After a five-week lockdown the second wave is receding, but in the face of new variants of the virus and sluggish vaccine rollout, health-based wisdom has it that social distancing should continue and triple-layer masking is advisable. Slated for January in the WAG was an exhibition by Kingston School of Art instructors whose classes were cancelled. Now that the lockdown has been lifted in the Kingston area, the show is up for a couple of weeks this month, and some of the exhibiting instructors are back in the classroom. All health protocols are in force in the school and gallery
Barb Carr’s four mosaic-like square collages work well as a series. From a distance, each one adheres to a particular colour: gold, buff, black, or, in the case of aqua, a tonal range of blue. But look closely and you will see that Barb has painstakingly added extra pieces--squares within squares--to provide texture and punctuation with tiny stabs of colour, or text, or images.
I was drawn to the black, but was soon fascinated by the details and encouraged to continue my up-close inspection of the others in the series.
Tonya Corkey uses an unusual medium to create her images. The young child in Now I Prefer Cloudy Days appears as a subdued area of colours that are made up of lint applied like a stencil on bare canvas. In this piece Tonya has also attached four plastic fighter jets, which are painted white, but are fluorescent colours underneath. These colours cast a subtle glow around the planes, making them slightly ominous, especially to the child, who looks anxiously off to the side.
Components of Dizz Mall, a series of digital images by Mei Chi, mimics the flyers that might come from discount stores in a strip mall. With words like “Deals,” “Big Bag Sale,” “Wow! Coupons!” and “Warning! This is a real limited offer,” Mei satirizes—in a humorous way--the advertising methods used by retailers, and which ironically can’t really be duplicated in a digital ad.
Realist painter Bruce St. Clair has included oil, watercolour and acrylic paintings in this exhibition. Opposites Attract is an example of his masterful handling of watercolour. In this painting of a barrel, in dappled light, planted with red petunias, the artist has provided lovely detail in the surrounding grass while keeping the dark green background clean and neutral. When I first looked at this painting, I was baffled by the title. Then, as I took in the
complementary red and green, the penny dropped.
A rocking chair by a window, patio chairs and a table in a garden. These are intimate domestic scenes in the large oil canvases by Maureen Sheridan. Devoid of a human presence, the atmosphere of the spaces is enhanced by the inclusion of living natural elements-- trees outside the window, flowers in the garden--which are inviting, but distanced.
Four oil portraits in this exhibition are immediately recognizable as the work of alla prima painter Nancy Steele. She has a loose style that energizes her subjects, and a command of colour that enlivens skin tones, creating an image that goes beyond portraiture. The four subjects are members of the Kingston School of Art staff and volunteers, whom Nancy called upon to model for a demo she conducted in her portrait course last fall.
Debra Krakow, a resident of Wolfe Island, is drawn to nature and large vistas, often of the rural landscapes she sees around her home. She works in acrylic, applying it in a textured fashion, sometimes cracked or scratched, sometimes over a textured ground. In her pieces she uses a limited palette to create strong abstract compositions that emphasize verticality and horizontality. There are two exceptions: Lake Ice draws the viewer toward the horizon with sharp angles, while the diptych entitled Cornfield in Winter relies on repeated sinuous lines to carry the viewer gently over the rolling hills that define the field.
The KSOA Instructors’ Show continues until March 1st.
Ulrike Bender is a former graphic designer, art director and ESL teacher who, in retirement, has ventured into photography. She is currently a volunteer gallery assistant at the WAG and a docent at Agnes.