“Pest” by Amy Swartz and “Mechanisms for Correcting the Past” by Kristie MacDonald at Artspace
As far as favourite animals go, insects are seldom near the top of anyone’s list. As fascinating and colourful as their otherworldly bodies can be, they are often seen as too alien and creepy to be appealing. Not so for artist Amy Swartz — she can’t seem to get enough of them.
What began as a dragonfly here and a Monarch butterfly there became a collection of obsessive proportions. Swartz has been collecting since 2011 and the collection is still growing. Her work “Pest” is not the stuff of your usual entomological displays, though it might appear so from a distance.
Swartz combines her insect specimens and incorporates various heads and limbs from toys and figurines. The resulting hybrids are at turns curious, whimsical, beautiful, and disturbing to behold. From a cockroach with the head of a rabbit to colourful beatles with human arms and legs who look like some kind of submariner, there are hundreds of oddities swarming together in each of several scientific display cases.
Some seem to depict a kind of battle taking place or perhaps a crowded public square. The splicing of human or more familiar animals species’ parts onto insects somehow makes them seem more relatable. Whether they might provoke musings about life and death, overpopulation, or evolution, they certainly are fascinating creations to see.
Kristie MacDonald’s work in the back room brings about a different kind of juxtaposition. Her interest in archival materials led to the collection of images depicting homes or dwellings unmoored from their usual foundations by the force of natural disasters.
Her “Mechanisms for Correcting the Past” acts as an intervention in these scenes to set the compromised dwellings right again. The result sometimes means that the rest of the world is turned on its head to do so.
The centerpiece to several of these recalibrated images is a cleverly engineered projection apparatus. One such scene is continuously righted and reset to its original disastrous state by an ingenious device that raises and lowers the projector on an angle. Artspace director John Lockyer explained to me that MacDonald constructed this device from scratch, using a part usually found in a self-feeding pellet stove. The simple effect this renders is remarkably mesmerizing.
Both shows are currently on display at Artspace (378 Aylmer St. N. #3, Peterborough) until January 31st.
Artspace is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 12 p.m. until 8 p.m., and Saturday from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. For more information, call 705-748-3883, email email@example.com, or visit www.artspace-arc.org.
New Year Group Show at Christensen Fine ArtSince the Christmas Group Show at Christensen Fine Art, a new group of paintings has gone up including the introduction of a new artist to the gallery, Rebecca Last. Her latest paintings are part of an ongoing exploration looking at the liminal connection between watery horizons and sky. Last was recently featured in a solo exhibition “the Chiaroscuro paintings” at The Art Gallery of Northumberland.
This well-curated show runs along a smooth succession of naturalistic themes, from a largest-ever 5′ x 7′ canvas by Peer Christensen himself to beautiful new wall sculptures by Christy Haldane.
Haldane’s impeccably sculpted creations of rock and glass serve as shoreline to Last’s seascape, and the contrast of Janet Read’s red sea opposite is a perfect counterpoint. A beautiful example of Shannon Taylor’s mixed media work greets you on the way upstairs to enjoy more of the excellent selection of paintings currently on display.
This current group show at Christensen Fine Art (432 George St. N., Peterborough) will continue until mid-February.
Peer Christensen’s work will be part of the Artist Project contemporary art show in Toronto running from February 19th to 22nd at the Better Living Centre at Exhibition Place.
Christensen Fine Art is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. For more information call 705-876-9623, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.christensenfineart.com.
“Deer in the Headlights” — photography by Eric McKibbon at BlackhoneySelf-proclaimed reportage photographer Eric McKibbon plays at taking this unvarnished journalistic honesty-of-the-moment approach to photography to the hilarious extreme of the extreme — and unexpected — close up. The host of startled faces adorning the café walls form an unlikely Greek chorus as the subjects of this affectionately named show.
Tucked away at the back are an intriguing set of shots featuring mannequins posing as would-be models in a glamour photo shoot. This work in particular I find intriguing for the commentary it offers on the interchangeability of pretty faces typical of the fashion photography genre.
McKibbon is in good company with a cadre of local photographers the likes of Bradley Boyle, Jessica Melnik, and Esther Vincent. He has been a fixture in the local scene photographing bands (The Spades in particular) and Peterborough’s night life.
His roots are firmly planted on Hunter Street, as both his photography studio and Gerti’s (where he works as a chef) are nearby.
His show is on now at Blackhoney Café and Desserts (217 Hunter St. W., Peterborough). Blackhoney is open Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m, Friday 8 a.m. until 11 p.m, Saturday 10 a.m. until 11 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
For more information, contact Eric McKibbon Photography (219 Hunter St. W. #1, Peterborough) at 705-868-3000 or visit ericlikestorock.tumblr.com.