Container Art at the PNE

Here’s the story from today’s Province:

The PNE is about the last place you would expect to find some thought provoking art. But it is there, interestingly packed into a couple-dozen cargo containers inside the PNE’s Celebration Plaza. The hugely popular “container art” exhibit is the brainchild of the PNE’s Peter Male.What started out  at last summer’s PNE as a small eight-artist exhibit, has become wildly successful and serious artists are now finding it a great way to show their unique work to the masses.

Some of those involved in the art exhibit have ties to Vancouver’s Eastside Cultural Crawl, an annual three-day event in the fall where artists of all stripes open their studios to the public.“It took off,” is how Male describes bringing in the wide-ranging art to last summer’s PNE. The introduction of the “installation” type of art set inside unused shipping containers, also won the PNE an industry award for the most innovative new concept in the business in 2009. One of the exhibits was sent to Milan, Italy for another showing last fall at a major event. This year 15 artists have contributed to the installation art show, with two being students from the prestigious Emily Carr University of Art & Design.

East Vancouver-based artist Ken Gerberick, who works in an artists’ collective known as “Hungry Thumb”, spent three long days hand-bending rebar with collaborator Harvey Chometsky for a giant egg-like figure embedded in driftwood for their exhibit entitled “The Birth of Un-Civilization.”

In the back of the container, a video collage continuously runs, and at the front of the clear Ikea shelf -paper-wrapped egg, when kids look inside a camera, it shows their face on another screen. A beautiful copper-on-canvas man-like figure hangs in the middle and another man made out of old car emblems hangs down on the other side. “I’m totally stoked having my stuff at the PNE,” says Gerberick, who besides being a passionate artist also fronts a local punk rock band. ”Look at how many people are looking at it,” he beams, while visiting the fair. “You want people to see it. It is supposed to make you think. You don’t expect it to sell.”

Gerberick is not one to mince words about his art and the process behind the creation “Basically I’m not into art talk at all,” he quips. “For me what you see is what you get. “I was just trying to make a beautiful, glowing egg. It’s working with your space. That’s installation art.” With good weather, PNE officials are hoping to bring in more than one million visitors. Even If only 10 per cent of the visitors take in the container art, Gerberick says it is still a lot more exposure than he could ever get in a gallery. “I’ve never been in an art gallery where 100,000 people see my work,” he says.

Vancouver artist Rachael Ashe has a show inside a container called ”Forgotten Knowledge.” She sees the PNE stepping up to deliver some serious artwork to the public. “It is a really fantastic idea,” she says of the show. “There are very few opportunities out there like this for an artist.” In her show, with a theme of human knowledge that has been lost or forgotten, Ashe has encyclopedias with holes hanging from the walls. She loves seeing the crowds. “This exposes people to a different style of art,” she says.

Besides the container art, the show has a meticulously built model of the PNE’s wooden roller coaster. Ronald Anderson of Portland Oregon, spent almost three years building the model after riding the iconic roller coaster dozens of times. Artist Gerberick also has one of his “art cars” on display at the show. The 1976 Buick has tail fins from a 1962 Cadillac and is completely covered with various types of art. He likes visiting the PNE and seeing the joy people get from his “art car.” “That is the idea, to put a smile on their face,” he says. “A number of people have said to me that car has made their day.

See more PNE pictures here.

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