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DICK AVERNS in Calgary 07/10/12
July 10, 2012
George Littlechild, Cross Cultural Examination #2, 2007, ink jet print on paper
Paradoxes concerning First Nations and cowboy culture are a perennial topic when it comes to the Calgary Stampede; one addressed this year via a triptych of exhibits at Jeff Spalding's new venture, the Museum of Contemporary Art Calgary. Prominent is a show from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA) collection featuring Aboriginal artists and shaped by curatorial input from the late Joane Cardinal-Schubert (1942-2009) in whose memory the show is dedicated.
Combining stories past and present Narrative Quest gives vision to First Nations' histories, while also articulating future hopes. Consolidating the AFA's efforts to bring coherence to their Aboriginal holdings, there's a chance to see traditional works such as stone carving alongside performative photography by Terence Houle, mixed media works by George Littlechild, and some of Schubert's paintings. These artists present, respectively, ironic and humorous depictions of the urban hunter-gatherer, juxtapositions of residencies and identities suggestive of dislocation and cultural ambivalence, and dreamtime scenes including Looking for the Silver Bullet and a canvas counterpane, all of which speak to a desire for sleeping and living peacefully. Other Narrative Quest artists include Jane Ash Poitras, David Garneau, Faye Heavyshield, and Bruno Canadien.
Guy Weadick, Illustration and note, 1949, drawing on newsprint mounted on board (courtesy Jay and Val Colburn)
Turning to cowboy conventions, Aimee Benoit has curated cultural artifacts marking the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede. A must-see is the large illustrated 1949 letter from Stampede founder Guy Weadick: "I hope... the cowboys don't get hurt to (sic) bad, and the injuns get the wrinkles out of their bellies and their ponies too." This is likely interpreted as hoping the First Nations are not underfed or hungry. Yeehaw and giddy-up down to MOCA, now opening new exhibits every first Thursday of the month with a Carl Beam show to come. For the shows listed here there are free talks every Saturday at 2.30pm.
MOCA Calgary: http://mocacalgary.org/
Narrative Quest continues until August 25.
My Stampede continues until July 28.
Carl Beam opens on August 2 and continues until August 25.
Dick Averns is an interdisciplinary artist and writer whose exhibitions and performances have been presented internationally. He is currently artist in residence at The Pembina Institute, supported by Calgary 2012 – Cultural Capital of Canada. Dick teaches at the Alberta College of Art + Design. In addition to writing for Canadian Art, Front, On Site Review and contributing to many catalogues, he is Akimblog's Calgary correspondent.
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