Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Carlos Colin of Definiciones/Definitions at the LAB in AGGV - Spanish

"Quantum Zen" - video interview with Peter Sandmark at Flux gallery

Erik Volet at the Fifty Fifty Arts Collective

"Georgian Carnival" Berikoaba by EV

Garden of Masks: a Collection of Paintings by Erik Volet

Fresh oil paint dry orange at the Fifty Fifty Arts Collective. Today, I talked to Erik Volet about his next solo exhibition. There is a secret excitement to seeing an exhibition before its unveiling.

On Thursday January 29 at 7pm, anticipate Volet’s world of gardens, masks, and more at the Opening Reception. It is a personal collection of Volet’s old and new works. Each painting tells a story relative to the viewer’s own interpretation and experiences of the journey to find oneself and place in the world that is both personal, political and universal. The importance of Volet's exhibition is its relevance to living in Victoria, also known as the City of Gardens, surrounded by branches & blossoms and people wearing masks without stopping to think and ask: what is the meaning of all this? Who are we? What are we becoming in relation to the Other, here?

"Masks are portraits; people’s aspect of self are really aspects of everyone’s selves.” - Erik Volet

The Fifty Fifty Arts Collective is on 2516 Douglas Street, Victoria BC. Exhibition runs until Sunday February 15.

Sheila R. Alonzo for exhibit-v

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Deirdre Kelly at Gage Gallery

Anita Rydygier at Dales Gallery

To interpret the creative expressions of the natural mind before we become adult, and to fuse together the child’s drawing with the adult’s vision is to comprehend art without convention or restriction, “without borders”.

Color stands at the center of human experience, human consciousness, and human expression, in fusing shape and color, I look to convey essential human experiences, essential human stories, in a way that everyone, adult and child, can recognize and understand.  Quoting Picasso, “Every child is an artist, the challenge is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

After graduating from the Royal College of Art in London, Anita worked as a textile designer, her printed textile collections were sold in Europe, the USA and Japan.  During this time Anita’s colour infused airbrush and gouache creations resulted in two solo exhibitions at The Actor’s Institute, London.

Whilst living in England, Anita also worked as a free-lance illustrator.  Commissions included Cosmopolitan magazine, Woman’s Journal magazine, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Chrysalis Records, and The Macrobiotic Association.  Private collectors include the Hon. Simon Howard at Castle Howard, York.

Anita moved from the UK to reside in Victoria, BC in 2001.  In North America Anita has selectively exhibited at her own gallery / store, WestCoast Eco Home in Fan Tan Alley, Victoria BC and at The Brill Gallery, North Adams, Massachusetts.

Brian Fisher at Winchester Gallery Modern

Mandalas and Beachscapes
February 12 to March 7, 2015

Opening reception: Thursday, February 12, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Winchester Modern presents previously unseen late work from Canadian artist Brian Fisher.
These evocative mandalas and abstract landscapes were painted during the artist's last years when he lived in Australia. While there is the temptation to fit his oeuvre somewhere within the op art genre, Fisher's intention was always to "go beyond optical gymnastics: it is our relation to space, especially landscape space, that forms the 'subject matter' of the artist's work."

 Fisher's most important Canadian commission was a mural for the Montreal International Airport at Dorval, which has long been regarded as "one of the most successful marriages of art and architecture in Canada."

Mike Andrew McLean at Deluge Contemporary Art

February 6 to March 14, 2015

Latent Image (Part One) 2012–2015

Mike Andrew McLean

Opening Friday, February 6, 7pm

In the conception and creation of the works that comprise Latent Image (Part One), McLean focuses on variant techniques that allow for reproduction of an image: stabilized photogenic drawing, salt paper printing, cyanotype, ferrotype, albumen printing and finally, photographs made with the Kodak 1—the first consumer oriented camera, patented in 1888. His intention throughout these contemporary reinterpretations is consistent, despite the manifold chemical and material variations involved in their production, reigniting interest in the way photographs are made and perceived in our media-saturated society and allowing for fluid investigations of the medium itself.

Mike Andrew McLean holds a BFA in Media Arts from NSCAD University, and an MFA from the University of Victoria. McLean’s work, which draws upon research into the historical and contemporary uses of photography, has recently been shown in solo and group exhibitions including Vancouver’s Contemporary Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Richmond Art Gallery, Open Space, Southern Alberta Art Gallery and Gallery 44 in Toronto. With the assistance of Canada Council and BC Arts Council production grants, McLean’s most recent projects Latent Image and Debris investigate the earliest forms of production within the medium.

Liz P. Dempsey at Habit Coffee

Monday, January 26, 2015

Linda Jones at Madrona gallery


Linda Jones is an award winning artist based in Ladner, B.C. This exhibition of new encaustic and acrylic paintings focuses on her experience living around farms and raising animals of her own. The artist's work reminds us of the importance of being connected with the land and life around us.

Feb 21 - March 7, 2015
  opening Sat. Feb. 21 at 1 pm 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Pete Kohut interview with Sheila R. Alonzo

It was a cool damp Thursday night on January 8 at the Fifty Fifty Arts Collective, Pete Kohuts solo exhibition Inside / Outward marked the 1st gallery opening in Victoria, British Columbia for 2015.  Inside / Outward is a series of Kohuts recent paintings drawn from people watching in coffee shops, illustrations turned paintings, space confused to create dynamic composition for the viewer, and channeling anxiety of being in public, as an introvert.  The exhibition runs until Sunday January 25th at 2516 Douglas Street.

When asked, why the café and not another public space?
Theres something unique to how people use a coffee shop as a public / private space.  I think a type of space that might be similar would be restaurants or food markets. What's interesting about coffee shops is that people feel more comfortable and let their guard down, hence letting out their personal quirks. A restaurant might not have the same level of comfort, but perhaps there's other qualities that people might let show through.
An excerpt from Kohuts blog Artist Statement: In Progress on October 5, 2014, gives deeper insight to his thought process:

What am I doing?  I'm making images that represent our daily life while evoking the fragmented nature in which we perceive and understand the world around us. 1) The coffee shop in North America is very much like the cafe in European countries, except that it can also function as a place to work, read, study, and be alone.  It's a peculiar space especially for that last reason. I'm interested in the crossover of behaviours between the two types of spaces, private and public. 2) Media culture has affects how we think and feel about the world. 3) I'm using retrograde media to show the limits of current media.

In the next blog entry, he provided 3 more reasons why it mattered.  Cleverly, he ended it with  "people enacting their private lives in a public space, making Inside / Outward a suitable title and Artist Statement that reads like this:
Weirdly distorted and morphing figures in confusing spaces. Patterned marks, raw colours and contrasts, shifting perspective, layers and history of making. Paintings that represent people and spaces but also reference the flatness of surface.
The subject of human interaction is fascinating. For an introverted person, meeting other people is often fraught with anxiety. This anxiety is processed into these paintings.
Scenes from everyday life act as an armature onto which energetic brushwork infuse these scenes with activity and evoke a sense of fleeting memories.

 I asked if any part of the collection did not make it to the exhibition:
There are three or four paintings that didn't make it into the show, mostly because there wasn't enough room for them, but also because they veered a little further away from the ideas that I was focusing in on the show; a self-portrait for example. I'm not a very linear painter, so some of the paintings went way off into left field, in different directions.
Kohut often mentions it in his writings and interviews, so I had to ask about being an introvert:
As far as I know I've always been an introvert. I grew up the second of three sons, which might explain my proclivity for feeling uneasy when people pay attention to me. I also have a hard time in large crowds because I feel overwhelmed. I like nothing more than to spend my evenings at home painting, drawing, reading, and playing with my cat. I have few close friends but I find evenings out with three or more people are extremely draining. I recharge when I'm by myself and therefore relish my time alone. I think this is partly why I continued to make art; an excuse to be alone.  

I also asked if he felt that he succeeded in channeling that anxiety into these paintings.
I feel that I succeeded in evoking a sense of excitement in these pieces by using my anxiety as fuel. Even though painting is a lot of hard work, it still is quite enjoyable and helps to relieve the general stress and anxiety that I feel during my average day. I wouldn't say these paintings evoke anxiety like Edvard Munch's ‘The Scream’ does, but perhaps the confusing spaces might give the viewer a slight twinge of insecurity.

Earlier Years
Pete Kohut was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  He drew a lot as a young boy but stopped.  Around 1993, he started making drawings again as therapy for loneliness and depression he was feeling in his teens.  In 1995, he experimented with acrylic paints, made rudimentary colour fields and still lifes to get a feel for the material. 
I remember wanting to be an artist when I was a young boy because I liked to make things, but was dissuaded by my parents.  They said that if I wanted to make a comfortable living, I should choose a creative career such as architecture.
It was in middle school that his art teacher encouraged Kohut to keep drawing.  When he got to university, he quickly found architecture to be too constricting so he focused on visual arts (painting) and graphic design.
I ended up choosing graphic design because I thought it might be a more accessible way to make a living.  This way I could work nine-to-five at a job that challenged me creatively and I could pursue my passion for making art in my spare time.

As Painter & Book Designer
Kohut became a practising designer after graduating from Red River College in 2001.  Slowly, he made his way to the West Coast (Victoria) where he now works as an in-house book designer for a local publisher called TouchWood Editions who publishes roughly 25 books a year.  Kohut designs the covers and layout the interiors for their book list that includes fiction, non-fiction, local history, mysteries, cookbooks, and short story collections.
Interested in the junction between paint and graphic design, I asked Kohut if he found designing books influence his paintings.

I think working as a designer has helped me to define what that differences are between art and design. As a designer, you are trying to communicate your client's message in a way that it best reaches it's intended audience. It's a lot like problem solving. Art is different because it is more about asking questions than getting answers. It's about your own message, your own thoughts and ideas that you are conveying to an audience. 
I find that my paintings act as a relief from my design work. In my painting, I break the rules of layout and composition. I can do whatever I want. There's no client or creative brief to follow. I'm still painting with an audience in mind, but I'm not necessarily interested in making art that they will like.
I will say that working as a book designer, I'm much more aware of the idea of narrative and how it applies to the visual arts. However, I'm more interested in creating an ambiguous narrative rather than spelling it out for a viewer. I want the viewer to have to pull out the meaning for themselves.

On plans for his next show and on going projects, Kohut said:
I don't have any other shows planned as of yet. I'm hoping that I might be able to show this series in a few other galleries in town, but we'll see how that is received. My last few paintings have been about exploring further the idea of using brush strokes as the pattern on clothing to confuse the space. "Beneath the Beard" is a good example. I'd like to see where it takes me.

Kohut is taking part In Cahoots, curated by Efren Quiroz, showing on November 6th at the Slide Room Gallery. Kohut is partnering up with Nicole Neidhardt, whom he met in a painting class at the University of Victoria a few years ago and who will also be graduating with her BFA this year.  Kohut said he is looking forward to this experience.

In 2010 Kohut was a finalist in the 1st annual Victoria Emerging Artist Awards.  He is enrolled in the Visual Arts program at the University of Victoria on a part-time basis.

Artist Quote
In my research and interview, I found this quote of Kohut to be powerful, I realize that painting is in itself a lie (or illusion), but it's a good one.

A Message from Pete Kohut
I'd like to thank everyone at the Fifty Fifty Arts Collective for letting me exhibit my work in their space and helping with the reception. I'd also like to thank you (Sheila Alonzo) and Efren Quiroz for your interest and media coverage.
Pete Kohut

[Images via]
[Photo credit: Sheila Alonzo]

Monday, January 19, 2015

In Cahoots ( Synergy ) the Art Show

In Cahoots suggests a secretive exploit, a little naughty or conspiratorial sharing resulting in (Synergy)- an effect resulting from actions within the process and spirit of combination, where, to quote Aristotle, “The whole is
greater than the sum of its parts”. This means, qualities or characteristics that are not present without combination / amalgamation and all other possible variants can manifest. Art possibilities are heightened. Unpredictable thoughts expound. Territory is transgressed. Serendipity occurs through this collaborative effort.

In Cahoots (Synergy) the show is conceived as an experiment of sorts in artistic collaboration. While some artistic endeavors often involve collaborative interactions, for example jazz musicians frequently collaborate in multiple groupings which thrive on the different interactions; visual arts for the most part is a solo act with the lone artist working away in the seclusion of the studio. This show is an opportunity for artists to work in a manner they may not be accustomed to and to experience something of the magical interplay of jazz musicians.

Nov. 6 to 30, 2015
Opening Reception : Nov.6, 2015
Slide Room gallery 
2549 Quadra St.  
Victoria, B.C.  Canada

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Reality Follies at Open Space by Philip Willey. Jan. 2015

The first show of 2015 at Open Space features five artists and two curators, Lynda Gammon and Wendy Welch. The catalogue begins with an observation…..

“We live in an image-world. Selfies on Facebook, instant sharing on Instagram, and photo albums on Flickr, all demonstrate our intense desire to re-present our world. Through the practice of painting, the artists in this exhibition, each in their own way, are re-presenting and interrogating the meaning of representation, and in turn, questioning our ways of perceiving reality.”

Jeremy Herndl focuses on landscape. His paintings give the sense of being created outdoors in an attempt to catch scenes glimpsed fleetingly. He is more concerned with the overall impression than with individual details and his work often borders on abstraction.


Rick Leong translates the visual language of Asian landscapes to contemporary Western formats.

leong open space 2015

Jeroen Witvliet’s paintings look at first glance like heaps of smoldering debris interwoven with branches, antlers etc. He’s probably best known for his black and white work but the pieces at Open Space contain muted colour.


Neil McClelland’s paintings of bathers manifest a Cezanne- like interest in form and planes.


Some may remember Todd Lambeth’s paintings of cats at Deluge Gallery. This new series of paintings shows the backside of paintings. It makes for a somewhat coy statement. Not as powerful as the NYPD turning their backs on the mayor perhaps but it hints at some kind of negation or reluctance to specify the content.We have to imagine it.


This being a group show one looks inevitably for associative elements. So what is the common thread here?

They are all painters. And they all deal with representation in the sense that they use recognizable subject matter, as distinct from abstraction which so often relies on titles for reference points. Beyond that there is an unrestricted plein air feeling to the whole show that suggests an empathy for landscape. There is a perceptive essay by Wendy Welch in the catalogue which explains the concept behind the show…

‘Realities Follies questions how the real can be represented in painting through form and process….Reality in a painting can move from objective images of the world to subjective constructs based on the physical experience of creating the work’.

Not to downplay Welch’s thesis but the same can be said of sculpture, photography and even conceptual art. All art forms in fact can and do go beyond representation. Still in this context she is making a case for painters having more physical control of the reality they choose to represent as opposed to the reality of photography. She admits a consensus on what reality is might be hard to come by but she sees painters ‘letting imagination, memory and the painting process itself direct the end result’.

She describes Herndl’s paintings for instance as a kind of shorthand, a meditation on light, forms and colour whereas Leong creates a fantastical reality rom hybrid sources, Lambeth questions the nature of painting, McClelland takes a historical approach, and Witvliet speaks of survival.

Welch expands on these ideas in another essay on the VISA website.* In this essay she talks about a rebirth of painting. (Some among us would say it never died but that’s a separate debate). In an age of saturation by photo-based images Welch considers painting as relevant as it ever was. Perhaps more so.

The curators want to inspire us to make sense of our own reality. Have they been successful? The show runs until Feb 21st. so go to Open Space and decide for yourself. 

The artists and curators will meet in a panel discussion on Saturday, January 17 at 2:00 pm. at Open Space.