Art on the horizon

Pub Crawl (2)With classes ending and the semester wrapping up, it’s a good time to pause and take a breather—and what better time to check out some art? There’s a fresh batch of exhibits coming up this and next month, all of which showcase the work of both UVic artists and art historians.

First up is the PUB(lic) Crawl happening Saturday, April 12. Part walking tour and part film screening and discussion, the PUB(lic) Crawl offers an active, participatory tour of several interarts projects in the public sphere. Led by Art Gallery of Greater Victoria educators, Open Space and visiting artists—including Jackson 2Bears, the current Audain Professor for the Department of Visual Arts, who will be screening a new multimedia work at the end of the tour. This freewheeling appraisal of public space runs rain or shine. Meet outside the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (1040 Moss) at 3pm for the two-hour walking tour, which will reach the Garrick’s Head Pub (1140 Government) at 5pm, where the screening and discussion will continue till 7pm. Admission is by donation.

The Pub(lic) Crawl is just one of the many exciting events leading up to the April 25-26 event Reclaim the Streets: A Symposium on Art and Public Space.

From Chris Lindsay's "I like the wind"

From Chris Lindsay’s “I like the wind”

Already open is Chris Lindsay‘s latest exhibit,  I like the wind at Xchanges Gallery. A recent Visual Arts MFA alumnus and the current workshops technician for the Department of Visual Arts, Lindsay presents new work exploring the non-conventional mark-making possibilities of the rust process. The inventive attitude of the artist and the dynamic physical character of the rust process are captured, reflecting our connection to the world outside of our selves and our relationship to that which we imagine and bring physically into this world.

Curious about how rust influences the artistic process? Don’t miss Lindsay’s artist talk at 2pm Sunday, April 27. I like the wind continues to April 27 at Xchanges Gallery, 6E-2333 Government St. The gallery is open Saturdays & Sundays noon to 4pm.

SplitBFAGradShow_PosterThe Visual Arts BFA graduation exhibit is always one of the most anticipated events of the Fine Arts academic year. This year’s exhibit is titled Split and will feature the diverse work of 36 graduating BFAs—including painting, photography, sculpture, drawing, installation and extended media works. Split not only offers a glimpse into the future of visual art but also shows the originality of vision that comes with being mentored by some of Canada’s top contemporary artists. Supervised by Visual Arts professors Jennifer Stillwell and Robert Youds Split will fill the entire Visual Arts building and also offer an exhibit catalogue created by the students themselves.

Owen Mathieson's paintings can be seen in "Split"

Owen Mathieson’s paintings can be seen in “Split”

Split also carries on Visual Arts’ enviable tradition of producing some of Canada’s most notable contemporary artists—such as 2014 Governor General’s Award winner Kim Adams, as well as the likes of Jessica Stockholder, Gwen Curry, Bill Burns, Marla Hlady, Phyllis Serota, Barbara Fischer, Christian Giroux and many, many others. If you want to brush up on the future of Canadian art, look no further than the Department of Visual Arts.

Split opens with a 7pm reception on Thursday, April 17, and continues 10am to 6pm daily to April 26 in the Visual Arts Building.

Just in time for Easter weekend is Windows Into Heaven: Religious Icons from the Permanent Collection. Opening April 23 at the Legacy Downtown, this exhibition is curated by History in Art graduate student Regan Shrumm as the result of a directed studies course under the supervision of History in Art professor and exhibit co-curator Dr. Evanthia Baboula.

Windows Into HeavenThese 18th and 19th century icons—created from egg tempera, enamel and silver metalwork—are from the eastern Christian tradition and show how religious imagery maintained a central role in orthodox Christianity. Icons were venerated in churches, private homes or during a journey to provide protection to body and spirit. Images of saints, Christ and the Virgin that date back to the Byzantine tradition, the medieval empire of Constantinople, are also a concrete remnant of how the religious communities of imperial Russia built on these traditions to create a recognizable, yet distinctive and lively art. “The icons in this exhibition are similar in age and importance to others found in major galleries and museums worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum, the British Museum, and the Ashmolean,” says Baboula.

Learn more about the historical and cultural significance of these icons with the curator’s talk and tour at 7pm Thursday, April 24. The exhibit runs to August 9 at the Legacy Art Gallery Downtown, 630 Yates. Admission is free and the gallery is open 9am to 4pm Wednesday to Saturday.

The button blanket receiving its inaugural dance at UVic's First Peoples House (Photo Services)

The button blanket receiving its inaugural dance at UVic’s First Peoples House (Photo Services)

It’s also worth noting that your last chance to see the Legacy exhibit Adasla: The Movement of Hands is coming up fast—the exhibit must close on Friday, April 25. Featuring the world’s biggest button blanket, Adasla is the culmination of work done by History in Art professor Carolyn Butler-Palmer, HIA sessional instructor Peter Morin and their fall 2013 class. Find out more about the project here, and be sure to see the exhibit before it closes.

Also of note on the Legacy Galleries front are two upcoming on-campus exhibits: Honoris Causa: University of Victoria First Nations Artist Honorands, which runs to the end of May at First Peoples House, and Margaret Peterson: A Search In Rhythm which runs to August 9.

Kwagiulth Chief and Frog, Henry Hunt, 1980

Kwagiulth Chief and Frog, Henry Hunt, 1980

Honoris Causa features the work of First Nations artists who have received honorary degrees from the university. Twice yearly at convocation, UVic awards honorary degrees to those who have demonstrated distinguished and extraordinary achievements—and, during its 50-year history, UVic has granted honours to seven First Nations artists who have contributed not only to the arts but also to the community at large as leaders, activists, visionaries, role models, and groundbreakers. Honoris Causa features works from UVic’s art collection and an excerpt from the citation that was read at the occasion of granting the degree. It continues to May 9 at First Peoples House.

Meanwhile, A Search In Rhythm features the artworks and personal papers of  groundbreaking mid-20th century abstract painter, Margaret Peterson. Peterson had a big vision: to search for the spiritual realm, in rhythm with the artistic aims of Indigenous peoples across the world. Peterson’s main medium was egg tempera on plywood panels—striking in size, colour, and form.

Portrait of Margaret Peterson by Curtis Lantinga, 1978

Portrait of Margaret Peterson by Curtis Lantinga, 1978

This is the first in an upcoming series of exhibitions presenting UVic’s Artist Archives and Legacy Art Galleries joint holdings which demonstrates the rich research potential of this recently acquired material. This exhibit runs April 11 to August 9 in the Legacy Maltwood at the Mearns Centre in the McPherson Library.

There will also be a lively panel discussion of the artists’ archives and this exhibit at 2pm Tuesday, May 13, in room A003 of the Mearns Centre. Titled “Working with Artists’ Archives at the University of Victoria,” it will feature UVic archivist Lara Wilson, local art writer Robert Amos,  art historian Nick Tuellie and exhibit curator Justine Drummond.

Work by MFA candidate Neil McClelland

Work by MFA candidate Neil McClelland

Finally, we have the much-anticipated MFA Graduating Exhibit in the Department of Visual Arts. Featuring the work of six graduate students in the Master of Fine Arts program, the exhibit—this year titled In Your Eyes—offers contemporary art in a wide variety of disciplines.

In Your Eyes essentially offers six separate solo exhibits in one, as each graduating student—Megan Dyck, Ethan Lester, Neil McClelland, Kaitlynn McQueston, Carley Smith and Jeroen Witvliet—has their own exhibition space in the Visual Arts building. “We look for artists who want to engage with contemporary art dialogue in an environment that really promotes independently driven, rigorous studio investigation in the service of research creation,” says Visual Arts professor and graduate advisor Paul Walde about the MFA students.

The key to contemporary art, says Walde, is to spend some time with the work. “If you walk into a play or open a book and just spend five minutes with it, you’re probably not going to have a good sense of what the total accomplishment is,” he says. “That’s

Work by MFA student Carley Smith

Work by MFA candidate Carley Smith

the same with visual arts—you have to spend some time with the work, maybe do a little reading around it . . . sometimes the content of the art is such that a level of understanding will have to preface it in some way.”


The opening reception for In Your Eyes begins at 6pm, Friday May 2, with opening remarks at 7pm. The exhibit runs 10am to 5pm daily (except Sundays) to May 10 throughout UVic’s Visual Arts Building.

Books, books, books

Spring has sprung and there’s no better way to mark the return of the leaves than with some exciting book news from Department of Writing graduates. (Get it? Books, leaves, pages . . . ah, never mind.)

Arleen Pare

Arleen Paré

First up is news that recent MFA Arleen Paré is launching her second book of poetry this month. Lake of Two Mountains. Published by Brick Books, Lake of Two Mountains is described as “a portrait of a lake, of a relationship to a lake, of a network of relationships around a lake. It maps, probes and applauds the riparian region of central Canadian geography that lies between the Ottawa and the St. Lawrence Rivers.”

Paré’s first book, Paper Trail, won the 2008 Victoria Butler Book Prize and was shortlisted for the 2010 Dorothy Livesay BC Book Prize in Poetry. She’ll be launching Lake of Two Mountains alongside authors Jane Munro, Joanna Lilley and Karen Enns at 8pm Tuesday April 29 at Open Space (510 Fort Street). The event will be hosted by Kitty Lewis, with a  Q&A  session will be facilitated by Sara Cassidy.


Garth Martens

The first book of poetry by Garth Martens was also recently released. His Prologue for the Age of Consequence (House of Anansi) offers an elemental world both beautiful and severe, where characters assume a collective status both emphatically human and radically mythic. While his Prologue is about Alberta’s tar sands industrial project, and the men who work in them, these are poems of great philosophical ambition with a startling ethical and psychological reach.


Gillian Wigmore

Better still, Martens will be launching his book alongside fellow Writing alum Gillian Wigmore, who will whose debut book Grayling is described by no less than retired Writing professor Jack Hodgins as “a spirited journey story I found as irresistible as the powerful river that carries us through the beautiful and treacherous northern landscape.” Grayling is released through the venerable Mother Tongue press.

Join both Martens and Wigmore for their launch celebration at 7:30pm Thursday, April 3, at Russell’s Books (734 Fort Street).


Aaron Shepard

Also on deck for his debut novel is MFA alum Aaron Shepard. He’ll be launching When Is A Man on April 8. Described by publishers Brindle & Glass as “an original debut novel that is meditative, raw, and exuberant in tone, Shepard’s When is a Man offers a fresh perspective on landscape and masculinity.” You can read our full interview with Shepard here before joining him to celebrate the release of When is a Man at the reading and launch party from 7-9pm Tuesday, April 8 at the Copper Owl, 1900 Douglas Street in Victoria. The event will be hosted by Writing professor David Leach. Shepard will also be participating in the At the Mike: Fiction Night! (alongside guest authors M.A.C. Farrant and Margaret Thompson) at 7pm Tuesday, April 15, at Russell’s Books, 734 Fort.


Marjorie Celona

Congratulations go out to Writing grad Marjorie Celona for making the prestigious Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award shortlist—which is the richest story prize in the world! Celona is up against five other writers—including two Pulitzer Prize winners—for this hefty £30,000 prize. (But the runners-up will receive £1,000 each, so that’s okay too.) The winner will be announced on April 4. For those keeping track, Celona’s first novel Y was heralded as a stunning debut back in 2012.


D.W. Wilson

Further congratulations to Writing grad and novelist-on-the-rise D.W. Wilson for making the Amazon First Novel Award shortlist with his Ballistics (Hamish Hamilton Canada). Wilson has continued to earn fans and critical acclaim alike since the publication of his short story collection Once You Break A Knuckle—which includes the “The Dead Roads”, the story that earned him the 2011 BBC National Short Story prize. Alongside Marjorie Celona, Wilson was also selected for 2013’s prestigious Waterstones Eleven list in the UK.

More prize-winning news from the Department of Writing: MFA candidate and filmmaker Connor Gaston just won “Best College Short” at the 2014 Phoenix Film Festival in April for directing the 2013 Writing 420 class project, ’Til Death. This is the fourth prize for ’Til Death, which continues to attract attention wherever it screens.  

BooksWriting grads are well represented among the nominees for the forthcoming 2014 BC Book Prizes. Two alum are both nominated for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize: Arno Kopecky made the shortlist for The Oil Man and the Sea, as did Jane Silcott for Everything Rustles. Meanwhile, Ashley Little has been named in two different categories: the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize for her novel Anatomy of a Girl Gang and the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize for The New Normal. Finally, Catherine Greenwood is up for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize for The Lost Letters. (Also noted in the fine print were faculty member Lynne Van Luven and instructor and alumnus Steven Price as judges in the non-fiction and fiction categories, respectively.) The winners will be announced at the 30th Annual Lieutenant Governor’s BC Book Prizes Gala on Saturday, May 3, at the Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside Hotel. British Columbia’s Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Judith Guichon, OBC, will be in attendance.

Melanie Siebert

Melanie Siebert

Acclaimed Deepwater Vee poet, MFA grad and occasional Department of Writing instructor Melanie Siebert was announced as the winner in April of the inaugural poetry prize from the online Lemon Hound with her poem “Thereafter.” Noted poet and prize judge Rae Armantrout had this to say about Siebert’s poem: “Every sentence in ‘Thereafter’ is interesting . . . . It’s as if we’re listening to the voices of the damned (‘Dante’s goddamn mike was open’) and they’re our voices, just skewed enough that we notice what we’ve been saying all along . . . . In this poem our own language comes back to bite us. If only we could wake up.” Visit Lemon Hound to read Siebert’s poem.

While we’re talking about literary prizes, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention 355830d4d1f1585da36e273359cb2e78that our Writing grads are all over the 2014 PRISM International Poetry & Fiction Contest winners list.
The first place Fiction winner is Cathy Kozak and the first place Poetry winner is Jordan Mounteer. First runner-up in Poetry went to alum Kyeren Regehr and the Fiction runner-up went to Leah Jane Esau. And second runner-up in the annual PRISM Creative Non-fiction Contest went to Writing grad Jenny Boychuk for her piece, “Notes on Breath”. (Judge and Can-lit biggie Timothy Taylor described Boychuk’s piece as “A difficult set of family relationships is unwoven and revealed in the process of an episodic meditation on breathing.”)

Carol Lyn Morgan

Cara-Lyn Morgan

Speaking of Writing MFA alum Kyeren Regher, she has also been selected as the only Canadian represented in the U.S.-based collection Best New Poets 2013. (Of course she’s one the best—she came from UVic!) Other first books for Writing grads: Cara-Lyn Morgan just released her book of poetry What Became of My Grieving Ceremony with Thistledown Press, and Colin Fulton‘s book of poetry Life Experience Coolant was recently published by BookThug.

Finally, current Writing undergrad Sheldon Seigel has been named as one of the 10 finalists for the infamous 3-Day Novel Contest organized by Geist magazine and Anvil Press. Siegel is among the five Canadian finalists for the 2013 prize—and he was also profiled as a contestant on CBC’s Canada Writes site, where he shared some humourous insights in both his entrance and exit interviews.

Sheldon Seigel

We’re sure Sheldon Seigel is just hiding his bloodshot eyes as a result of writing a novel in 3 days

As Canada Writes reports, “the last time we spoke with Sheldon was in early September when he had just finished his first writing marathon. Sheldon was zonked, but happy. He called the experience ‘horrendous, spectacular, cathartic, shocking, and enlightening.’ We thought we would ask him now, with time and some perspective, how he feels about being shortlisted: ‘… I’m still shocked that I survived the contest weekend. I have since read my story and found it to be surprising. Perhaps that is because I don’t remember writing half of it! It was indeed a wonderful and horrible experience, one that paid incredible dividends in terms of literary growth and a stronger bond with my dog.'”

You can also hear an interview with Seigel on this episode of CBC’s All Points West.

The winner of the 3-Day Novel Contest will be announced later this week.

Fine Arts announces name change

In light of recent concerns about post-graduation employment and the continuing societal denigration of the importance of the arts, the Faculty of Fine Arts has announced it will be changing its name. Effective April 1, 2014, Fine Arts will now be known as the Faculty of Experiential Learning, Lateral Thinking, Job Creation and Really Innovative Innovations.

"We all love the new faculty name!" says Guy White, Minister of Positive Diversity Representation

“We all love the new faculty name!” says Guy Whyte, Minister of Excessive Grants. “Could you use a million-dollar grant?”

While some critics charge that simply changing the faculty’s name won’t make any difference, sources inside the government appear to think differently.

“Whoa, that sounds like a really important faculty!” says Guy Whyte, Minister of Excessive Grants. “How much funding would you like? We’ve got a few million dollars kicking around that we trimmed from various arts budgets over the past 13 years.”

Acting E.L.L.T.J.C.R.I.I. Dean Sahara Whiterock admits that while the new faculty name may seem cumbersome, it was actually carefully chosen by a hand-picked panel of experts who have absolutely no experience with the arts. “We looked at the various criteria of the top funding sources over the past decade and strategically implemented their key points,” says Whiterock. “After all, no one really reads more than the first page of these funding applications, so we thought we’d put all the important stuff up top.”

Graduating ELLTJCII student & new BC Ferries exec Ineda Jobb

Graduating ELLTJCRII student & new BC Ferries exec Ineda Jobb

While the Faculty is expecting some outcry from Fine Arts alumni, who are understandably proud of their degrees, the reaction from graduating students has so far been overwhelmingly positive.

“My parents are absolutely thrilled that I’m graduating with a Masters in Experiential Learning, Lateral Thinking, Job Creation and Really Innovative Innovations,” says Ineda Jobb. “And despite having no experience whatsoever, I’ve already been hired into an executive position with BC Ferries. Free ferry fares, here I come!”

The news of the shift in faculty designation comes on the heels of the Times Colonist reporting UVic’s proposed name change to the University of SOB (Saanich/Oak Bay). Strangely enough, both names changes were announced on April 1. Hmmm . . .