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Historical

New Zealand-born artist Maddie Leach is currently undertaking research on the Simon Fraser Monument in New Westminster as part of a project for the CAG’s Field House Residency Program. Leach’s practice is one that seeks ways of making artworks as a means to interpret and respond to specific context, through a lengthy process of enquiry and social interaction establishing relationships between form, materials, locations, histories, events, individuals and communities. Leach was nominated for the Walters Prize in 2014 for If you find the good oil let us know (2012-2014), created during a two year residency at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, a town known for its oil and gas exploration on New Zealand’s North Island.

Curatorial intern Michelle Martin caught up with Maddie to see how the project is evolving.

 

MM: How has your project developed since you were last at CAG’s Field House?

ML: Last time I left the Field House, I was thinking through some ideas about the granite plinth for the Simon Fraser monument. As a part of that residency stay, I had visited a Lefarge granite quarry out past Coquitlam. I was thinking about the relationship of granite to Vancouver’s history, its mining and blasting in the mountains, its widespread use as road aggregate. I was also reading more about Simon Fraser’s journey downriver and I was thinking about roads as a form of contemporary rivers.

I was fascinated with the possibility of shipping the granite plinth upriver from New West to the Lefarge site and putting it through their ‘jaw crusher’ conveyor machine that progressively breaks down large rocks to bits that only measure millimetres.

After I left, the project became more focused on activating a process of ‘adjustment’ and to continue the ‘lowering of Simon Fraser’ that this monument has undergone over the last one hundred years.

MM: Your project deals not only with monuments and objects of commemoration but also with the histories that surround them and emplace them. On a personal level, you have historical connections to New Westminster, how, if at all, has this informed your work?

ML: I first visited New Westminster in 1986 when I was 15. My grandmother Sadie Harding and my Great Aunt Minerva Harding both lived in New West. We were visiting for Expo and I can remember how far away New West felt from everything. My experience of that visit has strong impressions of a particular introduction to aspects and aesthetics of my Dad’s Jewish family, but this hasn’t actively informed the project. But I think I’m often attracted to working with places that might be considered ‘off-centre’ and that has certainly been a continued draw to New West. It seems to be a place undergoing a particular point of transition right now, perhaps with a certain openness to actively considering its own history and sense of place. Something seemed possible here, and I thought about how something that seemed invisible could be made visible in a way that perhaps would be more difficult in downtown Vancouver.

MM: What I really appreciate about your work is that it doesn’t efface the labour of your process by providing a definitive finished object. What kind of labour is involved at this stage of your Field House project?

ML: At this stage it takes the form of research and conversation, a kind of way-finding and uncovering focused on building enough knowledge, conviction and sincerity around a proposal to City of New Westminster and making presentations to the council’s Heritage Commission and Public Art Advisory Committee. I’ve been trying to uncover as much as can be found about the Simon Fraser monument and its trajectory through the city, various disappearances and relocations and the circumstances of its relocation to New Westminster Quay. We’re now hoping to work with valuer Peter Malkin to establish an idea of what it is worth as a complete object and this helps start the practical problem-solving aspects of the project – how to move a large heavy piece of stone, how to cut it, where to temporarily relocate the bronze bust of Simon himself, how to place the object back together. The really speculative part of the work is yet to unfold –  how to take something to the source of the Fraser river in the Rockies, who to discuss this with, what it means as an action and how one gets there.

MM: This project involves requesting permission to alter the Simon Fraser Monument currently on New Westminster Quay. Should you be unable to obtain permission, in which possible directions can you see this work going?

ML: Well, I guess as we speak the project has now been proposed to the two New Westminster council committees I mentioned and has achieved their recommendations to support the proposal. It now has to go through council proper but we are hopeful that the recommendations would stand. I think the way I work relies on a certain combination of optimism and absolute doggedness – getting the ‘irrational logic’ of the idea shaped and then sharing it with others is a key part of the work. Each project gathers a backstory as it unfolds and I am often very interested in the communication channels around an idea. In this way one could say the project starts before anything physical has actually happened, so perhaps the fallback position is that it could always remain an attempt to get something to happen, rather than the action actually taking place. I think I always proceed as if the thing I want to do (the adjustment to a public object, monument or place) will happen – I have to believe in the concept I’m proposing and then establish and follow its logic to whatever outcome arises. It’s a constant process of problem-solving and being agile in certain ways. It feels kind of mentally exhausting at times but also produces some memorable experiences and conversations along the way.

We’ll be sure to keep you posted with updates on Maddie Leach’s project!

-Michelle

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Interview and update with artist Maddie Leach


Levine Flexhaug
A Sublime Vernacular: The Landscape Paintings
June 30 to September 24, 2017
B.C. Binning Gallery

A Sublime Vernacular: The Landscape Paintings of Levine Flexhaug offers the first overview of the extraordinary career of Levine Flexhaug (1918 – 1974), born in the Treelon area near Climax, Saskatchewan. It brings together approximately 450 of the artist’s paintings as well as several of his mural-sized works. An itinerant painter, he sold thousands of variations of essentially the same landscape painting in national parks, resorts, department stores and bars across western Canada from the late 1930s through the early 1960s. Whatever its variation, a Flexhaug image represents a Western icon, a silent unspoiled Eden that encapsulates the conventions of sublime landscape painting in a kind of painter’s shorthand. For the Contemporary Art Gallery it continues a strand in our programming where we present work by artists who for a variety of reasons, operated outside of the strict mainstream of the art world.

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Levine Flexhaug - A Sublime Vernacular: The Landscape Paintings


Screening event presented by Patrick Staff and Robin Simpson
Presented by CAG in partnership with Cineworks.

Friday, February 12, 7pm
Cineworks Annex, 235 Alexander Street, Vancouver

Works screened include: Mirha Soleil-Ross’ Gender Troublemakers (1993), Xanthra Mackay’s Rupert Remembers (2000), James Diamond’s The Man from Venus (1999), Mike Hoolboom’s Frank’s Cock (1993) and Gwendolyn and Co.’s Prowling by Night (1990).

‘Missives’, is a new free broadsheet publication and an associated film screening event co-programmed by Staff with Canadian curator and writer Robin Simpson. Continuing the format of Staff’s recent screening-performances Dreams of Travel (2014) and Uniform Smoke (2015), this expanded public programming brings together a number of voices that generate resonances with the politics and interpersonal relationships that constitute the project, rather than describing or fixing the meaning of the work. Grounded within a Canadian context, it seeks to forge a connection among Trans/Queer contexts, production, dialogues and communities.

The broadsheet contains specially commissioned texts by Juliet Jacques, Staff and Simpson and will be distributed city wide as well as in Toronto via defunct Xtra newspaper boxes.

Alongside this, the screening event at Cineworks Annex (February 12 from 7pm), invokes a provisional social space, cinema and theatrical set where a temporary community may gather, through which a selection of film and video works explore first person narratives, interview, account and witness in queer Canadian moving image production, and reflect upon our viewing of it in a contemporary context. Presenting older works framed through their practice the evening engages an intergenerational conversation and includes: Mirha Soleil-Ross’ Gender Troublemakers (1993), Xanthra Mackay’s Rupert Remembers (2000), James Diamond’s The Man from Venus (1999), Mike Hoolboom’s Frank’s Cock (1993) and Gwendolyn and Co.’s Prowling by Night (1990).

The MISSIVES broadsheet and screening event are generously supported by the British Council.

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Screening | Missives


Reverb – readings
Sunday, November 22, 2-5pm

Readers at this REVERB are: Adèle Barclay, Vi Levitt, Hiromi Goto, Lucas Crawford and Kay Ho

In conjunction with ‘For a New Accessibility’ (November 20-22, 2015) a convergence of artists and activists meeting around the theme of organizing for accessibility and mutual aid produced in partnership with Gallery Gachet and artist Carmen Papalia.

REVERB is an anti-oppressive, quarterly reading series for queer writers on unceded Musqueam, Sḵwxwú7mesh, and Tsleil-Waututh land. All our writers self-identify on a spectrum of queerness that centres trans* and femme experiences. All of our events are held in physically and financially accessible spaces, and with every event, we make at least one change to ensure that REVERB becomes more and more accessible. We promise to do all we can to create a safer space — bring your suggestions! Check your assumptions at the door; REVERB is a body-positive, anti-racist, anti-sexist, and hella queer- and trans-positive event. http://reverbqueerreadingseries.weebly.com/

Accessibility information:

Contemporary Art Gallery
555 Nelson Street

front door: 33 3/4 inch width
no steps at entrance.
washroom door: 33 3/4 inch width
toilet: 11 inch clearance on left side
the washroom has a handrail
washroom is all genders

Full audit available at this link: Accessibility Audit for CAG
ASL interpretation will be provided.

In order to create a space where folks with multiple chemical sensitivities can participate at all of our venues, please refrain from wearing perfumes, colognes or other scented products (including essential oils) and smoke far away from the entrances to the spaces. To request a For info on how to support folks with multiple chemical sensitivities, visit: http://www.peggymunson.com/mcs/fragrancefree.html

Childcare will be offered. Please let us know in your FANA registration what your childcare needs are.

LINKS:

http://gachet.org/event/for-a-new-accessibility/

Full Schedule: http://gachet.org/fana-2015-schedule/
===================
Accessibility information
===================

***Locations***

Gallery Gachet
88 E Cordova

front door: 5 feet width
front door step: 6 inch height
ramp: 34 inch width

washroom door: 33 inch width
toilet: 10 inch clearance on left side
14 inch clearance in front to sink
the washroom has a handrail
washroom is all genders

Full audit available at this link: https://radicalaccessiblecommunities.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/this-audit-of-gallery-gachet-was-performed-on/

Contemporary Art Gallery
555 Nelson St

front door: 33 3/4 inch width
no steps at entrance.
washroom door: 33 3/4 inch width
toilet: 11 inch clearance on left side
the washroom has a handrail
washroom is all genders

Full audit available at this link: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B81n0augDG8kfnB2V19uZlpBX0h2MmtKVzBWQThsZ2NiZjlEVzRUUlpLdTRoTlU3aXo3cFU&usp=sharing&tid=0B81n0augDG8kU2NfRlZSa3pIQ00

Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House
573 E Hastings

front door: 34 inch width
no steps at entrance
washroom door: 31 inch width
toilet: 12 inch clearance on left side
the washroom has a handrail
washroom is all genders

Enterprising Women Making Art
800 E Hastings

front door: 33 inch width
no steps at entrance
washroom door: 33 inch width
toilet: 12 inch clearance on left side
washroom is all genders

***ASL Interpretation***

ASL Interpretation will be offered by default for the following events:

Opening night: 7pm – 9pm Friday November 20th at Gallery Gachet

Bodies in Deliberate Motion lecture: 1:00 – 3:00 pm Saturday, November 21st at Gallery Gachet

For A New Accessibility Panel Discussion: Sunday November 22nd 11:00 – 1:00 pm at CAG

Reverb: A Queer Reading Series: Sunday November 22nd 2:00 – 5:00 pm at CAG

For booking ASL interpretation at any of the other programs of the convergence please email: [email protected] or come visit us in person.

***Scent-reduced Policy***

In order to create a space where folks with multiple chemical sensitivities can participate at all of our venues, please refrain from wearing perfumes, colognes or other scented products (including essential oils) and smoke far away from the entrances to the spaces. To request a For info on how to support folks with multiple chemical sensitivities, visit: http://www.peggymunson.com/mcs/fragrancefree.html

***Childcare***

Childcare will be offered throughout the convergence. Please remember to let us know in your registration what your childcare needs are.

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Reverb – readings


A few months ago, the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts were announced, and several of the eight winners had previously exhibited at the CAG. Jayce Salloum, one of the recipients, is a successful Canadian-born media artist who has lived and worked in a variety of locations in Canada, the US, and elsewhere. Continuing to move around and experience new spaces and environments, his “nomadic practice” significantly informs his work, which raises questions of identity and historical, social, and cultural contexts of place.

I came across untitled in our library archives. This book was co-published by the CAG and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on the occasion of the exhibitions NEUTRAL/BRAKE/STEERING at the latter institution from November 12 to December 24, 1998 and 22 OZ. THUNDERBOLT which was presented here from March 27 to May 8, 1999. These photo-installations by Salloum consisted of an archive of street photography featuring images of storefront displays in what the curators called the “overlooked corners” of the urban environment. The installations drew their names from phrases on various items and signs in these displays.

Salloum’s photographs took otherwise banal scenes and transformed them into an intriguing subjective record of his travels; augmenting their meaning by arranging them in certain ways. He challenged the conventional ordering of photographs in a documentary format; presenting an appropriation of these images which forces the viewer to create their own narrative. Looking through some of his images as they were arranged in the book, I was left wondering whether they were taken in the same locale, whether these stores were even open for business, and if there was any human activity occurring around these scenes.

This idea of ordering and configuring is important in contemporary art; the way in which an artist organizes components or pieces in an installation has implications for how the audience derives meaning from and experiences them. Our current façade installation by Stefan Brüggemann, Headlines and Last Lines in the Movies, exemplifies this as well. The phrases painted here can be interpreted in very distinct ways when contemplated next to each other rather than alone, or next to a different phrase. For me, it is essential to think about the way exhibitions and installations are presented by their artists and curators when we encounter them.

Jayce Salloum was also part of a group exhibition at the CAG in 2010, The Triumphant Carrot: The Persistence of Still Life, which explored the practice of the traditional still life genre in the context of contemporary art. More of his work can be found here.

Check out untitled in the CAG Bookshop to find out more, and keep these ideas in mind when you come to see the current shows at the CAG and elsewhere! Tweet us @CAGVancouver with your thoughts on the exhibitions to join the conversation.

– Kelli Sturkenboom

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From the Archives | Jayce Salloum, untitled


As you may have noticed, the CAG is currently closed in preparation for Kelly Richardson’sLegion, exciting new installations which open next Thursday. I have really been looking forward to this one! Flipping through Richardson’s recent publication The Last Frontier, I’ve begun to get an idea of what this exhibition has in store. For her projection and photographic works, Richardson digitally alters her own photographs and video to create environments which raise questions about our relationship with the natural world. As an art history student, I have definitely studied my fair share of landscape-themed pieces, mainly traditional oil paintings from earlier centuries. Looking through past exhibitions and CAG publications, I have found it interesting how this theme of “landscape” has been tackled in other exhibitions here at the CAG in very unique and innovative ways.

In 2000, the CAG published Quick aging pivoting city to accompany artist Eleanor Bond’s exhibition. Bond’s paintings approached a different type of environment; the urban landscape. These large-scale paintings were not meant to represent existing and specific places, rather, they incorporated both actual and imaginary forms. Exploring Vancouver for ten days, the artist took photographs and made videos, and used these as the source to create her own constructed environments on canvas. For me, the knowledge of this process creates uncertainty when looking at these pieces about what is “actual” and what is not.

Cai Guo Qiang’s Performing Chinese Ink Painting was a performance made at the CAG in 2001 involving three different artists, each rendering their own versions of the same site in the same medium. Not only did this bring together the Eastern tradition of ink drawing with the more recent rise of Western performance art, it also posed questions about the “reality” of landscape painting. Although the artists were using the same specific landscape as inspiration, they each constructed their own distinct interpretations. Like Richardson’s installations which feature modified landscapes, the artists used this single landscape as a starting point to create works with augmented and altered meaning.

Sentimental Journey at the CAG in 2009 invited a group of artists from British Columbia to engage with ideas of the personal journey based on eighteenth and nineteenth century Romanticism. In this exhibition, it was not necessarily “landscapes” that were put on view. Instead, the artists went on their own expeditions, gathering information from the spaces they experienced to create their own individual pieces. The resulting works did not necessarily picture the landscapes themselves. While much of the work produced would be seen by many as completely different to the traditional idea of landscape in art history, when you think about it, both these and more conventional styles of landscape painting are based on an artist’s own experience looking at, or journeying through, a specific space.

The CAG’s LANDSCAPE publication examines even more of this subject and is available in our bookshop. Come check out Kelly Richardson’s Legion next week to experience for yourself her awesome and immersive pieces—the opening is on Thursday July 10 from 7-10pm and the exhibition is on until August 31!

– Kelli Sturkenboom

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From the Archives | Exploring the Landscapes of the CAG


This post written by Kelli Sturkenboom is the first in a series titled ‘From the Archives’ which will highlight and explore moments in CAG history related to current programming and events. Look for new posts every Thursday.

I was looking through publications from past CAG exhibitions and stumbled upon a catalogue for Tendencies: New Art From Mexico City, an exhibition displayed here in 1996. Guest curated by Rubén Gallo and Terence Gower, this exhibition featured eight artists from Mexico and touched on notions of the difficulty of explicitly defining “Mexican culture” and “Mexican identity.” The artists were; Rodrigo Aldana, Marco Arce, Aurora Boreal, Eduardo Cervantes, Silvia Gruner, Yishai Jusidman, Daniela Rossell and Saúl Villa. Gallo discussed how, rather than being an exhibition of “Mexican art,” this collection challenges us to think about the limitations of categorizing these works as such.

Currently, the CAG is presenting an installation by Mexican artist Stefan Brüggemann; Headlines and Last Lines in the Movies and the CAG Shop has copies of his limited edition bookwork of the same name.  Although Brüggemann’s first language is Spanish, the installation features a collection of news story headlines and quotes from movies spray-painted in English on the gallery’s boarded-up façade. The headlines are collected from both local and global sources; some even referencing Vancouver.

What I like most about this work is the fact that it creates conversation. I’ve seen many people posting on social media questioning whether it is “for real” or vandalism, identifying their favourite phrases, and guessing what sources some of the lines come from. Like Tendencies, it also addresses the idea of the artist’s identity and whether Headlines and Last Lines in the Movies, with references to Canadian news stories and Hollywood films, can be described as “Mexican art.”

Join the conversation–come visit us at 555 Nelson Street before September 7 to see Brüggemann’s installation and check out Tendencies: New Art From Mexico City and Headlines and Last Lines in the Movies in the CAG bookshop!

Visit the CAG then tweet or post your pics of the mural to @CAGVancouver  #headlinesandlastlines

– Kelli Sturkenboom

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From the Archives | Tendencies: New Art From Mexico City


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