Artist Chris Cran's Fascinating Paintings of Modern History

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


House Head, 2009; Red Man/Black Cartoon, 1990; Awake, 2009

Award-winning Canadian artist Chris Cran has his work displayed in private and public collections all over the world, and it's easy to see why.

His painted work — which he has been creating prolifically for the last 40 years — takes traditional art genres and turns them on their head. Still-life, portraiture and landscape works suddenly become oversized, avant-garde works of brilliance.

The artist is clearly drawn to the Pop and Modernest movements which he uses to portray history in a pop-culture context that can be both hilarious and unsettling at the same time.  

Self-Portrait Just Two Maos Down from some Guy With a Goddamned Tea Cosy On His Head, 1985; Self-Portrait Watching a Man about to Shoot Himself In The Foot, 1985

In 1989, Cran began his Stripe Paintings series where he used a stencilling technique to draw lines on images that he had taken from magazines, art history, and advertising. He also integrated half-tone tones in the imagery as well. 

The process for each work involved blowing the images up from their half-inch scale to over nine feet in some cases. Though paintings, they look almost like pixelated photos that have become grainy because they have been enlarged larger than their resolution allowed.   

Large Orange Laughing Woman, 1991; Large Green Laughing Man, 1990; Large Pink Laughing Man, 1991; Large Green Woman, 1991

Large Orange Laughing Woman, 1991

Large Green Woman, 1991

Smoker, 1989

Hand Gesture, 1992; Hand Gesture #6 (OK), 1992 




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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Mini Houses Up Trees: Public Art That Reflects A City's Architecture

by Lindsay Shapka in ,


This isn't your typical slightly treacherous treehouse with a tire swing. No, the treehouses that have been installed in Edmonton, Alberta's Churchill Square (there are three total) are miniatures of actual houses that can be found in the city — high end materials, modern design and all! 

Created and installed by a group called The Threshold Collective (made up of University of Alberta students), this fun public art is meant to reflect "heritage architecture found in historic neighbourhoods... as well as newly built infills." (source)

According to the Edmonton Art's Council who funded the project, it "superimposes private and intimate suburban spaces upon the urban environment and shared public space" (aka there are really cool looking mini houses in trees in the middle of downtown that are perfect for Instagram-ing!).

Throughout the day, domestic sounds come from the small buildings and, at night, there are lights that emit from the windows. 

Overall, a pretty darn cool piece of public art! 

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Eight Photos Showcasing 90 Years Of Art In Alberta, Canada

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


Numerous, 2013      Faye HeavyShield

The Art Gallery of Alberta is one of the oldest art galleries in Canada and celebrated its 90th birthday with the exhibit 90x90 featuring 90 pieces by 90 different Albertan artists created between 1924-2014. 

I was lucky enough to preview the exhibit and was completely blown away by the work on display.

The show was an eclectic mix of sculpture, installation pieces, painting, portraiture, and everything in between — an incredibly diverse showing of the fantastic creative talent that lives in Canada.

Here are a few shots of some of the synamic and diversepieces. 

Errol and Alice, 1983      John Brocke

Lubicon, 1988      Alex Janvier, R.C.A., C.M.

John Will, 1992-2009      John Will

Quilt, 1997      Shelly Ouellet

Large Pink Head #2, 1991      Chris Cran

Studies of Nature I, 1994/2014      Laura Vickerson

Camouflage Painting 1, 2002      Arlene Stamp, R.C.A.