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THE NEXT 7 DAYS:     EVENTS (12)     +     OPENINGS (6)     +     DEADLINES (10)     +     CLOSINGS (24)
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Elusive Utopia & Winter Light
Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery
Sarnia, Ontario

Elusive Utopia
February 3 – May 7, 2017

Ian McLean | Prosthetic, 2012 | Oil on canvas | 101.6 x 76.2 cm

Elusive Utopia features artwork by Ian McLean, Matthew Carver, Renée Van Halm, and Kevin Yates

Elusive Utopia presents four artists who collectively explore the built environment, questioning how it simultaneously governs us while reflecting our deepest desires. Oscillating between aesthetically beautiful artwork and gnawing economic and social questions, particularly in light of the growing divide between the ‘haves and the have-nots’, the exhibition blurs the line between home and work space as a site of comfort and production, and as a site of unease.

The yearning for the utopic dream home is palpable in the paintings of Ian McLean. The brilliant colour and boldly painted renditions of suburban homes with their manicured lawns, perfect pools, and fences holding the natural world at bay, pushes the viewer to consider questions about how “social status and power are closely linked to spatial dominance.”1 Similarly, the visceral paintings of Matthew Carver draw the viewer in, then shift from beautiful to foreboding as the state of the social, economic, and political landscape is slowly revealed. Whether tracing the unease and sense of dislocation experienced in the sculptures of Kevin Yates, or, as in the paintings of Renée Van Halm, which present allegorical rather than representational explorations of the built environment, the exhibition directly challenges a dispassionate relationship between the world and the built environment.

The exhibition is curated by Lisa Daniels.

1 Leslie Weisman, “Public Architecture and Social Status,” in Discrimination by Design (Urban and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 24.

Winter Light
February 3 – May 28, 2017

Jane Austin | Eggs, 2014 | Video still

Winter Light features three video's by Jane Austin.

In winter, the low sun allows light to penetrate farther into the house. Sunlight filters through a tall cedar hedge and on windy days creates a dancing interplay of light and shadow on familiar objects left sitting on an antique table—a white cup, a saucer, a bowl of eggs. Winter Light is a series of poetic, still life videos that explore the play of light and shadow on everyday objects. The hypnotic sound of the clock and the metronome together with the dance of light and shadow across the objects are at once mesmerizing and familiar. When watched in their entirety, Austin’s ‘moving paintings’ have a hypnotic and peaceful effect.

Upcoming Programming

From painting workshops, to collage compositions, to artist and expert talks, our programming for Elusive Utopia and Winter Light offers something for everyone. Below are a few highlights – check out our website at for a full listing of upcoming events, descriptions, and presenter biographies.

Embracing the Unexpected with Ian McLean
February 25, 10:00am – 3:00pm

In this oil painting workshop, Ian will focus on techniques of underpainting, glazing, expressive colour, and mark making while practicing the art of embracing the unexpected.

Cut & Paint with Renée Van Halm
April 7, 10:00am – 3:00pm

Collage compositions will form the basis for small paintings on paper. Renée will introduce you to her collage technique and how to use it as source material for paintings. Using photocopy enlargements and cut images from magazines, create compositions that will delight and surprise.

Matthew Carver: Night of the World
March 2, 7:00pm

Carver will discuss his practice, focusing on the work that is included in the Elusive Utopia exhibition. He will shed light onto what inspires and motivates him and how his travels and current social, economic, and political events influence his work.

Sky Goodden: The Changing Landscape of Art Criticism
March 9, 7:00pm

Sky Goodden presents a lecture on art publishing and criticism at a crucial moment, when its tone and presentation is undergoing significant renovations. She delivers a brief survey of art criticism in Canada and internationally, bringing a focus to the pluralities of the genre’s contemporary moment (highlighting the lessons learned through her successful international online art publication, Momus), while touching on its past "crisis," and its subsequent regeneration through online media. She profiles the field's emerging and leading writers and publishers, and examines criticism's potential within a perpetually shifting field. | 519-336-8127

Gallery Hours
Monday/Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 11:00am – 4:00pm
Thursday: 11:00am – 8:30pm
Friday: 11:00am – 4:00pm
Saturday/Sunday: 11:00am – 4:00pm