Stonecuts, Felt Tip Pens and Mixed Media

July 19, 2018 | Jen McB

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Recently I was granted permission to take a small group to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). At no additional cost to my branch I escorted a couple of families to the recent Indigenous exhibits and got to share what I knew about the materials and processes behind the art. Mainly that when you are working with few resources you can still have quality work end up in a space such as the AGO.


Everyone knows the "Enchanted Owl" when they see it.  Do you recall the "name 5 artists" challenge from a few years ago. That led to the "Hockey Players Clobber Artists" blog by Maureen. So, I have a question. Can you name the artist of the "Enchanted Owl"? Her name is Kenojuak Ashevak. She was making art to feed her family and art, though there is no word for art in her language, is what brought her joy. I probably cannot even name another artist that has elevated felt tip pen to the level of stonecut printing, from a distance it is hard to tell the materials in use. 

Sun Owl   Birds
We also saw the work of her nephew Tim Pitsiulak who elevated the material of pencil and paper through his innovative processes. Here is a man who used GoPro equipment regularly to capture his reference materials. Looking at the aspects of some of his drawings it is evident that they are remarkably true to life.  It is our loss that he succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 49.  

GoPro explanation Tim Pitsiulak  whales

If you walk across the floor to the west wing of the second floor there is also now a heavier emphasis on the Indigenous collection. The works of Rebecca Belmore, Kent Monkman, Ruth Cuthand and Barry Ace are all must-see. The AGO has also brought out a few more Norval Morrisseau and put away a few of the Group of Seven pieces. I believe this to be a wise decision as living artists should be celebrated while they are alive. I wish there were more from Pitsiulak to look forward to.  

Beaded creatures in Water Vessels   Barry Ace
We also strayed up to the 5th floor where long-time noteworthy Rebecca Belmore has been given the entire space! I wish I understood the piece with the shopping carts, it's quite an in-your-face installation. My favourite was the piece with the single red line of beads in the hair of a figure hunched over. Any artist can learn a lot about placement from this exhibit. At first I was a little apprehensive that the mature themes might not be applicable to the group I was with, but the kids loved the installation art and it was nice to see the welcome they gave the content.  

Rebecca Belmore close up
Half a week later I read that the New York Public Library is offering a program similar to our MAP pass program. This is fantastic! As for our recent visit, sometimes opportunities align themselves and you just have to try it out, if I could, I would do it again.  "Tunirrusiangit: Kenuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak" is on until August 12, take someone with you when you go.