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Art Gallery of St. Albert boasts three new exhibitions

The photography displays focus on diverse explorations of grief, skateboarding and plants

The Art Gallery of St. Albert is poised to have a very busy June and July with three new photography exhibitions to view. 

They are Jake Kimble’s Good Grief, Lexi Pendzich’s SKATE WORLD, and In Violet Light by April Dean and Taiessa.  

Good Grief, an eight-piece display, is in the gallery’s main floor Vault Gallery. Kimble is a multi-disciplinary artist currently living in Vancouver. The Chipewyan artist from Treaty 8 Territory practices photography creating self-portraits. Using himself as focal point, he explores his life experiences in the hopes of creating a better understanding of life. 

The visual artist’s grief was ignited in 2023 when his brother died in a tragic accident, and shortly afterwards, wildfires destroyed the lands and communities he grew up in. The overwhelming loss brought about an intense grief quite unlike any other emotion Kimble experienced. 

“This is the most sincere and honest work I’ve worked with. It’s not easy to be open and honest. He captures the whole complexity of grief. He’s not just sad. He misses his brother as a whole person. His grief is very powerful,” said Emily Baker, gallery curator. 

She adds that despite the powerful seriousness of the project, Kimble softens the edges with humour. For instance, one of his photographs is titled I’ve Never Been a Mourning Person.  

“The play on words is very inviting. It makes people feel welcome in this space, which is hard to share.”  

The Staircase Gallery leading to the main floor is reserved for two-dimensional works. Baker has lined the staircase’s walls with 32 photos from SKATE WORLD. In it, Pendzich documents the regional skateboarding community and her time with incredible women and LGBTQ+ people who lent their image, style and skill to the project. 

Carrying her own skateboard and a Bronica film camera, Pendzich connected with skaters of all levels from first-timers to lifelong enthusiasts. She developed a fascination for skateboarding as a teenager. Everything about the culture grabbed her attention – the design, the shape and function of boards, the tricks, the fashion statements, the athletics and the individual artistry. 

“She celebrates their stories, their styles, their aesthetics and skills.” 

In Violet Light, displayed on the second-floor Main Gallery, explores the relationship of the natural world through house plants. Strategically positioned throughout the gallery are creamy white plants made of felt sitting in vials, vases and jars – their roots exposed and vulnerable. 

The artists used stop-motion animation and photographs to suspend the “soft-sculpted plants” in an unknown, delicate place. 

April Dean explores house plants as symbols of separation from the natural world when brought into a home to simply decorate, soothe or brighten. For Dean, plants are completely generous offering their beauty while completely dependent on people to care and nurture their survival. 

Taiessa instead focuses more on the capitalist trade of plants. She examines variegations and plant mutations and how mutations can become highly prized by collectors willing to pay outrageous prices. 

Good Grief is open to the public until July 20. In Violet Light runs until July 17 and SKATE WORLD is up until August 3. 

A multi-exhibition reception of the three displays with artist talks takes place Thursday, June 13 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. 

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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