Archives for posts with tag: environment

Announcing the opening of Clouds — a group exhibition

Opening Night Reception,  Thursday,  23 March (7 – 9 pm) at Cityscape Art Space in North Vancouver (235 Lonsdale) — featuring fifty-one artists interpreting clouds in a variety of media that range from beadwork to photography.

Among the many cloud musings is my spontaneous iPhone capture of sunburst lighting up clouds on Chesterman Beach/Tofino, one of those rare moments when the drama of light obscured colour to show the contrast between rain and surf.

Clouds will be on show  at Cityscapes Community Art Space through 22 April.

Chesterman Beach (iPhone image)

 

IntervalsWeb-1024x622Presented by South Main Gallery and Capture Photography Festival
Curated by Edward Peck and Phyllis Schwartz (Sassamatt Collective)
We are pleased to present exciting new and recent work by 7 international photographic artists, including 3 world premieres at South Main Gallery. The exhibition features Goga Bayat, David Ellingsen, Jim Friesen, Diana Nicholette Jeon, Edward Peck, Phyllis Schwartz and Andrew Ward.

March 31st to April 9th
Opening Reception: Thursday, March 31st /7 – 9 pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, April 2nd / 2 – 4 pm

Don’t miss a chance to talk to the artists about their work on Thursday at the Opening Reception or Saturday at the Artist Talk featuring Diana Nicolette Jeon and Andrew Ward.

Seven global photographers converge in an exhibition about the rhythms and tensions in the contemporary geographical, social and psychological landscapes.

Intervals: Photography in Flux is a collection of unique and unusual digital and photographic processes that are rarely seen in one setting. The methods and techniques range from those used long before the invention of the camera to the advanced technology available to artists today. The works are presented through diverse photographic methods using encaustic, cameraless exposures, and iPhonography. Their themes thread around the deconstruction of identity, environmental issues, disposable society, speaking under oppression and the mysteries in the mundane.

An Exhibition Catalogue will be available in the gallery and from Blurb

South Main Gallery
279 East 6th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5T 1J7
The exhibition continues through Saturday, 09 April. South Main Gallery is open Tuesday – Thursday (10AM – 5:30 PM), Friday-Saturday (11AM-5:30PM) and Sunday by appointment; private viewing available (604.565.5622). An Artist Talk will be held on Saturday, 08 April (2-4 pm).

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Frozen

Frozen

I’ve been gifted this review of my current series: Salton Sea Eco-Disaster — I cannot look away.

 

The Salton Sea Eco-Disaster – I cannot look away
One of the most provocative and insightful bodies of artwork in the Telling Stories: a visual art exhibition is a series of photographs by Phyllis Schwartz. Although a great deal of her work is more abstract in nature and rooted in the historical techniques of photographic image making, this series is a departure for her. The images are very monochromatic and stark as well as being rivetingly close to their subject matter.

What has caused this departure, especially when the work has been simmering since the winter of 2011? Having witnessed the ecological destruction on the shores of the Salton Sea, California’s largest body of water, the images were just too graphic and unworldly. How does a visual artist work with a set of images that seem implausible, yet at the same time so captivating? What are the implications of creating a series around these images that wander between a work of art, a statement of witnessing and a political commentary on our economically driven ecological disasters?

Vacant

Vacant

In the end one cannot really look away, as Phyllis Schwartz expresses in her subtitle, without becoming even more complicit than one already is creating these images. To look away is to do what is so often done, to pretend we are not part of the problem. We are collectively the authors of this series; even in Vancouver, the food grown in this area that flows 15,000 tons of phosphorus and nitrogen into this landlocked sea is the food we shop for on our grocery shelves. The cars we drive that are made in Mexico in the maquiladoras just across the border, emit a toxic stew mixed with sewage, and this flows down hill across the border into the Salton Sea. This artificial river is now the most toxic waterway in North America, we should not be looking away.

Schwartz’s images are simple yet draw in the viewer; they are micro-compositions of areas no larger than a dessert plate. Abstract in presentation and mostly black and white with hints of colour, one can not help but think of Edward Weston’s work and the intimacy he expressed with the objects he photographed. Yet the images are not as subtitle, and unlike Weston, the images are much less rooted in the post modern culture that favours irony while making allusions to knowledge. It also seems to lash out at the pseudo-modern world of around us where iPhones and social media often gives the impression that one is immersed when often one is overtaken or swallowed up.

Desiccated

Desiccated

As the viewer moves from one image to another, one begins to feel that something is amiss. What is the magnitude of the dead barnacles beach? Why are the fish mostly unconsumed by the other wild life in the area? Why have they not been cleaned up by local inhabitants? Having chosen to work at such an intimate range, the work hints at the extent of the problem without graphically showing the masses of dead fish that actually litter the shoreline. The artist here is reflecting our tendency to minimize and reduce things down so we do not see the scale of the problem. One cannot look away, but one does not want to see the scale, a scale might prove too challenging. The softness and almost abstract forms allow one to at momentarily escape before the mind lurches back to what is being presented. It moves the viewer to search out the subtext and the footnotes of this ecological metaphor of our current age.

Edward Peck (15 November 2015)

Edward Peck

On the Wall Series, photographed in Germany in 2015, will be part of the Telling Stories:a visual art exhibition opening on the 7th of November 2015. The exhibition will include photography, painting, sculpture, fibre art and other installations. It will feature the following nine artists: Alison Keenan, Phyllis Schwartz, Jim Friesen, Daphne Harwood, Sophi Liang, Colette Lisoway, Edward Peck, Debra Sloan and June Yun.

This is the BestB4 Collective’s latest exhibition, and it is graciously hosted by the Chinese Cultural Centre in their On-Tak Cheung Exhibition Gallery.

Opening: Saturday, November 7, 2015

Location: 555 Columbia Street

Regular Hours: 11:am – 5pm (Tue-Sat), Nov 7th – Dec 19

For Special Hours and Events see BestB4Collective’s Blog

For more information please go to the BestB4 Collective’s events page:
http://bestb4collective.blogspot.ca/p/events.html )

A Brief Word About the Series

My artist practice has always been about teaching myself to see. While walking around Berlin and Hamburg, I noticed that…

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Telling Stories: a visual art exhibition, a new exhibition presented by the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver in collaboration with the BestB4 Collective, opens at the On-Tak Cheung Gallery at the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum on Saturday, 07 November, 2015 from 2 – 4pm.

This new  BestB4 Collective project is a collaboration with nine visual artists and community members; the gallery is transformed into a meeting place where photography, painting, ceramics, fibre and installations tell and evoke stories. Salton Sea Eco-Disaster — I Cannot Look Away, my Salton Sea photo-graphic story, will be on show in this exhibition.

In the Winter of 2011, I made my second photo-exploration of the Salton Sea in Southern California to continue my study of the environmental impact of the local economy on the region and am now working toward a return to the area for a future photographic project. This eco-disaster is complex: as this salt lake dehydrates, the toxins from the Mexicali-Calexico food industry and computer industry contaminants concentrate, which in turn kills the fish, birds and plant life. As a result, the shore of the Salton Sea is ringed with layers of dead fish and birds; the stench of dead marine life hovers over a series of ghost towns built with the intention of a recreational paradise in the desert.

My work in this area has only begun. It is simultaneously seductively surreal and an outrage. I use the photographic process as an investigative tool. The process of photography reveals detail and texture. I seek universals, digging beneath the surface for invisible truth, open to the optical unconscious revealed by my camera. In my quest for the poetic, my photography addresses the nature of permanence and impermanence by asking, “What remains?”

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More about the Best B4 Collective 
More community events

Telling Stories — a visual art exhibition, my most recent Best B4 Collective project co-curated with Alison Keenan, presents the work of nine Vancouver artists telling stories in a variety of media. We have selected artists who both tell stories about contemporary issues and push the boundaries of their artistic medium. The exhibition opens 07 November at the On-Tak Gallery in the Chinese Cultural Centre and runs through 19 December.

Urban and environmental issues are the predominant themes running through the stories in this exhibition. Alison Keenan uses scale to tell visual stories about the territorial clash between avian and human creatures. Edward Peck’s photographs zoom into Berlin graffiti to re-tell the on-going stories found in the urban streetscape. My Salton Sea series pictures surreal environmental devastation caused by the food and computer industries situated on the US-Mexican border.

New to the Best B4 Collective are six artists who tell stories using fibre and installation art. Daphne Harwood uses the quilting medium to document urban transformation where once stood Imagination Market on the north shore of False Creek. Sophi Liang installs a ladder which holds traditional books to deconstruct traditional Chinese cultural values transplanted in a new cultural landscape. Colette Lisoway’s multi-screen prints build up a new image of a multicultural society in a rapidly changing community.

Uncanny stories are told in sculpture, painting and photography, stories that reframe the issues of environmental, urban and cultural conflict. Debra Sloan’s sculptures freeze tense, mischievous moments. June Yun’s paintings might look like misty Chinese countryside landscapes, but they are in fact stories of pollution that causes a nuclear winter. The tension in Jim Friesen’s stormy skies tell stories about the cycle of tension and release, a metaphor for many of the issues presented in the stories in this exhibition.

Each weekend, free community events will be offered to the public, and during the week, participating artists will be working with students in the community who visit the exhibition.  Further details are found on the Events Page of the Best B4 Collective Blog.

I am writing this blog so I can learn to spell and understand pareidolia. In the 70s, I read an article in Scientific American that explained how the eye-brain constructed recognizable shapes from ambiguity. That information gave me insight into how visual art that compelled caused me to look again, and I was sure I would remember that word. I reached for that word many times, talking around it and hoped someone could fill in the gap in my knowledge. That gap was filled in conversation following one of my Facebook posts during  the  Black and White Photo challenge this September. Now in a time when access to this kind of information is only a few keystrokes away, I am able to fill in that gap.

Pareiolia explains why we see the man in the moon, dragons in clouds, faces (especially eyes) in tree bark and projected imagery in reflective surfaces. This rediscovery of this word and this phenomenon gives both an explanation for my fascination with abstract Lumen Print compositions and a context for my artist process. Artwork, music and literature that offer multiple valid readings have always attracted me;  my favourites continue to invite another layer of meaning. My Lumen Prints that render smaller ambiguous pareidoltric artifacts engage my viewers and often spark interesting conversation. I look again.

Bladderwrack and Rainwater (2010)

Bladderwrack and Rainwater (2010)

One of my most enduring compositions, Mother and Child, was an early starting point in my Lumen Print artist practice. When I look at this Lumen Print, I see a goat like figure and a playful calf nuzzling up affectionately to a protective figure, a mother to my way of looking at it; I want to see a Mother and Child, and a reach into the photograph for more imagery to complete that story. Others might see darkened outlines of familiar seaweed shapes: bladderwrack, sea lettuce and the potassium deposits made by sheets of Lamenaria left out in the rain. My early Lumen Print work was essentially creative botanical documentation. I discovered the X-Ray like marks in Lumen Prints  yield more information than in botanical drawings; these Lumen Print documents simultaneously photograph the interior and exterior of the specimen. When I freed these materials from their orthodox portraiture and used these materials in the markmaking process,  then landscapes and narratives emerged. Instead of Lamenaria and Bladderwrack resting on photosensitive surfaces for a portrait, they were telling stories.

Sea Shells and Rainwater (lumen lith printed from a handmade negative, 2010)

Sea Shells and Rainwater (lumen lith printed from a handmade negative, 2010)

Wanting to go beyond the discoveries of the botanists who were among the first to discover a photographic process for recording visual information in their notations, I turned to an exploration of the capacity of sheet film in Lumen Printing.  A 4 x 5 inch block of sheet film does not leave much space for composition, a challenge when I was composing organic material on photo paper that measured 16 x 20 inches. I was curious to find out how much detail sheet film would record for printing and projecting in large format. Sea Shells and Rainwater was my first handmade negative; I positioned a small handful of crushed seashells on sheet film and exposed it to an afternoon of hazy light. This negative was digitized and developed much the way I worked in an analogue darkroom: amplifying light and tonal values. I worked on this image until it came to life: when a pair of eyes appear and a life form took shape on a green colour field. In digital format, I am able to show X-Ray layers in much the same way they appear in analogue Lumen Prints.

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Recent Lumen Prints, both analogue and digital, tell pareidolic stories: Caribou posing for a portrait, momento mori in What Remains from gathering foliage in New York, possible life forms Among Cherry Blossoms, a portrait emerging from Chesterman Beach sea tangles. And more at Sassamatt Images.

 

Art residency season is quickly drawing to a close My artist practice is recursive. I continually spiral back to my starting points to re-think what I thought I knew, what I thought I mastered, what needs re-invention. A foundation class is an advancement class as it reinforms me about processes, practices and possibilities. My best way for me to go forward is to go back to the where it all began. 

Working  in classrooms sends me back to the beginning and  continues to add another layer to my artist practice: ideas spark when I share my ideas, techniques and suggestions. Curious minds ask provocative questions. Busy hands show me how my own practice transforms in a shared creative process. Ideas go places I never would have imagined. Exhibition and celebration brings new ideas to move forward.There’s always much to show for these joyful moments in the classroom, and I long for studio time so I can go forward with new ideas and new work.

Recently, I completed an ArtStarts residency in two ceramics classes at Kitsilano Secondary School working with Sandra Grosch. Fascinated by the alchemy of ceramics, Sandra and I designed a residency that offered students the opportunity to explore the possibilities of working with native clay, local clay excavated not far from the location of their school. In the past, I have come home from various locations with a handful of clay that I formulated into both functional and decorative object, and often I offer them to the owners of the land from which the clay was excavated — produce from a garden a few feet deeper. Working with native clay is a trial and error process, and I shared with students information about the history of pottery in British Columbia. Coastal British Columbia has a contemporary ceramics community but lacks an indigenous one. The clay that is found along the coast and up the Fraser Valley is soft and fires into a brittle form; hence, this clay requires refractory materials to be added in order to make the clay both workable and functional.

Students confronted the challenge of working with native clay by experimenting with the limits and possibilities of a material new to them and discovered ceramic forms that would keep their shape. They discovered that a traditional pinch pot had to be much thicker in order to retain its shape and that cylinder ware had to be much wetter to prevent cracking along stress lines. They were surprised that coil work was almost impossible. Once they were able to work with clay that had been formulated with materials that made the clay more plastic, they were back in their comfort zone and could apply some of their handbuilding techniques to make forms that would hold their shape. Their discoveries reflect a sense of wonder about their own community resources and curiosity about what else lies beneath the surface of the land in their locale

Currently, student samples of their first native clay exploration can be viewed at the ArtStarts Gallery  in conjunction with Timescapes — Local Connections and Natural Indicators of Time. This installation of figurative clay work made during my residency at Kitsilano Secondary School is on show through August at the ArtStarts Gallery at 808 Richards Street, open Tuesday through Saturday.

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The Tree: Literal and Figurative, an exhibition curated by Alison Keenan and Phyllis Schwartz, expresses the theme of nature as experienced in forests, the built environment and as raw material for industry. This group exhibition presents images and impressions of the tree in a variety of media. The artists from BestB4 Collective are graduates from Emily Carr University of Art + Design and the University of British Columbia. The purpose of this exhibition is to show the tree as a common link in Canadian culture that provides a canopy, which spans all cultures, communities, collectives, artists, and individuals.

Exhibiting artists include Ellen Bang (mixed media sculpture installation), Chu Yin Tak (mixed media paper installation), Pauline Doyle (mixed media figurative ceramics),  Alison Keenan (acrylic on canvas), Anna Ruth (installation drawings), Edward Peck (large scale photography), Connie Sabo (mixed media sculpture installation) and Phyllis Schwartz (lumen prints on fibre).

Artists’ Talk and Exhibition Catalog Launch

The Tree: Landscape, Culture and Identity
Join exhibiting artists in a conversation about their art making process and current exhibition at the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum. Exhibition Catalogue is available  for $15 at the CCCM  though 17 February or BLURB Publications

Saturday January 25, 2014  2-4pm (Free admission)

Chinese Cultural Centre Museum
555 Columbia Street, Vancouver, BC 
604.658.8880, 604.658.8883
cccmuseum@gmail.com
Tree: Literal and Figurative Exhibition Catalogue (Sassamatt Publications; available at the CCCM and BLURB Publications)

Tree: Literal and Figurative Exhibition Catalogue  (available for $15  at the CCCM during the exhibition and BLURB Publications; cover design: Anna Ruth, book design: Edward Peck)


The Tree: Literal and Figurative, an exhibition curated by Alison Keenan and Phyllis Schwartz, expresses the theme of nature as experienced in forests, the built environment and as raw material for industry. The purpose of this exhibition is to show the tree as a common link in Canadian culture that provides a canopy, which spans all cultures, communities, collectives, artists, and individuals.This group exhibition presents images and impressions of the tree in a variety of media  will surely evoke myriad myths and memories about the tree. 

The artists from BestB4 Collective are graduates from Emily Carr University of Art + Design and the University of British Columbia.  The Tree is an inaugural BestB4 Collective exhibition by eight artists working in eight different media include the paintings of Alison Keenan, experimental photography by Phyllis Schwartz, drawings by Anna Ruth and Tony Chu Yin Tak, large-scale photography by Edward Peck, ceramics by Pauline Doyle, felt sculpture by Ellen Bang and installation work by Connie Sabo. The exhibition is on show at the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum in Vancouver between 11 January and 17 February 2014.  Exhibition Details. 

BestB4 Collective is a Vancouver-based collaborative artist collective established by Alison Keenan and Phyllis Schwartz. The focus of their collaboration is an ongoing inquiry into themes of the natural and built environments, the use of public space by the private individual, contemporary dance as an art form and as public performance.

The Tree exhibition includes my recent lumen prints. In the gallery is my series of analogue lumen prints made during a recent visit to New York . New York: What Remains? shows traces and shadows of early summer foliage mostly collected near the Natural History Museum and Central Park. In the showcase windows are my recent digital prints made from handmade negatives. Illuminations is a series of forest abstractions made from kelp forest debris washed ashore at Chesterman Beach and windfall gathered in my back yard after a series of winter and early spring storms.

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It’s art residency season. Working in classrooms adds another layer to my artist practice: ideas spark when I share my ideas, techniques and suggestions. Curious minds ask provocative questions. Busy hands show me how my own practice transforms in a shared creative process. Ideas go places I never would have imagined. Exhibition and celebration brings new ideas to move forward.There’s always much to show for these joyful moments in the classroom, and I long for studio time so I can go forward with new ideas and new work. 

Recently, I presented a  lumen prints workshop  at the ArtStarts Gallery  in celebration of BC Arts and Culture Week in conjunction with Botanimalogy—Expressions of Nature, an exhibition of lumen prints made during my residency at Kitsilano Secondary School. This exhibition of both analogue and digital lumen prints is on show through August at the ArtStarts Gallery at 808 Richards Street, open Tuesday through Saturday.
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