Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Out of Nowhere: A Group Show of Winnipeg Artists @ Julie Saul Gallery

I vote for more group shows that just declare themselves work that the curator happens to like or that represent something broad like recent paintings or as is this case, maybe a location. No need for curators and viewers to tie themselves into intellectual knots to put on and enjoy a group show? I mean, really, what was the last group show press release you read? or that made any sense of the work on the wall?

Well, Out of Nowhere: A Group Show of Winnipeg Artists is a rather clear show of Canadians, co-curated by my personal favorite of Julie Saul's artists Sarah Anne Johnson and Boarding Crossing’s editor Meeka Walsh. The show does what it sets out to do, advertises to the world and possibly other Canadians that Winnipeg has a happening art scene where people can have a creative community and not have to go the south to the United States or Toronto……? (I know Kids In The Hall, Marzel Dzarma and D.O.A., but outside of that, I am a little ignorant about Canada. Is Toronto a bigger art scene than Winnipeg?).

The show has a nice mix of video, drawing, painting and photography, but not so much sculpture, but then again the Julie Saul Gallery is only so big of a space. The photographs are very strong. I loved Elaine Stocki’s gymnastic pictures. I have a Pavlovian response to black and white photographs with a strong flash set in a VFW Hall looking building. I immediately think hardcore show, which for Stocki’s images is great because it creates a nice disconnect when you notice the pictures are populated by wholesome young gymnasts. Steve Ackerman also has some wonderful pictures of people out in nature at night with wondrous lights in the sky, making the crowds look like they are all awaiting an UFO landing.  The non-photography is strong but leans heavy on the figurative end of things. The most abstract of the pieces is Simon Hughes’s excellent colorful geometric shapes against dark backgrounds, which on closer inspection are floating in the sky above a sparse horizon of suburban homes.  Video-wise, after sitting through a couple of videos at the magnificent but punishing Ryan Trecarten PS1 show, I am for a moratorium on video art like Erica Eyres’s that stars the artist as multiple characters. But overall the show certainly does make you think maybe Winnipeg wouldn’t be such a bad place to hang (maybe it’s the Portland of Canada?).

Through Jan. 28th


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