Make way!

It’s the 75th anniversary of the wonderful children’s book, Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey.

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

In honour of the anniversary of this classic story set in Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston is exhibiting Make Way for Ducklings:  The Art of Robert McCloskey. Robert McCloskey was awarded two Caldecott Medals (honouring distinguished American books for children) and three Caldecott Honours during his career as an artist, illustrator and writer.  Click here for a brief NPR feature about Robert McCloskey and the ducks.

If you do get to Boston (and who doesn’t want to go?) make sure to see the charming Make Way for Ducklings sculpture by Nancy Schon in the Boston Public Gardens.

Make Way for Ducklings (detail) Nancy Schon, photo by T. Vatrt

Click here for more information about Nancy Schon.  (You’ll want to see her sporting her Red Sox sweatshirt!)

Make Way for Ducklings by Nancy Schon





Another loss….Beau Dick 1955-2017

In the last year, Canada has lost the authentic voices of too many of its artists.  Annie Pootoogook, Daphne Odjig, Tim Pitsiulak, and, most recently, Beau Dick, have died.

Beau Dick was an artist, activist, hereditary chief, and, by all accounts, a very engaging personality.  His dealer, LaTiesha Fazakas, of Fazakas Gallery said, “Beau made you believe in magic, destiny and the transcending value of art.”

Beau Dick (Times Colonist image)

Beau Dick’s work is currently part of Documenta 14 in Athens, Greece.  In 2010 his work was part of the Sydney Biennale.  The National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery , the McMichael Canadian Art Collection have all shown his work.  He was a significant Canadian artist.

Marsha Lederman has written a detailed, and enlightening obituary in the Globe and Mail.  You can read it here.  Check the CBC news report  for further images.

Mask, Beau Dick (Canadian Art image)



A Closer Look at Georgia O’Keefe

The largest show (ever!) in Canada of Georgia O’Keefe’s work is opening at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Jimson Weed, White Flower No 1, by Georgia O’Keefe (The Telegraph image)

There’s an article today in the Globe and Mail discussing the show.  Click here to read Rosie Prata’s excellent description of this retrospective.  I am intrigued by the AGO’s interpretation of O’Keefe’s large body of work.

Curiously enough, last year the Tate Modern hosted the largest showing ever of O’Keefe’s work in Britain. Here is a very brief article from The Telegraph.

We may have missed last year’s show in London, but there’s ample time to plan to visit Toronto.  The show runs until July 30.



“Life with Clay”

As I said in the  last post, I wish The Art Caravan had been able to travel to Ottawa to see  the Alex Janvier show at the National Gallery of Canada.  I’m happy to report, however, that TAC has visited  The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s current exhibition Life with Clay:  Pottery & Sculpture by Jan and Helga Grove  a couple of times.  Life with Clay showcases the ceramic works of the German born couple, Jan and Helga Grove, who came to Canada in 1965, and operated a ceramics studio on Vancouver Island until 2009.  They exhibited and sold their work across Canada.

Life with Clay, Jan and Helga Grove

It’s the sculpture, really, that sets these two artist apart from other capable potters.  It is quirky, charming and beautifully executed.  Despite working together, and sharing a studio, Jan and Helga each has a distinctive style.  Note the smooth, bulbous shapes, as well as the more angular, animal-like sculptures.  Can you guess which pieces were made by Helga, and which were created by Jan?  (Why not take a moment to think about this before scrolling down?)

Life with Clay, Jan and Helga Grove

Vanity, Helga Grove, 1966

Mr.X, 1971 and Quadruped, Jan Grove, 1996

Mr.X, 1971 and Quadruped, Jan Grove, 1996

Mitz and Mautz, 2005, Helga Grove

Three Ballerinas, Jan Grove, 1989

Helga Grove

Helga Grove

If you are able, it’s a show worth visiting.  There are original photos, letters and documents detailing  this extraordinary couple’s  art history. In 1966, for instance, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria purchased a piece of work for $18.00!

Couple, Jan Grove, 1996

Life with Clay:  Pottery & Sculpture by Jan and Helga Grove is on until May 28, 2017. An excellent catalogue of the show is available.





I wish…….

The Art Caravan did not and will not, unfortunately, see the retrospective show of Alex Janvier’s work at the National Gallery of Canada, which runs until April 17.

Alex Janvier, as you may know, was one of the artists of the Indian Group of Seven, or the Professional Native Indian Artists Association, formed in 1973..

The Red Drum by Alex Janvier

Russell Smith’s article in the Globe and Mail brought the show to my attention.  He provides a thoughtful analysis of the work.  Click here to read it.  After all, there’s still time to get to Ottawa.



Artwork that surprises….and delights

Don’t you love it when you stumble upon amazing artwork?

There I was, nonchalantly drifting into the Alcheringa Gallery in Victoria, B.C., expecting to see their usual offerings of high quality, global aboriginal art.  (One could look at Dennis Nona‘s artwork many, many times….and The Art Caravan does.)

Little did I know that I would be sideswiped by their fall show Soaring High, Falling Hardby Rebecca Jewell.

Songbirds Mist Net, Rebecca Jewell

Songbirds Mist Net, Rebecca Jewell

Here’s a closer look at this piece:

Songbirds Mist Net (detail), Rebecca Jewell

Songbirds Mist Net (detail), Rebecca Jewell

Yes!  Real feathers, and some with bird images printed on them  Not only is the work beautiful, it is technically stunning.  Intaglio printing on….feathers?!!!  Here is an article about the printing process.

Songbirds, Rebecca Jewell

Songbirds, Rebecca Jewell

The subtitle for the show, Soaring High, Landing Hard is the veneration and exploitation of birds.  Jewell references the extinction of species, and the abuse and threats to birds.   Mist nets, for instance, are used to capture birds, for both research and profit motives.  All the while, the work delights in avian beauty.

Great Tit, Rebecca Jewell

Great Tit, Rebecca Jewell

Falconer's Headdress, 2014, Rebecca Jewell

Falconer’s Headdress, 2014, Rebecca Jewell

Rebecca Jewell is not an aboriginal artist but she has lived in Papua New Guinea and studied Cultural Anthropology at Cambridge. Rebecca Jewell has a PhD in Natural History Illustration from the Royal College of Art.  She is an Artist in Residence at the British Museum.  Please click here for her detailed website and here for more information from the Rebecca Hossack Gallery.  You’ll find a short, informative video here.

If you’re in Victoria, you’re in luck.  Some of this extraordinary work is still on display at Alcheringa Gallery.




January 6 is Epiphany, the last ‘Day of Christmas.’  In many cultures, it is a day of celebration, marking the visitation of the wise men, the magi, to the baby Jesus.  The wise men revealed the divinity of the baby Jesus to the world.

The Magi Journeying, Tissot, 1886-1894, Brooklyn Museum

The Magi Journeying, Tissot, 1886-1894, Brooklyn Museum

The Cambridge English dictionary defines epiphany as a moment when you suddenly feel that you understand, or suddenly become conscious of, something that is very important to you.

The Art Caravan’s theme for this year, 2017, came as a ‘mini’ Epiphany when writing the posting about Robert Irwin’s 1°2°3°4°.  Speaking about his installation, Irwin said,

And here it’s like I am saying, you know the kind of attention you have been taught to lavish on a Renaissance landscape within its as-if window frame, try lavishing that sort of attention on the world itself. In fact, get rid of the window. Just experience the world!

The Art Caravan will be doing its best to experience the world this year.  Off we go!