The Thinking Eye

Kate Metten

Exhibit Dates
October 18th - December 14th

Opening Reception
October 18th, 7pm-11pm

Artist Talk
Nov 16th, 2pm

Eleven Minutes Late

Ryan Quast

Exhibit Dates
October 18th - December 14th

Opening Reception
October 18th, 7pm-11pm

Unfolded

Mollie Burke

Exhibit Dates
October 18th - December 14th

Opening Reception
October 18th, 7pm-11pm

LATEST WRITING

Insider Series: Kate Metten

Burrard Arts—October 11, 2019

Trained from an early age in both pottery and painting, Vancouver-based artist Kate Metten has been widely recognized for her ceramic art practice, which uses sculptural abstraction to explore the intersections and contradictions between painting and ceramics. Metten’s Summer 2019 Artist Residency at Burrard Arts Foundation represents a critical shift in the emerging artist’s oeuvre, being her first solo exhibition that focuses primarily on painting. Mentored by well-established Canadian artists such as painter Mina Totino, and potter Gailan Ngan, Metten’s work is informed by a deep appreciation for the lineages of knowledge and convergent histories of aesthetics in craft- and object- making.

Insider Series: Ryan Quast

Burrard Arts—October 15, 2019

In this fast paced society, immediate gratification is at the root of most media we consume. With his new show Eleven Minutes Late BAF’s most recent Resident Artist Ryan Quast creates something that transcends this notion. By painstakingly brushing layer upon layer of paint and waiting for each to dry, Quast creates remarkable sculptures of objects that some might call unremarkable. 

In Conversation: Chris Eugene Mills

Burrard Arts—July 24, 2019

Chris Eugene Mills’ display in the Garage, ‘a finely-tuned interference engine thwarted by a painting of an ouroboros (in thirty-six parts)’ presents a coded performance of data, that consumes and regenerates itself, as a beautiful array of digital ‘paintings’.

We sat down with the artist to discuss his experience of working in a site-specific space, and learn more about the becomings of this particular instillation.

In Conversation: Scott Billings

Burrard Arts—July 11, 2019

With ‘Flat Moon’, Scott Billings deviates from his primarily video-based installation work to produce an abstract show. In this interview, we chat with the Vancouver-based artist about the new works created during his residency and the personal curiosities that drove them.

Read on to gain deeper insight into ‘Flat Moon’, and be sure to join us for his artist talk this Saturday, July 13th at 2pm in the gallery.

Insider Series: Emily Hermant

Burrard Arts—July 2, 2019

In a contemporary setting, it is becoming increasingly difficult to divorce ourselves from technology. Produced in BAF’s Artist Residency program, Emily Hermant’s new show till your voice catches the thread speaks to the yearning for human intimacy that can occur as we coexist more and more intimately with our technological surroundings. In these new works, Hermant examines this notion through woven static emulations and textile-like castings. 

Insider Series: Scott Billings

Burrard Arts—June 7, 2019

Looking at and thinking through the work of Vancouver-based, multi-disciplinary artist Scott Billings, I’m reminded of the thin line between skepticism and paranoia. Through an orchestrated performance of computer programming, sculpture, video, and installation, what Billings seems to be creating above all is a sense of uncertainty: how am I seeing that? is it real? His work begs the questions, then burrows into a tantalizing tunnel of conspiracy theories that makes the viewer distrust their own perception, emptying out the distinction between real and unreal in the first place. That is to say, his works are stimulating and unsettling thought experiments, that also happen to be fascinating to watch.

In Conversation: Charlene Vickers

Burrard Arts—May 16, 2019

Charlene Vickers allowed her work to grow intuitively and organically in her BAF Gallery show, ‘Chrysalis’. Coming into the Residency Program from a period of intense creative activity, Vickers chose to approach her time in the program as both a space of much-needed rest, and the chance to sow the seeds of a new body of work – one that clearly sits within the lineage of her vibrant, abstract paintings, but brings them into a looser, less structured mode of production. In this interview, BAF chats with the artist about these new works and her experience creating them.

Insider Series: Resident Artist Holly Schmidt

Burrard Arts—April 12, 2019

Holly Schmidt, Burrard Arts Foundation’s most recent resident, has spent her ten-week residency immersed in the complexities of desert plants. Her temporary studio at the gallery is, when I visit, a dusty landscape of papier-mâché prickly pear, agave, and yucca plants—a desert topography she is creating for her upcoming show Quiescence, opening at BAF Gallery on April 5. Using corn starch and newsprint to create ephemeral plant sculptures, Schmidt is circling back to a subject and process she first discovered more than four years ago. She first began creating papier-mâché plants as part of an art and agriculture project involving youth at Moving Arts in Española, New Mexico, where she was struck by the form and resiliency of desert flora, as well as the complexity of interconnected communities there. “This was an opportunity to return to something and to see what would flourish in the right conditions,” she told me.

In Conversation: Resident Artist Birthe Piontek

Burrard Arts—April 23, 2019

Birthe Piontek’s Burrard Arts Foundation Residency, and the resulting exhibition, represented exciting ventures for the artist in scale, material, and form. In this interview, we spoke with Piontek about her artist residency at BAF’s Vancouver studio, progressing to object-based work while remaining engaged with photography, her fascinations with cloth and the body, and more.

Identity, memory, and sexuality are just some of the overarching themes explored in Rafael Soldi’s current show at the Burrard Arts Foundation. The show comprises two new bodies of work: in one, ‘Cargamontón’, Soldi delved into the near-forgotten hazing rituals he experienced growing up in Peru; the other, ‘Imagined Futures’, he contemplates the paths his life could have taken had he not immigrated from that country. Below, we speak with Soldi about his practice, this show, and his future projects. 

The Garage Public Exhibition Space
Call for Proposals
Deadline: Friday, February 22
How to Apply: View full Call for Proposals.

With the Burrard Arts Foundation’s move into new premises at 258 East 1st Avenue has come an exciting addition to our programming: The Garage. A former loading bay, The Garage has been renovated into a street-facing, glass-fronted exhibition space. The work inside will be visible through the pictured glass garage door only; gallery guests will not be able to enter the space.

In keeping with the BAF’s mission to support emerging artists, foster creativity in the public realm, and break down barriers to accessibility, we are excited to announce that we will be opening up The Garage to proposals from local artists. The Garage is an ideal opportunity for artistic experimentation, and a low-barrier way for artists to get involved in BAF’s activities. The Garage acts as the most public access point into BAF’s on-site programming, and we are seeking proposals that will spark public curiosity and engage passersby with the gallery.

We are now accepting proposals, with a deadline of Friday, February 22nd. The selected artist(s) will be notified on Friday, March 1st, with the first selected installation opening on Friday, April 5 alongside BAF Gallery’s next exhibitions from artists Holly Schmidt and Charlene Vickers.

Full submission guidelines, and directions on how to apply, can be found in the full Garage Call for Proposals. We invite you to reach out with any questions you may have around the feasibility and suitability of your idea.

Thank you so much, and we look forward to seeing your ideas!

Birthe Piontek’s photographs tell personal, sometimes unsettlingly intimate stories. Looking at her work, one imagines her subjects’ interior monologues through nothing but their poses, the objects they hold, and the settings in which they are shown. The figures seek to individuate themselves, often through the decorative trappings with which people are equally as likely to set themselves apart as associate themselves with others.

Borrowing its title from a famous line from ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, Tyler Toews’ show ‘He who marches out of step hears another drum’ shares his remarkable journey. A survivor of mental illness, Toews is no stranger to oppression, and his dramatic, expressive large-scale works convey a message that is hopeful and positive without shying away from the darkness and struggle that’s integral to the human experience. In this interview, BAF spoke to Toews about the influence of memory on his practice, his recent experiments in screenprinting, and his visions for the future of his work. 

In Conversation: Michael Batty

Burrard Arts—April 24, 2019

‘Building’ incorporates both installation and photographic work. To you, how do these two mediums work together in the show?

The Burrard Arts Foundation (BAF) is pleased to announce that it is relocating its operations into a new, expanded location at 258 East 1st Avenue at the centre of the False Creek Flats neighbourhood, an area increasingly recognized as the burgeoning centre for fine art in Vancouver.

With the new location will come an expansion of the BAF’s programming. BAF’s Residency program, which provides select local (largely emerging) artists with funding and studio space to create new bodies of work, is currently offered 4 times quarterly throughout the year.  The residencies culminate in solo exhibitions at the BAF Gallery. Within the new facility, the program’s capacity will double – welcoming eight artists per year and allowing for increased dialogue and relationship between artists who may be working concurrently with one another.

The new facility will also provide the opportunity for a dynamic addition to the organization’s program – a exhibition space that is viewable 24/7 from the street. This highly visible, sidewalk-facing exhibition space will represent another bold opportunity for work by contemporary artists to be shared with the public.

BAF’s new location will celebrate its official opening on October 3rd with a special exhibition and art auction event entitled Artists Supporting Artists, a special collaborative event between BAF and  Heffel Auction house. Regular programming will then resume on Thursday, October 18th with two exhibitions of new work from artists Michael Batty and Tyler Toews.

Find more information about the Grand Opening Heffel x BAF Auction here, and please RSVP on Facebook!

In Conversation: Tom Hsu

Burrard Arts—April 12, 2019

How did your time in the BAF Residency Program impact the creation of this show? In what directions did it lead your practice?

Insider Series: Resident Artist Tyler Toews

Burrard Arts—April 24, 2019

With their distinct language of bold colour, gestural shapes and loose hints of representation, Tyler Toews’ paintings speak clearly without being overly literal. Their abstracted faces and graffiti-esque brushstrokes are reminiscent of Basquiat and Picasso, but the works exude their own particular energy – despite these impressive comparisons, they stand completely on their own.

Insider Series: Resident Artist Tom Hsu

Burrard Arts—April 25, 2019

Tom Hsu’s photography makes concrete ephemeral and fleeting moments – memories that, undocumented, would have disappeared forever. His images focus on places and people, but not in careful or formally composed arrangements, often showing fragments of buildings or objects casually laid out in space. The people in his work are caught mid-action, engaged in interaction or the energetic high of a night out.

The photographs exist in a fascinating limbo: frozen in time, they communicate stillness, yet seem stolen from fast-paced lives. On the surface, many of the scenes he captures are commonplace, and yet seem infused with a special significance; it reminds one of looking back through the lens of memory, settings charged with special meaning by the experiences that transpired there. Hsu has worked in both portraiture and fashion photography, and these influences are visible in his practice, imbued with a warmth and human touch.

This interest in memory is central to Hsu’s practice; the lingering over of shared moments long after they have passed. “The camera is almost like a time machine,” he says. To Hsu, the holding of memory and image are part of his lineage; he describes how his grandfather grew up in Taiwan, with little in the way of material possessions, but retained a wealth of memories and images with which to craft a family history. After Hsu’s parents moved to Canada, these memories remained, a shared experience even when their family is physically apart.

During and after completing his BFA in Photography at Emily Carr University, Hsu has gone from shooting strictly black-and-white and developing in the darkroom, to working in colour and now printing in large-format inkjet. The progression has clearly trained his eye well. There’s a close attention paid to light and texture in his works, whether it’s empty wine glasses against a white tablecloth or the geometric shadows cast by doorways and entrances. He looks at the human form with that same critical eye; his portraits not only capture their subjects’ physical attributes, but suggest their physicality.

For his upcoming BAF Gallery show ‘Here, under our tongue’, Hsu creates an immersive environment inspired by his works. In combination with the actual photographs, he will display evocative artifacts and keepsakes collected over the course of this Vancouver artist residency, such as curtains from his high-school darkroom, and the shaved-ice machine used in his grandfather’s ice shop when he was growing up. Lighting and audio components will allow visitors to physically experience the unique atmosphere that’s depicted in his photos – creating a multisensory experience that remains true to his unique vision.

See the results of Tom Hsu’s time in the Burrard Arts Foundation’s Vancouver artist residency program in his BAF Gallery solo show, running from August 9th to September 22nd, 2018. Learn more about Hsu’s practice at tomhsu.com.

Alex Tedlie-Stursberg explores the constantly flowing streams of interactions and transactions that make up our society in a practice that combines sculpture, assemblage and collage. Interested in the “bottom end of the market”, Tedlie-Stursberg’s works tend to incorporate what might be bluntly referred to as garbage – not just waste and discarded objects, but actual earth and soil. The finished works exude an eccentric, fantastical energy, seeming to come neither from the future nor the past, but perhaps an alternate timeline or dimension. This humour and irreverence characterizes Tedlie-Stursberg’s practice; in the past, he has created video art from a Ron Perlman movie and a mock campfire from found objects. 

With ‘That mountain is a good listener’, Colleen Brown expands her sculpturally-focused practice in unconventional new directions, drawing inspiration from such surprising sources as weather reports and hobbyist landscape painting to comment on the inevitable gap between representational art and the material experience to which it alludes. Extending the two-dimensional components of the works with gestural and sculptural elements, she seeks to achieve a balance of gesture, image, object, and symbol.

Read on to gain deeper insight into the show directly from the artist, and be sure to join us for the opening reception on Thursday, May 31st at 7PM.

Myfanwy Macleod explores history, violence and colonialism in The Butcher’s Apron, the first work in a new ten-year project of annually commissioned works by the Burrard Arts Foundation installed at The Polygon Gallery’s new North Vancouver location.

The evolution of Presentation House Gallery, The Polygon Gallery represents an exciting new space in which to continue the organization’s exhibition program, which focuses on situating contemporary Canadian art in an international and historical context with an emphasis on photography. On The Polygon’s first floor, which is open and publicly accessible, the BAF will install a new public artwork annually over the next ten years.

Macleod’s work, The Butcher’s Apron, addresses the complicated histories behind the creation of Greater Vancouver as we know it today. Lying on unceded Coast Salish territories, the region remains a contested site fraught with racial, class, and institutional tension. The sculpture is a scale model of the HMS Discovery, the naval vessel captained by George Vancouver that led to the first contact between the European crew and captain and the region’s Indigenous inhabitants.

The Butcher’s Apron depicts the ship long after its arrival in what is now Vancouver, when it had been adapted to serve another role – housing the city’s convict population. The vessel was moored and two levels were added so that it could serve as a makeshift prison. Even the name of the ship speaks to its troubled history – today, the term ‘discovered’ is insensitive in light of the suffering endured by Indigenous peoples post-contact. The name of the finished work also references the violence of colonialism: ‘The Butcher’s Apron’ is a derogatory Irish term for the Union Jack flag, describing not only its blood-streaked appearance, but the bloodshed that occurred in countries under British rule.

The Butcher’s Apron fits into Macleod’s larger practice of photography, painting, and large-scale installations. Within Vancouver, she is known for ‘The Birds’, her large public art commission in Olympic Village. Her works expose the overlapping and intersecting of pop culture, art history, and folk tradition, drawing parallels between how art and mass media are created, circulated, and consumed.

See Macleod’s work The Butcher’s Apron until Autumn 2018 at The Polygon Gallery, 101 Carrie Cates Crescent in North Vancouver.

For this iteration of In Conversation, BAF speaks to Vancouver-based artist residency program participant Karen Zalamea. With a primarily photography-based practice, Zalamea’s intricate compositions explore the play of light and matter in space. To create her BAF Gallery show, ‘When the sun rises, we keep the fire aflame’, Zalamea worked from source material shot in a variety of locations across North America. She manipulated the photographs by printing on silk, canvas, and other unconventional materials, then experimented with cutting, folding, and collaging them. The finished show represents the development of exciting new directions in Zalamea’s practice. 

The Burrard Arts Foundation’s newest public art installation explores global histories of nuclear power – histories that are often shrouded in mystery and danger. In partnership with Capture Photography Festival and InTransit, we are proud to unveil ‘Proving Ground, Nevada, Vancouver’, a new work by Erin Siddall. The first of a recurring BAF commission at the Broadway-City Hall Canada Line station, the photographic public art project is accompanied by a sculptural work to be displayed at BAF Gallery from March 22nd to May 12th, 2018.

The sculptural and photographic works both investigate uranium glass, which was commonly used to make dishware and other novelty items before the Second World War. Often distributed by companies as free perks to their customers in the 1930s, uranium was used to give the glass a yellow or acid-green tint. Recalling a time before radiation was associated with conflict and destruction, the items’ radioactivity is revealed only when they fluoresce green under UV light.

For the public installation, Siddall photographed uranium dishes from her personal collection at a former protest camp in Nevada, near the Mercury Nuclear Testing site. During the Cold War, anti-nuclear demonstrations and encampments occurred here. Siddall photographs the dishes both individually, propped up on rocks as if set down by the protesters who once inhabited this space, and grouped in circular arrangements evoking ritual and incantation. The images shot on location are interspersed with photographs taken in her Vancouver studio, which highlight the dishes’ otherworldly fluorescence against a dark background.

In Conversation: Virginie Lamarche

Burrard Arts—May 1, 2019

FOTOFILMIC17 marks the third consecutive year that BAF Gallery has hosted the Vancouver stop of this travelling group photographic exhibition. Based on Bowen Island, the organization has broadened their focus in that time to include multiple sub-exhibitions, their PULP Gallery location, and a printed photo-book. The exhibition will also be stopping in Paris, France; Thessaloniki, Greece; and New York City. 

Karen Zalamea’s works both epitomize and transcend their medium. Through compositions that focus on the interaction of light and surface, the newest participant in our Vancouver artist residency program explores the fundamental nature of matter in space, essentializing materials to the way they fold, drape, crumple and reflect.

Her photographs diverge from the notion of the medium as record; a function that is ever more omnipresent in our age of constant digital documentation. In fact, it is not immediately obvious that many of the works are photographs at all. They seem to document a conceptual state of being, erasing the imperfect nature of the tactile materials that went into their creation.

With ‘meatspace’, BAF Artist Residency program participant Brendan Lee Satish Tang departs strikingly from previous work, creating a series of abstract, geometrical three-dimensional structures out of wood and foam core. The works are as open to interpretation as they are compelling, calling up biological, digital, and human-constructed forms. This ambiguity also presents exciting new territory for the artist.

Lucien Durey is interested in things, places, and people. Throughout his prolific body of work, the common thread is an examination of how humans leave their mark on the places they inhabit, and the objects they accrue – collecting, eroding, infusing them with secret meaning.

For Durey’s most recent exhibition, the Eternal Return group show at the Richmond Art Gallery, he repurposed colourful glass fragments pulled from historical, geographic and personal contexts. Using metal and rope, he reimagined them into large, mobile-like sculptures that were presented alongside a series of vocal performances. By blending fragments of complex origin into new forms, then creating music in their honour, Durey mythologizes these diverse histories, and plays into the show’s theme as stated by curator Sunshine Frère – the “cyclical repetition of all things and situations throughout time”.

In Conversation: Resident Artist Tom Hsu

Burrard Arts—April 24, 2019

How did your time in the BAF Residency Program impact the creation of this show? In what directions did it lead your practice? 

In Conversation: Kim Kennedy Austin

Burrard Arts—June 29, 2019

In ‘You, Only Better’, Kim Kennedy Austin examines vintage magazine illustrations and their message of self-improvement during the capitalist boom of the post WWII-era. Pulled from 1960s copies of Western Homes and Living magazine and a 1946 workout manual titled ‘Figure Fitness in Fifteen Days: Your Rx for Slenderness’, the characters in the clippings Austin has chosen cheerily model an affluent, heteronormative, patriarchal lifestyle; one that’s presented to the reader as not only desirable, but attainable in just a few simple steps. In this interview, we asked Austin about the inspiration, thematic ideas, and artistic processes behind this show. 

Art and craft, history and modernity, form and function, East and West – the work of new resident artist Brendan Tang breathes in the balance between opposing forces. Shown and collected around the world, his work demonstrates a rare capability to be as conceptually complex as it is viscerally appealing.

 

Partially motivated by his own ‘ethnically ambiguous’ background, a central concern of Tang’s practice is hybridity: the strange new entities that form when cultures, eras, and art-forms clash. He has primarily worked in the medium of ceramic, historically associated more strongly with craft and decoration than the academy of fine art.

His 2016 body of work ‘Manga Ormolu’ explored hybridity alongside cultural appropriation – specifically, its role in the historically racist Western concept of ‘the Orient’. The Ormolu from which the show draws its name are historic Chinese ceramic vessels, which the French would bring back from China, then adorn with opulent gold accents. These objects would be gifted to European aristocrats as curiosities taken from the ‘Far East’ – an amalgamation of Asian countries in the Western eye. Tang takes these objects, already the result of early globalization, and brings them to a contemporary, and even absurdist place, by mashing them up with robot prostheses inspired by manga and anime.

Manga, like the gilded decorations the French added to these Eastern artifacts, also acts as an Orientalizing entry point to Japanese culture for many North Americans. However, the socio-cultural dialogue Tang is initiating is more layered than that, subverting the elitism of historical high culture by integrating it with the hypermodern ephemera of pop culture and science fiction.

 

Even when Tang works in other mediums, the decorative arts remain prominent. In his 2012 series ‘Swimmers’, the artist references the blue-and-white pattern that has appeared on ceramics from the Chinese Ming Dynasty to the Netherlands. Tang reimagines the pattern as designs on the surface of a pool of water from which pairs of figures emerge. By using this cultural iconography to create a visual metaphor, Tang is evoking the “fish out of water” sensation of culture shock. His choice to represent groups of figures, many of which could be viewed as parent and child, alludes to the social nature in which culture is constructed; it’s not hard-wired, but learned.

 

For his residency now taking place at BAF Gallery, Brendan Tang will again re-situate motifs from the decorative arts into new contexts. For the upcoming January show, Tang’s initial inspiration was the curvilinear cloud motif found in Chinese ceramics and scroll paintings, and also reminiscent of the French Nouveau style. The artist will use the BAF space to create an experimental installation that imagines these cloud forms in three dimensions, modified with technological elements, playing out the themes that characterize his work while creating an entirely new experience.

See the results of Brendan Tang’s residency in his BAF Gallery show from January 11th to March 10th, 2018.

 

Wandering though Emily Neufeld’s ‘Before Demolition’ conjures up the specific, almost uncomfortable feeling of finding oneself alone in a home that is not yours. Neufeld gained permission to explore houses set to be demolished, then created photographs, sculptures, and site-specific interventions using these intimate experiences as raw material. She displayed the photographs at life-size on the gallery walls, alongside interventions reminiscent of the ones she conducted in these homes, and vaguely humanlike structures created from materials gleaned from these sites. The final effect is an eerie, illusory immersive environment that explores how our bodies interact with space, and speaks to the loaded topic of the current Vancouver housing market. 

For this iteration of In Conversation, BAF spoke to Neufeld about this body of work and how it fits into her greater artistic practice.

Scott Billings’ artistic practice is marked by a material ingenuity. An engineer and industrial designer as well as a visual artist, it’s clear that for Billings, these concerns exist symbiotically. Creating sculptures and video installations that centre around issues of animality, mobility and spectatorship, Billings often makes use of industrial techniques – in the past he’s employed rare earth magnets, laser pointers, IMAX film, and custom circuitry. For his Façade 2017 project, Billings will use 3D scanning and printing to create a scale model of the Vancouver Art Gallery, then record it being physically damaged and manipulated. Projecting this back onto the enormous structure will create an illusory material experiment on a monumental scale.

Façade Festival Insider Series: Paul Wong

Burrard Arts—June 29, 2019

With a career spanning four decades, Paul Wong has been an instrumental proponent to contemporary art in Canada. Often with an element of narrative, much of his work is site-specific or video-based. An award-winning artist and curator, Wong has led public arts policy, organized festivals and public interventions, and been a founding member of groups including VIVO Media Arts and the Mainstreeters collective. His works have been collected internationally, by institutions including the National Gallery of Canada and Whitney Museum of American Art. He is the recipient of major awards including the 2015 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Art and the 2016 Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts. His Façade Festival 2017 project will shine a light on a piece of recent Vancouver history many would prefer to forget: the 2011 Stanley Cup Riots. 

From Five Octave Range, a free public artwork designed by Paul Wong for the 2017 Vancouver Opera Festival.

Annie Briard’s work explores the fragility of the real. Although the world we experience may give the illusion of being fixed, objective, impartial, it’s more fallible than that, an image painted impressionistically by the senses. It’s in this ambiguity that Briard finds inspiration – vision, perception, and where they diverge, in the form of hallucination or illusion. She works in video, photography, and installation to create works that explore how we construct our own reality, all with the hazy aura of a fading memory. 

Blending the tangible and ephemeral to haunting effect, Ben Skinner’s practice is equally informed by curiosity about the nature of language and fascination with the varied materials he works in. His text works play humorously on the subjectivity inherent in communication; pictured below is a piece from his ‘Pangram’ series, which showed absurdist phrases that use every letter of the alphabet. He has made use of materials including mirror, holographic foil, plexiglass, and water marbling, carefully choosing colours including Klein blue and dusty pastels. His projection mapped project for Façade Festival explores the complexities of linguistic nuance with a string of synonyms that gradually digress in meaning. 

Beautifully chosen colour and proportion achieve a delicate balance in the works of Fiona Ackerman. Many of her works are completely abstract, but she has also brought representation into her works with series centred around artists’ studios and garden environments. Beyond the mesmerizing aesthetics of her paintings often lays a philosophical inspiration – her 2012 mirror series referenced Foucault, while her 2014 piece Dreams of Zhang Zhou alludes to the famous story of the 4th-century Chinese thinker dreaming that he is a butterfly. Her playful, yet masterfully rendered works exude a deep respect for the discipline of painting.  

Luke Ramsey brings a simple, almost childlike style to all of his illustration, collaborations, and murals. His works depart from the most basic elements of visual art: line, colour, and shape. Using a bright, likeable palette to depict friendly characters, scenes from nature, or doodle-inspired lines, his works are equally suited to small-scale drawings and large public installations. He has been featured in Booooooom, the New York Times, Vice, and more, and founded the Island Folds residency on Pender Island in 2005. His Façade Festival 2017 project epitomizes and yet simplifies his practice, covering the Vancouver Art Gallery in quickly evolving squiggles that reference the politically loaded gesture of graffiti-writing. 

 

“I would like to take this opportunity to endorse the candidacy of Mr. Peanut for mayor of Vancouver. Mr. Peanut is running on the art platform, and art is the creation of illusion. Since the inexorable logic of reality has created nothing but insoluble problems, it is now time for illusion to take over. And there can only be one illogical candidate: Mr. Peanut.”

-William S. Burroughs

On Saturday, November 15th (fittingly, civic election day in Vancouver) BAF in partnership with Wil Aballe Art Projects presented a one-day pop-up exhibition of work by Vancouver artist Vincent Trasov, commemorating his 1974 mayoral campaign as Mr. Peanut. As part of the exhibition, BAF also created a very limited run of prints featuring the original campaign posters used for the election, remastered and printed in an edition of ten (see below.)

Forty years ago, Trasov ran for mayor of Vancouver dressed as his adopted top-hatted and cane-carrying alter-ego, Mr Peanut. His was an art-centric platform: P for Performance, E for Elegance, A for Art, N for Nonsense, U for Uniqueness, and T for Talent. He made no speeches or lofty claims to political reform but rather tap-danced his way into the hearts of voters in an absurd and clever campaign. He didn’t win the election (ultimately receiving approximately 4% of the vote; incumbent Art Phillips took office) but his twenty-day performance attracted a surplus of media and the consideration of City Hall, while bringing Vancouver art and politics to national and international attention. The performance was notably featured in Esquire and Interview magazine.

The show, celebrating the campaign’s 40 year anniversary and hosted in a currently-in-transition condo development by the Cambie Street Bridge, featured footage from the 1974 civic election, video of Trasov as Mr Peanut in New York and a collection of Trasov’s drawings of the character made over several years. The drawings (small, pen and ink compositions) illustrate the artist’s fantasies of Mr Peanut playing the doctor, painter, adventurer, traveller, posing provocatively in historical ruins et cetera. Trasov adopted his character in 1969 at a time when a generation of young artists were taking aliases to complement conceptual practices that emphasized performance, repetition, absurdity and chance. Trasov was purportedly attracted to the image of Mr. Peanut (the advertising logo and mascot of the American snack brand Planters) “because it was easy to draw.” He constructed a paper mache costume and embodied the shelled character about town as a means to explore persona, anthropomorphism, and mythology through performativity.

Trasov was a founding member of the Western Front in 1973 (along with seven other artists: Martin Bartlett, Mo van Nostrand, Kate Craig, Henry Greenhow, Glenn Lewis, Eric Metcalfe and Michael Morris) who opened the centre for the production and presentation of new art activity. They aimed to create a space for the exploration and creation of new art forms, and it quickly became a gathering place for poets, dancers, musicians and visual artists interested in exploration and interdisciplinary practices. As a focal point of experimental art practice through the 1970’s and 80’s, the Western Front played a major role in the development of electronic and networked art forms in a national and international context. In 1969, Trasov founded the Image Bank with Michael Morris, a system of postal correspondence between international artists for the exchange of information and ideas. “It was a forerunner to Facebook,” Morris said. “It was an early social network.” The intention of the Image Bank was to create a collaborative, process-based project in the hopes of engendering a shared creative consciousness. In 1991, Trasov and Morris founded the Morris/Trasov Archive, currently housed at Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery to research contemporary art and communication.

Trasov has had numerous international exhibitions and is represented in public and private collections in both Europe and North America. He presently resides and works in Berlin and Vancouver. Concurrently, Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery and the Walter C. Koerner Library at the University of British Columbia has an exhibition of artifacts from the campaign at Koerner Library, 1958 Main Mall. It will run until January 4, 2015.

The exhibition was made possible in partnership with the Burrard Arts Foundation and with generous assistance by Port Capital Group.

 

Insider Series: Kate Metten

Burrard Arts—October 11, 2019

Insider Series: Ryan Quast

Burrard Arts—October 15, 2019

In Conversation: Chris Eugene Mills

Burrard Arts—July 24, 2019

In Conversation: Scott Billings

Burrard Arts—July 11, 2019

Insider Series: Emily Hermant

Burrard Arts—July 2, 2019

Insider Series: Scott Billings

Burrard Arts—June 7, 2019

In Conversation: Charlene Vickers

Burrard Arts—May 16, 2019

Insider Series: Resident Artist Holly Schmidt

Burrard Arts—April 12, 2019

In Conversation: Resident Artist Birthe Piontek

Burrard Arts—April 23, 2019

In Conversation: Rafael Soldi

Burrard Arts—

The Garage: Call For Proposals

Burrard Arts—

Insider Series: Resident Artist Birthe Piontek

Burrard Arts—

In Conversation: Resident Artist Tyler Toews

Burrard Arts—

In Conversation: Michael Batty

Burrard Arts—April 24, 2019

An Exciting New Chapter for the Burrard Arts Foundation

Burrard Arts—

In Conversation: Tom Hsu

Burrard Arts—April 12, 2019

Insider Series: Resident Artist Tyler Toews

Burrard Arts—April 24, 2019

Insider Series: Resident Artist Tom Hsu

Burrard Arts—April 25, 2019

In Conversation: Alex Tedlie Stursberg

Burrard Arts—

In Conversation: Colleen Brown

Burrard Arts—

Public Art Insider Series: Myfawnwy Macleod

Burrard Arts—

In Conversation: Resident Artist Karen Zalamea

Burrard Arts—

Public Art Insider Series: Erin Siddall

Burrard Arts—

In Conversation: Virginie Lamarche

Burrard Arts—May 1, 2019

Insider Series: Karen Zalamea

Burrard Arts—

In Conversation: Brendan Lee Satish Tang

Burrard Arts—

Insider Series: Lucien Durey

Burrard Arts—

In Conversation: Resident Artist Tom Hsu

Burrard Arts—April 24, 2019

In Conversation: Kim Kennedy Austin

Burrard Arts—June 29, 2019

Insider Series: Brendan Tang

Burrard Arts—

In Conversation: Emily Neufeld

Burrard Arts—

Façade Festival Insider Series: Scott Billings

Burrard Arts—July 19, 2019

Façade Festival Insider Series: Paul Wong

Burrard Arts—June 29, 2019

Façade Festival Insider Series: Annie Briard

Burrard Arts—

Façade Festival Insider Series: Ben Skinner

Burrard Arts—

Façade Festival Insider Series: Fiona Ackerman

Burrard Arts—

Façade Festival Insider Series: Luke Ramsey

Burrard Arts—

Life was politics in the last decade, life will be art in the next decade

Burrard Arts—June 27, 2019

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