Edmonton Sculptor Andrew French Awarded Common Sense Artist Fellowship

British-born, local artist Andrew French, one of Edmonton’s most important and respected sculptors, has been selected by the North Edmonton Workshop to receive the first Common Sense Artist Fellowship.

An alumnus of the University of Alberta’s acclaimed sculpture program, Andrew French’s award-winning artwork has been widely exhibited in Edmonton over the past fifteen years, including several exhibitions at the prestigious Royal Alberta Museum.

With generous support from the Oöfmann Foundation, the Common Sense Artist Fellowship will provide Mr. French with appropriate, fully paid studio accommodations for the creation of new, large scale sculptural works, for a period of two years.

“The grandness of the space is very rare and a pleasure to work in,” says French. “You can do anything here.”

Andrew French’s new works will eventually be exhibited in a show to be announced in the future, at Common Sense, Edmonton’s most independent artist run gallery.

Common Sense takes no commission from art sales: 100% of proceeds from art sold always goes directly to the exhibiting artist.

Rob Willms: Opens June 27

Aesthetic Effort

A Sculpture Exhibit of Work by Rob Willms
“A man who advocates aesthetic effort and deprecates social effort is only likely to be understood by a class to which social effort has become a stale matter.” —Thomas Hardy

For more information, visit the artist’s webpage at RobWillms.ca


Stephen Pardy + Sandra Márcia: November 30 – December 20

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Stephen Pardy + Sandra Márcia

Opening Reception: November 30, 7 – 11 pm
Exhibition open Nov. 30 – Dec. 20, by appointment or by chance.

“Looking Back”: October 19 – November 1

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.

Mitchel Smith: June 7 – 28, 2013

Mitchel Smith

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.

Russell Bingham
May, 2013








Blue on Gray

Blue on Gray











Orange on Gray

Orange on Gray




More works by Mitchel Smith available from

Peter Robertson Gallery.

Walter Early: November 30 – December 15, 2012

Coloring Book
Walter Early
Common Sense proudly announces the opening of “Coloring Book,” a solo exhibition of new sculptures by American artist Walter Early.

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.


Group Show: November 2 – 24, 2012


Charles Grabinsky, Neil McClelland, Robert Dmytruk, Patrick Jacob, and David Shkolny

RR223, David Shkolny, pastel on paper, 2012

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
Email info@commonsensegallery.com
Twitter @CommonSenseInfo

Franklin Einspruch: October 5 – 27, 2012

Franklin Einspruch
How Deep My Pleasure

Royalty, 2012, gouache and watercolour on paper, 5 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches

Common Sense invites you to attend “How Deep My Pleasure,” a solo exhibition of recent paintings and drawings by Boston- based artist and art writer Franklin Einspruch. Einspruch’s work concentrates on the figure, which he depicts with an economical line and evocative hues using mixtures of watercolour, gouache, and tempera. “The figures aren’t only beautifully rendered, they’re also suffused with a restrained emotion that pulses beneath the surface, a frisson of line and color, forms and planes,” writes the author Necee Regis in an essay for the exhibition. “Einspruch’s work integrates elegant draftsmanship with a personal vision, making the leap into the heady, elusive realm of art.”


Einspruch recently completed a residency at the Morris Graves Foundation in Loleta, California, and his work was included in the 2012 Governors Island Art Fair in New York. Later this year he will be an artist in residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, and a Visiting Artist at Montclair State University in New Jersey. His solo exhibition at Common Sense will be his sixteenth. Einspruch’s writings have appeared in Art in America, The New Criterion, and many other publications. Einspruch is editing and contributing to an anthology, Comics as Poetry, which will debut September 29 at the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo. Copies of the book will be available for sale at Common Sense.


“I respect traditional Western realism, as well as the Eastern vocabulary of painting, but my pole star is modernism, and modernists have an agnostic attitude towards technique,” says Einspruch. “Techniques are only necessary to the extent that they’re necessary. You apply that tautology on a work-by-work, even moment-by- moment basis. I conceive of pictures in terms of figures, objects, and environments, but I work in a way that allows unpredictable mediums to interact of their own accord.” “Franklin Einspruch: How Deep My Pleasure” runs October 5 – 27 with an opening reception October 5, 7-11 PM.


For more information: www.CommonSenseGallery.com Email info@commonsensegallery.com Twitter @CommonSenseInfo

North Edmonton Sculpture Workshop, September 7 – 22, 2012

Shady Gardens

Sculptures by the NESW


"Park View (Flubber)", Ryan McCourt


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 info@commonsensegallery.com, or send a Tweet to @CommonSenseInfo.


Krista Hamilton: July 6 – 28, 2012

No Simple Highway

Krista Hamilton

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.”

-Krista Hamilton

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.]