Finally got back to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria to check out their latest show (I’ve lived an hour’s drive away for 3 years now, yet somehow it’s been 4 years since I popped into AGGV, ie, one time when I still lived in Vancouver I came to Victoria for the day and visited then).
There’s 2 shows going on at the moment – a ceramics exhibition that you visit first, then 3 rooms of works from the AGGV’s permanent collections.
I don’t recall seeing any signs about not taking pictures, lol, and I did for the most intriguing works. I’ll only post a couple that I really want to talk about, though.
First up, the ceramics show, which I think is called Throw, Slip, Spin.
Well, actually, no, because before you get there, there are a few Asian artifacts in the hallway, of which I think I’ll just post this jade bowl:
Much respect, indeed.
Usually there’s a display of bonsai from the local club in the little courtyard behind this bowl, but currently there aren’t any, I’m not sure why but probably it has to do with the ‘rona and restrictions related to that.
Back to Throw, Slip, Spin.
A few years back I was taking some pottery classes when I still lived in Vancouver. It was fun, but it was also murder on a gal’s manicure (so I got out of the habit of doing any, and I’m still battling the ragged cuticles that resulted from being neglectful during the year of pottery classes and then not getting back into the mani-pedi habit for a while after that), and then there was the move and all.
So… I was never all that good, but I have an inkling of the work that goes into having your pots turn out nice… well, OK, I have an inkling of that from watching the instructor turn out nice work, mine wasn’t all that refined… but I was getting into the carving part after the throwing part, and maybe one day I’ll get back to that but working in a coil or slab-building manner which is a little less nasty on the ol’ cuticles, especially since the part I liked best was carving my pots and decorating them.
And I used to post pics here but then when my site got screwed up last year I just hid all the old posts after fixing the site rather than try to locate and re-upload 10 years worth of photos and fix all the now-broken links, etc.
But I digress.
There’s a lot of great work in Throw, Slip, Spin, and much of it is local since for whatever reason, the BC coast and especially the islands seems to be a mecca for pottery.
Here’s a couple favorites:
This one really spoke to me with the simplicity and smoothness of the form but also the cloud motif. (Byron Johnstad, Bowl)
Below, probably my favorite piece in the whole of AGGV this visit, Gordon Hutchens’ Big Wave Vase:
The carvings I was doing on my little bowls had to do with coast motifs, too. This is of course a very different scale and method, but I think that connection is why I liked it so much.
One of mine, currently used for storing hair ties on the sideboard in my kitchen:
(Hey, in the background you can see this blog post being written! Or you could if it wasn’t all blown out.)
Y’know, I recall in one of the last classes before the move our instructor, David, watching me carve these little motifs in to one of these cups and telling me “Never stop doing this.”
Well, I kinda did… but I am gonna be looking to get back into it sooner or later, and I have a lead on a guy in Nanaimo that teaches clay sculpture. In the meantime, I’ll mess around with polymer and air-dry clay since I don’t currently have access to a kiln.
But enough about me, even though this is my blog. Back to AGGV.
After the pottery exhibition, you come into a room of figure drawings and portraits. I found that while I admired the very technical portraits, the ones that speak to me are the looser, almost cubist ones, such as Margaret Peterson’s Seated Nude:
I guess because I’m working in a looser style now, dunno. Something just feels more visceral compared to the almost detachment of a nicely drawn very accurate figure.
After that, it was a gallery of historical works from the collection, ie: a bunch of Emily Carr paintings.
I was never impressed by Carr’s work all throughout school when we were told how great she was. Then, on my last visit here, seeing them in person, I was impressed. This visit, not so much. I don’t know if it’s the dimmer lighting and the darker paintings that were on display vs what I remember from the last time or just that I’d seen them already or what, but I seem to recall last time the Emily Carr paintings I saw seemed to almost glow more while this time they just seemed kinda meh. But it seems to me last time they were in a different room of the gallery that had a dark blue or or a dark green color, which made the paintings seem to pop more, whereas this time they’re in a white or beige room, and they just seemed dark and heavy.
But that could be me as well, I recall on the last visit I was making smaller and fairly dark landscape paintings, whereas this is what I was working on the day before visiting AGGV this week:
You can see how being used to that kind of vivid—even eye-melting—color might make one see Emily Carr’s dark forest paints as dull and heavy.
It was also pissing rain and grey and I think those gallery rooms do have skylights, so… probably a variety of factors.
However, I did discover a new-to-me artist I quite like, even though he also liked dark heavy colors, albeit contrasted against stark white paper: David Milne.
I liked his work enough I actually bought a small book about him from the giftshop afterwards (along with one on Roy Lichtenstein, whose bright colors are a little more my style).
The next room was the final one of the exhibtion, and my favorite by far in here was Takao Tanabe‘s landscapes.
I failed to get a photo of my favorite of his, a massive canvas that I think was simply called Land and which reminded me of Saskatchewan – vast yellow-green fields to the horizon. You can get a bit of the idea from some of the works in here.
It was a bit like ones on this page as well: The Land – Banff 13- 76
Anyway, definitely an interesting exhibition. I think the permanent collections exhibition is on all year, though I’m not sure if they intend to swap out different works throughout the year or keep it as is for the whole year. I know AGGV says on their website they’re looking into having a couple rooms as permanent collections galleries, but not having static exhibitions since they have something like 20,000 pieces in the collection, but they might be starting the switching around of works in those permanent collections galleries next year.
In any case, they were in the process of setting up a new show of Asian art and artifacts in the front gallery room, so I guess I’ll be back in a couple weeks once I hear that show is installed… if not sooner because my brother mentioned being interested in seeing the current exhibition, especially when he heard admission is currently free until July 5, lol…