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Gather in galleries

Cool art shows a great way to escape stifling summer nights

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With musicians flocking to Birds Hill Park for the folk festival and actors madly rehearsing for the fringe festival, this is a quiet week for the performing arts in Winnipeg.

But it's a lively time for visual art, with a diverse palette of gallery shows opening tonight or currently on view. Here's a look at four exhibitions you can check out free of charge.

The cre8ery and Mayberry Fine Art shows will be open for First Fridays, the free self-guided art walk that takes place in the Exchange District on the first Friday of each month from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Download the July 6 guide from www.firstfridayswinnipeg.org)

The Plug In show, though it's not in the Exchange, is also open Friday until 9 p.m. And most of these galleries are air-conditioned, so you can get cultured and cool at the same time.

BOREALism

Cre8ery, 125 Adelaide St.

Opening reception tonight at 7:30; to July 14

 

THE northern mining city of Flin Flon is known for exporting musicals, but now it can expand its artistic bragging rights. BOREALism is the first exhibition by a collective of Flin Flon artists to be crated up and shown in Winnipeg.

Thirteen artists are showing a total of 52 works, including acrylic, oil and watercolour paintings, batik, collage, encaustic, pottery, sculpture and photography. Five of the artists will attend tonight's opening. Most of the works are for sale.

The show blossomed out of a renewal project: the founding in 2010 of the Northern Visual Arts Centre (NorVA). A Flin Flon store called Johnny's, famous for its lunch counter, had gone out of business, says artist and NorVA president Sarah Trevor. The building was sitting empty and forlorn until a group of artists managed to reopen it as a studio and gallery with help from the local arts council, a neighbourhood revitalization grant and Hudbay Minerals, the local mining company.

NorVA is now a creative hub that hosts everything from art classes to musical open-mike nights, Trevor says. "At least two of the artists had completely stopped painting before NorVA started up, because they felt so isolated and felt there was no place to show their work," she says. "It's made such a huge difference."

The theme of BOREALism is physical and spiritual qualities of the boreal forest, including the interaction of the forest with the mining community and the healing capacity of the forest to renew itself.

 

Reset: Post-consumer Gamer Culture

Platform Centre for Photographic + Digital Arts, Artspace Building, to July 28

 

IF you grew up with a video-game controller in your hand, or if you're just curious to see how media artists are reworking yesterday's games into today's art pieces, investigate this interactive show.

Curated by a Winnipeg media artist who goes by the name mrghosty (a.k.a. Skot Deeming), Reset features works by six international artists who use the software, hardware, platforms and esthetics of video games to imagine new works.

Approaches vary from "machinima" -- the practice of creating film out of video-game footage -- to using appropriated images from 8-bit games to create stills and animated gifs.

Platform director J.J. Kegan McFadden says the nostalgia-stirring show has been attracting gamers since it opened on June 21.

"The subculture of so-called geeks has found us," he says. "They're having a lot of fun interacting with the old technology in new ways. They understand what it once was, and they're seeing what the artists have done with it now."

Visitors can play, for instance, on a Nintendo DS that's been reconfigured by artist Myfanwy Ashmore to reveal an autobiographical poem. Or they can sit on a beat-up couch in a recreated 1980s rec room and play a homemade Atari game by Atlanta-based Ian Bogost on the theme of the four seasons.

"There's no game where you play to win," says McFadden. "It's just experiential...

"People come in, look around, and say, 'I've got to come back with my girlfriend or my boyfriend -- we're gonna geek out hard!'"

 

Randolph Parker: Perspectives

Mayberry Fine Art, 212 McDermot Ave., ends Friday

 

TODAY and Friday are your last chances to catch this show and sale of 16 striking acrylic paintings by landscape artist Randolph Parker, who grew up in Ontario's Muskoka region and now lives on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia.

Many of the works are sweeping aerial views of the Prairies, inspired by fresh perspectives that Parker got from the vantage point of a helicopter. With titles such as Prairie Patterns and Art of the Land, the panoramic vistas of meandering rivers and patchwork fields will make you proud to be a prairie dweller.

 

Road Movie

Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, 460 Portage Ave.

Opens tonight (artist talk 7 p.m., reception 8 p.m.); to Aug. 18

 

ROAD Movie, a video installation produced by the National Film Board, is described as an episodic odyssey that chronicles "lives rarely seen and voices seldom heard."

Co-directors Elle Flanders (a Toronto filmmaker and peace activist) and Tamira Sawatzky (an architect, artist and former Winnipegger) travelled the segregated roadways of Palestine's West Bank to make the video, which was well received at the Berlin and Toronto film festivals.

They interviewed ordinary Israelis, who drive on modern highways, and Palestinians, who are confined to rough tracks riddled with security checkpoints, about this aspect of their everyday lives.

The video is actually a series of photographs projected at one frame per second, as in stop-motion animation. It's accompanied by a soundscape by audio artist Anna Friz.

In the gallery, the continuously looped video is projected on three angled walls that are double-sided. Six vignettes are projected on each side, for a total of 40 minutes of viewing time. Seating is provided.

"Israeli images play on one side, Palestinian on the other," Toronto's NOW magazine said in a five-star review last year. "The imposing set-up... suggests that, though we can walk around the screens, they might at any time close into the impermeable wall that separates the two nationalities."

alison.mayes@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 5, 2012 C1

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