Thursday, 27 June 2013

Something for Everyone, Nothing for Anyone

     This year marks twenty-five years of activity by the Definitely Superior Art Gallery. Again this year DEFSUP is a finalist for the Ontario Premiers Award for Excellence in the Arts. Their current shows are a good amalgam of current members, former members who are now professional artist/musicians in Montreal, and young people who are part of the Die Active Art Collective and may become future members. Having produced and presented over 800 exhibitions, events and activities DEFSUP has supported over 12,000 local, Canadian, and international artists.
     Last week I covered the Die Active 2-Pact show. Two other shows running currently are the 25th Anniversary Member’s Show and a show called Something for Everyone, Nothing for Anyone, featuring two Montreal Artists, Tyler Rauman and Adam Waito. The two are former Thunder Bay artists.
     The Member’s Show is always an eclectic collection of styles and approaches for painting, drawing, multi-media, and sculpture. Such is its nature as the members featured are a mix of novices and professionals who do commercial and fine art.
     In Gallery One, the bizarre creature, a soft sculpture that will first grab your attention is Kathleen Twomey’s “Protector.” Half dog, half human, the thing is carrying a child. Spooky. Not far from this creature is a group of ceramic yellow ducks, by Katie Lemieux, where one duck is missing its eyes. Spooky-cute.
     Christian Chapman plays with the Queen’s head. Mark Neisenholt plays with Mayan hieroglyphs. Sam Shahsahabi’s and Janice Andrew’s acrylic paintings explode with colour, while Henry Hajdinjak’s is a tsunami of textures like you wouldn’t believe. Candace Twance goes for a little serenity in her painting, The Seer. Breanna
Bakkelund does a little classic piece in pastel called, Girl With Braided Hair. Kathleen Baleja’s Pod is made of “waspnest” material. And there’s much more worth checking out.
     In Gallery Three, Tyler Rauman and Adam Waito share their fun and lowbrow art, work that is a cross of commercial and fine art. They are both premiere poster makers for the music scene in Montreal. And they make their own music, so their affinity with what works and what the scene wants aesthetically makes them very current. Google their names to check out their amazing music careers.
     Their images are a mix of 1960/70s cartoon styles similar to Robert Crumb and Peter Max, and that of 1990s artists, Robert Williams and I, Braineater. It’s very much the kind of fun and edgy work popularized in Juxtapose Magazine.
     This art takes real skill and imagination, and mixed with its function of promoting bands and concerts these works are very effective at delivering a message and making the images memorable.
     Tyler Rauman’s work is hyper, manic, colourful, fun, dark, jazzy, and unrelenting in forcing you to look deeper. The mesmerizing quality comes from a great deal of colourful and strong repetition of simple shapes and images. His paintings can seem cluttered at first, but Rauman’s drawing abilities use the detail well.
     Adam Waito uses strong black contours to clearly delineate characters and objects. They too jump out at you, and for all their simplicity they are rich works, stronger in impact than the average political cartoon and resembling traditional woodcuts that have an association with dignity that is a bit jarring for the bizarre subject matter.
     Renee Terpstra says she and David K. brought this work to Thunder Bay in part because these two artists are both examples of how “this gallery has seeded artists throughout the country,” states Renee. “They’re here to help us celebrate our 25th anniversary.”
     And you can too. These shows are up until July13. And cross your fingers and hope this year that DEFSUP wins the Ontario Premier’s Award.  

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