ArtWalk sends off season with a bang!
VASA, library et al. offer visual cornucopia as 2012 season comes to a close
By: Scott Hayes
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 05, 2012 06:00 am
Thursday, Sept. 6
from 6 to 9 p.m.
13 different venues throughout the Perron District including:
• VASA at 25 Sir Winston Churchill Avenue (Hemingway Centre)
• Art Beat Gallery at 26 St. Anne Street
• Art Gallery of St. Albert at 19 Perron Street (plus its Satellite Studio at 15 Perron Street)
• St. Albert Place (including St. Albert Public Library, Musée Héritage Museum and WARES Store)
• Gemport at 11B St. Anne Street
• Crimson Quill Gifts at 8 Perron Street
• Concept Jewelry Design at 20 Perron Street
• St. Albert Constituency at 14 Perron Street
For some, it’s just another Thursday, right after the summer ends for all practical purposes and the school year starts up again.
For many others, September’s ArtWalk is one last big hurrah, another kick at the can, and a final glorious chance to revel in the city’s artistic landscape in an ever-broadening array of locations around the downtown core.
No one could be more pleased than Pat Wagensveld, the board president of the Visual Arts Studio Association, known more commonly as VASA.
The artist collective celebrated the beginning of the ArtWalk season in May with its final show at its former Perron Street location. Then its members packed up their bags and canvases to ring in a victory dance of sorts with its June show at its grand new headquarters located barely off of ArtWalk’s beaten path across Sir Winston Churchill Avenue from Grandin mall.
There were worries that the public wouldn’t walk an extra block to the former RCMP building. Attendance, while slower at the beginning, built up steam. More than 200 people caught that first show and Wagensveld said they all were comfortably accommodated in the larger space.
Now, she says, everything is peachy keen.
“We are thrilled,” she exclaimed. “We’re thrilled with the public’s response to coming to our space and exploring and their [comments] about what a beautiful space it is and wanting to hang out there. We’re just thrilled!”
There have been some glitches like public awareness, she admits that have contributed more to the struggle rather than the success of the location.
“I think we’re still not reaching all that we can. We’re not creating the buzz that we could. We have not got our signage on the building yet. We’ve hit a few potholes in the road … so that could be what’s hindering our buzz-ability.”
Regardless, the organization is in the middle of a modest boom, not just regarding the attendance to its shows but in its membership as well.
Despite the potholes, the road that VASA is on seems more like a freeway to bigger and better things, rather than a quiet side street. Its growing list of programs plus its upcoming show are strong pieces of evidence for this.
Here’s a look at what some locations have in store for the final installment of ArtWalk for 2012.
Diverse Energy at the Visual Arts Studio Association
Peg McPherson, Helen Rogers and Linda Willard don’t have much in common as artists except for one obvious detail: they are all members of VASA but none of them have studios at the organization’s new facility in the Hemingway Centre.
That doesn’t seem to bother them. In fact, they’re going to be getting some great use out of the centre for a month, starting tomorrow. The trio’s new show, Diverse Energy, will go far to highlight McPherson’s acrylic paintings, Rogers’ mixed media works and Willard’s raku pottery.
For her part, Willard has been waiting and working for this moment for a long time.
Her contributions to the show are mostly wall hangings rather than three-dimensional sculptures. The series, she says, is called Strength of Shadows and she’s been developing it exclusively for at least half a year.
“A lot of it is the power of the smoke that is permeated in the clay and the shadows that it forms,” she commented, describing her outdoor firing process. “They’re collages of pieces that are put together and then mounted on boards.”
Peg McPherson, on the other hand, sticks with high contrast acrylic paintings while Helen Rogers works in mixed media, most of which covers the gamut of the spectrum but not all of which is two-dimensional.
She doesn’t actually work with the end result in mind, she admits.
“Some of it is sculptural, and some of it is wall-mounted,” she began. “It’s often very, very colourful. I very rarely plan what I’m doing. A lot of it is intuitive. I play around with things and sometimes ideas just come from playing around with materials. Eventually I come up with something that seems to work.”
Her contribution to the show consists of 12 to 15 pieces, which already makes for a larger show than VASA could ever accomplish in the old Perron Street space, even before you combine that with what her show mates are bringing in. Now this is a gallery, these members finally seem to be saying. Here we can have decent-sized exhibits.
Willard added that she too loves the group’s new location.
“I’m very excited that VASA has the new Hemingway Centre. I’m just thrilled to death that the city has shared that with us.”
She continued to elaborate how it has been very well suited for the 20 or so painters who now have studio spaces. She mentioned the police car bay and former jail cells.
“Down the road when we open up a bit more of the centre, that’s maybe a perfect spot for people who do other work such as clay or glass work, other than painting. I think it holds a lot of potential to grow.”
The show opens tomorrow for ArtWalk from 6 to 9 p.m. The artists will be in attendance.
Diverse Energy runs until Sept. 29.
VASA is located in the Hemingway Centre at 25 Sir Winston Churchill Avenue. Call 780-460-5990 or visit www.vasa.ca for more information.
Art Beat Gallery has Randy Hayashi
The St. Anne Street gallery recently changed ownership but that hasn’t changed the site’s popularity, especially during ArtWalk. Although new owner Brigitte Strand wasn’t available for comment, framer Lorna Paterson said that she has seen some packed houses, especially when the talent on display is local.
“It started out quiet – May was quiet, and June was a bit better. The last one [with St. Albert painter Bev Bunker], they figured there were 300 people. It was really well attended.”
It’s been some time since Edmonton-based Hayashi had a show here and this time, he’s taking a different tack by working with photo and portrait-sized canvases.
“I have experimented with some smaller paintings this year in an attempt to complete some paintings in one sitting and to bring a little more spontaneity to the work … but I've always had a bigger piece on the go as well,” he stated. “I've also been experimenting more with urban and street scenes and have enjoyed exploring this subject matter and people’s reactions to recognizing these familiar places.”
“Alternating between landscapes and urban scenes, small and large paintings, I think, has been a good exercise for me.”
Hayashi’s works will be on display starting tomorrow and will stay up for September. The artist will be in attendance for the opening.
While at Art Beat, check out what’s on display for ArtWalk right across the street at Gemport. Marilynn Jeffery will be painting on site while a selection of her mixed media works will be on display.
Gemport is located at 26 St. Anne Street. For more information, call 780-459-3679 or visit www.artbeat.ab.ca.
The St. Albert Public Library has been one of the big new spots on the ArtWalk scene this year with live demonstrations and live classical music to accompany the culture lovers in attendance.
For September, the Mac Jazz Band will serenade visitors who stop to try their hands at paper flower crafts in the foyer of St. Albert Place. Alice Hrabec and Grace Taggart from the Floral Arts Guild will also be on hand to show attendees how to prepare floral arrangements. The WARES store will be open as well, in case anyone wants to pick up a nice, new, handmade local vase to put their works in.
Inside the library, three photographers’ works will be on display for the exhibit Down on the Farm, exploring Alberta’s farming communities. It will be on display for September.
The Art Gallery of St. Albert will be bringing in Linda J. Hawke, Linda McBain-Cuyler and Pam Weber for a special paint and fibre landscape exhibit called Patterns of Places. Check out the St. Albert Gazette’s website at www.stalbertgazette.com today for that story.