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 Back  Vignettes | British Columbia | June – August 2014

By Robin Laurence

TS’MSYEN TRANSFORMING Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Art, Vancouver, Apr 30-Sep 14 This exhibition of hollow-form jewellery by Ts’msyen artist Morgan Green continues the tradition of repoussé jewellery that Bill Reid introduced to Northwest Coast art in the 1960s. Green, of Prince Rupert, was first mentored by her father, master carver Henry Green. She is skilled in a range of cultural traditions, including casting, engraving and stone cutting. Her works function as both art and personal adornment, combining classical Ts’mysen designs with European goldsmithing, bronze casting and fashion design.

GU XIONG: A JOURNEY EXPOSED Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art, North Vancouver, May 7-Aug 23 “Transcultural” artist Gu Xiong was born in China but has lived in Vancouver since 1990. Recently, he has been examining the impact of globalization and mass food production on the environment and human health. This show features his paintings, drawings and photographs, as well as an installation of 10,000 ceramic pigs – a work that references an incident in which thousands of dead pigs were found floating in the Huangpu River, the source of Shanghai’s water supply.

KELLY LYCAN: AUTOBIOGRAPHY FOR NO ONE Simon Fraser University Gallery, Burnaby, May 10-Aug 1 Artist Kelly Lycan has focused her practice on the way objects are valued, devalued and re-valued according to how and where they are displayed. Her new, all-white installation – a mix of furniture bits, plaster casts of mass-produced objects, discarded drywall and other objects – explores our inclination to project our own narratives on the work’s supposed “blankness.” The effect, says curator Melanie O’Brian, is to challenge “the false neutrality of the white cube of the gallery” while critiquing advertising, consumer culture and global capitalism.

GIRLS: HISTORICAL PORTRAITS FROM THE COLLECTION Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, May 30-Oct 5 Walk through this show and you might find yourself humming “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” from the 1958 musical Gigi. Or thinking of Margaret Atwood’s 1988 novel Cat’s Eye; or the current HBO hit show Girls. You might also bring a feminist critique to the ways girls and young women have been represented in art over the years, as evidenced in these historical works: formal and informal portraits, intimate character studies, and poetic interpretations.

ROBIN ATLAS: LASHON HARA Sidney and Gertrude Zack Gallery, Vancouver, May 30-Jun 22 Mixed-media artist Robin Atlas works in the genre of visual Midrash, a form of rabbinic literature that explores ethics and values in biblical texts. The show’s 20 pieces, composed of hand-dyed, collaged and embroidered fabric with paint, beadwork and other inclusions, focus on the impact of lashon hara (“evil tongue,” or derogatory talk) on the spiritual realm and the physical universe. An interactive component encourages viewers to acknowledge lashon hara in their own lives.

DEMPSEY BOB: NORTH Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, Jun 7-Jul 5 Tahltan-Tlingit artist Dempsey Bob has been carving alder and cedar for over 40 years and, in the last decade, has added bronze sculpting to his highly acclaimed repertoire. His art is so avidly collected that it is difficult to mount a solo exhibition of his work in a commercial gallery. Happily, this show brings together new carvings, including masks, panels and inlaid boxes, each telling a story through its ingeniously designed creatures and beings. A member of the wolf clan of Telegraph Creek, Bob is known for his dedication to teaching younger artists.

HIGH MUCK-A-MUCK: PLAYING CHINESE Oxygen Arts Centre, Nelson, Jul 5-26 This digital media project comprises an interactive website and an interactive gallery installation. Both compare historical and contemporary Chinese immigration to Canada with gambling – namely, a risk that might pay off generously or result in “irreparable loss.” The show is a collaboration of poet Fred Wah, composer Jin Zhang, architect and artist Thomas Loh, musician and theatre artist Bessie Wapp, writer and curator Nicola Harwood, visual artist Tomoyo Ihaya and digital media developer Phillip Djwa.

SURROUND Elissa Cristall Gallery, Vancouver, Jun 12-Jul 5 Curated by artist and educator Lesley Finlayson, this show presents the work of three of her former students working across a range of media. Meghann Hubert paints still-life subjects encountered in her busy household. Jessie McNeil creates collage portraits of her neighbourhood and of parks and interiors of buildings such as libraries. Katherine Eileen Neil uses painting, drawing, ceramics and installation to explore the way we occupy different kinds of spaces, whether domestic, natural or dystopian.

TED SMITH: A RETROSPECTIVE Kamloops Art Gallery, Kamloops, Jun 28-Aug 30 This exhibition surveys the 50-year career of Kelowna artist Ted Smith. Born in Vernon and raised in Kamloops, Smith studied at the Vancouver School of Art in the early 1960s and cites Jack Shadbolt and Don Jarvis as major influences on his painting practice. Like them both, he uses landscape as a vehicle for exploring formal qualities such as colour, form and gesture. Many of his paintings reveal a tension between representation and abstraction while still evincing a sense of wonder about the natural world.

GATHIE FALK: PAPERWORKS Burnaby Art Gallery, Burnaby, Jul 4-Aug 24 This show surveys both 2-D works on paper and 3-D papier mâché works by one of Vancouver’s most beloved senior artists. Gathie Falk manages to alter the appearance and context of modest subjects – like baseball caps, men’s shirts and snowballs – so they become symbols. Clothing conveys human presence while exploring gendered identity, for example; a winter tree conveys death and rebirth. Together, her works contrast masculinity and femininity, life and death, light and shadow, solemnity and wit.

Morgan Green
Morgan Green

Gu Xiong
Gu Xiong

Kelly Lycan
Kelly Lycan

George Morland
George Morland

Robin Atlas
Robin Atlas

Dempsey Bob
Dempsey Bob

Bessie Wapp
Bessie Wapp

Meghann Hubert
Meghann Hubert

Ted Smith
Ted Smith

Gathie Falk
Gathie Falk

 Sat, Jun 7, 2014