Walking into the WAG this morning I’m not sure whether I’m in an art gallery or on a construction site. A table is covered with tools and there are bits of green painter’s masking tape stuck on one wall, where a plumb bob hangs from a piece of cardboard. Clive Elson has his measuring tape out, while Tanya Elson takes down numbers and makes calculations. Meanwhile, Bruce Millen is overseeing, wearing a leather tool belt. It’s all in preparation for hanging the 27 photos—some black and white, some colour—that make up the annual juried exhibition of the Kingston Photographic Club.
This year’s theme is “Kingston in Focus”, so, naturally, visitors will see iconic shots of the city, albeit through lenses that look for uniqueness, as well as shots of lesser known but equally compelling views: on the waterfront, in the street, inside or outside buildings, sometimes peopled, more often not. Most of the photographs have standard mounts, but there are also a couple of canvas wraps and an acrylic mount, which traps light in the top Plexiglass layer to enhance the image. One photograph is printed on aluminum, which radiates light through the image from behind.
The Kingston Photographic Club has been around for 50 years. This year, it has about 85 adult members of all ages, but mostly “a lotta grey”, says Bruce Millen, who is in charge of the annual exhibition. The club meets twice a month from September to May, hosts 12 speakers, organizes outings, and launches three competitions a year. Like most other members, Bruce enjoys the interaction and feedback that the club provides. Visitors to this juried exhibition will be encouraged to vote for their favourite photo, and awards for the top three will be given out at a club meeting after the show. Winners will be announced in this blog.
As I’m leaving the gallery, a cadre of mostly masculine members of the club arrives to help out, while Clive’s meticulous preparations continue. “I’m a scientist,” he explains. Precision matters, and hanging will go that much more smoothly. The exhibition continues until April 28, with a reception on Sunday, April 8, from 1 to 4pm.
The Kingston Photo Club's annual exhibition is now up! This year the theme is "Kingston in Focus", and the photos present beautiful and in some cases unusual depictions of our home city.
The show is on until April 29, with a reception on April 8 from 1 - 4 p.m.
On Saturday, March 10, the Thousand Islands Fine Art Association launched its exhibition and sale with an opening reception at the WAG. On hand were many of the artists whose work was on display. I spoke with several of them about the pieces they had chosen and their creative process.
Layne Larsen, a former pilot and engineer, has been painting since the age of 10. Like another wildlife painter, John James Audubon, he creates detailed watercolour vignettes of birds. Layne paints in two-hour spurts. His vignettes each require two sessions; however, for the painting entitled Drying the Feathers, he needed 12 to 15 hours to render the intricate black and white pattern created by the loon’s outspread wings. Layne’s subjects are not limited to wildlife. He tackles people, animals, landscapes, in a word, “everything.” At the moment he is working on large paintings in acrylic of historic planes for the aviation museum on the Borden military base north of Toronto.
Margaret Ebdon is a newcomer to artistic expression, which she describes in this way: “You see something in a particular way and you just have to put it on paper.” She is interested in exploring different subjects. Among her contributions is a tight, realistic still life of two cups of Tim Hortons coffee on two colourful napkins, symmetrically placed and backed by a box of Timbits. On the wall opposite we see a looser portrait of a seagull perched on driftwood. While Time for Timbits was based on an arrangement Margaret set up at home, Solitude required a bit of trial and error before the artist settled on an imaginary seascape as the setting for her gull, which was based on a photograph.
A former fibre artist, Catharina Breedyk Law switched to painting three years ago when she discovered she had an allergy to … fibres! Today she creates colourful works on paper that are “accessible, not too expensive, and uplifting.” Fantasy Bouquet began as shapes of liquid watercolour that became fanciful flowers when defined by coloured inks. More shapes and washes became textured vase and table. The background was then overpainted with a thin layer of white gouache. To further enhance the bouquet, decorative elements and rhythmic strands of leaves were added. The result: a free-flowing mixed media tapestry with vestiges of Catharina’s former medium in the French knots she attached to the central disks of some of the flowers and the individual strands of fibre that in some places act as petals. “Flowers,” says Catharina, “represent grace and joy.”
Along the River, an acrylic by Beth Bailey, was painted by adding swathes of blues and turquoise in layers punctuated by gold and red to create a lustrous, hazy landscape. Beth achieves the same effect in the subtly textured pink and greens of Tulips, in which the flowers flank a golden yellow background to form a luminous V-shaped negative space.
There are 52 artworks on the floor of the WAG, propped up against the wall all around the room, tentatively paired with others, waiting for their ultimate spot in the exhibition. They will be moved several times—depending on their colour and size—to create a pleasing arrangement, salon style. There are still lifes, landscapes, seascapes, abstractions and a couple of portraits, in media that range from acrylic and oil to watercolour and collage. Thirteen artists have contributed work to the exhibition, and four are currently moving about, rearranging, hammering, discussing placement.
“What do you think of this?” says Ingrid Schmidt as she balances two small autumn landscapes beside a large painting in stark swatches of brown and tan and white. A resident of Gananoque, Ingrid’s contributions include a large spring scene entitled Birch Trees. Backed by a row of muted trunks, a single birch fills the foreground with vivid greens and gold. “I used the birch in my garden as reference,” she explains. Her watercolour portrait of a young man uses a more subtle technique--washes of blue, purple and gold to create an arresting image of confident youth.
Sheila Goertzen chose a historical theme for one of the paintings she contributed to this exhibition. Her detailed acrylic in tones of brown, called 1930s Train in Brockville Tunnel, is based on a sepia photograph and commemorates the opening of the tunnel as part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations last year in Sheila’s home town.
Betty Matthews, from Gananoque, is working with Barb Carr to find just the right colour balance on the gallery’s south wall. Betty works in different styles, striving to achieve “something interesting”. The Jazz Trio, a bold, colourful acrylic collage, offers a sharp contrast to her watercolour entitled Foggy Sunday Morning. For this piece, Betty used Yupo paper, a plastic support that presents particular challenges for watercolour in that it has no tooth. On the plus side, because of its smoothness and non-porous nature, it can easily be washed off and revert to a blank sheet. Before it can be used, however, it must be cleaned with alcohol to remove any oil from handling, which prevents paint from adhering.
Kingston’s Barb Carr has contributed two large square collages from her series entitled Paintbox Colours. Titanium Buff is comprised of 324 small evenly spaced squares of textured buff-coloured paper, some themselves containing tiny squares in different colours arranged in different patterns: squares within squares. The overall effect is of a monotone mosaic, but a close-up inspection reveals a rich surface hiding a few random tiny images of flowers and butterflies cut from magazines, tiny strips of typed words, and coloured filaments embedded in some of the buff paper squares.
Belia Brandow, a resident of Lyn, northwest of Brockville, has dropped off several paintings in oil and acrylic. Her still lifes were set up in her studio where she has control of arrangements and lighting. Inspired by the rich colours of the Old Masters and Mary Pratt’s adept rendering of reflective material, Belia has used complementary colours to create two vibrant paintings of fruit: Pears on Foil and Turquoise and Orange Reflections, in which three oranges lie on a cobalt blue glass plate.
The Thousand Islands Fine Art Association Exhibition and Sale continues until April 1 with an opening reception on Saturday, March 10, 2-4pm.
Beyond Classrooms a Resounding Success
The WAG and KSOA moved into high gear last week as 23 Grade ¾ students from Mother Teresa Catholic School and their teacher, Andrea Fraser, spent five days with KSOA instructors and volunteers outside the classroom and in the studios and gallery. The overriding question during the week was “How do we feel when we create and view art?” Inspired by a pop-up exhibition in the WAG comprising 26 paintings, prints, photographs and sculptures by ten local artists, the students daily filled sketchbooks and journals to express their burgeoning artistic talents and their personal reactions to the world of art surrounding them.
When not in the gallery, they took part in studio activities: watercolour using different techniques, monoprinting, creating prints by etching on Styrofoam, clay modelling and assemblage. An especially popular activity was working the printing press!
As the week neared its end, the young artists were back in the gallery mounting an exhibition of their work, which they entitled Beyond Limits. While parents and a Grade 5/6 class from their school attended the “opening” on Friday morning, the students acted as docents, a fitting way to use their new art vocabulary and bring their experience to a close.
Barb Carr’s large 24”x30” monotypes offer visitors a glimpse of ephemeral landscapes in tones of grey, blue, pink, gold, and orange. A closer look at the layered veils of colour reveals subtle variations and delicate textures, sometimes created intentionally, other times accidentally.
Carr, a retired librarian and president of the KSOA Board of Directors, has been making prints since 2007, when she discovered watercolour monoprinting at the Haliburton Summer School of the Arts. These days she uses soya-based water-soluble inks, which she applies with rollers to a plexiglass plate that transfers the image to paper. Most of her monotypes go through several passes of the press and can include a combination of transparent and opaque layers. In her smaller 10”x12” pieces, she has drawn on her prints with soft pastel for more intense colour and detail.
Asked why she was attracted to monoprinting, Carr replies, “It’s full of surprises. The first time I pulled a print it was like Christmas morning.” Cold Front, which is composed of horizontal layers of predominantly blue and pink, provides a case in point. “What really surprised me about this piece was how pronounced the contrast was, and how much texture appeared in the dark sky.” Sometimes Carr is satisfied with only one pass. In Crescendo, she knew immediately that the intense orange sky was just right.
To get different effects, Carr will sometimes pull a second print from her plexiglass plate in order to create a ghosted image. In Winter Trees, for example, she began with this method, then built up the series of tree trunks by adding texture and creating depth with successive pulls. Not every monotype is produced strictly with a roller. In Freeze Up, a paper towel swipe of white ink added to the plate provides the image that conjures the title. But sometimes less is more. By wiping ink off the plate, Carr has exposed the expanse of white paper that defines Frozen River. In Pink Winter, a white sun floats in the pink haze of sky above a swath of trees created by wrapping rubber bands around a roller.
“There are many ways of mark-making,” says Carr. Indeed.
Winter Light: Recent Works by Barb Carr continues until February 18 with a reception on Saturday, February 10 from 2 to 4pm.
I wasn’t sure what to expect for my first printmaking class at the Kingston School of Art. My experience in printmaking had been limited to carving to some lino blocks bought at the local art store and wishing I had taken printmaking during my BFA. At first, I was a little intimidated by the magnitude of information I was given, so many different techniques and types of printing. Do I play with colour and voids on a piece of plexi to create an one-off monoprint? Or do I learn the process of preparing and carving into a zinc plate, producing something that can be re-inked and reproduced? As I learned more and more, I realized the depth of possibilities were huge and fit a variety of processes and people.
Every student in the class has a different approach. And all the teachers and assistants are quite different in their methods as well. The environment is one encouragement and experimentation. This is a place, where one can explore their own techniques while learning from what others are doing. One of the students has taken up embossing, using the printing press to press cut-out shapes into paper, adding depth to her figure drawings. I am playing with color and geometric forms on a carved plexi plate. And another student is exploring lino with different carving tools, paper and surfaces. The magnitude of possibilities makes this an interested medium with multiple channels to investigate, something you could spend a lifetime exploring.
Introducing Jen Demitor, our new blogger for the Kingston School of Art and the Window Art Gallery!
Franz Moeslinger's extrodinary photographs are on display at the Window Art Gallery this month. Photographs that are as extrodinary as the man that at seventy-five still likes fast cars, mountain climbing, skiing and art.
Willing to help paint the gallery, it is a pleasure to have Franz exhibit his work.