The current Sechelt Arts Festival contemporary exhibition, Here and Now, at the Seaside Centre brings the cachet of London's Tate Modern gallery to the Sunshine Coast.
Granted, it's only a bit of what the huge, iconic Tate offers to the art world, but it's a step in that direction — one that wouldn't even have been contemplated a few years ago. The exciting part is that the exhibition involves the work of local artists who have definitely stepped up their game.
And that's exactly what the curators and organizers were striving for. Two Vancouver curators, Karen Duffek (Museum of Anthropology) and Karen Benbassat Ali (Satellite Gallery), started their research for this project back in January by going on studio tours from Gibsons to Garden Bay. They visited 32 artists in all and selected from that pool of talent for this week's contemporary art show that runs until Oct. 27.
“We needed to get to know what was happening on the Coast,” said Duffek. “We needed a direction. It was intensive and fascinating.”
The result was 16 contemporary artists working in collaborations, with each other, with the community or with the site.
“We were excited about how seriously the artists took up the challenge,” she said. Some were paired up with another artist such as the team of Todd Clark and Kristjana Gunnars. Curators described the two as having intense dialogue about their work, and, although they each produced new work, there are subtle changes in their styles. Gunnars' ceiling to floor banner piece has an exuberance about it, while Clark's painting incorporates fabric, something new for him. Nico Meyer's table and Susanne Biden's sculptures also team up compatibly; they are both otherworldly. Look closely at the table and see if you can tell how the artist has crafted it.
Anna Banana's collaboration is with the community as she continues to evolve her Encyclopedia Bananica, an ongoing project that engages the public.
“She deserves recognition within the community,” said Benbassat Ali, noting that Banana has been an innovative artist for many years.
Composer Giorgio Magnanensi has reproduced on site the ubiquitous sounds of Sechelt's industry, the gravel pit. In a darkened, insulated room built within the centre, the public is invited to walk over the crunchy gravel surface that massages the feet while they listen to a Magnanensi composition that is both lulling and terrifying.
“He took up the idea of a sound installation with enthusiasm," said a curator. “The gravel industry was not being reflected in the art of the community."
The curators' connection on the Coast was the artistic duo of Sechelt's Claudia Cuesta and Bill Baker who have both been involved in the show's installation and staging. Many of the structures had to be free standing within the Seaside Centre and it took days of carpentry work to build the site. Bronwen Payerle and Amelia Epp collaborated on one of their own structures, an embellished shelter that viewers can enter to contemplate.
Upstairs, a heritage exhibit is sandwiched between the innovative artwork. Yet it seems to fit somehow, reflecting as it does a sense of the place in which we live. Snapshots: Our Coastal Heritage shows photos of landmarks as they looked then and now.
The show runs until this Sunday only and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. this weekend.