AOTP ‘09 Symposium

Celebrating Alberta Arts Days

by Jody Farrell

The Art of the Peace Seventh Annual Symposium promises to be a three day love affair; a coming together of artists and art enthusiasts to celebrate, discuss and view art in its many forms, from that which hangs, or sits, or moves as artistic expression, to the actual buildings that exhibit those various works. Speakers will address what drives artists to make art in the first place and how we can keep promoting it as a staple of our life and culture. The symposium takes place in the brand new Prairie Art Gallery in Grande Prairie from September 18 to 20, 2009, and coincides with the sec- ond annual province-wide Alberta Arts Days initiative. This year’s AOTP symposium guest speakers include artist/in- structors Bev Tosh and Ken HouseGo, as well as Tony Luppino, former executive director of the Art Gallery of Alberta.

Works by Bev Tosh from her installation War Brides

Works by Bev Tosh from her installation War Brides

Bev Tosh

Calgary artist Bev Tosh’s major touring exhibition One-Way Passage began over eight years ago with a large paint- ing she made of her mother as a young war bride. That artwork evolved into a passionate look at the thousands of women who married foreign servicemen during or following World War II. The overseas passage to their husband’s homeland was typically paid for by the host government.

In a Kelowna Art Gallery article about One-Way Passage, Tosh says the initial painting was made for her mother’s 80th birthday. The resulting exhibition combines “years of research and hundreds of personal interviews with war brides in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, England and the United States.” Of the 48,000 British and European women who married Canadian servicemen stationed overseas, approximately 44,000 women and their 23,000 children journeyed to Canada.

“Cargoes of women and children were deposited day and night, onto urban platforms and rural settings from coast to coast,” Tosh explained. “Most were claimed by husbands they barely recognized, seeing them for the first time in civil- ian clothes.” While the majority of women portrayed in One-Way Passage came to Canada, some, like Tosh’s mother, left this country as brides of Commonwealth servicemen who had trained here during the war years. “The exhibition,” Tosh says, “explores the rite of passage of leaving home physically, emotionally, and psychologically, and the passage of time and lifetimes.”

Tosh, who has taught at the University of Calgary and the Alberta College of Art and Design since the mid 1980s, has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions across Canada and internationally.

Tony Luppino

TonyLuppinoWho better to address a community with a brand new public art gallery about the importance of housing and promoting art than someone whose most recent job included getting a big city to back and build a similar, but bigger, public gallery?

Tony Luppino, former executive director of the Art Gal- lery of Alberta, has been a featured speaker both nationally and internationally. He has spoken, in many cases, about the changing times in museums and art galleries, and these organizations’ vital role in the community.

In his keynote address at Reality Check, the 2008 Alberta Museums Association Conference, Luppino talked about how museums and galleries worldwide “can enact positive and real change, and deliver more value to their constitu- ents.” Luppino’s own impact on the arts and business has garnered many awards and he was named one of Alberta’s 50 most influential people in Alberta Venture magazine in 2006.

The 84,000 square foot Art Gallery of Alberta, which in- corporates the former Edmonton Art Gallery building, is a focal point in that city’s downtown core. The Randall Stout design features a twisted ribbon of steel which wraps around the building. Construction challenges included the tight, urban site with its adjacent underground LRT line, and integrating the existing structure with the new design. The gallery is set to open in early 2010.

Ken HouseGo

Sailor Man Tattoo #1 by Ken HouseGo

Sailor Man Tattoo #1 by Ken HouseGo

This well-known Grande Prairie artist and college in- structor has a love for both making and teaching art that many, including artists and connoisseurs, credit for having enhanced their appreciation of the medium. His un- bridled enthusiasm is evident in his own colourful, whim- sical assemblage artworks, a new series of which were recently featured as part of the official opening exhibition of the new Prairie Art Gallery in the Montrose Cultural Centre.

Dan Wourms, a former Grande Prairie Regional College arts student and co-owner of Unique Gallery, is among those who have delighted in HouseGo’s visual arts fun- damentals class. While Wourms admits initial general consensus was that he was a little “out there,” HouseGo’s expressive teaching methods and commitment to helping each student get the most out of the class resulted in their grasping some of the most important art concepts.

“He’d usually be teaching us three things at the same time,’’ Wourms recalls. “He might yell, or jump up and down; anything to help drive home a concept in a way that each student, in whatever way they learned, might under- stand. By the end of the first semester, most of us found we’d made breakthroughs as to how to incorporate some of those fundamentals and technical skills into our art.”

HouseGo, whose artistic experiences include national exhibitions dating back to the seventies, as well as pub- lic commissions in Toronto, Prince Edward Island, and Grande Prairie, will speak about both the process of mak- ing art and his upcoming touring exhibition, Dreams Don’t Come With Titles, an Alberta Foundation for the Arts Trav- elling Exhibition curated by Prairie Art Gallery’s Todd Schaber and Missy Finlay.


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