Category Archives: State of the Art

Gallery Unveils New Commission

Anishnaabe artist, Robert Houle, a member of the Sandy Bay First Nation, near Winnipeg, Manitoba, recently attended the opening of the Confederation Centre Art Gallery’s major permanent collection exhibition, RE:collection, and made introductory remarks and presented a public art talk on his 2017 painting, O-ween du muh waun (We were Told). 

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Commissioned by the Confederation Centre Art Gallery (CCAG) to mark the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, with funds from the A.G. and Eliza Jane Ramsden Endowment Fund, Houle’s oil on canvas triptych is a very timely consideration of the long First Nation’s presence in this land and more generally the idea of history painting.

Houle’s work is a major addition to the Gallery’s collection and specifically the Confederation Murals Series, which includes works by Jean Paul Lemieux, John Fox, and Jack Shadbolt, commissioned in 1964, and work by Jane Ash Poitras, Yvon Gallant, and Wanda Koop commissioned in the 1990s.

Houle’s new painting is a further elaboration on his 1992 work, Kanata (collection of the National Gallery of Canada), in which he appropriates and reimagines the composition of Benjamin West’s 1770 painting, The Death of General Wolfe. West’s painting famously mythologized the battlefield death of the British general who led his troops to victory in the 1759 Battle of Quebec. Houle drew all the figures in West’s composition in conté, reserving colour for only the Indigenous figure in the foreground.

In his new work, O-ween du muh waun (We were Told) Houle focuses exclusively on this same Delaware warrior figure, seated on the Plains of Abraham, and facing east. He eliminates all the other figures from West’s composition. Like much of Houle’s work, O-ween du muh waun (We were Told) addresses current political and cultural issues by looking to history. As Canada looks towards a reconciliation with First Nations, Houle’s painting stands as an important marker within the CCAG’s collection and the RE:collectionexhibition as it explores the building of a Canadian art collection as an optimistic mission and a reflection on the evolving country, its history, geography, people and communities.

“The [Canada] 150 idea was not an issue for me, but rather a correction to clarify that my sense of country dates back further than 1867,” Houle offers, explaining his visions around the new work. “Our friendship and numbered treaties are also preceded by the presence of our ancestors going back millennia; as well as the whole question of the historical painting by such artists as Benjamin West.”

Houle was born in St. Boniface, Manitoba, in 1947 and currently resides in Toronto. He is widely acclaimed for bridging Indigenous history and contemporary art. In 2015 he received the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Art for his significant contributions to Canadian art.

O-ween du muh waun (We Were Told) is on display in Upper West Gallery at the CCAG until December 31.

Roaming the Town

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The streets of Charlottetown hold many visual opportunities for an artist. Though small in size, the city offers a variety of unique scenes; from the rotting wood shingles of a weathered home, to the pristine facade of a new complex. But for all its progress, Charlottetown holds value in maintaining the impression of the past. But there is no denying that this gradual, ever-changing scape will someday make this city unrecognizable. Roam is an exhibition of 20+ art pieces by artist David Garcia Jimenez. The show will feature mainly acrylic works that showcase candid scenes throughout the city. Roam is at the Guild through July 31st.

Coming to Life

Canada 150 Exhibition set to take over the CCAG; official opening this Saturday June 17 at 7 p.m.

The Confederation Centre Art Gallery is transforming this month as one of the Centre’s largest ever art exhibitions, RE:collection, comes to life.

Taking over the entire 1,000 square meters of gallery space as well as the concourse cases and the public sculptures around the Centre, the exhibition explores the building of a Canadian art collection in Charlottetown, as both an optimistic mission and a reflection on the evolving country, its history, geography, people, and communities.

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Featured are L.M. Montgomery’s novel manuscript for Anne of Green Gables; selections from the Robert Harris collection; and the Expo 67 craft collection. Also showcased are the large-scale commissioned Confederation Murals series, which include Jack Shadbolt’s Flag Mural (pictured below) and Wanda Koop’s Native Fires, along with a new commission in this series entitled O-ween du muh waum, by Anishinabe artist Robert Houle, which will be installed alongside the other murals later this week

RE: collection and the exhibition Gretzky is Everywhere will be celebrated with an official Summer Opening Gala this Saturday, June 17 at 7 p.m. in the gallery. All are welcome for this festive kick off to the busy season which will include live music from P.E.I,’s own Mark Haines, remarks from a number of featured artists including Houle, and a cash bar.

The diverse visions, observations, and ideas of artists represented within the Gallery’s 17,000 piece collection allow us to mark the 150th anniversary with one of our largest exhibitions and publication projects,” remarks Kevin Rice, gallery director. “Collectively, we hope visitors will be delighted and engaged as they are linked to a century and a half of Canadian art and as they envision Canada’s future.”        

“We have commissioned artist Robert Houle to make a new painting which he has titled in Saulteaux, O-ween du muh waum, which translates to We Were Told,” explains Rice.  “This new commission will be installed this week and is a further rumination on the Indigenous figure in Benjamin West’s painting Death of Wolfe. Houle focuses on the Delaware warrior on the Plains of Abraham to underscore the long First Nations history in this land.”

A significant array of other historic, modern, and contemporary works of art-touchstones, signals, images that connect, challenge, and enrich people’s lives-will round out the exhibition.

RE: collection opens on June 17, 2017 and will be on exhibit through the remainder of 2017.

Gretzky is Everywhere

Andy Warhol and Wayne Gretzky — while not naturally congruous icons to utter in the same breath, both are considered pop culture giants of the 20th century who are forever linked by a famous print, Wayne Gretzky #99

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In 1983, the Canadian hockey prodigy visited Warhol’s New York studio to sit for a portrait arranged by Frans Wynans, an associate of Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington. “He’s more than a hockey player, he’s an entertainer. An entertaining hockey player,” Warhol famously remarked. The artist created screen prints based on Polaroids taken at the sitting. Many of these prints ended up in gallery collections across Canada, including at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery (CCAG).

Gretzky is Everywhere presents Warhol’s famous print at multiple sites simultaneously via livestream: in Charlottetown, at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton, and at The Rooms in St. John’s. Gallery patrons can enjoy the artwork in the Young People’s Gallery at the CCAG, while peering in on fellow visitors experiencing Wayne Gretzky 99 and an opposite camera feed in Alberta and Newfoundland — a natural hat trick.

 Three Canadian audiences, artworks and art institutions are linked by a public web feed, brought into a conversation structured by repetitive imagery, the immediacy of the virtual experience, and the “everywhere” of sites connected by the Internet.

 “Collaboration has been an important strategy in engaging the public with visual art, so Gretzky is Everywhere is focused on both the gallery’s collection and the audience experience,” states Gallery Director Kevin Rice.  “We are really looking forward to presenting concurrently with two other public galleries and seeing how audiences respond at each venue.”

 ”We are still living in the age of Warhol, whose dissemination of celebrity images lay at the heart of his prescient practice,” offer the exhibition’s curators, Mireille Eagan with The Rooms and Pan Wendt with the CCAG.. “We now take the pervasiveness of celebrity for granted, as individuals are given heightened status through sheer repetition of their likeness.”

 They continue, “Art institutions seek to respond to these changes in digital technology, with its rapid circulation of images and identities, and an increasing demand for participatory experiences. Warhol’s embrace of repetition and the virtual seems more pertinent than ever.”

 Special thanks are extended to the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the other partner institutions.

Time of Our Lives at the Guild

The artwork of more than 20 Seniors College students will be showcased at The Guild, from May 24th to June 4th, with the opening reception on Wednesday May 24th 7-9pm. There will be refreshments and everyone is welcome. This is the fourth year for this group show, with some old favourites exhibiting and lots of new faces as well.

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Participants say they are at “a time in their lives” when work and family commitments are reduced, and they are thrilled to have the time to put into making art.

Seniors attending the art classes have a wide variety of experience. Some are beginners, some have gained experience by attending the classes over the last several years, and some have dabbled in art off and on throughout their lives.

Seniors College is open to anyone over 50. It is a great opportunity to learn something new in a wide variety of topics. The camaraderie among the students adds a lot to the enjoyment.

A full list of Seniors College courses, schedules, and descriptions is available at http://www.seniorscollege.ca

The Guild is located at 111 Queen Street in Charlottetown. The gallery is open from 9:00am – 5:00pm 7 days a week and in the evening during shows held in the theatre.

For more information please contact Marion Copleston at 675-4093 or mcopleston@gmail.com