Category Archives: Winnipeg Art Gallery

Treats for the Days of Christmas

The Art Caravan has decided to mark these days of Christmas by talking about some of our favourite works of art.  This will not be an exhaustive, extensive or scientific survey –no surprise there!–but we will, however, limit our options somewhat by only writing about work that complies with the following criteria:

* art we have personally experienced in 2016.

One of my favourite paintings in the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s permanent collection is Abstract:  Gold and Green by Lionel LeMoine Fitzgerald.

Abstract: Gold and Green, 1954, L. L. Fitzgerald

Abstract: Gold and Green, 1954, L. L. Fitzgerald

Here are a few close-up photos of the work.  In some parts of the image, pencil lines are evident.  As well, there are examples of underlying texture, and the obvious evidence of brushstrokes throughout the painting

The Art Caravan has previously written about Fitzgerald because I am a huge fan of his work.  Click here to read more about him, and see some of his other works. The Winnipeg Art Gallery currently has Abstract:  Gold and Green on display.

 

 

 

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Daphe Odjig, 1919-2016

Oh!  It was startling to see Ms Odjig’s photo on the Globe and Mail’s Obituaries page today.  It’s not that she hasn’t lived a long, fruitful life.  It’s just sad to see another great Canadian artist pass on.

Daphne Odjig Edmonton Journal photo

Daphne Odjig Edmonton Journal photo

I first saw her work in a school hallway in the north end of Winnipeg.  It was a framed print;  I wish I had asked how the school came to own it.  I don’t remember the image, but I do remember that I liked her style immediately. Maclean’s Magazine/The Canadian Press says her work blends “the influences of Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh with the shapes of Ojibwa pictographs.”  (Read the short article here.)

Daphne Odjig Odjig.com image

Daphne Odjig Odjig.com image

The subject matter of her work is wide-ranging, from domestic scenes and community life, to erotica and legends.

Daphne Odjig

Daphne Odjig

Daphne Odjig In Tune with the Infinite

Daphne Odjig In Tune with the Infinite

Daphne Odjig Pow Wow Dancer

Daphne Odjig Pow Wow Dancer

In 2011, Pow Wow Dancer was featured on a Canada post stamp.  Click here  and here to see and read more about Ms Odjig’s images on Canadian stamps.

Daphne Odjig accomplished much in her life.  She received the Order of Canada in 1986, and the Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Art in 2007.  Her work has been shown, and collected, internationally.  Perhaps her most interesting achievment  is her role in the founding of the Professional Indian Artists Inc. She opened a business, Odjig Indian Prints of Canada, (which expanded to be The New Warehouse Gallery) in Winnipeg in the 1970s. Yes!  She was the first indigenous person to own an art gallery in Canada.  She exhibited and sold her own work, as well as the art of Jackson Beardy, Norval Morriseau, Alex Janvier, Eddie Cobbiness, Carl Ray and Joseph Sanchez.  They are sometimes referred to as The Native Group of Seven.  Her initiatives in promoting aboriginal art had significant impact for native artists.  For further reading you can’t go wrong with the Canadian Encyclopedia article here.

Do you like her work?  The good news is that Ms Odjig was a prolific artist and many commercial galleries in Canada sell her work at reasonable prices. Have a look at Hambleton Galleries in Kelowna, Bearclaw Gallery in Edmonton, Lattimer Gallery in Vancouver and The Winnipeg Art Gallery.

 

Esther Warkov….Esther who??!

If I hadn’t lived in Winnipeg, I probably wouldn’t know about Esther Warkov.  She’s a living Canadian artist who has received little attention.  It’s unfortunate, because her work is fascinating. The Winnipeg Art Gallery is currently showing Esther Warkov, Paintings: 1960’s-1980’s until October 16, 2016. 

Rolling Home to Moses, Esther Warkov

Rolling Home to Moses,
Esther Warkov

I remember the first time I saw Esther Warkov’s artwork.  It was a presentation of her drawings at the WAG in the 1980’s……drawings so complex one could look at them for a long time.  They were unlike anything I had seen before.  Robert Enright, in a review published in Arts Manitoba, wrote:  In all of Warkov’s drawings, one state of existence changes into another……These transformations are often clever and occasionally unpleasant.

Esther Warkov: Recent Drawings (cover image)

Esther Warkov: Recent Drawings (cover image)

The show that really blew me away, though, was in 1998-1999 at the WAG, and featured what Warkov’s calls “three dimensional drawings.”  Again, the work was like nothing I had seen before…or since.

House of Tea, Esther Warkov

House of Tea, Esther Warkov

House of Tea is constructed completely from paper….paper on which Warkov has drawn and coloured.  Really.  It was one of the most exciting pieces of art I have seen.  Her skill and creativity were almost overwhelming.

As Beverly Rasporich writes in Magic off Main:  The Art of Esther Warkov :  This mature work is not only impressive for its technical detail and sculptural design, but also for its inventiveness as an art form……….House of Tea, which took the artist two years to construct, is all the more amazing when one considers the limited materials that were used:  graphite, charcoal, pencil, conte and pastel on hand-coloured Bernier white paper.

Here are a few more images from the painting show in Winnipeg.  Although there are only about a dozen paintings on view, they are large, and extremely detailed.

Rolling Home to Moses (detail), Esther Warkov

Rolling Home to Moses (detail), Esther Warkov

 

Rolling Home to Moses, (detail), Esther Warkov

Rolling Home to Moses, (detail), Esther Warkov

Ice Dreams, Esther Warkov

Ice Dreams, Esther Warkov

Ice Dreams (detail), Esther Warkov

Ice Dreams (detail), Esther Warkov

Please do go and see the show, if you get the opportunity.  Her work is not often on view.  The excellent book, Magic Off Mainis still available from University of Calgary Press.

The Doll's Room, Esther Warkov

The Doll’s Room, Esther Warkov

Dreams of a Distant Summer (detail), Esther Warkov

Dreams of a Distant Summer (detail), Esther Warkov

 

Art in the ‘peg

It always surprises me that many people don’t know about the rich cultural scene in Winnipeg.  “Really?” they ask. I wonder why more Canadians aren’t aware of the breadth and depth of the arts and culture in Manitoba?  Maybe it’s because the artists, musicians, writers, dancers and theatre folk in the ‘peg are too busy creating and not spending enough time marketing their creations.  Maybe it’s because the Canadian media has a bias toward Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver with their larger populations. It’s probably the result of all of this, and more.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery was one of my chosen art destinations this summer.  (Yes!  Venice AND Winnipeg.)  I was very motivated to see three of the artists featured this summer:  Chagall, Karel Funk and, especially,  Ether Warkov.

As sometimes happens in an art gallery, there were other artists who captured my attention the August day I visited the WAG. This is the sculpture that caused me to retrace my steps, read the introduction to the show, and look at the work more carefully…….

Ikayukta Tunnillie Carrying Her Drawings to the Co-op by Oviloo Tunnillie

Ikayukta Tunnillie Carrying Her Drawings to the Co-op by Oviloo Tunnillie

The retrospect of Oviloo Tunnillie’s carvings, A Woman’s Story in Stone is an extensive examination of her work, and her life. Oviloo Tunnillie is a significant Canadian artist. Not only was she one of the first female Inuit carvers, but she was one of the first Inuit carvers to depict the nude human figure. The sculptures, dating from the 1970’s through the 1990’s, begin with traditional motifs (eg. birds) and evolve into more personal subjects. Oviloo Tunnillie’s choice and treatment of subject matter are the reasons I was wrenched from my cursory amble through the show. 

Here is what she said about her Sednas, the half female/half fish sea spirits:
I try to make my sure that my Sednas are a little different from other people’s Sednas. Although I’ve never seen any Sednas myself, because they live in the water or in the ocean, I make sure that they look partly wet……I do like making Sednas.  And I do like the fact that someone has seen one just recently.

Sedna by Oviloo Tunnillie

Sedna by Oviloo Tunnillie

Sedna by Oviloo Tunnillie

Sedna by Oviloo Tunnillie

The work is, at times, charming as well as beautiful.  Below are The Skater and Child on Sled.

The Skater by Oviloo Tunnillie

Child on Sled by Oviloo Tunnillie

Perhaps what I most admire about it is her honesty.   She did not shy away from difficult topics like alcoholism, and other social ills. As a child, Oviloo Tunnillie suffered from tuberculosis, and was sent to the south of Canada for treatment.  Her time in care in Toronto is represented by this sculpture…….

This Has Touched My Life by Oviloo Tunnillie

This Has Touched My Life by Oviloo Tunnillie

The show runs until September 11, 2016 in Winnipeg.  Can’t get to Winnipeg before then?  There is a catalogue from the show available. Commercial galleries such as Madrona Gallery  (Victoria) and Marion Scott Gallery (Vancouver) sell some of her work.

 

 

Celebrities: read this!!!

Writing about Steve Martin trumpeting Lawren Harris inevitably leads me to think of Lionel LeMoine Fitzgerald .  Some of you may wonder “Who?”  Fitzgerald was also a member of the Group of Seven, and the only prairie artist in the lot.

I think I fell in love with FitzGerald’s work experiencing it at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  (FUN FACT:  The WAG is Canada’s oldest civic art gallery, opening in 1912.)  He was born in Winnipeg in 1890, and was one of the first principals of the Winnipeg School of Art, which is now the School of Art at the University of Manitoba.  ( FUN FACT #2  The same group of people, The Winnipeg Industrial Bureau, founded the art gallery, and the school.  They had lofty goals of cultural development, progress and shaping the civilization of Western Canada.  Wow. When was the last time you heard a business person talking like that?)

FitzGerald spent most of his life in Winnipeg, with studies in Pittsburgh and New York City.  He worked primarily in drawing, oil and watercolour painting and printmaking.  If you click here, you can see a mural by Charlie Johnston that commemorates FitzGerald’s life in Winnipeg.

I’m glad Canadian painting, and Lawren Harris in particular, are getting publicity because of Steve Martin’s interest. Wouldn’t it be great if we could match up some more celebrities with deserving artists?   Any thoughts on who might be a great (or fun!) match with L. L. FitzGerald?