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April 6, 2014
"Made in Calgary: The 1990s"
Glenbow Museum in collaboration with Contemporary Calgary
Feb. 5, 2014 to May 4, 2014

Guest curator Nancy Tousley brings the 20th century to a captivating close with over 100 works by 55 artists – Rita McKeough, Chris Cran, Joane Cardinal-Schubert, Laura Vickerson, Walter May and M.N. Hutchinson, among many others. It is a bold and ambitious survey of the decade. Invention, humour, multiplicity and an expanded sense of the possibilities of art making are the hallmarks of work ranging from painting to installation, and everything in-between. The exhibition reveals an art community coming of age, transitioning out of old traditions, and embracing new materials, concepts and processes.

All the works are rich in colour and texture, with a focus on unexpected materials and merging between mediums (e.g. video and textiles or painting and sculpture). Humour permeates the show – a characteristic common to Calgary artists. John Will’s work covers two full walls – 200 small paintings form one piece. Many of his painted squares name or caricature artists or colleagues, evoking a sense of community. Will shares the space with Sisters by Faye Heavyshield, a circle of ivory-coloured high-heel shoes facing outwards with cloven toes.

Natural or muted materials like metal and gesso are set in contrast to intensely coloured pieces. Shelley Ouellet’s sculptural work, Entomology, is a large suspended ‘digitized’ bug made entirely of little rubber bugs that shimmer with absurd colour. Directly across from her piece are the richly symbolic and intimate charcoal drawings of Carol Taylor-Lindoe. In addition to various installations and sculptural pieces, the show explores the ways in which painting was expanding (or even exploding) with works such as David Garneau’s comic-book style How the West Was Won and Wayne Giles’ Mondrian’s Cat, a wall-size multiple based on paint by numbers.

Made in Calgary: The 1990s is a highly engaging exhibition that serves up a kaleidoscope of painting, sculpture, installation and video art, providing an impressive snapshot of the diverse themes and materials explored by artists. Each exhibition space contains just the right amount of work, with adept shifts between bright colour, texture, humour and quiet contemplation. Tousley has put together a remarkable survey that simmers with the excitement of a time when Calgary artists focused on redefining their art and the city’s role in the global art scene.
By Lissa Robinson, Galleries West

Image: David Garneau, "How the West was Won", 1998, oil on canvas, detail (Collection of Glenbow Museum)

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