Looking Back: Portraits and Figures from the Cassady McCourt Collection
Common Sense is pleased to invite visual art enthusiasts from Edmonton and around the world to attend the opening reception for “Looking Back: Portraits and Figures from the Cassady McCourt Collection” from 2 – 4 pm on Saturday, October 19th.
Featuring works by an eclectic mix of artists from here and abroad, “Looking Back” presents a selection of figurative sculptures and pictures from the personal collection of local Edmonton artists Nola Cassady McCourt and Ryan McCourt.
The exhibition is divided into two parts. The front half of the gallery consists of a number of pastel drawings on paper and oil paintings on board by Nola Cassady McCourt. This is the first time these pictures have been exhibited in Edmonton. The back half of the gallery features a selection of artworks by various artists working in two and three dimensions. The artists represented here include Franklin Einspruch, Ryan McCourt, Edie McIntyre, Gabriela Rosende, Kiyoshi Saito, Dean Smale, and Maril Staples.
I first met Mitchel Smith in 1982, shortly after he had graduated from the fine arts program at the University of Alberta. He was making abstract paintings which were quite good at that early stage, but what I remember most from that meeting was being impressed by his seriousness, his awareness and appreciation of the Modernist tradition and his determination to find a place for his art within that tradition. At the time, I was a curator at the Edmonton Art Gallery, and a few years later I had the opportunity to organize an exhibition of Smith’s work. The show featured a group of largish paintings in which mostly dark shades of paint had been thinly scraped over raw canvas grounds. The drawing comprised simple, looping sweeps of paint, pulled over the whole surface, that brought to mind the allover paintings of Jules Olitski and John Griefen, but also had a bit of the sombre evocativeness of some of Morris Louis’ darker veil paintings. They were direct and uncomplicated, but also ambitious, and they suggested that Smith likely had much to offer.
One thing to note is that, for an artist beginning to show his art in the mid-eighties, choosing to make abstract painting was not really the best way to launch a career. Art criticism in the second half of the 20th Century had become solidly dominated by discussion of ideas and issues, and there was little place for that kind of cultural analysis when it came to painting that resided within the pure tradition of Modernist abstraction. What is remarkable, looking back from a quarter century later, is how single-mindedly Smith has kept faith with his commitment to that Modernist tradition – and also how determined he has been to do so without adding accretions or twists to his art that would stamp it as “original” in that bad way that characterizes the work of so many artists hoping to draw attention to their art as something different and new. Of course, Smith has tweaked things from time to time, small changes that might open the way to fuller expression, but for the most part his art has focused on the same strategies and obsessions, relying on empirical experimentation – plain old trial and error – to bring things to fruition. The title that he has chosen for this show, Faktura, pretty well expresses this: painting that is about surface, nuanced – usually close-valued – colour, and the deft manipulation of the physical materials of paint.
Such “close-to-the essence” painting is difficult to write about. You can comment on the colour in Smith’s paintings, which is usually subtle, slow to register and resonate, or the drawing, which is generally expressed in the simple contours of the collaged shapes that he attaches more or less centrally onto his painted grounds. Or you can talk about the scale, for the most part modest and intimate in a way that enhances and amplifies (much like analytic cubist painting) the quiet, tactility of his surfaces. Or the simple, centred layout, which, combined with the smaller scale, imbues his paintings with a powerful and unexpected presence. This is an itemized list of ingredients and, without talent and a rare kind of visual intelligence – the most important and elusive ingredients – it wouldn’t amount to much.
Mitchel Smith’s paintings do amount to much and, in the context of everything else that going on in the art world at large, that “much” is something that is quietly impressive. As I’ve suggested, they don’t attract a lot of attention to themselves. But they deserve attention, and they reward it, in the same way that all good painting rewards attention.
A recent transplant to Edmonton, Walter Early is originally from Kentucky. He developed an interest in sculpture while attending the University of Kentucky, where he received his BFA. Early continued his studies at the University of Notre Dame, earning an MFA in 2011.
In 2012, with support from the Henry Moore Foundation, Walter Early was a resident artist at the Museum of Steel Sculpture in Coalbrookdale, England before moving to Edmonton to teach sculpture at the University of Alberta.
“Coloring Book” will be Early’s first solo exhibition in Canada.
Walter Early’s work explores object valuation systems. Research revolves around similarities in justification for the preservation of objects in both personal and institutional collections. Formally, the work draws from the language of fragments with a splash of still life painting and photography. His use of incomplete forms asks questions pertaining to how issues such as material and provenance influence collection practices.
“Coloring Book” runs from November 30 – December 15, with an Opening Reception November 30, 7-11 PM.
The artist will be in attendance.
Charles Grabinsky, Neil McClelland, Robert Dmytruk, Patrick Jacob, and David Shkolny
Common Sense happily announces the opening of “Conversations,” a group exhibition of pictures and sculptures by western Canadian artists Charles Grabinsky, Neil McClelland, Robert Dmytruk, Patrick Jacob, and David Shkolny.
The five artists represented in “Conversations” are giving voice to a silent world which sustains each of them. Their respective mediums and approaches to subject matter are revelatory of the nature of their inquiry into art making.
Charles Grabinsky states, “Broadly, I view art as geography. In other words, art is another form of writing about the earth and our relations with nature. The overall goal of my artistic/geographic work is to explore the question: Can drawing, painting and printmaking be used to discover and discuss geographic knowledge and the meaning of a place?
For painter Neil McClelland it is a “meditative and recursive process…one of looking and reacting, responding to how the art materials are behaving on the surface, and finding a balance between taking control and letting go.”
Robert Dmytruk is “influenced by the manner in which we map the landscape. We divide, categorize and quantify the land. We impose patterns of urbanization upon it. The visual intersections of natural and manmade forms inevitability alter my perception of the environment that I call home. These intersections assemble and surface in my painting through a visual vocabulary of shapes, colour, texture, line, repetition, etc., enhancing and accumulating an urban vocabulary of visual, intellectual and physical recognition.”
In his sculpture, Patrick Jacob is seeking to transcend “the burden of the “object” and evoke “a higher state of consciousness”.
David Shkolny feels his landscapes, which “teeter on the fence of abstraction, are a dialogue between illusionistic space and a desire to subvert it, to get beneath the surface by acknowledging the two dimensionality of the picture plane.”
“Conversations” runs from November 2 – 24, with an opening reception November 2, 7-11 PM.
For more information: www.CommonSenseGallery.com
Sculptures by the NESW
Common Sense bids a farewell to summer with Shady Gardens, a new exhibition of abstract and figurative constructed metal sculptures by the artists of the North Edmonton Sculpture Workshop.
Shady Gardens presents new work, freshly picked from the studio, by each of the resident NESW sculptors. Some of these sculptures have been honed over months or years, and might now be considered finished pieces, while others may yet be works in progress process.
Mark Bellows, Andrew French, Ryan McCourt, Stephen Pardy, and Rob Willms are the award-winning resident artists of the North Edmonton Sculpture Workshop. While Bellows and McCourt are both Edmonton born, French, Pardy, and Willms emigrated here from England, Newfoundland, and British Columbia, respectively. All make sculpture in the shared NESW.
As the respected Canadian art expert Terry Fenton writes:
“This does not amount to their charting a common course. If anything, the shared studio has confirmed them in separate directions: the hothouse atmosphere appears to have stimulated both invention and individuality.”
Shady Gardens provides an opportunity for both the art-interested public and the Workshop artists themselves to get a clear and focused view of these individual works: to judge them on their own merits; in the context of the other sculptures present; and ultimately, among the broader local and global realm of historical and contemporary art and visually-based aesthetic experience in general.
Despite the relative cultural infertility of our isolated frontier city, and the notoriously stultifying incompetence of the entrenched leaders of Edmonton’s public visual arts establishment, the uncompromising artists of the North Edmonton Sculpture Workshop continue, like potent weeds, to stubbornly blossom here in the shadows.
Common Sense opens Shady Gardens with a public reception on Friday, September 7, from 7 – 11 PM. Admission is free, and the artists of the North Edmonton Sculpture Workshop will be in attendance.
After the opening evening, the exhibition is only viewable by appointment or by chance, until September 22, 2012.
Contact Common Sense for a viewing appointment via the website, CommonSenseGallery.com, or just send an email addressed to email@example.com, or send a Tweet to @CommonSenseInfo.
No Simple Highway
Common Sense is pleased to present No Simple Highway, a new solo exhibition of expressively painted and collaged images of landscapes, on wood and canvas, by Alberta artist Krista Hamilton, based in Edmonton.
“These pieces are travelers. And each element is on a path of fluid movement through space, each upon a different road.
Refined canvas next to primitive plywood, paint and stain combined with fabric and oil pastel, the coupling of textures and forms are evocative of the twists and turns of life.
It truly is no simple highway.”
Common Sense opens No Simple Highway with a public reception on Friday, July 6, from 7 – 11 pm. Admission is free, and the artist, Krista Hamilton, will be in attendance. The exhibition is viewable until Saturday, July 28, by appointment or by chance.
[CORRECTION: press release erroneously states that Krista Hamilton is based in Sherwood Park: she is actually based in Edmonton.]
Common Sense is pleased to present Fragments, a new solo exhibition of figurative paintings by Allyson Glenn. Including works from the series ‘Cracovia’ and ‘Urban Narratives,’ the images address issues of cultural identity, conflict, and transition.
The ‘Cracovia’ project was initiated in the old Jewish ghetto of Krakow, Poland, during an eight-month residency. It was completed in 2010 and is composed of sixteen figure narratives and cityscapes. In order to capture a genuine portrayal of the culture, many of the portraits were painted in live sessions in Krakow. The intent of the project was to examine post- communist culture in Poland, and address the co-existence of modernity with remnants of war and occupation.
‘Urban Narratives’ is a continuation of familiar themes, however it introduces new topics relating to cultural and human cycles, such as conflict versus resolution, birth and death. The project will comprise of twelve figurative paintings, exhibited as four triptychs. These works will not only invite new themes, but will also incorporate the concept of ‘narrative structure’ (most associated with literature or theatre) to create visual liaisons between the images. This project is in the development stage, thus the exhibited images offer a glimpse of the completed sections of the triptychs.
Common Sense opens Fragments, a solo exhibition by Allyson Glenn, with a public reception on Friday, June 1, from 7 – 11 PM. Admission is free, and the artist will be in attendance. The exhibition runs until Saturday, June 23, by appointment or by chance.
Back Alleys and Side Streets – Finding Beauty in the Overlooked Urban Environment
Common Sense is pleased to present Back Alleys and Side Streets – Finding Beauty in the Overlooked Urban Environment, a new solo exhibition by Russell Bingham, showcasing his alternate photographic views of Edmonton’s local landscape.
“I suspect that most viewers will be struck by the ordinariness of my subject matter, the everyday banality of these views. Part of my motivation in taking these pictures is to reveal the power of photography to isolate and transform everyday visual experience. I know that for me, the act of making these images day after day has honed my awareness of and delight in the beauty of the banal.”
- Russell Bingham
Bingham worked as a curator of contemporary art with the Edmonton Art Gallery for 15 years, then moved on in the 1990s to free-lance work as an art consultant, curator, and writer, coordinating the art projects for both Edmonton’s new City Hall and the Winspear Centre. Since 1995 Bingham has been the Art, Music and Communications editor for the Canadian Encyclopedia, and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canda. Bingham has been exhibiting his own artwork over the last decade.
“For the last five or more years, I’ve been taking photographs of Edmonton’s residential and industrial environment, mostly wandering down back alleys, but occasionally photographing front views of homes and small industrial buildings…. Homeowners will take great pains to present the front views of their homes – and by extension, their lives – as orderly and prosperous. Sometimes, ostentatiously so. Their backyards will often tell a different story, one to do with recreational obsessions, unfinished projects, garden dreams and automotive abandonment. Industrial rear views are less personal, but no less revealing – telling stories of commercial growth and the cycle of boom and bust.”
Common Sense opens Back Alleys and Side Streets – Finding Beauty in the Overlooked Urban Environment, a solo exhibition by Russell Bingham, with a public reception on Friday, April 27, from 7 – 11 PM. Admission is free, and the artist will be in attendance. The exhibition runs until Saturday, May 19, and is viewable by appointment or by chance.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @CommonSenseInfo, or email Russell Bingham: email@example.com.