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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26
HOME / STORY

Artsplosion!

Bart Gazzola
Published Thursday June 25, 05:54 pm
A closed Mendel sucks, but there’s plenty else to see

 It’s the first Saskatoon summer in 50 years without the Mendel. Sad, but consider it an opportunity to expand your horizons of gallery spaces, and perhaps judge them worthy of repeated visits.

Amusingly, the first things I’m mentioning aren’t actually gallery spaces.

July 3rd-5th is the third annual Street Meet Festival (streetmeetsaskatoon.com provides all the dates/places/times — and it’s all free, like any good public event). Their agenda? “We have all driven, cycled or walked past Saskatoon’s wide array of public art, and it may have shaped our ideas of… ‘public art’… Many of us expect it to be permanent, durable, large-scale and sculptural. But are there other possibilities?” Previous artists like Shelley Glover (an icing mural) or David LaRiviere (Liquid Bacon!) have emphatically answered “yes” to that.

SM will “feature a series of artworks, workshops and discussion that invite the public to participate and explore new and exciting ways to make and appreciate public art.” It’s appropriately subversive: issues of class and which “public” owns “public” spaces are present. Last year’s panel was the only forum, out of all the blather about public art with last year’s controversies, that was intelligent. Feature artists include Justin A. Langlois (Vancouver), Swarm (Montréal) and Wizwon (Saskatoon). Sam Balfus (Chicago) will present work on four digital billboards while Dr. Cameron Cartiere will be giving the keynote lecture.

Similar to SM, Finding City is a loose collective, steered by Michael Peterson (Void gallery) and Gary Young, a longtime, dynamic cultural worker here, with upcoming events both artistic and activist. This summer features The Conversation Series: Discussing Saskatoon through the practices of visiting creatives. From June to September there’s “collaborative projects and discussions with visiting artists and writers…allowing us to see through the eyes of those unfamiliar with [Saskatoon]… to unsettle our ingrained perceptions…creating opportunities for new discussions on how we interact with the city and each other while providing an inclusive space through participatory art projects and roundtable discussions. [This] involves [several] Vancouver-based creatives [including] Monique Motut-Firth, and Jay White.”

Motut-Firth will be doing a residency and drop-in workshop from June 29th to July 3rd at Void (#2 1006 8th Street East) and, later, exhibiting works there. An artist talk / roundtable on July 4th is still taking shape. (Visit findingcity.ca: I’ll tease that White will be here for Nuite Blanche 2015, just as Motut-Firth is presented in association with SM.)

The Usask campus is summertime narcoleptic: this allows the College Gallery to display one show all summer, and this year’s merits it. Saskatoon based video / installation artist Amalie Atkins has both floors (and the exhibition Wundermärchen in the Kenderdine gallery) with We Live On The Edge of Disaster And Imagine We Are In A Musical. Encompassing projections, huddled structures (access to some is only while wearing the rubber boots provided) and some of the paraphernalia featured in her filmic works, Disaster has been touring the Prairies. The gallery’s open Tuesday to Friday, 11 am to 4 pm. Visit often, as these works are vignettes combining folklore and humour with a distinctly prairie sensibility. Where else will you see rollerskating Valkyries jiving to Brasstronaut? Disaster ends Aug. 1st, but there’s a performance at 7 pm on July 24th (107 Administration Place) with a reception.

The downtown offers several options: Art Placement’s (228 3rd Ave. S) Summer Group Show (including Ruth Cuthand, Greg Hardy and Jonathan Forrest) opens with a reception on July 4th and closes the 23rd. Abject Abstract follows with four emerging artists (re) interpreting abstraction (reception July 31st, and on display until August 20th). Their summer rounds out with the first solo exhibition by Saskatoon-based painter Dawna Rose, opening Aug. 22nd and closing Sept. 17th. The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday, with afternoon receptions (with excellent food!).

The Rouge Gallery (245 3rd Ave. South) has a front window that catches your eye: their upcoming schedule includes breathe, by Monique Martin and Trint Thomas (reception June 29th), and on July 9th the Red Hot Rouge Summer Exhibition opens and runs until August 9th. Other works from gallery artists are often displayed (Malaika Charbonneau is a new addition) and hours are 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday to Friday, and noon to 5 pm Saturdays.

The Frances Morrison Gallery (311 23rd Street East) is underrated, presenting a mix of more experienced artists and exciting newcomers. Kathryn Thompson’s Life Near the Blos (reception July 9 at 7 pm, running to Aug. 13th) is a photo exhibit that “shares her journey to the remote community in North Luzon, Philippines”, asking “what can we learn from communities that tread a little less lightly on the Earth?” Jin-zhe Cui’s King of Birds follows (reception Aug. 20th, runs to Sept. 24th), with her ephemeral work currently at the Chung Wah Grocery on 20th, too. (Purchase their excellent pork/duck sausages, as a courtesy.)

Darrell Bell Gallery, closer to the Midtown (#405 105 21st St. East, noon to 5 pm Thursday to Saturday, noon to 4 pm Sunday), will be presenting two summer-long exhibitions. One is more focused on abstraction, including Kyle Herranen and Scott Plear, and another is more about the prairie, with artists like Thauberger, Gorenko and Little.

Leaving the downtown and heading to Riversdale will take you to Storefront (thestorefront.ca), a “design gallery and retail space showcasing local art, design, and architecture” at 224 20th: St. City Dwellers runs until October and examines “how buildings, people, amenities and infrastructure shape the urban fabric of a city and ultimately affect our happiness and sense of community.” Looking to fall, they’ll be exhibiting Dave Geary’s poster works and (hopefully) a launch for his comic book. Pick up one of their #YXEArts Riversdale booklets for more info about cultural spaces in that area, too.

Other spaces there warrant your interest: BAM (the Bridge Artists Movement) at 229 20th Street West features emerging artists. Their hours are varied. (I’d suggest a visit to StoreFront, then checking out BAM to see if they’re open).

This is just a taste, as (ignore those City councillors who bleat otherwise) there’s no shortage of visual arts / events this summer. SaskTerra and the Saskatoon Potters Guild are presenting “Best!” and “Guilty Treasures” from July 1st to 12th at the Gordon Snelgrove, and Gale Hagblom and Sandra Ledingham will be there to the end of July, followed by the USCAD group show. Wanuskewin has works by the Indigenous People’s Art Collective, which includes work by Michel Boutin and Allen Clarke (into July, both open 9:00 am to 4:30 pm). If you’d like a summer day-trip, visit the Mann Gallery (mannartgallery.ca) in Prince Albert (where IPAC is centred) to see Saskatoon’s Ruth Cuthand’s Don’t Drink Don’t Breathe.

That does require you to leave Saskatoon, but it may be the most significant exhibition this Saskatchewan summer. Like some of the galleries mentioned here, it may not be on your regular list of galleries to visit, but perhaps the Mendel closure is less an absence than an opportunity to expand your gallery experience, and reap the rewards of new, alternate spaces and fresh, alternate artists.

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