By Robin Laurence
CAROL SAWYER Republic Gallery, Vancouver, Oct 20-Nov 19 Subtitled Some Documents from the Life of Natalie Brettschneider, Carol Sawyers photographs, texts and live re-enactments of musical repertoire capture aspects of the character and career of a fictional genre-blurring performance artist and singer. Through these means, Sawyer critiques the various ways in which histories are written and cultural assumptions are made. Expect to be amused and provoked.
COLETTE URBAN: PIN-UP grunt gallery, Vancouver, Oct 28-Dec 3 Born in Colorado and based in Newfoundland, Colette Urban is one of Canadas most inventive multidisciplinary artists. This exhibition features video work, digital stills, and a wonderfully absurd costume. Notable is HOOT, the video recording of a performance that took place in a reflecting pool, in which Urban was dressed in reflective foil and masked in cotton and metallic discs, her actions played out against the soundtrack of a 1954 Edith Sitwell reading.
ON THE NATURE OF THINGS Kamloops Art Gallery, Kamloops, Oct 15-Dec 31 Guest-curated by wunderkind Patrik Andersson, this captivating group show looks at the complex and fluctuating relationship between nature and civilization. The Canadian and European artists represented range across media and practices, from sculpture and video to sidewalk rubbings and origami. The sources of their imagery are wide-ranging too, and include advertising, cinema, music, and the conflicted tropes of Modernism.
ASIAN CERAMICS FROM ANCIENT SHIPWRECKS Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, Oct 11-Jan 2, 2012 Both treasure hunters and cultural historians will thrill to this exhibition. It features historic Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese ceramics, including delicate porcelains, recovered from shipwrecks that occurred from the 15th to the 19th century. Among the objects on view are those salvaged from what is known as the Chinese Titanic, the 1822 wreck of the Tek Sing in the South China Sea.
PENTIMENTO SAGA Public Art Gallery, Salmon Arm, Nov 5-25 Pentimento, a painting term meaning evidence of an artists change of mind, is applied here to a lively survey of contemporary textiles and needle arts. The 20 individuals represented, from across Canada and the United Kingdom, are members of Connections Fibre Artists, and their work in this show reveals their processes through exposing layers of underlying images and materials.
GATHIE FALK: PRESENCE AND ABSENCE Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, Nov 5-30 The centrepiece of this exhibition, by Vancouvers iconic Gathie Falk, is a freestanding, life-size wedding veil made of papier-mâché, weighed down by big rocks, and charged with metaphysical intent. Also on view in this show are Falks sculptural depictions of mens shirts and womens dresses, paintings of shirting on vellum, and a never-before-exhibited pile of bronze snowballs, symbolically titled Arsenal.
GREGG SIMPSON: OUT OF THE WOODS Evergreen Cultural Centre, Coquitlam, Nov 18-Dec 10 A longtime presence in Vancouver and widely exhibited abroad, Gregg Simpson is showing three different bodies of work based on ideas of landscape, actual and symbolic. Working in the traditions of both Surrealism and Lyrical Abstraction, Simpson explores the West Coast rainforest, First Nations totem figures, and the impact of pre-industrial art on early Modernism
RICHARD SUMNER: BENTWOOD Inuit Gallery, Vancouver, Nov 19-Dec 9 Award-winning Kwakwakawakw artist Richard Sumner is highly esteemed for his beautiful bentwood boxes. Deriving from centuries-old tradition, each bentwood box is a demanding object to make, and Sumner is truly a master of his art form, steaming, shaping, carving and painting red or yellow cedar to realize his elegant and accomplished designs. His outstanding work has been commissioned and collected across North America and around the world.
DIVYA MEHRA: THE PARTY IS OVER Artspeak, Vancouver, Nov 26-Jan 28, 2012 Multimedia artist Divya Mehra takes on postcolonial issues of cultural identity, including displacement, hybridization, and disparities of power. In her first solo show in Vancouver, Mehra will create a new sculptural work that addresses excess and urban decay, complemented by an off-site project that employs skywriter technology to critique the politicization of space.
TENUGUI TOWELS: DESIGN EXCELLENCE IN JAPANESE DAILY LIFE Japanese Canadian National Museum, Burnaby, Jan 15-Mar 26, 2012 Who knew that cotton hand towels could be so enchanting? Tenugui, traditional Japanese towels used in both the kitchen and the bathroom, are printed with a wide range of motifs, from dots and zigzags to strawberries, bunnies, cherry blossoms and maple leaves. While presenting an array of these beautifully everyday objects, the show also surveys their use, from Shinto ritual in the 8th century to their common applications today, not only as towels but as gift wrap.