Dan Steeves‘ exhibition, The Memory of Pain, opened at the Confederation Centre for the Arts. This new series of etchings by Dan, three years in the making, received its first public viewing in January. This series was accompanied by a catalogue with an essay by Tom Smart. I was excited by the fact that we would have the first commercial gallery display of many of these new works in the spring. One of the prints from this series, it’s mostly because of my own fears, was selected for the annual exhibition at International Print Centre New York, one of 50 prints selected from 2400 applications internationally.
February’s highlight was a personal one. We were travelling in India and discovered a wonderful private gallery on the outskirts of Udaipur. Udaipur is an extremely interesting city located around a beautiful lake. The town boasts many small art studios that feature mostly the same paintings of iconic images from Indian history and mythology. For the most part these are quite lack lustre, so it was a real treat to discover the marvellous Bougain Villaea Gallery, owned and operated by Bhupesh Kavadia and his wife. We made two visits to this gallery to see work by some outstanding contemporary artists. We purchased the woodcut, pictured above, by an emerging Indian artist, Sunil Nimiwat. Also, above is a picture of Judy at the gallery. It provides some idea of the quality of work to be found at Bougain Villaea.
A first for our gallery was a very special collaboration with Gallery Connexion in Fredericton, a second installation of the exhibition, Suzanne Hill: Conversations With Rick Burns. This exhibit, previously shown at our gallery in November, included work by both Hill and Burns. Suzanne Hill had taken four three-dimensional works by the late Rick Burns and created a series of work in response to his. It was gratifying to work with the people at Gallery Connexion and great to be able to show this work in the Rick Burns gallery, named for him, as one of the gallery’s founding members.
In April I finally launched the Buckart Blog, something that had been in the works for several months. This blog has given me the opportunity to write about art, artists and the gallery. It has allowed me to communicate with gallery followers in ways that are more thoughtful and personal, something that I enjoy.
May brought us the Dan Steeves exhibition, but perhaps just as important for me, was an evening talk that Dan gave at the gallery. This talk was sponsored by the Vault group, and they generously opened it to the public. We had a terrific turnout for a great evening. The Vault group continues to pursue its agenda for art education, and to build their very fine collection. Above is a shot of Dan Steeves talking with David Emerson, Bill Kean (a member of Vault) and Andrew Kierstead.
In June we featured a new series of paintings by Angel Gomez. It is always such a pleasure to hang works by this artist. Beautifully constructed and rendered with such sensitivity, these new paintings once again revealed an artist very much in control of his medium, capable of creating a profound beauty through the combination of paint and collage.
July was a month of play for me. In preparation for the August gallery hop I gave myself a challenge to find various ways of pairing works of art by different artists. A crate arrived from painter, Bruce Pashak, with a new canvas, Woman in Headdress with Lizard and Birds. I wanted to use this painting but was unsure of a match for such a strong work. Then I remembered James Wilson‘s photograph of San Miguel Madonna Over Toronto. I called Jamie, and he brought it to the gallery. These two works on the wall together had quite a startling effect, perfect for my match ups.
In August I received a very exciting phone call from Rick Burns‘ sister, Cathy. She told me that they had just been into the last attic and had discovered several early small works by Rick. Among them were the four pieces above, from the Containment Series. I had not seen these since I exhibited them for Rick at Windrush Galleries in 1982. I had believed that everything from this series had been dispersed long ago. It has been a real treat to exhibit these beautiful constructions once again.
September is always a busy month and this past September was no exception, with two great exhibitions at the gallery, one featuring historical work from the mid Twentieth Century and one featuring very contemporary work by a current New Brunswick artist. First, the historical show. This exhibition featured ten Saint John artists who were painting during the mid point of the last century. This exhibition was also a first time collaboration with another Saint John gallery, The Citadel Gallery. Mario Brideau and I collaborated to create a fascinating exhibition that spoke to the breadth and depth of artwork from this period in Saint John’s history. It was very successful, and we are now discussing the possibility of another collaboration in 2014.
Later in September we moved ahead by several decades to feature a new series of painting/collage by Toby Graser. This series was striking in its deceptive simplicity. Eschewing her usual fondness for strong colour, Toby created a body of more monochromatic works that focussed on line and texture. These extremely beautiful works pushed the viewer to contemplate the underlying structure, and to consider the elements that are brought into play to create good art.
October also provided two exhibitions of note, one at our gallery and one in Fredericton. First, in Fredericton we helped Paul Mathieson put together an exhibition for the UNB Art Centre. He had been invited by the Centre to mount an exhibition for early fall. We worked with Paul to select works that represented the last decade of his painting. I’m always so pleased when I can help one of the artists that I represent secure an exhibition in another good venue such as the UNB Art Centre.
Meanwhile, at our own gallery, we mounted an exhibition of new paintings by Amber Young. I am always pleased to show new work by Amber, confident that it will meet standards of professional excellence and that it will draw crowds of her fans and collectors. It never fails, and this exhibition was no exception. Amber and I are now discussing a really big exhibition for 2015.
November brought us another great exhibition, a first with this particular artist. It also brought us wonderful news about an artist whose work we have shown this year for the first time. Deanna Musgrave joined the gallery a little over a year ago, and immediately began to create a new series of paintings. Beautiful paintings with incredible energy, this series was a real success, and a truly fine introduction of this artist to Saint John.
During 2013 the gallery included work by Janice Wright Cheney in two of our exhibitions. Above is one of her pieces, Life Stages of a Silkworm Moth. Janice makes art that is visually stunning, with content that is thoughtful and often provocative. It has been wonderful to share her work with our clients at the gallery. In November we learned that Janice Wright Cheney had been awarded the New Brunswick Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. This was truly an honour that was well deserved.
And so we end the year with a shot, not of the gallery or of finished work, but of work in progress in an artist’s studio. This is where the real work happens, the conception, the experiments, the failures, the many stages that go into completing works of art. I am sharing with you a view of one wall in Suzanne Hill’s studio, shot several months ago as she was preparing for the Suzanne Hill – Rick Burns exhibition. I have selected this because in December we learned that Suzanne was chosen to receive an important grant, an A Grant as it is referred to in the business, that will allow her to pursue a major new series, a series that will culminate in a major public exhibition in the future. Congratulations to Suzanne.
So where do we go from here? Well, first, I’m taking a very short break. I’m going to escape this cold for two weeks, and then I’ll be back and ready to roll out the 2014 roster of features and exhibitions. During the first half of the year watch for the next installment of Buck & Tuck, a special installation by emerging artist Nathan Cann, some special new pieces by Suzanne Hill, and exhibition from Elizabeth Grant, work from Raymond Martin and a special feature on the still life from four of our artists. Later in the year watch for Paul Mathieson, James Wilson and much more. All the best to you in the coming year. – Peter