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May 7, 2010

Last night I had the pleasure of announcing to 125 people gathered at Station Gallery that we were at the epicenter of the world. “I haven’t seen this many people at the Gallery since… last week, for our Drawing for Art fundraiser!” I spoke addressing the crowd of familiar and mostly new faces. These back-to-back events bolstered massive attendance numbers at the Gallery in the span of a week. Selections from Durham College’s Fine Art & Design programme juried student show opened with the best works to come from that programme in the three years that the Gallery has hosted this event.  What has now become a yearly ritual, College art instructor Sean McQuay and I partook in the The Annual Exchanging of the Vintage Ties. For the third year in a row we’ve traded neckties as a symbol of brotherhood between two sister institutions, and the way Durham College and Station Gallery are tied.

The College show caught up with the Before & After show which opened a few weeks earlier. This exhibition saw key works from the Gallery’s permanent collection displayed along with fresh, recent works from established artists Ron Eccles, Liz Parkinson, Libby Hague, Lotti Thomas, Akira Yoshikawa and Otis Tamasauskas. Related to this permanent collection show was the unveiling of Peter Kolisnyk’s reconditioned work from 1977 Ground Outline. Over a hundred people came outside to pay tribute to Peter’s legacy and his contribution to Canadian minimalism. It was a moving ceremony with Peter’s daughter and her family in attendance.

We didn’t stop there–in the Yourspace Community Gallery hung the exquisite photos of regional photographer, Bruce Livingston. Titled These Synthetic Shores, Bruce’s photo essay corresponded with the Contact Fest. His pictures of washed up debris on the Lake Ontario coast are immediate and topical as we become very conscious of our shorelines in light of the BP oil disaster currently hitting the news. Workshops and classes were chugging along in the box car print studio and in the downstairs studio. What a great night it was! What a verve! It was the intersection of past with the future, and what a present it was!

July 3, 2009

The University of Toronto Art Centre is currently hosting an exhibition titled Sense of Place. Having visited the exhibition last Friday, July 3rd I found the show a peripatetic survey of contemporary printmaking. It would seem that the medium is alive and kicking in Canada and Michigan. This cross-border survey gave audiences an opportunity to absorb the scope of print technologies. I was delighted to see Dan Steeves’s print (free to ignore moments of restlessness in the mind) of the evacuated void in the place of domicile. This 2006 work was also featured along with other works in a show called Tantramar Gothic.

Other highlights were Libby Hague’s work Everything Needs Everything: Rehearsal for Disaster. In looking up Hague’s title in the accompanying catalogue, I see that her piece was awarded Second Place. My initial response was “Congrats, Libby!” but then I wasn’t aware that this show was a juried exhibition. This adds a problematic layer to an exhibition which seemed to be a themed meditation on the vagaries of place. Adding the competitive and adjudicated layer certainly complicates a show whose intent was to present selected artists in a open forum of discussions surrounding the print medium.

I always enjoy to hearing of N.E. Thing Co. co-founder, the artist formally known as Ian Baxter. He has recently legally changed his name to IANBAXTER& (the ampersand is emphasized!). I’m not really sure how he is associated with the printed medium, exactly, but his inclusion in the project calls for more thought. I don’t know where to start first, conceptualizing the ampersand in his name or his relation vis-a-vis the printmakers in the show… I guess the word “and” prompts an entire series of inquiry.