14th Biennial International Miniature Print Exhibition

The 14th Biennial International Print Exhibition, hosted by the Center for Contemporary Printmaking , runs June 4 to August 20, 2023 in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Norwalk, Connecticut, USA

Norwalk, Connecticut, USA

This biennial is an international, juried exhibition.  All of the artworks in the show are no larger than four square inches.  (Yes!  Magnifying glasses are available to viewers.)

I hope the results of the 14th Biennial International Print Competition and Exhibition remind us all to stop and take time to look closer… says the juror, Dr. Ksenia Nourii, Gallery Director of the Art Students League of New York.  

I  am pleased  my piece, abiding, is in the show.  I’m honoured to show alongside many remarkable printmakers, including  Anne Desmet (UK) and Cleo Wilkinson (Australia.)

abiding, T. Vatrt, 2022, intaglio

abiding, T. Vatrt

It’s an extensive exhibition, with 217 artworks by 167 artists from 16 different countries.

Center for Contemporary Printmaking, Norwalk, Connecticut USA

Center for Contemporary Printmaking

Center for Contemporary Printmaking, Norwalk, Connecticut, USA

Center for Contemporary Printmaking

The 14th Biennial International Print Exhibition is in the Grace Ross Shanley Gallery at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking.  The 19th century stone carriage house also hosts workshops, courses and artists’ studios in its extensive printmaking facilities in Mathews Park, Norwalk, Connecticut.





Oak Bay Artists’ Exhibition – April 2023

Oak Bay Artists’ Studio Tour and Exhibition

The spring Oak Bay Artists’ Tour and Exhibition is happening  April 22 and 23, 2023.  This brochure  lists all the artists participating.  You can plan a self-guided tour of  artists’ studios and the group exhibition space using this map.

My artwork is showing at the Monterey Centre.  It’s a mixture of new artworks and ‘treasures’ from the files.  Included are recent pieces, like my 3D paper sculpture, chiaro/scuro  and mini (mini!) print collages.

Oak Bay Artists’ Exhibition at the Monterey Centre (1442 Monterey Avenue) is Saturday April 22 (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.) and Sunday April 23 (10 a.m. – 1 p.m.)

chiaro/scuro, T. Vatrt, 2023, (intaglio, chine collé, photo transparency, collagraph)

chiaro/scuro, T. Vatrt, 2023, (intaglio, chine collé, photo transparency, collagraph)

magic time, T. Vatrt, 2023 (intaglio, chine collé)

magic time, T. Vatrt, 2023 (intaglio, chine collé)

Connections at Dundarave Print Workshop

My artwork, grounded and free, was juried into the Connection exhibition at Dundarave Print Workshop in Vancouver, BC.  The show runs March 16 to April 2, 2023.

Dundarave Print Workshop, Vancouver, BC

Dundarave Print Workshop, Vancouver, BC

In 2021 Dundarave Print Workshop marked 50 years (!) of fine art printmaking.  It’s a great space, with a gallery showcasing artist-members’ works, and public viewing  of the print shop space.

Dundarave Print Workshop image

Dundarave Print Workshop image

I’m honoured to be included in Dundarave’s first ever open call / regional show.  View the exhibition at the printshop on Granville Island (1640 Johnson St.) Wednesdays to Sundays from 11am – 5 pm.

grounded and free, Terry Vatrt, 2022, (intaglio and collagraph)

grounded and free, Terry Vatrt, 2022, (intaglio and collagraph)


Tweed Magazine: connect

I’m honoured to be featured in the current edition of Tweed Magazine. You can read The ties that bind us: The art of interconnectedness in Tweed’s connect issue here.

Tweed: Oak Bay Living, Winer 2022/23 connect issue

Tweed: Oak Bay Living, Winer 2022/23

Many thanks to Sean McIntyre who asks thoughtful questions and listens carefully. His article is a remarkably cohesive reflection of my rambling thoughts and ideas. It was also a privilege to meet  Don Denton, the contributing photographer, and practising artist.  The images capture the subtle details of the artwork – not easy to do with printmaking work.  I’m grateful to  Susan Lundy, editor and writer, for including me in the connect  issue of Tweed magazine.

Tweed: Oak Bay Living, Winter 2022/23 connect issue

Tweed: Oak Bay Living, Winter 2022/23


Significant Book Alert (Part III)

Michael Harris has done it again – he’s written a significant book I wish everyone would read.  If you’re a (semi or) regular reader of The Art Caravan you’ll know that I’m a big fan of his writing. Here’s a post about his book Solitude and here’s a post about his first book,  The End of Absence.

Michael Harris, author

Michael Harris

Apparently I’m in good company recommending his newest work All We Want: Building the Life We Cannot Buy.  The writers Susan Orlean and Barbara Gowdy agree with me.  In praising  the book, they both describe Michael Harris and his writing as humane.   John Vaillant, award winning author of The Golden Spruce says All We Want is … lovingly rendered.  My unfiltered, unpublished spontaneous response: What a damn fine writer!

All We Want: Building the Life We Cannot Buy, Michael Harris, 2021

All We Want, Michael Harris, 2021

In all his books, Harris discusses challenging topics in a easily readable style.  Relevant history and facts are integrated with personal stories.  And don’t we all love a good story?

In All We Want he addresses the life-threatening effects of our consumer culture.

Life is not a story.  It’s many.
When, in the twentieth century, many of us narrowed things down to the single story of consumption we unwittingly narrowed our view of the natural world, too — the Earth became just one more thing to consume.  (p.150)

Michael Harris’ anecdotes take us from forest fires in British Columbia to the Vancouver landfill.  We visit a cabin somewhere (!) near Banff, Alberta – the remote home of a modern day maker of objects such as canoes, all hand made,  composed of natural materials.  We also spend time hiking with the author and his husband in the Rocky Mountains.  And finally, we experience the challenges of a parent’s decline and admittance to a complex care facility.

If you’re like me, you’re thinking….I know there’s a climate crisis.  Aarghh…I feel helpless.  I don’t want to read about it, too.  I understand.  But….it is beautifully written. It’s a work of art to savour.

More importantly, perhaps, this book gives me hope.  Harris answers the question How then should we live? with three different stories to replace the story of consumption.  It probably comes at no surprise to readers of The Art Caravan that the first of Harris’ alternative responses to consumer culture is craft. 

When we constantly disregard the material authenticity of things, when we live for digital facsimiles and obliging reproductions, we train ourselves to stop respecting the real costs, benefits, timelines and laws that govern the natural world.  And to do away with such cares is to become thoughtless about environmental impact.  Craft is a cure for such a heedless mindset.  It trains our eyes to marvel, and not just when we study wood and stone.  (p.96)

Can you guess the other two stories Harris offers as antidotes to consumer culture?  You may be surprised, or, you may think, as I did:  Of course.  That makes so much sense. Thanks for reminding and encouraging me.

I can’t lend you my copy, as I’ve decided I want to re-read it. ( It’s a keeper.)  No doubt you can find it  at your library or local independent bookshop.

Michael Harris, author

Michael Harris

When consumer culture offers something finished, Craft offers something coming into being; where consumer culture offers something you own, the Sublime offers something beyond your grasp; and where consumer culture offers satisfaction, Care offers sacrifice and devotion. (p.151)



Oak Bay Artists’ Exhibit – November 2022

Oak Bay Artists' Exhibit - November 2022

Oak Bay Artists’ Exhibit – November 2022

The November  Oak Bay Artists’ Exhibition is a hybrid of open studios at artists’ homes, and an exhibition space at the Monterey Centre.  Here’s a link to the brochure, listing all the participating artists.

The Art Caravan exhibition at the Monterey Recreation Centre  includes handcrafted notebooks and journals, photo and original art greeting cards, postcards, and bookmarks for sale.

Days of Christmas, greeting cards from original photo images, T. Vatrt

Days of Christmas, greeting cards from original photo images, T. Vatrt

Original prints, including recent mini print collages, are available.  Older works are also included.

touchstones, 1/1, 2022, T. Vatrt (collagraph, relief, chine collé) 8 x 10"

touchstones, 1/1, 2022, T. Vatrt

Sacred Ground, T. Vatrt, intaglio, embossing

Sacred Ground, T. Vatrt, intaglio, embossing

The exhibition at Monterey Center is Saturday, November 5  (10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.) and Sunday, November 6 (10 a.m. – 1 p.m.)

Days of Christmas, greeting cards from original photo images, T. Vatrt

Days of Christmas, greeting cards from original photo images, T. Vatrt

International Biennial Print Exhibition: 2022 ROC

I’ve never been to Taiwan (have you?) but one of my artworks is juried into the  International Biennial Print Exhibition: 2022 ROC.   The show runs from August 27 to November 20, 2022 in the Dadun Cultural Center, Taichung City, Taiwan.  (It’s conveniently located next to the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, in case you’re planning a visit.)

The International Biennial Print Exhibition began in 1983.  Here’s a link to images from the exhibition.  There are 180 artworks, from artists in 50 different countries.  A virtual catalogue of the exhibition is available here.  It’s an opportunity to see a diverse (and inspiring!) collection of contemporary printmaking.

I’m honoured to participate in the International Print Biennial: 2022.  My artwork,  before and after, here and now, is a 22 by 30 collage of original printmaking (intaglio, collagraph, embossing) and photographic (prints and transparencies) images.

"before and after, here and now" 2021, collagraph, intaglio, photography, photo transparency, embossing, 22x30"

“before and after, here and now” 2021, collagraph, intaglio, photography, photo transparency, embossing, 22×30″

Two themes, Risk Delight and Totem, are emerging in my artwork.  Re-examinging the piece, it seems before and after, here and now is a combination of the two series.

"before and after, here and now" (detail) 2021, collagraph, intaglio, photography, photo transparency, embossing, 22x30"

“before and after, here and now” (detail) 2021, collagraph, intaglio, photography, photo transparency, embossing, 22×30″




The Ontario Miniature Print Exhibition


I’m happy to report three of my works are in The Ontario Miniature Print Exhibition 2022 (TOMPE 22).  Sponsored and organized by Print London, the exhibition is on view August 17 -27, 2022 at Satellite Project Space at Western University in London, Ontario.

The maximum print size for this miniature print show  is 8 x 8 inches.  Interestingly enough, the submission call  also accepted 3D artworks, limited to 8 x 8 x 8 inches.    I enjoyed the challenge of creating a print-based sculpture.  thin places emerged from this suggested format.

thin places, 2022, 8 x 8 x 8 ins, intaglio, collagraph, chine collé, cord

thin places, 2022, 8 x 8 x 8 ins, intaglio, collagraph, chine collé, cord

thin places, 2022, 8 x 8 x 8 ins, intaglio, collagraph, chine collé, cord

thin places, 2022, 8 x 8 x 8 ins, intaglio, collagraph, chine collé, cord

thin places, 2022, 8 x 8 x 8 ins, intaglio, collagraph, chine collé, cord

thin places, 2022, 8 x 8 x 8 ins, intaglio, collagraph, chine collé, cord

A virtual opening is August 20, 2022 at 5 p.m. (EDT)  Many thanks to the jurors (David Bobbier, Casandra Getty and Jenn Law) and Print London for this opportunity.


The 5th New York International Print Exhibition

Two of my prints were juried into The New York International Print Exhibition.  The online exhibit runs June 15 – August 15, 2022 on the Manhattan Graphics Center website here.

Why not? T. Vatrt, 2022, (collagraph, coloured pencil, intaglio)

Why not? T. Vatrt, 2022, (collagraph, coloured pencil, intaglio)

John Morning, noted print artist and a founder of the International Print Center New York, juried the show.

grounded and free, T. Vatrt, 2022 (collagraph, intaglio)

grounded and free, T. Vatrt, 2022 (collagraph, intaglio)

The image size limitation for NYMPE is 9 square inches.  My miniature collages are created from previously printed artworks .   This self-imposed limitation of creating new work from older works is a continuation of the practice I adopted during the lockdown time of the pandemic restrictions.


Oak Bay Artists’ Exhibition & Sale – Spring 2022

Oak Bay Artists' Exhibition & Sale - Spring 2022

Oak Bay Artists’ Exhibition & Sale – Spring 2022

Twice a year, the community of Oak Bay has an art show and sale.  The Art Caravan display includes handcrafted notebooks and journals, photo and original art greeting cards, postcards, bookmarks.  Original prints, suitable for framing, are available.

Twenty artists are showing a wide variety of work. Paintings (acrylic, oil and watercolour), paper casting, mixed media, photography and ceramics are on display.

Oak Bay Artists' Exhibition and Sale, The Art Caravan, November 2021

Oak Bay Artists’ Exhibition and Sale, The Art Caravan

June Again, 2020, imdb image

June Again: Three Reasons to Watch this Film

I’ve just added the movie June Again to the recommendations on my Good Viewing page…just in time for weekend viewing, perhaps?  There’s a plethora – some might say an inundation – of things to watch so I’ll tell you why I think this film is worth your attention.

How many times have you seen any form of printmaking featured in a movie?  I thought so.  Me neither.  I am delighted to report that screen printing plays an important supporting role in this film.  No kidding.  What a surprise!  It’s not many movies where an art form is integral to a plot, and certainly not printmaking.  I’m not an experienced screen printer, but the studio scenes were convincing.  It looked authentic to me.

This movie passes The Bechdel Test.  It only takes three simple criteria to pass the test:

the film has

 (1) two named female characters

(2) who talk to each other

(3) about something besides a man.

Seems easy, doesn’t it?  It’s surprising (depressing?  discouraging?  frustrating?) how many movies don’t pass the test.  June Again passes with flying colours.

June Again, 2020, imdb image

June Again, 2020, imdb image

This film springs from the question, “What if….?”  I am always intrigued by this approach to storytelling. It’s a great question to ask in art, and in our lives, isn’t it?  It reminds us there are a myriad of possible outcomes; it encourages imagination, creativity and expansion of thought, and hope.

I found June Again on the Kanopy streaming service, through my public library.

June Again, 2020, imdb image

June Again, 2020, imdb image

Print Austin 2022

January 14 – February 15, 2022 The Contemporary Print Print Austin

Big Medium is hosting The Contemporary Print for Print Austin’s annual juried exhibition. The juror for the show is John Hitchcock of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I am thrilled – and relieved – that standing on their shoulders was chosen and made its way safely to Austin for the show! Here’s a link to the exhibition catalogue.

August 9 – 13, 2021 Colour & Texture @ahintofprint_

My first Instagram exhibition! It’s a great way to discover other printmakers and their work. Thanks to @santinamastrangelo_ and megneilart, the co-creators of A Hint of Print and the jurors for the show. Risk Delight is a collage of my original print work, including collagraph, intaglio, chine collé, and embossing.

@ahintofprint_, online exhibition

@ahintofprint_, online exhibition

Risk Delight, T. Vatrt, 22" x 30"

Risk Delight, T. Vatrt, 22″ x 30″

June 1 – July 31, 2021 UnEditioned Manhattan Graphics Center

UnEditioned is an international juried exhibition focusing on the unique print. It’s an online exhibition, juried by Katie Michel, founder and director of Planthouse Gallery. I am honoured that my piece, more to explore 3, is part of the show.

more to explore 3, Terry Vatrt, intaglio, chine collé, ink, coloured pencil (image: 8 x 10″; paper: 11 x 15″)

More information and images about Manhattan Graphics Center and the show are available this post.


April 9 – 18, 2021 Not Going to Buenos Aires

Not Going to Buenos Aires group art show postcard

Want to know more? You can read about it, and see more images, in these previous posts, here and here.


PrintAustin and The Contemporary Print

It’s print month in Austin, Texas!  Print Austin offers a month of all things printmaking: exhibitions, artist talks, workshops, print demos – including a steamroller print event! – and more. There’s a wide range of  in-person and virtual events.

Who knew Austin is a hub for printmaking in Texas?  It makes sense, when you realize there are several university programs and professional print shops in the city. Here is a short history of PrintAustin.

PrintAustin exposition, PrintAustin image

PrintAustin exposition, PrintAustin image

Even though I am not able to attend this year, one of my artworks IS in Austin.  (Does this mean I’m attending symbolically, as well as virtually?!)

standing on their shoulders was accepted for the exhibition The Contemporary Print.  You can view the catalogue of the show here.  I am grateful to PrintAustin and, in particular, Cathy Savage, for ensuring its safe passage and care in a venue thousands of miles away.

Mixed media: collograph, embossing, intaglio, hand stitching, photography, paint

Standing on their Shoulders (foreground) and wish you were here….(background), Terry Vatrt, mixed media)

standing on their shoulders, T. Vatrt, mixed media, internal view

standing on their shoulders, T. Vatrt, mixed media, internal view

The Contemporary Print exhibition is hosted by Big Medium, and the juror is John Hitchcock, Associate Dean of Arts of the University Wisconsin-Madison. It opened on January 15 and runs until February 12, 2022.





Don Proch- Masking and Mapping by Patiricia Bovey, University of Manitoba Press, 2019

Don Proch

It’s not often that a book is published about your junior high art school teacher, is it?  Don Proch was no ordinary middle school teacher. He taught me how to draw perspective, which is no small feat in a classroom of enthusiastic 13 year olds.  His teaching career was short-lived; he’s been creating art full time for most of his life. His artworks are found in public and corporate collections from Vancouver, Canada to New York, U.S.A.

Don Proch- Masking and Mapping by Patiricia Bovey, University of Manitoba Press, 2019

Don Proch- Masking and Mapping by Patiricia Bovey, University of Manitoba Press, 2019

Night Landing Mask, Don Proch, 1982, Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, galleries west.ca image

Night Landing Mask, Don Proch, 1982, Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, galleries west.ca image

Take a look at this short video produced by Mayberry Fine Art. Mr. Proch (how could I call him Don?!) talks about his process, and his influences.  He describes his objects as three dimensional drawing and says making these things is the most fun I can have.

Chicken Bone Mask, Don Proch, 1978

Chicken Bone Mask, Don Proch, 1978

Isn’t the work intriguing?  Unique?  He has a singular voice that remains contemporary in its exploration of humans interacting with the land.  And what could be more à propos than masks?  If you want to learn a bit more, here’s an interesting interview  by Robert Enright from Border Crossings.

And, really, you want to see the images in the book, Don Proch –  Masking and Mapping.  It’s easily ordered from the University of Manitoba Press, or your local independent bookstore.  Ask your public library to acquire a copy. Patricia Bovey has done a remarkable job compiling all the images, details, and dates of Don Proch’s extraordinary life and art into an accessible and enjoyable format.  It’s a gorgeous book, and an incredible resource.

Thanks to Ms Bovey for this book.  Thanks to Mr. Proch for teaching me drawing fundamentals.  Thank you, Don Proch, for your art.

To wear – or not wear- Indigenous designs

To wear – or not to wear – indigenous design is a topic of discussion that keeps popping up in my social circles.  The clothing and jewellery are gorgeous, but is it cultural appropriation when non-indigenous people wear them?

Mary Simon is Canada’s newest Governor General.  At her recent inauguration she wore a dress and jacket designed and decorated by Victoria Okpik and Julie Grenier.   This brief article from the Inuit Art Foundation highlights the artists and their works.  (Have a look because you won’t want to miss the image of the outfit Victoria Okpik designed for the musical artist Elisapie.)

Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, cbc.ca image

Mary Simon is Canada's newest Governor General, cbc.ca image

Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, cbc.ca image

Mary Simon is indigenous – born in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik.  It’s more than appropriate that she wears clothing created by indigenous artists.  I wonder, though,  whether it’s fitting for me, a first generation Canadian, to wear indigenous designs?

As I explore the question, it seems clear that we bear a responsibility as consumers / wearers to ensure that the work is authentic, not mass produced. Has the artist been compensated for their creations?  Has the artist been paid?

If you’re interested in reading more about the propriety of wearing indigenous designs, here’s a  HuffPost article by Haley Lewis and a Toronto Star interview with indigenous artist Killa Atencio.  You may also want to check out this Indigenous Arts Collective. Their tagline is We are artists FOR artists.

(Thanks to CARFAC for popularizing the question Has the artist been paid? and the Inuit Art Foundation  for advancing the work of indigenous artists.)


Insights into Artist Books

Any regular (or irregular) reader of this blog knows that art and books are important to The Art Caravan.  We’ve looked at a few significant books  and authors  amidst the scores of posts about art.

Artist books seem a match made in heaven, don’t you think?  I mentioned them briefly in this post about the Athenaeum Music & Art Library (speaking of heaven….)   I’ve explored making them, too – creating various structures and enclosures.

If, edition of 5, 2015, intaglio

Intaglio, relief print, marbling, paper cutting

X marks the spot…., 2016, accordion book and clamshell box

If you’d like to know more about artist books, I recommend The Book as Artone of a series of short videos in Insightsfrom the de Young and Legion of Honor Museums in San Francisco.  Also in the series, Iliazd: Publishing as an Art Form,  is a remarkably beautiful ten minute video focusing on Ilia Zdanevich’s fifty years of creating original hand-made books with prominent 20th century artists.

de Young Museum, San Fransisco, T. Vatrt image

May we all be enjoying time this summer reading books.  If you’re looking for suggestions, head to the Good Reads page on this blog.

Libreria Palazzo Roberti, Bassano del Grappa, Italia, T. Vatrt image

Murals of La Jolla 2021

In the spirit of summer The Art Caravan proposes a (virtual) trip to the beach. Admittedly it’s not nearly as much fun digitally as it is in person, but advantages include less sand in our shoes, and no risk of sunburn.

La Jolla, California is a stunningly beautiful oceanside town north of San Diego.  Unlike many beach towns, it features  exceptional art on the streets and in its museums.  I unearthed several older posts extolling its virtues.

1° 2° 3° 4°, Robert Irwin, 1997, photo by T. Vatrt

I’ve previously written (here) about The Murals of La Jolla, but the recent additions to the public art project justify a return trip.

Gamboa Seasons in La Jolla, Beatriz Milhazes, 2020, muralsoflajolla.com image

Beatriz Milhazes….swoon.  A mural – or three – is an appropriate medium for her work.  (Read more about her here.)

The Murals of La Jolla is an excellent website , with plenty of images and information about touring the artworks.

Favorite Color, 2010, Roy McMakin, ljathenaeum.org

May we all enjoy a summer filled with beach time, and good art.  Remember the sunscreen.




UnEditioned at Manhattan Graphics Center

Summer 2021-officially!  We may (here’s hoping) safely resuming non-pandemic life.  It’s time to go outside, reconnect with others, and resume some activities.  Keeping that advice in mind, The Art Caravan posts will be brief this summer.

I will quickly draw your attention to the Manhattan Graphics Center.  MGC, a professional printmaking studio,  opened in 1986.   It provides space, equipment and opportunities for artists to learn printmaking, and to produce and show their artworks in New York City.

Elizabeth McAlpin, Manhattan Graphics Center, image courtesy of the artist

What great news (sigh of relief) to read of its reopening. Not only has it managed to survive  the shutdowns of the last 15 months but MGC is offering expanded membership opportunities, and a collaboration with Center for the Book Arts.

The Center for the Book Arts, NYC, T. Vatrt image

The Center for the Book Arts, NYC, T. Vatrt image

The Center for the Book Arts, NYC, T. Vatrt image

Both Centers offer workshops and courses, virtually and (soon!) in the studios.  Until July 31,  MGC has a virtual exhibition UnEditionedjuried by Katie Michel of The Planthouse Gallery. I am honoured to have a print included in the show.  You might want to take a quick look at this link before heading outside…

more to explore 3, Terry Vatrt, UnEditioned virtual exhibition at Manhattan Graphics Center

more to explore 3, Terry Vatrt, intaglio, chine collé, ink, coloured pencil



Taking Shakespeare

I planned to write a different post this week.  Seeing the online version of the play Taking Shakespeare a couple of days ago changed my mind (or course, if you want to follow the cheesy caravan pun.)

I am growing increasingly weary of all things on a screen. Perhaps you are, too?  (Oh, I admit  there are many advantages to using  Zoom and new horizons to explore via YouTube, but, as in all things, a balance is necessary. Acknowledging the irony,  I sincerely thank you for reading this post – on a screen.)  I have a subscription to the Belfry Theatre and almost reluctantly tuned in to the final production of their spring season.

Belfry Theatre, belfry.bc.ca image

My reluctance was short lived.  Taking Shakespeare by John Murrell is an extremely well written play. An award winning writer, Murrell also translated plays, and wrote librettos.  He received a Governor General’s Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement  in 2008.  The Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia provides a brief  summary of his prolific works, as well as his interesting life.

The realistic dialogue, and the authentic characterizations are brought to life by excellent actors.  Patti Allan and Austin Eckert are both experienced stage and screen performers.  Allan, as the professor, gave a particularly nuanced performance of a cynical professional woman of a certain age tutoring the seemingly apathetic, directionless student.

As with other visual performing arts, the success of the online presentation also depends significantly on the skills of the the videographer.  Candelario Andrade presents a simple, but very effective delivery of the play.  I was able to concentrate on the characters’ relationship, as well as focus on them as individuals.  (You may want to watch his Video Editor demo reel .)

The good news is that you can watch the play, too.  It’s available until Sunday, June 13.  Tickets are available from the Belfry Theatre.  I highly recommend it.

Taking Shakespeare, Belfry Theatre, belfry.bc.ca image

Honouring Arts Advocate Dr. Shirley Thomson

The headline Donor supports Venice Biennale’s Canada Pavillon caught my eye.  I’m fond of Venice  – one big art gallery, really! – and visited the Architecture Biennale in 2016.  (You can read a short post about my Biennale adventures here, and a brief description about the Canadian exhibition here.)

Venice Biennale site, image by T. Vatrt

Venice Biennale site, image by T. Vatrt

What is interesting about the $3 million donation to maintain the Canadian Pavillon at the Venice Biennale site is that the donor remains anonymous.   Instead, the patron wishes to honour a former director of the National Gallery of Canada, Dr. Shirley Thomson (1930-2010.)  Barbara Stead- Coyle (National Gallery of Canada Foundation) reports The donor wanted the focus to be on Dr. Thomson and Dr. Thomson’s time at the gallery.  

Among her many achievements, Dr. Thomson was the director of the National Gallery of Canada when it moved from an office building to its current (and stunning) purpose-built location along the Ottawa River.

Maman, Louise Bourgeois, 1999 National Gallery of Canada image

Maman, Louise Bourgeois, 1999 National Gallery of Canada image

National Gallery of Canada, T. Vatrt image

During her 1987-1997 tenure at the National Gallery, Dr. Thomson diversified the permanent collection, acquiring contemporary art, as well as important historical works.  Under her direction, the gallery purchased  Barnett Newman’s Voice of Fire (1967) in 1989 for $1.8 million.  It proved to be a highly controversial topic in Canada, outraging Conservative politicians, and sparking discussions amongst Canadians. How wonderful to have citizens talking about art!

Here’s a concise video by  National Gallery curator Annabelle Kienle Ponka  explaining the significance of this painting.

Voice of Fire, Barnett Newman, Winnipeg Free Press image

In addition to her degrees in fine art and history, Dr. Shirley Thomson received an honorary degree from Université Concordia in 2001.  This citation outlines some of her many accomplishments throughout her career, as well as at the National Gallery.  Besides diversifying the permanent collection with savvy purchases (imagine what Voice of Fire is worth today) she valued education and accesibility for all:  she initiated an internship program for university students, and began the Cybermuse program, which ensured the collection’s online availability.  In honour of the donation, the Abstract Expressionist space is now The Dr. Shirley L. Thomson Gallery.

Isn’t it refreshing to have an arts advocate honoured, instead of the usual Mr. and Mrs. Millionaire/Billionaire Memorial Gallery?  For a bit of insight into Dr. Thomson’s leadership style and personality, this interview with Rob Labossiere provides some insight into this remarkable woman.  Our thanks to the generous donor for maintaining the Canadian Pavillon at the Venice Biennale and for bringing Dr. Shirley Thomson to our attention.

Dr. Shirley Thomson, Ottawa Citizen image

Dr. Shirley Thomson, Ottawa Citizen image


Ai Weiwei

Contemporary artist Ai Weiwei is having another moment right now – or maybe he’s emblematic of our time.  If you’ve been following The Art Caravan for awhile, you know that I think he’s a fantastic artist.  In an October 2014 post , I wrote This is one of the best exhibitions I have ever seen.  Seven years later, I don’t disagree.  Here’s a brief summary (with images and video) from For-Site Foundation, about Large, the installations I (fortunately) experienced at Alcatraz.

Pace Prints has a Weiwei exhibition running until May 29, 2021.  In conjunction with the show, they are releasing a silkscreen print edition of Year of the Ox, which references his 2018 Zodiac  and 2010 Zodiac Heads series.

Year of the Ox, 2021, Ai Weiwei, artsy.net image

Year of the Ox, 2021, Ai Weiwei, paceprints.com

Year of the Ox, 2021, Ai Weiwei, paceprints.com

Beginning May 15, and running to August 1, Skirball Cultural Center presents Ai Weiwei:  Trace.  Part of their programming includes this conversation with Skirball curator Yael Lipschutz.  It’s worth a listen to hear Weiwei’s political perspectives.  I found the discussion of his artistic process fascinating.  It’s a thought provoking interview.

Artnet news announced the November 2021 publication of an Ai Weiwei memoir 1000 Days of Joys and Sorrows.  In this very brief video, Weiwei explains the genesis of this book.  He ends with these bold words:  What is the cost for freedom?  If art cannot engage with life it has no future. No surprise that his father was a poet;  Selected Poems  by Ai Qing will be published in English and released the same day as 1000 Days of Joys and Sorrows.

The Art Caravan won’t, unfortunately,  be traveling to NYC or Los Angeles anytime soon. sigh  In the meantime, here’s another brief flashback to an Ai Weiwei installation I saw in Vancouver in 2015.

The F Grass, Ai Weiwei, Vancouver Biennale, image by T. Vatrt

The F Grass, Ai Weiwei, Vancouver Biennale, image by T. Vatrt


Not Going to Buenos Aires: Before, and After

The art show Not Going to Buenos Aires is over, but remains available online.  As one of the participating artists, I’ve come to realize the importance of this exhibition.  A visitor commented:  I came to the show with my friend; I don’t know any of the artists.   I didn’t think I’d want to have ‘pandemic art’ in my home.  But when I saw all of the artworks, together, I wanted to buy some work to mark this time.  (I’m happy to report she bought one of Janet Brooks’ Zoom Rooms, and five pieces from my wish you were here…. series.)

Zoom Room 3, Janet Brooks, acrylic and pencil on cradle board

wish you were here…. Terry Vatrt, mixed media

Whether or not we acknowledge and accept the reality of the pandemic, we are living in a significant historic moment.  Our daily lives and our corporate life have changed for a substantial and unknown period of time.   Our movements and interactions – everywhere! – are severely limited by the threat of illness and death. As artists we grappled with those limitations through the Not Going to Buenos Aires theme: inquire into the complexity of yearning to be anywhere other than the “here” of a pandemic shutdown.

As I wrote in a previous post six artists produce six very different responses.  Images and artist statements, available on our website, illustrate the variety of interpretations.

For some of the artists Not Going to Buenos Aires marks a significant change in their personal art practises.  Kate Scoones, with a laugh, refers to Before Not Going To Buenos Aires and After Not Going To Buenos Aires.

The spontaneity of the work I found to be just so rewarding and it kept me going.  I think that has made a huge shift in my art practise now.  I can forever say ‘Before Not Going to Buenos Aires’  I worked this way, and now I work this way – another way – a different way.

Among my Souvenirs, Kate Scoones, acrylic gouache on foamcore

Participating in Not Going to Buenos Aires was notable for Amy Marcus. (@amarcusx)  I was always a dabbler who made things.  I became somebody who could put something forward and feel that it was good enough to be accepted.  I could stand in that, and feel good about that.

My Monkey Mind, Amy Marcus, embroidery

At the very least, participating in NGTBA gave me a project for the covid winter we endured.  Less time on screens and more time in the studio is always a good thing.

Like Kate I also learned to be open to new ways of working.  I created highly personal pieces.  I believed the assumption that being too personal in my work would seem pedestrian – not interesting to others, and only appeal to a limited audience.  I discovered the opposite is true.  The most personal artworks elicited the strongest positive responses.

bred in the bone, T. Vatrt, 2021, mixed media

bred in the bone, T. Vatrt, 2021, mixed media

In a Not Going to Buenos Aires debriefing meeting (on Zoom, of course!) Kate expanded on my observation.  You have to let things happen. They sit with you.  They come out.  The truer you are to that feeling, the truer the work will be.  And in spite of it feeling so personal – like it really comes out of you – it resonates with people. That’s what the person who purchased your work is going… ‘Oh!  This is coming from a place inside myself that I recognize.’

Participating in Not Going to Buenos Aires forced me to clarify my thoughts about the reality of living, and loss, during pandemic times.  Joanne Hewko agrees.  This project – having a framework to think about – and to do a deep dive intellectually into my thinking – was super useful.  I liked having something to really sink my teeth into.

Let’s end with Amy’s summary of  participating in Not Going to Buenos Aires :

I loved working with all of you.  I felt like it was a group effort.   I know everyone goes away and does what the do and that’s always one of the things that amazes me about a project – when everyone has the same topic and they create something that’s completely different. It’s just amazing, and  fascinating, and so soul satisfying to see what other people do.

Don’t be surprised to see Soul Satisfying  t-shirts this summer.  I suspect they could be very popular with artists.


Not Going to Buenos Aires – yet

Not Going to Buenos Aires opened  (in person visits!) last weekend at the Errant Art Space in Victoria, B.C.  The previous  Art Caravan post explained the genesis of the art show’s theme –  six artists inquire into the complexity of yearning to be anywhere other than the ‘here’ of a pandemic shutdown.

Not Going to Buenos Aires group art show postcard

As you can imagine, six artists interpret one theme in vastly different ways.  The website for NGTBA provides each artist’s statement and artwork images. The diversity of media is remarkable – you will see embroidery, collage, printmaking, paper sculpture and  painting.

Annus Horribilis, Amy Marcus, embroidery on cotton

Jardín di Los Sueños 1, (detail) Joanne Hewko, acrylic on canvas

As I noted in the last post, overlapping ideas, like climate change and environmental degradation, emerged from the works.  Other commonalities are evident.  It’s interesting to see Janet Brooks and Kate Scoones both reference the ubiquitous Zoom calls we are all enduring.  Janet created a series of Zoom Room paintings which mimic the fractured Zoom experience in an emphasized horizontal perspective.

Zoom Room 3, Janet Brooks, acrylic and pencil on cradle board

About her works Among my Souvenirs, Kate says: Each subject is alone and motionless on a colourful background, with no specific landscape or environment. They are intimate yet aloof (not unlike a Zoom call when private space is shared with strangers).

Among my souvenirs, Kate Scoones, acrylic gouache on foamcore

Among my souvenirs, Kate Scoones, acrylic gouache on foamcore

My series wish you were here….. echoes Kate’s observation about uniqueness within a relationship. The presentation of the artwork also reinforces the grid inherent in a Zoom call.

wish you were here…. Terry Vatrt, mixed media

Almost all of the artists commented that the pandemic, while forcing us to slow down, resulted in new discoveries in our art practises.  Trish Shwart says she’s been able to… work more slowly, and at a much larger scale than I have worked in the past few years.  The continuous day to day practice has allowed me to develop a kind of resilience in terms of how I approach and modify the paintings over the course of their development.

The Air was Still and the Sun was Out (detail) Trish Shwart, acrylic on wood panel

Kate writes I wouldn’t have delved so deeply into a mundane subject and found it so compelling had I not been confined.

In my own studio, I  was surprised by the long lengths of time I spent working on the larger pieces.  It felt like an extraordinarily contemplative process.  Standing on their Shoulders took me several iterations, and months, to complete.

Not surprisingly, Amy humorously summed up her experience working at home.

 I have a short attention span so for NGTBA, as a challenge, I took on a v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-w-w project. My Monkey Mind was hand embroidered with single strands of thread and that extended the work time into just short of forever. And that was supposed to be the point.
At times i experienced it as a meditation as intended, and at other times it felt like a drawn out trial. In those times, if ‘trial’ is a metaphor, I found myself guilty of monkeying around.
In the end, fast, s-l-o-w, meditative, drawn out, guilty, or not, it was all part of the dance.

My Monkey Mind, Amy Marcus, embroidery

The show is open one more weekend, (April 17-18, 2021) with covid protocols in place.  We’ve provided a website with plenty of visuals,  links to a CBC radio interview, and a visual walk through ‘tour.’  Please visit as you are able, and see if any of our responses to these strange days resonate with you.


Not Going to Buenos Aires

My favourite mask right now is one that announces Not Going to Buenos Aires.  (Let’s pause here and consider that a year ago, you’d be scratching your head, wondering what I really meant by my favourite mask.  These days,  wearing a mask in public is almost second nature – an essential item on the mental phone-keys-sunglasses list as we leave our homes.)

Not Going to Buenos Aires masks

On occasion, it elicits comments like I wish I was going to Buenos Aires and I like your mask. It’s fun to explain that it’s the title of a group art show in which I am participating.  If people seem interested, I pass them this postcard with all the show details.

Not Going to Buenos Aires group art show postcard invitation

Trish Shwart  formulated the idea of this art show.   The project was a great way to connect with other artists around a theme (longing, uncertainty, impossible dreams) that I find compelling, she says.

Mid-year 2020, and several months into the pandemic, Trish invited several artists in Victoria, BC  to consider our participation.  Her introductory proposal outlined possible themes:

Going to Buenos Aires     In March (2020) my husband began talking about going to Buenos Aires.  Even though he knew it was impossible to travel during a pandemic he was adamant we would go soon.  Why not embrace this crazy idea, I thought.  Imagine going somewhere green and beautiful.  Buenos Aires began to be a fantasy stand-in for somewhere wonderful.  It stood in total contrast to the reality of our covid society.  I started to yearn for what it represented.

To help imagine more clearly what it would be like to be in Buenos Aires, I started doing some research and my imaginings were disrupted by some hard truths.  Because of the pandemic, citizens of Buenos Aires are going hungry and becoming homeless.  There are strikes and civil unrest.  The economic disparities have grown and for many there is a great degree of economic and physical instability.

So what does it mean to be going to Buenos Aires?  What we imagine.  What we long for.  What we think will bring positive change into our lives is not always simple.  Can a yearning for green and beautiful exist alongside the difficulties of others?  Is that in fact how we humans cope with challenges?  By ignoring some aspects of it?

These images explore the dual nature of yearning.  Of longing for the unattainable. And of considering how what we yearn for, long for, is not necessarily a reality.

I jumped at the opportunity to explore these themes.   The pandemic gave me time – lots and lots and LOTS of time -to wish, dream and hope in the context of devastating world events.  Examining the concepts of yearning and longing appealed to me.  Trish provided us with vocabulary, a framework and deadlines (!) to process and express some of our losses as well as our dawning insights.

Over the course of a handful of mercifully efficient Zoom meetings, we distilled the theme and revised the title of the show.

Not Going to Buenos Aires artists' Zoom meeting

Not Going to Buenos Aires artists’ Zoom meeting

Not Going to Buenos Aires  

Six artists inquire into the complexity of yearning to be anywhere other than the ‘Here’ of a pandemic shutdown.  From settling in to the gratifications of solitude to the restless urges for escape, and all points between, this show reflects their stories.                            

These stories show the diversity of their thoughts and feelings and will surely prompt viewers to consider their own responses to these restrictive times.  If you’re not going to Buenos Aires, where are you going?

It’s fascinating to see the unique responses from each artist.  Six different artists produce six different interpretations, although overlapping concerns emerge.  Joanne Hewko says that Before the pandemic, I loved to plan trips and travel….the feeling of anticipation and discovery. I  realized that travelling, especially by air,  is a privileged activity that has consequences environmentally and culturally….it is something that I can no longer take for granted.

Trish notes that the pandemic created an ideal opportunity to reflect on how the environmental degradation that is the norm is beginning to shift how our world will be.

The Air was Still and the Sun was Out (detail) Trish Shwart, acrylic on wood panel

The pandemic has affirmed my conviction of the interdependence between humans and the natural world.  It’s a deadly example of the connection of the micro to the macro in all things.

bred in the bone (detail), Terry Vatrt, etching, embossing, chine collé

We’ll talk more about the artists’  ideas and experiences in future posts.  In the meantime, if you’re interested in more images, and reading our artist statements, you can visit the Not Going to Buenos Aires website.

In one week you can visit us in person, too. ( Covid protocols in place, of course.)  Let us know where you aren’t going – just yet.


Celebrating with The Frick and The WAG

The Art Caravan is celebrating…in a covid kind of way.  A year ago we started posting regularly – every two weeks. (Our initial, and very tentative post was in February 2014, with sporadic postings until 2020.)

Re-reading the March 2020 post reminds me how little we knew about life in a pandemic.  Sigh.  Be reassured this post is NOT going to discuss the all-too-familiar challenging and horrendous circumstances of the last twelve months. Instead, we are going to mark this anniversary (of sorts) with gentleness, one of the strategies Dr. Pauline Boss recommends, to survive in a time of loss. She recommends doing things we enjoy, participating in rituals and being kind to others.

The most recent edition of Cocktails with a Curator: Rembrandt’s Self Portrait aptly kicks off our celebration.  It’s a perfect blend of art, ritual and kindness.  If you are a regular reader of The Art Caravan you will know that I am mad for Rembrant’s Self Portrait at the Frick.  I make a point of seeing it whenever I visit New York City.

Rembrandt van Rijn, Self Portrait, 1658, The Frick Collection

I wondered when this masterpiece would be featured on Cocktails with a Curator, one of the four (4!) video series produced by The Frick Collection.  (I also enjoyed The Frick Five video series, which resulted in excellent daydreams and  interesting conversations.  Skip the Netfl*x and go to The Frick’s You Tube channel, which offers a plethora of worthy choices.)

A virtual visit to an artwork isn’t the same as experiencing it in person, but I enjoyed the presentation by the always erudite Xavier F. Salomon, the chief curator at The Frick.  He outlines the history and context of this self portrait in Rembrandt’s life.  I may not agree entirely with his interpretation of Rembrandt’s self-depiction, but the discussion adds to my appreciation of the painting.

The Frick adapted well to the harsh realities of a pandemic. It generously (most programs are free), and regularly shares its art and expertise through innovative online programming.

If you’re in the mood for more celebrating (and who isn’t?) The Winnipeg Art Gallery opens Qaumajuq, its new Inuit Art Centre, this week.  (Here is the post from January 2021 with more information about this gallery hosting the world’s largest collection of Inuit art.)  The WAG is kindly inviting us to a two part, virtual opening to  celebrate the new 40,000 square foot space.

Qaumajuq, Winnipeg Art Gallery, cbc.ca image

I encourage you to open some bubbly, and salute The Frick and the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  Despite the formidable difficulties presented by a pandemic, both institutions continue to contribute to society in innovative and meaningful ways.  They unstintingly provide easy access to art, beauty, differing cultures, ideas and a myriad of educational opportunities.  They are worthy of our appreciation, praise and celebration.  Cheers!