An edited version of this article was published in Apt613.ca
The new Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) is going from strength to strength as the creative hub of switched-on, relevant contemporary art in Ottawa. The dramatic and beautiful interior, the quality and scope of the grand opening weekend (on par with galleries of any major international city), hosts to the vibrant Ottawa Fringe and now unveiling the latest work from iconic author and artist Douglas Coupland The National Portrait.
Coupland has created a garden of delightfully colourful sculptures by scanning the heads of random Canadians in nine cities across Canada, including his hometown Vancouver and here in Ottawa. The digital files were 3D printed with the resulting biodegradable plastic casts warped, brightly painted and assembled into a stunning entourage. The massive work, created in partnership with La Maison Simons, is a collection of 1000 sculptures ranging in size from 5cm to almost a meter in height covering an allotted 20×20 feet. Certain stylized heads were named by genre, the tall willowy pieces being “asparagus heads”, the flattened ones “pancakes” and voyage around the work to find the “Gold Mine”. The longer one spends with the piece the more that is revealed. Many sculptures reside on vases from Coupland’s own home. It remained unanswered if the vessels are inanimate reflections of the human vessel they support or simply a found-use for the beautiful things acquired by the avid collector.
The unveiling was impeccably hosted with the sociable Coupland approaching and introducing himself to many. Equating the collaboration and teamwork involved to a traveling circus, Coupland spoke of visiting cities “Usually on a Friday, like carnies arriving in town” where a true cross section of Canadian’s: toddlers, youth, professionals, and seniors lined up to hold a pose for the 60 second long scan. Though he doesn’t recall names each sculpture evokes a memory of the individual’s “aura” – “everyone shines from within”. “Human beings are beautiful”, said Coupland “Which I never understood before this project.”
The work will ultimately be displayed at a to be determined Simons. It takes a village to grow a garden and The National Portrait collaborative cross-country patch of delightful human beans sprouts at the OAG through mid-August.
The contemporary art scene at its finest has arrived and it is at the OAG.
Lace up your boots because it’s non-stop Sandy Hill action. Details on our Events page.
Supernova! Nuit Blanche Ottawa – is the highlight of our week! The all-night art extravaganza launches at our very own Ottawa Art Gallery. Be amongst the first to celebrate the 2013 kick-off then roam the streets from dusk to dawn taking in performances, exhibits and interactive installations.
The week kicks off Monday night at City Hall with a meeting on building conversions. Action Sandy Hill amongst others will be speaking as City Planners take the pulse of local neighbourhoods. A big issue in Sandy Hill. How do you feel about dwellings being converted to smaller units?
Thursday Sept 19th sees two major events at the Ottawa Art Gallery. At noon Sook-Yin Lee discusses the inspiration behind her latest exhibit We are Light Rays. In 2011 her sister was diagnosed with cancer and together she and her sibling explored the immediacy of the present through photography. The series spanning 2 years is presented via light panels giving the images a ghostly ephemeral essence. Show runs to January 26th.
Thursday 6pm is the Opening for both “We are Light Rays and “Sell Out”. The latter is a provocative and intriguing exhibit that questions the necessity and, in equal measure, the vilification of artists that sell-out by producing commercial works. The timing of this piece is particularly compelling as it coincides with a case brought to the Supreme Court of Canada by a collection of artists (CARFAC) against the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) on copyright laws and artist fees – there is no minimum payments to artist for works exhibited at the NGC.
Catch Sook-Yin Lee and Benjamin Kamino on Friday 20 Sept for the première of their multi-media performance art piece “How Can I Forget” at University of Ottawa’s Academic Theatre.
Friday Night 5-11pm it’s the ELE music concert of emerging urban artists with a FREE (suggested donation of 5$ in support of childhood cancer support group Candlelighters) on Tabaret Lawn.
Saturday is busy busy busy. First up is the Sandy Hill Yard Sale but don’t forget to save a bag for the Pop-up Sandy Hill Farmer’s Market at Laurier & Chapel. As if that wasn’t fun enough we’ve taken the stress out of Saturday night dinner with a Community BBQ providing the sustenance required to re-charge for the Nuit Blanche night ahead.
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Tagged Benjamin Kamino, Candlelighters, ELE, How can I Forget, Nuit Blanche, Nuit Blanche Ottawa, OAG, Ottawa art gallery, Ottawa City Hall, Ottcity, Sandy Hill, Sandy Hill Seen, Sook-Yin Lee, Supernova, Tabaret, We are light rays