Sunday, July 8, 2007

Ka-Pow! Group Show, Profiles Gallery July 5 - 28, 2007

Image used with permission from Profiles Gallery, Tony Baker, Bly, 2006

Originally slated as a Tony Baker exhibition, artists Murray Allen, Kib (aka, Tristian McClelland) and Christopher Zaytsoff ended up rounding out the Ka-Pow! show. Baker, who was classically trained at the University of Alberta and has since relocated to Toronto, continues on the lineage of stripping down the 2D representation of his world into the basic rudimentary lines and colours that we associate with children's drawings. The product is often "childlike," but upon closer inspection, his training of relearning how to draw and see the world, his keen sensitivity shines through--perhaps childlike as well . . . but with great depth.
The curator's decision to add the other artists to the show was based on the observation that all of them were working in very similiar veins. Murray Allen, making mini wall sculptures and diaramas using kitschy scraps (everything from old barbie doll parts to novelty license plates and anything you would imagine in a well-stocked junk cellar), does indeed have an extremely playful quality that may be construed as either a child's mishmash or a commentary on waste and commodity. There is undeniably an aura of darkness to Allen's modules, as the same can be said of Kib and Zaytsoff's pieces, all explosive depictions of fantastical creatures emanating a profound sense of alienation.
At first, the attachment of the extra artists felt cheap and a gesture of disrespect to Baker's pieces, which in themselves are visually strong and were threaded a loose character narrative. Baker alone could carry a show, but on second thought, the mixture of Baker and the three outsider artists, and how all their works were indeed visually similiar even if they arrived from opposite directions, was an interesting contrast.

Image courtesy of Profiles Gallery, Kib and Christopher Zaytsoff, Secret Doors, 2007

At this point in all of their careers, probably spanning some forty years in age from oldest to youngest, they are all at the same juncture of expressing a similiar aesthetic voice. And although the title of the exhibition may express something fun and childish, the effect of the exhibtion overall is much more demure.


MC said...

"Baker, who was classically trained at the University of Alberta.

What on earth does this even mean?

Sometimes, Amy, I think you write things 'cuz you like how they sound, or look, without regard to what they mean (or, indeed, whether they mean anything at all). What exactly makes the other artists "outsiders", anyway?

Such sloppyness is troubling, in a professional writer, if you ask me (which, I know, you didn't, but there you go)...

amy said...

just for your ref, mc: "classically trained" and "outsider art" are notes from either their website or from conversations with the artists.

and of course sound has a lot to do with writing.

I appreciate your concern, if that's what it is.

Tam said...

The term Outsider Art was coined by art critic Roger Cardinal in 1972 as an English synonym for Art Brut (which literally translates as "Raw Art" or "Rough Art"), a label created by French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art created outside the boundaries of official culture; Dubuffet focused particularly on art by insane asylum inmates.
While Dubuffet's term is quite specific,the English term "Outsider Art" is often applied more broadly, to include certain self-taught or Naïve art makers who were never institutionalized.


I like how all summer Profiles coincides it's openings with the St. Albert art-walk. It brings in lots of traffic, there was lovely live music outside the gallery, an eclectic venue of places to see and a neighbourhood brimming with character. Ka-pow is a strong show and the bonus art walk resulted in a great time.

Sarah said...

It was a pleasant surprise to find this write-up for the Ka-pow show on your Artsters blog! Tony was really excited too, especially since we couldn't be in town to see the entire exhibit once installed. Sounds like the blend of work from the four artists involved is a pleasing mix!

MC said...

just for your ref, mc: "classically trained" and "outsider art" are notes from either their website or from conversations with the artists.

Just because artists write or say silly things (which, they do all the time, of course), does that mean that you should parrot them? I'd understand your excuse if you used the terms as quotes from the artists, but you didn't do that. YOU are the one calling Baker "Classically trained"... so, what do YOU mean by it... oh, nevermind.
It just doesn't make sense, regrdless of who says it. It sure sounds important though... sense, schmense, eh?

af said...

do you just not agree that baker is classically trained? that's fine then.
if I'm not mistaken, he studied fine art painting under peacock and ball at a pretty trad institution.
I call that classically trained--especially in contrast to outsider art. is this not making sense or a difference of opinions?

and I hope it does sound important--it's an important fact that we know Baker has recognized training within this context.

ahab said...

RE: "classically trained"

I'm more familiar with Baker's paintings than the extent of his training; however, the major problem with the original statement is the word 'classically' as applied to the UofA. It is a word that has a very specific meaning within art writing, and not one that is synonymous with 'traditional'. And the UofA, dubiously traditional anyway, is no Beaux des Artes - when's the last time anyone saw a UofA studio class copying from an original Roman-Greco masterpiece in marble or bronze (or a Renaissance one in charcoal or oil, for that matter)?

MC's is a fair complaint, if addressed to an art writer. And it would be fair to expect an art writer to cop to the oversight.

Just be glad he only bothered to point out the one inaccuracy.

Tam said...

Classical education- developed many of the terms now used to describe modern education. Western classical education has three phases, each with a different purpose. The phases are roughly co-ordinated with human development, and would ideally be exactly co-ordinated with each individual student's development.
"Primary education" teaches students how to learn.
"Secondary education" then teaches a conceptual framework that can hold all human knowledge (history), and then fills in basic facts and practices of the major fields of knowledge, and develops the skills (perhaps in a simplified form) of every major human activity.
"Tertiary education" then prepares a person to pursue an educated profession, such as law, theology, military strategy, medicine or science.

Classicism- in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for classical antiquity, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seeks to emulate. The art of classicism typically seeks to be formal and restrained. It can also refer to the other periods of classicism.
Classicism is a force which is always present in post-medieval European and European influenced traditions, however, some periods felt themselves more connected to the classical ideals than others, particularly the Age of Reason, the Age of Enlightenment and some movements in Modernism.
- wikipedia

seems to me "classically" isn't restricted to the "Beaux des Artes" or the "copying from an original Roman-Greco masterpiece in marble or bronze". I agree with AF, makes sense to me.

What's with all the dissecting and semantic quibbling anyway? Seems pretty petty.

ahab said...

What's with all the dissecting and semantic quibbling anyway? Seems pretty petty.

A pretty penny that is.

My quibble is not semantical, it is actual. Even by wikipedia's crude and arguable definition(s), the University of Alberta's Department of Art and Design does not classically educate its students in the classical arts. Not that they couldn't use it.

Can anyone name even a single ART or ARTH class/instructor that demonstrates otherwise? Oh, well, there is that one summer class that paints watercolour landscapes in Italy - that's both romantic and classical.

What's your real complaint, Tam? Surely you aren't arguing the benefits of ambiguity in writing? Or the effectiveness of typing one thing but meaning another?

Tam said...

I suppose my complaint is that I find the loss of perspective here frustrating. Shouldn't there be more focus and discussion about the actual art that is being reviewed? Shouldn't we see the exhibition and consider it before we venture an opinion as to whether or not the writing is acurate?

ahab said...

the loss of perspective here

Your frustration with the tangent is something that resonates with my own feelings often enough. But any disservice to the art exhibit under review is due to inconsistencies within the blogpost itself, and not comments about the same.

No amount of looking at the art will help a sentence like this be correct or make sense: "The product is often "childlike," but upon closer inspection, his training of relearning how to draw and see the world, his keen sensitivity shines through--perhaps childlike as well . . . but with great depth."

MC said...

"What's with all the dissecting and semantic quibbling anyway?"

It's called criticism.

"Shouldn't there be more focus and discussion about the actual art that is being reviewed?"

I couldn't agree more.

"Classically trained" is not a synonym for 'university educated'. That should be clear. I would be very surprised indeed to hear Graham Peacock or Allen Ball describe what they do as giving student a "classical education". Nope, there's no arguing this one. Unless Amy plans on labelling every UofA grad. artist as "Classically trained" (which would be ridiculous), then it's obvious she's using the term as a sort of flattery, or to sound important, or something. There's just no other reason for it.

(side note: I like Tony Baker personally, I own work of his, we even went to school together. I am not criticizing his work here at all. I'm just pointing out that calling him "classically trained" is silly, that's all). 'Nuff said.

af said...

well, I better start looking up the etymological definitions of every word I use in my new dicktionary . . .

MC said...

There's no shame in a writer having to look something up in the dictionary. They're pretty handy little reference books, you know. They've even got 'em online.

Every writer should unhesitatingly and frequently use them, I think.
What's the alternative?

Anonymous said...

goddammit! And here i was all blushy that there were 14 comments about our show! i'll just clear all this fuss up and let everybody know what i think af meant was that i was trained in the classics! like the thing, alien and road warrior! awesome!
stop yer god damned bickerin

ahab said...

af, only if you care whether the actual effect of your writing efficaciously conveys your intended meaning.

tonyb, dude. You're imagining fuss where there is none. But are you also suggesting it'd be best to stop demanding literary accuracy or excellence? In my opinion clarifying the post by criticism and rebuttal is what (enabled) blog comments are best suited for - not cliche guest book entries like "Congrats!" "You're the best!"

Yes, Road Warrior IS awesome; and blog arguments ARE fun.

Anonymous said...

actually, i guess i would've preferred congrats you're the best over this pointless fancy-worded "arguement" over subjective word choices. it was clear to me that there was a problem with personalities rather than a legitimate literary discussion, so i made a silly joke to lighten this blab-hole up a bit. you crusty bastard. this must be mccourt. you guys sit in your studio and hate everyone don't you... c'mon you know you do! stay gold pony boy

Tam said...

lol!!! You're classic Mr. B. and thanks for making your art in that show almost as fantastically affordable as it is fantastic. I'm the proud owner of Roamer Captain, and shall give him a happy home.

MC said...

congratz toni ur the bst.

MC said...

(but then, since I curated Baker's first solo exhibition in the EAG's Kitchen gallery back in 2001, I had thought he might have already known I think he is quite talented... this, despite the undeniable fact that I am crusty, and I do hate everybody, as we all know so well...)

Anonymous said...

good, good, better in fact. right back at you. you too are the best. 'cept i kinda expected a bit better feedback from one of such writey prowess and artisteric knowyness...
i like the italicized bio thingy there, and jokes are good! this is a giant leap.

MC said...

Sorry for the poor feedback, Toni Tone Tony, I must admit, i haven't troted out to St. Albert to see this "classically outsider" show, as of yet.

What can I say, I'm just too busy gorging myself on intelligent art criticism, I just don't have the time.

Anonymous said...

yeah i kinda figured that one out about 31 comments ago...
hey i was bummed to hear about the funding situation. you guys certainly deserve it. good luck on the AFA.

Beth said...

This is great info to know.