Clockwise from top, Dawn MacNutt, Four Friends, painted, woven, bronze wirecloth; Meryl Cook, Cozy Chakra Joy, rug hooking on linen; Christene Sandeson, Early, acrylic on canvas; Genny Killin, Jawbone, mixed media.
You can literally feel hands at work on clay, wool and wire at Connections and Contrasts, a vivid and varied exhibit by five women artists at the Ice House Gallery, Grace Jollymore Centre, Tatamagouche, to March 20.
Sculptor Dawn MacNutt exhibits small figurative pieces in willow, sea grass and wire. She pinches bronze mesh, sometimes painted in faint blues and reds, into delicate yet emotionally strong figures. They dance in the light.
Mixed media artist Genny Killin and ceramic artist Janet Doble echo her work, Killin at times in form and both in their love for natural materials and the coast.
Killin creates twisted, spinning “remnants” out of wire covered in plaster for sculptural forms evoking tangled roots and Renaissance drapery – as do MacNutt’s.
Killin’s wall-works range from an elegant and cosmic white “remnant” on black velvet to sensual, hotly-coloured pieces in pink, blue and green with dreamy, textured, pitted and waxed surfaces.
A hiker and kayaker she picks up bones, wood and metal from the beach. She has painted metal shards from a shipwreck in red and purple, then set them against black with a rich blue frame for her work titled Reliquary of the SS Langleecrag wrecked on Great Sacred Island, Straight of Belle Isle, Newfoundland, November 15, 1947.
Meryl Cook shares a love of material and abstraction with some of the other artists. Her playful, semi-abstracted, boldly-coloured, wall-works are about identity, circumstances and, in the playful “wild woman” series, about the power of women.
Talking to her at the opening she pointed out the source of fibres in her texturally rich piece, Cozy Chakra Joy. Within the rings of colour each denoting a chakra are: a tuft of purple from a sari, bits of red wool from a recycled sweater from Valu Village and a lumpy white and yellow wool that she spun herself. Her pieces are delightful for their high spirits, thoughtfulness, colour and texture.
Janet Doble displays her journey from decorative, pictorial, nature-based imagery, as in her glazed, earthenware Pillow Platter Island to lumpy, rough, earthy forms, inspired by her move five years ago to Parrsboro. In one piece she twins the two styles together for an interesting hybrid.
Doble’s unusual vases of craggy bases and narrow, bright tubes are taken directly from nature. She makes them with clay from cliffs near Diligent River. “They are inspired in part by the Japanese aesthetic of ikebana,” she writes, “and by the rocky cliffs and outcrops that define the amazing Fundy Shore.
“They are not the pretty vases of tradition, but rather an examination of raw texture, of subtle colour and of how vegetation can grow in the most inhospitable environments.”
To form them she rolls clay slabs on beach rocks and logs, cuts and joins the slabs and sometimes presses in crabs, shells, rocks and seaweed to mimic fossils.
Christene Sandeson brings down the temperature in dreamy, intelligent landscapes in muted colours with a lovely fracturing of space in small blocks that recede or move forwards. The paintings pulse with a quiet, natural energy and give the eye a lot to look at and think about even as it relaxes.
Deborah Maurer’s figurative paintings, often of women, are loud and kinetic with distorted faces and electric lines at times recalling graffiti.
She “explores what it is to be human in a world fraught with grief and fear but also seasoned with joy.” She is particularly interested in “the relational dynamics of person-to-person within the larger context of the world around us.”
Blue Alert! This show’s featured potter, Danielle Sawada of Thrown Together Pottery, exhibits shelves of gorgeous blue pottery with some drippy glazing, mixed colours and exciting carving in all types of vessels.
Connections and Contrasts was already hung but not yet open when it had to close due to a province- wide shut down last May so curator Brandt Eisner decided to remount it. The gallery is open Wednesday-Friday 12-4 pm, Saturday 10-5 pm, Sunday 12-4 pm. To see the show online go to: https://www.theicehousegallery.com
Next up at the Ice House Gallery is Revising History with Jessie Fraser, Jen Worden, Terry Havlis Drahos, Cheryl Simon (currently exhibiting in The Quill Sisters at the Mary E. Black to March 13) and Kevin Maclean with featured potter Rachel Mourouney of Hidden House Press. The show opens March 26, 1 to 2:30 p.m., and runs to April 24.
Eisner is also curating Posturing – The Art of the Body, to open March 30, 6 to 7:30 p.m., at the Chase Gallery (Nova Scotia Archives) with Michael Greer, Peter Bustin, Kate Church, Mark Schwartz, Ronald Hayes, Chippie Kennedy, Ian McKinnon, Louise Pentz and Simone Labuschagne.
Organized by Michael Greer, the show runs to April 29 Monday to Saturday, 8:30 to 4:30; Wednesday open till 9 p.m.; closed Sunday.