In 2012, overwhelmed by grief, Hamilton-based painter Sandra Meigs produced a series of four large-scale paintings that translated her emotional state following the death of her husband into an imagery of subterranean architecture. One of the inspirations for the work was her sister’s basement in New Freedom, Pennsylvania. She found in the claustrophic, disused space, in the arrangements of half-forgotten things, a scene she linked to her emotional state and to the processes of stasis and change that preoccupied her. She described the experience:
“To get into the basement there’s a small door and rickety stairs, the ceiling there is quite low, and incandescent lights hang down just by their wires, from the ceiling. I found the basement so beautiful, especially when it was lit that way…there’s random stuff piled on other stuff, with narrow walkways through. It’s kind of like being in a museum…[but deposited] through normal accumulation over 40 years.”
The approximately 500 photographs Meigs took in New Freedom became source material for a series of modestly scaled paintings, The Basement Piles, and a catalyst for the more monumental The Basement Panoramas, which are each based on real basements whose locations are named in their titles.
Basements, often filled with unsorted things we store for future use and collections of the residue of lives, ornamented by tangled systems of wiring, heating and plumbing, hidden from everyday existence above ground, can be read in these works as an architectural scenario analogous with the structures and processes of the unconscious mind. In Meigs’ paintings, the physical shape of the basement breaks down into vigorous spirals and swirling lines, spreading and layering and changing direction as if of their own accord. Frequently interspersed with charged text, The Basement Panoramas reflect on mortality and rebirth, the hidden drives that both animate us and hold us in their confining embrace. Alternating between exuberant, expansive colour and gesture, and nightmarish claustrophia and repetition, these works are a document of the will, as intensity, as persistence, and as escaping endlessly beyond our control.
-Pan Wendt, Curator
Women Artists of PEI, 1964 to the Present at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery draws upon more than half a century of collecting to showcase the rich and diverse work of over 40 female artists highlighting mentors such as Elaine Harrison, Erica Rutherford and Hilda Woolnough.
The exhibition is curated by Lisa Theriault and Pan Wendt
Based in Halifax, Mitchell Wiebe has been something of a cult artist in Canada for decades. Known for his instantly recognizable paintings of fantastical creatures and warped worlds, Wiebe is also a performer who has fronted numerous experimental bands. Over the past decade Wiebe has branched out into installation art, and this new show involves his occupation and response to the Brutalist architecture of the Confederation Centre.
“We’re doing something special with Mitchell, actually putting him and his process on display,” says 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 15-19.”
During the run of the exhibition, the gallery will feature a number of performance pieces involving collaboration with artists and musicians. The show kicks off a national tour, involving a series of responses to gallery spaces across the country, and will feature a publication that includes critical essays by prominent curators in Canada and the United States.
Mitchell Wiebe received his M.F.A. at NSCAD University, and his work was included in the national survey Oh, Canada, organized by the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. P.E.I. viewers may be familiar with his many contributions to Art in the Open and afterimage, including collaborations with Graeme Patterson, Ray Fenwick, and Russell Louder.
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.
“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
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.
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.
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.
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.