John Murchie: À rebours

John Murchie, Saturday, December 27, 2014 (Triptych), 2015-2020, acrylic on newsprint, Courtesy of the Artist. Photo: Mathieu Léger

John Murchie: À rebours

21 January to 23 April 2023
Vernissage: 20 January @ 7:00 pm
Owens Art Gallery, Mount Allison University

Curators: Emily Falvey and Felicity Tayler

A sense of the impossibility of something just being what it is…
—Fernando Pessoa, 1932

John Murchie’s art explores the relationship between order and accident. By focusing on simple actions, such as drawing a line, applying paint, or selecting colours, he seeks chaos in constraint and humour in seriousness. Straight lines end up crooked, evenly applied layers of paint become strange formations, crossword puzzles reveal modernist abstractions. À rebours (Against the Grain) spans fifty years of Murchie’s artistic practice, which found its direction in the 1970s, when he was Director of the Library at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

Murchie is also widely known for his generous mentorship and support of artists and cultural producers at all stages of their careers, his tireless work building artists’ networks, and his significant contributions to artist-run culture in Canada. These contributions have led many artists to express their respect and admiration for him through their work. This exhibition is accompanied by a small selection of these homages done by artists Erin Brubacher, John Haney, Micah Lexier, Deborah Margo, Graeme Patterson, Felicity Tayler, and Tara K. Wells.

Originally from New Jersey, John Murchie immigrated to Canada in 1967 and has lived in Sackville, New Brunswick, for the past thirty-two years, earning a living as a gallery director, curator, writer, teacher, farmer, and cook. From 1972 to 1990 he worked as Director of the Library at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. His art practice spans more than fifty years during which time he published several artist books including A Quiet Evening (1978), Lines (1979), and One Way Ticket (1983). He has had several solo exhibitions and participated in group exhibitions at venues including AC Institute (New York), Dalhousie Art Gallery (Halifax), Articule (Montreal), Mercer Union (Toronto), The Nickle Arts Museum (Calgary), and Open Space (Victoria). He participated in Mountain Standard Time Performative Art Festival in 2003 and 2008. As a curator, he has organized exhibitions for Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery (Halifax), the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax), the Beaverbrook Art Gallery (Fredericton), and the Confederation Centre Art Gallery (Charlottetown). He received awards and grants including two Canada Council for the Arts “Curator and Critics” awards, and, in 1995-1996, he was a Research Fellow at the National Gallery of Canada. From 2003 to 2013, he worked as the Coordinator of Struts Gallery & Faucet Media Arts Centre (Sackville, NB).

We would like to acknowledge that the Owens Art Gallery, Mount Allison University, is located within the traditional territory of Mi’kma’ki, the unceded ancestral homelands of the Mi’kmaq. Our relationship and our privilege to live on this territory was agreed upon in the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1725 to 1752. Because of this treaty relationship, it is to be acknowledged that we are all Treaty People and have a responsibility to respect this territory.

Owens Art Gallery
Mount Allison University
61 York Street Sackville, NB, E4L 1E1 • 506-364-2574
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Monday to Friday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Admission is Free
Masks are mandatory.

The Owens is partially accessible. The stairs from the entrance nearest the University Chapel have a handrail. There is also ramp access at this entrance, however, the ramp is steep. The stairs to the entrance off York Street have a handrail, but no ramp, and are covered with temporary wood treads. The main floor of the Owens is wheelchair accessible. Our second-floor gallery and gendered bathrooms are located in the basement and are not accessible. Two flights of stairs lead to each of these floors. LED lights are used throughout the building. The Owens welcomes guide dogs and other service animals. The closest accessible parking spaces are located on York Street across from the Owens. For detailed information on construction disruption please visit our Accessibility page.

If you have any questions about your visit, please email or call (506) 364-2574.