Sunday, June 24, 2007

Harcourt House 19th Membership Show June 21 - July 21, 2007

Always a mix, the mostly mid-career to established artists of Harcourt House displayed their work salon style for their annual 'show and sale' members exhibition during this past solstice and front lawn bbq, which was excellent with good deals and thick slabs of sliced cheese.
Inside and upstairs, staggered over each other throughout all four rooms, what finally became crystal clear was the role of Harcourt House's place in the community. Perhaps jumbled with the wholesome bbq crowd downstairs, the handful of respected names on the wall upstairs, and the bartender crustily accusing a group of ladies downstairs as the "Latitude crowd" (I'm sure no offense was meant towards the ladies or Latitude 53, but the impression nevertheless lasted), never had it become so obvous that Harcourt House was of course the artist-run centre that leans towards the more traditional and established side, holding an impressive rolodex of artists as members as well as a site for continuing arts education.
The role and voice for each artist run centre and gallery often gets confused, or forgotten, as the artists represented and gallery itself goes through a cycle. Harcourt's current mandate declares itself to be a destination for contemporary visual art, which in theory clumps it along every other gallery in the city, but with this presentation of its members show, Harcourt reveals it is perhaps the premiere destination for local contemporary visual art.

9 comments:

MC said...

"... Harcourt reveals it is perhaps the premiere destination for local contemporary visual art."

I think you might be right there, Amy. There was definitely some unsuccessful work in the show that I would peg as "emerging" (or, pre-emerged, maybe), but I saw a few works that were surprisingly good.

Amy, what other venues in Edmonton would you place in the running for the "premiere" spot? Do you have a quick-and-dirty "Top 5 Edmonton destinations for local contemporary visual art"?

amy said...

hmm, I can't really say, partly because I don't make it out to all the galleries on a consistent basis to see what their programming really says. especially with commercial galleries, but Front comes to mind for carrying strong emerging local content, and of course the university is a good breeding ground. Portal is still too new to see where and what they're capable of drawing, but it has potential. Profiles I have yet to check out but their next show looks rather good . . . I guess not so quick and dirty, but this can be a complicated question.

MC said...

Yes, I'd say the FAB gallery would have to be in the running.

Also, in addition to the Front Gallery, the Scott Gallery and the Peter Robertson Gallery seem to focus somewhat more on local artists than some of the others (or, at least that's my impression).

I've never been to Portal. In fact, I hadn't ever heard of it until now.

Profiles doesn't count... it's in St. Albert, not Edmonton (a technicality, I know).

Anyone else wanna suggest a top five? Or, offer thoughts on "The Premiere Contemporary Visual Arts Venue in Edmonton"?...

Anonymous said...

I would feel that the Front is a hodge-podge of work with not a clear vision - except for stuff that sells. Scott Gallery is not even in the running as it reeks of oldness.
I think that the Peter Robertson has potential and has a balance of clever art and a nice clean aesthetic.

For me Contemporary art would be through AGA and Latitude 53, with a strong nod to Latitude 53 for being adventurous and for ensuring that the arts world - at least in Edmonton get bumped on an ongoing basis. For me, they are the site of strong and exciting work. Although sometimes teh works is not as strong, I am always filled with thoughts when I leave an exhibition.

Atavist Sound said...

Anonymous, does the Front Gallery need a "clear vision"? What does that mean, anyway? All the work should fit with a theme, or something? If there is a discernable theme at the Front, it's local art. Of course it's a "hodge-podge": it's representative of what's going on in the city, wheter it's Tony Baker, Tim Rechner, or Kari Duke and Tom Gale. "Hodge-podge" doesn't really amount to a criticism, does it?

Scott Gallery isn't "in the running" as a top destination for local contemporary art? Because it "reeks of oldness"? What does that even mean? It sounds very ageist, anyway. Most of the work is local, contemporary, and good... where's the problem?

The Peter Robertson space is the best looking venue in town, for sure.

AGA and Latitude show some good things once in a while, but it invariably feels like a fluke. AGA hardly qualifies as a local Gallery (especially now that their mandate has officially expanded to cast its shadow over the whole province) as they likely show more work by Calgarians and Lethbridgians than Edmontonians. But, I suppose, due to their sheer prominence, the AGA would be in the running.

Latitude? Hardly. That place has more fundraiser parties than actual exhibitions of local artists, it seems. And when they do have shows, it's mostly shite. Things like Dean Smale's exhibition of portraits (from a long time back) and others are the exceptions to the rule. The fact that their cack-handed management has failed to maintain their artists' studio rental function is just another sign of the painful decline of Edmonton's oldest A.R.C.

No offense, but I have to wonder, if you think the gallery's great because you are "filled with thoughts when I leave an exhibition", what on earth is going on in your head the rest of the time... static? A dial tone, maybe?

Tam said...

"No offense... what on earth is going on in your head the rest of the time... static? A dial tone, maybe?"

How is Anonymous supposed to interpret that as anything other than offensive?

Latitude does show plenty of local emerging artists, and it's a gallery that's not afraid to take programming risks. It brings art to the city other galleries wouldn't have the balls to show.

As far as the fundraisers go, not only are they a fantastic time, but they bring together different communities in the arts and foster connections. The experience of art should go beyond the simple act of going to see an exhibition.

MC said...

Tam said...

"No offense... what on earth is going on in your head the rest of the time... static? A dial tone, maybe?"

How is Anonymous supposed to interpret that as anything other than offensive?


Gosh Tam, I suppose they could take it as good-natured ribbing, me having a little harmless fun, at the expense of a silly statement they made. We're all grown-ups, right? Maybe not...

Tam said...

Well MC, I believe it was you who wisely said "To all, I hope we can all have critical discussions, and even passionate disagreements, about these professional issues, without letting petty personal feelings cloud our judgment."

On the other hand "We're all grown-ups, right? Maybe not..." you may be onto something there.

Color palet said...

I am a person who has lived in this city for over ten years and I have traveled extensively and I would agree that latitude 53 has balls, I do not understand the studio comment - what does that really matter about gallery programming. I have talked with Tod Janes and I find him to be quite bright, astute and engaging. I would rise to defend him as I think that he is one of the few bright lights in visual art in Edmonton and most of us would only miss the amazing work that he does once he leaves this dity - which could be sooner that we might think. It will be a sad day for this city when this happens. I know few directors more supportive of artists - regardless of where in their career they are then Tod. He always has time to offer to artists and goes out of his way to support artists and writer in many ways. He does far more than Tony Luppino or Catherine Crowstone. I find him to be modest and generous and honest and thoughtful. Slagging the management of Latitude 53 - shame on you. Try running that place and see how well you fair.

DC