Exhibits out of the ordinary
Art: Leighton Art Centre showcases unique creations from international artists
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 10:48 am
The work of two artists on display at the Leighton Art Centre is a little out of the ordinary given the venue.
The Leighton Art Centre is known for its depictions of colourful landscapes, but in February the staff is changing things up with “Ode to the Cities: A Poetography Exhibit,” which combines western photography with Japanese poetry, and “Distance of the Moon,” a three-minute video installation.
“It really offers something different,” said Stephanie Doll, Leighton Art Centre manager of programs and exhibitions. “What we usually show is just landscapes. We are trying to spruce things up and find out what else we can bring here.”
Doll said co-founder Barbara Leighton envisioned the arts centre as a venue to showcase all types of art and these exhibits fit in that mantra.
“We are trying to keep going with our mandate and trying to expand on allowing performance artists to come and also installation artists,” she said. “We are just showing that art goes beyond what you think it’s going to be.”
Los Angeles Japanese-American artist Ron Zheng’s exhibit presents a multi-cultural perspective by combining Japanese Tanka poetry with stories taken from contemporary western and Asian life enhanced by black and white photography, reminiscent of ancient Chinese ink paintings.
“With Ron we thought it was something really different that we haven’t done before,” she said. “It gives people in this area a chance to see something they probably wouldn’t have seen before.”
Bringing Zheng, an award-winning graphic artist, author, photographer and poet, to the art centre introduces patrons to more international work, said Doll.
“Zheng is a pretty big name,” she said, adding he’s well known in North America and Asia. “It’s interesting to have someone of that caliber here.”
Zheng said he attempts to reach his viewers emotionally by capturing images to which they can relate.
“I try to put a spotlight on moments that most people will experience at some time of their lives,” he said. “I believe that allows my art to have an emotional impact of viewers since they are often able to relate to it very personally with something inside them or that’s happened to them.”
Since his first Poetography exhibit in Vancouver in 2007, Zheng has had shows across Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan with various themes. The Leighton Art Centre’s show focuses on his experience in cities around the world.
“I try to capture the moods and details of various cities that have influenced me,” he said. “A winter’s morning in Toronto, a rainy day in Vancouver, a New York subway and the upper deck of a London bus. These are some of the snapshots of city life I am presenting in this show.”
O’Connor is taking a different approach with her video installation “Distance of the Moon.” Through it she challenges viewers to consider their childhood memories in a story about a crab that overcomes its limited two-dimensional movements to reach the moon. The video intermingles theatrical elements with personal narrative.
O’Connor created the exhibit during her studies in fine art at the University of Calgary, a masters program she completed last fall.
“It was during a period where I was focused on storytelling and memory,” she said. “It represents childhood memories of stargazing and contemplating time and space. The hope is they will be drawn into this whimsical narrative and it might jog their memories with memories of their own as a child and rekindle that sense of play.”
O’Connor said it was through her university professor she discovered the opportunity to display her work at the Leighton Art Centre.
“There is something very intimate about sharing stories, especially those based on childhood,” she said. “Childhood is so inexplicable, you pick from this soup of memories and that’s where you construct your reality. I’m really interested in that time.”
O’Connor’s thesis project is exhibited at The Nichol Arts Museum on the University of Calgary campus and another of her installations travels across Canada through the Windsor Print Makers Forum traveling exhibit.
The young artist is starting her career with a large list of ideas in mind.
“I just want to continue making art and sharing my work with others, talking with others about my artwork and keeping in touch with the artist community,” she said.
Both exhibits will be on display from Feb. 2 to March 9 with an opening reception on Feb. 9 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., where Leighton Art Centre executive director Tony Luppino will discuss the collection. The artists will not be in attendance.
The Leighton Arts Centre is open Tuesday to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.