READY PLAYER TWO / Sonny Assu + Brendan Tang

Opening Reception
Fri 7 Sept 2018 7PM
On display until 7 December 2018

Programmed in support of Celebration of Nations
taking place Fri 7 Sept – Sun 9 Sept in downtown
St. Catharines. For more info on festival events visit celebrationofnations.ca

An art exhibit about the joys of gaming, sci-fi, and comics;
About cultural identity, pop culture, and growing up a ‘geek’;
Partly nostalgic for an ado­lescence spent living in the rec-rooms of the 1980s and 90s;
Also humourous, imaginative, and executed with a great level of craft;
Two artists transform the Niagara Artists Centre this fall 

Brendan Lee Satish Tang and Sonny Assu combine elements from science fiction, comic book, and gaming cultures to consider how these forms alternately reinforce and transcend racial boundaries in youth culture. In their individual practices, Tang and Assu frequently negotiate the material and conceptual dynamics of culture and ethnicity.  Informed by their mixed-race backgrounds and experiences of Canadian life in the 1980s and 1990s, for this exhibition the artists bring together found objects, selections from previous bodies of work, and new collaborative pieces to create immersive spaces that evoke the adolescent sanctuaries of their time: the basement, the arcade, and the comic book store.

Ready Player Two
is curated by Laura Schneider and organized and circulated by The ReachThis project is made possible through generous support from the Canada Council for the Arts.


ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Sonny Assu was raised in North Delta, BC, over 250 km away from his home ancestral home on unceded Liǥwildaʼx̱w territory (Campbell River, BC.). Along with his extensive exhibition record Assu has been long-listed for the Sobey Art Award three times and his work can be found in numerous collections including the National Gallery of Canada, Seattle Art Museum, Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Burke Museum at the University of Washington.  He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Concordia University.

Brendan Lee Satish Tang was born in Dublin to Trinidadian parents of Chinese and South Asian descent and lives in Vancouver, BC. He earned his formal art education on both Canadian coasts and the American Midwest. Tang has participated in residencies and exhibitions internationally was a nominee for the 2017 LOEWE Craft Prize, an annual international award celebrating excellence in craftsmanship. He has lectured at conferences and academic institutions across the continent, and is currently a sessional instructor at Emily Carr University.

THANK YOU
This exhibit is generously sponsored by our friends at CMS Intelligence, Elgin Contracting & RestorationHughes & Co.,  Generator at One, RAMM Design Labs, and Brainkite Artistic Solutions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

I HAVE A VISION IN MY MIND OF A LIFE THAT I’VE LEFT BEHIND / Cody + Connor Smith / Sat 11 Nov 3PM-5PM

I HAVE A VISION IN MY MIND OF A LIFE THAT I’VE LEFT BEHIND
Cody and Connor Smith
Opening Reception Saturday 11 November 3PM-5PM
Show Room Gallery at NAC

>> Check the CBC article here

“I HAVE A VISION IN MY MIND OF A LIFE THAT I’VE LEFT BEHIND” is a series of collaborative paintings created by two brothers, while living 5000 kilometres apart from each other. Their collaborative process involved sending paintings back and forth between Toronto and Vancouver over the course of one year. The resulting works are hybrid images that existed simultaneously in multiple geographical areas.

About the Artists
Cody and Connor Smith are Visual Artists currently based out of Vancouver and Toronto Canada. Both brothers are graduates of the OCAD University Drawing and Painting Program; receiving their BFA’s in 2010 and 2017.

Growing up in St. Catharines Ontario in the most populated area of Canada, surrounded by the Great Lakes, and geographically almost as low in latitude as Northern California, the brothers feel that this gave them a unique sense of PLACE which they have embraced in their individual practices today.

About the Work

Our paintings are images that stretch time; like a photograph taken from a camera with a shutter speed of 100 years. They are a portrayal of the human condition in the modern world.

The viewer is challenged with an image on a wall that is in a constant state of becoming. There is no end game with these paintings. We found the push and pull of different minds working in collaboration created works with a dream-like presence, as if they were floating in limbo. This was not planned but a result of the explorative process

In creating these works we were interested in challenging the painting process. We were trying to find a new way to paint a picture; branching out from the traditional means of creating a painting with an easel and palette.

There is a real interesting give and take that exists while painting on a canvas that has the ghost of your brother in it. Many times we found ourselves emulating each other’s styles. Other times we each would implement an editing process on the other’s work, attacking an element of the canvas that we did not like; finding ourselves painting over something that the other had spent time on. There are countless complete images that lie beneath the facade of the painting presented to the viewer. They are alive with buried images!

Everything we have ever felt, seen, experienced, and longed for is present in these paintings. There is joy and there is sadness. There is love and there is hate. There is life and there is death. Many times these paintings balance on a fine line between two extremes.

There was 5000km separating us while we sent work back and forth to each other. These images took a journey. In between our studios was Canada; with all its trees, rocks, oil, clouds, suns, moons, lakes, rivers, stars, mists, wolves, birds, streets, bridges, fences, sidewalks, parks, windows, and many human lives.

Where the Weather Happens: Jason Baerg, Jaime Koebel, Sheri Nault / Sat 19 Aug-Sat 28 Oct

Where the Weather Happens
Curated by Amy Malbeuf and Jessie Short
Featuring Work by Jason Baerg, Jaime Koebel, Sheri Nault

Opening Reception Saturday 9 September 6PM-8PM

The troposphere is a layer of the earth’s atmosphere in which human beings exist, connecting the land to the perceived sky. It is the place where nearly all of the weather on earth happens. The works of Jason Baerg, Jaime Koebel and Sheri Nault activate the land and sky, and all that is within, through their intimate and delicate expression of deep connection to this space of energetic flux. Where The Weather Happens is an expression of the relationship and interactions between the land and sky as beings who live within this space.

image: After winter // signs of life (1). Pastel and drawing paper. 2016. Sheri Nault

 

About the artists

JASON BAERG
Jason Baerg (Cree Metis / German) is an Indigenous curator, educator, and visual artist. Upcoming 2017 curatorial projects include exhibitions with Toronto’s Nuit Blanche and the University of Toronto. Baerg graduated from Concordia University with a Bachelors of Fine Arts and a Masters of Fine Arts from Rutgers University. He currently is teaching as the Assistant Professor in Indigenous Practices in Contemporary Painting and Media Art at OCAD University. Dedicated to community development, he founded and incorporated the Metis Artist Collective and has served as volunteer Chair for such organizations as the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective and the National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition. Creatively, as a visual artist, he pushes new boundaries in digital interventions in drawing, painting and new media installation. Recent international solo exhibitions include the Illuminato Festival in Toronto, Canada, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia and the Digital Dome at the Institute of the American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Jason Baerg has adjudicated numerous art juries and won awards through such facilitators as the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and The Toronto Arts Council. For more information about his work, please visit Jasonbaerg.com.


JAIME KOEBEL

Jaime Koebel is of Nehiyâw, Michif and German ancestry. She is especially inspired by floral and natural imagery in Michif art. Koebel’s art practice encompasses beadwork, fish scale art, birch bark biting and ink drawing. She manages Prairie Fire, a dance group in which performs with her three children. Koebel runs Indigenous Walks Tours in Ottawa, and she is the Educator of Indigenous Programs and Outreach at the National Gallery of Canada.


SHERI NAULT
Sheri Nault is a multi-disciplinary artist of Métis and mixed European descent. Situated within personal and political contexts, her art practice and research are grounded in queer, feminist, and Indigenous world-views. Through her work she strives to elicit a sense of social and ecological responsibility to one another on a damaged planet, exploring the connections between humans and nature. She completed her Master of Fine Arts degree at York University in 2017, was an Indigenous Practicum Participant in The Banff Centres Visual Arts department from 2014 to 2015, and received her BFA from the Alberta College of Art + Design in 2012. Recent exhibitions include Kin, the presentation of her thesis work; Entangled Bodies at the Art Gallery of York University (agYU); Things Little curated by Vanessa Nicolas, and the exhibition art( i f)ACTS curated by Belinda Ho-Yan Kwan in response to the agYU collection. She is a member of the 2017 cohort of the Intergenerational LGBT Artist Residency based at Artscape Gibraltar Point (postponed to 2018 due to flooding).

Nault is a member of the feminist, queer, and (2/3) Indigenous artists’ collective No. Is a Complete Sentence alongside artists Sandra Manilla and Taylor Norris.

 

 

Pile On by Steve deBruyn / Friday 12 May 2017

Pile On > Steve deBruyn

Show Room Gallery at NAC
Opening Reception / Friday 12 May 2017 at 7PM

READ THE REVIEW by NAC Member Bart Gazzola HERE

On display until Saturday 22 July

An installation of large proportions, rooted in the abandonment of traditional approaches to art making.

stevedebruyn.com

twenty-three days at sea / opening reception friday 14 october 7pm

twenty-three days at sea
Nour Bishouty / Christopher Boyne / Elisa Ferrari / Amaara Raheem

Opening Reception
Friday 14 October 2016 7PM
Showroom Gallery at NAC

“The boat is a floating piece of space, a place without a place, that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea… (it is a) great instrument of economic development, but has been simultaneously the greatest reserve of the imagination…”
        – Michel Foucault

The Niagara Artists Centre is pleased to present Twenty-Three Days at Sea, Chapter One, curated by Kimberly Phillips, director/curator of Access Gallery in Vancouver, BC, as part of the Concept of Vancouver Conference happening in Downtown St. Catharines 13 and 14 October.

In December 2014, Access Gallery—in partnership with Burrard Arts Foundation—issued a call for submissions for a highly unconventional artist residency, offering selected emergent and experimental artists passage aboard cargo ships sailing from Vancouver to Shanghai. Crossing the Pacific Ocean takes approximately twenty-three days, during which time artists are considered “in residence” aboard the vessel. The response to this call was overwhelming. By deadline Access had received nearly 900 proposals submitted by artists from around the world, as far afield as Sevastopol, Lahore, Sao Paolo, and St. Petersburg.

The idea for this residency project was provoked in part by the fact that Access Gallery is a small, publicly-funded artist-run centre based in a city whose notorious real estate market renders the spatial demands of a traditional residency particularly nearly impossible to realize. Lacking the capacity to host artists on Vancouver’s terra firma for any meaningful length of time,the organization cast its thinking out to sea. But far more importantly, Twenty-Three Days at Sea offered the opportunity to ask an important set of questions relevant to our own socio-political coordinates in a major port city on the Pacific Rim. How can art responsibly bring visibility to the system of sea-borne freight, a system within which we are implicated, but which most of us neither see clearly nor fully understand? How might we interrogate romanticism about the role of the artist as “witness”? What does “risk” mean in artistic practice today?

The exhibition Twenty-Three Days at Sea, Chapter One presents new bodies of work by the residency’s inaugural four artists–Nour Bishouty, Christopher Boyne, Elisa Ferrari, and Amaara Raheem–produced in response to their time spent on the open sea. While diverse in their treatment of both media and subject matter, each of these artists’ practices is marked by a perceptible state of seeking. Their works on exhibition do not directly convey their experiences on the cargo vessels. Rather, through sculpture, sound, video, gathered ephemera, text, and movement, they meditate on the carriage of experience itself, as well as the complexity of translation, the fallibility of recall, and the conditions of complicity.

These new bodies of work, along with published reproductions of their logbooks kept while at sea, will be presented at the Niagara Artists Centre from Friday 14 October – Friday 23 December 2016.

*

Born in Jordan and currently based between Toronto and Beirut, Nour Bishouty’s work, which takes shape through installations, images, objects and text, explores ways that narrative can be wound to locate or fabricate connectivity. Recent work has focused on examining the meanings of belonging and affiliation and their peculiar relationship to place. Bishouty holds an MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was a fellow at the 2014/15 Home Workspace Program at Ashkal Alwan.

Christopher Boyne works from impressions, sentiment, and remembered matter, in a practice that is driven by Williams Carlos Williams’ dictum, “no ideas but in things.” He uses photography (both moving and still) and sculpture to consider how fleeting experience can be distilled through recall into form, and understands his work to function like storytelling, stimulating nostalgia, reflection, reminiscence, and regret. Born in Halifax and now based between Halifax and Montreal, Boyne is a graduate of Concordia’s MFA program.

Born in Italy and based in Vancouver, Elisa Ferrari’s practice aims to uncover disparities between historical documentation and experience, and frequently asks how everyday activities become articulated tactics that might enable critiques of institutional power. She works with archival fragments of text, image, and videography to consider the act and implications of retrieval, in projects that manifest through installation, performance, sound, and photography. Ferrari is a graduate of Emily Carr University of Art and Design’s MAA program. Since 2013 she has served as Events and Exhibitions Curator at VIVO Media Arts Centre and as member of the Crista Dahl Media Library and Archive Committee.

Amaara Raheem is a Sri Lankan born dance artist, based between Melbourne, Australia, and London, UK. Placing her own body in fluid states Raheem’s practice investigates the aesthetics and ethics of mobility, by playing with equivalence and rupture. Based in the School of Architecture and Design, RMIT University, Raheem collaborates with designers to make movement as objects. She is interested in creating spaces, from, in, of the body, so that we can question the coherence of systems we create to “know” the world around us and to shift our place, more often than not from the centre of things to the shore-lines, where liquids and solids meet tidal forces, to disturb and devolve the status quo.

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Twenty-Three Days at Sea: A Travelling Artist Residency is produced by Access Gallery in partnership with the Burrard Arts Foundation and the Contemporary Art Gallery. Partial sponsorship of the sea voyages is graciously offered by Reederei NSB, assistance in Asia by China Residencies and Art Contraste, and at the Port of Vancouver by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Access is grateful for the ongoing support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the British Columbia government through the BC Arts Council and BC Gaming, the City of Vancouver, and our donors, sponsors, members and volunteers.

Scenes from Late Capitalism: Nathan Heuer > Friday 15 July 2016

Scenes from Late Capitalism
Nathan Heuer
Opening Reception Friday 15 July 2016 7PM
Show Room Gallery at NAC

My work is largely concerned with the role of architecture in society as a symbol of cultural values and history.  Architecture represents a significant investment of time, resources, and design knowledge, and while we celebrate this fact in the achievements of our celebrity architects, we are less apt to acknowledge the achievement inherent in our more utilitarian structures.  The American landscape, in fact, is full of contemporary ruins of factories, hotels, schools, and other architecture that has fallen by the wayside in an aggressively consumerist society.  Each of these abandoned structures forms the nucleus of a small narrative, often one of lost livelihoods, budgetary cuts, and dying industries.   

I choose to decontextualize the subject of each drawing, removing the structure from its surroundings and isolating it on a white ground.  This aesthetic decision is intended to echo the fragmentary picture of history that we are presented with in a museum, where isolated artifacts are meant to tell us the story of an unfamiliar culture.  I use mechanical perspective as a means of meditating on the design process that went into the commonplace structures that I depict.  Perspective is not only a visualization tool employed by architects, but it is also a process that helps me to fundamentally understand the space that I am depicting.  It is my hope that through these drawings viewers will reconsider the deeper cultural significance of these structures and the ramifications of the intensive capitalism that shapes contemporary American life.

– Nathan Heuer

 

 

 

 

 

What About Rodman Hall? Friday 1 April 9PM

What About Rodman Hall?
A Group Show by Members of the Niagara Artists Centre
Opening Reception > Friday 1 April 9PM at NAC

ARTWORKS BY
Gregory Betts, Marcie Bronson, Brittany Brooks, Sandy Fairbairn, Geoff Farnsworth, Alexa Fraser, Janny Fraser, Amy Friend, Will Griffiths, Joe Harris, Marinko Jareb, Duncan MacDonald, Melanie MacDonald, Kate Mazi, Sandy Middleton, Ben Mosher, Catherine Parayre, Carrie Perreault, St. Catharines Arts & Letters Club, Donna Szőke, Matthew Tegal, Amber Lee Williams, Carolyn Wren

 
As an art gallery, Rodman Hall’s place in the consciousness of our community has fluctuated over its fifty-five-year history. The gallery has at times been a proud emblem of civic health and an indicator of our collective progress, while at other times it has been misunderstood and purposefully marginalized.

The history of the Niagara Artists Centre and Rodman Hall are intertwined. Rodman Hall’s founding curator and director, Peter Harris, was one of NAC’s founding sixteen members. NAC also made an early home in the Coach House on the grounds of Rodman.

The place of the Rodman Hall Art Centre in our community is once again the subject of deliberation. Brock University, which in 2003 pledged to be the sole operator of the art gallery for twenty years, is now reconsidering the terms of its supporting role.

Why is it that our community leaders have not always recognized the value of having a strong, well-resourced public or university art gallery like Rodman Hall?

NAC circulated a call for submissions to our visual artist members in search of ideas about these and other questions around Rodman Hall, an organization mandated to support the development of artists and cultural workers in southern Ontario, as well as to provide art experiences to enrich peoples’ lives.

A large and diverse collection of art work has been assembled for the exhibit. Some of it is obviously aimed at creating controversy; all of it is thoughtfully created and provocative.
NAC invites the public to join with the artists on Friday 1 April at 9PM (April 1st is NAC Day in St. Catharines as decreed by former Mayor Joe McCaffery) to explore questions and issues surrounding the role of Rodman Hall in our community and the possible future of the centre.

Excelsior! 1975-2015: A survey of forty years of artwork by Dave Gordon on display until Saturday 28 November

Excelsior! 1975-2015:
A survey of forty years of artwork by Dave Gordon
Opening Reception Saturday 29 August 2015 7PM

A survey of forty years of artwork, Excelsior! 1975-2015 is a testament to working in the ‘wilderness’. The paintings of Dave Gordon are idiosyncratic, humorous and above all display a perceptive eye to out surroundings: woodpiles outside a cabin, figures metaphorically “lost” in the wilderness and farcical political portraits—including many provincial and national politicians.  Especially incisive are a series of works produced during the bitter Mike Harris years (those aforementioned “lost years”), a perverse take on the Group of Seven, and a recent body of work documenting Gordon’s travels to Syria. In rejecting the spurious intellectualism of Conceptual art, Gordon found a way to document the local in a very personal manner. The works are simultaneously pastoral and political, finding solace in the landscape. 

Dave Gordon was born in London, Ontario and has been active in artist-run activities since the early 1970s. When the 20/20 Gallery closed in 1970, he and Jamelie Hassan founded the Polyglot Gallery in a local bookstore, and both helped establish the Forest City Gallery. In the mid 1970s, Gordon relocated from London to Kingston and in this new setting helped establish the Kingston Artists’ Association, Inc. / Modern Fuel Artist-run Centre in 1977; his support for artists’ rights and artistic responsibility have been wide acknowledged, often overshadowing his artistic practice which continues to develop in compelling ways.

Dave Gordon’s work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Museum London, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canada Council Art Bank, The MacIntosh Gallery, Agnes Etherington Art Centre – Queens University, and numerous private collections across Canada. He has participated in the International Print Exhibition at the Taller Cultural Centre in Santiago de Cuba in 2012, and the exhibition subsequently traveled to Havana and four Canadian venues. 

Generously supported by Shannon Passero, Excelsior! 1975-2015 will also travel to Niagara Artists’ Centre (St. Catharines) and Forest City Gallery (London).