Artists Worth a Look

by Betty Ann Jordan

We asked three art watchers where they would start a collection.

Diana Nemiroff, curator of contemporary art at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, spontaneously recalls: “On a recent trip to Halifax, I saw virtuoso floral pattern paintings by Monica Tap and minimalist sculpture by Kelly Mark, both of whom are concerned with gender issues and art history. I love Montreal artist Mindy Yan Miller’s sense of materials, coming out of her textile background. In Toronto, at The Power Plant’s Beauty #2 show, I remember Jill Henderson’s vividly coloured, off-the-wall list paintings and the tongue-in-cheek theatricality of Janieta Eyre’s photos. The spareness and sensuality of Faye HeavyShield’s amulet-like objects made from sweetgrass which I saw at the NewZones gallery in Calgary stay with me. And in Vancouver Anne Ramsden’s beautiful prints about consumers and consumer societies stood out at the Catriona Jeffries gallery.”

“I see art from all over,” says Joan Stebbins director/curator of the Southern Alberta Art gallery in Lethbridge, “but I’ve got to say that there are many talented artists in this region.” Her picks: “Julie Duschenes, a good, under-exposed painter who, since she moved to Lethbridge, has been painting coulee forms and indigenous plants. Jeffrey Spalding, whose big landscape paintings tend toward the sublime, has done a beautiful series of Niagara Falls prints and some smaller drawings. Paul Smith makes whimsical semi-abstract paintings. And people may not realize it but there is still a large body of wonderful drawings available by John Clark who died in 1989.”

Gary Michael Dault, Toronto critic and teacher, answers, “I like things that are fully declared, with a clarified quality that suggests that the artist knows what she’s doing. Jeannie Thib’s big woodcut prints on Japanese paper of inscribed body parts would be on my list and I’d get a scratch painting on glass or plexiglass by Euan Macdonald, a young painter who is being extremely inventive within what can be seen as an emptied-out medium. But most of all, after appreciating his work for 25 years, I still find John Scott’s drawings irresistible. I’d buy one every day if I could.”

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