Art Gallery of Grande Prairie

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ARTery curatorial statement

Now that ARTery is running, viewers who have seen it (images will be added to this site Monday) may be wondering what it’s all about. Your experience and taste is completely up to you, but here Edward Bader’s take on it as the exhibition’s curator:

Curator’s Statement

The ARTery project uses art as a means to revitalize the heart of the city of Grande Prairie during the bleakest darkest month of the year. Since the site of the exhibition is along 100 Avenue, a major thoroughfare, commuters are able to experience a number of works from their vehicles, reaching a potential audience that normally does not visit art galleries. The pieces selected for the exhibition clearly differentiate themselves from the realm of commercial street advertising in terms of their imagery and content. Due to its latitude, Grande Prairie experiences long hours of night. Therefore video and text based works were chosen their ability to engage the viewer quickly, as they will be glimpsed under lowlight often for only the briefest of moments.

The ARTery project draws upon the various meanings of the word “artery” as a channel for the flow of life, goods and ideas. The word refers to the system of vessels by which blood is conveyed from the heart to all parts of the body. In 1805 Thomas Jefferson used the term to describe the major rivers and roadways used to transport goods and services throughout the continent of North America. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “artery” as “a main channel in a ramifying system of communication”. The works selected for this exhibition respond to one or all of the various definitions of the word “artery”. Michael Campbell’s, I want to know who you’d be in the best of all possible worlds, 2000, evocative image of a lone canoe aflame, floating down a northern river, refers to the original modes of transport in North West Alberta and takes on ceremonial and mystical connotations associated with journeys. C. Wells, 41°53’N12°30’E / 41°58’N82°30’W (WHITE ROMA / WHITE PELEE), 2006, juxtaposes two roadways; one winding through the verdant green of Point Pelee Park, Ontario while the second is a film clip from Frederico Fellini’s film ROMA. In the first instance the viewer travels to the heart of nature, while in the second case towards the Roman Coliseum, the symbolic heart of Western European civilization. Duality is found in Micah Lexier and Christian Bok’s, Two Equal Texts, 2007. Lexier and Bok explore the communicative intricacies and expressive possibilities of language. John Will’s, India Moves, 1992 records the teeming street life of Nasik, India, during the Kumbha Mela festival and provides a stark contrast to Grande Prairie’s urban winter landscape. Karina Aguilera Skvirsky’s Margaret, 2003, refers to the various Diasporas that have unfolded throughout human history, as people endeavor to escape war, oppression and poverty. The lone figure of the Kenyan runner Margaret Okayo within an ethereal landscape, explores the contradictory representations of women of colour both within the public spectacle of sports and our collective memory of history. On a more playful note, David Hoffos’ Disaster, 2000, while poking fun at the excesses of Hollywood’s spectaculars shows how vulnerable our contemporary transportation systems are to the forces of nature. This ominous tone of journeys undertaken but not completed is reflected in Anne Troake’s dreamlike video, The Sinking, 1997. Bill Viola’s Angel’s Gate, 1989, provides closure to the exhibition as the viewer is confronted a succession of individual images focusing on mortality and transcendence. All of the works chosen for this exhibition are intended to provoke thought about personal, political and metaphysical concerns surrounding the numerous voyages we embark upon in our lives.

Edward Bader December 2007

Curator’s Acknowledgements

Foremost, I would like to thank all the artists who agreed to exhibit their work. I would like to acknowledge the support of the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie and in particular Robert Steven, Director, and his very capable staff in helping make this project a reality. I wish to thank the various businesses for allowing the use of their storefront windows as a venue for the exhibition. Ideas do not happen in a vacuum and I would like to thank Tina Martel and Ken Housego, coordinators of Grande Prairie Regional College’s Prairie North Residency, 2007 for the time to dream.