Various Exhibitions

various venues

In western Canada galleries and museums share with the artists the problem of how to make a living. Here as elsewhere the artists’ cooperative has

I offered a possible solution: the most hopeful development in Vancouver this season was, therefore, the formation of the Tempus Gallery by nine young painters who with boards and pebbles have transformed their basement quarters near the University into an effective and inviting display area.

The nine men are all fresh, aggressive painters, and their group shows fill their white walls with bold, vital canvases, none of which wholly succeed but all of which suggest promising directions of technical development by artists who evidently have something to say. Among one-man shows planned for Tempus in the coming year are Dave Mayrs’ de Kooning-like crude distorted figures and Ron Stonier’s low-keyed abstractions which suffer from a mechanical palette-knife technique but occasionally achieve an effective quiet color harmony.

To pass from the promising to the accomplished, Vancouver’s best one-man show this fall was Jack Shadbolt’s exhibition at the New Design Gallery. Shadbolt’s gouache and acrylic ink sketches were produced in periods of relaxation while the artist was at work on his large mural for the Edmonton (Alberta) airport, and they proved once again that casual studies are often more illuminating than the products of more deliberate concentration. His calligraphic experiments, both runic “scrolls” and scrawled sidewalk scribbles, opened yet another chapter in the perhaps too varied history of this artist’s development.

In March–April the New Design will show the latest canvas-on-canvas collages of Toni Onley. Fresh from a year of study in England, Onley is expected to return with a new collection of paintings in his typically warm, vibrant coloring. Also scheduled for 1964 are Reg Holmes and Herb Siebner one-man shows.

Probably the most vital contemporary art center in the province at the moment is Alvin Balkind’s Fine Arts Gallery at the University of British Columbia. Having recently acquired Toronto-born New York painter William Ronald’s Sun—in the face of considerable student objection—director Balkind in early February will provide Vancouver its first glimpse of American pop art trends, with thirteen paintings drawn from the Seattle collection of Mr. and Mrs. Bagley Wright. Rauschenberg, Warhol, Lichtenstein, Wesselman, Indiana and Jasper Johns will be on public view here for the first time.

Across the Georgia Straits Ego Interiors attempted to meet divided Victoria tastes while at the same time comprehensively exhibiting an artist who has worked in both representational and abstract idioms: Maxwell Bates’ October offering there of figurative paintings was followed by a November show of non-figurative work. Another painter who has rediscovered his original interest in landscape is John Korner, subject of Vancouver’s Alex Fraser Galleries’ best show this fall. Meanwhile, hard at work in the interior, is Zeljko Kujundzic, whose Kootenay School of Art at Nelson plans to open a public gallery soon. Kujundzic himself, decorative painter, printmaker and mosaicist, exhibits regularly at The Canvas Shack in Vancouver.

Of the two B.C. public institutions, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria showed more interest in contemporary painters this season, while in 1964 the balance will swing the other way, with the Vancouver Art Gallery expecting brilliant small shows of Art McKay of Regina and Guido Molinari of Montreal, as well as the Fifth Canadian Biennial, a reliable look at the nation’s current establishment painters along with a few new names. Roy Kiyooka provoked most interest in Victoria’s fall shows with a selection of recent collages. Kiyooka’s somewhat electric combination of hard-edge abstraction and Rothko-Louis horizontal color bands with more organic surface effects is successful only when his decisive sense of form is able to find some synthesis.

The autumn’s important historical shows were in Vancouver—a Lawren Harris Retrospective, eighty canvases from fifty years of the great elder statesman of Canadian art who still lives and paints in the city, and Of Ships and the Sea, a fine selection of marine painting 1600–1900 from American and Canadian collections. Of primary importance in the latter were a tempestuous Guardi (Storm at Sea, from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts), a late Turner (The Shipwreck, from the National Gallery of Canada) and a powerful Courbet (The Wave, from the Phoenix Art Museum); this most interesting show of the season also counted among its forty-two paintings Camille Pissarro’s Harbour, Dieppe, from the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. In February the Victoria Gallery will show its major art history exhibition this year (to be seen later in Vancouver as well), “Out of Doors, a Century of Landscape Painting, 1820–1920.”

The Vancouver Art Gallery “32nd Annual” provoked its customary controversy “des refusés.” A jury of three artists, Richard Ciccimarra of Victoria, Roy Kiyooka of Vancouver and Ken Lochhead of Regina (Saskatchewan) along with director Richard Simmins selected 35 works from the 450 submitted. Of those included Donald Jarvis’ two canvases were brilliant reminders that this hard-working artist is only today reaching the peak of his creative life. Donald Harvey of Victoria and Gordon Caruso of Vancouver also showed that they have recently achieved greater technical freedom and a resultant stronger statement. The annual exhibition suggested that current American trends of new realism, austere hard-edge formalism and pop art had to date made little impact on the Canadian west coast. A somewhat different impression, however, could be gained by visits to the studios of students and ex-students of the Vancouver Art School, and by anyone familiar with the newest names on the scene.

J. Barry Lord