Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Boxed In Exceeds Expectations

The invitation features the work of Merv Krivoshein,  a wood turning talent from Alberta.

On all accounts Boxed In appears to be a huge success, with two ample shows filled with 67 top-notch pieces drawn from a submission pool of close to 200 proposals.  The exhibition has work from all the provinces and territories–not something we get to see very frequently in our far-flung province.  And it was great to see a healthy representation of artists from away who traveled for the opening–like Elvira Finnigan from Manitoba.  This allowed me a wonderful opportunity to chat with her about her engaging collaborative piece, which incorporated a paper cutout crown by Paul Robles.  Flood Monkeys II represented the monkeys amid foliage in paper submerged in a Plexiglas container filled with brine.  As the water evaporates, salt crystals form on the paper recording the process and transforming the piece.  Elvira showed me other works at various stages of evaporation on her iPad, including a dinner setting that had an eerie Pompeii quality.  I will ensure that I revisit the show and her piece.

After a six-week period the shows in The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery and The Craft Gallery will trade places, which I think is a neat resolution to a thorny problem and fair to boot.  It will be interesting to see how the works appear different in a domestic scaled space after the vast exhibition halls of The Rooms.

With a show of 67 works, it is difficult to discuss the show adequately but I will isolate a few favourite pieces as this is a blog and not a proper review.  For example, Lois Schklar and Noah Gano's Three Point Perspective Drawing/Sculpture, which combines a living quality (its cord trembles and breathes in response to movement) that I associate with Schklar's more organic string drawings with an elegant geometric purity.  The cord draws a box in space.  It is downright sophisticated without being clever and the public marveled at it during the opening.  I am glad it has its own dedicated display space, which in the past I have seen used for videos.
Rosalind Ford's piece is suspended from the ceiling in the show and completes the visual metaphor of the birds' future 'hanging in the balance'.

Out of the work done by Newfoundlanders, I take my hat off for Rosalind Ford.  Her State of Canada's Birds is a quantum leap in terms of her career in soft sculpture.  The piece is composed of life-like birds made by Rosalind that are mashed together in the confines of a cage suspended by rope at eye-level.  The birds are naturally dyed, stitched meticulously and it is clear they have been loved into existence.  Rosalind's experience as a field biologist who has studied and handled the real-life versions is imbued in the heart-wrenching piece.

Frances and Maxine Ennis are also ably represented by a soft sculpture that to me signifies a major step forward for them.  I had seen their 3-dimensional efforts done with rug hooking and it is satisfying to see how they have refined their technique and combined it with a theme–women getting the vote and fighting for rights–that is near and dear to their hearts.

Other artists, like Reed Weir and Nicola Hawkins, are represented and give us their classic best on a smaller scale than we usually encounter but loses nothing in impact.

There is so much more I could say, for example, about themes that run like an under-current through the show (coffins, reliquaries, urns, etc) not to mention curator Denis Longchamps thoughtful essay.  I should make the effort of pitching the show as a review idea to a few magazines and see what happens.  Wish me luck!
This is an example of Lois Schklar's more organic work.  This one appeared in a recent show at Toronto's Aird Gallery.


  1. Hi Gloria:

    I was unable to attend the opening, but would love to hear feedback on my piece 'Franklin's Journey'. Any comments are appreciated!
    Rick Finney

    1. Hi Rick,
      I remember your piece - it was the scrimshaw "box". I was surprised to see the technique used on a piece from Manitoba. You will appreciate that scrimshaw has a special place in the hearts of Newfoundlanders as we are an ocean going people (for the record I'm from Montreal). I especially liked the top brass work, which seemed to be from a navigational instrument. The combination of the worked cow bone and the top gave it almost a music box cum-fairy tale quality. It evoked a narrative that had not been told, secrets to discover…I'd like to see more of your work.

  2. I look forward to when the show travels farther west.....it's just too far to ride my bike over! It seems that creativity can truly rise to the occasion when strict parameters are involved. Indeed, we all have the parameters of our daily means and contexts to work within. Bettina

  3. Bettina, I wanted to let you know that at the Craft Council Gallery, Sharon LeRiche kindly unfurled your piece for me. What a treat! I particularly enjoyed your use of buttons and the Buddhist temple/lotus.
    Denis has circulated a proposal for touring the show. I hope it meets with success.