Sprout + About / Emma Lee Fleury / Plate Glass Gallery Spring 2018

SPROUT + ABOUT
Emma Lee Fleury
NAC’s Plate Glass Gallery
In celebration of In the Soil Arts Festival YR 10

An installation made of recycled mediums and organic matter in response to the current state of Planet Earth. Emma’s installation works are the explorations of methods that can be used within sustainable art making intended to push the boundaries of what can be done with “things” considered omitted, extending the life and use of human inventions with creative interventions that invite all energies to connect.

Emma Lee Fleury is a multidisciplinary artist and musician from the Niagara Region. Her work revolves around perceptions of the earth, the sun, black holes – and beyond – the energies rendering us grounded, the environment, time in presence and in memory passing through in reactory waves of love, sound and recycled mixed-mediums. Her bands are Niagara’s Moonfox and GTA Collective Fat Moth.

LESSER GODS / Bevan Ramsay / Fri 11 May 2018

LESSER GODS
Bevan Ramsay

Show Room Gallery
Opening Reception Friday 11 May at 7PM
On display until Friday 3 August 2018

It is hardly surprising that in our society perceptions of homeless persons remain two-dimensional, stereotypical, inadequate. Even for the rare administration tackling the problems of homelessness in an effective, meaningful way, the homeless person’s humanity is buried beneath a mountain of endless statistical markers: mental illness, substance abuse, soup-kitchen attendance, etc. The enormous negativity lingering about the resultant profile permits scant room for other, arguably important accoutrements of the human experience—character, emotion, intellect, beauty, relationship to divinity—and leaves homeless persons basically where they already are: on the street, the objects of middle-class loathing or pity.

Struck by this depressing determinism, artist Bevan Ramsay set out to cast portrait busts of homeless persons (one woman, the others men), producing an edition in fine, white statuary Hydrocal plaster mounted on mahogany bases. These portraits, titled Lesser Gods, are objects of fine craftsmanship, skillfully rendered and strikingly beautiful, and they permit us to reconsider these folks not through the screen of stereotypes or statistics, but as individuals, complicating our urge to pity.

A Montrealer by upbringing, until recently Ramsay lived and worked out of New York, a city in which homelessness is closely contiguous with the city’s history and identity. In a certain irony, homeless people are statistically more likely to be native to New York than most New Yorkers. Yet, although they are more closely tied to place than the housed citizens (including Ramsay) of this intensely transplanted city, they are politically non-existent.

Accordingly, Ramsay spent many hours in conversation with his portrait subjects, getting to know them and letting them determine the course of the discussion. Most were open and forthcoming; only one remained demure. Biographical details were left out for privacy’s sake. Mindful of the need to respect person and character, and confronted by complex, daunting ethical issues, Ramsay did not rush to realize the project.

Baroque portraiture supplied Ramsay with an art-historical antecedent; with its emphasis on asymmetry, such portraiture yields greater charismatic possibilities than classical traditions. Rather than ideals or types, baroque portraiture insists on character, allowing the artist’s subjects to be “immortalized in high style,” as Ramsay explains.

We experience ourselves suddenly free to appreciate each subject’s facial expression and attitude, decisions on hair and beard grooming, or jacket style. And in Ramsay’s plaster, quite similar to porcelain, there is neither stench nor besmirchment—no abjection, no “street”—and we begin to understand what it is about homelessness that so terrifies the middle classes in the age of austerity. This guy—he could be you or me. Your son or my father. Our brother.

– Edwin Janzen

Meanwhile out on Hudson’s Bay / Melt: a new series of paintings by Kurt Swinghammer

Meanwhile out on Hudson’s Bay
Melt: a new series of paintings by Kurt Swinghammer

Show Room Gallery and special to the Dennis Tourin Members Gallery
Opening Reception Friday 27 April at 8PM
In conjunction with In the Soil Arts Festival

It was close to 100 years ago that Group Of Seven founder Lawren Harris painted highly stylized depictions of snow capped Rocky Mountains and Artic ice flows. As a young art enthusiast, Kurt Swinghammer absorbed this work via reproductions hung in his public school. In his teens, Swinghammer was soaking up library books on the modernist colour field work of Group of Eleven’s Jack Bush along with the British Op Art movement’s Bridget Riley. These three streams of influence come together in Swinghammer’s new series of acrylic paintings called “Melt.”

Each canvas shows a graphically designed iceberg floating in an infinite body of water. Hundreds of carefully mixed shards of colour achieves a strong sense of depth and has become a signature technique for Swinghammer. The Melt series continues his interest in exploring a traditional Canadian subject matter in a contemporary manner.

Complimenting the exhibit is a screening of Swinghammer’s Turpentine reWIND. These animated videos accompany instrumental remixes of five tracks from his song cycle homage to Tom Thomson, Turpentine Wind from 2010. The animations slowly explore a series of paintings that are based on the digital WAV files of the vocal recordings from the album. Swinghammer painted on 8”x10” birch panels, the format used by Thomson in the field. WAV files can look strikingly similar to shorelines reflected in a still lake, one of the common themes of Thomson’s landscapes. The music was written, arranged and performed by Kurt with contributions from a number of prominent Toronto musicians and production by multiple Juno Award winning producer Michael Phillip Wojewoda.

You Can Never Go Home / Jennifer Akkermans

You Can Never Go Home
Jennifer Akkermans
On display beginning Sunday 1 April 2018

Flea Market Gallery

This installation, You Can Never Go Home, reflects the idea of irreconcilable, parallel homes, one that’s here and one that’s there. Themes such as longing and belonging, lost-ness, memory, nostalgia, loneliness, time, place, futility, family, and absence are all present. One wall of the gallery is filled with objects that represent my accumulated, obsessive search for belonging and a sense of home. It is crammed full of lightboxes, handmade houses, tools, building materials, jigs, a cuckoo clock, handmade objects, toys, mementos, suitcases, etc. There are windows and peepholes to look inside of, and still images and videos of rural landscapes and of myself attempting to build a home. There are miniatures, trinkets, material experiments and moving parts—an abundance of curious objects that I have both built and collected. The installation is crowded, raw, with works half-finished and cords tucked in haphazardly, yet it is also carefully arranged. Reminiscent of my grad school studio, it conveys a nervous energy, an anxiety, and a case of horror vacui (the fear of empty space).  As a maximalist, I fill every available space with the things I like, enjoy, and find comforting—things I have collected that make me feel happy and calm.  In a way, I am a bowerbird, creating a nest full of attractive objects that I have amassed in order to protect and insulate myself from the outside world.

In a sense, the works are an accumulation of failures, of my unsuccessful attempts to make myself a new home.  In contrast, one quiet piece, a small, white, rectangular box on the wall allows us access to a very intimate space through a peephole- my studio, where, almost unwittingly, I have made myself a home through the time and effort of all the failed attempts.