Tag Archives: art

Art, with the lovely Jane Edmundson

Jane Edmundson is a Lethbian through and through. Born and raised in Lethbridge, Alberta, a graduate of the UofL with a BFA in Studio Art, and currently working at the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, she is a staple in the Lethbridge music and arts scene as well as a supporter of local artistry and artist community groups. Nourishing a serious crush for typefaces, shiny dance pants and shoes, she knows good looking when she sees it. Just ask Lethbridge based musician Paul Lawton.

I spoke to Jane in mid October about what “art” means to Lethbridge, how funding cuts have affected the University of Lethbridge gallery and why we are truly much more cultured than the rest of Alberta.

JE: Well, in my 3rd year, I started as a student employee at the Gallery which ended up parlaying into a full time position working on the database and while I was doing that, I was also helping out the Preparator with exhibition installation so when he went on leave, I ended up filling in for him and I’ve been doing a mixture of the prep job and curatorial assistant duties for two years. I suppose I stayed because I couldn’t turn down such an amazing experience in my field getting work in the museum/gallery field right out of school is pretty amazing.

JP: Is this fairly typical of Lethbridge? Hiring gallery staff from the bottom up?

JE: Since the University Gallery encourages student volunteerism, often those volunteer positions can parlay into paid positions. The SAAG also has employed many University [of Lethbridge] graduates. It is a good pool to hire from.

JP: Many people view Lethbridge/Southern Alberta as fairly uncultured, yet those who know, know that Lethbridge boasts a tremendous art collection and devoted art scene. In your experience here, do you feel there is a thriving art culture?

JE: I think it is definitely thriving. Having a university here really facilitates the community by providing young artists and museum studies students that are interested in creating work and mounting exhibitions. Also the University promotes cultural education, which means there are lots of professors and staff that are interested in supporting local artists and exhibitions.

The University of Lethbridge Art Society (ULAS) maintains various displays of student art all over the city that Lethbridge residents can encounter in non-traditional venues, The Penny Coffee House, for example.

The SAAG brings critically acclaimed up and coming, and established artists to town for exhibitions because the community is smaller than those in Vancouver or Toronto. Students and Lethbridge citizens can interact directly with the artists when they come to town to install their exhibitions or when they are visiting as lecturers for the Art NOW course at the University.

There are also various independent artists studios all around downtown giving professional artists living in town a framework of support and the Bowman Arts Centre and Trianon Gallery provide even more opportunities for exhibitions and cultural experiences.

Really, the opportunities for artists and art supporters just keep growing.

Oh! And Trap\door artist run centre; they are a great support network for local artists, and they bring international up and coming artists to town for exhibitions and residencies.

JP: You mention Art NOW, which brings in a variety of artists to educate the UofL student community. Does this do a lot to benefit the UofL art gallery as well?

JE: I think the two go hand in hand very well. Visiting artists are drawn to the University because of its great reputation as a cultural institution, which comes from having a strong Fine Arts Faculty and the extensive art collection and any artists that are hosted by the Gallery to install contemporary exhibitions (such as Allyson Mitchell, who was recently here to install her Ladies Sasquatch exhibition) are also featured in Art NOW, which helps bring students that are enrolled in the class to visit the Gallery.

JP: What does the UofL gallery have to offer to the Lethbridge community that is unique? Why the need for an on-campus gallery when we have 5 or 6 others in a small city with a variable population?

JE: The students and staff/faculty on campus can have easy, direct access to art and research materials, and even those in the campus community who wouldn’t normally search out those cultural experiences can easily wander into the Gallery (or walk through the Helen Christou Gallery).

The Uni Gallery programming features both exhibitions from the collection, as well as contemporary exhibitions. The Gallery has also developed an online database of all the works in the collection. So, students, faculty, Lethbridge citizens, artists and researchers can learn from the collection first hand, or through the database, or through the contemporary art that the Gallery brings to Lethbridge

The integration with visiting artist lectures and the Uni Gallery gives students and community members an opportunity to learn in the lectures, and then go and view the art directly.

The Gallery and art collection allows Museum Studies/Art History students to learn directly from the collection and exhibition programming/installation techniques directly from Gallery staff. Having this type of hands-on education is extremely rare in an undergrad setting.

The 3000 level Museum Studies students are now curating one exhibition a year for the Helen Christou Gallery, which is an amazing opportunity for undergrad students who are hoping to go on to graduate school in the field

Basically, education.

JP: Helen Christou Gallery. What is, where is it, and what purpose does it fulfill?

JE: The HCG is our satellite space, it is on Level 9 of the LINC building, right beside the Security Offices. Essentially, it is a corridor space which we have adopted for exhibitions and the space is programmed along with our Main Gallery space so sometimes the two shows relate to each other, and other times they are independent of each other. We utilize the space as another way to reach students and staff/faculty who may not normally visit the Main Gallery space

Generally the shows featured in the HCG are eye catching, and accessible to people of a variety of cultural and art appreciation backgrounds.

JP: You have done some curating for the UofL galleries, what has been your favorite exhibit been to put together?

JE: My first exhibition, Tasty Treats, which was in the HCG, featured works from the collection that depict various food. It was really fun and I had a great opportunity to make awesome posters and a great brochure with my curatorial text.

JP: I have buttons from that show! They are adorable.

JE: This past summer I got to curate my first Main Gallery exhibition, and I chose to display some of the large scale, photographic pieces from the collection that examine depictions of the human body, which I thought ended up being really understated and lovely, and the Gallery felt really peaceful. It was nice to get to do something more serious after the first, more carefree show. (The Main Gallery show was called “The Body Multiple”)

JP: Has there been any affect on the UofL Gallery with arts funding cuts? Also, do you anticipate any impact from upcoming University wide budget cuts?

JE: We were affected most by Harper’s decision to cut the Exhibition Transport Service, a national shipping network for artwork and art exhibitions. It was subsidized by the government, which meant artworks and full travelling exhibitions could be shipped between galleries and museums for an affordable price.

Most of the public galleries in Canada are not-for-profit, so they can’t afford astronomical costs of shipping. When the Conservatives [government] cancelled the program, it had the University of Lethbridge Gallery and galleries all across Canada scrambling to meet shipping costs for planned exhibitions. We had to adjust some of our planning for an artist’s project coming up this November when the shipping costs proved to be prohibitive.

However, we are luckier than a lot of other galleries in Canada that don’t have the other sources of funding we have. We are supported by both the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. We are lucky to have a great Director/Curator that earns us grant funding also because we have the support of the University, and the forethought of the people that first began the art collection, the Gallery also has funding via an endowment so we are doing better than a lot of places.

JP: Is it a curator’s primary role to secure funding now, in a [sic] economically frustrated world?

JE: It is a huge part of their role, yes

JP: Lastly… Which Lethbridge gallery is your favourite, and why?

JE: (laughs) I can’t answer that! (more charming laughter) I am biased, the University Gallery has given me so many opportunities; I am indebted

JP: Fine, which Gallery in the WORLD is your favourite?

JE: The time I spent in the Musee d’Art Contemporain in Montreal was absolutely fantastic

If you want to see a sample of Jane Edmundson’s curating skills, Head Shots is the featured exhibit at the Helen Christou Gallery until October 23rd, 2009.

Article first published in The Meliorist, Volume 43, Issue 7 on Ovtober 8th, 2009.

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David Hoffos: Scenes from the House Dream

Last night I attended this amazing exhibition opening at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery here in Lethbridge. Feature artists, David Hoffos, blew me away. His installation piece “The House Dream project has formed the nexus of Hoffos’ studio practice for the past five years and serves as a compendium of the artist’s signature new/old media techniques which have been perfected over seventeen years of art production.”

This is a pretty amazing exhibit and this southern Alberta artist had everyone walking away shaking their heads with huge smiles on their face. Check out the Visual Arts Alberta blog for more information and this clip for a little sample of what your in for.

The exhibit runs October 4th to November 20th at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.

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Manning this weather station…

As an avid member of the optimist’s of society I sometimes find it incredibly difficult to deal with the level of negativity that the every day human being seem the feel the need to project upon everything…

This seems to be especially relevant to art in every form. Art is not only an incredibly hard thing to define, but as such, it is also a personal reflection that is open to any interpretation. The debate on whether or not reproductions can be considered art is one manifestation of this. To criticize someones art, in essence someones perspective is dismissing a persons thoughts and creativity. This is why, on this day in particular I found this post to be very interesting. A response from Aaron Turner on someones (I’m sure justified) critique of a poster he had designed.

My institution of higher learning’s bookstore was clearing out some of their stock and I picked up a super sweet collection of L.T. Horton comics for a measly 3 bucks. L.T. Horton may sound familiar to you if you are an avid reader of The Onion, as it is one of the pen names used by the Editor-in-Chief, Scott Dikker. He is responsible for many of the laughs I have had in the past and the author of a bunch of books which you should check out. You can see a sneek peek at the one I picked up: Plebes, the cartoon guide for college guys… cool right? Although I am not a college guy, I seem to find myself surrounded by them (being a college girl that is) and seriously, Dikker’s got it right.

In other news, I have been doing homework for what feels like 72 hrs straight and as I really really like to procrastinate I have been checking out blogs and web comics at a rate which seems unhealthly… but for you who also have exams/essays/work in general to do and want to waste (or not waste, depend on how you look at it…) as much time as I have check out these:

musicforants.com, kidsandpets.wordpress.com, howsoonis08.wordpress.com, iwilldestroyyounews.blogspot.com, sevententwelve.wordpress, mitzrecords.wordpress.com.

They are kinda related to everything good in life, so you shouldn’t be disappointed….

Many of them appear on my blogroll as well…..

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