Friday, January 30, 2015

Michael Haisell exhibit reviewed by Sheila R. Alonzo

Nude Sculptures by Michael W. Haisell
Exhibition Jan 21-Feb 4, 2015
CACGV Gallery, Victoria BC

“You came at the best time,” she said, half jokingly and half nervously responding to my writing a review on Michael W. Haisell’s solo exhibition.  Warm sunlight filled the café when I walked through the automatic glass doors of the Cedar Hill Recreation Centre. Wrapped in white synthetic plastic, the quarantined CACGV Gallery had four signs tacked to it:

Please Note:
This exhibition explores the nude female figure in sculpture.

Please Note:
This exhibition explores the nude female figure in sculpture.

Uneven Flooring

Gallery is

My curiosity peaked. I pulled the handle and stepped inside. Thirteen fired clay figures on white table height plinths stood in front of me. My eyes scanned the small room deciding how to maneuver. On my right was an art deco oil painting titled “After Lempica”, perhaps an ode to Tamara de Lempicka (a glamorous Polish Art Deco painter of the 1920’s).  Each sculpture varied in size, the tallest roughly thirteen inches. The clay figures stood, sat or posed lying on the ground. Notes beside each sculpture read:

A true artist, a clothing designer, a glass artisan. She likes to wear black boots and very cool clothing. She likes to sew and model.

Left her foot prints on the wall from her stretch breaks (my floors are covered in clay dust), she smoked the best smelling tobacco with herbs like rosemary in it. She always wears black or green velvet. She spends a lot of time in California.

Was only here for the summer to work at a tourist attraction. My ad was for a fashion model type. She could stand there all day without a rest. Quiet sort of girl, probably tired from her other job.

Then it hit me. These are representations of real people. I looked more closely, admiring the details of their lips, nose, eyes and fingers; graceful, poised and human.

On the back wall hung more oil paintings, six in total at the exhibition. “Amanda on Chaise Lounge”, oil and gouache painting on canvass, is my favourite; made with a series of whimsical strokes in shades of pink. The piece I didn't like was the photograph on canvass "Rachel". The super imposed image of the skin texture revealed hair and goose bumps that somehow made me think of chicken skin.

There isn't a lot of information on Haisell that I could find prior to visiting the exhibition except that his passion is photography and that he follows Sculpting, according to his blog.

MWH's Business Card from the CACGV Gallery

On my way out, I found the guest book open with a comment:

Really don’t know why the screening material had to be put up – there is nothing here to be screened from public view – the work certainly deserves to be seen.

I am curious to know what pieces did not make the exhibition and which ones were “taken down due to controversial material,” said an informant. Stay tuned for the Artist Interview to learn more.

The CACGV Gallery is located inside the Cedar Hill Recreation Centre on 3220 Cedar Hill Road, Victoria. The exhibition runs until Wednesday Feb 4.

Sheila R. Alonzo for exhibit-v

video interview:


  1. The Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria (CACGV) Gallery Agreement outlines that the gallery spaces at Cedar Hill Recreation Centre are publicly owned venues so thus have more limiting show guidelines. All exhibiting artists agree with the guidelines prior to start of show. All pieces put in shows (including those not submitted with application) are subject to review by a Visual Committee of CACGV Board Members as well as the Arts Specialist of Saanich Municipality and the Cedar Hill Recreation Centre Building Manager.
    Based on images received, Michael Haisell's show was approved with the condition that the public windows would be veiled and there would be a note of caution on the Gallery entrance. The artist understood that the centre is a publicly owned space with a main demographic of children and seniors. The artist agreed to all conditions in writing but chose to exhibit several pieces without the required review and approval.
    The artist was requested and agreed to remove the pieces that were not submitted in his gallery application.
    On Behalf of the CACGV Board of Directors

    1. Stephanie Eisenbraun

      Arts Coordinator

      Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria


  2. That is not completely true. I told the council about the piece and asked if they wanted to see photos first. They said they had seen enough photos and I could put in this piece. They also hung all my pictures for me and knew were quite happy untill someone complained about the content. It was only then that I was forced to take them down.

  3. Oooooooooooo I hate when people think they can censor work based on their own inhibitions.......This is why I bypass all formal institutions...I'de rather be broke than kiss someones ass