Curators: Jann L.M. Bailey, Andrew Hunter and Sarah Jules
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Home Base marks both the Kamloops Art Gallery's 20th anniversary and the opening of our new home. While the exhibition highlights significant works from the Gallery's growing collection of over 1200 works, it is much more than a simple celebration. The goal of the project is to critically engage the Gallery's holdings and exhibition history, the base of future collecting and exhibition activity. Home Base gives viewers a strong sense of the Gallery's past and its projected future.
Home Base presents a representative overview of the Gallery's collection. The exhibition and accompanying publications emphasize our strengths in Canadian and First Peoples contemporary art as well as contemporary and historical work of the region. In the historical area, this is the first opportunity for many to see our sketches of the British Columbia Interior by Group of Seven member A.Y. Jacksonincluding Mount Paul, Kamloops shown here. The KAG has established a strong national reputation for its contemporary and First Peoples programme, and this exhibition will showcase a number of pieces previously exhibited at the Gallery including major works by Shelagh Keeley, Ed Archie Noisecat, Jim Logan, Mary Longman and Barbara Astman.
Mount Paul, Kamloops, BC, 1945
oil on board
26.4 x 34.4 cm
Acc. #. 1995-34
Since its founding in 1978, the Gallery has supported artists of the region, and our holdings are deep in this area. The list of local artists represented in the collection and included in Home Baseis too long to detail here; however, the substantial presence of local artists in the collection is more than evident. This is the first time that many recent acquisitions are exhibited including such notable works as Gordon Appelbe Smith's Pond(1996), Al McWilliams' Man I, Man II (1993) and Carol Martyn's Aureole Nest (1982).
Home Base has been a collaborative undertaking of the Gallery's programming staff and four guest writers who have contributed essays for a series of illustrated publications accompanying the exhibition. Independent writer and curator Annette Hurtig places a selection of key works within the broader context of contemporary art of the past two decades, with an emphasis on experimentation, new media and the changing roles of galleries. Cathy Mastin, Senior Curator of Art at The Glenbow Museum in Calgary, looks at the KAG's holdings of Canadian art from the 1960s and 1970s with particular attention given to the collecting philosophies of public galleries at that time. University of Lethbridge art historian Leslie Dawn explores the Gallery's growing collection of historical Canadian art, considering it within the larger context of Canadian art from 1900 to 1950.
In addition to these essays, Alfred Young Man's book North American Indian Art: It's a Question of Integrity will be published. A professor of Native American Studies at the University of Lethbridge, Young Man's timely, perceptive, often darkly humorous narrative addresses contemporary First Peoples art and culture from the broader perspective of dialogue and conflict between Native and non-Native cultures in North America. His discussion includes the consideration of works from the KAG collection by Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Jane Ash Poitras, Mike MacDonald and Joane Cardinal-Schubert, among others, and challenges definitions of tradition and the portrayal of First Peoples in popular culture. Also, KAG Curator Andrew Hunter's Home Base: Notes to an Installation has been published.
Curator: Andrew Hunter
"Hunter gets full marks for having the courage of his visions—however 'odd or politically incorrect' in this remarkable show. It's spine-tingling, X-files stuff an intoxicating brew of Canadian icons."
Gillian MacKay, The Globe and Mail, Gallery Going, January 31, 1998
Andrew Hunter's Up North: A Northern Ontario Tragedy is based on a proposed spiritual link between the lives and tragic deaths of painter Tom Thomson and Toronto Maple Leafs hero, Bashing Bill Barilko. The project explores relationships between history and myth, fact and fiction, collective and personal memories, developed out of a semi-autobiographical meditation on the significance of art, hockey and the northern wilderness. This innovative exhibition combines Thomson paintings, taxidermy sculptures by contemporary Canadian artist Carl Skelton, photographs and artifacts, hockey memorabilia, fabricated components, songs by The Tragically Hip, and assembled tourist kitsch in a museum-style installation that is accompanied by a pulp-fiction novel.
The link between Thomson and Barilko is their respective status as Canadian legends based on their deaths, under mysterious circumstance, in quintessential northern vehicles. Thomson may be Canada's best known painter. A close friend of (and major influence on) most future members of the Group of Seven, Thomson drowned after a canoeing accident on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park, Ontario in 1917. His death has long been shrouded in mystery, and there is a suggestion that he may in fact have been murdered. Bill Barilko disappeared in the bush north of Kapuskasing, Ontario, in the summer of 1951 after scoring the winning overtime goal in the Stanley Cup finals earlier that year. His body, still strapped into a Fairchild 24 bush plane, was not discovered until 1962, the year the Leafs finally won the cup for the first time since 1951. Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven, hockey and the Toronto Maple Leafs were, for a time, at the heart of a Canadian, and particularly an Ontarian, identity, and Up North explores this idea through the personal reflections of the curator.
Up North was originally presented at the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery in Owen Sound, Ontario, in the summer of 1997. It was reworked and reinstalled at the McMaster Museum of Art in Hamilton, Ontario, in January of 1998, and at the Winnipeg Art Gallery from June through September of this year. The project has been critically acclaimed by The Globe and Mail, CBC Television s On the Arts with Laurie Brown, the Winnipeg Sun, C Magazine and Art and Text (Australia), among others. As with each previous incarnation, Up North will be reworked for Kamloops with new components added reflecting the continuing evolution of the story.
Curator: Ian M. Thom for the Charles H. Scott Gallery at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design
Bertram Charles Binning (1909-1976) had a long and distinguished career as a teacher and arts administrator. After training at the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts (later Vancouver School of Art), he taught first at that school and later in the Department of Architecture at UBC. He started the Fine Arts Department at UBC in 1955 and remained its head until 1968. In 1973 he retired from teaching. Binning received numerous honours in his career: in 1941 he won the Beatrice Stone Medal for Drawing from the Vancouver Art Gallery; in 1957, a Canada Council Senior Fellowship; in 1962, he received the Allied Arts Award from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada; in 1971, he was awarded the Order of Canada and received an Honorary Doctorate from UBC in 1974; finally, he was awarded a posthumous Honorary Doctorate by the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 1997. Binning died in Vancouver on March 16, 1976.
Although for the latter part of his career he was renowned as a teacher and painter who cared passionately about the arts in daily life—the importance of good design, good architecture and a well-considered visual environment—he first came to national prominence through his works on paper. These which span the years 1938-1946 (after which time he devoted himself to painting) and are amongst the most engaging and accomplished drawings produced in Canada.
The exhibition briefly explores his artistic roots and early training but concentrates on the body of ink drawings from the period 1942-1946, when Binning produced a flood of images which celebrate the joys of summer, his delight in the everyday life of small boats, the beach and nature. The means are simple—usually just pen and ink—but the results have a conviction which is both aesthetically rigourous and fun. Matisse, Picasso and several other artists provided Binning with clues for finding his mature style but he found a vocabulary which was uniquely and unmistakably his own.
Form and Meaning features over fifty drawings brought together from the collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery and the holdings of the artist's widow Mrs. Jessie Binning. The Kamloops Art Gallery will be the only venue to host this travelling exhibition.
The exhibition and catalogue have been supported by a generous grant from The Audain Foundation.
Publication: Form and Meaning: The Drawings of B.C. Binning, 48 page catalogue published by the Charles H. Scott Gallery, essay by Ian M. Thom.
Organized by: the Kamloops Art Gallery Curator; Andrew Hunter
Montreal-born, Vancouver-based artist Odette LeBlanc's project Public Girls—Reaching for Paradise has been strategically programmed to coincide with Form and Meaning: The Drawings of B.C. Binning. Like many of Binning's drawings, Leblanc's Public Girls takes as its focus the domestic environment, architecture, and the melding of an aesthetic philosophy with the practicalities of daily life. Furthermore, both projects are grounded in drawing, Binning using traditional media on paper, LeBlanc employing interactive computer technology. Yet where there are clear overlaps in form, there are distinct differences in meaning: where Binning's work is often lyrical and humorous, Leblanc's exhibits a critical, often sinister edge.
Since completing the Masters of Fine Art programme at the University of Quebec (Montreal, 1994), LeBlanc has been producing and presenting an intense brand of performance, video and installation work in exhibitions across Canada, in Germany and Switzerland. A constant in all of her work has been an exploration of relationships between technology and sexuality, power and the designed environment. Public Girls continues this focus. It is both a static installation of computer generated images of a modern domestic interior and an interactive CD-ROM based on these same images. The original source for these manipulated images was a 1950s article in Playboy magazine describing the ideal bachelor apartment.
In the bachelor paradise, modern design, sexual freedom, mobility and disposable income combine to create a universe with the bachelor male as its unequivocal centre. The playboy resides like a god in a lofty apartment at the centre of the city; from here all dreams are possible. As modernist design purges feminine excess, the bachelor yearns for a place untainted by the feminine touch of mother or wife .... Appealing to the reader who is a 'sophisticated connoisseur of the lively arts' and enjoys 'good living,' Playboy worked on a pedagogical level to create a certain notion of culture. — Odette LeBlanc.
Through the computer manipulation of the original illustrations from the Playboy article, LeBlanc disrupts this image of both an ideal bachelor environment and pure modernism through the application of bold, decorative colour and by inserting images of the feminine into the space. Again the pairing of LeBlanc's project with the Binning exhibition is a considered one as Binning is clearly associated with the modernist philosophy of architecture and design Public Girls attempts to occupy and disturb.
A critical component of this project will be the artist's talk and Round Table Discussion which will focus on the relationship between the body (its representation and manipulation) and new technologies.
Publication: CD-ROM with booklet including essay by Andrew Hunter, published by the Western Front (Vancouver).
Roger Bywater's installation project considers the links between fact and fiction within representations of history. Furthermore, it explores the influences that "pop" culture representations of historical figures and events have on the evolution and perpetuation of the conversion of myth and fantasy into historic "fact." Taking as his focus the death of the legendary outlaw Billy the Kid (William H. Bonney), Bywater dissects the final confrontation between Billy and his killer, Sheriff Pat Garrett, as staged in two of the most famous film versions of Billy's life, Arthur Penn's The Left Handed Gun (1958, starring Paul Newman) and Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973, starring Kris Kristofferson). Bywater breaks the films down into a series of stills and captions running parallel around the gallery walls in a format that echoes the storyboard, a standard way of developing film narrative. By freezing the film in this way, Bywater gives the viewer the opportunity to explore in detail the underlying structure of each film while making a shot by shot comparison between both representations of the death of Billy and Garrett's reaction.
Fort Sumner, New Mexico - Photo: Andrew Hunter
The Death(s) of Billy the Kid is, however, about more than just contrasting two films. The project specifically addresses the idea that historical representations are the product of the era they are produced in (not necessarily an accurate depiction of the period they purport to represent). The character of Billy is radically different in the two film versions Bywater deals with. Arthur Penn's Billy is very much the reflection of a late 1950s America showing Billy as a kind of "rebel without a cause." Peckinpah's vision of Billy is violent, he is a lost soul unfit for a changing world, a product of an America at the end of the Vietnam war.
There have been a phenomenal number of depictions of the life of Billy the Kid ranging from over twenty "authentic" biographies to comic books, pulp novels, close to one-hundred films and even a ballet. In the end it is probably impossible to present a "truly" historical picture of Billy. In fact, as Stephen Tatum states in Inventing Billy the Kid, it is Canadian author Michael Ondaatje's poetic fiction The Collected Works of Billy the Kid which may offer the most &accurate" portrayal of the life and legacy of Billy.
Billy the Kid's Grave - Old Fort Sumner, New Mexico -July, 1997
Photo: Andrew Hunter
Exhibition is accompanied by a publication with text by Andrew Hunter.
Kim Clarke Photography
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