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 Back  Vignettes | Alberta | April – May, 2012

By Robin Laurence

ART SCHOOL: BANFF 1947 The Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, Mar 10-Jun 3 The launch-point of this historic exhibition is an old photograph, taken by Bill Gibbons around 1947, of a genial-looking group of artists – eight men and one woman – seated on the steps of an unidentified stone building. They’re early faculty members of the Banff School of Fine Arts, and their grouping evokes a time and place of mutual respect and hopeful energy. The show, supplemented by archival material, includes important arworks of the time by H.G. Glyde, A.C. Leighton, Marion Nicoll, and Walter J. Phillips, and demonstrates the impact these Alberta artists had upon each other. It reveals, too, the influences they drew from national colleagues such as A.Y. Jackson and J.W.G. Macdonald, who also taught at the Banff School.

J.B. TAYLOR AND THE IDEA OF MOUNTAINS Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, Apr 7-Jun 10 This exhibition is a tribute to both the subject of the Rocky Mountains and the modernist landscape painter J.B. Taylor. The evolution of Taylor’s art, from the representational to the abstract and from the literal to the poetic, is compellingly revealed, along with his quest to capture the effects of light on “the essential elements of landscape – rock, water and sky.”

MARY KAVANAGH: ATOMIC SUITE The Art Gallery of Calgary, Calgary, Apr 20-Aug 24 Lethbridge-based artist and educator Mary Kavanagh works across many media, incorporating intense research into her practice and making use of the texts, images and artifacts that she turns up in the process. Her AGC show features video projection, photography and conceptual drawing as the means of exploring the history and culture of the atomic and nuclear industries, especially in the American Southwest.

TERRY FENTON Agnes Bugera Gallery, Edmonton, Apr 21-May 4 For years, Terry Fenton juggled careers as an artist, curator and gallery director. Since the late 1990s, however, he has focused most of his energy on landscape painting. His airy panels and canvases express his love of the grasslands of the southern prairies. “Grasslands are more brilliant than the partly wooded parklands around Edmonton and Saskatoon,” he writes. “They reflect rather than absorb light.”

WENDY DESCHENE & JEFF SCHMUKI: MONSANTRA The New Gallery, Calgary, May 3-Jun 9 This provocative installation, set up to resemble a laboratory, features funny-scary hybrids: genetically modified food plants grafted onto remote-controlled robotic bases. Using seeds obtained from the Monsanto Corporation, “the world’s largest producer and supplier of genetically modified seed”, DesChene and Schmuki pose tough questions about the long-term effects of GMOs on our minds, bodies, and the natural environment. Expect “plantbot” actions and interventions outside the gallery, too.

Eszter Burghardt
Eszter Burghardt

J.B. Taylor
J.B. Taylor

Mary Kavanagh
Mary Kavanagh

Terry Fenton
Terry Fenton

Wendy Deschenes
Wendy Deschenes

 Fri, Apr 6, 2012