Jun. 20, 2012 - Issue #870: Food Trucks
Micropolis 2.0 / The Sunny Side of Edmonton
As I was wandering around SNAP's gallery to view their two current exhibitions—Allison Moore & Arthur Desmarteaux's Micropolis 2.0 and Jason Blower's The Sunny Side of Edmonton, I was confronted with these thoughts. Micropolis 2.0 is a delightful mash-up of urban spaces and human relationships with them through paper cutouts rendered in an illustrative style. The sidewalk juts out from the wall just below eye level and encircles the front gallery space—you are put face to face with the monstrous and strange residents of the city. The French and English signage gives clues about which Canadian cities inspired different elements of the city. Although the figures in the hybrid city allude to the strange and unique characters that are sprinkled around any urban centre, they are not rendered so distinctly or in such detail that it's clear that each one has a story that can be interpreted from the visual information provided. This is the story with the entire exhibition—it is so beautifully put together, and the drawing style is quirky and engaging, but what is being communicated about these cities and their dwellers is unclear. This is not a matter of ambiguity that hooks a viewer into looking closer and using their interpretive skills to read the rest. Rather, the work, though well presented, lacks more than a surface analysis of big city Canada. In such a well-constructed and esthetically appealing work of art, I longed for a critique that was not there.
Jason Blower's The Sunny Side of Edmonton presented a similar challenge. His series of Edmonton landmarks are lovely paintings. The flat images have a story book, illustrative feel to them, rendering the Garneau Theatre, the Santa Maria pirate ship in West Edmonton Mall, and other familiar sites through a kind, nostalgic lens. The paintings are little pieces of eye candy, but it again left me craving a little more substance. Blower clearly has an eye for rendering optically appealing images, and it is certainly fun to see Edmonton rendered with such affection and kindness. The paintings are nice to look at, but they are unlikely to tell you something you did not already know about the city. These are works that, while delicious, can be visually consumed—image and idea—in a single look. Art has the unique ability to help us see and understand our world in new ways, and with Blower's lovely and sweet approach to these paintings, I wonder in what untapped ways he can bring some visual meat to the table.
Until June 30th
Works by Alison Moore & Arthur Desmarteaux
The Sunny Side of Edmonton
Works by Jason Blower
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