Artventure: Fredericton, NB Part 5

I’d left a note for the B&B hostess, Bonnie, on Thursday night letting her know I would be “sleeping late” Friday morning and faring for breakfast myself.

I basked in the laziness of my morning.  After an intense week of set-up it felt good to have a less stressful day ahead of me.

I made it to the gallery around 11:00am and got to the task at hand – drawing out a schematic of the installation layout for John.  I generally do this for myself anyway, as I like to have a record of how the pieces have been organized in past exhibits.  This time the schematic had an additional purpose – Gallery ConneXion had two fundraising events scheduled during the run of my exhibit.  John would need to move the plinth pieces against the walls and then move them back for each event.

I quickly finished the sketch and struck out towards downtown to meet Karen at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design.  When I arrived there I saw that she had printed out Slim’s page from the GC website and wrote, “Go to this artist talk – you will thank yourself!”  Throughout my tour of the college she spoke enthusiastically about the work to people.  It was nice to be championed. 🙂

The college was (is) fabulous.  It totally took me back to my bealart days and I felt a pang of regret that I hadn’t pursued the design side of textiles.  I could easily be convinced to go back to school and play with felting, dying, weaving…

After the tour Karen and I went to the restaurant across the street so I could have a late lunch.  We talked about consignment shops, making a living, and artists and she asked if I had seen the piece by Janice Wright Cheney at the Beaverbrook.  I told her I hadn’t, but that I was planning to go back to the Beaverbrook after lunch so I could see John’s work.  She briefly described Janice’s piece and I knew I had to see it.

When I arrived at the gallery and went downstairs I was surprised to see a whole room dedicated to John’s work – he had mentioned his opening in an offhand way saying he “had a few paintings in a show”.  I thought he meant a couple of works in a group show.  As it turns out it, it was a bigger deal than John was letting on, part of the Beaverbrook’s Emerging Artist Series, and I felt even worse that I had been late and missed seeing his beautiful work at the opening.

Janice’s installation, Cellar, was in the next room and I knew as soon as I walked into the space that I was going to be blown away.  Imagine an eerily lit space with more than 100 good-sized metal cages stacked in configurations that reached up to eye level.  Now imagine several hundred rats, made out of up-cycled fur coats and felt, inhabiting these cages inside and out.  There was this lovely juxtaposition; some of the rats appeared extremely realistic, though they were simply made – a body and ears and a tail, a few of them had whiskers.  Others were obviously unreal, made out of crushed lambs wool, the colour and texture just a bit off.  I stayed with the exhibit for quite a while, enjoying the nuances of the piece as it revealed itself.  Before leaving the gallery I bought the catalogue that accompanied Janice’s installation.  It’s at the top of my reading list for 2013 (NB – the rest of her work is equally amazing, and well worth searching through using the link above).

I went back to my B&B for a quick rest before heading back downtown to check out a few openings (it was a busy week for the arts community in Fredericton!).  Gallery 78 was having an opening of fibre-based work and it was stunning.  I wanted so badly to buy one of Patti Chassé’s woven scarves and one of the felted scarves by Alexandra Keely.  They were very reasonably priced, considering the materials and effort that had gone into producing them, but one of the heartaches of being a creator myself is that I don’t have the excess cash flow to buy other artists’ work.

At Gallery 78 I was introduced to Fredericton artist, Stephen May.  We chatted a bit and the idea of doing a studio swap came up.  He has a house in downtown Fredericton and family in Vancouver.  We’re currently negotiating to see if we can work something out for 2013 – very exciting!!

After a full and inspiring day I was ready to head “home”, review my PowerPoint presentation, and attempt to get a decent night’s rest before my talk on Saturday afternoon.

Tomorrow: Fredericton, NB Part 6

PS – Happy New Year y’all!

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