Well it’s that time of year again. The long list for Canada’s major annual art prize, the Sobey Art Award has been announced.
It’s true that many of Canada’s fine young artists remain hidden from media attention or public view in other parts of the country. So I look forward to the Sobey longlist so that I can discover new talent.
There are fewer names that I recognize off the bat this year, so I was happy to discover some great works by a newer crop of young Canadian artists. I’ll take a closer look at other regions finalists soon, but for now, here is a glimpse into the work of the first group of finalists, from Atlantic Canada.
ZEKE MOORES is an Ontario-based artist, originally from Newfoundland. Much of his work involves creating perfect replicas of urban detritus and utility objects like cardboard boxes in bronze, traffic cones in steel, plastic milk crates in aluminum and a shiny polished bronze full-size dumpster. The fabrication looks to be excellent. But my favorite piece is called Axes, a series of cast aluminum axes installed as if they were chucked into a white, spotlit gallery wall.
KYM GREELEY is based in St. Johns, and much of her work is about her immediate environment. She’s a NSCAD grad, and attended New York’s Cooper Union, too.
I like her Moth Project, which saw her pin paper moths in a site-specific installation throughout a local garden. And of her screenprints with painting, Alone Together I and II are particularly nice for their colour and scale, beautifully installaed at The Rooms.
JOHN HANEY is a photographer who divides his time between Hamilton Ontario and Sackville New Brunswick. He works in the documentary tradition, was once assistant to the excellent phographer Thaddeus Holownia. I find his series of local architecture Common Prayer particularly charming. It is a sort of typological study of churches in Atlantic Canada. As he notes, this type of structure is disappearing, showcasing the fact that both desire for organized religion and for the public meeting place are dwindling.
MICHAEL FLAHERTY, based in St. John’s Newfoundland, is a graduate of NSCAD but has lived across the country. He makes sculptures and other experimental works, mostly in ceramics. I like his piece Plan for World Peace, 2002, with its rather obvious mechanical arms reaching delicately into foreign territory, so as not to disturb anyone but their specific targets.
BECKA VIAU is from Charlottetown Prince Edward Island. Also a graduate of NSCAD, she works mostly in photography with some drawing and installation work. Her photographic studies are lovely, evoking intensely personal memories.
Becka Viau, 13 studies 2, 2010. Image: thistownissmall.com
This year’s long list:
Atlantic: Zeke Moores, Kym Greeley, John Haney, Michael Flaherty, Becka Viau
Quebec: Jérôme Havre, Chris Kline, Emmanuel Licha, Nadia Myre, Manon de Pauw
Ontario: Aleesa Cohene, Christian Giroux and Daniel Young, Derek Sullivan, Gareth Long, Josh Thorpe
Prairies and the North: Denton Fredrickson, Sarah Anne Johnson, Dave and Jenn, Wally Dion, Dominique Rey
West Coast: Sonja Ahlers, James Nizam, Helen Reed, Charles Stankievech, Joseph Tisiga
Stay tuned for the shortlist announcement in May 2011.