"Considerations 2020", "Thinking 2020"
Lisa Johnson’s creative journey over the past year has faced many ups and downs and challenges due to the pandemic. It was a feeling of newfound freedom for Johnson that emboldened her to paint solely for herself, but with an added sense of isolation that left her with what she describes as somber introspection.
On this introspection, Johnson writes “With all the uncertainty of this past year --not just with the pandemic but with the political chaos in general and the worries for the future, I often find myself questioning my purpose. What to paint? How to paint? Why to paint? Certainly I've been more aware of my own mortality.”
PUBLIC ART REFLECTIONS
"Green Museum", "Girl and Dog in Lucid Shadbolt Dream"
Geoff Farnsworth’s 2020 experience has involved adjusting to a new way of life in many different ways, and this has been a driving force in the paintings he has created over the past year.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Farnsworth began creating art from home after leaving his shared studio space in downtown St. Catherines, first turning his attention to the impact of the pandemic on public art spaces. As galleries and museums continue to tackle with closures and other obstacles due to the pandemic, the ways in which we show and observe art has confronted several challenges. Farnsworth began his exploration of the loss of these viewing experiences through paintings of figures within public art spaces. In Farnsworth's words, “As covid continued and I kept on with this theme, it took on more of a fantasy element with not being able to actually be in public art spaces any longer. And with being more isolated from people. I felt more of a longing for these spaces, and reminiscent.”
As he spent more time at home, Farnsworth began working on portraits of friends, authors and directors that he had been spending time with over quarantine, as well as of George Floyd in the midst of the BLM protests. For Farnsworth, these works represent “a way for me to connect with people and people's energy over this time of separation”. Currently Fansworth focus has turned towards incorporating more surreal and fantastical elements in his paintings that reflect on nature, inspired by the many walks he has taken during the pandemic.
“The Speechmaker”, “The Princess”
Jill Price’s EMBODIMENTS are an ongoing body of mixed media collages that visually explore the material connections between humans, non-humans and their surroundings. Started during the first few months of COVID, they are a continuation of Price’s explorations into unmaking as a creative method. Each work is composed of earlier drawings, prints and text that often work to map past personal experiences and emotions in an abstract way. Compartmentalized, severed, layered, contrasting, and at times intersecting, each figure points to the complexity of our day to day existence and the archetypes that may inform or determine the way we move through space or inhabit place.
Often a visual response to the political, social, economic and racial issues being broadcasted daily over the radio, social media and television, each figure emerged intuitively as a way to offer Price company, comfort and hope while isolated from family and friends.
This sense of harmony with nature is found in Patience’s wood and linocut prints and in Catherine’s paintings. A connectivity rooted in their individual practices bridges generations and mediums.
With texture, mark-making, and colour each artist captures the controlled chaos of nature and landscape in their own distinctive way. Paintings and prints in this exhibition depict rushing rivers, dense brush, and branches swinging in the wind.
Patience is a multidisciplinary artist born in Patience, Alberta, and throughout her childhood moved between England and Woodbridge, Ontario. Inspired by the apple orchards of Ontario, apple trees became a symbol of freedom and comfort for Patience and are a recurring motif in her work. Patience studied fashion illustration and commercial art OCAD in Toronto, and it was during this time that she was taught drawing by Franklin Carmichael of the Group of Seven from whom she learned to dive deeper into scale and storytelling in her art. It was through her upbringing and education that Patience developed her practice to capture narratives about her life, family and the scenes that encapsulated them. Patience has a love of paper leading her to work in print and paper-mache sculpture. Throughout her career Patience kept an active ceramics and printmaking studio in her home.
Later in her career, Patience would spread her snowbird wings and began to spend winters in Florida, where much of her imagery became inspired by the flora, fauna, and the people that surrounded her. The cottage that Patience purchased with her husband would place them in an art making community offering art classes and fairs with close proximity to Beer Can Island, which would become a great place of significance for her. In her prints, she observes the prisoners that would come to clean up the Island. Other works include scenes of sand beaches, crashing waves, and tropical trees.
Patience’s daughter Catherine had her start in abstract art, earning her BFA from York University during the period of abstract expressionism. It was by returning to memories of her childhood such as summers spent in Tobermory surrounded by woods and water that she would allow herself to explore landscapes in her own practice. Much like her mother, Catherine’s work explores finding meaning through the storytelling of parts of her life, and the nature that surrounds those experiences. She is currently based in London, Ontario.
Patience and Catherine’s exhibition opens on October 13th at Westland Gallery, featuring Catherine’s oil paintings of areas surrounding the Thames River accompanied by linocuts by Patience.
Carol works in a few different series, one of which is called Traveller. The paintings in this series are not necessarily distinct places, rather they are inspired by Carol’s memories of places she’s visited.
During the lockdown Carol was compelled to paint over one of her traveler paintings in a more intentional way. She wanted to create something new while still retaining elements of the original painting. While she worked, Carol reflected on this time of involuntary change for all of us and the fact that while certain things are changing, other things remain immovable.
So many of us have had to put our travel plans on hold this year, and Carol’s paintings seem to propose the idea of travelling in your mind instead and exploring through imagination places fondly recalled, and those yet to be seen. From these ideas came the exhibition title, ‘Altered Traveller’.
A loose, freehand drawing provides the basis for each work, built up with oils applied by brush, palette knife or by other non-traditional methods and materials. Smaller scale colour studies, also seen in the exhibition, provide a starting point for the larger studio works. These expressive, abstracted landscape paintings communicate a sense of space and atmosphere as if you are walking over the land towards a distant horizon.
On display alongside these painting are Finkbeiner-Thomas’ black and white ceramic vases, decorated with a sgraffito technique.
Carol was born in London, Ontario and raised north of Toronto. She returned to London in the early 1990’s after receiving her Honours Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts at York University.
After Covid-19 related closures, we are returning to our 2020 exhibition schedule!
“Realism and Drawing” will be on display, in-person and online, from June 30th – July 18th 2020.
Art is a way of communicating and these artists have chosen the genre of realism as their language. They convey ideas about beauty, emotion, resistance, history and connection between artist and audience. The collection includes paintings, sculptures and drawings, and highlights the importance of drawing, as study and finished work, within an artistic practice.
Artist’s Sandra Murphy and Nancy Calder studied, alongside Denise Antaya, at the Academy of Realist Art in Toronto. Both artists have focused on still life compositions that incorporate vintage items. There are beautiful narratives tucked into each of Murphy and Calder’s still life paintings. Vintage scales and colourful farm-fresh eggs in Calder’s paintings are nostalgic and comforting. In one of Murphy’s paintings we see a doll given to the artist at age 6.
Pieces in the exhibition titled Separate and Separated are reflections of this time. The graphite and fiberglass sculpture was created previously but took on new meaning with social distancing that prevents us from embracing our loved ones. The accompanying drawing recalls a joyful family outing but with all figures distanced.
Brent Schreiber continues his Listen series, reflecting on the barrage of information in modern life. Schreiber works in graphite, charcoal or acrylic to render portraits of men and women wearing large headphones. Brent has been working on this series for over 5 years, but these recent paintings bring in a new approach of blending realism in the faces of the sitter and abstraction and looser brushwork elsewhere on the panel.
Erica Dornbusch's latest series is titled, "Outside Being."
Light always issues an invitation to ponder something, and sometimes the answers are found inside by simply being outside. A solo show by London artist Erica Dornbusch examining recent stories of light encountered.
Erica Dornbusch is a London, Ontario, self-taught artist working primarily with acrylics. Erica's subject matter includes figurative, landscapes, florals and abstracts.
"Being visually impaired since birth means I have become well versed in secondary methods of observation. My senses have always felt inextricably intertwined. I strive to share the hum of the universe I hear when I'm outside."