Art in Dangerous Times: A Proust Moment

As I wrote this piece, I was in the sixth week of self-imposed house arrest because of COVID-19, as was most of the rest of Canada. These are dangerous times, as the world faces a deadly pandemic unlike any we have faced in our lifetimes. As an art writer, I [...]

- 3 mins read
“My, what big teeth you have”: Fairy Tails at the Owens Art Gallery

Fairy Tails, an exhibition that shows multiple and new levels of familiar stories, is bound to please a wide audience. The exhibition, curated by Mount Allison University fine arts professor Anne Koval, features nine artists—Amalie Atkins, Aganetha Dyck, Meryl McMaster, Sylvia Ptak, Vicky Sabourin, Diana Thorneycroft, Anna Torma, Laura Vickerson, and Janice [...]

- 4 mins read
Art as object: Materiality and Perception

The Marion McCain Exhibition of Atlantic Art was initiated in 1987 at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery as a biennial survey of New Brunswick art, but in 1994 it morphed into a review of Atlantic Canadian Art. Beaverbrook Art Gallery director Tom Smart, also the curator of the current exhibition, explains that the donor, the late [...]

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In Praise of Pretty Pictures “Monet: The Late Years”

Monet: The Late Years is currently on view at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, following a successful run at San Francisco’s de Young Museum, where I recently had the chance to see it. If I had to describe the exhibition in one word, it would be “ravishing.” To say that the paintings are [...]

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The Lost City: Ian MacEachern’s Photographs of Saint John

The exhibition, and the accompanying book of the same title, were the brainchild of Beaverbrook Art Gallery curator John Leroux. It is testament not only to a forgotten part of Saint John, its north end, but to what was a mostly forgotten body of photographs by Ian MacEachern. Leroux, who has written [...]

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Shifting Ground

Shifting Ground is a survey of art produced by Indigenous Canadian artists currently at the Nova Scotia Gallery of Art in Halifax. Note that I say art by Indigenous artists and not Indigenous art. There is an important difference. I have a problem with limiting artists’ work by categorizing them by [...]

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Maud Lewis: "I Ain’t No Real Artist!"

“Well, I ain’t no real artist,” Maud Lewis famously said in 1961, “I just like to paint.”1 Not true. Maud Lewis was very much a real artist. I recently visited an exhibition of Lewis’s work at the Western Branch of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Yarmouth. In addition, on [...]

- 5 mins read
Graeme Patterson
Through the Looking-Glass

When I was asked to write a profile of artist Graeme Patterson, I said sure, that would not be a problem. I found him that same day at a BBQ at the artists run gallery Struts in Sackville and asked him if he would mind sitting down and talking to [...]

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William Forrestall
In Motion Re-Cycled

Maritime painter William (Will) Forrestall is well known for his carefully crafted egg tempera still-lives, but he has other sides such as this that will come as a surprise to many. The term Kinetic Sculpture has been around for some time. Roughly speaking it is sculpture that moves or does [...]

- 4 mins read
A Democracy of Mediocrity

I have been writing about art professionally for fifty years and for forty-five years for Vie des Arts. The profession has changed over this time and I am not sure for the better. Technology, mostly the Internet, has made everyone a critic. Certainly score one for democracy, but it has [...]

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Exposition “Tombée dans les interstices”
Hear the Voice of Acadian Women Artists

It has always been difficult for visual artists to make a living in New Brunswick, more so for francophone ones and even more so for francophone female artists. This exhibition looks at the evolution of women Acadian artists in the province from the early 1960s onwards, particularly in the first [...]

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Canadian Art Mosaic

Fifty years ago, in 1967, I came from the United States to teach art at the University of Alberta. On arrival, I was amazed to find that despite its being Canada’s Centennial Year, the history of Canadian art was not taught there, or indeed at many universities across Canada. Happily, this is no longer [...]

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Kevin Morse & Dan Steeves
The Space Between

Dan Steeves teaches printmaking at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick and Kevin Morse teaches musical composition at the same institution. They came together in this exhibition to create a unique collaboration of visual art and music that was part of the celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the university’s music department. The [...]

- 4 mins read
Thaddeus Holownia
The Nature of Nature

This exhibition of the art of Canadian photographer Thaddeus Holownia covers forty years of his work, 1976 to 2016, and I have known and worked with him during this entire time both as a colleague and an admirer of his work. He came to New Brunswick first as a visiting artist, in 1976, to Mount [...]

- 4 mins read
D’Arcy Wilson
“The Memorialist

This installation is a reflection of a forgotten past. Newfoundland artist D’Arcy Wilson has brought to life a past history of Halifax, the city where she was born and raised, that mostly disappeared without a trace in late 19th century. Halifax was the home of the first public zoo in North America. [...]

- 3 mins read
Five Acadian Artists
Present a United Front

You could count the number of serious commercial galleries in New Brunswick on the fingers of one hand. This number, and requirement of another hand, has just been increased by one with the addition of the Gallery on Queen in Fredericton that opened this May on, you guessed it, Queen [...]

- 4 mins read
William Kentridge
Drawing Lessons

Universal Archive is a print suite of over seventy-five linocuts by South Africa’s best-known contemporary artist, William Kentridge. They were developed in relation to his 2012 Norton Lectures at Harvard University. It was an unusual honour for a visual artist to be invited by Harvard to give this distinguished annual lecture [...]

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Roméo Savoie
The Sage of Acadian Art

It was a summer day in Paris in 1964 that changed Roméo Savoie’s life forever. He was a Canadian architect on a study trip to Europe. He had just been looking at Notre Dame Cathedral on ÎIe de la Cité and had come to the conclusion that he understood the [...]

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The Education of the Artist

I taught fine arts at Canadian universities for thirty-seven years in studio, history, theory, and as an administrator. I have written criticism for forty-seven years, forty-two of those in this magazine. I have travelled all over the world looking at fine arts training and I have come to the conclusion [...]

- 4 mins read
John Greer
Goes retroActive

Neither Here Nor There, a small early piece (1973) by Nova Scotia sculptor John Greer, is a good entry point to this major retrospective exhibition of the artist’s work. It is a small hand mirror with the words neither here nor there painted on the mirrored surface. If you focus on the [...]

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Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery

Fredericton’s Beaverbrook Art Gallery opened in 1959. It was the gift of Lord Beaverbrook (Sir William Maxwell [Max] Aitken, 1879-1964) to New Brunswick, the province where he grew up and first prospered. I cannot think of a comparable gift of this type in Canada. On opening day, he had not [...]

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William Forrestall / Stephen Scott. The Reflective Gaze

There is a vast difference in the subject matter and technique of Will Forrestall and Stephen Scott, but they share a common bond in their dedication to realism. They share other things as well. Both live in Fredericton, New Brunswick; they both attended the same art school, Mount Allison University. They are both [...]

- 4 mins read
Richard Estes’ Realism

I went to the Richard Estes exhibition with the idea of disliking it, but it only took ten minutes for me to change my tune. I found the paintings to be complex, interesting and, above all, beautiful executed. I am sure that over my last forty years as an art [...]

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Marion Waschal. True to Herself

I spent a considerable amount of time, on two separate visits, looking at this exhibition of the work of Montreal artist Marion Wagschal. She is an artist who is difficult to peg and that is a very good thing. There is much to look at and think about. One thing for sure [...]

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Game Patterson. “Secret Citadel”

The Saskatchewan born young artist, Graeme Patterson, is a force to be reckoned as is amply demonstrated in his exhibition Secret Citadel that is now at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Debuting last fall at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the exhibition will tour nationally. After its Halifax stop, it will move [...]

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The Alex Colville Gift to Mount Allison University

Mount Allison University’s Owens Art Gallery recently received a magnificent gift from the late Alex Colville, a complete set of the artist’s serigraph (silkscreen) prints. Colville made the gift to the university in March of this year shortly before his own death in memory of wife, Rhoda, who had died in the [...]

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“The William S. Paley Collection. S. A Taste for Modernism”

There has been a long-standing confusion between the terms modern and contemporary art. This exhibition provides a textbook explanation of Modernism and modern art and its place in the history of art. All art at the time it is being done is contemporary for its time, thus when modern art [...]

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Girl With a Pearl Earring

There is much more to this exhibition than a chance to view Vermeer’s masterpiece Girl With a Pearl Earring as it is accompanied by thirty-four other paintings from Holland’s golden period from the collection at the Mauritshuis in The Hague. The Dutch museum is closed while it undergoes a major renovation and this has given [...]

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The Art Treasures of New Brunswick. Behind the Scene

When the director of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Terry Graff, asked last year if I would be interested in putting on an exhibition of five art works from each of five public collections in New Brunswick for a total of twenty-five pieces, I jumped at the chance. It was an opportunity [...]

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Metamorphosis. The Art of Robert Pope

This exhibition marks the twentieth anniversary of the death of the Halifax artist Robert Pope who, during his all too brief life, (he was thirty-five when he died), used his art to trace his journey through the very dark path of his own ten year battle with cancer. It is [...]

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Susan Wood - Earth Skins

What wonderful objects are the drawings in this exhibition by Nova Scotia artist, Susan Wood; they, as the sub-title of the exhibition states, span three decades of the artist’s work. I call them objects because that is what they are in the classic mode of things of beauty—‘ a joy [...]

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Stephen Shore
The Garden at Giverny

There has been a lot of discussion concerning the use of photography in painting. Should painters work from life, direct observation, or is it OK to use photographs as a source for their work? This exhibition raises quite the opposite question---photographs based on paintings. I am being a bit unfair [...]

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