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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26

Vibrant Visual

Bart Gazzola
Published Thursday September 18, 07:20 pm
Fall promises to be an exciting time for Saskatoon’s art scene

It will be a vibrant season for visual arts in Saskatoon. There’s new events (Nuit Blanch Saskatoon), historic milestones exploring who / where we are (Modern Visions), and others that address regional and national histories (the 1812 monument Spirit of Alliance and Stronger than Stone). Let us dive right in….

Nuit Blanche Saskatoon ( happens September 27th, from 8 PM - 1 AM, with sites within the Idylwyld to Avenue E area. Participating artists include Callen Deidrichs, Ellen Moffat, Ian Campbell & Ernie Dulanowsky and Tonight It’s Poetry. There are some questionable choices (Yoga?) but on the whole it looks very promising. It’s the first incarnation, and if it continues (we hope), perhaps a wider consideration of the diverse NBs in other cities that function on a more national or international level will manifest.

The REDress Project, by Jaime Black runs until October 5th, including a walking tour and round table / community discussion. REDress is a “critical response to the hundreds of reported cases of murder or disappeared indigenous women across Canada [and the] public display of empty red dresses…seeks to create space for a dialogue around the gendered and racialized nature of violence against indigenous women”. Agriculture, Arts, Education and the Bowl will be sites for this, and maps will be available at the Aboriginal Student Centre. Specific details can be found here:

Spirit of Alliance (Farmers’ Market, River Landing) could initially be seen as more of the PMO’s attempt to “Orwell” history, but many Saskatoon artists / curators are adept at injecting relevance into skewed ideology. Adrian Stimson, Hap Grove and J.S. Gauthier have produced a work that reconfigures the regionalist specificity of The War of 1812 to address the often forgotten communities of multiple heritages that had a role in the formation of Canada, and whose descendants still live here. That shared history of treaties and a sense of co operation that encompasses Aboriginal, Fransaskois and all those in between takes something that could be a partisan PMO failure and makes it relevant.

The Mendel will mark 50 years with Modern Visions, promising to “explore the touchstones that have shaped the history of the Mendel Art Gallery and its role and impact within Saskatchewan and across the country.” I’ve been told that this show, filling all four galleries, will step a bit outside the usual tropes, though we can expect a healthy serving of landscape and karaoke modernism. Recent collections shows (i.e. Where Its At), have offered appealing dialogues on collecting, history and the “heartfelt” lies and myths put forth by government institutions, so I’m hopeful and excited.

Speaking of how gleefully some institutions have manufactured alibis for the status quo (and more importantly, how to fight against that), Stronger than Stone (Re) Inventing the Indigenous Monument is a series of presentations and discussions that happen at Wanuskewin Heritage Park from November 23 - 24. The participants are impressive for this “international symposium on Indigenous monuments and counter-monuments.” Rebecca Belmore (who just installed an amazing work at the Human Rights Museum), Jimmie Durham, Paul Chaat Smith and the aforementioned Stimson are among presenters. It’s later on, but check in with for details.

Preceding Stone, Wanuskewin hosts Walking with Our Sisters as part of its cross-country journey (October 31 - November 21). This “massive commemorative art installation [is] comprised of 1,763+ pairs of moccasin vamps (tops) plus 108 pairs of children’s vamps created and donated by hundreds of caring and concerned individuals to draw attention to this injustice…The work exists as a floor installation made up of beaded vamps arranged in a winding path formation on fabric [with] cedar boughs”. One can only imagine that this will set the appropriate metaphorical space for a “reinventing”, though pain and remembrance - and anger.

The College Gallery’s fall show is curated by Robin Metcalfe (a fine Halifax-based curator). Ursula Johnson: Mi’kwite’tmn (Do You Remember) “examines ideas of ancestry, identity and cultural practice. Johnson deconstructs and manipulates the function and image of Mi’kmaw basketry, using traditional techniques to build non-functional forms”. Continuing the seasonal theme, it must be winter and Hell’s frozen over, as I must defend the U of S here. The story at re: the U of S “selling” off Aboriginal art from their collection was full of misleading statements and some outright embellishments. There’s no need to invent problems at the U of S, so maybe we can expect a retraction / correction this fall.

Paved is presenting Scott Massey’s Outstanding Outdoor for their Anti-Advertising Billboard project (424 20th St. West). Modifying the “Pattison” billboard company logo to “Pollution”, Massey illustrates “the ongoing colonizing movement of advertising in public urban spaces”. This fits within last winter’s Placemaker program vandalisms, as commercial billboards are “uncontested in the public sphere…a puzzling phenomenon when contrasted with the outspoken criticisms and laments from the public over some public art installations…visual advertising clutter are rarely discussed critically.” And if I “tarped” them I’d be a criminal, not an “irate taxpayer.”

Felicia Gay (a curator who melds art and activism well) has a new Sasipenita Educational Exhibit project encompassing both all the spaces at 20th St. West. Testimony of Site features K.C. Adams, Shelley Niro, Joi Arcand and Terence Houle, opening November 6 (Thursday) because paved will be continuing with its award winning CORE series, on November 7th (Friday).

And what’s ahead, in 2015? TRIBE, a center for evolving Aboriginal media, visual and performing arts will be marking two decades in 2015. There'll be exhibitions by Dana Claxton, Bear Witness and other events celebrating TRIBE’s groundbreaking history.

It should be an exciting end to 2014, exploring issues of site, rife with dialogue and arguments about exclusion and dissent and most importantly, possibility for change and difference. 

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