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.

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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.

Linda Tweel Portrait Joins Harris Collection

The Collections Committee at Confederation Centre recently accepted a large 1887 portrait, painted by Robert Harris, for the Art Gallery’s extensive Harris Collection.

The oil on canvas painting was gifted to the Centre in memory of Linda Tweel, to recognize the many contributions she made throughout her lifetime in the fields of education, culture, and community affairs. Linda Tweel was an early member of the Woman’s Committee of Confederation Centre of the Arts, and served as Chair of the Friends of Confederation Centre for several years.

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Gallery Director, Kevin Rice welcomed the addition. “It is always exciting to have collectors offer interesting works for the Collection; the support of donors like Mr. Tweel is critical in building a Canadian art collection in Charlottetown,” said Rice. “With this gift we see a continuation of support for Confederation Centre from the Linda Tweel family.”

Since the Art Gallery began collecting in 1964, its holdings have grown to over 17,000 items including a comprehensive research collection and archive on the works of Charlottetown-raised Robert Harris (1849-1919),  a painter of the iconic group portrait, The Fathers of Confederation.