Editors Dr. Curtis Collins, Blair Fornwald, Wendy Peart
Published by Dunlop Art Gallery
$60 ISSN: 1929-9214
The Dunlop Art Gallery is a department of the Regina Public Library, thus it's fitting that Library Director and CEO Jeff Barber provided the foreword to DAG Volumes: No. 1 (2012), a limited-edition hardcover celebrating 17 insightful essays by 11 contributors, and 130 full-colour photographs that are the next best thing to visiting the DAG in person.
The exhibition retrospective features work from DAG's Central Gallery, its Sherwood Village location, and in situ art. As this comprehensive volume of the gallery's 2012 exhibitions and events was released a handful of years ago, a little Googling enlightened me that then-director Dr. Curtis Collins now heads The Yukon School of Visual Arts (Dawson City), but I turn to his introduction for words on DAG's 50th anniversary – the reason for this first in a prospective series of books. "Such a feat of longevity in Canada, by any cultural institution, should be duly noted." Agreed!
Collins laments the fact many show catalogues never get read and "continue to pile up across the country," and thus he writes hopefully that each copy in the 350 print-run of this book will be sold at the end of 2013. Mission accomplished? I don't know, but I'm elated to have my hands on a copy of this glorious publication, as I find it incredibly interesting to discover the why and how of an individual's art making, as well as viewing the finished products. Reading the essayists' thoughts on the work is like having my own personal guide walking around the gallery with me to enhance my experience.
The opening essay, written by Linda Jansma, concerns the retrospective of art by Shelagh Keeley, an accomplished Canadian who works on paper and produces wall drawings around the world. As with many of the other artists represented here, the photographs include gallery shots, so readers can contemplate the art as it was presented at DAG. "[Keeley's] drawings take the form of language," Jansma poetically writes, "spreading over the [steel] panels like words over a page."
Dr. Curtis Collins' engaging essay on the multi-media exhibition Darwin's Nose, by artist Trevor Gould, includes movie (Planet of the Apes) and American-Iraqi military conflict references to elucidate ideas around this Charles Darwin/orangutan-inspired show. Aside from watercolours and sculpture, Gould produced a video of Toronto Metro Zoo orangutans interacting (or not) with his sculptural elements.
"The artist was able to elicit a range of emotions from visitors to the Darwin's Nose exhibition, in confirmation of the orangutans' role as an ideal stand-in for the emblematic joy and angst of humankind," Collins writes. Art enriches us.
From Susan Shantz's whimsical frog pots to Terrance Houle's landscape photography that "[reinforces] the notion of ongoing colonial possession." From Robin Lambert's relational art that explores "how we seek and create social connections" to Daryl Vocat's bold prints, often "liberated" from Boy Scout handbooks. From "uncanny" dance performances to botany-inspired watercolours, this beautiful book underscores what many already understand: creating art is a kind of genius. All hail the artists.
This book is available at your local bookstore or from www.skbooks.com.