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Ruth Beer: House and Garden

Art + Soul Gallery
Vancouver BC Apr 8-Jun 4, 2004

Ruth Beer - Tree in Doors
Ruth Beer, Tree in Doors (2004), photograph and plastic laminate [Art + Soul Gallery, Vancouver BC, Apr 8-Jun 4]

Emily Carr College of Art and Design instructor Ruth Beer appears to be perpetuating Ian Wallace’s style with her photographic images coupled with solid bands of colour. Wallace invented the genre of large-scale photography as a new kind of pictorialism. His practice and his teaching at Emily Carr have positioned him at the forefront of conceptual art since the late 1980s.

Like Wallace, who silkscreened photographs onto canvas and coupled the images with acrylic bands of color, Beer takes the concept of mundane subject matter to the level of artistic gesture. Similarly, she implicitly examines tenets of modernism. However, unlike Wallace, Beer doesn’t intend to signify the historical end of painting as a meaningful artistic practice in House and Garden. Her objective is to observe transformations in Vancouver’s urban landscape as a result of continuous public and private construction and landscape design. Her work therefore incorporates wood and coloured plastic laminate panels commonly used in furniture and cabinetry.

Ruth Beer - Belmont Street
Ruth Beer, Belmont Street (2004), photograph and plastic laminate, [Art + Soul Gallery, Vancouver BC, Apr 8-Jun 4]

It is difficult not to read narrative meaning into her stills of lumber piles. As natural resources for building materials, trees and wood are expensive commodities. Synthetic materials and steel, aluminum and laminates are increasingly replacing them. The juxtaposition of the photos with man-made materials, as well as the theme of relentless urban renewal, is the most interesting aspect of the work.

Mia Johnson

 Wed, Apr 7, 2004