On Saturday afternoon I stopped at the Vancouver Art Gallery to pick up my freshly printed membership card. I was short on time but I flew through the new exhibition Unreal. As it merits more time that I gave it, I will return for a leisurely viewing but to peak your interests here is an excerpt from the press release and some works that jumped out at me. Continue reading


Taking the Practical out of Sweaters and Quilts

Kerry James Marshall, "Better Homes, Better Gardens," 1994

I started 2011 with a trip to the Vancouver Art Gallery. It was the second to last day of the Kerry James Marshall exhibit, I was over my post-Christmas flu and had no commitments for the day – the perfect day to validate the membership my mom gave me. While it was Marshall that brought me to the VAG I was pleasantly surprised by other exhibits.

The Vancouver Art Gallery has a large collection of local contemporary art as well as some international gems. Everything Everyday pulls items from their collection that explore everyday actions, items and encounters. The press release states “Despite the presupposed banal nature of the subject matter, the artists in this exhibition manage to provoke surprising and poetic interpretations of the everyday in their work.” I would have to agree, the mundane are give a chance to shine here. The textile freak that I am, I was immediately drawn to Aganetha Dyck‘s Eaton triplets.  As with the triplets included in the exhibit, Dyck’s items often reflect domestic activity. Not only do the items refer to domesticity but the process itself does – they are shrunken, very shrunken.

Liz Magor, Hollow

The top floor of the Vancouver Art Gallery is always reserved for Emily Carr. After numerous school field trips and countless visits I have come to dread the top floor. It is not that I don’t appreciate her work, just that I have seen it so many times the joy is gone. Well, I suspect I’m not alone here because they have mixed things up. While the top floor is still an homage to the West Coast painter the current show “In Dialogue with Carr” brings in four contemporary BC artists and pairs their works with items from the gallery’s extensive Carr collection. Much to my delight not all of the pairings were paintings. Sculptor Liz Magor responds more to Carr’s life than her work so her installation is surrounded by photographs of Carr’s life and studio. One of my favorite local celebrities, Douglas Coupland couples five excentric Canadian quilts with ceramic chachkis that Emily Carr modeled after first nations carvings. The author of Generation X has also scripted a mock radio interview between himself and the recluse painter which plays as you pass through the gallery. Never have I been so happy to make the journey to the Carr floor. Thank you Daina Augaitis for making me re-apreciate  the life of this odd painter.

Emily Carr with friends and caravan “Elephant” on sketching trip, 1934

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Crawling for Art: The Eastside Cultural Crawl

Vancouver’s Eastside Cultural Crawl takes place each fall with hundreds of artists opening their studios to the public. At last night’s opening event I took in just a few of the participating studios. Just a few still adds up to an overwhelming amount of art with everything from jewelry and furniture to paintings and sculptures, and yes some textiles were in the mix. As much as I’d love to give you detailed information on my top favorites it feels fitting to give you an overwhelming list of memorable artists. To find out more about the artists click on their images or find them in the list of links at the bottom. There is no particular order to the list.

Robyn Drage

Jen Hong

David Robinson

Arleigh Wood


Fiona Ackerman


Lisa Ochowycz

Claire Madill, Heyday Design

Jim Park

Laura McKibbon, Cul de Sac Design

Ann Thinghuus

Tanis Saxby


Crawling artists on the web

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3D Lace: Rachel Harding

Rachel Harding … I have to say, I’m envious. Works like these make me want to get out and learn more about digital media. This is one area that I just don’t have the know how. The video below, you don’t want to know how long it took me to sort that out – oh, wait, I gave up. Sorry but you will have to view it on her vimeo page.

One of the things I miss most about my studio is people dropping by and chatting over a cup of tea. Discussing the work of some artist we’d come across and thought the other may like. Sharing techniques and approaches that may or may not solve a corner we’d dug ourselves into. Now-a-days these encounters are different. I don’t have the physical space but I have the blog. People stop by for a read, leave a comment or send me an email. A few weeks ago a co-worker emailed me a link to Rachel Harding’s work and this post was born.

The link was to a recent post on Designboom featuring samples of Harding’s work and I got to googling. Oddly enough I didn’t find out all that much about her work, but what I did find I like.

As much as I love doilies and textiles I find that all to often art that revolves around them is too pretty. Yes too pretty. When it comes to textiles the exquisitely beautiful tends to feel overly crafty. I need some grit and darkness to my art and Harding’s renderings provide this. While the patterns that sprout her forms are delicate and have all the allures that comes with lace the sculptures that grow out of them are foreboding. They conjure ruined cities of some alien culture; a culture that based its designs on the soft curving lines of doilies instead of linear grids and cul-de-sacs.  What would these landscapes been like to live in? What else about their culture would have been different from ours?

More Harding on the Web

Random Encounters

Brenna Maag: Textiles as Specimens

I have been posting a lot about Mission and I think you may already have picked up on my doily obsession. All the back and forth between Vancouver and Mission reminded me of an artist whose work I was told to look into, Brenna Maag. Yes, she too has the doily bug.

Brenna Maag, Observation of Wonder, Richmond Art Gallery

Maag’s website states that she “is a printmaker, sculptor and mixed media artist. Her most recent work, Observation of Wonder is the culmination of four years of observation and research into her relationship with textile practices, ecology and science. She is interested in creating work that uses found materials and that investigates our relationship with nature and domestic activities. She is a graduate of Emily Carr University of Art and Design and she likes to garden.”

Brenna Maag, Family Hortusaceae

aside from the obvious doily attraction, one of the aspects of Maag’s work that attracts me is her treatment of textiles as specimens. I have long been fascinated by museum representations of culture and have tried to address this in some of my textile installations. The notion of textiles as specimens is very appealing. As fibers fade and disintegrate, most of our knowledge of early textiles come from paintings and carvings rather than actual specimens. This may not be Maag’s focus but I find it an interesting correlation and one that I enjoy playing with.

Maag provides her doily specimens with latin names that relate to the classification systems for flora and fauna.  While developing my Flesh Paintings I spent a lot of time researching various terms used for mixed race people like my self. classification was a vital element to the colonial system. By labeling or classifying individuals both the individuality and commonalities were diminished. This allowed for a system that saw a mulatto, not an individual with a name, but as an other. Again, this is not what Maag is necessarily trying to bring attention to but is yet another way I am able to identify with her work.

Brenna Maag, Peasework Project

Another fascinating series, and the one that I first encountered, is her mail art. If you are not familiar with the mail art there are some links below but the main focus is a free, non-commercial exchange of art. Maag’s project is rather one-sided, in that she sent out postcards but did not intend to receive a direct response but rather to produce a personal reaction or reflection in the recipient. They are, non the less, an interesting series.

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