Category Archives: Winnipeg

Nuit Blanche….à Winnipeg

Winnipeg’s Nuit Blanche is a big, fun deal!  I’d read and heard about the Nuit Blanche festivals celebrating contemporary art, but had never attended one.

St. Boniface Bridge, photo by T. Vatrt

St. Boniface Bridge, photo by T. Vatrt

The French phrase, nuit blanche, means a ‘sleepless night.’  The concept of Nuit Blanche  –an all-night art party!– originated (appropriately) in France in 1984, and has spread around the world.  Canadian Art magazine has a great article (here) about why Nuit Blanche works, or sometimes fails, in Canadian cities.  Winnipeg staged its first Nuit Blanche in 2010;  last year Toronto’s Nuit Blanche celebrated its tenth anniversary.

I suppose every city has its own take on Nuit Blanche.  In Winnipeg, I visited a few outdoor displays, many of them interactive.

Yes!  In CLOUD, the pull strings on the incandescent bulbs worked.  In The Deep Dark, we walked through 12 illuminated ‘doorways’ along the river.

The Deep Dark by Caitland r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett, photo by T. Vatrt

The Deep Dark by Caitland r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett, photo by T. Vatrt

I’m not sure which was more intriguing:  to watch people appear, and disappear through the doors, or to personally experience the enveloping light, quickly followed by complete darkness that occurred when you walked through the ‘doors.’

The Deep Dark by Caitland r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett, photo by T. Vatrt

The Deep Dark by Caitland r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett, photo by T. Vatrt

The Deep Dark by Caitland r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett, photo by T. Vatrt

The Deep Dark by Caitland r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett, photo by T. Vatrt

The Deep Dark by Caitland r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett, photo by T. Vatrt

The Deep Dark by Caitland r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett, photo by T. Vatrt

This is only a tiny sample of Winnipeg’s Nuit Blanche.  Click here to peruse the extensive program of performances, screenings and events that were staged Saturday, October 1, 2016.

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of Nuit Blanche was participating in the enjoyment of art, outdoors, at night, with hundreds of other people.  This may have been my first Nuit Blanche, but, hopefully, not my last.

 

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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.

 

 

Art and baseball (Really!)

Next time you’re in Winnipeg, make sure to take a walk along Waterfront Drive, which is an easy stroll north from the Forks National Historic Site and the new Canadian Museum of Human Rights .

photo by T. Vatrt

Canadian Museum of Human Rights, Winnipeg

Note that I encourage you to walk alongside Waterfront Drive. The pedestrian walkway curves alongside the Red River, in the historic Exchange District. You have to get out of your car, and walk, to discover the art installations along the way.  All of the works reference the city,  and its history.  They are very site specific.

The largest, and perhaps most eye-catching, is High Five, an installation by Jennifer Stillwell.

Apparently the view from the baseball park on Waterfront Drive is a good one, too.  Click here for a brief article from CBC News about High Five and the ballpark.

High Five

When I was looking at the installation,  I neglected to think about its relationship to the baseball field across the street.  I had a totally different interpretation of the work from the ideas discussed in the article!  Good art will evoke multiple interpretations.

Doesn’t it sound like the ingredients for a perfect summer evening?  A ballgame, and art viewing, all in one location.

 

 

Congratulations, Wanda!

The Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts were just announced….. and (Winnipeg!) painter Wanda Koop was one of the worthy recipients.

Click here and here to see two very short, informative videos…..(even just to admire her studio!) The videos also give a better indication of the size of her work than the images reproduced here (courtesy of the Winnipeg Art Gallery.)

Perhaps the most interesting and admirable thing about Wanda Koop (besides being an internationally acclaimed artist!) is that she is the founder of Art City in Winnipeg.  Art City is a not-for-profit community art centre providing high-quality art instruction in an inner-city  neighbourhood in Winnipeg.  She saw the need for accessible arts programming, and almost 20 years later, the centre is still going strong.

Art City’s vision statement:  To Dream, To Imagine, To Create.  A Space for Art in Every Life.

Here, here!  The Art Caravan couldn’t agree more.  Congratulations, Wanda!

 

 

All Canadian art….Douglas Smith

Let me be totally honest.  I love love love Doug Smith‘s work.  We have a piece hanging in our home.  The art is detailed, layered and complex.  As my Mum once said, “There’s always something new to see in it.”  He uses a variety of media, in a very integrated way, and often works on a large scale.

Doug lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  I was happy to see his show at the CCFM Galerie–the Franco Manitoban Cultural Centre in Winnipeg.  He and Roger Laferniere collaborated, and the show  Divergences, is a result of their partnership.  Doug’s detailed drawings contrast beautifully with Roger’s ethereal paintings.

The show runs until July 31 (and there is a great patio cafe in the same building.)  If you can’t make it to Winnipeg soon (pity!), you will have other opportunities to see the work as Divergences is scheduled to move on to Toronto, Moncton and Germany.

 

More “df” painting in Vancouver….

…at the Elissa Cristall Gallery.  The artwork, by Eric Louie,  immediately grabbed my attention (despite the cute Scottish terrier padding around the space.)  They are vaguely landscape-ish, and definitely architectural.  The colour palette is striking: mostly cool, with the imposition of unexpected accents.  The paint is beautifully blended. Polka dots and dashes are used judiciously.

The work seems controlled, and planned, but with a particular sense of softness, despite all the sharp angles. Once or twice a drip of paint is allowed, not marring the surface, but completing it.

Eric Louie was born in the U.S. and now lives in Vancouver.  But guess where he had his first art lessons?  Yes, Winnipeg.  As a child, he took classes at the Winnipeg Art Gallery Studio programs.  There it is again–Winnipeg as an incubator for visual artists.

You’re not really surprised, are you?