Views from the Southbank I

Hi everyone, just wanted to say a (very) belated Happy New Years! With my engagement and then Christmas and then the beginning of wedding planning, let’s just say things have been more than a little crazy.

Unfortunately this blog has been a little dormant as a result. But hopefully for not much longer!

Low Clouds by Nicoletta Baumeister.

Low Clouds by Nicoletta Baumeister.

Tis the season for a lot of new art exhibits. Since I now work at the Surrey Art Gallery and our big opening reception for 3 exhibits is tonight, I thought I’d say a little about it and plug it for all you last-minute planners who may even want to check it out!

As You Were by Micah Lexier. Photo by artist.

Installation of Micah Lexier’s A Project for Surrey. Photo by the artist.

It’s the Gallery’s 40th anniversary this year, and in celebration of that, the curator has chosen exhibits that focus on Surrey and its surrounding area. Vancouver art gets a lot of attention as the new Mainstreeters: Taking Advantage, 1972-1982 exhibit that just launched at the Satellite Gallery indicates, but art from/about the suburbs isn’t always so hot.

But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be! 25 artists from across Surrey, Langley, Delta, and Vancouver are represented in Views from the Southbank I: Histories, Memories, Myths – the first of a series of 3 installations that will run throughout the year. Surrey has the reputation of being a very young & rapidly-growing city with tons of new development, especially in the City Centre, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have deep history.

Payal 128th by Ravi Gill.

Payal 128th by Ravi Gill.

Sean Alward, Nicoletta Baumeister, and Polly Gibbons are a few of the artists who explore the deep roots of place, and the connections with memory, perception, and identity – collective and individual.

Surrey Urban Sprawl by Roxanne Charles.

Surrey Urban Sprawl by Roxanne Charles.

There is an astonishing variety of art mediums packed in to the Gallery’s space, from Roxanne Charles’ new monumental wall relief “Surrey Urban Sprawl” that weaves together cedar bark, construction tape, copper, brass, wire, polyethylene, vinyl siding, nylon, and synthetic fiber to Brian Howell’s large photograph of a conveyor system at the Kennedy Heights Printing Plant in Surrey (now shut down) where the Vancouver Sun and the Province used to publish their newspapers. And then there are large paintings by White Rock artist Jim Adams in the manner of Edward Hopper, featuring dramatic lighting, stormy skies, and a look into neighbours’ lives through their windows that reminded me of a scene in The Great Gatsby.

Here are some before & after shots. As you can see, there is literally art everywhere, from floor to ceiling!





The other 2 shows you can see/listen to are:

The opening reception goes from 7:30-9:30 pm on Saturday, Jan 17 with formal remarks at 7:45 pm. If you’re not able to make it out tonight, it runs until mid-March so make sure you see it before it comes down!



Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

I visited the Surrey Art Gallery today. The current exhibitions there centre around the self. What does it mean to portray yourself in a self-portrait? How do we choose to represent ourselves? What is self? Big questions for a Friday morning.

Artist Holly Armishaw portrayed herself taking her doppelganger (double) for tea. This photograph depicts the multiple identities that comprise each of us. The right figure reflects her mother’s influence on her life (how to be a lady, serving tea, sitting pretty) — and the left figure reflects her father’s influence (working on his motorbike in the garage listening to Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper records).

Mixed Heritage by Holly Armishaw

This next image by Colleen Baran plays with the idea that we can get a cursory yet often accurate glimpse of someone’s identity by the things in one’s purse, in one’s medicine cabinet, the books on one’s shelf, a DVD collection, the art in one’s home. I think this is why I’ve always found it so fascinating to housesit. The things people own tell a lot about who they are, their aesthetic tastes, their loves and fears, the way they spend their time. But we are also more complex than what these objects speak about us. We can’t be reduced to what we own.

Self-Portrait in Open 8 and 9 by Colleen Baran

This next one by Grace Gordon-Collins, I like the description better than the portrait. She’s unstable and evanescent, and it probably reminds me too much of my own in-betweenness.

In Between by Grace Gordon-Collins

Undefined space and time as both prison and prelude to a new reality. Could she have said it any better? If you were submitting a self-portrait in this exhibition, how would you portray yourself? What defines you?

This collage of personal documents and photographs by Al Neil reminds the viewer of the limits of such a question, for we are different people at different times in our lives. Or maybe not different people, but different versions of ourselves. How do you capture all these facets? Do you even try?

Autobio #6 by Al Neil

Under this mask, another mask.

I will not finish taking off all these faces

– Claude Cahun, early 20th century French artist