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 Back  Vignettes | British Columbia | November 2012 – January 2013

By Robin Laurence

RYOSHI – NIKKEI FISHERMEN OF THE BC COAST Nikkei National Museum, Burnaby, Sept 15-May 19 This exhibition examines the history and significance of Japanese Canadians in the fishing industry of BC, from the 19th century to the present day. The great success of Nikkei fishing techniques, boatbuilding skills, and work in the canneries is documented, along with the enormous obstacles to that success. These obstacles include Canada’s racist exclusion laws and the World War II internment of Japanese Canadians, which saw Nikkei men, women, and children dispossessed and relocated, their homes, businesses and fishing boats seized. Their resilience and resourcefulness in rebuilding their lives are also documented.

SCENES OF SELVES, OCCASIONS FOR RUSES Surrey Art Gallery, Surrey, Sept 15-Dec 16 Scenes of Selves poses self-portraits by contemporary artists against the digitally altered landscape of the 21st century. Images range from Old Masters-style miniature oil paintings based on photographs, to life-size, full-body digital scans, confronting cutting edge technology with primal human emotions. Also on view are pencil drawings of women with a shared name, their images sourced online, photographs overlaid with the biometric “constellations” of facial recognition software and documentation of performance works.

JOHN HARTMAN: THE COLUMBIA IN CANADA Kelowna Art Gallery, Kelowna, Sept 22-Jan 20 Ontario-based artist John Hartman has made two recent trips through the Columbia River region, and this exhibition captures the landscapes and communities he encountered. Through a series of fresh and energetic watercolours, executed on site, he traces the river’s huge sweep through southeastern British Columbia. Images range from Kootenay Pass Summit to Layer Cake Mountain, and includes the towns of Nelson, Trail and Castlegar in their glorious natural settings.

CLAIRE FONTAINE: CARELESSNESS CAUSES FIRE Audain Gallery, Vancouver, Oct 12-Dec 22 Based in Paris, Claire Fontaine is a “collective artist” whose name is taken from a brand of French notebooks and stationery. This exhibition of sculpture, writing, video and painting “examines the psychological and political consequences of the Arab Spring on the western perception of reality.” Works on view also employ abstraction and minimalism paradoxically. The show coincides with Claire Fontaine’s Audain Gallery residency.

AN ERA OF DISCONTENT: ART AS OCCUPATION Kamloops Art Gallery, Kamloops Oct 13-Dec 31 Another group exhibition aimed at the rapidly shifting social, political and economic landscape, An Era of Discontent addresses elements of the Occupy movements and the Arab Spring revolutions. The regional, national and international artists consider the ways these social and political forces are “transforming our global reality.” Ranging across media, the show also includes “participatory and community-based art practices that activate the gallery space and provoke dialogue” about the ways art may or may not be a catalyst for change.

LIZ MAGOR Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver, Nov 16-Dec 22 This renowned Vancouver sculptor has an uncanny ability to mimic and transform objects in extraordinary ways. In the cryptically titled show, I is being This, she assembles an assortment of found garments in individual retail boxes, with a “farcical” focus on their labels and badges, asking us to think about what may or may not be symbolized by brand names and other socially defining insignia. The second work “dresses” cylindrical pieces of driftwood as cigarettes, an act of costuming or disguise that is bound to fail – but intriguingly.

ARVO LEO Western Front, Vancouver, Nov 9-Dec 22 A fast-emerging neo-conceptualist artist, Arvo Leo often poses images, signs, and symbols in unexpected places, disrupting assumptions about meaning and creative agency. His exhibition includes two projects undertaken during his travels in India in 2009. In the first, he “collaborated with crafts people and others he met along the way to rewrite or reinterpret” a quote, concerning milking a cow, borrowed from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude. He also made a 45-minute film about the ubiquitous presence of cows in India.

QAVAVAU MANUMIE Madrona Gallery, Victoria, Nov 16-29 Qavavau Manumie, who has emerged as one of Cape Dorset’s most innovative graphic artists, brings his signature sense of whimsy and humour to drawings that range from abstractions to dreamlike depictions of animals and people within the northern landscape. Images that combine a surreal sensibility with a sharp eye for the paradoxes of modern Inuit existence, include a bird smoking a cigarette, a couple of young Inuit rowing a boat-sized high-heeled shoe, and sea birds, walrus, jellyfish and playing cards in a swirling sea of transformation.

MELISSA MERCIER Firehall Arts Centre, Vancouver, Dec 5-Jan 13 Born in Quebec and based in Vancouver, photographer Melissa Mercier creates images saturated with light and colour. Her series, entitled “Irrational Fear of Confined Spaces,” is no exception. Shot at a lakefront resort normally crowded with swimmers, Mercier isolates her images to look like abstractions in jewel-like blue hues. Devoid of human figures, her photographs focus instead on fragments of boardwalk, submerged bits of wood and clouds of organic matter floating in their watery realm.

LINDA STANBRIDGE: SPANISH SERIES Winchester Galleries Modern, Victoria, Dec 8-Dec 30 Victoria artist Linda Stanbridge employs raku-fired clay to evoke her impressions of a trip to the Andalusian region of southern Spain in 2009. Twenty wall-mounted works pose Op Art-style illusionism, based on the geometry of the square, against the earthy quality of the clay. Although the tones and values of these pieces are influenced by the way sunlight plays across the Andalusian landscape and architecture, Stanbridge’s interpretations of place are metaphorical rather than literal.

Nobuo Hamazaki
Nobuo Hamazaki

Carol Sawyer
Carol Sawyer

John Hartman
John Hartman

Claire Fontaine
Claire Fontaine

Elizabeth Zvonar
Elizabeth Zvonar

Arvo Leo
Arvo Leo

Qavavau Manumie
Qavavau Manumie

Melissa Mercier
Melissa Mercier

Linda Stanbridge
Linda Stanbridge

 Mon, Nov 5, 2012