Bryce Kanbara says he can’t take sole credit for winning a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.
The Hamilton artist and curator says he shares the honour with all of the collaborators who have influenced his wide-ranging body of work.
The Canada Council for the Arts named the eight artists Tuesday who will each receive a $25,000 prize in recognition of their creative excellence.
In the citation for the Outstanding Contribution Award, nominator Shelley Niro praised Kanbara for using his visual talents to “make the city a culturally exciting, inviting and vibrant place to live” since 1970.
But Kanbara, whose work spans painting, sculpture and printmaking, says he draws as much inspiration from the community as he gives back through public art projects.
The curator/chair of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre’s arts committee says his practice is shaped by the connections he’s cultivated with various communities and creatives over the years.
And while he may be the one receiving a medallion, the 73-year-old says the awards acclaim is as much theirs as it is his.
“In doing what I do, I meet so many artists who I admire so much … Most of them have a tough time just persevering,” Kanbara said in a phone interview ahead of Tuesday’s announcement.
“In a lot of ways, I feel privileged that I’ve been able to do what I do to give them a hand.”
Kanbara’s penchant for collaboration dates back to 1970, when he was a founding member of Hamilton Artists, Inc., which is believed to be one of Canada’s first artist-run centres.
He has held curatorial positions at the Burlington Art Centre, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant and Toronto’s Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre.
He’s served in leadership roles at a number of cultural organizations, including the National Association of Japanese Canadians, the Ontario Arts Council and the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion.
Kanbara has long been committed to making art more accessible, often through public installations. For example, his recurring exhibit “The Shadow Project” commemorates the 1945 atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by inviting participants to draw chalk outlines of one another on the ground.
In 2003, he became the curator and proprietor of Hamilton’s You Me Gallery. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kanbara built a wall in the middle of the gallery so the art would be easier to view through the window.
While his Japanese-Canadian heritage has always figured largely in his work, Kanbara recently became involved in a series of photography projects with the Muslim, Hindu and Indigenous communities in an effort to bridge cultural divides.
“They’re projects that just arise, from my perspective, out of a necessity to make these kinds of connections and improve communications and interactions with people,” said Kanbara.
“I’ve always felt that even with my personal art … community gives what I do a framework that I can feel comfortable working within.”
Kanbara said he plans to direct some of his prize money to maintain a property where his father lived in a Japanese village, which he makes available to other Japanese-Canadians and artists.
Also among this year’s Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts honourees is Saidye Bronfman Award winner Lou Lynn, a Winlaw, B.C.-based artist who specializes in glass and metal sculptures.
The Artist Achievement Award winners are:
— Yellowknife-based Inuk artist Germaine Arnaktauyok
— Lori Blondeau, a Cree/Saulteaux/Métis artist from Saskatchewan
— Dempsey Bob, a Terrace, B.C.-based carver who draws from the traditional style of Tahltan-Tlingit sculptural art
— Bonnie Devine, a Toronto installation artist, whose work is influenced by Anishinaabe traditions
— Cheryl L’Hirondelle, an interdisciplinary artist of “Cree/Halfbreed and German/Polish” ancestry, according to her biography
— Montreal media artist Luc Courchesne
In a statement, Simon Brault, director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts, said this year’s winners include a record number of First Nations, Inuit and Metis artists.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021.
Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
The Agnes Etherington Art Centre reopens to the public – Queen's Journal
After Kingston moved back to the green zone, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre reopened to the public on Feb. 20with a maximum capacity of 41.
In an interview with The Journal, Kate Ducharme, visitor services assistant, described the process of reopening with social distancing protocols.
“We’re a very safe space, and visitors really adhere to our guidelines and I think they’re just excited to be able to come and experience art again,” she said.
According to Ducharme, the reduced capacity in the art centre allows for a more intimate viewing experience.
“It’s a huge change, and you do feel that change when you’re in the galleries. Most times you’re in the galleries with just yourself or with the household that you’re with, which also allows for a real personal experience with the exhibitions.”
Ducharme is excited about the reopening and looks forward to seeing people enjoy the experience of viewing art in-person again.
“It’s wonderful to be able to share those experiences with people,” Ducharme said. “We have a collection of 17,000 pieces, so there’s lots to share. There are new exhibitions from visiting artists as well, so it’s a great opportunity to come in and check it out.”
Agnes staff members faced a challenge last spring when COVID-19 forced them to move online, but Ducharme said she’s proud of the work the team has accomplished.
“Virtual exhibitions and public programing all went online, so that was a huge shift for our staff. And a lot of that work is still going on, trying to make those exhibitions available because not everyone has the option to come in person,” she said.
For those unable to visit in person, Ducharme recommended taking advantage of the Agnes’ online resources, which include workshops, lectures, and tours.
Open Your Art launches Take-Out Art Kits – Brunswickan
Amidst lockdowns and lowering temperatures, it is gratifying to learn that quality recreation is still available and affordable in Fredericton. Open Your Art Fredericton has just launched a product that facilitates access to art materials, even for the greenest of novices. Handcrafted in-studio by talented ceramic instructors, Open Your Art promises you won’t be bored anymore in quarantine.
Take-out art kits have been around for a while, but now they are being produced and marketed for and by locals. Angela Black, Arts Educator and owner of Open Your Art, explains that the product is facilitating access to art expression for, “folks unable to come out to a studio for whatever reason.” She adds that the barriers imposed by Coronavirus protocols are easily overcome by creating the art takeout kits.
“We have learnt, working with many ‘vulnerable’ sectors, that attendance and access to transportation for example can be a real barrier to taking part in extracurricular activities,” said Black.
The kits come in various sizes and options for individuals, families, and teams. Open Your Art accords special privileges for “team” and “family” kits by providing live tutorials over Zoom with an instructor who will guide and inspire your first steps.
“The kit itself is a reusable container that gets returned to the studio once your piece is finished. Everything is washed and reused as much as possible. The kit contains a range of underglazes for decorating your tumblers in line with individual or group taste as well as brushes and a manual,” Black explained.
“This product is literally flying off the shelves,” Angela Black said. “People are buying them five at a time sometimes. We have started selling them for birthday parties as well. The kits are very popular at $25 (plus tax), so we have decided that our next few options will be a bowl, wine cup, and wait for it – dog bowls.”
If you’re wondering what to do to liven things up at your next family get together, (virtual) office retreat, or even just one random Sunday afternoon, Open your Art kits may be a good option. The instructors have become quite proficient at hosting team building events. The prospect of teaching work enhancement skills in a positive, low-key environment sounds decidedly tempting.
Black expects the art kits to become even more popular as new options are constantly being developed to accommodate everyone. According to her, the company is all for inclusion.
The Art of Clanny Mugabe | The Journal – Queen's Journal
Clanny Mugabe is a second-year student in the faculty of Arts and Sciences. She’s currently majoring in English and would describe herself as heavily inspired by world mythology, speculative fiction, and character design. She primarily draws digitally, and each digital painting often has a spiritual/mythological element to it.
“This is a digital painting with the simple goal of portraying an ambiguous black person with a regal air, to contradict the normative stereotypes of black people that portray them in a less than dignified light. The gold is used because its associated with riches and royalty. The word Ulysses is the latinized form of the name Odysseus, who is a figure of Greek/roman mythology that was known for his nobility and intelligence.”
Celebrities as Greek Gods
“Greek mythology is something that has inspired me a lot throughout my life, and the legacy of Greek/Roman mythology and ancient Greek/Roman civilization is still celebrated today. So, I felt like inserting black people into that mythology because history is very whitewashed; we are not educated on non-European civilizations often, and ancient Greece and Rome is very whitewashed in the public consciousness even though they were diverse empires whose art history and mythology have roots in the Middle East and Africa.”
“I had always imagined what the world would look like if European colonization never happened, and I specifically wondered about what aspect of culture would be changed, specifically culture we take for granted, like fashion. This line of speculation was encouraged by Black Panther, and the costume design of the movie inspired this series and was referenced. So last year I designed several pieces of fashion mostly inspired by African fabrics, African fashion, futuristic aesthetics and film costume design.”
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