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Oh, Canada…Seeing with New Eyes

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. – Marcel Proust

Today, I swung by Feheley Fine Arts gorgeous new gallery at 65 George Street, where ADAC (the Art Dealers Association of Canada) was hosting a lunch in honour of the upcoming exhibition Oh, Canada that will open at Mass MoCA on May 26.


A slide for Oh, Canada showing Joyce Wieland’s piece of lipstick marking our national anthem. Click on images to enlarge them. All images: VoCA

It’s a survey of Canadian art, from the perspective of Mass MoCA’s american curator, Denise Markonish, who has spent the past four years preparing for this exhibition by travelling to nearly every province in Canada, meeting artists, curators, gallery owners and writers.


A view of Feheley Fine Arts.


The piece above is fantastic, titled Cutting Walrus on the Beach, Itee Pootoogook, 2011. It’s sold, though. The lower piece, Plane Trip, 2011 by the same artist is not sold.

I met Denise, who is very sweet and Mass MoCA long-time director, Joe Thompson, who is a friendly, lovely man.

Denise has no real connection to Canada, despite having been here on a family road trip to Toronto at age twelve, when she saw some public artworks by Michael Snow. But really, she noticed that there was very little dialogue between American and Canadian art, and set out to rectify that.


Joe Thompson, Mass MoCA director, speaking at the ADAC lunch.

Some artists that you can expect to see are Luanne Martineau, Eric Cameron, David Hoffos, Ed Pien, Michael Snow, BGL, Valerie Blass, Kim Morgan and many, many others. Quite a few artists were commissioned to make works especially for this show, including Rebecca Belmore, Dean Baldwin, Daniel Barrow, Garry Neill Kennedy and many others.

There are 62 artists in the show, I believe, and most of them I had never heard of. Which is wonderful.

Of course there has been some griping from those who (or whose artists) were not included, but they need to get over it. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn about new artists in Canada, and of course the curator doesn’t owe anyone anything. Canada has grown up over the past decade (or so one would like to think.) There are many opportunities for artists and galleries these days. You’ve got to reach out for them, not complain when they don’t come to you.


Curator Denise Markonish.

One interesting thing that Denise did was to have each artist interview another, and in turn be interviewed. Each one gave their top five artists. She tells a great story of how the excellent senior conceptualist painter Eric Cameron took the list of artists, eliminated everyone he knew of, then further eliminated everyone whose gender he was certain of, and thus came up with his list of five.

Anyway, Denise thought that would be a great way to try to bridge the geographical divide of our country. I agree, and I look forward to reading the interviews in the catalogue, out in July.

For more info on Mass MoCA, check out their website HERE.

3 Responses to “Oh, Canada…Seeing with New Eyes”

  1. Any time Canadian Art and Artists are celebrated elsewhere it is good for ALL of us. Thanks for posting about this exhibition; look forward to seeing it online.

  2. Anna says:

    I love the “Oh Canada” theme…we have some amazing talent in this beautiful country!

  3. Frank says:

    Sorry i missed this @ Moca last May…. looks amazing!

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