Artful Blogger

ARTFUL BLOGGER: Questions to ask while visiting the annual Enriched Bread Artists open house

By Paul Gessell

Joyce Westrop, Silver Lining: Alto-cumulus 2011 rubber & silver foil variable dimensions

Are you tongue-tied when you enter an artist’s studio and can’t for the life of you decide whether that weird contraption hanging from the ceiling is a sculpture or just part of the plumbing? Well, don’t let those unasked and unanswered questions ruin your visit this weekend to the annual open house at the Enriched Bread Artists collective.

On your behalf, we have asked all the potentially embarrassing questions for you. So, you should not be shy to ask any of the ones listed below. In fact, you will look real smart and arty if you do.

Upon entering the derelict building of artists’ studios, you will quickly encounter on the ground floor the workshop of Gayle Kells. Her paintings and sculptures usually have a feminist slant. This year she is showing some astoundingly beautiful and complex ink drawings, resembling filigree or crochet work. The drawings show a mish-mash of connected shapes, some recognizable, others not and yet others vaguely anthropomorphic. Ask Kells just what the heck she is up to with these drawings. (Hint: Think feminism.)

Down the hall is the studio of Karen Jordon, who is infamous for making tiny sculptures from her own hair. (Don’t ask her how she gets that hair). Instead, ask her where next she will be exhibiting these sculptures. Then, look puzzled at the mountains of deconstructed cassette tapes in her studio. Where will she be exhibiting those? (Some hints for you: The hair pieces will be at a museum that begins with the word Mississippi and is not in the U.S. The answer for the second question begins with the word Karsh).

Juliana McDonald, Coming to Light triptych 2011 oil on canvas 48x72 in

Ask Amy Thompson, who creates collages, about the art she has not got on her walls but is hidden in a cupboard. To help convince her to show you this developing body of work, tell her how much you love old cars and trucks.

Amy Thompson, Stag 2011 mixed media on vintage library card - 3x5 inches

Across the hall is Cindy Stelmackowich, one of the real stars of EBA. She specializes in medical imagery but has lately branched out into strange sculptures involving hair. And no, she does not use Karen Jordon’s hair nor her own hair. So, whose hair does she use and where can you see these hair sculptures? (A hint: The exhibition is in one of the oldest buildings in Ottawa).

On the second floor, in a hallway, is a four-sided column of mirrors. Or are they mirrors? Look into each of the four sides of the column: Your view stretches to infinity. Now, ask the sculptor, Kenneth Emig, where he last exhibited that work? (Two hints: The location is a capital of country that is the homeland of another EBA artist, Svetlana Swiminer.)

Juliana McDonald paints dreamy fields of flowers. Ask her about her show at the Canadian Museum of Nature. (I forgot to ask and would like to know the answer).

The Enriched Bread Artist annual studio tour at 951 Gladstone Ave. runs for two weekends. It begins this Friday, Oct. 21 (6 p.m. – 9 p.m.) and continues Saturday, Oct. 22 and Sunday, Oct. 23 (11 a.m. – 5 p.m. both days). Next weekend, the tour hours are the same: Friday, Oct. 28 ( 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.) and Saturday, Oct. 29 and Sunday, Oct. 30 (11 a.m. – 5 p.m.).

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