Halifax artist Hallie Watson immerses you like a bee in a giant, dazzling, flower garden in her solo exhibit Northerly, at the Chase Gallery, Nova Scotia Archives, to April 28.
This uplifting show of stunning, large-scale paintings and oil pastels bursts with colour, energy and beauty as one feels the artist herself reveling in the landscape of her family farm called Northerly in Mono, Ontario, near Orangeville.
It’s a landscape of ponds with pale pink reflections, hilltop views with skies of scudding clouds, shadowed country roads and flower gardens both at full bloom and dying back.
Looking up close into Watson’s bold, energetic lines you can see the little flakes and stipples made by oil pastel. You can feel the intensity of her passion as well as the ignition of her creation. She dates all her paintings, much as Janice Leonard does, that gives them an immediacy and a diary-like quality.
The Road, oil on canvas, March 2023, is an invitation to walk down a country road in full sun on the right but on the left trees are in brooding, mysterious darkness. There could be trolls hiding in those woods. There’s a wonderful variation in how Watson delineates the trees, some in thick pastel, some thinner and more muted.
The oil pastel August vista, 180 Degrees of a Field, is a view across a green field to distant hills over four drawings all made in the same week; the racing, energized clouds are similar because “the weather happened to be the same for the whole time,” says Watson. “I tried to go out to do the drawings at the same time of day so that the light is the same too. The date on each of the drawings are about the day I finished them.”
Watson has printed a catalogue of the images (for $25). In it she talks about the family farm and her love for it. “It holds my childhood and my growing up. My mother and father. It is discovery, peace and wonder. Mud puddles, fishing, walks and bugs. Birds, deer, snapping turtles and coyotes. Cows and rabbits. Horses and fish. Frogs. There is the smell of cedar, grass, flowers, wind, rain, drifts of snow, too hot, too cold. Voices of the past. Everything that is life. Over all of this torrent of things and loves is Nature, mysterious and wonderful. The low hum of the wavelength of life.”
Art in the Park:
NSCAD University undergraduate students have created an exciting experience of site-specific art at Point Pleasant Park in Resonant Grounds, on view to May 25.
The 13 pieces, created by third and fourth year students who took a semester-long course on public art, are scattered throughout the park. The map at the lower and upper Park entrances is not particularly clear. However, you’ll stumble on pieces along the Shore and Arm Roads, on Heather Road and at Fort Oglivie.
Melissa Schlick’s giant reflective cube, Final Reflections, on the Arm Road has been attracting a lot of attention. It reflects gravel, the face and body of whatever person or dog is looking at it and on its top the branches of trees; it brims with possibilities in thought and emotion. “How long will these trees last? When will they get leaves? How fleeting is this light? How momentary is the visibility of my existence right here and now? What is it about cubes that is so compelling?”
Unfortunately Schlick’s other piece, an adorable, white, ceramic mini Martello Tower, placed on a rounded concrete platform in the woods near the tower, was smashed as all public art is open to vandalism. However, it can be fixed just as the real Prince of Wales Tower has been restored many times over the years as it has changed from a 1799 military installation to an historic icon. (This is a great article on the tower if seeing Schlick’s replica makes you curious: Prince of Wales Martello Tower – Halifax’s Hidden Fortress | Historic Nova Scotia).
Standing by the sea like a sentinel at the edge of the huge field where dogs and owners gather before 10 a.m. and where the view to wide-open sea is breath-taking is Ada Denil’s steel sculpture, As far as, and … .
It looks like the aliens have landed, it looks like a new age or very ancient musical instrument with small blaring horns; it is visibly an object speaking to its location with mussel shells and leaves and the wind is a key part of it as the piece is intended to make sound. (Unfortunately I saw it on a curiously windless day.)
Someone put a real shell on top of it since public art is also something that is touched even though the signs say, “DO NOT Climb or Touch.” (Just the other day a high school graduate had her graduation photo taken atop Donna Hiebert’s The Wave, which the city’s been trying to prevent people from climbing for over 35 years.)
Gabrielle Moore-Pratt also explores sound and wind in a glorious, delicate, giant wind chime, Out, on Heather Road near the heather patch. It is draped in white fabric printed in images of lichen and bits of natural forest or sea life.
Dave, a concrete and steel fragmented male figure, made by Zephyr, hangs in front of a massive cannon at Fort Oglivie and refers to military action and perhaps psychological chaos. As much as Dave appears to be in the act of being blown up there is a comical element to this piece.
Lily Stover talks about today’s crisis in the lack of affordable housing in Halifax by draping an old concrete bunker, painted with the words “Affordable Housing,” in a colourful Afghan blanket along the shore.
It’s a lot of fun to discover the art and photograph it. This show has the excitement of the sadly defunct Uncommon Common Art in the Annapolis Valley and of Nocturne when it was at its best.
Starry Night Gallery Hop:
This Thursday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., is the Starry Night Gallery Hop with 11 galleries participating with special events and openings. Maria Valverde’s new series, Celestial Hunger, of paintings inspired by Medieval Illuminated manuscripts in a bright and colourful exploration of social issues in Halifax today and in the Middle Ages in Europe, opens at Zwicker’s Gallery.
Secord Gallery is opening a group figurative painting show, Studio 21 Fine Art has a Trōv Object Gallery jewelry pop-up (also on Friday and Saturday 12 to 4); Mark Grantham is at 14 Bells unveiling 14 never-before-seen early works he discovered while packing up his studio to move from Halifax to Annapolis Royal, Halifax artist Trevor Novak presents his short film Mr. Business and gives at talk at 7:30 p.m. at the Prow Gallery. According to the release, “Mr. Business combines Trevor’s sculpture practice with new digital experiments as he pokes fun at monumental public sculptures and the processes involved in their creation.”
Viewpoint member and astrophotographer Chris Kelly is at ViewPoint in Bedford showing some of his stunning starry night images, explaining his techniques and displaying the gear used in making the images. (go to his site; you won’t be disappointed: Photo Gallery :: chriskellyphotography)
Other participating galleries are Argyle Fine Art, Hermes Gallery, Cuts and Paste, Art 1274 Hollis and the Teichert Gallery with sculptures from Luigi Costanzo’s exhibit Embracing the Light in Shadow and a book reading by Costanzo at 7:30 p.m.
Three artists – Kerry Hodgson, Craig Gunn and Chantal Elysia – at Argyle are making creations from materials handed to them including kitchen things with proceeds from sales going to charity from 6.30 to 8.30.
- Ballad of the Motherland powerful, insightful, chilling
- Billy Elliot More Than Worth The Wait; tickets still available
I just tried (again) to post comment but it always boots me out and rejects my email address. Argh!! Anyway. What a fabulous review! Loved this from the artist:
The low hum of the wavelength of life