Art in August

If it’s August, it must be the Harmony Arts Festival, the annual arts extravaganza on the waterfront in West Vancouver. Although we had had glorious sunny weather for the whole month of July here on the west coast, the sunniest and driest ever, by the time the opening evening of the Harmony Arts Festival rolled around the beginning of August it was grey and cloudy … sigh. Here are my two pieces selected for the Responsive Landscape exhibition, both from the infrared photograph series Urban Pastoral, not a great picture but you get the idea.

Ty and I enjoyed the opening anyway, with a nice glass of wine on the Ambleside waterfront. This festival includes a couple of juried art exhibitions, lots of vendors in tents, and musical performances alfresco on the beach.

I was happy to see the sun return after its brief disappearance; this garden at George Wainborn Park is really amazing, especially on a sunny day.

Out walking the dog one day, I happened upon this art work being installed in the Park; local artist Daphne Harwood was doing a trial run of her pop up quilt installation entitled #4 Oh Solo Double Trio, a meditation on numbers which she intends to set up for public viewing soon.

On now in the Van Dusen Botanical Garden is Touch Wood, an exhibition of wood sculpture curated by Celia Duthie and and Nicholas Hunt of the Duthie Gallery on Salt Spring Island. Touch Wood has more than two dozen wood sculptures and installations by B.C. artists such as Brent Comber, Michael Dennis, Alastair Heseltine and Martha Varcoe Sturdy, among others.

Inside the visitors centre, smaller scale wood-based works are installed in the Discovery Room, including some fine woodblock prints by Richard Tetrault.

On the day I visited the Garden, it was hot and sunny, perfect conditions for outdoor art-viewing.

I particularly enjoyed this white-painted wood piece by Brent Comber.

The Satellite Gallery on Seymour is showcasing two artists, Greg Semu and Shigeyuki Kihara from the South Pacific, in Paradise Lost?, part of a larger exhibit at the Museum of Anthropology. I found this show to be quite striking and particularly interesting because the artists were Samoans living abroad. We visited Samoa in our trip around the world in 2011-12 and saw no evidence of contemporary art while there.

From the Gallery’s website, here is an account of the show:

“The pacific islands occupy a place in the western imagination as a paradise filled with idyllic beaches and lush, tropical landscapes inhabited by dusky maidens.
With historical precedents in the accounts of European explorers, these perceptions were later re-invented and popularized by Hollywood films in the 1920s through the ’50s. Contemporary artists from the Pacific Islands frequently play with and invert such perceptions, and their work provides an alternate, more complex vision of the region.

Paradise Lost? Contemporary Works from the Pacific features works by artists from Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. Working in video, installation, sculpture, painting, and photography, the artists show the Pacific Islands from an insider’s perspective. Their artworks explore environmental concerns, cultural heritage issues, questions relating to the experience of migration and diaspora, and the intersection of Indigenous belief systems and Western religions.”

Greg Semu’s pieces reference iconic western art, such as Da Vinci’s Last Supper and the Pieta, traditionally a meditation on the Dead Christ, reimagined with Pacific Islanders replacing the usual protagonists.

Kihara’s video works show the artist in a 19th century Victorian dress enacting various ritual South Pacific Dances; I particularly liked the Shiva dancing figure.

Since I am still working on an installation that will include mannequins and heads, I was delighted to find Duchesse, a thrift emporium on Columbia between Hastings and Pender in Chinatown from which I acquired several pieces. Anna, the owner, showed me photos of what the place looked like before she and her partner began renovations; they have done an amazing job of fixing the place up.

A project whose mandate I really support is Papergirl, now a worldwide phenomenon of art, cycling, and philanthropy; an exhibition of this year’s donated artwork is now on at the Roundhouse Community Centre in Vancouver.

Begun by an artist in Berlin nine years ago, Papergirl involves donated art from local contributors, both amateur and professional, which is then rolled up and given by volunteer cyclists to unsuspecting, random people on a designated day, a la traditional newspaper delivery.

Almost 1,000 works were donated this year, quite a few of which are on display.

For more information on this project, click here. I was happy to donate an artwork and my time to this venture.  The Roundhouse was also the site of Trangression Now, a group show of work by GBLT artists curated by Paul Wong and Glen Alteen.

The intricacy and detail of this collage work was quite amazing.

I also liked the thoughtful, meditative self-portraits by Joe Average

and the Butch project showing various alternative female subjectivities.

Skating around Stanley Park one morning, I was delighted to see the crochet-bombing that had popped up on the Amazing Laughter sculpture at English Bay just in time for Pride Week.

A final thought to leave with you, heads in trees …

See more photos here.

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