The newest exhibit at the Visual Arts Studio Association (VASA) comes from one of its newest artists, relatively speaking.
“I have only been painting for about five years, so I’m essentially self taught. I took some courses at the Seniors Centre. I could always draw with a pen and a pencil, but I never tried paint until I retired and had a little extra time,” Wayne Gorman, now 77, said about his first solo show, called Becoming.
“I started a little bit late in this. I wish I’d started 20 years earlier, but I am really enjoying myself.”
His show is an eclectic mix of subject matter from portraits to abstracts, all from a rather eclectic artist. Gorman works variously in acrylic, oil, and watercolour, and in graphite pencil, pencil crayon, and wax pencil.
One of his portraits is of the historical Sioux Chief Big Head, whose photo he was given permission by the Smithsonian Institution to reproduce as a black and white watercolour. Another one of a South American man with a weathered face and wearing a big black hat speaks to a larger interest in depicting the Indigenous peoples of the world.
Gorman, a Métis man, said he doesn't want his ethnicity to define his art, but he has invited a special guest to his opening reception.
"I have asked an Elder friend of mine to come and say a few words because I have a number of Indigenous pieces. We have an ethnic saying: ‘Do no intentional harm,’ so I don't know how a person's going to react to some of my paintings. I just wanted him to come and speak about that."
Having an Elder speak at the event does say a lot about the authenticity of his work and what he is trying to accomplish as an artist.
For Gorman, it all speaks to the theme of his show.
"I feel that we're always in the stage of becoming, whether it's in art or in your life."
Becoming will have an opening reception with Gorman in attendance along with special guest Indigenous Elder Will Campbell from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 5. The show will run until Saturday, Aug. 28. VASA is located at 25 Sir Winston Churchill Ave. Call 780-460-5990 or visit vasa-art.com for more information.
VASA to AGSA with SAPC and BLAS along for the show
To concentrate on Becoming, Gorman bowed out of a new and substantial show opening up at the Art Gallery of St. Albert this week. Members of VASA were invited to Drawn Home, an exhibit that would be coupled with works by members of the Big Lake Artists’ Studios and the St. Albert Photography Club. Those are all substantial collectives, so the show itself should be massive. It opens on Thursday, Aug. 5 as well and runs until Saturday, Sept. 18. AGSA is located at 19 Perron St. Call 780-460-4310 or visit artgalleryofstalbert.ca for more information.
The big work above the Staircase
While you're at the Art Gallery of St. Albert, make sure to pay attention to its Staircase Gallery where Diana Ohiozebau has her show Through the Tide installed. The exhibit consists of a single 1.8-metre-long piece made with acrylic and Aso-ebi fabrics and yarn on Aso-oke fabric instead of canvas. The piece, called Resilience II, shows a crowd of faces pushed together side by side, some overlapping. One face is turned to the right, its hands outstretched in a classic swimming position.
"This piece is essentially talking about how we navigate through our personal and – in the case of COVID – global challenge and the resilience of going through which difficulties we encounter," said the artist.
"We all have a unifying experience; we're not separate. Everybody experienced COVID in one way or the other. Nobody was separated from me even if you were indoors, but you had some restriction. Even if you didn't lose anyone, you had to wear masks. There was something uncomfortable for everyone to deal with. We all had a way of dealing with it."
The main character of this piece has to survive by simply swimming with whatever the tide brings in the way.
Through the Tide will be installed until Saturday, Nov. 6.