The good news is that when Caterina Pizanias went looking for a few good women artists to feature in her exhibition Lure of the Local: Women Artists in Canadian Land(scape), a number of them came with Alberta artistic roots.
The not-so-hot news, for art lovers interested in checking out the show? Grab a passport and check your Aeroplan points.
That’s because the exhibition, which features ten Canadian mid-career and emerging women artists including Julie Cosgrove, Raina Enns, Sara Girletz, Jamie Gray, Kim Huynh, Andrea Kastner, Annie King, Eveline Kolijn, Galia Kwetny nd Romy Straathof, opens Tuesday out of town — all the way over in Athens, Greece, at the Vorres Museum.
The show celebrates the connection between Canada and Greece. It is part of a series of exhibitions featuring Canadian artists.
“It’s actually a very positive connection,” Pizanias says. “The Greeks love Canada.”
Pizanias didn’t set out to create a show that was heavy on artists whose artistic roots are in Alberta. It just happened that way.
“It’s basically an accident of biography,” Pizanias says. “I have studied, lived and curated in Alberta and know Alberta very well. I’ve seen that Alberta has some of the most vibrant artistic expressions and so ... even though half of these artists now, they have graduated and moved to Ontario or B.C., (they have their roots here.)
“I don’t have anything against any of the other areas,” she adds, “but that’s the one (I know).”
Some of the work, such as the installation created by Eveline Kolijn and Romy Straathof, even features a little bit of southern Alberta terra firma, Pizanias says.
“They actually have created paper and ink from plants outside Calgary,” she says. “In a way, I’m taking a bit of Canada (to Athens). (The piece is literally) part of the land.”
The exhibition is the closing event of a year-long celebration of the 70 year presence of the Canadian Embassy in Greece.
Pizanias was invited to submit a proposal for an exhibition as a result of a show she curated for the Triangle Gallery, featuring Canadian sculptors, that was part of the 2004 Athens Olympics.
That show was a big hit — in part, she says, because Greeks and Canadians share similar cultural anxieties in a way.
“One thing that is common between Canadians and Greeks,” she says, “is that we (both) became nations in the 19th century.
“Our art system came to Canada via England. The art system that’s here went to Greece via Germany.
We have spent all this time trying to figure out, what is Greek land, or what is Canadian land — so we have a lot of common anxieties if you want to think of it this way.”
What Lure of the Local explores is the way in which the landscape still dominates and moves our cultural imagination, in large ways and small, she says.
“Each one of them has a poetics of the land that is very different,” Pizanias says.
“Basically, whenever I curate, I try to find artists who are doing small tweaking of the canon,” she says. “Art revolutions, they don’t last, but they poke a hole, so we can see whatever they tell us, differently.
“And many of these artists I met through my research for the Esker Foundation exhibit (The New Alberta Contemporaries, in Inglewood).
“And I thought, if I’m going to put together a show to celebrate Canada to celebrate Canada’s presence in Greece, I wanted to do something different.”
For example, she cites B.C. glass artist Jamie Gray, who has created an installation straight out of a Gordon Lightfoot song.
“(She) has created a highway with fused glass,” Pizanias says, “And ... talks about our unending transfer-trucks, always in motion, and how much this motion allows us to have a sense of Canada.
“Each one of them has beautiful-to-look-at art, but each wants us to rethink the land and the people.”
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Science and nature inspire my art. My work investigates form and pattern in nature, organisms, and mechanisms. I also investigate the relationship of Man with Nature. I create dialectic between natural structures and man-made constructions. This opposition appears formal in contrasting organic shapes against Euclidean, rigid structures, but underneath is often a commentary on the relationship between human society and the natural environment.