Art of the Peace Symposium ’06

Artists and art lovers will gather October 13 and 14, 2006, for the fourth annual Art of the Peace Visual Arts Symposium in Grande Prairie, Alberta. As in past years, the range of topics will both educate and inspire, and may even get you laughing.

By Jody FarrellJohn Hall, Muneca

John Hall

John Hall’s vivid, often dazzling paintings have been widely celebrated, both here in Canada and abroad. They have been described by art critic Gary Michael Dault as “pictorially seductive, wickedly so.”

Since graduating from the Alberta College of Art in 1964, John Hall has wrestled with the challenge of creating an art which involves framing reality in such a way as to announce that what is contained in the frame is not real. He is interested in the formal process of painting; the techniques of translating what he sees into another medium. He tackles all aspects of our culture, and, with subject matter ranging from lollipops, masks, and fruit, to pencils and other everyday disposable items, celebrates in paint the way he sees light defining form “from a very specific place in space and time.”

While Hall’s compositions might suggest a lack of formal arrangement, they are, in fact, carefully considered, so as to welcome an interaction with the viewer. Author and creative writing teacher Ken McGoogan, who asks his students to “put themselves inside a painting” says that Hall’s images “call forth (more) imaginative responses than works of such masters as Picasso and Edward Hopper. Hall not only makes us look, really look at everyday objects, but makes those objects suggest stories,” McGoogan says.

For the Art of the Peace Visual Arts symposium, Hall will speak about the development of descriptive realist painting in the 1960s as an answer to what he calls “the increasing encrustation of convention on the once vital principles of Modernism.” New Realism, which includes photo realism, hyper-realism, and super realism, matured in the 1970s, enjoying both critical and popular support. Hall will use his work as an example of the period, which he says “once again finds itself largely out of critical favour.”

Jeff de Boer, Samuria

Jeff de Boer

Calgary-based artist Jeff de Boer is best known for his metal armour for cats and mice. While some would argue that his work appears to belong to the realm of fine craft, Douglas Udell, owner of galleries in Edmonton and Vancouver, says his own interest in de Boer’s armour doesn’t stem from its craftsmanship, but rather its artistic intent.

“Jeff takes the tradition of armour and cranks it through his imagination to produce these tremendously interesting artworks,” Udell says. “He elevates function into form, and through elevating the form, he moves into art.”

One happy owner of two of de Boer’s cat armours is the actress Halle Barry, who became enamoured with the work when she saw it on the Cat Woman movie set in Vancouver.

De Boer grew up watching his father work as a tinsmith. In high school, he took an interest in metal work and started building armour. He later majored in jewellery-making at the Alberta College of Art & Design, where he combined his new knowledge with his armour-making experience and created the first suit of armour for a mouse.

These days, de Boer is working on large projects, having just completed a major group of sculptures for the centre court of the new Alberta Children’s Hospital. He is currently working on a life size bucking bronco made of barbed wire for the Glenbow Museum’s Mavericks of Alberta Exhibition. At the Art of the Peace Visual Arts Symposium, de Boer will be talking about his works, both early and recent, and, he adds, “telling some of the best stories from my time as the world’s only professional mouse armour maker.”

idaho DVD cover

Grande Prairie Filmmakers

Grande Prairie natives Scott Belyea and Riley Pearcy, along with Derrick Doll and Derreck Toker, have achieved what only a handful of artists manage to do in a relatively short time: they have garnered international recognition and acclaim for their short film, idaho.

The movie, which runs just over 13 minutes, was filmed over four days in February, 2005, in Delta, B.C., south of Vancouver. It’s a dark and humorous satire that takes aim at an unfeeling, overbearing corporate manager, whose employees toil away in suits in a most unusual setting.

Written and directed by Belyea, with Pearcy as cinematographer and producer, idaho has won several awards, including best cinematography at the Hollywood DV Film Festival in 2005; best student cinematography at the Canadian Society of Cinematographers awards (Toronto) in 2006, and best film at Youngcuts Film Festival 2006 in Montreal. Doll was responsible for idaho’s music and Toker was co-producer.Riley PearcyScott Belyea

Pearcy, speaking from Vancouver where he works full time in the film industry, says idaho took about three months from pre-production to the final cut. He says the B.C. location’s weather, normally wet and cold at that time of year, was, for most of the four-day shoot, beautifully warm.

“We had this amazing sunlight glaring down on us the whole time. Where you would normally need massive amounts of lighting, we were able to use the two lights we had.” The entire film was shot using only 55 mm and 12 mm lenses.

As for glitches, Pearcy remembers having his film school (the Art Institute of Vancouver- Burnaby) confiscate the camera he was using on the second day of filming, after he had failed to sign out a table he’d taken for the project. He was forced to find another camera for the job.

“The guy (in charge of the Art Institute’s equipment room) flipped out,” Pearcy laughs, adding that following the film’s success, the school was very supportive.

Pearcy says working in the film industry pays well, but that, given its “crazy hours” and frequent trips to distant locations, “you really have to want to be doing it.”

The short film idaho will be screened at the Art of the Peace Visual Arts Symposium on Saturday, October 14, 2006.

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