After a few false starts and discouraging setbacks, the sheets are off the tomato cages, and I'm choosing to believe that summer is here to stay. So this week, while a number of local galleries gear up for First Friday openings on June 5 -- exhibitions at Urban Shaman and Platform Centre, the MFA show at the School of Art, and, on Saturday, the grand opening of Lisa Kehler's new gallery in the East Exchange -- what better time to take a hike and take in some art in the out-of-doors?
My favourite new piece of public sculpture was still a work in progress when I walked by over the weekend. Under the guidance of Toronto artist Jenine Marsh, the kids at Art City used sand, clay and their superior spatial-reasoning skills to make moulds for casting concrete masks. Each face in the crowd was incorporated into a quirky, geometric mini-monument, which, after a few finishing touches, makes its Broadway debut just down the street, on the patio of Edward Carriere Salon.
Around the corner, on Memorial, you may have already spotted a somewhat splashier, higher-profile public work. Since late April, Reykjavik- and New York-based based artist Theresa Himmer's glittering Waterfall #2 has towered above the sidewalk between the WAG and Plug In ICA. Held up by scaffolding and made with thousands of fluttering oversize plastic sequins, the Núna Festival commission recreates an identical but now-destroyed work that Himmer installed in the Icelandic capital nine years ago. Removed in space and time from the original installation (and removed further still from the landscape that both attempt to recreate), Himmer's Waterfall is pointedly impermanent and out-of-place. Hemmed in by construction cranes and downtown traffic, it's at once ethereal and imposing, nostalgic and self-aware, a little bit tacky and totally sublime.
Though it's taking place indoors, Lost in Space and Its Remnants, an exhibition at Library Gallery, commemorates the most public of Winnipeg's public galleries (and also the smallest). Hole in the Wall Gallery was an actual hole in the wall behind a West End grocery store. It hosted micro-exhibitions by nearly 30 local artists before the missing brick was finally replaced last year. Collecting photographs and fragments of the ephemeral installations, the exhibition invites viewers to reflect not just on the works themselves but on the place of art in daily life. Library will be open for First Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. and by appointment afterwards, so Friday's your best bet.
If you need a breath of fresh air after the events downtown, you might opt to end your evening at La Maison des Artistes' annual Nuit de Art. The evening of DJ sets, performances and temporary installations is scheduled to light up the St. Boniface gallery's sculpture garden until midnight. (If you go, be sure to look for Julie & Roxy, grad Kristiane Church's new outdoor billboard).
Lastly, I don't know about you, but the quality of my own summer is measured in kilometres past the Perimeter. If you're looking to escape the city and give your creative muscles a stretch at the same time, I hear there are still a few spots left at the Arts West Council's annual retreat at Riding Mountain. The five-day adult "art camp" runs June 20-26 and sounds idyllic. The $625 fee covers accommodations, meals and daily classes in drawing, painting and printmaking by esteemed local artists like Winnipeg's Diana Thorneycroft. (Visit artswestcouncil.ca for details).