Wednesday, 13 July 2016

28th Annual Member's Show and "I Will Not Write On Walls" by the Die Active Art Collective.

An untitled abstract by Candace Twance

28th Annual Members Show
The Definitely Superior Art Gallery’s 28th Anniversary member’s show features established artists and novices from the age of seventeen to eighty, working in all styles from the relatively traditional to the modern.
     Gallery director David Karasiewicz’s jovial and expressive mannerisms mirrored his verbal enthusiasm. “The quality of the art is really, like, produced on a higher level. This looks like a juried exhibition," he says as he pans his arm across the art.
An Untitled work by Kamila Malek
     “In the last two years we’ve noticed that these shows are getting really good, at such a high level that people are acknowledging the quality.” David describes how a travelling writer for Canadian Art Magazine was impressed, comparing these shows to those in bigger cities. Likewise for returning business people – also avid art lovers – who make it a point to check out DEFSUP's annual member’s show. “They even admit that they like the art here in Thunder Bay more than where they’re coming from,” says David cracking a wide smile, referring to Ottawa and Hamilton. “We just assume that big cities have greater artists, but we really do have a burgeoning scene with talented artists.”
Leather works called Boundaries of Some by Blake Evans
     Familiar names in the member's show include Candace Twance, Patrick Doyle, Kamila Malek, Julie Cosgrove, Mark Nisenholt, Ruth Tye McKenzie, Linda Dell, amongst others. With established artistic careers and styles those who attend art shows in Thunder Bay regularly can play the fun game of ‘name the artist.’
     These works and those of the newcomers are equally worthy of collecting. Martin King is destined to have an established artistic career at some point. His work ethic is phenomenal, often coming across as naive, and then as good as anything you'll see on the cover of the New Yorker, in that erudite sketchy style. His work, like that of Aranka Golphy or Eli Castellan, are reminiscent of lowbrow art. They add to the established mix creating a dynamic show
Acrylic painting by Ruth Tye McKenzie
     The Die Active Art Collective has an exhibition in Gallery 3 titled, “I Will Not Write On Walls.” To play against expectations, the gang moved away from their work typically sprayed or painted on walls.  Here they have inverted the presentation. Inversion has become an overused cheap trick in contemporary art to avoid real thought and talent. But here, where it is generally understood that we are not supposed to touch the art, to avoid the running of the security guards, the Die Active Collective has asked that you trod on their work. If the canvas gets damaged, well, so be it.
Die Active Art Collective Show
     David happily walks across the canvases on the floor describing an unusual opening attended by about three hundred people where he says that roughly sixty percent were treading on someone’s painting. The sensible and cultured forty percent can be congratulated for restraining themselves. Or be chastised for their lack of spirit, for removing themselves from the intended effect. After all, it does take courage to walk on someone else’s work, because it is so wrong.
     “Canvas is pretty forgiving,” comments David, frowning as he examines the paintings without holes, tears or boot marks. About 50 different young artists from the ages of fourteen to thirty were involved in this project; working with a similar colour palette and approach. They covered their works with imagery and little aphorisms written in black.
     There is a commentary here that suddenly reveals itself if you stand on a painting. It’s almost as if you are denigrating the statement itself, like stepping on a Canadian flag or stepping on a psalm. To step on one of these artist’s statements generates an eerie feeling, as if you are stepping on a person’s freedom to express themselves or the very meaning of the statement beneath your feet. There is a dignity that is removed by having the works strewn on the floor. The act of walking on the works evokes reflection very quickly. As simple as it seems this method of presenting art as a floor mat is quite profound. And the black balloons, with bits of art dangling from their streamers further add to the contradictions. Balloons are for partying and celebration, but it’s a rather odd celebration of trampled art. This is a very clever show.
     Both shows are on at the gallery at 250 Park Avenue in the North Core till the 23rd of July.

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