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Spring Arts Preview: Five must-see in art



Thanks to a robust and always changing visual arts scene you can easily fill a weekend with visits to any number of small, medium and large galleries.

Advice on what to see is a bit of a fool’s errand as the breadth of the offerings is as big as the empty lot where the new VAG is supposed to go.

That in mind, here are a handful of shows that may pique your interest:

Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun: Sculptures & Paintings
Macaulay & Co. Fine Art 


On until March 25

This is a chance to see one of the most exciting local artists working today. Coast Salish contemporary artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun Lets’lo:tseltun’s paintings and sculptures are wonderful combinations of explosive, vibrant colour, Coast Salish imagery and storytelling.

Yuxweluptun Lets’lo:tseltun’s work is as breathtaking as it is thoughtful as it explores issues over land ownership, residential schools — which he is a survivor of — and the destruction of the environment.

Alanis Obomsawin filming Richard Cardinal: Cry from a Diary of a Metis Child (1986).
Alanis Obomsawin filming Richard Cardinal: Cry from a Diary of a Metis Child (1986). Photo by National Film Board of Canada

Alanis Obomsawin: The Children Have to Hear Another Story

Vancouver Art Gallery

April 7 to Aug. 7

Celebrated around the globe, Abenaki filmmaker and activist Alanis Obomsawin has notched 50 films in the past 50 years. Her body of work includes the documentaries Incident at Restigouche (1984) and Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (1993). Over her half-century career Obomsawin has pushed to gain social and political agency and has used public platforms to tell Indigenous stories.

This show is a survey of Obomsawin’s work from the 1960s to the present, and demonstrates her remarkable achievements in education, music, documentary cinema and activism.

Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait in a Cap, Laughing, dated 1630, is an etching from the collection of doctors Jonathan Meakins and Jacqueline McClaran.
Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait in a Cap, Laughing, dated 1630, is an etching from the collection of doctors Jonathan Meakins and Jacqueline McClaran. Photo by Denis Farley

The Collectors’ Cosmos: The Meakins-McClaran Print Collection

Audain Art Museum (Whistler)

On until May 15

The Collectors’ Cosmos: The Meakins-McClaran Print Collection provides a look at the building of one of the foremost private collections of European prints in Canada. Amassed over four decades, the heart of the collection is a wealth of 16th and 17th century Dutch and Flemish prints.

Doctors Jonathan Meakins and Jacqueline McClaran recently donated a significant portion of these works to the National Gallery of Canada, doubling the NGC’s collection of early Dutch and Flemish prints.

Now the touring version of The Collectors’ Cosmosis is at the Audain Art Museum in Whistler and features over 170 works, including prints by European masters such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Hendrick Goltzius and Jacob van Ruisdael.

The Show, Emily Carr University’s annual show of student works, runs at the ECU campus May 11 to 21.
The Show, Emily Carr University’s annual show of student works, runs at the ECU campus May 11 to 21. Photo by Emily Carr University

The Show

Emily Carr University of Art & Design

May 11 to 21

The Show is the annual unveiling of works from across all disciplines represented at ECUAD at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. So basically, every discipline in art and design will be on display in the always popular — it’s been running for decades — show.

If you need another reason to attend this glimpse at potential greatness keep in mind that many, many successful artists count ECUAD as an alma mater with the likes of Brian Jungen, Karin Bubaš, Sonny Assu, Geoffrey Farmer, Attila Richard Lukacs and Ola Volo showing in their graduating year.

Kennedi Carter’s work will be part of the As We Rise: Photography from the Black Atlantic, on at The Polygon Gallery until May 24.
Kennedi Carter’s work will be part of the As We Rise: Photography from the Black Atlantic, on at The Polygon Gallery until May 24. Photo by Kennedi Carter

As We Rise: Photography from the Black Atlantic

The Polygon Gallery

On until May 14

The international touring exhibition As We Rise: Photography from the Black Atlantic is curated by Elliot Ramsay and features more than 100 images selected from Aperture’s recently published book by the same name, and features photographs from the Wedge Collection — Canada’s largest privately owned collection committed to championing Black artists.

Bold type works include images by iconic civil rights photographer Gordon Parks, Hasselblad Award-winner Malick Sidibé, influential portraitist Carrie Mae Weems, contemporary photographer Texas Isaiah (the first trans photographer to shoot a Vogue cover), among others.

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The Thief Collector review – the ordinary married couple behind a massive art heist – The Guardian



It was a brazen case of daylight robbery. In 1985, a couple walked into an art gallery on the campus of the University of Arizona and left 15 minutes later with a rolled-up Willem de Kooning shoved up the man’s jacket. In 2017, the painting was finally recovered – not by the FBI, but by a trio of house clearance guys in New Mexico. It had been hanging for 30 years on the bedroom wall of retired teachers Rita and Jerry Alter.

How an ordinary couple like the Alters pulled off one of the biggest art heists of the 20th century is told in this mostly entertaining documentary. You can imagine the story being turned into a podcast and it’s perhaps stretched a little thin for a full-length documentary. (Did we really need an interview with the couple’s nephew’s son?) The weak link is the film’s dramatisation of the theft: a tongue-in-cheek pastiche that feels a bit glib as questions about the Alters’ motivations deepen and darken. Still, the film offers a fascinating glimpse into the mystery of other people, especially other people’s marriages. Friends and family still look dazed that the Alters – Rita and Jerry! – were behind the theft.

The unlikely heroes of the story are a trio of honest-as-they-come house clearance men who bought the De Kooning along with the contents of Jerry and Rita’s house after they died. When a customer offered them $200,000 for the painting, they did a bit of Googling; after realising it could be the missing artwork (Woman-Ochre, now worth around $160m), they were straight on the phone to the gallery in Arizona to return it, with no question of making a dime for themselves.


The three men are brilliant interviewees, warm and thoroughly decent; their experience in rooting through other people’s homes and lives has clearly given them the kind of insight that would make them great detectives, too. And if nothing else, this documentary ought to give someone working in television the idea of making a detective series about house clearance experts.

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The Art of Gardening — New Patio Plants – CFJC Today Kamloops




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Is AI art the new frontier or just another way to rip artists off? Watch episode 1 of digi-Art now –



AI: Artificial Intelligence

2 days ago

Duration 14:15


Artificial Intelligence: it thinks like us, writes like us – but can it create art like us? Dive into the latest buzz to unpack if AI is a helpful collaborator or just thieving competition.

CBC Arts’ new series digi-Art looks to the horizon to see what’s possible with tech and art — charting a course led by creatives and innovators towards new worlds and ways of creating.

The infinite monkey theorem posits that if a countless number of monkeys were assembled in front of a limitless number of typewriters, they would eventually create writing as revered and dense as the works of William Shakespeare. 

The theorem feels unimaginable and creative works are so often seen as intentional — great writing and designs can’t just be shaped from nothing. But recent trends in AI seem set to transform how the creation of art is viewed in culture. 

AI art has been all over the Internet, and even winning awards, and it’s leading some visual artists to worry about their roles in the future. 

Text-to-image systems, like DALL-E 2, have been enabling anyone to create striking visual works with just a few words. People can now truly create something from almost nothing. But, this process isn’t as random as it seems.

Dr. Alexis Morris is the tier two research chair in the Internet of Things at OCAD University. He told digi-Art host Taelor Lewis-Joseph about a process called “classification” — the process by which a machine can turn language to a thing, and then ultimately an image. 

An AI generated image of cats in "cyberpunk" outfits in neon convenience stores buying milk.
AI generated art from Dall-E using the prompt “cyberpunk cats in cyberpunk hats buying milk in a punk store” from Episode 1 of digi-Art. (CBC Arts)

“You show the machine an image of a cat, but it doesn’t know what a cat is,” Morris says. “You give it lots of pictures of cats and after a time, it starts to learn that cats are often a little fuzzy and have pointed ears.” 

“As you give it more and more pictures, the machine figures out more and more features.” 

Through being exposed to countless images, AI can begin to generate sometimes startlingly realistic images from almost nothing.

Intelligence stealing art

While AI technology is groundbreaking, not all creatives are excited by its prospects in the art world. 

Mark Gagne is a multimedia artist and head of Mindmelt Studio. He’s no stranger to using technology in his art — Gagne will often mix together illustrations and photography in his pieces.

But he has grown frustrated with what he views as AI’s continued encroachment on original pieces of art. 

“These AI programs are scraping artwork off the internet, including my own, and Frankensteining them into a piece of artwork,” Gagne says. “It really upset me that I was one of those artists that got scraped up by the AI apps.”

Two pieces of art of imaginary creatures. On the left a creature with horns looks at a cartoon snail. On the right a smiling blue mushroom is surrounded by two smaller smiling horned creatures.
Non-AI artwork made by Mark Gagne from his ‘Guardian Sprites’ series. Gagne has had his art style unknowingly used in AI algorithms. (Mark Gagne)

Gagne’s frustration with AI platforms has been increased by the fact that he considers his work to be very personal to him. His work often explores topics like mental health. 

“People … [identified] with the imagery that I was putting out and it really opened dialogue with a lot of people,” he says. “They found that my art page was a safe space for them to express that.” 

What started as personal expression has now been “regurgitated” by AI platforms, Gagne argues. “It’s kind of like when somebody breaks into your home and takes off with your television or your PlayStation or something,” he says.

“I mean, the technology’s amazing, but what’s wrong with these companies coming to the artists and saying, ‘We’d like to work with you?'”

Taking advantage of AI

While some artists are worried about AI, some are embracing it. Waxhead is an artist who began in a more analogue medium — street art. 

But now, Waxhead said that AI is taking an active role in his creations. In fact, AI has helped to inform the art he creates in the physical world. 

“I’m using AI in a wide variety of ways as a tool to create seamless textures for 3D models, to create reference material for my murals, to create references for paintings,” he says. “It just allowed me to be creative and to learn and renew a love for learning.”

Waxhead’s experiments with AI have allowed him to manipulate some of his favourite styles of art. He says that AI allows styles of art to be reiterated. 

“I’m starting to build models that are referencing my art, so I’m using hundreds and hundreds of photographs of years and years and years of my work to make something that’s my style, that’s Waxhead, but also created by AI,” he says. 

While he acknowledges the problems other artists have had with their art being scooped up by AI platforms, he also thinks that this cycle is reflective of art more broadly. 

“I think humans have always used other artwork as references and we’re all taking our inspirations from somewhere,” he says. 

“Things are changing extremely fast … I’m excited about the future, using AI, using text prompts. What concerns me is who controls these models.” 

“I think more open-source AI models that are controlled by the public, in terms of art and creativity, are gonna have vastly more amazing applications in general.”

CBC Arts’ new series digi-Art looks to the horizon to see what’s possible with tech and art — charting a course led by creatives and innovators towards new worlds and ways of creating.

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