3 Gallery Shows you Need to See in YXE -Wanuskewin

There’s been a lot of talk these last few weeks from people in Saskatoon, including our city council, expressing concern about Saskatoon not having an art gallery during the period of the Mendel closure and the Remai opening.
(The Mendel is closing its doors June 7th and the Remai is expected to open Summer/Fall 2016 http://www.thestarphoenix.com/entertainment/Move+Remai+Modern+more+than+year+away/10757291/story.html)

Now don’t get me wrong, I am definitely going to miss the Mendel Art Gallery and I am extremely excited about the Remai Modern Art Gallery; but Saskatoon has other art galleries…and they are awesome. There are currently some great exhibitions at AKA Artists Run Center, U of S College Galleries, and Wanuskewin Heritage Park that you shouldn’t miss.

Today Wanuskewin

Did you know that Wanuskewin has not only one, but two art galleries?

Wally Dion’s show “Polygon” is up in the smaller gallery. You might be familiar with Wally’s previous work “Star Blankets” where he fused technology with tradition by creating star blankets out of computer circuit boards. His new work in “Polygons” is exciting. Polygon can be separated into two areas of study both are sculptural paintings that explore colour and pattern. In one series he cuts and layers colored paper to create work that is fascinating to inspect. They remind me of Frank Stella’s early work but with a twist – loud colours and relief make them optically engaging to view.




His other work in Polygons are geometric wall sculptures that are a beautiful mix of raw and polished. The frames are raw plywood with a super glossy vibrant painted interior. The sculptures feel modern and fresh while still feeling like they carry references to tradition, Neo Tribal maybe.



The larger gallery at Wanuskewin is “Eco Indian”¬† with art by Michael Belmore, Amy Malbeuf, Mary Longman, Tanya Harnett and David Garneau. Stepping into the great hall I was floored, with beautifully tall ceilings and excellent lighting the great hall is the nicest gallery room in Saskatoon. Eco-Indian is a contemporary exhibit challenging Aboriginal stereotypes examining Aboriginal worldviews and environmental relationship in a modern context.

I was captivated immediately by Amy Malbeuf’s huge sculpture. Using a massive apparatus she displays stretched animal skins pulled tight but floating across the far gallery wall 15 feet high by 40 feet long. The animals are native to the plains: beaver, coyote, muskrat, rabbit, fox but have safety vests sewn into them. What does it say? I’m not sure exactly, but I was rethinking our relationship with our natural wildlife. We exist in this place but rarely think about or encounter these animals whose land we have displaced. Yes, immediately I thought about road kill but I also thought about “safety culture” where we are sheltered from and ignorant about wilderness and wildlife.



David Garneau had a video playing of a native man dressed as a clown washed the oil from a dead owl. Clowns are creepy and circus music is even creepier, but this video was worth watching. An owl is symbolic of wisdom and guidance but has also represented Aboriginal people. The act of washing the slimy oil from an owl is uncomfortable to watch but timely considering Canada’s current political agenda. Oil centered economics and continued growth of the tar sands despite environmental warnings and upheaval about destroying indigenous lands fits into the dialogue of this clown film.


Michael Belmore has a sculpture of a fawn laying dead on the gallery floor. The fawn is a beautiful piece of work. The clay has a rusted patina on its surface with hints of glowing bronze in the interior. Upon inspection, the fawn is cut into strange segments. Could be about society’s disregard and rude attitude towards nature for hints of profit, I’m not sure. But it’s a piece of beauty.


There’s sculptures by Mary Longman and photos from Tanya Harnett but I need to leave something to be discovered.

Located just 5 minutes out of the north end of the city, Wanuskewin is totally worth the trip.


It’s Prime Time at the Snelgrove

It’s Prime Time!
How does that enthusiastic phrase feel to you?

I hear the phrase like a jingle from a radio voice
and I feel like drinking a beer.

Come down to the Snelgrove and over analyze a title of a show, sprinkled with nostalgic longings and drink a refreshing cold beer.
Because you’re worth it.

Over the last two weeks the U of S MFA students brought their studios to the Snelgrove Gallery where they set up a process show. The idea is simple: bring something to show what you’ve been working on and maybe also something to work on. In my opinion it works better than just inviting the public into the MFA studios for an evening. Why? Because people might be able to come in and actually watch you work – how NOVEL! This Art takes Process?? Also people can revisit to see progression. ALSO If an artist is involved with installations can actually use a gallery setting (rather than a studio). For me, I’m bad at fixed schedules so I got to visit the show a few times at odd hours to appreciate it. So let’s talk about the show.

The shows organized with each MFA student having a little parcel of gallery to their work. I know that I might sometimes bitch about too much didactic but this show needs SOMETHING. It’s like an inside joke, I’d like to know who is making what but there is no way of knowing. It’s also good to have a little blurb or something for the folks that might just be wandering (wondering) in the gallery. Maybe say where the grad studios are currently situated..about the MFA program..about Process.. ya ok

So the art. As I entered I was greeted by Andrei Fehergyhazi who is doing ink spot/splash/swipe experiments that he’s photographing and to possibly animate (I’m not really sure) Andrei looked like he is working in an art lab and for added effect had a giant monitor at his station playing some of his commercial animation work.


Alexandra Thiesson was working on some insanely rich and detailed chalk pastel works. It was neat seeing her work, since I could never do that. She had a clean system to eliminate smudges and tiny little dirt devil vacuum for the dust. Alexandra has some crazy patience and love for patterns and fabrics. She also has some serious balls leaving her work sitting on a table unfixed and unwatched in an empty gallery. I might be being a cynic but people are stupid with art, you can’t trust the public to not touch art.


Corinna Wolf has a large scale drawing that she has been previously been working on in Italy. There’s some European inspired architecture that I’m interested in seeing once completed.

I think* this might be Robyn Anderson’s work since I knew her previous work has been centered on myths, fairy tales and storytelling. If this turns into a gallery sized diorama¬† or haunting creepy Tim Burton style environment then I’m excited!


No idea who made this crazy roll of lace-like papercuts and what exactly will happen from it, but I’m excited
–Please use light and shadow with it!


I’m not sure who made this giant landscape drawing, but it’s been nice to see how it has changed since my first visit.
Working on a sheet of paper that big would be epic


Doesn’t look like much (I think her stuff was not fully put out when I visited) but Dana Chisolm’s work sure sounds cool. Repurposing industrial and found materials in her sculptures, she has an intriguing interest in utility and art.


This last one I’m thinking about. Xiao Hun has made a little installation that looks like the starting of a dining room, I’m not going to talk about it because I want to learn more about what she’s doing.


OK, so there was a quick glimpse into my take on the MFA Process show “Prime Time”
If you are anywhere close to intrigued like I am, then you should pop in and check it out. The MFA’s will be there to chat and the beer will be cold, and 7-10 is PRIME TIME to visit the Snelgrove Gallery.
Hahaha I had to do it. Check out the show, last chance tomorrow!

Tonight is SILENCE!

~~SILENCE and read this blog post mortal earthlings!~~
Tonight is VASU’s annual silent auction “Silence!” The Snelgrove Gallery is packed to its gills in a salon style manner adorned with a plethora of student art.
What is Silence? It’s a fundraiser for the Visual Art Students’ Union as well as a chance for art students to show and sell some of their creative work they’ve been doing. It’s also a party with drinks, food, and music. People of all shapes and forms can enjoy themselves, bid on art (usually for amazing prices), win door prizes, take photo-booth pics, and revel in everything good.
I’ve also heard someone was bringing a swaddle of lil bity cutie pooty puppy dogs too (*yet to be confirmed)

Some of my favorite student artists are representing their work including: Aralia Maxwell, Yonina Rollack, Jory Simpson, Emily Koelert, Kenton Doupe, Stepanie Mah, Jordan “the Bulge” Bulgis, Michael Tremblay, and Shelby Lechman (there’s many many more to mention but my anorexic fingers are getting tired)

Here’s a little tantalizing treat for your visual tastebuds


^Kenton Doupe is steppin up his drawing game with his recent crispy clean drawings.


Shelby Lechmen has been creating these elegant and subtly beautiful monoprints


Devon Roy put in this massive drawing. Little bit of inner madness, identity crisis thing going on maybe? I dig it!


Jordan Bulgiss is fine tuning his expressive brushwork, with this sly lookin lady.


Everyone that is anyone in the Art Department knows who this is. The beloved Snelgrove Gallery Director Marcus Miller of course! Now you can own him!! errrrr.. a painting of him


Michael Tremblay has these insane drawing/pencil crayon pictures. They are fucking hysterical and totally rad.


Yonina Rollack has silkscreens and collagraph prints in her excellent graphic style.


Stephanie Mah’s delicate silkscreen monoprint is sure nice


Jory Simpsons got his silk screen technique dialed in.


^It wouldn’t be Silence without a Lego sculpture from Terry! He’s riffing on University politics with this re-imagining of the U of S campus.

OK that’s enough of teaser photos. I’ve purposely left out some of my other favorites so that you have to come down to Silence to see if for yourself. Tonight Dec.5th, 7-10!

“Self Same” Maia Stark’s MFA show

Maia Stark has had her MFA show “Self Same” up at the Snelgrove Gallery AND TODAY IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO CHECK IT OUT IN PERSON!!
but I guess if you can’t see it live you can at least read about it online.


I’ve had a bit of an obsession with pink lately (or the last year!) so I was excited when I walked into the gallery to see this.


A huge pink title wall!!
What’s with pink? It’s a crazy color. It’s more than being girlie, pink is extreme on the eye. It’s really GROSS and that’s why I like it!
So from this pink wall, I was intrigued “is there something gross in this exhibit??” (more of this later on)

Maia’s exhibit is dominated by some large oil paintings with some smaller mixed media and drawings.

You’ll probably find this out, but I’ll just say it: Maia is a twin. She has a twin sister that I often confuse with her, Cassandra.

How do you feel about twins? Some people are a bit freaked out by them, some might think they are weird or perhaps even tricksters. As a non-twins, they are a bit of a mystery. I’ve read psychology studies that have spoken about mental connections between twins. They’ve been known to share physical symptoms as well as each others depression and pain. Society through the ages have shared my fascination with twins. There’s myths and stories regarding twins in many cultures.

Maia is looking at her personal story of being a twin with some mythology mixed in.


Light boxes are cool. Maia has a series of three layered drawings that are quite beautiful. I love looking through the layers and appreciating the nuances.


While most of her work includes two people. Maia has some photographic work that duplicates herself and in another combines her and her sister through collage. Her double exposure photo is really cool, with two heads mind merging. Her collage has Maia creating hybrids of herself and her sister by collaging pieces of the their faces together.

IMG_2238 IMG_2239

Ok, so back to me wondering if there was anything gross in the exhibition. There is some cryptic gross elements to some of Maia’s painting. There seems to be a reoccurring skin condition in most of them. I’m intrigued and would like to know why!


Why are we fascinated with twins? I think non-twins are really missing out. With the risk of sounding cheezy they have a “soul friend” that have a deeper understanding of each other than anyone else. A twin without a twin feels so alone… is that the way I feel all the time?


Make sure to come visit the Snelgrove tonight for Maia’s reception! 7-9 with drinks and snacks.
We can talk about twins and stuff!

Pamela Ollenberger’s “Many Feathers Flock Together: A Celebration of T-Bird”

This week at the Snelgrove is Pam Ollenberger’s MFA show “Many Feathers Flock Together”

Her work is a reflection and celebration of fond memories when Pam worked as a camp counselor at Camp Thunderbird, a camp for adults with intellectual disabilities.

Pam’s show looks awesome in the gallery. Her paintings are massive, colorful explorations of memory, where Pam uses a lot of different painting materials and techniques. With the lights being dim and calm the bright crayola colors seem to glow and jump out of her paintings. Each painting also has a sophisticated black frame. I don’t know if it was just me, but I really noticed the gallery floor during Pam’s exhibition. It could have been freshly waxed and buffed, but the bright rich colors of Pam’s paintings spilled out and reflected onto and activated the floor of the gallery.


Pam’s paintings gave me a load of feelings of childhood nostalgia. I went back to my own memories of summer camps as a kid. Allow me to reflect, summer camps are something sincerely special. The week (or two week) span of a summer camps feels as if it’s something SO EPIC. I remember coming out of summer camp and feeling like it was a month or two because the experiences were so rich and concentrated. Friendships were made, crushes formed, lessons learned, and camp counselors were always heroes. OK reflection over, sorry If you didn’t do summer camps as a kid.


My favorite paintings of Pam’s were here photo-transfer / painting collages.
The source imagery for these if pretty neat. Pam gave out disposable cameras to campers to document their day as they want you to see it. Her massive paintings look at little like a Rauschenberg without the pop culture imagery. There’s a lot going on in them so you can spend some time exploring the imagery. Pam also has painted over areas both additively and reductively.


Many of Pam’s paintings have recognizable elements with hints of an inner story. I’m sure that they have loads of meaning once dissected, or with Pam’s help.


Come down to the Snelgrove to see Pam’s massive paintings for yourself!
ORRR come for a drink and snacks at the reception Friday evening! Cya at the Snelgrove

Aminah Jomah’s “Liminality” MFA Show


Last Friday was the closing reception of Aminah Jomah’s MFA Show “Liminality: A Transient Gaze” at the Snelgrove Gallery.
Liminality can mean barely perceptible or of being in an intermediate state. What a great word for her show. Aminah Jomah is a Lebanese Canadian that is exploring her identity, past, and connection to place between being Canadian and being Lebanese. She uses photos from a return visit from Lebanon mixed with memory as her source material.
Aminah’s show could be divided into two segments: her large scale paintings and her photography based work.
Immediately upon walking in you are greeted by her paintings. Aminah’s paintings range between sweeping urban landscapes to haunting interiors. Her urban landcapes look to be an intersection between old and new. There’s scattered building materials a deconstructed buildings that reconstruct into other buildings, perhaps speaking to the internal process of mentally recreating place/memory. She uses loads of mark making techniques that include rough charcoal architectural flow lines that a contribute to the feeling that place and memory is constructed.


The paint on her canvas is also interesting as there’s areas that have been painted once securely while other areas have thickly applied paint that could have been painted over numerous times. There were little details like found treasures in her paintings that I particularly enjoyed.

Her interior paintings look as if a camera caught a ghost on film. There’s someone there but you’re not really sure what it is supposed to be. This could speak to becoming Canadian or keeping Lebanese or a mix of both.
Another thing I really enjoyed was hearing her family talk about her paintings. In one painting, originally one of my least favorites, I heard Aminah’s family excitedly recognize and dissect parts of the painting arguing with each others recollection of memory. This gave whole new insight and new appreciation to her work!

Aminah’s other room was curtained off displaying her photography work displayed on hand made light boxes. This was my favorite. Entering the space through the curtain, you are hit by the ambiance. The mood in this room is reflective and meditative as the room feels as if it is slowly breathing by the rhythmic central light slowly dimming and lighting up. Then there’s the displays: her light boxes are all different sizes, irregularly hung. People in this room stayed a while having to sometimes kneel down or tippy toe to peak into the light box displays. The photo work in the light boxes were interesting, she drew and painted additively and reductively onto the photos making them less about documentation and more of a personal reflection. The subject material was similar to some of the paintings, interior landscapes sometimes with a ghost-like figure. I really loved this room.



This week at the Snelgrove and next post: Chiaka McNaughton’s MFA show “Unhome: Objects of Vulnerability” up until Oct. 9th. Go check out some art!

“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/