Strike Out to See Something Striking

It’s last call on three winter exhibitions at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery. Comfortable Modernism closes its showing in the concourse cases on April 9; New Positions: Alexis Bulman, Andrew Cairns, Monica Lacey, Alexandra O’Sullivan closes on April 23; and Rachel Beach: Mid-Sentence wraps on May 7.

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Curated by the Gallery’s own Jill MacRae, Comfortable Modernism features a selection of handmade tapestries designed by Canadian sculptors and painters in the mid-1970s, intended to be displayed in public spaces. Toronto’s Fay Loeb initiated the tapestry project in response to the often cold and stark common areas found in public buildings. The idea was to bring visual and physical warmth to these spaces by providing cost effective, large-scale works that could withstand the wear and tear of high-traffic areas. Over the course of the following two years, Loeb commissioned 23 tapestries of designs by sculptors and painters from across the country, such as Michael Snow and Jack Shadbolt.

Trial fabrications were completed by skilled artisans in Mexico using a punch hooking method with a hand-guided, single-needle implement, allowing the artisan to complete approximately one square foot of the tapestry per day. The completed tapestries showcase designs made specifically for this medium, while reflecting the artists’ work in other media. The complete set of 23 artists’ proof wall hangings belonging to the Art Gallery’s permanent collection are a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Jules Loeb. Comfortable Modernism is on display in the Centre’s concourse until April 9.

Closing on April 23 is a selection of recent work by four young Prince Edward Island artists who represent a cross-section of developing local practices. Following a year of studio visits and interviews with over a dozen local visual artists, four were selected to represent a wide range of interests and ways of working. Ranging from photography to painting, video to installations, New Positions showcases the continual renewal of an inventive and challenging cultural scene.

The sculptures and two-dimensional works of New York-based Canadian artist Rachel Beach create a dialogue between form and surface, image and material, embracing geometry and clear lines, as well as colour, texture and pattern. While flirting with origins and the possibility of a fundamental formal order, however, the artist undermines such fixations through play, juxtaposition and staging. There is a pleasure in such play, a pleasure enhanced by the artist’s love of colour and texture. And there is also an opening up of meaning, in which the bodily references of Beach’s paper collages and inventive sculptures suggest new outlines, new limits of being, and new forms of being together. Mid-Sentence is curated by Robin Metcalfe and Pan Wendt, and produced in collaboration with Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery.

The Gallery remains open on winter/spring hours until May 14, welcoming the public from Wednesday to Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday 1-5 p.m.

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