Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Ordrupgaard Collection at Canada's National Gallery

What a treat it was to visit the National Gallery in Ottawa this month. Their summer blockbuster is a show of French Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings from a Danish museum, the Ordrupgaard Collection. Because the Danish venue is currently closed for renovations, the collection is traveling and we are fortunate enough to be included on the touring schedule.

The exhibition includes 76 paintings, with a good mix of still life, portrait and landscape. The posted information is informative, and the chronological display allows the viewer to see the evolution of French painting, beginning in the mid-1800's, and the context in which Impressionism began, as a reaction to the academic tradition.

Flowers and Fruits, Henri Matisse, 1909

Portrait of a Young Woman, Paul Gauguin, 1896

Waterloo Bridge, Overcast, Claude Monet, 190

My favourite Impressionist is Camille Pissarro. I especially love his city scenes. Often he painted from an elevated position, showing us the scene from his window.

Rue Saint-Lazare, Paris, Camille Pissarro, 1897

Morning Sun in the rue Saint-Honoré, Place du Théâtre Français,
Camille Pissarro, 1898

Plum trees in Blossom, Éragny, Camille Pissarro, 1894

I am prompted to learn more about the painter Eva Gonzalès, whose work and name are unfamiliar to me. She was a student of Edouard Manet, and died in 1883 at the age of 34.

The Convalescent, Portrait of a Lady in White,
Eva Gonzalès, 1877-78

Part of the exhibition is given over to Danish painters. I was most intrigued by the work of Vilhelm Hammershøi, as it has an "alienated" quality, not unlike that of Edward Hopper or Alex Colville.

Interior with Piano and Woman in Black,
Vilhelm Hammershøi, 1901

Our visit included a peek at the newly-organized Canadian collection. There has been an effort to include more women artists, and work by Indigenous artists is interspersed throughout the space. A great sampling, including many small studies by Tom Thomson, and staggeringly large canvases by Jean-Paul Riopelle.

The most memorable part of our visit to the National Gallery was the immersion into the soundscape of the Rideau Chapel. Originally the Chapel of the Convent of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, it was built in Ottawa in 1887-88 and is the only example of its kind in North America from this period to include a Tudor-style, fan-vaulted ceiling. When the original building was sold and later demolished in 1972-73, its interior architecture, in 1123 pieces, was relocated to this annex of the National Gallery.

Forty speakers positioned around the Rideau Chapel each project a single voice,
singing "Spem in Alium" by Thomas Tallis, a 16th-century English composer.
This interactive sound sculpture, The Forty Part Motet, was created by Janet Cardiff.

Do consider a visit to Ottawa's National Gallery this summer. The show of French Impressionists continues until September 9, 2018.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Coup de Coeur

Ian Griffiths is an artist I first encountered through the Lakeshore Artists Association. He most recently showed his work in a solo exhibition, Resurfacing, at the Arbor Gallery in Vankleek Hill.

Sunny Morning, Ian Griffiths, 31 x 41

Griffiths is best known for his paintings that depict kitchen appliances and the reflections found within them. Being a fibre artist, shiny surfaces are not something I usually gravitate to.

Sunbeam Reflections, Ian Griffiths, 30 x 30

So it was all the more exciting to discover the small, sculpted toasters that Griffiths created before he undertook this series of paintings. Some were made of wood, others of laminated, corrugated cardboard. One, titled Harley, was upholstered in black leather with silver studs. All had the rounded shape of a retro toaster, and two separate slices of "bread".

Here is the one that stole our hearts: 

Quilted Sunbeam, Ian Griffiths

It is covered with the quilted textile often used to make oven mitts, and finished with silver studs. 

A whimsical acquisition that will "make us smile" for years to come.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Picasso show, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

The title of the current show at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is rather complicated:

From Africa to the Americas: Face-to-Face Picasso, Past and Present

but then so is the premise of the show.

I suspect many visitors will be drawn into the museum to see what they anticipate will be a show of Picasso's work. And there are indeed more than one hundred of his prints, paintings and sculptures on display. There are also African and Iberian sculptures from Picasso's personal collection.

Bust of a Man, (study for Les Demoiselles d'Avignon)
Picasso, 1907, oil on canvas

After a Fang artist
The original of this mask was gifted to Fauve painter Maurice de Vlaminck.
Soon afterward, short of money, he sold it to his friend André Derain:
Matisse and Picasso saw it for the first time in 1906.
This mask from Gabon came to symbolize the encounter of European artists
with African art, considered one of the determining factors
in the emergence of modern art in Europe.
Art dealer Ambroise Vollard had this cast made of bronze.

Also on view are many sculptures, some antique and others contemporary, from Africa and the Americas that share qualities of design with Picasso's work. These are exhibited side-by-side with Picasso's, encouraging the viewer to see how the artist was inspired by non-European art. They are carefully labelled with their country or tribe of origin, and their ceremonial use is described in detail. Altogether, more than 300 items are included in the show.

Weeping Woman, Picasso, 1937, oil on canvas

Dance Mask, Inuit artist, before 1935, wood,
collected by members of
the first French expedition to Greenland

On my first visit, I listened to the audioguide as I made my way through the exhibition. The narration went to great pains to create a "politically correct" lens for the viewer. What has been called "primitive" art in the past is now to be seen as evolving in parallel to European art, and as having its own worth independent of its influence on European artists.

The Kiss, Picasso, oil on canvas, 1969

Sinhalese exorcism mask, early 20th century,
wood, fur, vegetable fibre, porcelain,
shell, leather, wire

I enjoyed my second visit more, when I put the audioguide aside, and just appreciated the works from all the cultures on their own visual merits. I was especially delighted by the contemporary African sculpture. So often these works are created from salvaged scrap (metal, plastic, etc.), and the second-hand materials bring with them intimations of their value and use in trade with the West. The history of colonialism imbues the sculpture with an additional layer of meaning.

Head of a Bearded Man, Picasso, oil on canvas (1938?)

Mask, Otomi artists (Mexico)
before 1955, wood, fur, horns

A second show, Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art, shares space with the Picasso exhibit in a continuous layout.

The show continues until September 16, 2018.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

You heard it here first!

Colleen Paul, Lauma Cenne, Helena Scheffer,
me, Dianne Robinson and Michele Meredith
at the opening of the De Musei Fabrica show, May 17, 2018

Our Text'art group show at McGill's William Osler Library has been extended!

The exhibition is in the entrance to the Osler Library of the History of Medicine,  located on the third floor of the McIntyre Medical Building, 3655 Promenade Sir William Osler, Montreal, QC.

Hours are Monday - Friday, 9 am - 5 pm.

interior view, from the second floor of the library

The Wikipedia entry for the library says it is "Canada's foremost scholarly resource in the history of medicine, and one of the most important libraries of its type in North America." If the librarian isn't too busy, lucky visitors can get a tour of the inner chamber, with its treasure of 8000 rare and historic books, some dating back to the 1600's.

The ashes of Sir William Osler and Lady Osler are
interred in the library, surrounded by his beloved books

The library was designed in 1929 as part of the Strathcona Medical Building, but in 1965 it was moved, with its oak panels, plaster moldings and stained glass windows, to the newly-built McIntyre Medical Sciences Building. A special wing was added to the circular building to accommodate the rectilinear structure of the older space.

I do hope you have an opportunity to take in the exhibition. It's a remarkable "conversation" between textile art and medical artifacts, situated in a most singular space.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sharing my work

I am delighted to have a chance to share my Cityscapes with a small group on Wednesday, June 13, as part of a series of presentations organized by Hudson Fine Crafts and the local Gallerie Plus.

I plan to show some examples of my work and, because many of the audience are artists and artisans themselves, to share some of the materials and techniques I use to make my stitched fabric collages.

Please consider dropping by if you're in the area!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Lucy Sparrow @ Galerie de Bellefeuille II

The work of British artist Lucy Sparrow is currently being shown at Montreal's Galerie de Bellefeuille.

These works, made of painted, hand-stitched felt, are encased in Perspex.

Love Soup-Reme, 2017, edition 18 of 20

Ketch22, 2017, edition 4 of 10

Hot Stuff, 2017, edition 4 of 10

No Scrubs, 2017, edition 8 of 10

No Scrubs, 2017, edition 8 of 10 (detail)

The artist has shown larger, more ambitious works in Manhattan and elsewhere. Her work is very much in demand, and the Montreal gallery hopes to bring in more pieces as they become available.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Saying yes to something new

Green Bowl, Deborah Boschert

Deborah Boschert is a quilt artist whose work I admire. She is also the producer of a series of web conversations on the topic of Visual Design, as part of SAQA Seminar 2018.

She has asked me to engage in a 20-minute video chat about the Principles of Design, and of course I said yes to her proposal, though not without some trepidation.

An Unlikely Confluence of Events,
one of a series of 13, hand-dyed linen, 24 x 24, 2017

But saying yes to new experiences is part of what keeps us growing as artists, isn't it?

one of a small series In Blue and Orange,
cloth and paint, 24 x 24, 2017

Ironically, much of the conversation will probably refer to my Cityscapes. Even though I haven't made one for a couple of years now, and have been dabbling with other series and other media, it seems they are still well-received, and still opening doors to new opportunities.

Dix / Ten,
one in a series of 30, acrylic collage,  20 x 20, 2016

I will be sure to post here about the experience later this summer.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Textile Museum of Canada

Riff #4: Calm, Nancy Crow

Planning to be in Toronto this summer? Here's one reason to make the trip.

The Textile Museum of Canada will host Color Improvisations 2: An International Exhibition of Contemporary Quilts. Curated by Nancy Crow, it will run from May 30 to September 23, 2018.

The museum's site says,
Color Improvisations 2 is an exhibition of contemporary quilts curated by Nancy Crow (Baltimore, Ohio), one of North America’s most celebrated and influential quiltmakers and teachers. The exhibition includes 25 spectacular large-format quilts by 25 artists from Canada, Germany, Scotland, Switzerland and the United States – including a piece by Nancy Crow. The project grew out of Crow’s interest in celebrating the “…majesty, strength and energy of large textile works, specifically large quilts.” While the group’s collective use of rich solid colors, improvisational piecing, and intricate machine quilting are all at the service of pure abstract design, each artist maintains a strong individual identity.
The exhibition premiered at the Museum Tuch+Technik in Germany in 2016, and has subsequently been shown in Spain, Switzerland and France. In 2018, a select number will be presented at the Susquehanna Art Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This is the exhibition’s first North American, and only Canadian venue.

To see the list of participating artists, including Kit Vincent, a member of SAQA's Central Canada group, visit the museum website.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Upcoming show at the MVTM

I am thrilled to have contracted with the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum for a 3-woman show, beginning in January 2019. The MVTM is in Almonte, Ontario, just west of Ottawa, and they have asked me to prepare twenty of my cityscapes for display.

The other artist-participants are Anna Torma and Anne Kelly.

Party with Dionysus, Anna Torma

I have seen Torma's work in Montreal twice, and blogged about both of the shows. First, I saw her joint exhibition with her son, in 2015, at Espace Robert Poulin. More recently,  her work was shown at 1700 La Poste, with that of two other artists. Torma lives in New Brunswick and has been the recipient of many residencies and awards.

Home, Anne Kelly

Anne Kelly is a British artist whose work is less familiar to me. Like Torma's, it is heavily worked and brightly coloured, often incorporating found materials. She has exhibited widely and has authored three books.

Port Clyde #3, Heather Dubreuil, 2016

I expect to make a few new cityscapes for the show, and will post progress reports, probably in the fall.

Here's what I wrote about a visit to Almonte in 2012:

Though I have visited the MVTM before, I haven't ever taken the time to explore the town of Almonte. In the 1800's it was one of the major wool milling centres in Canada, with several mills powered by the Mississippi River that runs through the middle of town. A Riverwalk allows visitors to see the falls up close.

The main street has several good restaurants, including the Mill Street Crepe Company, which was very busy at lunch. The old-fashioned street is lined with antique shops, a vintage clothing store, a bookstore, a yarn shop, a quilting store, and several cute gift shops.

The old town hall is one of many interesting buildings in this charming little town. Look for a mix of stone and red brick, and for patterned tiles on the roofs.
Though not the bustling industrial centre of its glory days, it is apparent that efforts have been made to make Almonte attractive to day-trippers. A visit to the textile museum and a browse along Mill Street would make for a delightful experience of small-town Ontario.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Text'art: a very special group

me, Dianne, Helena, Michele, Lauma, and Colleen,
outside the Chihuly exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts

Once again, I have been struck by how fortunate I am to belong to Text'art, our group of six textile artists, formed some ten years ago at Dianne's initiative.

a virtual reality experience at the Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec

Last week we met for a quick coffee at a lakeside café, to talk about applying for a group residency. I threw out an invitation. "Who's interested in driving to Ottawa to see the new show of Impressionists at the National Gallery?" Everyone whipped out their cell phones, checked their calendars and within a minute we had agreed on a date. How special is that?

A walk through the woods, trilliums as far as the eye can see

Our current members are Lauma Cenne, Michele Meredith, Colleen PaulDianne RobinsonHelena Scheffer, and me. (Two past members, Pam Chasen and Linda Forey, left us when they moved away.) All of us are also members of other, larger groups (art, quilting, photography, weaving...), and each of us comes to the group with a unique skill set.

We meet once a month. Usually a lunch is involved. Sometimes we just meet in one of our homes, to catch up on each other's news and projects. Often we will experiment with a new technique or material. Gelatin plate printing? Collagraph printing? Ice dyeing? We've tried them all.

At other times we will visit a resource, like Papeterie St-Armand, or Au Papier Japonais, or C & M Textile and the other shops on St.-Hubert St. that sell threads, buttons and lace.

With an invited guest, we toured the Musée du costume et du textile du Québec.

Often our destination is a museum. Local favourites are the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the McCord Museum, and the Musée d'art contemporain.

on a tour of Habitat 67

At other times we will take in a show at a gallery, often chosen because one or more of us is showing our work there.

At least once a year we will take a road trip to Ottawa, Toronto or Quebec City. And then there is the retreat at Dianne's cottage, something we all look forward to every summer.

at the opening of our current group show

Most recently, we collaborated on a group show, De Musei Fabrica: Cloth and Stitch Inspired by the Maude Abbott Medical Museum, now on display at McGill University. This special challenge has brought us closer together. And who knows what the future holds?

Why am I writing this? Firstly, to express my gratitude and appreciation to the members of Text'art. I really cherish the support we are able to give to each other.

And perhaps to encourage you to pull together a small group of your own. Meeting with six or seven people with a common interest offers an intimacy, a flexibility and a mobility that's not available in a larger organization. It works for us!