Posts Tagged ‘composition’

John Koerner’s retrospective

June 28, 2011

Orchard 2, John Koerner, 8×10 inches, watercolour on  illustration board, 1963

There’s a tangible buzz mid afternoon in the Elliott Louis Gallery on Saturday. June 25th.   Celebration time is six o’clock, but the preparations are no accident. Everything is well planned to ensure the guests are greeted warmly and that they enjoy themselves during the two hours that follow. Those who cannot be there for six are arriving early, circling amongst the fifty -plus paintings of John Koerner, one of British Columbia’s most respected artists, and likely the oldest, too. He’s nighty- eight and not missing a beat.

Many of the paintings come from private collections, and they span a sixty year career of this remarkable artist.

The Lighthouse: Opus 119, John Koerner, acrylic on canvas, 42 x 52 inches, 1995

I fell in love with his paintings many, many years ago. Particularly, I loved his use of blues and turquoise in his landscapes.  I contemplated getting one of his oils, years back, but it didn’t happen; and then ten years later, was able to purchase a small watercolor, which I cherish still. It’s called Orchard 2 and is about 8 inches by 10.  I promised myself that, one day, I could purchase an oil and remembered the one I’d seen at the Diane Farris gallery on that early occasion. Then, miraculously, a still life in oranges and peachy colours came up at auction and I got it. I was thrilled. To actually own one! It sits in my office and I see it every day.

Just look at the paintings here. They are fresh and alive. There is no hesitation nor overworking. All the colours are harmonious,  clear and sparklingly clean. In the Lighthouse: Opus 119, you can see how he establishes depth of field with the large bouquet signifying the here-and-now, and the lighthouse, small in the distance, an ever present available guiding spirit.

Now I was here, well before the crowds would arrive, at leisure to get up close and contemplate each painting carefully. I can find new things in his paintings every time I look. There are ways of using acrylic so that it creates it’s own texture like when oil paint separates slightly when diluted with water. It’s a glaze that leaves a pebbly surface – hard to achieve while still maintaining control in acrylics. There are the overlays areas of small strokes  built up in a stained-glass like fragmentation. Most of the paintings contain  a compendium of different marks that can run from flat and smooth, to build-ups of jagged, direct ones, overlaid one upon another, giving a richness of pattern or depth of color. And, holding all this together is an overall composition of a meditative nature and a sensation of light.

Hikari 3, John Koerner, Acrylic on Canvas, 42 x 52 inches

The Lighthouse Series was inspired by the Point Atkinson Lighthouse – a monolithic white tower in West Vancouver, visible on a clear day from the University of British Columbia where he spent his career teaching in the Fine Arts Faculty. The lighthouse recurs in many paintings, signifying the source of light and the power it gives to guide us spiritually, inspirationally and physically.

The Pacific Gateway series, implies the link between Canada and Asian countries, as well as signifying peace, a visual play on words with “pacific”. In addition there are paintings with a Japanese flavour with suggestions of Kimono shapes; and a some paintings of African landscapes.

Harbour Reflections, John Koerner, 36 x 36 inches, acrylic on canvas, 1960

I couldn’t attend the opening due to another engagement, but once my other event was over, I hastened back to the Gallery to join the celebration. It was all but finished, but the attendance had been spectacular – well over 200 people had come. There were still at least 40 people there. John Koerner had already gone. But the symbiotic energy that was still reigning in the gallery  was exciting to join.  People did not want to go home!  Ted Lederer who owns the gallery greeted me in his usual enthusiastic fashion and immediately introduced me to David Bellman and Meirion Cynog Evans, the team of curators who had put up the show.

“You have to see this,” says Ted, leaving me with David, Meirion and a well known art collector in the back office where incoming new art is put out of the way of the day-to-day activities.

Up on the wall were some of Lionel Thomas’s late works, flowers on canvas painted in tempera, some geometric abstracts and exceptionally, about ten, two- sided copper enamel works. Size is approximately 8 x 10 inches. They are framed so that they can be seen as sculptures, free standing,  The color are brilliant (because copper enamelling is a process of affixing glass onto a metal base), with lots of pure bright hues of reds and blues. They are like jewels.

David Bellman and Merion Evans are in the process of preparing the Lionel Thomas collection of his works for an up-coming exhibition at the Elliott Louis Gallery. But that’s another story, since this was the celebration for John Koerner.

I couldn’t stay long; but was long enough to bring back some images to share on this blog.  Here are a few more favorites:

Still Life, John Koerner, Gouache, ink and paper collage, 1965

If you live in Vancouver, hasten to see this show. The  exhibition is very short – just 10 days in all, and it’s taken almost 20 years since the last retrospective of Koerner’s work.  It’s an opportunity not to be missed. It’s located at 258 East 1st Avenue, just one block east of Main and one north of Great Northern Way.

Check out the the Elliott Louis Gallery web-site. Lots of the Koerner images are there – but you will want to see the real thing. They are very tasty!

http://www.elliottlouis.com/

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Jim Gislason

March 12, 2010

Diva, Jim Gislason, Oil on mesh pinned to canvas

About three months ago, I had dropped in unexpectedly at the Elliott Louis Gallery hoping to see the gallery owner Ted Lederer.  He wasn’t there and his able assistant, saying he might arrive any moment, began to distract me with some of the latest work in the gallery.

It was the first time I had heard of Jim Gislason and ergo, the first I had seen his creations.  She explained his technique whereby he prepares a photomontage of images which he then translates into a photo transfer on emulsive film for silk screening, and then he proceeds to force oil paint through the developed silk-screen. It’s a labour intensive process and it requires a complete fore-knowledge of the final image because, at the point in the process that the oil paint is being pushed through the silk screen material, all has to be done at once.

Since he has differing depths of extruded paint coming through, he needs to know exactly at what place he is pushing through with which colour and a fairly precise amount of paint. That’s all rather technical, so of course I was impressed at the complexity of it. Nevertheless, if the process isn’t in tandem with some meaning, then it’s futile to try to impress someone with the number of layers of paint or the hours it takes to dry.

Detail of paint extrusion. Note the icon of Thor’s hammer from the painting Reveille, J. Gislason

Details of paint extrusion and paint manipulation, glazing etc.

At that time, there were only a few of Gislason’s works and I found them quite engaging. I had to refrain from touching them, they were so tactile, yet every inch of each of the works had something more going on in them. The texture was made up of a lexicon of printers’ symbols mixed with new icons made by Gislason himself. He photographs images he wants to use and then reduces them to a size of the printer’s symbols, mixing up the ready made with his home-digitally-made new symbols, and creates a large mass of them.

From far away, the image looks quite serene – large abstract shapes that glow with colours vibrating against each other, which are filled with details on closer inspection.

So are these paintings or are they silk screen prints?

If they must be classified, I’d put them with the former category. They are, after all, made with oil paints, not silk screen inks. Secondly, there is only one image made each time through the prepared silkscreen, thoroughly dried, touched up with more painting on the surface  and then it is removed from its stretcher bars and the screen with its extruded image and additions of paint  are pinned to its canvas lined exhibition frame.

Framing detail, mesh pinned to canvas

When finally the gallery owner came in that day, I was scrutinizing one of these works and was somewhat reluctant to withdraw from the process of inspecting the details of the imagery. After we had talked, he sent me home with his only copy of a printmaking anthology in which Gislason’s work figures along with an explanation of his ideology. Not only is Gislason an artist but he is a wordsmith as well.  His poems are sometimes part of the imagery and sometimes published beside the work of art.

Last week, the e-mail invitation came announcing Jim Gislason’s latest show and the opening reception and I noted it in my day-book. Not long after, I had a separate e-mail from Ted saying, “If there is only one exhibition you come into town for this year, make it this one. No kidding!”

Fortunately, I had Thursday March 11th available and it was a perfect opportunity to do a bit of gallery hopping with my sister who is in town from Rossland for her first solo show.  I had no hesitation. In fact, I made sure we were there a half an hour early so that we could see the show clearly without others to interfere in either our concentration nor our enjoyment of the imagery.

As guests arrived, Ted came by to say Jim Gislason would be arriving shortly and I just had to meet him. When the two of us met, there was a momentary awkward pause when Ted disappeared.  Jim had no idea who I was and though I had become familiar with his paintings I didn’t know what to expect either.

I explained myself – my admiration for his work  and my desire to write about  artists I appreciated so that good work  could become  more widely known. I talked about the layers of meaning that I was discovering in his paintings. He expressed his concern that people would only focus on the technique and not get the messages built into the work.

Work on paper, Jim Gislason from an earlier series. Note the chevron pattern that occurs here in black and white on the left and in grey and white on the right. This pattern recurs in different colours in many of his paintings.

Although there are a few pieces from earlier series,  the greater part of this Gislason  show is themed, Kings and Queens. In each of the newer images, he represents historical faces of either a king or a queen. The kings and queens, he says, are not mythical people or heads of state, but ourselves, living to the greatest of our potential.

The refusal of Charon, Jim Gislason, Oil on mesh pinned to canvas

He has a strong belief in spirituality gained from wide reading and experience in several religious philosophies, Buddhism being the one that more prominently underpins his work.  I asked about one cross-like symbol, but it was, he explained, Thor’s hammer, or a Mjollnir.  The Longships I and II represent a square-sailed Viking vessel.

Longship II, Jim Gislason, Oil on mesh pinned to canvas

I had to look up the reference to Thor’s hammer later as I was unfamiliar with this – so I am providing this quote from Wikipedia:

  • The Prose Edda gives a summary of Mjöllnir’s special qualities in that, with Mjöllnir, Thor: … would be able to strike as firmly as he wanted, whatever his aim, and the hammer would never fail, and if he threw it at something, it would never miss and never fly so far from his hand that it would not find its way back, and when he wanted, it would be so small that it could be carried inside his tunic.[1]

Besides the spiritual aspect, his references are drawn from various iconography – hand lettering print type, the graphic arts, Egyptian and Greek art, modern day traffic symbols, map making and historical painting references, to name just a few.

Shadow Throne, Jim Gislason Oil on mesh pinned to canvas

For instance, in Shadow Throne, from afar, the figure appears to be dressed in a medieval garment with hoops holding the dress out widely from the body. It is, in fact, derived in shape from Velasquez’s Infanta Maria Theresa of Spain.  Up close, though, the panels of the dress are fashioned from antique half- maps of the globe and other cartographic references,  adding depth and richness to the overall imagery.

Detail from Shadow Throne, Jim Gislason

When I was speaking with Jim Gislason, I realized that it would take along time to delve into all the references he uses.  We discussed this briefly. Though it would enrich my appreciation of his work to know what was embedded in the work, at some point, when the artist lets go of his work, i.e., he shows it to the world, then he must let go all the particulars that he has put into it. Viewers come with their own experiences and knowledge. What may  resonate in their minds may not be at all what the artist intended but that does not diminish the work and may in many instances enhance their appreciation.

Medallion, Jim Gislason, oil on mesh pinned to canvas

Detail from Medallion

This is a show worthy of a good long look. Each time one of Gislason’s pieces is revisited, more is found in it, whether be the connections between the numerous symbols used or an appreciation of the paint texture with its glazes and tactile richness, the added elements collaged in or one of his poems that might clarify the image or conversely add some new mystery to it.

In the end, while I marveled at the technique, the focus on that aspect of them quickly gave way to the intricacy of the imagery and the overall abstraction of them.  My favorite paintings are the ones where I can’t figure out how they were made (even though I’ve been told) and there is a mystery in the content. I’ve added these to my favorite list for sure!

The show is on until April 24th at the Elliott Louis Gallery at 248 East 1st Avenue in Vancouver, B.C.

http://www.elliottlouis.com/

Doin’ the digger

January 14, 2010

I’m on a roll!

Paint is flowing!

I’m back doing my construction work.

Here’s a series of images that culminate in my most recent work. I must say that I’m not 100% sure it’s finished. I’ll have to let it sit for a while, but on the other hand, what I have been waiting for has occurred.

I’ve been waiting for a flow of ideas to come. I’ve been waiting for that blessed artistic state where one idea builds on another, where the ideas come as I am painting. I can’t say that they are tumbling out, but at least they are coming faster than I can get them down on canvas, and I’m preparing canvases during drying time so that there will be another one ready for the next image.

This first image is the underpainting with painter’s tape masking the edges. It helps get sharp lines when you are a traditionally messy painter.That’s the prep stage.

First painting stage,

I’ve established the two positive colours and shapes geometrically. Some of this is painted in masked areas, but the black circles, I didn’t have the patience or maybe the ability, to cut a perfect circle, so I just painted it free hand, if you can call it that when you painstakingly try to ensure you do not go outside the lines. Talk about colouring book technique!

And then, third stage, I take off all the tape and see about the balance. Essentially I have composed this image relying on the spatial relationship theory of composition but I’ve also very faintly lined up the geometric relationships as well and have taken some of the key lines into consideration when I considered placement of the geometric figures.

Like those puzzles where you connect the dots, your imagination can make synaptic leaps to reconstruct the digger. It has all the essential elements. But I’m not sure that I want a yellow background in this. I’d prefer a neutral grey – a light one. So I went about trying to mix a large quantity of the neutral grey dark that I used in the previous painting which focused on shapes.

Impossible. In some additions of paint, it looks green, in others it looks brown. I add a bit of this, a bit of that. It’s not working. Finally I decide to go with what I’ve got. I add a lump of yellow ochre to warm it up and it’s not bad. Not perfect, but acceptably neutral.

I start to paint and a funny thing starts to happen. As I am painting, getting up close to the red, the paint colour perceived as neutral starts to become an eye popping lime green. I can hardly paint as the effect of simultaneous contrast starts to play. I get this halo shimmering on the edge, and I can no longer see where the edge is as the eye refuses to compute the two adjacent colours together.

I must say this is probably the hardest painting I’ve done since, as I’m painting, the edges are starting to move. And no, I haven’t eaten anything funny! It’s difficult and amusing at the same time.

I’m tempted to keep the yellow underpainting in some spots and then decide that I will complete the grey background throughout.

By evening, I have covered the entire painting in the grey, leaving only these red and black shapes of the digger, but it’s not even. I was hoping to escape having to mask off all my red and black shapes, but I’m out of luck. When I simply paint around without the mask, I get these halos of scumbled paint.

Scumbling is a method of using your brush on its side with the flat of the bristles, not the point, which de facto give you a textured, messy kind of texture also called scumbling.

I get a call from Mrs. Stepford to come over with the new creation and I go, toting a big green plastic bag with the painting in it and a book on mandalas that I got in some second hand or thrift store. I’m going to give it to Mrs. Stepford because she has just created a school program for all grades that is based on making mandalas. The green plastic bag is a necessity because it’s Wet Coast pouring rain.

Her two painting students are there on the point of leaving,  and Mr. Stepford is hanging in there, signing off his latest stunning photograph which he is giving to the two women.  Mrs.  commands me to bring out the new painting and we all discuss its merits.

I make apology for the scumbling and the halos, but both Mr. and Mrs. rave over the scumbling.
“Dont change a thing!” she exhorts. “I agree!” adds Mr. Stepford. They like the texture and think it would not be improved if I flattened the background to a single tone and hue.

I promise to put it away for a few weeks before I do anything more to it. I had another vision in mind, but I can still try my other vision on another canvas and keep this one.

So here it is at its final stage (for now).

Hitachi Digger – painting progress

January 11, 2010

Hitachi (variation 1, shape), acrylic, 16 x 20 inches

Every little change becomes an artistic decision.

The Hitachi digger has been up on my wall in all its garish glory, an intense cerulean sky, a cadmium red light digger cut with some cad yellow. It’s eye-popping.  It’s an under-painting.  It’s too hard on the eyes with the simultaneous contrast operating at full force, But where to go next with it? What did I want to do with this one when I set out? After several months, I’m still stuck, looking at this rather blatant drawing in colour, not knowing what to do.

Every change in colour shifts the balance, creates new values of weight.

When the gallery dealer came, he had some wry comment about it, then praised the one in greys for its subtleties. Has this influenced my decision to add some grey? And if some grey, then how shall I mix that grey?

I pulled out my painting supplies that had been hidden under the studio table and set up to work in acrylics again. Everything had been put away for the Christmas festivities.

I’ve accumulated some supplies from garage sales and demos at economical cost. The tubes need to be used up; so I started with a Stevenson’s Burnt Sienna and some Manganese Blue but the mixture turns out looking too green a grey. Greys are the hardest to mix because they are so affected by the colour you put them beside.  I had a lump of left-over white from my palette the last time I painted which I kept in a tiny jam jar with a skim of water for just this kind of mixing.
If you put a neutral grey beside some red paint, it will take on a green cast; and if you put a neutral  grey beside blue paint, it will take on a yellow cast to it; so the mixing has to take this into account. It alway takes on the  cast of the  colour opposite from  it on the colour wheel. It may look perfect on the palette, but you place it beside something else and the colour shifts!

Armed with this grey mixture, and lots of it – one doesn’t want to run out mid way and have to remix some paint; it would be impossible to match –  I painted in some of the digger parts in dark grey trying to maintain the fine red lines that were the first definitions on this image of the location of the various parts of the machine.

Here it is with the first grey put in.  It has become heavier at the bottom with the grey and not the ochre. It was insubstantial, floating in the air before, and now it is grounded.

I had to chastise myself as I started to make this painting more and more realistic. I struggled against my own nature when I force myself to abandon the detail and search for the major shapes. I was tempted to use all four colours and then realized that I was tripping down the realism path again. The only purpose of the yellow undercoat is to warm the painting from below.  In the end, I used the three major colours and ended up with this.

Then I went over to Mrs. Stepford’s for a second opinion.  She’s a real treat because she can put words to my paintings that I never thought of and then my paintings sound so brainy, somehow. It’s gratifying and I learn something about myself and my painting and visual thought habits

We discussed the ambiguity of the sky colour and the lack of a definite ground or horizon line. We discussed the weight of the dark colour massing at the bottom and whether or not it adversely affected the overall imagery. I went home to struggle with it a bit more.

Paintings are difficult beasts. Especially pre-meditated ones. Everything has to work together at the the same time

One of my wandering thoughts was “why do I say that I want to do fresher looking paintings, more direct and then keep on tidying up everything until it no longer looks free but belaboured”.  What is the fine line between free and sloppy? What is the defining criteria between child-like and childish? How far can one push it before realism becomes interpretation? Or becomes abstraction? I was plowing through the borders of these things without any answers.

I was remembering one of the very elegantly painted works of Kai Althoff whom I wrote about quite some time back. One of the paintings had this simplicity of shape, but his paint was impeccably even and his lines were equally wide throughout. It seemed almost as if it had been printed, but it wasn’t. It was hand done, but so perfect. Mine’s not perfect. The lines are varying in width and sometimes thickly, sometimes thinly painted. They vary from deep cadmium red to cadmium yellow. Could I just leave it like that?

My shape colours are not flat and even. I’ve allowed the underpainting to show through. I like that because it gives a bit of texture and the paint sometimes glows with the undercolour peeking through. And yes, I can do that. To leave it thus is an artistic decision.

And this is where I have left it. I’ll sit with this version now and see in a week or two if I can live with the work as it is, to date.

Next, I start with this underpainting and second draft of a visual idea.

It’s about metamorphosis. I found that the digger looked quite like a heron with a long red beak and the cables much like river grasses. At this stage, the colours are too flat, too transparent, too much like first draft. There’s no refinement.

I worked at building up the reds, giving the breast of the bird a better shape through modeling it in different tones of red and yellow and this grey which is left over from the previous painting.

I think it’s important to carry over colours or use a limited palette. It ties a group of paintings together.

There is an unfortunate shape  of red behind the Red Crested Digger. It was originally from the cab shape of the digger. Now I want to obliterate it. In doing so, I lose all traces of warmth coming from the underpainting, and the cerulean blue mix that I use to overpaint is a shift from the previous cerulean and titanium white. The whole sky has to be repainted, otherwise the patch will stick out like a sore thumb, but it’s a good trade-off for the overall compositions of the painting. I’m pleased with that change.

And now, the series is beginning to come clear to me. In each painting I am exploring not only the visual reality of the digger but the abstract qualities that drew me to it. And from that, there are new ideas coming to me. This one is about metamorphosis and in graffiti like letters, I spell out that clue in the foreground while the Hitachi graffiti graces the cerulean sky. These markings provide balance. In the final version, below, I have added  red into letters of the grey foreground.  It helps pull the eye into the remainder of the picture and brings more warmth into the image.

It has already given me an idea, even more abstact for the next stage – not on this painting. It’s done. I’m ready to start a new one!

McCoffee

December 19, 2009

McCoffee Watercolour on a full sheet of Windsor and Newton  paper (24×32″)

I’ve struggled over this, my latest watercolour, over two months or more. I love this guy in camouflage having his coffee at MacDonald’s. It’s cool inside and dimly lit, no need for those shades, but they never came off. He can see out, you can’t see in.

He’s got a colleague with him, with his mitt wrapped around  his coffee, but you can’t see him, and Mr. McCoffee is not looking at him anyway.  McCoffee is alert, his ear stretching out to hear conversations around him. He’s finished his food – two empty boxes, a big white napkin scrumpled up on the left hand side.

Below, the table there is a profusion of pattern – the South West Indian flavour in colour and shapes and then McCoffee’s hand sitting idle.

It’s a slice of life, arbitrarily cut off on all sides. If I’d asked him for a photo, he would have straightened up and posed. This way, I got him – his erect quasi-military bearing, his ennui. At the same time, from a work-lifetime habit of being at the ready, all senses alert, you know he is very aware of what is going on around him.

The only thing that defines the edges of his arm is the shift from the camouflage pattern to the upholstery pattern. That was particularly difficult to achieve. Every time I painted something in this area, I had to stop and check if everything else was in value still, or I had to bring the other things up to the value of the last addition of colour. The other difficulty was working in such a dark range of colours in watercolour.

I’m used to the brighter range of colours, so working in the dark ranges was a challenge; and so was working with the napkins, both above the table and below. White is always defined by its shadows.

The painting probably refers most to the geometric genre of composition, but there are some difficult things here – the table top goes from left to right in the picture plane, cutting the painting in two unequal parts. Maybe it works on the “Rule of Thirds” also. What allows this composition to work, despite that dark force moving across, is that just above the line, the most interesting objects are compiled, disorganized, one after the other like a batch of unruly and  unkempt children standing in a row. There’s the napkin and then the MacDonald’s cup, then the boxes and then the coffee cup, each item demanding attention. The figure is the upright, perpendicular force, with the complicated details drawing the viewer in.

The man looks outwards to the right and this, composition-wise, could be a difficult and unwieldy thing, but in this image, there is tension between the person whose arm we see, which makes for a mystery. Who is his companion? What does our protagonist see? It keeps us in the image; and though it goes against “the rules”, it works.

I’m going to pack this one away for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes – maybe a week from now. Maybe there will be some minor adjustments, but I think it’s done.

Can anyone tell me what organization this uniform represents?  This fellow has a few stripes on his left sleeve.

Christmas is coming. I’ve invited people for Christmas day dinner. I need to pack up my watercolour gear and put it away so that I have use of that table. Like many of us, I suppose, I am very busy with seasonal events and preparations for Christmas Day.So I’ll probably be back after following Christmas, so….

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Sonja Kobrehel – an artist and a game plan

October 12, 2009

zz 196 small

Lately, time has been flying by. With all good intentions, I took several pictures of Sonja Kobrehel’s work at the University Women’s Club, Vancouver at Hycroft way back in February or March.  The pictures have sat in my picture files since and every time I look at them, I am reminded that I wanted to say a few words in support of her exhibition. The exhibition is over, so I’m too late for that.

It’s never too late, though, to bring that attention of a good artist to my readership. Kobrehel’s work is so colourful and light.

As I was minutely looking at her work during the exhibition, one of my friends came by and said, “I don’t really understand what one sees in this kind of art,” which stunned me. It really shocked me, I think, because I was feeling such  joyousness from looking at it. It reinforced for me a)  that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and b) my art education has been so profound and lifelong  that I see things differently from other people. Sometimes the abstract is unreadable by the uninitiated.

“Why is this work important?” my friend continued. I promised to explain it one day, and perhaps that is what I am trying to do here today.

What attracts me to them is her use of colour and symbols. I went back to her web site:

http://www.sonjakobrehel.com/index.html

That daunted me a bit. I read the accolades and explanations that she already has garnered and I realized that I couldn’t speak to her work on that basis. At least, what had already been written there was more eloquently written than I could, not knowing about her Eastern European background and the iconography, the symbols with which she creates her images. So I encourage you to go there and read about it.

I’m going to shift gear here, so bear with me.

I often have discussions with Mrs. Stepford next door. She is also an artist and she has a fine analytical mind about contemporary art. She was trying to pin down why she likes my dabblings and why she appreciates what I do as an artist.  I just do it, and have the hardest time coming up with a spiel about it that makes it intelligible to other.

She said something like this – that I devise my own game plan and then go about making endless variations on the elements that I have chosen to work with. That I come up with so many variations that sometimes don’t seem to be cohesively connected and then become visible when a whole body of work is seen together amazes her.

So, back to Kobrehel:

zz 198 small

On an imagery level, what I like is that she uses a set of icons, visual elements, that she plays with from painting to painting, arranging them in various compositions, changing their sizes and therefore their importance in one setting as compared to the next in which it might have a much diminished importance, but another takes on a greater power. In other words, she plays with them in unending variation.

The ability to work in series with similar icons or images is an important attribute. It shows that the artist is not randomly daubing paint to canvas but has a purpose, a message that bears working with.

The next reason that I find her work fascinating is that  she is working with images that are not familiar to me and at the same time, there is some archetypal pull, some feeling that in the human experience, the symbols belong to Everyman. There are circles and egg shapes, a fool’s hat, a cross and hook, half-moons, hearts, birds, teapots, ladders. Some are commonly understood, some are esoteric, and according to the web-site, Egyptian or Eastern religious symbols. They are used out of context. That is, the egg is not in a usual egg situation. Ditto for the moon, the hearts, the teapots and the ladders.

What this accomplishes is an image with mysteriousness. Why are these symbols placed one against the other? Do they have a significance? Or, do they add up in a symbiotic whole to a feeling, a sentiment of nostalgia or of well-being, gladness, wistfulness or comfort? It is the ambiguity that draws me in, trying to come to an inner sense for me, of the work that I am looking at.  Ambiguity, for me is a strong attribute of paintings.

I don’t want to be told everything. It’s why I am most often uncomfortable with Realism. Everything is spelled out. It only takes a minute or two to “get the picture”.  The technique of copying nature onto a canvas may be admirable, but it’s just one element in the artists arsenal of weapons.  With Kobrehel’s work, I don’t immediately “get the picture” (and may never ultimately do so) and so it’s interesting to figure out why my initial reaction was to love it. It engages me. It makes me think, not just rationally, but emotionally too.

And when the emotional and rational evaluation of the image is done, I see that, on a technical plane, Kobrehel’s work is also fascinating.

She seems to compose chiefly on the “spatial relationship” method of composition, although the other methods are working too. It’s one of my favourites of all the compositional methods  and by far the most abstract of compositional ideas. The icons are placed about the picture plane to draw the eye around. In one, for instance, there are three objects in the colour red on a largely beige coloured canvas. They act as an implied triangle that leads one’s eye around. Then there are three other objects in a different colour, also acting as a triangle, pulling one’s eyes away from the first, so that the eye travels around and around within the entire image, comfortably being able to stop at this icon or that for closer inspection.

Where large rectangular blocks of colour make up the background of a painting, she understands the visual weight of each and adjusts the size of the shapes accordingly so that the  shapes are in balance.

For an artist (me)  who is familiar with these principles of colour weights, the manipulation of shapes to create balance or imbalance, compositional considerations, these paintings are full of richness underneath the apparent imagery. It’s as if Kobrehel is more concerned with these than the actual icons.

The last thing I am going to mention is technical quality of paint handling.

Kobrehel paints with a build-up of layers with each layer contributing to the final surface quality. It provides a richness of colour, a depth, even if the   colour on initial view looks, for instance, red. That red may have yellows and oranges and cream colours underneath that alter the final quality of the block of redness. It’s not flat.

The colours are fresh and lively. This may seem simple, but it’s not. Too often, colours are overmixed and become as a result rather muddy-looking. Kobrehel’s are clean and light. It’s that quality of colour mixing that keeps these images fresh and happy. Kobrehel also knows her colour mixing so well that one colour never jars against another.  It’s so easy for an amateur to put a lime green against a red, but it will clash and blare like a ill tuned trumpet. When Kobrehel does this, though, the colours sit together like sensitive lovers. They are individual and opposite, but they marry comfortably and easily. This is no mean feat.

The quality of the drawing is also fresh. There seems no hesitation in the markings, but that does not make them simple. The forms, the fool’s hat, for instance, is lightly rounded on the edges giving it a three-dimensional quality. The shadows lurking behind these objects serve to lift them off the page in an optical illusion. The icons live. They pop off the surface and tempt you to touch the canvas just ot make sure they aren’t really trying to escape.

Kobrehel is an adult who has been able to recapture that childlike ability to create her own symbols and express them as a private language. I find her work fascinating to look at.

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I hope this will explain to my skeptic friend and give her something to think about when next she comes in view of a work of art that is more difficult to perceive on first view.

So thank you, Sonja Kobrehel, for making my day – not just in February when I  saw the real thing, but today, as I look at it all again and am delighted by what I see.

Nygren and Nurmi

August 3, 2009

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Judy Nygren, Flower, Acrylic on canvas

All images on this post are copyright of Judy Nygren and Terry Nurmi and posted with their permission.

It was hot last night and boding not well for a good turn out at the Fort Gallery but I was determined to go there.  The advertising for the current show looked interesting and I was keen to get out of the house. With this heat, I’ve been laying low.

Everyone was quite surprised, then, to see the excellent turn-out of people braving the heat and humidity to see Judy Nygren’s and Terri Nurmi’s show.

I had an interesting chat with Judy. I liked the images, especially where her objects seem to disintegrate into the background, confounding edges, providing ambiguities to explore. Where does the object start and where does it finish?

I asked her whether or not there was a unifying idea behind the images – there were a few paintings depicting different images of the same teapot; and several pictures of fluid looking flowers. In the second exhibition room,  one painting stood out from the others as more anecdotal and perhaps imbued with more meaning.  It is a picture of a swan flying and a woman astride the bird’s back.  The woman’s foot is thrust forward and pointed, clad in a ballerina’s toe shoe.

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When I remarked upon the shoe, Nygren informed me that she was a dancer and hence the connection within her iconography. I suggested references to Leda and the Swan, but she had not consciously thought of that. I mentioned that it looked like the woman was flying away to freedom and looking back whence she came.

Nygren thought that this was an apt interpretation of the images, but confessed that she still hadn’t worked out what the two faces were about.

“Perhaps your old self at the back and the new self going forward? I suggested.  She didn’t know. Couldn’t say. Maybe.

Nygren spoke of  her year of personal changes, the failure of a close relationship and a year of falling apart and assuaging the catastrophic feelings with the healing act of painting.  I pointed out the apparent disintegration happening in the imagery.  She nodded, but confessed that it must have come subconsciously, since she hadn’t set out to express that. To the contrary. The act painting had lifted her out of her concerns; taken her to another more peaceful state of being.

I also noted an unravelling that occurs in many of the images. Same response. But she nodded her head in agreement – her life had felt like it was unravelling.

Nygren’s works are full of strong colour. There are several that contrast an almost khaki colour background with strong cadmium red objects.  She is working in acrylic and her facility with the medium is obvious. She can paint fine line and defined areas cleanly and clearly and conversely, she can bring subtle blendings of colour into play.

One of her themes is flowers which, for leading edge paintings is always considered something of a slippery slope, edging into the too-facile.  As one university professor reportedly said, “If you are going to do flowers, it damn well better be very different.”

On this subject, I found Nygren’s flowers visually quite interesting and engaging for their liveliness. They are formed from a build up of black line-drawings with coloured infill.  They are  rhythmic. They virtually fly through the picture plane with the meanderings of their fluid forms and shapes. Rhythm, in all of her paintings, is one of her strengths, and motion.

Some of them reminded me of a painting I saw in an exhibition that gathered works from the era moving out of realism and into abstraction. It was one of the first images that confounded borders of things, the inside and out of them. It was a bottle and it had been describe only by what wasn’t there – the air around it and the air inside of it.

It might have been Mondrian in his search for more a spiritual description of things or Georges Braque in his analytical search, beginning to develop his ideas of Cubism. I’ve forgotten the name of the artist, it was such a long time ago.

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Some of Nygren’s images are easy to read; others need your full attention. There are four or more images of a vessel, presumably a teapot, mostly in red, but one is described with a coloration of turquoise or cerulean blue. In one of these, the viewer is disoriented. What is the object they are viewing?

“A hookah?” my companion of the evening ask. Judy Nygren is just behind her and answers, “Someone said it looked like a vagina. She’s a midwife, so she’s seen a lot of them. No! I never thought that when I was painting it; though I can see the resemblance now. It’s the teapot. You are looking at the spout.”

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It all kicked in as she said it. It was simple. But we are not used to looking at things from a different point of view. On consideration, this was one of my favourites from this show. Everyone’s contribution to how they saw the picture made it richer for me.  After all, the painter is only one half of the art equation. If no one views it, Confusion says, does it really exist? But the viewer is not obliged to see in it what the painter put in it. More often this is the case. Each person brings their own experience to the dialogue of art.

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Nygren’s works are happy and uplifting, colourful and engaging. Before the end of the opening, several works had been purchased and that is an excellent thing to have happen.

Terri Nurmi is a very different artist. She too has had some challenging life events that have led her to create her imagery. Her artist’s statement is so beautiful that I will reprint it here.

I woke up & went to the bags that held her things … just to smell them. The wonderful aroma of her was dissipating. I wondered how many more smells I would have before she was gone.

“about face” is an exhibition that refers to change. To the shift of identity that happens to all that experience the loss of a friend or family member. This shift requires change. The two are interwoven.

The phrase “about face” is most ambiguous. For me, the work entitled, “Blueprint II” refers to my own shift of identy through the loss of my twin sister. At first, working towards this exhibit, I attempted to paint images from her things. But soon realized that previous bodies of photographic work, inadvertently referring to our relationship, were also beckoning for closure.

As I was speaking to her, Terry described her images as blueprints and the series is entitled Blueprints II of which thirteen are shown. They commemorate her twin sister in a series of images entitled with nostalgic names – Dried Roses and Boostier;  Green Negligé; Lingerie Bag;  Humming Bird and Wire Sculpture;  Pearl Button;  Klimpt;  Bleeding Heart;  Flying; Forget me not;  Houseboat;  I Hope You Dance; Wedding Ring Quilt; and Baby Stuff.

The images are imbued with deep emotion but are more conceptual in composition than Nygren’s. Where Nygren’s subconscious had flirted with the themes of disintegration, she has not intentionally set out to do so. On the contrary, Nurmi’s works quite consciously set out to explore her feelings directly. The images are composed of tokens, relics, remembrances of things she has shared intimately with her sister.

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Where Nygren has let loose her images and they fly exuberently, Nurmi’s seem to be  consciously gathering in, codifying, cataloguing and nostalgically preserving them in a clarity that will continue to evoke for her the loss of a loved sister. They are a still and very beautiful archive. A deeply felt testament.

These are printed works under glass. At the exhibition, I was unable to get excellent pictures of them. In particular, Blueprint I, an ambitious and meticulous work  subtitled Misfortunes, a five foot square assemblage of wood, plexiglass and 99 folded fortunes, was always being inspected by one of the visitors to the exhibition. In any case, even if no one was in front of it, the glare from the gallery lights would have made it impossible to properly photograph.  It is adventurous, not only in scale but in idea.

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Terry Nurmi Blueprint I Misfortunes, detail

Each of the folded fortunes recalls a childhood game we played where a sheet of square paper was folded into further squares creating a three dimensional form that could be manipulated with thumb and forefinger. Along with a chant about one’s future, the fortune teller would variably open and close these cones and when the chant stopped, that would be one’s true fortune. The fortunes had been filled in on the facets of paper with girl-child wish lists – happiness, names of desirable boyfriends, friendship, good luck,  and some disasters too – a scolding,  school detention. With our childhood innocence, there was nothing too ill lurking beneath the paper corners. Not like death, cancer, accident and other griefs of great harm and destruction.

In Blueprints II there are fourteen works shown. Most are about eight inches square and all a somewhat gloomy blue colour of the cyanotype.  Yet, there is a bittersweet beauty, a lost beauty, for Nurmi.  Shared femininity is at the core of it and intimacy of twin sisters – lingerie, maquillage, love tokens from evenings out, and  articles of cherished clothing.

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Terry Nurmi, Blueprint II Green Neglige

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Terry Nurmi Blueprint II Bleeding Heart

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Terry Nurmi, Blueprint II Humming bird and wire structure

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Terry Nurmi, Blueprint II Flying

One last note on Nurmi’s imagery:

In each one of Nurmi’s images exhibited, the composition is unique to the piece. The subject matter is different in each piece. There is little repetition here. This speaks of a very fertile mind, visually. It is to be honoured and celebrated. This is an amazing body of work.

My photos lack the characteristic blue colour of the cyanotype; I’ve adjusted them as best as I could from memory. Some have glare on them from the glass, as well, but they are sufficient, I hope, to nudge you down to the Fort Gallery to see them.  It’s a very engaging exhibition.

By the way, I looked for their web presence and the Fort Gallery is the only place for either of them. Here’s the web address.

http://www.fortgallery.ca


Painting from Memory 2

July 20, 2009

I went walking early again today. Same place, on the Alouette Dikes. Nothing has changed. The temperature is steady around 25 degrees for an hour and then it heats up. When it does, I refuge myself indoors.

I took another good look at the bridge. It’s a tough composition because the bridge is such a driving horizontal force without a break that it tends to drive the eye right out of the picture. It’s only the surrounding shubbery that could save it.

The other memory describes where the dike pathway  is midway in the image. I see the image as four quadrants, with a centre much like a pin wheel. One is the blue sky with small (distant) cedars on the bottom of it. Beside it is a tall, round shaped tree that does not have a very visible trunk, so it really looks round. The third is the shadow from this tree cast over the ochre coloured grasses.  The fourth is a sunny sweep of grasses down into the hollow, the level of the fields. But now, when I try to draw the pinwheel, I can’t fit these elements in as I saw them. My logic gets in the way. It’s couldn’t have been like that.

As I was walking, I was looking for this spot that I had so carefully memorized. Today I couldn’t find it. Was I dreaming?

Here’s the painting

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Form and volume

June 18, 2009

BM lilies Graphite on paper approx 5 inches by 5 inches. Student work.

It’s been two weeks since I last saw Elizabeth for a drawing lesson. We had discussed tone. As in the musical arts, drawing and painting have scales that need to be practiced. Tone is sometimes referred to as shading, since it is often used to produce the effects of light and shadow.

For the lesson, I had Elizabeth make seven small squares (like music has seven notes going up a scale). There is no point in trying to do this on a large scale since the purpose is simply to be aware that one can produce distinct grades of light to dark by varying the amount of drawing material on the paper and by applying more or less pressure. There will be plenty of opportunity later in your drawing life to tackle larger areas.

To refine the task, I asked her to fill in each square evenly (no variations in tone within the square) and to be precise, going right up but not over the edges. This exercise was done in vine charcoal which is a relatively forgiving.

If a person wants to draw representationally, then they need to be able to control their materials. A technical understanding of drawing methods and concepts is essential if we are going to be able to discuss drawing (and by extension, painting and all two dimensional artwork).

As homework, I set her the task of drawing some flowers from the garden. I asked her to remember all the other things we had learned while she was deciding on her imagery. I wanted her to be aware of the placement of objects in her drawing so that there was an interesting composition. I asked her to be mindful of specific shapes; to obtain a balance of light and dark; and then to apply and develop her skills of translating the light and shadow throughout the picture by shading.

“This time I was smart, ” Elizabeth e-mailed me mid-week. “I was drawing in the garden and I knew the light situation would change so I took a photo to remind me.” A few days later, she sent me this photo of her drawing, above.

Elizabeth has only been drawing with me for about three months, so I think her progress is phenomenal. She did a great job of the composition. The tonal balance is excellent. The pattern of the petals provides good textural interest and the details of the stamens and pistils is sharp and contrasting to the smoothness of the petals. She has been quite specific about each flower’s shape. I think she has done a wonderful job and I wouldn’t ask her to change the tiniest bit of this drawing.

For her next drawing, though, the best step forward would be to practice tonal differences – to catch nuances, to look more closely at how light and shadow work together. Note on the drawing above that the glass container appears to be flat when I suspect that it must have been round. Note too that there is an outline around each of the flowers.

To deal with these minor problems, I set Elizabeth the task of drawing an egg. It’s not an easy task. I challenge you to try it! First of all, I set out a plain surface that would show the shadows well. Then I shifted the desk lamp to ensure that there was strong light coming from one side. For this exercise, a strong light source is essential.

Then I set out three eggs. One was in an egg cup, to demonstrate that the lighting affects the egg differently when it is standing on end. One was on a black surface and the other on a white table napkin. The one on the black doesn’t reflect light back up from underneath; while the one on the white cloth has reflected light coming back up from underneath.

I asked Elizabeth to show me the whitest, lightest spot on the egg (the highlight) and then asked her to note that the shadows were actually coming from two light sources – the window and then from the lamp. Where the two shadows meet, there is a darker overlap

So here’s the set up:

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Elizabeth started with a simple oval which she refined as she sketched around a the same shape a few times.

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I asked her if she thought she was finished, and she thought she was. But I wanted her to push the frontiers and to see that there was no line around the egg – it has no edges; and to my mind, whether she could see the darkish shadow on the lower part of the egg or not, it didn’t aid the observer to identify this object as an egg. It made it looked rather more like a plum!

I asked her to observe whether the material she could see behind the egg was lighter or darker than the egg. I asked her to observe where the linen napkin met the egg, and she adjusted her drawing accordingly. With the shadows that she had determined, she had the possibility of a good compositions.

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For the hour that she had to do this in, she learned quite a lot about drawing.

  • Shading provides the means to indicate form. Learning to make transitions in shading can help give volume to a flat shape.
  • Some objects do not have lines that contain them; they are continuous. Eggs are a great example, but faces and body parts have those subtle transitions as well. When a drawing looks flat, think about what you know and help make the object three dimensional by graduating the shadow and highlights.
  • A dark shape behind a light one increases the intensity of light on the forwards shape and removes the need for a line to define its shape.

As a final consideration of her work, I asked her to take another look at the composition. The parallel and diagonal light-coloured shape underneath the egg tends to bring you into the image on the left hand side and drive you out the right hand side just like an arrow.

If you go back to the photograph of the egg, above, you will see that the napkin edges play a significant role in the composition. They provide a vertical influence on the picture.

I asked her to think about cropping the image she finished with (the last illustration, above) and perhaps to find a way to use the vertical edges of the napkin to improve it.

I sent her home with a challenge. Try the same thing over again, but use pen and ink for one drawing and graphite for another. It sounds simple. But just try it!

The Hardware show

March 8, 2009

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An exciting show opened at The Fort Gallery  in Fort Langley, B.C. this evening. I’ve been waiting for this one since it touches one of my favourite subjects – hardware.

The Fort Gallery is run as an artist’s collective and this one is rather exciting. Every show I’ve seen there is good and some are simply outstanding. Each member of the collective gets to have a solo show once a year. A few times a year, there are group shows and tonight’s was one of those.

Each artist was asked to buy $40 dollars or less in a a hardware store and then create something to go on the walls for this show. There are mostly painters in this group, so it took each one of them out of his or her comfort zone not only in subject matter, but in tools and materials as well.

Beside each creation was a little slot where the hardware bill, proof of purchase, was tucked.

The images that follow will show you just how creative this group is. There is a wide variety of material choice and an equally broad result in stylistic form, as the photos that follow will attest:

In the bas relief picture up above, called “Joe the Butcher often had dreams of owning his own hardware store“, Diane Durand uses nuts of varying size and depth  set into plaster to create a pig.  This image has a strong textural quality established by the nuts  and the roughly trowelled plaster-like substance in which they are set. It’s not clear what the object represents above the pig, but it doesn’t matter; it’s what brings the composition into balance. I get a good laugh out of the piglet’s tail.

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A fish out of water – JudyNygren

Still in a representational vein, Judy Nygren created this clever fish out of washers, screws, assorted fence screws, framing nails, colour paint swatches, pine board, fishing wire and wire. There is good craft in the assemblage of this bas-relief sculpture, a good use of colour and an imaginative way of metamorphosing hardware bits for scales and eyes. It’s not a humorous piece, per se, but I found myself laughing at the colour chips for scales and the completely successful use of materials to give an eerily tactile result.

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Bag of light -Suzanne Northcott

Moving away from the strictly representational, Suzanne Northcott has assembled a lamp-like object with a welding wire, a bulb and paper bags cut into strips. It’s reminiscent of her nest series she did a few years ago both in paint and in large drawings.

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Nest – Doris Hutton Auxier

Continuing along  more abstractly, Doris Hutton Auxier has created nest from strips of automatic nail gun nails. She sets up an unnerving contrast of the the hard pointed steel to represent the normally soft downy interior of a nest. One has to wonder how long those four large “eggs” will last with those spikes for a bed.

Claire Moore created an Untitled flying figure of a woman that jutted out of the wall. It’s made of delicate soldering wire and was impossible to photograph well. A second one by Moore was entitled “It’s hard to find comfort when you are a prickly person” (you can just barely see the first delicate figure on the right-hand side of the photo below.

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It’s hard to find comfort when you are a prickly person – Claire Moore

This mobile sculpture is about eight feet tall, suspended from the ceiling and strung into position with wires like a puppet. It’s made from Zap straps, foam insulation and hemp string. Several guests at the opening remarked that this was the best in show, but I had such a hard time deciding: there were so many excellent pieces.

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Breach – Maggie Woycenko

Decidedly more abstract and reminiscent of the ‘Sixties is Maggie Woycenko‘s Breach made from linoleum tiles, screwhole plugs, shower curtain rings, paint and shoe polish.  I love this one. The surface has been rubbed with shoe polish to give it a rich surface texture. The composition is simple yet the screw-hole plugs bring interest to it, and at the centre, each central corner of the four tiles is raised up about two inches to expose a silver-coloured object that keeps the tiles up and open.

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Home Sweet Home – Kate Bradford

You may remember Kate Bradford from an earlier post. She did small exquisite metal sculptures. Home Sweet Home is much more complicated by comparison. Here she uses Plaster of Paris, copper pipe, roofing screws, cedar shims, two mouse traps, electrical wire, steel brackets, twine, spray paint and bronze paint.

In a similar vein, Maggie Woycenko’s What is True vies with Bradford’s sculpture for the highest number of materials used. It’s made with photo album, plumb bob, saw blade, metal strapping, metal plates, chain, nails, locks, wire, paint and shoe polish. The lighting, I might add, brings extra shadows to the imagery which I find delightful.

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What is true – Maggie Woycenko

Woycenko’s What is true is constructed around a photo album with additions of a plumb bob, saw blade, metal strapping, metal plates, chain, nails, locks, wire, paint and shoe polish. The shadows created by the gallery lighting echo the shape of the object emphasizing its three-dimensionality.


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Remnants of the Post  Handyman Era- Scott Gordon

Using plaster, plywood, wooden dowel and hardware, Scott Gordon assembled this bas relief sculpture. The title is mysterious. Is this what was left over from constructing a fence?

The composition is meditatively balanced; the dowels set high in the frame leave room for shadows to become part of the imagery play; and the dark to light ratio is good.

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Displaced – Betty Spackman

It took twelve paint rags, five cans of paint, fifty clothes pegs and thread to fabricate this wall hanging and a lot of creative imagination.  In a theme and variation tour de force, Spackman uses two principle images – the clothes peg and a house – massing them in patterns or alone, operating the images as stencils on one hand and as a print stamp on the other. She switches the shapes from positives to negatives. The colours, variations on a khaki green ochre, the unbleached cotton white  and sepia, blend easily into the overall effect, not overtaking the details of the forms.

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Good Idea  – Susan Falk

On a plywood cut-out shape of torso and head painted black, three energy efficient light bulbs glow like the curly  stuffing of exposed brain. Electrical wire and electrical caps provide the connection to the fixtures. It lights up with a brilliant idea.  The concept of this piece is great although I would have liked to see  a bit more attention made to  finishing.

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Alice in Wonderland I, II and III – Terry Nurmi

These three intimate and thoughtful works  convey Nurmi’s  personal sense of colour, a subtle understanding of spatial relationships between objects with meditative results. These are pieces that can be comfortably lived with for a long time.

A few pieces were difficult to photograph to their advantage because they were in poor lighting situations for photography on an opening night. There was This and That, a Alexander Calder-like mobile in the front bay window of the gallery  by Judy Jones made of  green and red rope, copper wire, a light switch, reflector rods, nuts and bolts.  A lamp labeled, Life’s inside was made of doweling, lamp components and fishing wire. In Dennis Venema’s In my mind’s eye, a tripod holds a ABS plastic construct that looks like an old-fashioned camera complete with a black-out cloth, enhance with wax paper, rubber bands, and aluminim sheeting.

With twinkle lights and copper wire, Cathy Miller created a spiraling tube chandelier, calling it Copper wire gone haywire.

Lastly, Joanne Sheen made a large sketch book with pages of brown Kraft wrapping paper.  This too was difficult to photograph, especially since there were numerous images throughout.  Several had rubbings of metal objects – screws, washers and other hardware gizmos. Some incorporated sandpaper in collage with a charcoal or graphite  image. Each page  varied strongly from the preceding, evidencing an active imagination and a strong design sense.

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Book – Joanne Sheen

A show like this is an inspiration to all artists. It’s a call to step outside our comfortable range and to really create – not just repeat past successes. It’s a reminder how fertile our imaginations really are. When corporations are seeking out new ideas, or even how to get their employees to think in a forward-minded way, they need to consult artists. Artists know how to make leaps in thought, to think sideways, not only to think outside of the box, but to leap out of that constraining box altogether. It is from this creative soup that new ideas come – some as brilliant and culture-quaking as Thomas Edison’s light bulb.

So if you are in the area, Fort Langley, B.C.,  and you like to be dazzled by excellent imagery, the Hardware Show runs at the Fort Gallery at 9048 Glover Street until the end of March, 2009.  It’s even worth an excursion from Vancouver to get out to see it!