Wednesday, 22 October 2014

First Big Juried Show at the TBAG in Ten Years, and the Annual Walkabout Tour

     Tomorrow night the grand opening for a juried exhibition called The North Now begins at 7:30pm at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. It’s the gallery’s first juried show in ten years, and the first time the gallery has looked to represent the entire Northern region.
     Some names will be familiar and there will likely be a few surprises. This is also likely to be a very good show as the quality of art produced in and around Thunder Bay has been growing over the years due to younger artists keeping roots, due to the City’s mandate to beautify Thunder Bay, part of which offers up competitions for local artists.
      For the last eight years the Ontario Arts Council has been supporting the North with their Northern Ontario Arts programs, instrumental in allowing artists of our region to explore their métier, to start new projects or complete them. The OAC also supports artistic venues and the installation process of new works. With this support, younger artists across the region have have found their hometowns to be a viable alternative to leaving for cities where the cost of living is high. Older established artists have also been able to try out new tricks. As a result, this exhibition will feature new works from a range of artists of different ages from diverse backgrounds and locations who will have the OAC to thank.
     There could be some controversy as juried exhibitions elicit all sorts of commentary from people who feel that this or that artist’s work should or shouldn’t have been represented. If you’re not the one feeling burnt, this can be a provocative or entertaining aspect of a juried exhibition, so the Thunder Bay Art Gallery has to be commended for their courage and setting up a fair jurying process.
     The show runs from October 24 to January 4, 2015. More information can be found at
    This coming weekend, Friday to Sunday, the annual Walkabout Tour features a couple changes to the roster of artists who will be displaying their works in their homes and studios. This tour takes place with a somewhat circular route encompassing a few blocks around Hillcrest and Waverly Park, so it is a delightful walk with an opportunity to Christmas shop and meet the artists. Information can be downloaded and maps can be copied at:
     This year the tour is in commemoration of Alison Kendal who passed away in August. Alison was a former and active member. There was some discussion about having Alison’s studio open for the tour, but it’s a little too soon after her husband’s loss to consider it this year, mostly because organizing the prodigious amount of work that Alison created will be a long process.
     A few of the artists are trying out new styles. Luke Nicol is back this year with bolder and brighter landscape paintings. Sculptor Chris Stones and ceramicist Kasia Piech both have more contemporary and somewhat surreal works for sale.
     Potters are notoriously secretive about their techniques, especially for glazes. Sara Link is trying out some wonderful new glazes on classically styled pottery. Liz and Peter Powlowski have lots of new pieces that are both functional and decorative. Tim Alexander is always exploring and has given an edge to his functional pieces. He says, “a new branch of my work will explore geological and environmental themes in a series I've coined Ring of Fire. It consists of a variety of large heavily textured platters in different shapes and sizes.” You can ask how he does it, but don’t expect a direct answer.

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