Lo­cal artists open ex­hibits at Casa

Lethbridge Herald - - HOMETOWN NEWS - Dave Ma­bell LETH­BRIDGE HER­ALD

“Devil’s rope” was the name First Na­tions mem­bers gave to barbed wire, as it be­gan to de­fine Texas ranches — and keep them off their an­ces­tral lands.

Now its im­age has been trans­formed into some­thing less vi­o­lent in “Chas­ing the Devil’s Rope,” one of a group of new ex­hi­bi­tions open­ing today at Casa.

Long­time Leth­bridge artist Adrian Cooke, now re­tired af­ter decades with the Uni­ver­sity of Leth­bridge Art Gallery, will be on hand at a pub­lic re­cep­tion at 7 p.m. as the new year’s first show opens for a month’s run.

Shar­ing the main gallery space are for­mer Leth­bridge res­i­dent Ryan Smitham and New York artist Ya­sunari Izaki, sculp­tors who have worked to­gether since meet­ing at an art school in Brook­lyn. Their “Ac­cu­mu­la­tion of Mem­ory” sug­gests the traces peo­ple leave be­hind through their lives.

It was dur­ing a year in New York, iron­i­cally, that Clarke says he be­gan look­ing to Cana­dian im­ages — snow fences, grain el­e­va­tors — for in­spi­ra­tion. In his cur­rent show, he’s worked with a ma­te­rial that’s be­come even more preva­lent than the wire: ori­ented strand board, now widely used in home con­struc­tion.

“I love the tex­tures on it,” and he’s carved and com­bined pieces to repli­cate such iconic Prairies items as plow blades and bull’s horns.

With the wire im­age, mean­while, Clarke has used it as a lay­ered im­age on com­puter-as­sisted works hang­ing like ta­pes­try from ceil­ing to floor. Play­fully, it also comes to rep­re­sent the Big Dip­per in the sky.

It’s not the po­lit­i­cal re­al­i­ties of barbed wire he’s ex­plor­ing, Clarke adds, but its value as a de­sign el­e­ment.

Nearby, themes of spir­i­tu­al­ity, na­ture and fam­ily loss are ex­plored by first-time ex­hibitors John Chief Calf and Va­lerie Fur­ga­son in “My Gift Com­ing Back from the Edge.”

In the up­stairs con­course show­cases, Casa vis­i­tors may view the cal­lig­ra­phy and im­ages of Ja­panese physi­cian Ju­nichi Sagte, who’s also an au­thor and poet. While he’s not work­ing in Canada, a daugh­ter is — oper­at­ing a Ja­panese spe­cialty store in down­town Leth­bridge. Sev­eral of his books have been trans­lated into English, and they’re now avail­able here.

Round­ing out the new show is “Dis­cov­ery of House,” a bright and hu­mor­ous salute to today’s “house” mu­sic, by Card­ston artist Craig Tal­bot. And on the dig­i­tal gallery screens, Milk River artist Mary Du­rant is pre­sent­ing “Western Horses,” in­clud­ing pho­tos of buck­ing horses.

All told, says cu­ra­tor Darcy Lo­gan, the five ex­hi­bi­tions il­lus­trate the breadth and di­ver­sity of the vis­ual arts in Leth­bridge . . . and how it re­lates to de­vel­op­ments in the larger world.

The new show will re­main on view dur­ing reg­u­lar hours un­til Feb. 17. There’s no charge to at­tend this even­ing’s re­cep­tion or to view the show later in the month.

Her­ald photo by Ian Martens @IMartens Her­ald

Ya­sunari Izaki and Ryan Smitham in­stall a piece from their ex­hibit Ac­cu­mu­la­tion of Mem­ory, one of sev­eral ex­hibits by a num­ber of artists open­ing at this week­end at Casa.

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