrial space to green space. Walking the High Line is a spectacular experience on a hot summer morning; it’s like strolling through a lovely meadow, but with third-story views of rooftops and the Hudson River. It also features great public art like Spencer Finch’s The River That Flows Both Ways.

4. Julian Schnabel's Nimes paintings

I can’t stop thinking about those huge works about bullfighting that were in Julian Schnabel: Art and Film at the AGO last fall. These three paintings, each 22 x 22 feet, were specifically made for the Maison Carée, an ancient Roman temple in the city of Nimes. I would like to see them in that space; they must be stunning. My favourite is El Espontaneo (For Abelardo Martinez). Schnabel made marks on the surface of the canvas by whacking it with a paint-soaked cloth. The random marks extend over a lace-edged tablecloth. I like the way the tablecloth becomes the matador’s cape and the action of the bullfight is implied in the marks.

I also like the way Schnabel wears pajamas everywhere he goes.

5. Sticky Fingers at 40

Sticky Fingers, which is arguably the Stones’ finest work, was released in 1971. But oh, it has aged well. Some of these songs sound better than ever. The best of the best: Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, Sister Morphine and Dead Flowers.



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