Fall Into The Basement Paintings

All Welcome: Opening Reception for Fall Art Exhibitions

New exhibitions include works by Wafaa Bilal, Mitchell Wiebe, Sandra Meigs, Ronald Bloore conservation project, and a survey of artwork by 40 Island women

 The Confederation Centre Art Gallery (CCAG) will host an official opening reception for the fall art exhibitions on Saturday, October 27 at 7 p.m. All are welcome for this fun and social gathering to enjoy new works, live music by Fantasy Eye, and conversations with friends and meet some of the featured artists.

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The CCAG is pleased to present Who’s Your Mother?, a survey exhibition of art work by women working on P.E.I. since the gallery’s founding in 1964. Selected from the Centre’s permanent collection by co-curators Lisa Theriault and Pan Wendt, the show features over 40 artists and will include several new acquisitions resulting from their research and studio visits.

“This show is perhaps overdue,” says Art Gallery Director Kevin Rice, “as the extensive work of women artists has not always been reflected in the collecting practices of public galleries—though we certainly have made improvement in recent decades. We have acquired a significant amount of work by women artists in an effort to better represent P.E.I.’s art scene.”

It is arguable that women have been the most influential artists in the province since the 1970s, when Hilda Woolnough, Elaine Harrison, and Erica Rutherford were instrumental in founding artist-run centres and mentoring younger artists. Woolnough, Harrison, and Rutherford will be well-represented in the show, alongside those from the latest generation of Island women artists, including Sandi Hartling, Monica Lacey, Norma Jean MacLean, and Becka Viau. Who’s Your Mother? opens October 27 and runs until June 1, 2019.

New this month, the CCAG opens VampSites, a new solo exhibition by Mitchell Wiebe. Based in Halifax, Wiebe has been something of a cult artist in Canada for decades. Known for his instantly recognizable paintings of fantastical creatures and warped worlds, he also works in installation art and this new show involves his occupation and response to the Brutalist architecture of Confederation Centre.

“We’re doing something special with Mitchell, actually putting him and his process on display,” explains Curator Pan Wendt. “Not only are we showing a selection of his work, in various states and contexts, including a black light gallery, but the artist will create a giant painting and installation in the public eye. You can actually watch him work, almost as a performance, for the week of October 15 to 19.”

Continuing until January 20, 2019 is Wafaa Bilal: 168:01, a major solo exhibition of recent work by the New York-based artist that speaks to the impact of international politics on individual lives. Included is the installation of an austere library filled with empty white books symbolizing the cultural heritage that was destroyed during a Mongol siege at Bayt al-Hikma, a major academic center during the Islamic Golden Age. This also represents the libraries, archives, and museums that have been systematically decimated by occupying forces in Bilal’s homeland of Iraq. Over the course of the exhibition, visitors may donate books from a wish-list compiled by The College of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad whose library was looted and destroyed in 2003. Upon the exhibition’s closing, the donated books will be sent to this university to help rebuild their library.

The CCAG is delighted to present a striking series of oversize paintings by Hamilton-based artist Sandra Meigs, entitled The Basement Paintings. The work, inspired by the artist’s process of mourning the passing of her husband, finds resonance and exuberance in the face of tragedy. Described as “the most potent work of Meigs’ career” the exhibition features three expansive paintings from 2012-13 that draw from the artist’s feelings of claustrophobia – they are based on her imagination of a subterranean landscape – as well as a number of smaller, complementary pieces that are derived literally from photographs of a family member’s basement.

The October 27 opening reception will also highlight the exhibitions Objects of the Mind: Chinese Brush and Ink Paintings by Dianyu Zhao continuing until November 11, and The Ronald Bloore Conservation Project, where the public can see conservation treatment being carried out on the large abstract painting until near the end of the exhibition on January 13. 2019. For more details on all exhibitions and visual arts programs at the Centre, visit confederationcentre.com/gallery.

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See the New Lineup

The Confederation Centre Art Gallery will celebrate its winter and spring exhibitions with one of its ever-popular opening reception events on February 24 at 7:00 p.m. All are welcome to come see the Gallery’s new lineup featuring a contemporary Island artist, an early 20th Century amateur Island photographer, videos by 11 well-known Quebec artists, a collection exhibition, and a mid-career survey of a New Brunswick artist’s print and installation works.

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“The opening is a great opportunity to catch up with friends and check out several new exhibitions and an impressive range of art-making. It promises to be a lot of fun,” says Kevin Rice, Director of the Gallery.

New exhibitions include Norma Jean MacLean’s Accumulated, Positioned, Reflected, curated by Pan Wendt and a part of the Gallery’s Studio Watch Series that is supported by the RBC Foundation. Wish You Were Here: W.S. Louson’s Picture Postcards featuring images of PEI landscapes was curated by Harry Holman. Motion includes short videos by Jean-Pierre Aubé, Patrick Bernatchez, BGL, Caroline Boileau, Michel de Broin, Pascal Grandmaison, Nelson Henricks, Myriam Laplante, Eduardo Menz, Nadia Myre, and Chih-Chien Wang. Motion was organized and circulated by Galerie l’UQAM and curated by La Fabrique d’expositions, a collective of Montreal curators, Julie Bélisle, Louise Déry and Audrey Genois. Luminous looks at effects of light and colour in eleven works from the Gallery’s Collection and was curated by Kevin Rice. Eric Edson’s Other Stories, includes the large-scale installation ruins (2017) alongside a selection of Edson’s work that spans two decades, and was curated by Pan Wendt and organized collaboratively by the Confederation Centre Gallery and Owens Art Gallery, Mount Allison University.

Several featured artists will be in attendance at the opening and attendees can enjoy light snacks, a cash bar, and live music provided by SOPA music performance students.

There is no cost to attend the event. For more information, please visit

http://www.confederationcentre.com/en/exhibitions.php.

New Works at the Gallery

Winter 2018 Will Bring New Exhibitions to the Gallery

New works, historical postcards, and visual movements

A young Island artist, a gifted amateur Island photographer, and videos by 11 well-known Quebec artists make up the Gallery’s new winter lineup of exhibitions.

Norma Jean MacLean’s exhibition Accumulated, Positioned, Reflected is a selection of her recent work where she explores the aesthetics of improvised layering, piling, and accumulation. MacLean is a part of the Art Gallery’s Emerging Artist Program that is supported by the RBC Foundation. Curated by the Gallery’s Pan Wendt, the exhibition will be on display from January 13 to April 28.

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William Steele Louson was a gifted amateur photographer from Charlottetown. Wish You Were Here: W.S. Louson’s Picture Postcards of Prince Edward Island showcases his photographs of picturesque Island landscapes that were reproduced on postcards. This historical exhibition captures a period in the 20th century when the public interest in buying and selling postcards was a new mania. Curated by Gallery guest, Harry Holman, the exhibition will be on display from January 20 to April 21.

Motion is a visual anthology that shows the work of 11 Quebec artists. The theme of “motion” is understood in two ways: as movement and as a proposal. This exhibition was organized and circulated by Galerie de I’UQAM and curated by La Fabrique d’exposition, and a collection of Montreal curators: Julie Belisle, Louise Dery and Audrey Genois.

“The new exhibitions will see the art gallery transformed yet again,” says Gallery director Kevin Rice.  “I am looking forward to Norma Jean MacLean’s new paintings and installations; Harry Holman’s research on W. S. Louson’s early 20th century landscape photography (which circulated primarily on postcards); and the videos by 11 well-known contemporary artists based in Quebec. These exhibitions will provide audiences with a wonderful diversity of artworks.”

And this is your last chance to see John Greer: Material and Metaphor exhibition which closes January 14, 2018.

The Gallery winter/spring hours run from January 1 until May 20, welcoming the public from Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m.

A description of each exhibition can be found on the website at http://www.confederationcentre.com/en/exhibitions.php.

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.

Illusion and Material in Mid-Sentence

New York-based Canadian artist Rachel Beach is opening her first major exhibition in this country in a decade. A collaboration with Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery, Rachel Beach: Mid-Sentence will be presented at Confederation Centre Art Gallery from December 10 through April 30, bringing the artist back to the Maritimes, where she was originally trained.

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The show consists almost entirely of new creations, selected from Beach’s studio in Brooklyn, NY, where she has been based since 2001. Educated at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and later Yale University, Beach’s work has been written about in The New York Times, Art in America, The Brooklyn Rail, among others.

Originally from London, Ontario, the artist works with abstract shapes and a variety of materials to produce colourful sculptures and two-dimensional pieces that play between illusion and material, geometry and surface. Her works typically deploy a vocabulary of shapes in creative interplay; although non-representational, they often evoke the human figure.

The Centre’s Pan Wendt curated the exhibition with Saint Mary’s Robin Metcalfe. “It is impressive to see what Rachel Beach has created over the past few years,” says Wendt. “Her studio, and everything in it, was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy, but she hasn’t slowed down at all, and her work has grown even richer.”

Gallery Director Kevin Rice looks forward to seeing the exhibition come to life in the Centre’s lower west gallery. “This exhibition will be like eye-candy, colourful and fascinating objects in dynamic arrangements,” he says. “Rachel’s work is known for its visual appeal and playful use of material and shape. Her sculptures are constructions built out of a variety of shapes that evoke folded paper, masks, the built environment, and the history of the medium. We are excited to bring her work back to the Maritimes.”

Rachel Beach: Mid-Sentence opens at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery on December 10. The artist will be present for an enriching exhibition tour on Saturday, December 10 at 7 p.m. All are welcome and the tour is presented free of charge.

Exploring the Ark

“Living Lightly on the Earth” Explores Building the Ark for
Prince Edward Island, 1974-76. The public invited for exhibition’s official opening and reception on October 22 at CCAG.

Brought to life in 1976 by Solsearch Architects and the New Alchemy Institute as “an early exploration in weaving together the sun, wind, biology, and architecture for the benefit of humanity,” the Ark bioshelter on P.E.I. integrated ecological design features to provide autonomous life support for a family.

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Opening day for the Ark in the fall of ’76 mixed counterculture together with official culture: Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Premier Alex Campbell, Whole Earth Catalog compiler Stewart Brand, and hundreds from P.E.I.’s counterculture settlements and neighbouring traditional communities. Thousands more would visit the Ark in Spry Point, Kings County over its short life.

40 years later, a new exhibition opening at Confederation Centre Art Gallery explores the story of the Ark for P.E.I., and its architectural vision of life led in collaboration with nature. “Living lightly on the earth:” building an Ark for Prince Edward Island, 1974-76 opens this month and will be celebrated with an official opening reception on Saturday October 22 at 7 p.m. in the Gallery. The lead sponsor for the exhibition is PEI Energy Systems, A Veresen Company, with additional sponsorship from the Architects Association of P.E.I.

“Even today, many people in the Maritimes and around the world have heard of the P.E.I. Ark, and are inspired by the vision it represents; but it’s mostly understood in almost mythical terms,” reflects Exhibition Curator, Steven Mannell, who directs the College of Sustainability at Dalhousie University. “This exhibition presents the Ark as both a vision, and a reality. The Ark reminds us of the power of optimistic action in the face of seemingly overwhelming environmental problems, and challenges us to be similarly bold today.”

Marking the 40th anniversary of this innovative experiment into sustainable building in Canada, the exhibition includes architectural models and plans, photographs, texts, and a new video featuring project architects David Bergmark and Ole Hammarlund. The exhibition and a companion book focus on the conception and building of the Ark; the opening day; and the early months of operation.

“The Ark Project offered us the opportunity of thinking outside the Architectural Box,” offers Bergmark. “Working with the New Alchemy Institute – an inspired organization committed to sustainable practices – shaped our thinking and ultimately our careers. The greatest impact wasn’t the Ark Project itself, it was the dialogue the Ark continues to inspire in our lives and work.”

Hammarlund echoes this feeling and its importance as a launchpad for many emerging professionals, “As my first professional commission, the Ark Project was a gift from Heaven.”

This collaborative exhibition is produced by Confederation Centre Art Gallery with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and BGHJ Architects. Mannell’s exhibition team also included Assistant Curator Lukas Bergmark and Research Assistant Megan Peck. Gallery Director, Kevin Rice, says, “This exhibition presents a timely opportunity for Islanders to connect with an optimistic moment in our history and an important discussion of sustainability—which remains very relevant today.”

An accompanying website to this exhibition is available for members of the public to share their own stories, photographs, and experiences of the P.E.I. Ark. The public is also invited to the opening reception on October 22 in the Art Gallery and the exhibition will remain on view until the end of April, 2017 to provide plentiful opportunity for Islanders to visit and school classes to arrange guided tours.