The Ways of Cloud and Water, New Paintings by Janet Read at Christensen Fine Art
Still glowing from Peterborough Pathway of Fame honours this year, Peer and Lori Christensen continue their influential and consistent contributions to the local arts community. One of the many ways in which they do so is by bringing wonderful artists and art to be seen here in Peterborough.
Showing this month from October 4th to 24th, Janet Read’s paintings (www.janet-read.com) bring a vivid experience of exploring the edges and boundaries where land and water, the real and imaginary, meet. Since her upbringing near Lake Simcoe, she has sought those littoral edges in Newfoundland, Vancouver, Alaska, Ireland, and Scotland — where the sea and land meet and life flourishes.
To meet Janet and see her bright oceanic eyes, it seems that she was destined to have this kind of vision. Her background in philosophy and a poetic soul are evident in the sustained inquiry and investigation she puts into each piece.
The pieces themselves are abstract imaginary landscapes fueled by real experiences of westward skies at sunset, light playing upon the water, the ever-changing forms of clouds, and the endless rhythm of day and night. The contrast of bright vivid colours, shadow, and light have a cumulative effect of experience that invite the viewer into imaginal worlds of their own.
“I never wish to become lazy,” Janet says. “Each stroke is deliberate and purposeful. Every piece begins anew and has its own life. I have no wish to simply repeat what I have done before.”
The purity of intention Janet engages in is clearly evident. One could easily become lost in the experiences recreated in her paintings.
The Christensen Fine Art Gallery (432 George St. N., Peterborough) is open during regular business hours, Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Call 705-876-9623 or visit www.christensenfineart.com.
Carolyn Code’s “Extensions”, Victoria Wallace and Roz Hermant’s “Chimirage”, Brian Wagner, and the Little Red Hen group show, all at Gallery in the Attic
Elizabeth Fennell’s labour of love has really come to life in the old Roy Studio Gallery space. A rolling cavalcade of wonderful and imaginative art, a constant cornucopia of offerings from the Little Red Hen collective, an intimate concert series, and the renewed legacy of The Darkroom Project all reside here.
The feature from October 4th to 18th is an intriguing collection of artifacts referencing functional (and non-functional) objects by Carolyn Code. She has employed her diverse skills in concrete casting, wood and metal fabrication, and upholstery and needlepoint to create an intimate and surreal exploration of the connection we have with objects we hold onto, but do not use, in our daily lives.
From mushrooming nodes of upholstery of a bygone era emerging forth from the walls, to a collection of instruments at once both familiar and bizarre, we are led into our associations with objects in a way that wrests us from our usual commonplace perspectives and forces us to re-examine our relationships with the inanimate.
Over in the Brick Room, the playful and whimsical are on parade as Victoria Wallace and Roz Hermant’s “Chimirage” continues to delight visitors with imaginative circus inspired images.
Tucked away in the Cupboard are the wild machinations of the seemingly limitless mind of Brian Wagner, displaying a divergent diorama assembled from various elements of the arcane and mysterious.
Nearby, the assemblage of creations from The Little Red Hen group show continues to graces the walls and every available surface in the Main Gallery — with offerings from diverse artists including Lyall Brownlee, Carol Rutherford, Lucky Jackson, Jeff Macklin, and many more.
Hurry in to see “Extensions” before it leaves on October 18th. The other revolving exhibits continue until the end of October.
Admission to Gallery in the Attic (upstairs at 140-½ Hunter St. W., Peterborough) is free. The gallery is open Wednesday to Friday from 2 – 6 p.m. and Saturday from 12 – 5 p.m. (with some exceptions). Liz can be quite amenable to arrange showings at other times and can be reached at 705-740-1162. For more information, visit littleredhengallery.wordpress.com.
Something is Happening/Quelque Chose Se Produit from Tanya St-Pierre and Philippe Aubert-Gauthier, “a little red” (a manifesto in fairy-tale form) by Victoria Ward, and unveiling the bus wrap at ARTSPACESomething IS happening in the Artspace Main Gallery.
The print and media art installation based on computer-generated images of film sets filled with production equipment and set dressings has been humming away there since it opened on September 20th.
The duo Noïzefer CWU (St-Pierre and Aubert-Gauthier) embrace a multidisciplinary approach to artistic expression reflecting upon the social, cultural, and historical implications of technological advances in communications.
Everything here is deliberate and exacting in detail. The multitude of thousands of carefully rendered blades of grass smoothed into an image of life-like rolling mounds utilizing careful anti-aliasing techniques.
The representation of images usually displayed on the bright luminescence of screens rendered into the materiality of print and paper textured with layers of ink. The carefully engineered audio tracks. All of this is meant to provoke an investigation of representation, questions of cultural alienation, and the powerful influence of the technological in our contemporary lives.In contrast to the Main Gallery, back in the Mudroom is the forest primeval, the ghost of Karl Marx, and the Big Bad Wolf.
In a playful take on Little Red Riding Hood, Victoria Ward casts herself in the role of “little red” to explore the oddity that centuries of folklore depicts the forest as an evil and frightening place — while her experiences of being “a girl living in a cabin in the woods” denote that the forest is quite benign and giving. The true villain in the story according to Ward is unbridled greed, personified by the Big Bad Wolf.
In this version of the tale, Karl Marx takes on the role of “The Woodsman”. Ward’s presentation is full of tongue-in-cheek whimsy whose barbs are aimed directly at the politics of privilege in contemporary society.
The hand-fashioned custom wolf mask, the live-action storyboard, a symbolic pile of firewood, and plenty of political commentary from Marx and Ward on the corkboard offer many modes of exploration here.
I certainly learned a thing or two about Marx’s entry into politics, economics, and morality. While Ward eschews any dogmatic allegiance to “the manifesto”, she certainly shares an appreciation for how the path it has taken leads back to the forest.
Art has travelled out beyond the walls of Artspace as well.
After collecting and assessing applications for the design of a public art display to adorn the exterior of a Peterborough Transit bus, a design from Jimson Bowler has been chosen.
In the words of Annie Jaeger, Jimson is “a contemporary indigenous creative”. His design is destined to make a splash on our city streets. Watch for the unveiling later this month.
Artspace (378 Aylmer St. N., Peterborough) is free to the public and open Tuesday and Wednesday from 12 – 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 12 – 8 p.m., and Saturday from 12 – 4 p.m.
Current installations run until October 26th. For more information, call 705-748-3883 or visit www.artspace-arc.org.
Emil Varga: featured artist for October at the Fairhaven Link GalleryWhere art is concerned, the north end of Peterborough perhaps seldom gets its due. But a little secret, tucked away at the corner of Dutton Road off Hilliard, is poised to make its presence known.
The Fairhaven Home is well known to this community but, until now, few people in the community may know that it is also home to the Link Gallery; so named because it is situated in the hallway that linked the old and the new home.
This month’s featured artist Emil Varga has cultivated his craft over many years and studied under the tutelage of some of the region’s most revered artists, including Dave Bierk, Kai-Liis McInnes, and Brian Atyeo. A large, warm, and expansive man, Emil speaks richly of his experiences and shared a story with me about visiting Peggy’s Cove a few years ago.
He recounted a moment when a tour guide there brought the group’s attention to a painting on display by Brian Atyeo and described him as “an accomplished artist from Toronto”. Emil hastened to correct the guide with respect to Brian hailing from Peterborough, and that Toronto was not synonymous. Emil would learn that Brian lived nearby and reconnected with his mentor some 25 years since he had last seen him.
Emil himself focusses on watercolour and mixed media. He engages in what he calls “nature interpretation as I see it.”
Working from either photographs or memories evoked by dropping colours onto wet paper, he depicts beautiful scenes of things like derelict buildings, flowers that may or may not be having a bad hair day, a sunset struggling to illuminate a forest, or a surging brook rushing over partially submerged rocks.
Emil’s soft approach to teasing out the details of humble scenes through negative painting techniques brings about a quiet majesty to his subjects, which draws the viewer into his deep appreciation of that which may be seen as “less than perfect”. In times where people’s hectic lives may neglect such moments, Emil captures what we may often fail to appreciate.
The works of 20 local artisans is on display as part of the gallery’s regular features and include original paintings, photography, jewellery, soapstone carvings, woodturning, pottery, and fabric art. A great place to look if you’re seeking a special gift for someone. The regular gallery features the likes of Mary Diane Collins, Valerie Davidson, Carol Rutherford, and Sekoiaa Lake.
The Fairhaven Foundation has also begun a regular Artisan Presentation Series, the first of which on October 1st featured Veronika Macneil presenting her work and techniques working with jewellery and gemstones.
Veronika employs off-the-loom handweaving techniques, beading, and wire wrapping to create contemporary designs following the latest fashion trends and unique pieces incorporating vintage found articles. Her works are also for sale in the Link Gallery.
The series continues every Tuesday morning from 10 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. and will next feature Krys Perron and her Quilt Photography.
Krys takes photographs to commemorate the history of a place, event, or in tribute to a person or family and incorporates them into custom quilt designs through the transfer of chosen photos using specially treated fabric.
The current series will continue until November 12th and will feature Doug Hooper (Woodturning), Debra Bannister (Painting), Sekoiaa Lake (Memoir Writing), Jewell Allington (Basics of Drawing), and Max Sexsmith (Soapstone Carving).
Both the Link Gallery and the Artisan Presentation Series are free and open to the public. Fairhaven (881 Dutton Rd., Peterborough) is pleased to welcome visitors to the gallery and participants to the series. For further information please contact the lovely Leisa Peacock, Administrative Coordinator of the Fairhaven Foundation, at 705-743-0881 ext. 261.
All photos by Michael Fazackerley except where noted.