Soft Core, Hard Edge

Image from The Art Gallery of Calgary

Headed to the Curator’s Tour (Marianne Elder from Calgary and David Pagel from LA) of Soft Core, Hard Edge at the Art Gallery of Calgary this weekend. Missed the opening the previous evening, but apparently it was awesome and tons of people were there.

The curator’s tour was pretty interesting. I went mostly because Wil Murray‘s work was in the show, and I’d seen The Strange Space that will Keep Us Together in 2008 at the Belkin Satellite and remembered Murray’s work. Elder and Pagel talked about how they ended up coming up with the show and choosing artists, which was primary based on similarities between abstract works of LA and Calgary artists — they didn’t have a specific program or theory, but instead they wanted to put the works together and see what would happen and what they’d bring out in each other. In some ways that bothered me … the talk was kind of, not necessarily unfocused, but it didn’t have a specific point to make, and some of it was stuff I just didn’t see in the work that was quite opinion based and formal. But, it’s better to be frank about that than to try and force a point on something that’s less specific (more abstract?) and more experimental.

Abstract painting isn’t something that generally turns my crank, but the show was quite neat especially because a lot of it wasn’t abstract painting or sculpture, and some of the items were pretty interesting to see in the context of abstraction that I had never really thought of as ‘abstract’ as such. Like Eric Cameron‘s thick paintings (2 are in the show). It’s interesting to read them within a context of lots of pretty ‘pure’ abstraction, and to think of them as abstract paintings instead of as sculptures or conceptual pieces. And, thinking of them that way changed how I read the other abstract works, because of the direct relationship those abstractions have with specific objects, but not with representing them.

There were two Dave and Jenn pieces in the show. I hadn’t seen their work before, but it was really engrossing, and whimsical. I think I like it the same way I like Maurice Sendak’s books. I went to see the show that they have at Skew Gallery as well later that day, so I got to see a bit more of the worlds they create.

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  • Paul Hughes

    Thanks for this post.

    Looking forward to you getting deeper into our vibrant cultural community.

  • Wil

    Did you manage to catch the panel discussion?

    I worry that somewhere between the esoteric connection between LA and Calgary and the flashiness of the production, the theme of the show may live outside the gallery as "Shared Regional Style". This is the very difficult work a curator has to do with a show like this. And the dangerous territory a show like this can tread.

    This was discussed more at the panel discussion, and from more perspectives than just the curatorial drive.

  • Kathryn BLair

    Hi Will,

    Thanks for your reply! No, I didn't make it to the panel discussion unfortunately; I wanted to go and can't remember what happened. Do you know if there's a recording? I'll ask them. I'd love to hear it, because I'd like to hear some of the other interpretations of the overall theme. I really thought once I started thinking about the way the works related to the world they were or were not representing, that could have started to come to a theme that's more specific than Shared Regional Style if I gave it enough thought.

    If there is a particular shared regional style between Calgary and LA that is unique from other places, that would be kind of interesting, but that issue didn't seem to be explored and I don't know enough about it to comment. I