Intersecting Orbits: Michael Morris and Joan Balzar
Joan Balzar, Silver Scape, 1962-65, chrome aluminum and acrylic on canvas. Photo: Ken Dyck. Courtesy of Shawn Macmillan.

Intersecting Orbits: Michael Morris and Joan Balzar

Griffin Art Projects, North Vancouver, BC - To May 5

by Christine Clark

Intersecting Orbits explores the art of Joan Balzar (1928-2016) and Michael Morris (1942-2022), celebrates their influence on the art scene in British Columbia, and highlights an important community of artists and collectors in the history of BC. The exhibition includes selected items from Morris’ archives and his personal art collection, much of which he inherited from his mother, Rita Morris, as well as paintings from Balzar’s body of work bequeathed to her niece.

“Both Michael Morris and Joan Balzar were key to a moment in the late 1960s and early 1970s when there was international interest in the art that was being made here in Vancouver,” writes David MacWilliam, who curated the show with Lisa Baldissera. “Part of Griffin Art Projects’ mandate is to focus on archives and collections, and we thought juxtaposing these two important artists at this time would allow Lower Mainland audiences to have an opportunity to see a number of paintings that have never been exhibited before, as well as possibly give rise to a serious re-evaluation of these two influential artists.”

Balzar and Morris both attended the Vancouver School of Art and studied under the same artists – including Jack Shadbolt, Roy Kiyooka, Peter Aspell, Joe Plaskett and Don Jarvis – and both achieved early critical and international success. Balzar’s large-scale geometric paintings contain references to scientific innovation, electronic communication and space travel; they incorporate industrial materials, such as Plexiglas, aluminum, neon lights and metallic powders. Morris was an abstract painter and printmaker who worked in film, photography, video, installation and performance. He founded Image Bank (1970), a collaborative mail art project, and co-founded the Western Front Society (1973), an influential artist-run centre. Morris received a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2011.

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