“Suburb Sinner” by Mackenzie Browning

YXE ART is back from summer break! Thanks for returning.

Mackenzie Browning is opening the new school year with a bang showing off his MFA thesis exhibit “Suburb Sinner” at the Gordon Snelgrove gallery.

My first impression when I walked in was that I jumped into a pixelated video game landscape and the Gordon Snelgrove Gallery was someone’s Minecraft workshop. Minecraft enthusiasts have even created printable paper templates to bring their creations into reality (example http://trendminicraft.com/minecraft-paper-house-templates.html) But don’t get caught up on this, there is some serious art here.

In an age of easy one click printing (and 3D printers!!!). The environment that Mackenzie has created is a massive endeavor. Each brick is a 4+ color silkscreen that has been meticulously printed, bonded to card-stock, and folded. These things are beautiful. I love it when printmaking takes a departure from the usual wall ornamentation into the sculptural realm. As a whole it looks like a half finished building project that has merged with a home building catalogue…with great landscaping! There’s patterns everywhere.

So what is Mackenzie talking about with his exhibit?

From talking to Mack in the past, he’s very much interested in home and aesthetics coming from parents that reinvented themselves from rural homemakers to suburbanites that essentially moved every few years flipping houses. You can see that identity in his work. He’s treating this environment with a home decorator’s esthetics. His creations are like fabric/paint samples.

You can look at it art historically too: are Mackenzies bricks a form of object-as-art / facsimile art like Warhol’s Brillo Boxes?? Do things become art based on the process of creating? Is it material? Or would an actual industrially building brick serve as art?






why don’t you stop by the Gordon Snelgrove Gallery to see for yourself!
It’s up until Sept 12th, with the closing reception Thurs 7-10.
If your interested in more of Mackenzie Browning’s work visit his website http://mackenziebrowning.ca/

Stacie Huculak’s “Trinity” at the Snelgrove

In the Snelgrove this week: Stacie Huculak’s Trinity

Stacie has done an impressive amount of work this year. Her show Trinity fills the Snelgrove gallery with large scale self portrait drawings. Stacie is working with stark monochrome blacks and whites that blend velvetly into her grey background. Her forms sometimes look still and statuesque and other times fragile or barely there. 

You might not recognize Stacie, as she portrays herself in a variety of metaphoric roles. Her drawings beg for analysis as they contain symbology hinting at a further narrative. She’s a wolf, a deer, a mother, a victim, a shaman. What does it all mean? 

With her work Stacie might be looking at various roles of herself as a woman. I took a critical viewing of women’s roles. Years after the womens’ right movement, women are still lumped into types. Stacie explores her identity here while dealing with the conflicting societal treatment of women.



Stacie’s reception is the evening of April 25th. Come enjoy her art and celebrate!


“Found Compressions” Public Art vigilantly covered up


This week a local man, Luke Coupal, took matters into his own hands and covered up a public art sculpture with a tarp and attaching a sign to it reading “Our tax dollars are for keeping garbage OFF the streets”


Keeley Haftner’s sculptures are conceptual Found Art. They are supposed to be analyzed and critically looked at.
Personally, I think this is great because it’s creating a healthy dialogue about the function of art / public funded art. This discussion is also bringing more awareness to the nature of the work garbage-recycling and worth (especially after recent adoption of a city wide recycling program that was a long time coming!). It’s funny that we separate our recycling from our garbage and simply forget about it. Here she publicly displays what happens to it, they’re compressed into cubes, wrapped up, and shipped to outside manufacturing facilities that reuses the materials (as Haftner states, often with a cost). With the recent uproar of Mr. Coupal, our recycling devolves and is once again called garbage!
Then you can look at the nature of art/ public art itself. Most people have a hard time calling conceptual art, let alone found art, Art. What is the function of art? Is it simply to beautify??
Most people that disagree with Found Compressions don’t like it based on their notion of beauty. But that is not the purpose of this piece. The fact that it is stirring debate on art and worth, is the function itself.

The thing is with public art, not everyone is ever going to be happy. I think the cubes were nicer to look at than some rusted metal sculptures we have kicking around town (and they have something to say!)

Read the articles and join the debate!

Here’s a link to Keeley Haftner’s excellent response
and a link to the StarPhoenix article

Jessica Sukut, Kaja Coleman and Edna Oleksyn at the Snelgrove

It’s the end of the term 2 on campus and the Gordon Snelgrove Gallery is seeing the last of the BFA shows of the year. This week we have Jessica Sukut, Kaja Coleman, and Edna Oleksyn showing their BFA exhibitions.

Jessica Sukut’s “Reconstruction”

Jessica’s theme of her BFA show dwells on home and memory. Home is a great idea woth thinking about. Your home is your dwelling that keeps you safe, warm and comforted. You shape your home with colors, decorations and furnishings giving it a personality and feel that might create an emotional response. You spend so much time in your various homes that they might seem organic and alive, like an extension of the people that live there. Our homes are part of who we are.

Jessica looks at her memories of her home creating paintings that look like half built mental landscapes. I remember my previous homes, yet some details are a bit hazy and I’m sure if I spoke to one of my brothers we would have different recollections. You can see this in Jessica’s work. Her paintings are surreal toeing the line between dream and reality. Her paintings look like they’re from the head of an undecided architect: to do this she uses painters tape, mixes hard lines and sketched lines, strange vivid colors on top of solemn darks and greys, and -my favorite part- some unnatural physics. Jessica has some really cool work. There are some good layers that make them enjoyable to explore. She masks and weaves her over layers and under layers beautifully so that you question which is which. Which brings me back to the content. Is her work with painting over layers and leaving under layers go back to her treatment of memory? Do we have actual real memory (underlayer) that exists in some places but the rest of the details we paint with our own invented memories (filling the gaps with an over layer?) Hmmm. Good stuff

Some elements reminded me of buildings in a virtual world, like 2nd life. Things appear to look normal but other elements are skewed, unnatural hyper colored, and a bit strange; reminding you that it’s an imagined landscape


^aren’t they great?.

Kaja Coleman’s “A Matter of Material”

Kaja has a series of large scale mixed media drawings of X-rays. She became fascinated with X-rays after her son was diagnosed with a condition Osteogenesis Imperfecta that effects bone strength and elasticity of tissues. X-rays are fascinating: they show what we don’t see. They also create images that tricks the eye, the hardest densest materials -bones- appear light and to be floating. Just as you might wonder how an X-ray creates an image, you might wonder how Kaja does. She’s got huge drawing that she uses numerous materials. The paintings are clean but have a life history evident in the mark making, texture and materials that she uses. There’s cheese cloth in some of them that instantly reminds me of gauze, casts, and surgical procedures. She uses wax in some of her drawings, reminding me of sculpting and bones. Her materiality speaks to you.

Then there’s interpreting these drawings. It takes a skilled physician or specialist to properly read an X-ray. How does a gallery visitor read these drawings of X rays? First do they see them as X rays: discovering the unseen bones and making an assumption about the life/health of the person. Or do they see them as drawings: exploring the materials, expressive marks, maybe footprint -a history of the artist.


Edna Oleksyn’s “Transition”

From her paintings you can tell that Edna loves her family and nature. There’s the things you see right away. She’s surrounded by family love, there’s the painting Family Tree that has three generations together around a tree, and other familial portraits. Edna also has some love for the outdoors as she paints forests in all seasons.

But I think the trees in her paintings are her family and are a metaphor for the human life cycle. There’s a painting of horticulturists attending to and nurturing saplings in a tree nursery. There’s the beauty of trees in all seasons despite outward appearance of snow, and fall. There’s a tree roots anchored and clinging to a shore line despite threats of erosion. Then you think about family and you see her best paintings of new growth amidst old growth forest. You have some hope that after your elders are gone, they will live on through their grandchildren. There’s a broken tree, with new trees growing around it and a beautiful sun glowing in the distance. Yes, life might change, but things move on. These paintings are hopeful and are painted with love.


the reception is Friday night, come celebrate the end of term with a drink and some art!!

STEPS scultpure show in La Scala Gallery

There’s a nifty little sculpture art show happening in the La Scala Gallery (the VASU run gallery in Art building’s stairwell).
The senior sculpture class (Joanna Speed, Jelena Misevski, Katlynn Balderstone, Cynthia Blanchette, and Samantha Braun) installed some of their work for us to enjoy. Usually you don’t get to see much of the amazing sculpture work happening on campus, since it’s in another building SO FAR AWAY.

Sculpture is great because making things is fun and bad ass.


^Sam hugging her soft motorbike cushion/pillow. No helmet required kiddies


^La Scala gettin her hair done


putting your head into Jelena’s headpiece is an odd experience. It positions your eyes so that you’re look into this tangle of wire with fragments of mirror at various angles. The result is you see yourself broken and fragmented. It at once reminded me of that clockwork orange visual therapy scene.
(Please Please forgive my terrible photos. I had a few sangria at this point)



banister 8.0- There’s a lot of future/industrial vibes goin on.


Here’s another bad picture, but bare with me. Joanne Speed made a cool vest / chest armor piece. Evocative of both classical armor and tribal ceremonial, this would fit right in at something like Burning Man.


Cynthia Blanchette’s got a little loft hangout happening here with her toaster box metal plated upholstered chair with one of her paintings behind it. To appreciate this chair, you must sit in this chair because you don’t sit on it, you sit IN it. Then there’s the coal miners fixed light with it’s red glow. I felt like a little piece of bread waiting to magically be transformed into toast (a superior state).
-Her painting is wicked too. I love the frenetic energy

Step on down and check out STAIRS, it’s up until April 15th

This week at the Snelgrove: Raene Poisson, Kayla Prive and Kendall Brandt

3 more BFA shows are up at the Snelgrove this week, all very different from one another.

Raene Poisson’s “Clouds N’ Shit”

Oh Saskatchewan. A place where flat prairie horizons are engulfed by the massive sky. There’s sky evvvvvveryyyyyywheeeeeeere.
Sometimes there’s clouds and most of us like to watch them. While watching clouds roll over the prairie, it can be fun to imagine the clouds as animals and shapes. Raene Poisson definitely likes to to watch the clouds. She’s taken a slight departure from the usual prairie landscape painter and painted exaggerated, imaginative, fantasy clouds in big vivid colors. Her clouds are big purple monsters, pink sheets and shape shifting bubbling goop.

Raene has an interesting approach to color in her paintings. Her skies are usually dark and slightly ominous, sometimes with streaks of bright sun breaking through the darkness. She has a thing for purples and pinks in her clouds that really makes them stand out in the dark skies. Then there’s the gold accents and metallic interference gels that really capture and move light through her paintings.

What are these about? Is there a message in her use of colors? Maybe they’re about imagination (clouds) and hope (sunlight) as they push through the despairing dark skies. .. Or maybe it’s Raene just playing around making Clouds N’ Shit.



^this one has a Schnabel feel to it as she glued on broken cups and plates to the surface.


Kayle Prive’s “A Look and a Listen”

Music and Art have been Kayla’s companions since her early childhood memories of listening to music with her crayola crayons. Kayla’s show merges music with visual art as she has created multi-media works of art that accompany specific songs. She’s even included a handful of mp3 players for gallery goers to listen to the songs as they explore her artworks.Some of her paintings are very literal, others take some teasing out.
Her memories of crayola are evident in her handling of color. Kayla’s show is an explosion of color that made me want to taste the rainbow and have a candy fix (conveniently, she included cotton-candy lollipops for the taking beside her guest book). Her paintings look like surreal, bubblegum pop, illustrations that are laden with symbols. I felt a bit of 70’s nostalgia, as I was reminded of trippy concert posters and The Beatles Yellow Submarine music video. Kayla might be an inner flower child. Kayla show has a lot of experimentation with media as he mixes in numerous objects and peculiar materials into her portrait scenes.





Kendall Brandt’s “Assemblage”

Kendall’s Brandt has an interesting painting/drawing BFA show that sticks out from the other two shows in the Snelgrove. Kendall’s work isn’t light and easy, and he’s using a more subdued natural palette.

Kendall has paintings and drawings of bodies and people emerging from or disappearing into a fog. Some details in his paintings are beautiful, lush and crisp while other parts are hazy and unfocused. There’s a huge feeling of unknown and a tinge of angst as the figures blur and disappear into their surroundings. It’s hard discerning what is going on because they are strange scenes of certain beauty but also some potent ugliness. Is he trying to mess with us? His figuration is really well done and pleasing to see and then he blurs them, has them disappear, or has them do something strange that makes you question yourself and how you are reading the image.

Then amongst these strange scenes there’s a painting of a cow. What’s that all about? With all of the states of human bodies and random body parts is Kendall addressing existence and mortality. In the long run, are we just bodies after our consciousness enters the fog of unknown.
Ask Kendall about it, and don’t be deceived by his funny nonchalance.






Come by the Snelgrove to check these shows out. The closing reception is Friday from 7-10!


Katlynn Balderstone and Bret Malcom Smith at the Snelgrove Gallery




Katlynn Balderstone’s BFA show Fantasm


Katlynn loves stories. She’s an avid fan of web comics/graphic novels and it shines in her art. Fantasm is a collection of stories, tales, and odd treasures that Katlynn has made into a cohesive series featuring “ghoulies” as the roles. She’s referring to moments and characters in Greek mythology, comic book plots, and video game narratives sometimes cryptically. Fantasm comes from a girl enthralled by fantasy while living in reality. Her “ghoulies” are like Katlynn’s own pokemon that she carries around with her inside her head.


Katlynn’s art is a different show for the Snelgrove Gallery. Her work could be categorized as outsider art. Katlynn isn’t trying to create “high art” her monotypes appear simple and childlike. For her monotypes Katlynn uses thin ink in a limited palette to create what appears like a finger painted silkscreen but with wiped away color and some subtle color blends and halftones. There is a playful youthfulness that is effective for her type of storytelling.










Brett Malcom Smith’s BFA show: the Descent


Brett Smith has created a series of ethereal abstract photos. the Descent captures ink as it is mixed and pulled into water by gravity that appear to look like Hubble telescope images. Some of these photos look like celestial bodies where the play of light/dark – ink/water could be a birth of a star, nebulas, and stellar pillars (see http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/archive/top100/ to see what I’m talking about). 


Bret’s photography show is captivating because he’s able to change the subject entirely: with his cropped images and the natural abstraction people are no longer staring at ink and water but something else. Bret’s images are worth exploring. People look into the clouds and shapes to find meaning deep within themselves… or perhaps searching further for transcendental meaning.




Stop by the Snelgrove to see the shows! Or meet the artists at the closing reception: Friday, March 28th from 7-10pm