Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Frames and More

(from left to right): Lucas Seaward, Carol Breen, Rose Nickel, Florence Weber, Barb Howe (featured artist Rudy Pongo is missing from the photo)

A Great New Space to View Art

This past Friday, October 29, 2010, I had the privilege of attending the private opening of Frames and More. Now some of you may be thinking that Frames and More has always had artist’s works on display, and this is true however, the store now has a new space. Prior to this show, Frames and More consisted of one room in the front which served as a store selling works of art and frames, and a private work space in the back for the employees. Due to a lack of space and the desire to showcase as much local talent as possible, the storefront's walls were completely covered with art works; there were works leaning up against one another in piles on the floor and nary an inch between the works on the walls. Within this overcrowding it was easy for a viewer to think that the space had no apparent format for display or distinction between artists. This overcrowding is no more! Due to some construction and some real gumption, there are two new spaces available. This expansion provides additional wall space and thus dignity to each work, allowing viewers to spend time with one piece at a time, without having their attention stolen by the art next to it. This inaugural show highlighted works from five local artists; Carol Breen, Barb Howe, Rose Nickel, Rudy Pongo and Lucas Seaward. These five artists covered many mediums from acrylic paints and water colour, to glass mosaics and wood working.

When entering the gallery you are met by a collection of Lucas Seaward’s of large scale graphite drawings, as well as some beautifully made ceramics from Barb Howe and Rose Nickel. Seaward's body of work depicts various endangered species in photo realism. I was particularly taken by his sensitivity to detail and ability to render water in motion. Seaward is able to give his subjects a visible tactile quality. The fur of the Polar Bear and Lion seem to sit delicately on their host, appearing to almost shift in an imaginary wind or in response to a viewer’s movement. His rendering of the skin on an elephant's ears and hide, create the illusion that your fingers would dance and bump along the surface should you reach out to touch them. This rich texture is a nice dichotomy to his material of choice; slick smoothly applied powdered graphite.

Above: One of Seawards drawings.

Once you’ve visited with the menagerie in the front room you step through into the in-between or the atrium gallery which acts as a bridge between the front gallery and the new additon. This space is small, with the majority of the works hung above eye level; making viewing them it a bit of a challenge. The atrium housed the paintings of Rudy Pongo. I found Pongo’s work to be a bit rudimentary in subject and his handling of  materials. The brushmarks felt tentative, and slightly laboured giving each piece an overworked feeling. The lasting impression from these works was that  a majority of the photograph inspirations were not his own, and that the subjects were chosen for a base to study material and technique. These works read as practice pieces for an artist exploring realism and acrylics. I would like to see more from Pongo as his practice progresses.

So as not to spoil the fun of discovering this great little gallery space and the works within, I will leave a small interview I had with the gallery owner Florence Weber.

Let me know if you have stopped in to see the gallery yet and if so what you thought of the works, what did you like, dislike, what would you like to see more of?



Interview with Florence Weber
  • What prompted you to open up the extra room and start having shows?
    • We were excited to open up the extra room for the simple reason of having more space to showcase the surprising amount of artistic talent that is in our Municipality.
  • How did this first show come to fruition?
    • Very quickly! Lucas Seaward showed us his artistic portfolio and we were so excited about his art (17 original graphite drawings) that we decided an art show displaying all of his pieces would be the best way to introduce him to our city. From the initial catalyst we worked quickly to organize the show, drawing on the experience of local artist Carol Breen.
  • Does the gallery have a name? Or is it the same as the store, or do all three spaces have different names?
    • The new expanded room is named ‘Carol’ honouring Carol Breen. The large gallery area is “The Great Gallery!”, actually, it doesn’t have a designated name.
  •  Are you planning to have a regular calendar for shows in the space?
    • Our goal is to host four shows per year 
  • Will there be a curator for each show, or do the artists hang their work according to their own preferences?
    • I am the curator for the shows.
  • How will you choose which art to showcase in the space?
    • Our shows are exclusive to the local artists of Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. 
  •  How would you gage community support for the gallery?
    • This current show has shown outstanding support from the community for our gallery. A common response to our art show has been that it is so valuable to have a gallery that is dedicated to showcasing the local talent of McMurray. The community is excited to have ongoing events that honour the arts in McMurray.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Connor, yes I also had the privilege to view this show! It's amazing how beautiful and uncluttered the space looked. A true transformation! And the appetizers were superb! Well done Florence and staff! It's great to see that more people who deal with art see the need for a place for local artists to show their work. The more the better. This will certainly help to create art awareness in this town! I also was thrilled by Lucas' works. What a talent. I have seen some of the artpieces of the other artists. Also to them: well done. And by the way: Rudy Pongo (without r) is a man from Indonesian/Dutch decent and I do think he paints from his own memory and or photographs. But I agree, Rudy can try to work more loosely, it will certainly give his artwork a more natural feel.

    Kind regards, Louise van Alenburg