Wednesday, July 9, 2014

*jan's studio:: pulpifying on




*This post will be the first in a series of photo essays on artists' studios in Vancouver [and hopefully beyond] that I plan to have published in book form one day. 
As my home has always been an ever (r)evolving studio for my varied projects, I am also intrigued by the environs where other artists' creative lives are manifest, and I feel that their milieux should be documented somewhat more as "art installations" in their own right and not just as functioning work spaces where tangible art is birthed. And as such, they may reflect the artistic personalities of the occupants more profoundly than even their own art can.

This idea is inspired in part by a book that I had found in France many years ago titled Entrails, Heads & Tails by Paola Igliori [colour photography by Paola Igliori and black and white photographs by Alastair Thain] published by Rizzoli, 1992.
"In a world where everything is analyzed, fragmented, crucified, we seem at times to lose ourselves in the process. Artists, like children, are the most absolute in creating, materializing their own world. The small everyday things that cover the space between the person and his work chart at times in the simplest way the ground of inspiration."  
[from Paola Igliori's introduction to her book]

 +++


Jan MacLeod is the first artist to have kindly let me into her studio and given me permission to shoot what I wanted. She has been making paper and artwork from plant materials that she gathers herself for over 30 years now in these two adjoining rooms in a heritage office building in downtown Vancouver.
Jan's dedication to her artform has seen her prodigious creations grace many homes, offices and luxury hotels. She is a long time member of the Circle Craft Co-operative on Granville Island.


 














Jan MacLeod


I would like to thank Jan for her gracious welcome into her plantpapersphere.

Monday, June 9, 2014

ann's house:: emptying out


a bare rod and two wire hooks in an empty closet -
the bright orange carpeting almost spotless, still
 white cotton sheets shield the emptied shelves -
shelves once stacked with fruits in mason jars
 a few boxes of board games sit on the counter -
above the now empty cupboards in the rec room
 the bar shelves where glasses and bottles had perched -
where they had gathered when their nights were empty
 the lone lamp stranded on the paneled wall -
glows a forlorn survey of the emptying room
the twin beds in the attic room are still for sale -
their bedside tables and chests of drawers emptied out
old frames and scrapbooks lie on a desolate shag -
all emptied of photos and family mementos
 empty vases at a dollar a piece wait for a buyer -
to fill again with bouquets bright as the tv tray's
the basement door is locked, bolted and barred -
as always now even when the house is emptied out


Ann and her late husband Lou had lived in this house for 60 years - 60 years of cumulative belongings to empty out, to eviscerate piece by piece to the best offer of the nostalgic gatherers, the predatory collectors, the ambivalent deal seekers...
When the house is emptied of the last chair, lamp, book, picture, ornament, tool, memory - will it remain to be re-modelled and refilled with new chairs, lamps, books - or will it die in a dusty heap of splintered wood, crushed doors and shattered glass...
I preserve a few images of it in memory of Lou who built everything in it, who tended the garden meticulously, whose paintbrush was ever handy for a fresh coat, and who died in his own house - never having to see it now, in its sadly empty state...


Sunday, May 25, 2014

emily carr grad show:: scaling up

Another year and another round of peaking art students presented their final flourishes before dispersing into the all-knowing world at large - with their fame-inflamed aspirations, or more humble hope to practice the skill set and art doctrines impressed into their spongy young minds - perhaps doses of meticulously cultivated talent is enough, perhaps a web of auspicious connections will propel some, perhaps just being true to their artistic authenticity will stand the test of time...

At this year's usual sprawling show, there is more than a whiff of sophisticated whimsy in the air, more of an upscale polished quality that can grace the most discerning gallery - abstracted symphonic forms floating in white space as well as starkly powerful works that are minimalist yet saturated with cryptic orders.


One installation by Parvin Peivandi is a multi-media dance of convoluted metal rods upholding ceramic "heads" of partial Persian motifs, all purist white and untainted by the slick pool of black oil they spring from - a work loaded with geo-eco-political metaphors and yet its lightness of being does not confront nor confound...



Wood scraps thoughtfully assembled and formulated by Angela Smailes into sculptural maquettes present as miniature sculpture in their own right - the compendious delicacy of each piece holding its own - and despite their constructivist abtractness, some read as vaguely familiar creatures in various states of composure. Isolated from each other on their individual perches, each is accorded a relevance unto itself and yet floats together in the general display as part of a giant discordant puzzle...






Long titles seem to fixate one's attention to certain work - ones that are purely descriptive in an overtly wordy mouthful such as Eric Miranda's "Five Ways of Transporting a Sphere on Three Ways of Displaying Five Ways of Transporting a Sphere" where pretty pink and lilac and lemon nippled rubber balls are attached to, bound with, and hung from various appendages in a playful and wholly inarticulate manner...





Michelle O'Byrne's descriptive narrative of "young man and woman embracing as a romantic couple on a tropical beach destination" for a wall installation that has no such wholesome image depicted in full and yet the delicate combination of the framed print, the finely strung horizon line dropping down to an ephemeral strip of sea/sky blue panel resting on the floor below all play to the heightened sensuality shimmering in a sanitized and magazine-glossy beach resort where one should always question one's true motives for being there...



Good old school painting wise, this pair of garages convulses in waves of gooey paint - the banal subject portrayed in prowling darkness, one spotted with a bright sensor bulb, the other lit by neighbouring windows, both depicted with such insouciant yet assured brushstrokes that only raw and ready talent can beget...Gillian Richards, you rock my paint can!



Wei Cheng's grouping of black glazed urns festooned with gilded strands of rough-edged clay asserted themselves in stately glamour - in a piece called "Zen", the vessel is tilted downwards as if surrendering to the binding embrace of its ribbon of gold, in another called "Convergence", the tall upright urn is spewing writhing golden snakes over a faceless Medusa already turned herself to stone...




These exquisite and mysterious pod vessels by Aileen Arduin convey a Georgia O'Keeffe-like essence of erotic benediction - at once eerily beautiful with their secretive folds retreating into darkness and immaculately executed in their conceptual other-worldliness...



The primal-potent effect of this sculpture by Porowski S. Jacek is in your face immediate and technically hyper-controlled - implications of transgression in the splitting of the wood and of intransition in the binding and holding in place - a subscribed violation as naturalist as the silk smooth cherry trunk and as brutalist as the cold hard cement wedge...



Sometimes downspotting yields the most intriguing rewards, and as such, "Architecting Absolutes" by Madison Killough trips the mind in an unassuming game of cornered disregard - and sometimes art should just simply imitate perception at its most base level in order to raise awareness of a more intuited state of cognition...



In the darkness of a narrow closet, the small screen flickers with splotchy black moons, mesmerizing in its randomness and in its constancy - what could be more purely universal than rudimentary particles flashing in isolation and somewhat into perpetuity... "O" by Hannah MacAulay


Emily Carr University of Art and Design
Graduation Show 2014
ended May 18