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Fur the love of beasties: Edmonton's rich tradition of animals in public art – Edmonton Journal

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The late, great Joe Fafard’s Royal Sweet Diamond (2001) on jasper Avenue.


Fish Griwkowsky / Postmedia

Permanent monuments to animals within Edmonton follow a long, long trail, going back to our beginnings.

Animal worship and awe emerges from Palaeolithic times — some of our first depictions of anything were simplifications in paint and chipped stone of the mysterious creatures around us.

Today’s Edmonton is no exception in having our own complicated set of sculptural animal mythologies, carved and cast creatures in wood, stone and bronze — even ice now that it’s winter — all easy to fall in love with. From the Chinese lions at Lucky 97 to the tucked-away beaver in Amiskwaskahegan (Beaver Hills House Park) to the burro downstairs in City Centre Mall, they’re everywhere … once you start looking for them.

What follows is a personal-favourites checklist of animal statues. From granite bears to iron bison to bronze pronghorns — to a landlocked whale at the end of a mall — our ecosystem of animals immortalized in sculptural public art is indeed enviable.


Joe Fafard’s Western Dancer (2004) on Jasper Avenue.

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10. Joe Fafard’s Western Dancer and Royal Sweet Diamond (11214 and 11204 Jasper Ave.) — These two realistically painted heavy-lifters — a horse and a bull — are a reminder of the area’s agricultural roots, the late Fafard’s work appearing cross-country over the years including outside the National Gallery and on a series Canadian stamps. Let’s not forget paskwamostos (1999), his flat bison sculpture out behind Shaw Conference Centre — completing this unofficial triptych.


Olle Holmsten’s Natural History Frieze (1967) at Glenora Building, the former RAM.

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9. Olle Holmsten’s Natural History Frieze (1967, Glenora Building, 12845 102 Ave.) — Basically a big sleepover of wonderful beasties on the east side of the former Royal Alberta Museum, this includes a mammoth, bear and bison. But it’s really the triceratops I’m crushing on here. Back in the ’60s Holmsten was paid $19,500 for this and a Human History frieze on the west side — but every cent of his prize money went to production, and was thus a true labour of love.


Robin Bell’s Open Sea (1985) in West Edmonton Mall.

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8. Robin Bell’s Open Sea (1985, West Edmonton Mall, Phase I, 8882 170 St.) — This would’ve ranked higher in its original spot before a sexy underwear store displaced it, when the whale still lived near the Ice Palace, and more appropriately in a fountain. Still, kudos to WEM for releasing this beloved interactive sculpture before I had to start a #savethewhale media campaign.


John Weaver’s The Pronghorns (1970) — currently hidden away inside the Glenora Building.

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7. John Weaver’s The Pronghorns at Glenora building (1970, 12845 102 Ave.) — Is something still public art if most people can’t actually get to it? The fate of the former Royal Alberta Museum is still unknown, but when asked, officials say so far the plan is to keep this incredible scene within the building (no promises). This one’s a local masterpiece — hope we can all access it again, as cattleman Ian Tyson puts it, someday soon. P.S., Weaver also made the Gretzky Statue.


Mary Anne Barkhouse’s Reign in (ÎNÎW) River Lot 118 Indigenous art park.

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6. Mary Anne Barkhouse’s Reign (2018, (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11) — This whole sculpture park is an incredible addition to the city, but my favourite piece is Barkhouse’s depiction of a hare and fox resting almost back to back. It’s a message of peace atop a band of dinosaur bones — reminding us where we all end up despite our struggles. Brilliant.


Lionel A.J. Thomas’ The Migrants (1957) sits on the east side of City Hall.

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5. Lionel A.J. Thomas’ The Migrants (1957, City Hall, 1 Sir Winston Churchill Sq.) — The outrage over this $16,000 modern sculpture of flying geese far exceeded panic attacks over Talus Dome. It was quickly dubbed Spaghetti Tree by haters, and even inspired a mocking novelty song. But now this gentle beauty sits with quiet dignity on the west side of City Hall, just a hop over from the Gretzky statue.


Earl Muldoe with Chester MacLean and Victor Mowat’s ‘Ksan Totem Pole (1983) at Glenora Building.

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4. Earl Muldoe (Gitxsan Master Carver) with Chester MacLean and Victor Mowat’s ’Ksan Totem Pole (1983, Glenora Building, 12845 102 Ave.) — Carved and raised for Universiade ’83, this red cedar log totem pole features Owl, Bear, Salmon, Raven and Frog (relating to the Gitxsan creation story), and Strong Man. You might remember WUGIE, Universiade’s owl mascot, but I like Owl here a little better — even if it didn’t get its own disco theme song pressed on 45.


Craig LeBlanc’s Henri (2010) won an international art award.

Fish Griwkowsky /

Postmedia

3. Craig LeBlanc’s Henri at Terwillegar Rec Centre (2011, 15204 23 Ave.): While there are a number of lions around town, this sleeping cat suspended in a net hammock is local artist Craig LeBlanc’s masterpiece, a subtle reminder that for all our running and heavy lifting, resting is as important a part of exercise as pushing it to the limit.


Roy Leadbeater’s 1968 Rod of Asclepius at U of A Hospital is technically untitled.

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2. Roy Leadbeater’s Untitled (1968, 112 Street entrance, University of Alberta Hospital, 8440 112 St.) — This heavy-metal party snake used to hang over at the Faculty of Medicine, its double helix, exploding Maple Leaf and hissing mouth making it look like a logo for an Marvel-movie evil corporation. Rediscovering this evocative Rod of Asclepius over at U of A Hospital was pure pleasure.


One half of Brandon Vickerd’s two-statue Wildlife (2015) at 10234 96 St.

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1. Brandon Vickerd’s Wildlife (2015, 10234 96 St.) — Philosophically, there’s just so much going on with these two humanoid figures made up of animals, hanging around day and night in the Quarters. Cast in bronze, Vickerd used taxidermy animals as models for his final sculptures, and they really do comment on how urban environments are an ever-rotating system of displacement for all animals, including us.

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Art Toronto art fair returns in person to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre – The Globe and Mail

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Maria Hupfield’s Truth Machine _ Lie Detector, 2017 (Galerie Hugues Charbonneau).Hugues Charbonneau

A year ago, on a dark October evening, Canadian art lovers got all dressed up, cracked open the Champagne, plated the nibbles and sat down at their computers to pretend they were attending the opening night of an art fair. Art Toronto, the annual fair that normally fills the Metro Toronto Convention Centre with 100 gallery booths and thousands of visitors, tried hard to offer a virtual version featuring viewing rooms and video interviews. There was a certain atmosphere – if you tried equally hard – but without the circulating crowds and the continuous chatter, it didn’t really feel like a fair.

This year, the chatter may be somewhat inhibited by masks but Art Toronto is back with an in-person event at the convention centre. More than 60 galleries are participating with physical booths as well as an online presence; another two dozen are offering simultaneous shows in their own premises for those who want to avoid any crowds.

You’ll need proof of vaccination to enter the convention centre and tickets are timed to the half-hour. Meanwhile, the swank opening-night preview, traditionally a fundraiser for the Art Gallery of Ontario, has been postponed until 2022.

Still, from Friday to Sunday, there will be real art in real physical spaces; for the digital skeptic or the neophyte collector, browsing is back.

Jason Baerg’s Oyasiwewina, The Law, 2021 (FAZAKAS Gallery).Fazakas

And from all this, there emerges a theme too: Indigenous art. About a third of participating galleries happen to be showing work by Indigenous artists, from veterans such as the Anishinaabe artist Rebecca Belmore to mid-career figures such as Maria Hupfield, an Anishinaabe artist now working in Brooklyn, N.Y., or the Toronto artist Jason Baerg, who is Cree and Métis and teaches at the Ontario College of Art & Design University. This is coincidental, reflecting the interests of Canadian gallerists and collectors, rather than any specific direction from Art Toronto. It is a trend that includes fair stalwarts such as Montreal dealer Pierre-François Ouellette who has shown work by Meryl McMaster and Kent Monkman for years and the arrival of more galleries that specialize in First Nations art including the Indigenous-owned K Art from Buffalo, N.Y., and Vancouver’s Ceremonial Art.

It also happens to dovetail with the fair’s panel on decolonizing public collections, moderated by National Gallery of Canada curator Greg Hill. That is an online event, one of a series of interviews and discussions that can be watched at home. You can also visit the exhibitors online: Their VR booths on the Art Toronto website will remain up for a week after the physical event closes.

Toronto’s Stephen Bulger Gallery offers a slice of normal – with a side of weirdness – at mini art fair

Another in-person option, however, is being offered by some of the participating galleries in Toronto who have banded together to produce a city-wide gallery week to coincide with the fair. Last year, photography dealer Stephen Bulger couldn’t stomach the idea of online-only and organized a small pop-up fair, inviting four galleries from across the country into his Dundas Street West headquarters and allowing masked visitors to step carefully inside. That idea has taken hold and, alongside Bulger, several more Toronto venues have visiting galleries in their spaces: the Olga Korper Gallery welcomes Calgary’s VIVIANEART; Robert Birch Contemporary hosts Montreal’s Art Mûr and Feheley Fine Arts has Vancouver’s Fazakas Gallery.

Meryl McMaster’s When The Storm Ends I Will Finish My Work, 2021 (Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain/Stephen Bulger Gallery).Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain/Stephen Bulger Gallery

Although not officially affiliated with Art Toronto, the friendly art-week idea meshes with the cross-Canada scope of a fair that has always positioned itself as a national rather than metropolitan event. For example, this year, almost a third of the participating galleries are from Montreal. One of those galleries is Hugues Charbonneau’s, and that dealer is arriving already sold out of work by two artists, both of whom address issues of Black history and identity, the Haitian-Canadian Manuel Mathieu and the Congolese-Canadian Moridja Kitenge Banza.

You can’t really put a dollar figure on Art Toronto’s activity because sales are handled by the individual galleries: The barometer of its success is simply the number of galleries that choose to come back year after year. The pandemic may have hurt museums badly but as Charbonneau’s example shows the art market itself has prospered in recent months. In 2021 Art Toronto is exhibiting resilience.

Art Toronto runs Oct. 29-31 in person at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and online to Nov. 7. See arttoronto.ca for details.

Toronto Gallery Week runs Oct. 26-31. See torontogalleryweek.com for details.


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Golden Butterfly Studios features ancient art of filigree – Greenville Journal

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By Allison Wells

Exquisite European art has made its way to Greenville with Golden Butterfly Studios. Handmade, fine silk filigree artwork is presented by Alek Kocevski in a tradition that’s thousands of years old.

Filigree art was started in the Middle East millennia ago and has been a time-honored tradition throughout eastern Europe, including Kocevski’s home country of North Macedonia. It was there he first encountered the intricate craftsmanship and decided to learn the trade. Fascinated by both the art itself and the art of making the filigree pieces, Kocevski decided to apprentice with a master in Macedonia before returning to South Carolina.

A Greenville resident for the past 20 years, he realized the art form was unknown in the United States and sought to showcase such mastery in the Upstate. 

“I thought this would be a great thing to bring to the United States and it was a side job while I was in undergrad at Clemson,” Kocevski said. 

After majoring in Biomedical Sciences at Clemson, he had planned to go to medical school but found he was unable to attend. That, Kocevski said, led him to pursue his passion for beautiful art. 

Traditionally, filigree is made with silver and gold wire, taking up to a month to make a single piece and costing thousands of dollars. At Golden Butterfly Studios, the pieces are made using fine silk instead. 

“This newer version with silk gives you the same elegance … but it’s more cost-effective and quicker,” Kocevski said. 

Smaller pieces can be done in under 24 hours with larger ones taking less than a week. It’s also less expensive, making this long-standing European art more attainable.

Each design is sketched by hand before silk ever gets laid over the template. Then the silk is laid out in a precise pattern requiring a steady hand and an eye for detail. After the artist has completed the design, it’s shaped to give it a more 3-D look and placed inside a shadowbox for display.

According to Koceviski, his studio offers exclusive designs in butterflies and flowers right now as they are traditionally timeless and beautiful. He likened the life of a butterfly to that of a person: Both go through similar changes and transformations in life and butterflies represent the fragility of life.

“Simply put, they bring a smile to your face,” he said.

While a permanent storefront is not available at this time, Golden Butterfly Studios offers their pieces at events and art markets around Greenville. More info can be found at goldenbutterflystudios.com or on their social media pages.

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25-foot column of sculpted vehicles towers above Kelowna Art Gallery – Kelowna Capital News – Kelowna Capital News

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After three years of secrecy, the Kelowna Art Gallery unveiled its latest project Wednesday morning (Oct. 27) — a public art sculpture standing 25 feet tall outside of the gallery’s entrance.

Canadian artist Jed Lind’s Gold, Silver & Lead art piece is located at the corner of Water Street and Cawston Avenue and consists of seven sculptural vehicles — all modelled after the 1979 Honda Civic — stacked on top of one another.

“Our hope is that it will become a landmark within the downtown public space and that it will stimulate lively conversations about the visual arts in our community,” said Nataley Nagy, the Kelowna Art Gallery’s executive director.

Originally presented at the Toronto Sculpture Garden’s 30th-anniversary exhibit in 2011, the sculpture was donated to the Kelowna Art Gallery in 2019. In the piece, the cars deteriorate and disassemble as they climb up the sculpture.

“Like a stack of stones marking a trail, it represents a fork in the road where humanity could’ve chosen a simpler existence, yet here we are today,” said Lind.

Lind said he got the idea for the sculpture over a decade ago when he stumbled across an old print ad that featured American architect Buckminister Fuller standing in front of a white geodesic dome and a white 1979 Honda Civic, with a tagline that read, “The man who simplified housing bought a Honda Civic. We make it simple.”

“It is a quintessentially American idea that the automobile as the embodiment of freedom, power and escape,” said Lind. “The Honda Civic became popular in America after the 1973 oil crisis when the idea that resources were finite became to take root in the culture.”

He added that he hopes that the sculpture will further conversations about the environment, consumption and collective responsibility.

People gather for the unveiling of the Kelowna Art Gallery’s latest project - Jed Lind’s Gold, Silver & Lead public sculpture - on Oct. 27. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)

People gather for the unveiling of the Kelowna Art Gallery’s latest project – Jed Lind’s Gold, Silver & Lead public sculpture – on Oct. 27. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)

“Amidst the social and cultural awakening, and the material shortages that we now face, I hope that some viewers see the piece as a reminder that our resources are not infinite, nor are our emotions,” he said.

READ MORE: Public art, top floor of Kelowna’s One Water Street tower revealed

READ MORE: Friends of victims urge construction pause at deadly Kelowna crane collapse site


@aaron_hemens
aaron.hemens@kelownacapnews.com

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