Judy Goodman: 2015 Show
Here's Looking at You
Artspring, Salt Spring Island
What the Viewers said about Selves Evident"The billowing shapes are reminiscent of smoke rising in the presence of a small wind. Something airy anyway, like spirit. Or perhaps like thought. That which swirls around itself and defines the intangible moments of self reflection"
"Such pleasure and joy in the texture of the interwoven reeds. It is as if the two forms are entwined talking to each other, exchanging comments or confidences, maybe observing and commenting on the viewers. Much fun and joy"
reprinted with permission of the Driftwood
EXHIBITIONSIdentity explored in ArtSpring's juried art exhibition
Public encouraged to enter critical dialogue on pieces
BY ELIZABETH NOLAN (Driftwood staff)
Representation of the human form is the baseline for ArtSpring's second major juried art exhibition, but Here's Looking at You offers plenty more than just a pretty face.
Curator and former ArtSpring director George Sipos has formulated a show that delves into some deep topics, such as the very meaning of identity and what it means to translate a subject through art.
A jury of three individuals selected 25 pieces from 75 submissions that included photographs, paintings,sculpture and fi bre arts. Facilitating the viewer's understanding of the work and conversation around it are the rationales the artists included with their original submissions, which have been mounted alongside each piece.
Saturday evening's busy opening reception offered many fascinating snippets of dialogue as viewers reacted to pieces and listened to the jury decisions. Photographs were tops at this event, with Doug McMillin receiving the jury's grand prize for The Working Photographer, set in the Salt Spring Coffee Co. cafe. The jurors praised the work, in part, for invoking Vermeer's light and intensity. Though located in a familiar spot, the unusual framing of the two figures and the clear light make it feel unfamiliar, suggesting a staged, symbolic tableau.
Maggie Argiro received an honourable mention for a photo of her 84-yearold father, caught straight-on during a moment when exasperation got the better of him. Resting his head in hands that are gripping his hair in frustration, his aged face ripples with conflict. As the jurors noted, "This portrait perfectly captures an ordinary life and extraordinary emotion." Susan Benson also received an honourable mention for her expressive painting of an elderly woman's face. Age and experience are emphasized in the paint's thick texture, the brushstrokes mimicking the layering on of years, while the woman's eyes seem to warn the viewer from making casual assumptions about what that life has held.
The tension between what a person feels inside and how they appear to the outside world is magnified in Avril Kirby's beautiful piece Shadows, a portrait of her late husband Bill. As her statement beautifully describes, she took the photo when he had lost much of his own sense of identity to Alzheimer's, but the personality that made him unique can still be glimpsed. At the same time, Kirby underlines the darkness of the situation in her use of light. The subject's face is tilted slightly away from centre so that one half is completely shadowed. Creases around the mouth and under the eyes are equally dark, as is the background. It's a powerful testament to looming loss.
On the self-portrait side of the equation, Jen Holmes' photograph stands out as being aesthetically beautiful, emotionally vulnerable and brave all at the same time. Printed on paperboard without the intermediary of a glass frame, the work has a strong sense of immediacy that resonates well with the subject matter. This is her own nude body seen from behind, crouched over and huddled into the corner of a room with a child's chair the only witness. Her skin the brightest area of the scene, Holmes' smooth white form is framed by soft blue walls and deep walnut floors for a simple but striking composition.
Joan Ayles has another interesting take on the self-portrait in Self Refl ection, in which many tiny versions of herself appear reflected in bubbles on the local seashore. Shot directly from above, the overall composition has a lovely sense of flow and movement. The photo also reveals a strong identification with place, capturing Ayles for a fleeting moment in the landscape she lovingly walks every day.
George Withers also plays with the concept of identity in his two photos. The Sitter poses an orange traffi cone against a canvas backdrop, inviting discussion on the way composition and treatment can dictate how we view a human subject - and how an object can fill that role by those means. In Self Portrait of Two Men, Withers' reflection on the surface of a brass bell captures only a shadowy figure broken into two, which speaks to amorphous and sometimes contradictory concepts of self.
Judy Goodman also addresses this topic in her basketry sculpture Selves Evident. Two forms rise and twist against each other, one of light-coloured and the other of a darker natural reed. "I imagine selves in organic shapes; close, sometimes touching, growing from the same base," Goodman's statement explains.
Viewers are strongly encouraged to participate in the critical dialogue by selecting the work they find most interesting and submitting comments about the reasons why. Entries will be tabulated for the People's Choice Award. Also on exhibit is Who Are You Anyway?, a related collection of "selfies" submitted by members of the public and then curated as a video art installation by four Gulf Islands Secondary School students in media arts.
The exhibition continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through Sunday, March 29.
Judy Goodman's basketry sculpture, left is among pieces in Here's Looking at You, now on in the ArtSpring gallery. Photo by Jen MacLean