Tag Archives: Collection Spotlight

Collection Spotlight

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1997.04

August is here, which always makes us think of Zacharias Kunuk’s exceptional video work Nunaqpa (Going Inland) (1991). Reconstructing Inuit life prior to World War II, Nunaqpa tracks two Igloolik families as they head inland one August in search of summer-fat caribou, hoping to cache enough meat for the winter ahead. Re-staging a critical juncture in Inuit history—depicting life in the 1930s well after first contact with white whalers and priests, but before Igloolik families gave up their life on the land for settlement in permanent villages—Kunuk provides us with a glimpse into a recent past, one whose legacy has been preserved sparingly. Video, Kunuk points out, is an apt corollary to Inuit traditions of oral history, saying of making the work, “We are in a hurry because our elders are going. Knowledge is going. Pretty soon we’ll all be buried on the hill. […] You can just talk about the old days, but you can also show the old days. Actually seeing it, you get more pleasure out of it.”

Collection Spotlight: Bridget Moser

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After acquiring Bridget Moser’s terrific video Asking for a friend (2013) for our collection back in 2015, we’re delighted to finally have an opportunity to exhibit it in this summer’s group exhibition Propped, curated by art historian (and sister of Bridget) Gabrielle Moser. As Gabrielle writes of the work, Bridget “blend[s] prop comedy, existential prose, self-help television scripts, and choreography, put[ting] everyday objects to unexpected and ridiculous uses.” A canny reflection on our current culture of self-improvement, Asking for a friend poses a series of questions, both introspective and acerbic, about the nature of creative expression and measures for personal success—and doesn’t produce a single answer. Along with fellow Propped artist Divya Mehra, Bridget has been shortlisted for this year’s Sobey Art Award, timely recognition on both counts for two of Canada’s sharpest artists.

Collection Spotlight: Valérie Blass

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2012_03

With Cosima von Bonin’s sea creatures all around us this past month, we’re seeing underwater life everywhere we look these days. Gairloch Gardens has flooded repeatedly over the past week, as the stormy waters of Lake Ontario breach the lake wall and spill into the park. As bulldozers tried to get the lake water back where it belongs, we half-expected to see something akin to Valérie Blass’ Presque Plus emerge. This sculpture, held in the Galleries’ collection, sees Blass erect a beguiling pair of swamp-like creatures from just a ghillie suit (a camouflaging costume used by hunters and military snipers) and a found metal armature. Much like von Bonin’s works, this clever combination of objects carries a dark humour, an erotic undertone and an uncanny familiarity.

Collection Spotlight: General Idea

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1992.08_Gen.Idea

On the heels of opening Sojourner Truth Parsons’ exhibition Holding Your Dog At Night, where allegorical depictions of dogs abound, we’ve been thinking about General Idea’s poodles non-stop this week. The still above is from Shut the Fuck Up (1985), held in Oakville Galleries’ collection; it’s just one of countless instances where the regal dog appears in General Idea’s work. The collective’s use of the poodle has been widely understood as a symbolic self-representation by the artists, in part a nod to the members’ queer sexuality, but also to the cultural status of the artist, the fanciful pooch and artist alike known for their “effete banal image” and “desire to be preened and groomed for public appearances” (as relayed by the narrator in General Idea’s Cornucopia, 1982).

The view from my office

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For the past 19 years the view from my office window has always been breathtaking. Whether it’s blowing snow, damp and dull, calm and sunny, or windy enough for waves to be rolling over the breaker wall in Gairloch Gardens, the view of the lake never disappoints. I’m not alone in feeling this way—over the years, Oakville Galleries has exhibited a number of artists who have created site-specific works using this exact vista.

To me, these works capture milestones in the garden’s development, documenting how the landscape has changed over the past twenty years. As you will see in the four pictures below, the view from my office window is nothing if not dynamic. Each day is a new adventure in colour and texture. I see various forms of wildlife and get to hear the sounds of Lake Ontario throughout the day. I consider myself to be one of the luckiest people in the world—each day I experience a different view of the gardens and it makes me feel like I have escaped to the cottage, away from the bustle of life in the city.

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Angela Grauerholz, By the Lake, Oakville, 1995. Collection of Oakville Galleries, purchased with the support of the Corporation of the Town of Oakville, the Elizabeth L. Gordon Art Program of the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation and the Oakville Galleries Volunteer Association, 1995.

MFFT

David Rokeby, Machine for Taking Time, 2001-in progress, computer-assisted, site-specific video installation. Collection of Oakville Galleries, purchased with the support of the Cananda Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program, the Corporation of the Town of Oakville, the Edna Powers Memorial Fund, and the Oakville Galleries Volunteer Association, 2001.

Ron Benner

Installation view of Ron Benner’s Trans/mission: African Vectors on view from June 2002 to November 2004.

Rokeby

David Rokeby, In the Offing (composite image), 2011–2013, computer, stored digital images, custom software. Collection of Oakville Galleries, purchased with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program, the Corporation of the Town of Oakville, 2007.

Collection Spotlight: Stephen Andrews

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2002.13As images of protests have filled our social media feeds over the past three weeks—really, over the past three years—we’ve been thinking of Stephen Andrews’ hoi polloi series from the late 1990s, images of crowds watching, being watched and protesting. This particular work, held in Oakville Galleries’ collection, was inspired by the mass demonstrations that took place across Ontario during the 1995 Days of Action, a series of labour actions protesting the Mike Harris government. Invoking the acute power of assembly and the energy borne of it, Andrews details for us those moments when power begins to shift from the body to the body politic.

Collection Spotlight: Colette Whiten

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Colette-Whiten

Toronto sculptor Colette Whiten has long been committed to exploring power and political relationships. For several years in the 1990s, much of Whiten’s work focused on the representation of anonymous women in the media—women seen waiting to vote, protesting in the streets or bearing arms against oppressors. Vows Vengeance (1993–1995) derives its imagery from a news story about Abkhazian women mourning their partners, soldiers killed at war. In carefully translating an otherwise fleeting news photograph into a concrete object—here, a meticulous beaded curtain—Whiten changes the terms on which we consider the image. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Collection Spotlight: Peter MacCallum

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One of the earliest photographs in Oakville Galleries’ collection is this work by Peter MacCallum, who has spent more than forty years meticulously documenting Toronto’s architecture, industry and urban spaces. A slice of vintage Hogtown, Spadina Hotel at Night (1979) captures a bygone era at the corner of King and Spadina, with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce on one corner and the legendary Spadina Hotel—whose Cabana Room was then home to a raucous underground art and music scene—on the other. Like many of MacCallum’s early photographs, this work alludes to the vibrancy taking shape in Toronto at the time, even as the city maintained a reputation for being staid and buttoned up.

Collection Spotlight: Jeannie Thib

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Jeannie Thib’s Untitled (1993) features tree branches that have been carved with ambiguous phrases culled from a book on animal behaviour: including “Sound signals,” “Natural tools,” “Trail marking,” and “Ritual play.” Through her sculptural and installation-based work, Thib regularly explored the intricate connections between domestic landscapes and those of the so-called ‘natural’ world.

Collection Spotlight: FASTWÜRMS

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FASTWÜRMS, Giant Beaver Charm, 1999–2000.

If you’re visiting Oakville Galleries in Gairloch Gardens this summer, make sure to check out Giant Beaver Charm (1999–2000), a site-specific commission by Canadian artist-duo FASTWÜRMS. The charm bracelet—made for a distinctive willow tree next to the pond in Gairloch Gardens—features a variety of symbols: stars, horseshoes, snowmen, and a single giant beaver tooth.