Past connects to the present at VASA

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There’s a lot to be said for small town living: friendly neighbours, clean air, the notable absence of rush hour traffic …

Jake Joy Mulyk adds architecture to that list. The Calgary artist who has built her name on a longstanding admiration of all things inner city has completed a solid 180-degree turn, devoting herself to a new series offering visual representations of the small town.

“I’ve always lived in inner cities,” she began, listing off a series of city names including Edmonton, Vancouver and even Honolulu and Mexico City.

Eventually, she wanted to buy a house and thus led to her discovering the beauty and pleasure of Drumheller, a decidedly small town compared to the other metropolises of her life. She took an immediate liking to the atmosphere and the energy of the place. As one might imagine, the move made a huge shift in her artistic oeuvre too.

“I just learned so much. I understood much different aspects about small town, and that’s what came through in my artwork.”

It turns out that the house she bought was the former residence of a miner who left behind a trove of personal effects including a few albums of old photographs, many of which were from the 1920s and before. As an artist, she had already spent a few years taking photos of old buildings in the town.

She started to see a greater connection to the past. She made photo transfers and used acrylic paint, ink and wax to give some colour and new textures to these old scenes. Mixed media, she said, is the only way to represent place.

“It can’t be with one media because there’s so much layering of feeling. I used a mixture of mediums to convey that.”

The end result is a collection of a few dozen small works that come across as joyful and childlike while nostalgic and antique at the same time. Interestingly, she confessed that all of the images of structures are current but look like they could have existed in the time and place of the old photographs.

“Some people are going to think that they’re old but they’re not.”

Small Town Living is already on display and will feature an opening reception tomorrow evening from 6 to 9 p.m. The artist will be in attendance. The exhibit will run until Sat., Dec. 2.

Necyk makes tracks

Never one to rest on his laurels, St. Albert intermedia artist Brad Necyk has been on a hot streak of work recently but nowhere close to home.

For one thing, he is still completing a major project at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. There, he spends a week and a half at a time in one of the hospital units, then creating artworks from those experiences with patients afterward. Sometime this month, he will be showing this work in two exhibitions in that city.

Necyk also went south of the border to Pennsylvania this summer as part of an artist residency. In the new year, he will be going to Argentina, then Spain and then Finland for other residencies and exhibitions.

Also in 2018, the FLUX head and neck cancer art project (that he was involved with) will travel to Chicago’s International Museum of Surgical Sciences.

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Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.