Cam McKay at Green Ark on 20th St.

Have you heard of Green Ark Collected Home on 20th St? It’s local furniture and decor store located next to the 220 Building (Collective Coffee, Hardpressed, etc). Green Ark showcases local art amongst their beautiful space featuring handcrafted and repurposed furniture.

Local Artist Cam McKay has a beauty of a show up right now. Cam’s been previously doing abstracted city-scapes with poles and wires giving them a geometric modernist flare.  This show Cam has taken his geometric abstraction and ran with it. His newest works looks like he took leap into Suprematism creating geometric paintings that are balanced and dazzling. Some might find his palette gross and too Miami, but I love the hot neons and pastels that Cam is using. In some of his colour blocks Cam has juicy fades or patterns that reminded me of Roy Lichtenstein’s experimental work.

Here’s a few snaps of the show, make sure to drop by Green Ark for the real deal!

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Memorsion at Paved Arts *Upstairs!

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Have you ever had a dream that you were inside of a television.. and the TV was playing Blade Runner?

That’s how I felt as I explored the new video installation “Memorsion” by Manuel Chantre at Paved Arts Center. It’s like a strange techno dream that you are trying to sort out what is reality, what is virtual and what is memory. Chantre chose images that feels like a grimy industrial future.Empty of inhabitants his images explore something lost but still there: weathered concrete overpasses, abandoned office buildings, empty doorways, littered alleys and dirty graffiti. Most of the video and imagery has disfiguring shadows, light strobing and filtered effects so that you are trying piece together what you are actually seeing. It’s predominantly in black and white, but there’s an occasional blast of colour that shocks you. There’s also occasional close up images of people performing daily rituals of washing their faces and brushing their hair. For me, seeing people in the video created a more enriching inner narrative as I put these places into a human-relation context.

During the artist talk, Manuel mentioned that he was inspired by some of the grand abandoned architecture from the 1936 Berlin Olympics. I loved that idea and I could feel his inspiration in his work. Something about humans’ grand plans, hubris and impermanence..reminded me of poem the Statue (of Ozymandias) but this statue being the city.

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With 16 -10 foot screens, and stirring soundtrack; Memorsion is truly an immersive experience. Manual Chantre has transformed the upstairs event space: the walls disappear while the screens’ projected material seems to float. The screens are well engineered: they are transparent enough to allow light to pass through them but opaque enough to keep a clear image. The space has a transformative effect on the viewer. Viewers become ghosts as they wander the space sometimes appearing as shadows or another projected surface. Then there’s the coolest part:   it’s a dynamic video that changes with gallery traffic. There are infrared cameras that trigger different video sequences that are spliced into the program if there are people in the infrared area. Besides the video changing, the space feels differently with depending on the amount of people in it.

When I visited Memorsion, I first explored the space finding different vantage points and layers of screens. But I found staying in a fixed position, sitting and staring through the exhibit to be the most enjoyable. I could see a screen clearly as the rest of the screens blurred and warped around my periferal views feeling more immersive.

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Memorsion is upstairs at Paved Arts until Feb 21. Paved Arts is open Tues-Fri (12-6) and Saturday (12-4).
Head to 20th Street to check it out!

This is Reel: the Art of Documentary at Snelgrove

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Students from the Art and Art History documentary class have an exhibit up at the Snelgrove this week. The show is a mixed bag with a variety of photo collections documenting events, people and places such as: “We Day”, A comic/fantasy convention, neglected rural barns, a dene/metis community, 20th Street W, the Roxy Theater, prairie barns, and a local musician.

To be honest, at first I didn’t enjoy this exhibit. The students’ documentary collections were so varied in subject, size, and style that as a whole it seemed unorganized, amateurish, and sometimes boring. But it was after Floranne St.Amand McLaughlin’s projected photo essay relating old traveling “freak shows” with the modern media’s reality star infatuation that I began looking at each set of documentary collections with a more critical eye. 

When looking at this documentary exhibit with a critical eye it became quite entertaining. The notions of documentary is something interesting to dwell on. Documentary is posed as the truth but it is fabricated truth. The person presenting the documentary is choosing, editing, filtering the truth through themselves choosing what the viewer sees. This paradox of the documentary being fabricated truth makes the exhibit’s title “This is Reel…” more than just a play on words. It makes you question the artists’ choices and strategies.

Each student had a written didactic to go with their photo collections. For me, these written didactics seemed mostly excessive and unnecessary but they did give you an easy explanation of their documentary projects without having to study the photos.

 

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^Floranne St.Amand McLaughlin’s photo essay looking at the “freak show” and reality TV. She took a funny approach at it by comparing the multiple birth phenomena in early days being viewed in freak-shows and today being viewed in reality TV series like “John and Kate plus 8”. Floranne’s work makes you ask “is it the stage that makes the freak?”

 

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Jannik Plaetner’s work dominates the exhibit in size and quantity showing scenes from a rural aboriginal community. They are pretty photos with loads of juxtaposition: poverty housing amongst big new trucks. I wondered what did he choose to capture and not capture?

There was a sparse portrait of 20th St West, where the individual explained that it was a love letter to the area dispelling the myth that you might get stabbed. With that in mind, examining the photos and how they were displayed becomes interesting. Did she choose not to take her photos empty of inhabitants to make them more palatable to people with worries associated to the neighborhood?  Why black and white photos? Does that bring some kind of nostalgia to an area that is drastically changing with gentrification?

There was a group of photos dedicated to memories and the changing prairie landscape. The artist in her didactic writes that she fondly remembers exploring the strange wonders of the interior of a dilapidated barn in her youth and later returning to find it gone. Yet her photos only showed the exterior of these barns/sheds. Why did she choose to show the insides of these places? Was she worried about the affect being creepy rather than nostalgic? She chose to show the barns alone on the prairie. Which had an affect making these barns more isolated and seemingly at risk.

The closing reception is tonight from 7-9pm. Why don’t you stop by and digest some documentary art for yourself?