At the Kelowna Art Gallery, 2012 has turned out to be a year focused a great deal on landscape art.
Kelowna residents may recall that we began the new year with our call to community members to bring in postcard-sized landscape paintings so that we could try to set a world record. We did, with over 4,000 entries received, which overflowed our classroom space and spilled out onto the walls of the hallway as well. This initiative was to celebrate our solo show of 30 years of landscape painting by local artist David Alexander.
We published a book on Alexander with McGill-Queen’s University Press, and have since sent the show on a national tour.
Earlier this month we opened a solo show of 30 watercolours by Ontario-based artist John Hartman, all painted of different views from within the Columbia River Basin in B.C.
For the added interest of repeat visitors to the gallery, both Alexander and Hartman are also included in our current group show of works drawn from the gallery’s permanent collection, called Personal Topographies. This exhibition contains many works never yet exhibited to the public after coming into the collection. There are 10 artists in total, eight of whom lived or live and work in B.C.
A few generations of artists are represented, and many styles and media are included. Some pieces are fairly straightforward, detailed depictions without much deviation from perceived reality or added personal invention. Others are barely landscapes at all, with only a general structure or composition giving the viewer the subliminal feeling of a landscape. One example of the latter is Ontario-based artist John Noestheden’s sculptural work Bumperedobjects, given to the Kelowna Art Gallery in 2001. This is a spread-out arrangement of small and varied units made from aluminum and rubber displayed right on the floor in front of a tall, simple table-like structure made from aluminum as well. The work reads as a dispersed field – a kind of conceptual landscape – with the table as its horizon line.
John Hartman’s oil painting of Rock Creek was created when he visited Kelowna on the occasion of his touring Big North solo exhibition in the year 2000. He donated it to the Gallery’s collection earlier this year. Gallery visitors will be able to compare and contrast his approach in watercolour in his upcoming solo exhibition in our small gallery to his treatment of a landscape in oil in the Personal Topographies show. Some areas in the Rock Creek painting are faithful depictions of the terrain around that community; other areas have morphed into pure abstraction.
We are pleased to show four works on paper by Lake Country-based artist Wanda Lock from a gift she made to us last year of thirteen pieces. Each of these contain human figures engaged in various activities, within a generalized – at times spooky – landscape setting. With her repertoire of marks, collage, and campy retro references, Lock uses the landscape for her own ends, making it her own, as it were.
The other artists in the show are the late BC Binning, Jim Kalnin, Ann Kipling, Toni Onley, Jack Shadbolt, and Alan Wood. Any visitors who enjoy working in landscape painting themselves are bound to get some inspiration or other from the variety of work on view. Personal Topographies is on at the Kelowna Art Gallery until October 28, and is accompanied by a free gallery brochure with a curatorial text, illustrations and artist’s biographies.