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March 9, 2012

It was a full-house at Bowmanville’s Visual Art Centre last week for the opening of Sean McQuay’s solo exhibition playfully titled Lingeresque. It really was a “linger fest.” Gallery visitors, students and McQuay fans stuck around the gallery long after gallery hours last Sunday to chat with Sean. This was no surprise given Sean’s long-standing profile as an artist and educator in Durham Region. Whitby’s very own son has maintained a studio and teaching practice in the area since graduating from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. He’s a professor at Durham College’s ever-expanding Fine Art and Design programme.

McQuay and I compare ties

Sean’s conceptual and artistic exuberance is infectious. Year after year, he passes this positive energy to his students. This collaborative spirit weaves through his Bowmanville show. I’m sure he’ll speak more about this during his artist talk scheduled for Sunday, April 1st. No foolin’!

I really enjoyed seeing the wide-breadth of the artist’s production ranging from paintings, artefacts from his performances, conceptual pieces and lens-based media. His acetate-filled light-boxes are amazing studies in depth perception. But to get a real perspective on the depth of Sean’s career, there’s a video interview of the bearded artist from the early eighties. Thirty years later, the beard may be gone, but Sean’s art is going strong!  

McQuay back in the day, c. 1980

Affected by Effects Exhibition at the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington


August 27, 2010  

There is a famous ancient Greek legend of two competing artists. The competition: Who can paint the better painting? One painter creates a beautiful still life with fruit so realistic, that birds attempt to pick off the grapes from the surface of the painting. Satisfied with his painting, the proud artist calls upon his rival to unveil his painting hidden behind a curtain. “Which curtain?” the contender asks, “that is my painting!” The artist who tricked birds conceded defeat to the artist who tricked his fellow artist.    

The age-old tension between illusion and reality are at play in an exhibition I recently saw at the Visual Arts Centre in Bowmanville. Chances are you’ve already seen the work of special effects artist Gordon Smith in the films for which he’s produced sculptures and prosthetics. X-Men, JFK, Platoon, The Shipping News, Salvador, Alive are just some of the films that Smith has worked with his crew.  

The show is filled with an array of gory remains, death masks and super-heroic appendages. The work that Smith and Co. have produced over the years is spell-binding. For instance, the antelope and excoriated leopard hanging on the gallery wall are so hyper-realistic that it’s uncanny to observe. Each hair follicle is carefully sutured exactingly in place. These amazing sculptures, really trick the senses. This is the final weekend for the show, so check it out. 

No animals were harmed during the writing of this blog.