Paradox-themed art represents strong department

Culture Visual Arts

A new art exhibit opened up at UVic’s Legacy Art Gallery in downtown Victoria last Friday. The theme, as chosen by Legacy’s director, Mary Jo Hughes, is Paradox, and the seven contributors are all full-time professors in UVic’s Visual Arts department.

This is the first time in nearly 35 years that the Legacy Art Gallery has curated an exhibition featuring the Visual Arts faculty—which is strange, because with a UVic-sponsored gallery downtown and a world-renowned staff at the university, why wouldn’t there be more exhibits featuring the skills of the Visual Arts department? As Hughes points out, “They’re here teaching, and they’re practicing here. They are important artists not just at UVic but in the community.” The faculty members featured in this exhibit are Vikky Alexander, Lynda Gammon, Daniel Laskarin, Sandra Meigs, Jennifer Stillwell, Paul Walde, and Robert Youds.

Walde’s pieces named “Interdeterminacy” are a way for him to speak to famed composer (and mycologist) John Cage. The pieces are, at a close look, fungus spores against white backdrops, but from far away they look like paintings. This is where the play on the paradox theme comes in. As Walde says, “They look like paintings, but in fact the fungus spores are graphic notations for a music score.” At a media sneak peek on Oct. 30, Walde mentioned that Cage was also a mycologist on top of being a composer, and was constantly asked if there was a link between the mushrooms and the music. According to Walde, Cage would say “that the only similarities between mushrooms and music is that they sit close to each other in the dictionary.” But in Walde’s piece, he proves there can in fact be a link.

Sandra Meigs contributed a painting titled “In the Highest Room.”  The piece is large, and when viewers stand in front of it, they feel as if they are being sucked into it. It appears cartoonish in style, but the dark gray colours and various eyes positioned throughout the painting give it the feeling that it’s not the fun, carefree cartoons of your childhood. It’s a moving piece. Meigs also has an event, called The Basement Panoramas, at Open Space, that started on Nov. 1 and will run until Dec. 14.  One piece from The Basement Panoramas that really stood out was “Gray 224 Main Transformation.” Like all the pieces from The Basement Panoramas, it takes up the viewer’s entire field of vision. At the centre is a vortex, and the effect from this painting can cause you to literally lean towards it as if the vortex is actually pulling you in. While checking out Paradox at the Legacy, it is worthwhile to make the short trip to Open Space to see The Basement Panoramas.

One of the greatest plays on the paradoxical theme at the Legacy is Daniel Laskarin’s “things come apart.” It is both a sculpture and a hanging piece, as it is fastened against the wall and the floor. It could appear to be a large, bubbling, candy-red stick that looks somewhat appetizing, or it could be a dangerously sharp, jagged metal beam dyed crimson red. It stands out in more ways than one and seems to play with the idea of a piece with inexplicable and contradictory elements designed into it.

Hughes has only been the director at UVic’s Legacy Art Gallery for a little over a year, and it was her idea to showcase the Visual Arts faculty. Although there was a week-long showing of the faculty’s works during the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences this summer, it wasn’t a curated exhibit; it was instead a collection of the faculty’s works showcased in the Visual Arts Building. Being that there hasn’t been a curated exhibit of the faculty’s work in three decades, now seems as good a time as any. “It interested me,” said Hughes. “It’s really important that we showcase and curate the work of our own artists that are teaching on campus.”