Friday, January 4, 2008

“11404” Gillian Willans, Andrea Pinheiro, Monica Pitre and Friends, ArtsHab, December 6, 2007 - January 17, 2008

Sharing artistic inspiration along with sharing a bathroom, the former residents of 11404 came together one last time to address their time together as friends, as artists, and as individuals that permeated each others lives.

During the year and a half of their cohabitation, Gillian Willans, Andrea Pinheiro and Monica Pitre were all MFA students at the U of A (Pinheiro and Pitre in printmaking and Willans in painting). 11404, currently and appropriately exhibiting in the residence hallway/gallery of ArtsHab, reveals all new works made after the end of this specific era. During this time, 11404 hosted friends and artists from across the country and North America, serving as a crash pad and an incubation of thoughts, ideas and community. But Pitre has since moved out shortly after her graduation, Pinheiro has already transplanted herself to Vancouver, and Willans is nearing her spring graduation.

Aesthetically, all three of these artists do not share any strong formal or contextual similarities (but on a surface level Pinheiro and former roommate Anna Szul’s pieces do strike a resemblance to each other). Instead, what is revealed through this exhibition are their personalities. Each artist remains an individual quite distinctly from each other, but it is interesting to see how living together under this intense period shines through so differently in this show.

Willans’ neon-realist paintings walk you through their living space, from the clutter of shoes in the front foyer to a portrait of keys and mail lain as an installation painting in the hallway of ArtsHab. Willans’ work deals most directly with 11404, and rightly so as the sole remaining tenant from the original three. Pitre on the other hand, the first to move out, created a space within the exhibition space, bordering a section off with billowing ceiling trim. On your right reveals a cluster of small framed works that begin from the ground up and winds around a small corner. The works, resonating a deeply personal and mysterious tone, are contained by a suspended window-drawing and a single brass leaf lamp. The work may not directly deal with the subjects of 11404, but its contrast to the other works acts as a much needed separation of thought and private space (and also as reminder that Pitre was clearly the one conscious of atmosphere and lighting at 11404). And Pinheiro’s works, often sweeping in its isolation, appears hushed in this show, murmuring certain lines of nostalgia and closure in the final show as an Edmonton resident. But near the end of the hallway gallery there is a wall of old notes and polaroids that capture the every day communication and memories, and it becomes clear that the time shared at 11404 was filled with love and mutual respect, and the exhibition is a very honest and bittersweet celebration of that era.

Artists: Willans, Pinheiro, Pitre, Holly Sykora and Anna Szul

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