Archives for category: New Work

BC PEN — open to visitors is a new Sassamatt Images gallery. It features a series of black and white photographs made during the BC Maximum Security Penitentiary openhouse in 1980 just prior to its decommission. The dark, structured confinement is pierced with slants of light that reflect on anything bright, and still the film grain is a collection of marks made by 102 years of anger, despair, and fear.

These images are from an archive of black and white film negatives shelved for forty years, and working on them brought back both questions and memories. I wondered what would draw me to visit a place that contained memories of excruciating suffering, knowing that I do not release the emotional residue of these experiences easily. Revisiting the BC Penitentiary through my photography brought back memories of 1973 Riot followed by  hostage-takings in 1975 and 1976. My mind resurrected countless news stories about deplorable conditions, high staff turnover and the unforgettable friendly fire killing of Mary Steinhauser, a social worker who was outspoken about solitary confinement. Curiously, I was compelled to be among those who visited and witnessed this closing chapter in British Columbia correctional facility history and the end of century of draconian prison conditions.

As I moved through this series of negatives I remembered how I was struck by the artificial presentation of the BC Penitentiary as a museum, explaining intake, routines, education opportunities and the transition to release. The kitchen displayed spotless counters and sparkling aluminum cooking equipment. The infirmary displayed specialized accommodations for inmate medical care. Most of the damage and debris from the final riot had been cleared away, and the cells were spotless. I was much more curious about the remains of the series of holes bored through cell walls, preserved for visitors. In the end, what remained was the architecture of confinement and the slants of light that pierced darkness on so many levels.

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Scan 25

Conversation — going in circles (Procion Dye Drawing)

My passion for a sketchbook practice and sharing it afar has taken my most recent sketchbook to Quebec City for exhibition in the inaugural Biennale International du Carnet D’Artiste (BICA) presented by Société d’art et d’histoire de Beauport (SAHB).

SAHB believes,
An artist’s sketchbook is a very personal object inside of which ideas are freely growing, both technically and stylistically. Sketches, musical notes, doodles, collages, colors, marks, painting, tears, writing, watercolors, words, pictures, and memories unveil the most intimate part of the artist’s mind.

My current artist notebook, What You See Is What You See/ Ce Que Vous Voyez Est Que Vous Voyez,is a project dedicated to visually explaining some of my Procion dye drawing techniques. It logs a series of techniques that I have discovered and finessed. Most of the time, I dry brush a page of paper with black Procion dye powder and use a variety of techniques and processes to enhance and manipulate line, form and colour intensity.

What You See Is What You See/ Ce Que Vous Voyez Est Que Vous Voyez is an on-going series of evocative abstract Procion dye drawings. Using a variety of techniques to make marks on paper, my 2-D forms take both recognizable and ambiguous shapes. I often rely on pareidolia, the psychological phenomenon of recognizing familiar patterns and forms, to guide me to a finished drawing. Frank Stella’s minimalist, abstract paintings inspire the title of this series, but in my work, I seek a sense of more playfulness.

BICA opened 08 September and the exhibition continues through 28 October at Maison Tessier-Dit-Laplante, 2328 Avenue Royale, Beauport, Québec.

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3_PhyllisSchwartz_ForestFamily3(peach)

Forest Family (Peach)

Art 4 Life at the Port Moody Art Centre is an annual interactive exhibition curated for a young (and young at heart) audience. Intended to raise curiosity, inspire imagination and invite a life-long love of art appreciation and art-making. Art galleries offer unique community spaces where an audience of all ages can experience the power of art to transform how we understand our world and ourselves.

I am honoured that five of my mixed-media sculptures are included in this exhibition dedicated to a young audience beginning the habit of art for life. These sculptures, five members of the Forest Family, are hybrid critters born from the union of the plant, animal and geological realms. They are quirky, humourous and friendly life forms awaiting names and biographies, inviting viewers to connect with recognizable features, an adoption process of sorts. Like pets, the members of the Forest Family are intended to invite curiosity and affection.

The benefits of an arts education affect every area of life, and Art 4 Life is one such event in a lifelong journey of art appreciation. “Exposure to the visual arts, especially in these creative ways, expands a child’s awareness of the world and is a tool that can be used for learning in science, history, math, and more,” says Robert Frankel, director of museums and visual arts at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC.

Art 4 Life opens 22 September (1-3 PM) at the Port Moody Art Centre (2425 St. Johns Street) and runs thru 01 November.

 

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Primal Sympathies 4

Primal Sympathies 4

Primal Sympathies is a sketchbook that follows the falling Autumn Leaves that augur the cherry blossoms announcing the arrival of Spring. Black ants crawling through dried leaves encounter red ants crawling along branches hosting swollen buds about to burst into full bloom.

This progression of colour — parched red, orange and brown leaves that give life to pink blossoms that intensify as springtime unfolds  — is the landscape for ink drawings of determined ants crawling steadily through the cycle of the seasons. These interpretive botanical drawings are informed by William Wordsworth’s Ode: Intimations of Immortality.

Though nothing can bring back the hour
of splendour in the grass, or glory in the flower;

we will grieve not, rather find
strength in what remains behind,
in the primal sympathy
which having been must ever be.

Moving forward, Primal Sympathies has left the studio for an opening at the Brooklyn Art Library, a book tour through Toronto, Chicago, and Atlanta and a return to the Brooklyn Art Library collection. Much like a grown-up child leaving home, the Sketchbook Project asks that the work reside in a collection open to the public and be available for touring. The sketchbook, hence, comes to life in the hands of the reader, in the reading room, online and on tour.

Primal Sympathies can be viewed at the Brooklyn Art Library (28 Frost Street, Brooklyn). Watch for an announcement when the sketchbook is online. Check it out in Brooklyn (23 June), Toronto (27-29 June), Chicago (3-5 August) and Atlanta (21 – 23 September).

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FinnSloughAncientMemories20180110-DSCF1158

Finn Slough: Ancient Memories

Art About Finn Slough Show, sponsored by the Finn Slough Heritage and Wetland Society, includes work by Sassamatt Collective artists Phyllis Schwartz and Edward Peck. This unjuried show features work inspired by late Fall visits to Finn Slough, a small historic fishing village at the junction of Number 4 Road and Dyke Road in Richmond, one of the last tidal communities of the West Coast.

The Lumen Print series by Phyllis Schwartz was made from plant materials gathered at Finn Slough, a tiny fishing community in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada where approximately 30 residents live in wooden houses along a marshy riverbank. The indigenous and cultivated plant materials used to make the photograms reference a community that is inextricably connected to the environment and persistently adaptable to the encroaching built environment that challenges its existence. Of particular interest are the ginkgo leaves and horsetail ferns, both ancient plants that have adapted to environmental transformations or thousands of years.

Tidal Zone is a series by Edward Peck made from persistent observations of Finn Slough as Fall transforms the landscape from colour to the spare elements of winter. His series captures the marsh habitat on the Fraser River that has been lost to human settlement and industrial development. This struggle is reflected by the contrast of a dynamic landscape in full colour and the austerity of black and white structures endure the elements.

AAFSS is held at the Richmond Cultural Centre located at 7700 Minoru Gate, Multipurpose Room. The show is open on Thursday, April 9 from noon to 9:00pm, Friday, April 10th from 9:00am to 9:00pm, with an evening reception and guests speakers, Saturday, April 11th from 10:00am to 5:00pm and its ends on Sunday at 3:00pm.

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Brooklyn Boy’s Dream Come True

Two photo-based composite images have been selected for exhibition in Photobase: Re-imagined Memories, an exhibition of 25 diverse and inclusive artists who tell intimate stories of love, loss, family history, immigration, addiction and identity. Photobase is featured in this year’s Capture Photography Festival. Both of these prints are compositions that construct the identity of family members through documents and photographs.

Brooklyn Boy’s Dreams Come True references the old adage:  get the job to get the car to get the girl. In this case, it is a constructed biography of my father’s early years layered on his birth certificate: his first job that paid enough to get a car to win the girl of his dreams. Militant depicts a heroic chapter of my uncle’s life. This image juxtaposes his two loves: his partner and his commitment to the fight for justice that led him to volunteer to fight in the Spanish Civil War.

Photobase, curated by Stfanie Wysota, will show at CityScape Community Art Space, a community gallery and project of the North Vancouver Arts Council dedicated to a belief in the intrinsic value of art to inspire, heal, to bridge sectors, generations, and cultures, and to enhance and enrich communities. Here is the link to the Facebook event for you to share: https://www.facebook.com/events/420194891743310/

The exhibition runs from 16 March  thru 21 April (335 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver, Canada). Opening reception is Thursday, 15 March, 7-9 pm (Gallery Hours: M–W, F: 9 am–5 pm: Th: 9 am–8 pm; Sa: 12–5 pm).

Militant

Finn Slough Landscape

 

Gilbert, Arizona — 06 March – 21 April

LightSensitive 2018, an exhibition of traditional darkroom and alternative process photography, opens at Art Intersection on Saturday, 10 March (5 – 7pm). The selected works, according to juror scott b. davis, “…range from abstract images that defy our expectations of photography to others that affirm our belief in the medium’s inherent specificity.”

Two Lumen Prints from my Finn Slough Series will be on show in an exhibition of handcrafted prints by photographers working in the tradition of light sensitive creative processes. The organic nature of these prints made using materials gathered at Finn Slough reflect the quality of life in a tiny fishing community in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada where 30 residents live in wooden houses along a marshy riverbank. The indigenous and cultivated plant materials used to make the photograms reference a community that is inextricably connected to the environment and persistently adaptable to the encroaching built environment that challenges its existence.

These Lumen Print photograms are made by placing plant materials on black-and-white photo paper, which were exposed to both sunlight and the elements for 48 hours during a December snowstorm and then processed in fixer. The atmospheric conditions affecting these prints were especially unusual, resulting in distress to the light sensitive emulsion, which can be seen in the unique marks on the photosensitive surface.

Light Sensitive will show at Art Intersection, a gallery and workspace in Gilbert, Arizona, that promotes the intersection of photography with related art forms. The exhibition runs from 06 March thru 21 April (207 North Gilbert Road, Gilbert Arizona). Opening reception is Saturday, 10 March, 5 – 7 pm).

 

Two recent Lumen Prints have been selected for exhibition in Light Sensitive 2018, a signature exhibition of photography created using traditional darkroom and alternative photographic processes. Both of these prints were made using materials gathered at Finn Slough, a tiny fishing community in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada where approximately 30 residents live in wooden houses along a marshy riverbank. The indigenous and cultivated plant materials used to make the photograms reference a community that is inextricably connected to the environment and persistently adaptable to the encroaching built environment that challenges its existence.

These Lumen Print photograms are made by placing plant materials on black-and-white photo paper, which were exposed to both sunlight and the elements for 48 hours and then processed in fixer. The plant enzymes and atmospheric conditions interacted with the photo-emulsion to produce unexpected results on the surface of the paper, leaving X-ray like marks on both their shapes and interiors. The atmospheric conditions affecting these prints were especially unusual — work that was set out on a cold December night was visited by a slushy snowstorm that was followed by freezing weather that adhered the prints to the developing table for an additional day of soaking up diffused light. Carefully, these prints were thawed and released; the impact of this distress can be seen in the unique marks on the photosensitive surface.

Light Sensitive, juried by scott b. davis founder of the Medium Festival of Photography, will show at Art Intersection, a gallery and workspace in Gilbert, Arizona, that promotes the intersection of photography with related art forms. The exhibition runs from 06 Marth thru 21 April (207 North Gilbert Road, Gilbert Arizona). Open reception is Saturday, 10 March, 5 – 7 pm).

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Artists by nature are not hard-wired to boost, promote, or sell their work. Buyers usually want to know more about the works that attract their attention and perhaps purchase. That more can be the backstory, the technique or inspiration, and it is often said that it is not the work that is sold but the story that is bought.

For some artists, that conversation is difficult. In my own artist practice, all of this is the case. If I could bring that story to life in conversation, there would be no need for me to make a drawing, photograph, artist book or ceramic sculpture. I came to value (and now miss dearly) art school critiques because I learned how to speak more confidently about the backstory, techniques and inspiration in my artist practice. Having said that, this blog feels somewhat like shameless self-promotion, but it could also be a year-end summary of where my work can be found, where this work can be purchased.

TRUTH AND BEAUTY Digital Gallery presents Illuminations, a selection of my recent lumen prints. This exclusive, inaugural Online Exhibition aims to reach a broad international audience and enhance ongoing programming at the Vancouver gallery. Visit the DIGITAL GALLERY to enjoy this inaugural exhibition of Lumen Prints.

CITYSCAPE ART RENTALS (335 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver) holds a small collection of my work for rent, rent-to-own, and purchase. A selection of my work will be exhibited the 2018 Art Rental Show (opening 11 January through 03 February 2018).

THE BROOKLYN ART LIBRARY (28 Frost Street, Brooklyn, NY)/ Sketchbook Project now sells high-quality prints of pages from nine of my sketchbooks in their collection. Sketchbook Collection

If you are in Texas, Ocean Shoresone of my Lumen Prints is among the 39 alternative process photographs on exhibition in unique: alternative processes at ASmith Gallery in Johnson City, Texas thru 14 January 2018. This exhibition affirms my interest in what constitutes a photograph and the experiments, historical and contemporary, which push the boundaries and yield unique results. It is also available for purchase.

My ceramics are currently for sale at the Gallery of BC Ceramics and the Port Moody Art Centre. Know that each of my works embodies thoughts about craft, the enjoyment of music bouncing off my studio walls while I work late into the night and artistic risk. The Gallery of BC Ceramics also sells Seeking the Nuance (second edition), a collection of heritage glazes along with essays about the Vancouver ceramics community in the 70s.  Check it out
Winter Treasures 
thru 22 December,  Point Moody Art Centre, 2425 Johns Street,  Port Moody
Christmas Dove Ornaments 
thru 24 December,  Gallery of BC Ceramics, 1359 Cartwright Street, Granville Island

Gifting is an art form in its own right, and in this season of gift giving, a gift of art is a double gift because it gifts the artist as well. More about my photography continues at http://www.sassamatt.com

From time to time, I incline my mind toward straight photography and assemble a  vaguely affiliated series of images. The Curated Fridge is calling for photographs that speak to their summer theme: I Wonder.

When I look through my viewfinder, I wonder about many things: will my photograph be the equivalent of what I sense (thinking about Alfred Steiglitz)? will my photograph endure my rigourous editing process? will I feel the same about this image tomorrow as I did when I released the shutter (Wordsworth’s emotion recollected in tranquility)?

Sometimes I ponder, speculate, or meditate with my camera, but best of all I like spontaneous moments that later reveal what the inner eye sees in a decisive moment. So, here I offer up a collection of photographic moments that I wonder about.

I leave these thoughts hanging on a prepositional precipice wondering about your thoughts and perceptions as you scroll through my photographic moments?

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