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Artists About Town: Galleries taking the Art Walk online

2020 is not your typical year. That's why the Art Gallery of St. Albert and the Visual Arts Studio Association have other ideas, other online ideas, as does intermedia artist Brad Necyk. He was meant to offer a solo exhibit at a Nova Scotia gallery.
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Art Walk 2020 has turned into more of an ‘Art Surf’ situation as galleries have had to become creative in more ways than the art world is accustomed to. How do you show your exhibits to the public when the doors must stay closed?

The answer: if the people can’t come to see the artworks, then one must find a way to bring the artworks to the people. Hence, the virtual version of High Energy 25 is being electronically ‘hung'.

“It's not a new concept but a very vital concept to do an online exhibition of this show,” stated Jenny Willson, the director and curator at the Art Gallery of St. Albert.

The High Energy exhibit is an annual tradition. Every year, students from city high schools contribute toward this one show, which also serves to launch the summer Art Walk season. Look for work from Bellerose, Paul Kane, École Secondaire Saint Marguerite d’Youville, St. Albert Catholic, and Outreach High School students.

‘High Energy’ is an apt title: the show exudes teenaged enthusiasm, fearlessness and dynamic experimentation across a broad spectrum of inspiration and subject matter. It’s a critic’s fave and a public institution that offers a formative moment – that very first public exhibit – for many burgeoning members of St. Albert’s creative class.

Willson noted how disappointing it is for the gallery to be closed for such a moment. Perhaps that’s why there is a special schedule that has also been installed. Usually, High Energy lasts on the walls for a month.

High Energy 25 is now up for the rest of the year online at artgalleryofstalbert.ca. Apart from the fantastic extension, the curator also noted some other amazing benefits to the new online exhibit space.

“I guess one of the good things about this slightly different format would be that it is fully accessible and not just visitors to the local area would be able to see it any anyone around the world can view the work again and again. It really does just allow us to showcase the hard work of the students who have been working on those projects all year long and just bringing that out into the public for a really fun experience. High Energy is one of our most well-attended exhibitions usually so we're hoping that a lot of people take the opportunity to see it online.”

An artistic floral arrangement at VASA

Summer is technically more than six weeks away but the new show at the Visual Arts Studio Association is bumping it up on the calendar. Summer Expressions aims to offer art for the senses with an explosion of floral portraits and abstract expressions of flowers in the ground or in arrangements for your viewing pleasure, courtesy of artists Carmella Haykowsky and Dilys Kulchitsky.

Kulchitsky works in encaustics, predominantly a beeswax mixture with a bit of damar tree resin and the pigments. Encaustic is painted on in a molten state, she noted, so it hardens fast, which requires a lot of layers and a lot of patience, not to mention stringent measures to keep the studio clean. That’s no problem for the artist who works as a nurse by day.

“You just keep adding layers of encaustic medium and you fuse each layer with the blowtorch to the layer underneath. I have tarp on my floor. There's drips everywhere. It's messy. It's fun. It's a really fun process. I love it,” she stated.

An artistic polymath, she also sang in the chorus with the Edmonton Opera company up until last year but still sidelines in a band with her husband. She sees parallels between how much she loves performing as she does painting.

“I love process. Even in the opera, I loved that my favourite part was putting it all together, not so much performing. The encaustic process – the melting, the wax, the whole experimental part of it all – I was hooked from the moment I started it.”

Haykowsky has a different experience, though she sings, too. She teaches community art classes for adults, offering training in a variety of media and using all kinds of subject matter.

For this show, she has a series of 15 oil and pastel still life floral and abstracted paintings.

“I wouldn't call this en plein air because I did a lot of the initial studies or drawings for this work in my studio, and they were more imaginative,” she explained. “I developed them more realistically and some I really liked the way they were when they were more abstract. It was a different starting point where they they would just be sketches I did in pastel with some oil on paper. I really liked them so I wanted to create a series of paintings from them.”

While Haykowsky has exhibited through various galleries (including a recent show that she did with her daughter Mika, a recent MFA grad), Summer Expressions was actually meant to be Kulchitsky’s big debut. Thankfully, VASA still gave her her due with a virtual opening reception last Thursday.

The exhibit itself will remain for viewing through an online exhibit on VASA’s Facebook page, where you can also watch the virtual reception. New images will be posted on the site throughout May.

Necyk goes online, as well he should

Perhaps an online gallery exhibit is the perfect venue for an intermedia artist such as Brad Necyk. Beyond Here Lies Nothing is predominantly a collection of videos (collaborations with sound artist Gary James Joynes) and moving images with essays and stories that was originally meant to be on display at ARTsPLACE Gallery in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.

Look for it now at the artist’s own website at bradnecyk.com/beyond-here-lies-nothing. The venue does seem apt but one must remember that it is an adaptation of how it was meant to be presented.

“We saw this as an opportunity to reimagine what this exhibition could be since it's going to have to be delivered online and it's a completely different format, a completely different way of viewing and experiencing it,” he explained, suggesting it evolved into something even greater than its original purpose could have attained.

“Slowly the show kept building and I started working my way back through my catalog. What I slowly realized was that this is a really interesting healing journey that I went on. That was part of my personal life, part of my doctoral research and it was all there just in videos. I didn't have to look at other parts of my practice: the sculptural parts of my practice and the photographic parts. There was actually a really beautiful story of early trauma, illness and then ultimately healing, which has been the trajectory of my entire artistic practice over the past 10 years. That's the show that we wanted to make.”


Scott Hayes

About the Author: Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.
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