Richard Watts: Three Seasons

Two Rivers Gallery, Prince George, BC \ April 11 to July 13

Toronto-based sculptural artist Richard Watts has been working with skin and bone for several years. Here he uses gauze and vulcanized rubber tree sap from Burma to fashion translucent and sometimes haunting “skins,” modelled after natural and industrial objects such as rocks and canoes. Watts interprets the devastating effects of climate change through the fragility and temporality ofthese earthly tapestries.

Shield Kimono Spirit Catching Thunderbird | 2012 | Richard Watts
Shield Kimono Spirit Catching Thunderbird | 2012 | Richard Watts
Part of the Three Seasons exhibit in Prince George, BC from April 11 to July 13, 2014.
Photo courtesy of Richard Watts.

Ian Johnston: Reinventing Consumption

Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, Ontario \ April 30 to August 3

Since the Industrial Revolution, Western societies have grown accustomed to accumulating objects and items whose use-value is often trivial. Ian Johnston uses sculpture and installation to examine how manufacturing and waste affect different cultures and geographies. Viewers will be confronted by larger issues of globalization, pollution and mass-production while contemplating their own often-dangerous practices of consumption.

Read more about this exhibit on the Made in Canada blog.

Ian Johnston: reinventing Consumption, Between the Lines Light) (detail)
Between the Lines (Light) (detail) | 2010 | silkscreened stoneware
Photo courtesy of Ian Johnston.

High Adventure: Byron Harmon in the Columbia Icefield, 1924

Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton \ March 29 to August 17

In 1924, Alberta-based photographer Byron Harmon headed for the Rocky Mountains with one 35mm film camera and four still cameras. High Adventure traces Harmon’s journey from its beginnings in Lake Louise to its culmination in Maligne Lake by using the artist’s fascinating visual material. The exhibition also marks the 90th anniversary of both the Art Gallery of Alberta and Harmon’s expedition.

columbia icefield trip, side glacier to saskatchewan Glacier | 1924 | Byron Harmon, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies.
Columbia Icefield Trip, side glacier to Saskatchewan Glacier | 1924
Byron Harmon, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies.

7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc.

Winnipeg Art Gallery \ May 10 to August 31

Jackson Beardy, Eddy Cobiness, Alex Janvier, Norval Morrisseau, Daphne Odjig, Carl Ray and Joseph Sanchez have ruptured cultural stereotypes of Indigenous art by demanding recognition as professional artists. Not only was this so-called ‘Indian Group of Seven’ instrumental to establishing Indigenous art as an important facet within contemporary art, but they did it by culling Indigenous visual iconography, often based on the natural environment, as a rich source of subject matter. Ultimately, this exhibition represents the lasting importance of their historical and artistic legacy.

Medicine Bear | 1977 | Carl Ray | acrylic on canvas
Medicine Bear | 1977 | Carl Ray | acrylic on canvas

The Source: Rethinking Water through Contemporary Art

Rodman Hall Art Centre, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario \ May 23 to September 28

Though clean water is a basic element of life, it’s fast becoming a serious concern in Canada, and as such its political significance has increased. The 10 artists involved in this exhibition examine different social histories and the cultural, economic and political significance of water through the language of visual art. The result is a poignant and compelling encounter with something we often take for granted, but which remains immensely complex.

Submersible (Hogarth) #1 | 2013 | Patrick Mahon ink on wood. Photo courtesy of Rodman Hall Art Centre.
Submersible (Hogarth) #1 | 2013 | Patrick Mahon ink on wood. Photo courtesy of Rodman Hall Art Centre.


Canadian Museum of History, Gatineau, Québec \ Until September 28, 2014

This fundamental characteristic of Canadian artistry, identity and cultural history is on display through artworks, artefacts and objects. The 300 items in this exhibition – from horse snowshoes to hooked rugs to foot warmers – range from the practical to the bizarre. That being said, Snow is geared toward all ages and offers a fascinating relief from the heat of the summer sun in more ways than one.

Maple Sugar Harvest | Alice Rioux | hooked rug
Maple Sugar Harvest | Alice Rioux | hooked rug

Doing Our Own Thing: Back-to-the-Land in Eastern Canada during the 1970s

Cape Breton University Art Gallery, Sydney, Nova Scotia \ June 13 to August 15

Curators Amish Morrell and Pan Wendt have organized a regional visual history of the back-to-the-land movement at the height of its influence, signified by a return to rural areas from urban centres and an emphasis on small-scale food production for friends and family. Comprised of sculpture, texts and photography, this exhibition reconsiders the movement’s philosophical application to the present and the utopian potential that made it attractive to so many Canadians.

Portrait of Lynn Zimmerman, Margaree Harbour,Cape Breton | early 1970’s | George Thomas | Kodachrome slide. Photo courtesy of Amish Morell.
Portrait of Lynn Zimmerman, Margaree Harbour, Cape Breton | early 1970’s | George Thomas | Kodachrome slide.
Photo courtesy of Amish Morell.

The Natural & The Manufactured

Tikibiing Booskikamigaag | 2013 | Dylan Miner | RISO print
Tikibiing Booskikamigaag | 2013 | Dylan Miner | RISO print
This 24-page booklet chronicles the Indigenous history of Spring Grove
(now Flint, MI)and catalogues the area’s edible and medicinal plants.

ODD Gallery, Klondike Institute of Art & Culture, Dawson City, Yukon \ August 14 to September 19

Contributing to a series of thematic exhibitions co-organized by ODD and the Klondike Institute’s artist-in-residence program, Dylan Miner and Terence Houle forge new site-specific artworks, both inside and outside the gallery, which respond to the Yukon’s natural environment, culture and economy. An additional exhibition and residency by Guelph-based printmaker and illustrator Alison Judd will feature Moosehide Slide, an installation that engages Dawson’s City’s ancient landslide.

Louis Helbig: Sunken Villages

Agnes Jamieson Gallery, Minden Hills Cultural Centre, Minden, Ontario \ July 8 to August 23

The construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1958 was one of the biggest industrial projects of its time. The US$470-million project, meant to open the Great Lakes to ocean-going vessels, required more than 14,000 hectares of prime land to be flooded and 6,500 people to leave their homes. Thanks to the water-filtering abilities of zebra mussels, building and road foundations are now visible through the water, and Helbig has been capturing 10 of these sunken villages in large-format aerial photographs since 2009.

Read our September, 2013 review.

Wales Building One | Louis Helbig
Wales Building One | Louis Helbig

Ken Hall's The Legacy Project: A Story of Hope

Grey Roots Museum & Archives Owen Sound, Ontario \ May 17 to September 1

Confronted by our environmental policy of economic development at all costs, Canadian artist Ken Hall created Legacy as a graphic reminder of the cost of ignoring our impact on the environment. The audience is surrounded by a life-sized killer whale skeleton carved entirely from reclaimed cedar while undulating silk banners and projection lighting give the sensation of watery movement and light filtering through from above. Through this immersive and emotionally compelling experience, visitors are invited to explore the fragile nature of our complex ecosystems and discuss our role within them.

Ken Hall's The Legacy Project.
Photo courtesy Ken Hall.

Matthew Ryan Smith, PhD, is a freelance writer, independent curator and educator based in London, Ontario. His writings have appeared in several Canadian and international art publications including Canadian Art Magazine, First American Art Magazine and FUSE Magazine. He has recently completed a book chapter on unsanctioned graffiti and street art in Post-Apartheid South Africa.

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