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Olwen Therrien

Olwen Therrien

Olwen Therrien has not set their biography yet

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It has been only eight months since Eva Dametto started exploring materials, themes and styles in preparation for ‘Landscapes of the Spirit’. She started with a dim vision of materials laid on canvas in a simple construction of familiar shapes and uniform hues. A few months later she infused colour applied with less control and more vigour, abandoning texture created by brush strokes for texture applied to the surface of the canvas then painted over in acrylics. And finally she produced mixed media collages chock-a-block full of fabric and cut outs and hair and sticks and bark and pieces of this and that all tied together with paint and colour and lyricism as well as both classic and modern references. Dametto definitely found her chakra.

Leilah Ward’s inner visions and dreams haunt her paintings. Working in oil, she was forced to slow the act of painting down to allow for drying. She meticulously applied a cascade of vertical lines and explosions of colours. Her works levitate before they dissolve in space. They seem therapeutic for the artist and intriguing for the viewer who attempts to read the inner working of the artist’s mind, the dark meandering of the artist’s spirit and the transitions of a soul moving through space and time. Troubling. Expressive. Transitional.

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Thirty years of communion with the water, sky, rocks and bush of South Algonquin has provided Gertrud Sorensen with ample opportunity to demonstrate what it is that satisfies, attracts and holds her here in her adopted home on Galeiry Lake near Algonquin Park and the Madawaska River. It is the space, the quiet and the vistas always seen from the same distance, always bathed in the same light, always painted with the same practical, direct brush strokes. As an adventure hiker, climber and paddler, she explores the surface of what she sees and tries to convince us that that is where her heart lies, but this retrospective collection reveals that there have been dalliances along the way.

What fascinates in this retrospective is that, here and there, throughout her thirty year history of painting and exhibiting, Gertrud reveals a more worldly, urbane experience and approach to this business of painting. In between those periods of ‘bread and butter’ landscapes, Gertrud undoes the top button of her painting smock and displays the travelled and elegant side of her painterly repertoire. In mid career, she put away brushes for a palette knife to produce more texture, rhythm and lightness in her work for a period of time. Again in later years she found herself abandoning pure hues and primary colours for a softer Cezanne-like rust and muted palette of seasonal transitions. More heart and less head. And then, most recently, experimentation with short, dappled strokes and pairing of colours, dancing with pointillism in a self-conscious way, no commitment but trying on something from afar, not yet comfortable, something beyond what she sees and knows. Trying less to please others and more to revel in the manipulation of familiar materials.

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Sheila Davis: Riding the Elephant: a catchy title conjuring up images of mass and risk-taking and something outside our normal experience. And that is what Sheila Davis has provided. We can see that she began with landscape both through "Local Colour", the most strikingly representational  example included in the show, the piece she described as "unlike the others and most recognizable as landscape", and through maps locating the photographs that guided her exploration of this particular road in central Ontario. Her photographs and maps reveal what she was working from; somber colours, crowded vertical growth, a  gray and muddy palette. Why she would use these as inspiration is a mystery. Would it not be better to photograph sundappled leaves, sparkling water and clear blue skies? Apparently not? Sheila Davis chose to do the opposite. She used her photographs from nature as a springboard to create amazingly beautiful expressionistic paintings that have little reference back to her original source of inspiration. They are light and airy, robust and strong. When she delivered them to the gallery, it was clear the paintings were energizing their creator as much as she had energized the canvases. Exuberance is a word that captures the feeling of the rest of the show. Less controlled landscape, more painterly passionate infusion of short strokes, vibrant colour and lots of breathing room as if, indeed, she is riding above the mundane and bleak, the cold and wet, the muddy and murky. She is like a breath of fresh air introducing the colours of silk saris along the  Elephant Road. A good name for the show.

It took Davis many years of painting to find the confidence, and the artistry to know when to stop working on a piece, to let it breath and grow on its own. And, that is what this particular body of work has, a life of its own. Not a calmness or stillness or sense of arrival. It is more like a
beautiful curtain, that when pulled back will reveal where she plans to go next and the road she might take to get there. That road no doubt lies in a more expressionistic and more abstracted direction.

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At first glance, Mary McLoughlin’s supersize flowers at the Art Gallery of Bancroft bring to mind the work of American artist, Georgia O’Keeffe who painted flowers throughout her long career as an artist beginning in the 1920s employing a style that magnified and abstracted them. Hers were not the botanical prints or delicate watercolours meant to capture living structures for academic interest in the previous century. Like all her work, O’Keeffe’s flowers were strong, modern images bursting with life and energy.

 In her multi-year exploration as a painter of portraits of flowers in oil on canvas, McLoughlin does not linger on the lushness and sensuality of the physical structure of her models beyond what is needed to demonstrate her mastery of drawing and line and composition. With laser-like precision, she gets it right and leaves it at that. Like Mary Pratt’s luscious “Red Current Jelly (1972)” currently at the National Gallery of Canada, Mary McLoughlin’s “White Peony (2015)” sings the song of whiteness as if it could not have been anything but white. Nor does she oversell her knowledge and experience as a colourist given free-rein with all the hues and tints in the colour wheel. The four 2012 pieces, previously exhibited at her solo show at the Art Gallery of Peterborough are a riot of the orange and pink and fuscia that made us love JEH MacDonald’s “The Tangled Garden”(1916).

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The Art Gallery Bancroft (AGB) along with Loyalist College is developing a Summer Arts Program with a series of workshops in diverse artistic media.  Workshops will be run under the Loyalist College aegis.

AGB is inviting you to participate in this initiative, which will take place over the weekends of July 12/13th and July 26/27th in Bancroft. Classes can be targeted at any level of skill, experience or age, and courses can run from 1 to 4 days.

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Art Gallery of Bancroft
10 Flint Avenue
P.O. Box 398
Bancroft, Ontario
K0L 1C0

Phone: (613) 332-1542
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