Monday, November 30, 2009

Faces to Names - Lattimer Gallery Open House

As many gallery-hoppers and art enthusiasts will likely agree, one of the frustrating things about viewing and/or analyzing and/or enjoying artwork is the disconnect between artist and audience. There have been so many times in my life where I have disliked but been intrigued by a work thinking "Perhaps I would like or at least appreciate this piece if I could ask the creator a few questions!" Creative context and conceptual clarification are vital to a great deal of artwork that has been produced (especially in North America and Europe, with those obscure colour field canvases, dadaism, action painting, et cetera) since the early 1900s. Galleries and museums often make some attempt to explain the work that they display, but sometimes those brief, vinyl-lettered blurbs on the wall just don't cut it. Sometimes you really do need the artist present, or at least a recorded artist statement - in audio or video or text - to help your brain digest the weirdness in front of you.

I love attending the annual Open House at Lattimer Gallery ( because many of the First Nations artists that display their work at the gallery are present on this festive night. The gallery's Open House takes place every year during the first week of December, and it is a great opportunity to get some Christmas shopping done, to partake of the free wine and cheese, and to meet a few of BC's most talented Native artists. Having received my MA in Northwest Coast Art, I have a particularly keen interest in this market, but this is a unique event for anyone who enjoys the art of our coastal First Nations. Furthermore, it is a useful event for those who wish to ask some of the artists about specific myths, aesthetic systems, symbols or techniques used within Northwest Coast art.

If you have ever been doing the dishes or walking the dog or raking leaves in the nippy Vancouver rain and just thought to yourself "What the heck is a Sisiutl anyway?" then you can definitely gain something from attending.

Oh ya, did I mention the free wine and cheese?

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