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Artists About Town: Experimental art pushes boundaries to cyberworld

When you can’t bring the people to the experimental art exhibit, you must bring the experimental art exhibit to the people’s computers. That’s just how you have to roll in 2020.

When you can’t bring the people to the experimental art exhibit, you must bring the experimental art exhibit to the people’s computers. That’s just how you have to roll in 2020.

What might be lost in translation, however, is more than made up for in the substance of the largest-ever acceptance of Canadians into the annual open exhibition of the International Society of Experimental Artists (ISEA), a largely American organization. The show – this year, it’s called Pushing Boundaries (find it through iseaartexhibit.org) – also has a significant St. Albert presence, with eight of the 24 northerners coming from this city, and that includes three award winners at the show.

When local artist Rick Rogers told the ISEA when he joined as a board member that he would boost the ‘international’ aspect of the group’s membership, he wasn’t just whistling Dixie. The show was meant to be on display at the Art Gallery of St. Albert, the same venue where the organization would have its annual symposium in September. It would have been the annual exhibit’s début north of the border.

He and the rest of the board put in a lot of work to promote the events.

“Because of that, they had more Canadian involvement than they ever have before, and because of the additional channel that we started promoting on – social media channels in particular but also calls for artists and those sorts of things – they also had more international involvement this year than ever before,” Rogers said.

He noted all four corners of the globe will have their turn being under the focus of the magnifying glass to get artists from all countries interested in ISEA. It was easier and made more sense for him to start locally for the simple fact that he already had tons of Canadian and especially Albertan contacts.

Entries poured in from Canada and the U.S. for certain, but they also trickled in from from Australia, Bahrain, Honduras, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa and the United Kingdom as well.

Perhaps true to its experimental and boundary-pushing ideals, or perhaps due to COVID-19 cancelling so very many in-person events, this year’s online exhibit also features video art pieces for the first time. Also new: a unique membership type to accommodate artistic collaborations. That’s a nice segue to offer some details on the piece Rogers worked on with Lisa Liusz.

The mixed media piece, Atomic, might be recognizable to local art aficionadoes as it was part of the GOOP of 7’s recent Panel Discussion exhibit. It’s painted on several wood panels, which have been assembled together. Let’s let Rogers try to explain it.

“In some ways, it's a painting. In some ways, it's a sculpture. In some ways, it's an assemblage. It was truly an experiment.”

Joining Rogers and Liusz in Pushing Boundaries are such recognizable St. Albert names as Karen Blanchet, Doris Charest, Miles Constable, Helen Rogers, Barbara Shore and Samantha Williams-Chapelsky, as well as Edmonton-regional artists Cathy Bible, Carroll Charest, Karen Klassen, John Labots, Bette Lisitza, Aeris Osborne, Daniele Petit, Deann Stein Hasinoff and Judy Weiss.

In case you’ve got your calendar and a pencil ready, that ISEA symposium has now been delayed to 2022, but it’s still signed up to be held in St. Albert.

Quilters get the ruby treatment

Make sure to admire the new art on the walls of the Staircase Gallery when you visit the Art Gallery of St. Albert. Ruby Anniversary is the aptly titled piece created by 34 members of the St. Albert Quilters Guild to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

The pattern started with Myra Mahy’s Country Faces, which was then adapted to feature the symbolic rubies, since 40 years is the ruby anniversary. The piece is meant to celebrate camaraderie and creativity and foster a sense of community through quilting. Reportedly, guild members hope the quilt not only brings a smile to viewers but also inspires some of them to take up quilting as well.

Ruby Anniversary will be on display from Aug. 18 to Nov. 7AGSA is located at 19 Perron St. Visit artgalleryofstalbert.ca or call 780-460-4310 for more information.


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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