The Work of Damian and Ron Moppett: The Artist Studio as Art Itself

by Lindsay Shapka in ,


Yard, 1978 by Ron Moppett (sculpture)
The Feinem Building, Matza Memorial Monument and the Venezky Building with Parkade, 1977; The Babich Arena with Ehrlich Ampitheater and Parking Complex, 1997; 12th and Dragomahn St., 1997; Century City, 1997; Century City (Second Configuration), 1997; The Hendrick Kubel Monument, The McKevitt Observatory, The National Trust Town and St. Mary's Church with Expansion Wing, 1997 by Damian Moppett (photographs)

For the first time Canadian artists Ron and Damian Moppett (father and son) are exhibiting selections from their vast collection of work together at the Art Gallery of Alberta. This unique show explores the similarity in their artistic practices and the different approaches that they use to interpret the subject of the artists's studio. 

Both are studio artists which, according to Ron, means that their job is to go to the studio every day and paint (or create). Both men are devoted to their craft. 

According to the artists, this grouping was their favourite of the exhibition.
Painting Nature with a Mirror, 1985 by Ron Moppett (left)
Match, 1986 by Ron Moppett (sculpture)
The Bells, 2010 by Damian Moppett (right)

The selected works for the exhibit Damian Moppett + Ron Moppett (Every Story Has Two Sides) are pulled from no specific time period, but were chosen by how they work together when displayed side by side.

You will see pieces by Ron stretching back to the 70s and Damian's oldest pieces are from the 90s. 

The Love Letter, 2014 by Ron Moppett

Ron was born in England in 1945, moved to Canada in 1957, and has had an incredible career to date which has involved solo and group exhibitions around the world. His paintings blur realism with abstraction and he uses stencilling, cut outs and layering to create his stunning, large scale works. 

Two Plaster Sculptures in Studio with Chairs, 2007 by Damian Moppett

Damian was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1969 and works in all forms of media, including photography, sculpture, painting, video, and drawing. His pieces explore the idea of what art is and the process of making it. The artist studio, and the materials within it are represented in most of his pieces as works of art themselves.  

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Why You Need To Visit The Gothenburg Museum of Art In Sweden

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


I recently paid a visit to The Gothenburg Museum of Art (aka Göteborgs Konstmuseum) in Sweden and was blown away by the incredible collection housed in this Swedish art gallery. The space contains an eclectic mix of historic works, Scandinavian art, contemporary sculptures, paintings by famous western artists, new work, and more.

The gallery spaces themselves are as unique as the work that they contain, making you feel like you are moving between buildings rather than just between floors.

The transition spaces between the galleries are also utilized in unique ways. Hallways are filled with collages of portraits (above), stairwells contain unique installations (first image below), and alcoves are the home of both historic and contemporary sculptures (second image below). 

Archive, 2014 by Michael Johansson

Double Blind, 2009/2014 by Charlotte Gyllenhammar

I was lucky enough to visit the museum during a weekday which meant that I was alone in most of the galleries. The sculpture gallery (below) was an especially impressive sight to behold. Turning the corner from the stairwell, you are faced with a vast room with a checkerboard floor that is filled with unique, large-scale pieces.

I was also surprised to see some incredible pieces by famous artists like Picasso, Munch, and Degas, as well as works that I had never seen before painted with a stunning use of light in the Scandinavian tradition. 

Youth from Gosol, 1906 by Pablo Picasso
Picasso's early work is my favourite. Most of these pieces are largely unknown, but the unfinished quality gives insight into the artist's process that I find fascinating and beautiful. 

Nordic Summer Evening, 1899-1900 by Richard Bergh

One of the best parts about the museum?

It's free to visit!

If you want to see the special, seasonal exhibition, there is a small charge, but you can see the majority of the collection without spending a single krona. 




The Three Graces: Nymphs, Goddesses & Symbols of Feminine Beauty

by Lindsay Shapka in ,


A familiar sight to students of art, and those who have visited any major museum, The Three Graces have been depicted in many different mediums ever since the ancient Greeks were carving them into stone.

Also known as Charities, they are shown as three eternally young, beautiful women gracefully dancing or gently frolicking while holding onto each other’s arms, hands, shoulders, necks, or waists.

They sometimes are seen to be holding vases, fruit, corn, roses or musical instruments as well. And, they are almost always nude, or draped in sheer fabrics, and the two outer figures face the viewer while the middle figure is facing away.

Meeting (The Three Graces), 1912, by Manierre Dawson at The Met in NYC

According to Greek mythology, they were supernatural nymphs and goddesses that were the daughters of Zeus and the sea nymph Eurynome. Their names were Aglaia, Thalia, and Euphrosyne, and they were the attendants of Aphrodite — the goddess of love and beauty.

They are considered to be the personifications of beauty, charm, and grace, inspiring others to seek wisdom, love, culture, creativity and generosity.

The image at the top of the post is an ancient Hellenistic sculpture that can be found in the sculpture gallery at the Louvre in Paris, and one of the most popular depictions can be seen in Botticelli’s famous painting Primavera

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Nuit Blanche: When Artists Take Over A City For A Night

by Lindsay Shapka in ,


I was so excited to explore Edmonton, Alberta's first Nuit Blanche! This all-night (from 7 pm until 4 am) contemporary art event took place in the city's downtown core and was made up of more than 30 artworks, performances, and interactive exhibits. This festival began in Paris in 2002 and since then has spread to cities all over the world! 

Exhibits included an artist building a high-rise out of bouncy castles, steam-rolling various items in a makeshift hockey rink, playing soccer on uneven surfaces, and more! Here are just a few of the incredible exhibits that I got to experience. 

Half The Air In A Given Space
by Martin Creed

This work had no weight, shape or dedicated outcome. One of the city's pedways was filled with 12-inch, yellow balloons that took up half of the volume of the space. Visitors were then let inside to explore and play in the space. There were only a few people allowed in at a time. 

Ouroboros
Gary James Joynes aka Clinker

In the heart of City Hall, this exhibit created visual representations of sound. While music, or various tones played, intricate patterns were projected on a bubble-like structure on the floor. The shapes created were meant to be "reminiscent of sacred geometric and decorative imagery from a variety of faiths and cultures." (source

Wish Tree: Imagine Peace
by Yoko Ono (yes, the Yoko Ono)

In this beautiful exhibit, 121 trees were placed in Churchill Square (the main square in front of City Hall), and participants were asked to write a wish on a tag and tie it to one of the branches of the tree. At the end of the event, the wishes were collected and sent to the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland. The trees were planted throughout the city. 

Flutter
by Sally Raab

Made with paper and LED lighting, these beautiful sculptures represented both the dimensions of human bodies, and migratory clouds of monarch butterflies that spilled through a local gallery. 

Where did you go? 
by The Orange Girls

This performance piece was moving, and unsettling. It was meant to be a study of identity and to ask the questions: Who are you? Why are you here? What gifts do we have to offer? We were invited to paint strips of paper to attach to the frame that surrounded the people that were staring at each other, not speaking, while sitting at a table. 

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The Story of The Elgin Marbles At The British Museum

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


The remaining part of a sculpture from the west pediment of the Parthenon. 

Around 490 BCE, on the peak of the Acropolis, Athenians began building a temple to Athena Parthenos. It was unfinished when the Persians sacked Athens soon after, and then in 438 BCE was completed by Pericles as a temple to the goddess Athena. No expense was spared — even the roof was covered in the finest white marble rather than the usual terra cotta tiles. 

Fast forward to when British colonization is at its peak...

At the beginning of the 19th century, Thomas Bruce, the British Earl of Elgin (hence the reason they are now called "Elgin" marbles and not Parthenon marbles) and ambassador to Constantinople, acquired most of the surviving sculpture from the Parthenon which was being used as a military base at the time.

In 1801, he shipped it back to decorate a lavish mansion for him and his wife, but his wife had left him by the time he got home and the marbles were part of a financial dispute. He ended up selling them at an incredibly low price.

The room that holds the Elgin Marbles at the British Museum. 

The remaining sculpture, that was not lost or too damaged, is now in the British Museum in a room created specifically to display the marbles that portray scenes from the life of the goddess Athena. 

A close up of one of the sculptures from the west pediment

The west pediment illustrated the contest that Athena won over Poseidon for rule over the Athenians, and the other pediment shows the birth of Athena, fully grown, from the brow of her father, Zeus. 

The remaining sculptures from the east pediment. The gap in the middle represents a missing sculpture.

The female form is expertly rendered in the marble under the folds of fabric. It's hard to believe that it is cold marble and not actual clothing that covers the headless figures. 

Like many countries around the world that were the subjects of British colonialism and lost many of their historic objects to Western museums, the Greek government continues to try (so far unsuccessfully) to have the marbles returned.

You can visit the Elgin Marbles in person for FREE at the British Museum in London

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The Readymade World of Marcel Duchamp

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


When I was studying Art History, the most fascinating artists to me were the ones that made an effort to do something entirely different — the men and women that stuck their tongue out at the norm and refused to make the highbrow art world happy.

The wacky Marcel Duchamp, a Parisian who moved to New York in 1915 to escape the war, was one of these artists.

Bicycle Wheel, 1913      Marcel Duchamp    

Duchamp is most well known for his readymades — an object from popular or material culture presented as-is, without any further manipulation, as an artwork by an artist.

He believed that art should appeal to the intellect and not the senses, and thought that presenting everyday objects as art would do just that. 

His most notorious (and hilarious) readymade was the Fountain (below) —  literally a urinal that was turned 90 degrees and signed with the pseudonym "R. Mutt", a play on the manufacturer J.L. Mott Iron Works.

Fountain, 1917      Marcel Duchamp

Duchamp submitted the work anonymously to the first annual exhibition of the American Society of Independent Artists in 1917 as a test to see how open the Society was (ironically he was a founding member himself). Not surprisingly, the majority of the Society's member's declared that the piece was NOT art and they refused to exhibit it in the show.

Duchamp immediately resigned from the Society. 

Stieglitz's photo above is the ONLY known image of the original Fountain, as it mysteriously disappeared after it was rejected by the Society in New York.

Duchamp dealt with this loss by producing several more versions of the Fountain by simply buying new urinals and signing them "R. Mutt/1917" (one of the copies can be seen at SFMOMA — San Francisco Museum of Modern Art). 

Whether you agree that it is 'art' or not, you have to admit that these works elicit a reaction, and I would think a reaction to their work — which usually leads to a conversation — is ultimately what any artist hopes for. 

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Artist Profile: Canadian Aboriginal Sculptor Stewart Steinhauer

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


According to Canadian Stewart Steinhauer, though he makes his living creating beautiful stone sculptures, he is not an artist but simply someone who “inadvertently makes stuff.”

Mother Bear Preys for Earth Healing, 2007     Stewart Steinhauer

Identifying with his Cree/Anishnabe/Mohawk Aboriginal ancestors, Seinhauer follows their belief that his ability is not a ‘talent’, but a spiritual gift; 

creative individuals become conscious of the swirling pool of creative forces, and recognize their place in it

This sculptor became conscious of his ‘gift’ when he went on an aboriginal fast/spiritual journey into the back-country mountain wilderness. While on this journey he had a vision of a bear who transformed from a small, playful bear, to a large and powerful spirit bear, and finally to a stone bear that seemed to ripple as it moved.

According to this ‘non-artist’, the bear made a 3-D imprint on his mind which appears when he is creating his sculptures. 

Mother Bear Preys for Earth Healing, 2007     Stewart Steinhauer

The bear is an incredibly important symbol in aboriginal culture but has almost contradictory meanings — representing both tranquil, nurturing motherhood, and the protective power of a fierce warrior. It is only fitting then that the contradictory Steinhauer, an ‘artist’ yet at the same time someone who just ‘makes stuff’, uses the bear as the subject of some of his most impressive works. 

Steinhauer began sculpting in 1973 and since then has produced 21 exhibitions worth of new works in shows all across Canada. His works are also in private collections all over the world.

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