AGOG 2017 Summer Exhibit through Sept 4

We’ve been working on this exhibit for awhile! We are very pleased and excited to present two very fine local artists in a combined exhibit that opens for the summer Friday July 7 and runs through until after Labour Day.

The exhibits titled SCULPTURES by Marcel Cholo and PAINTINGS by Regan Johnston share an affinity for the natural world and the stories we find there.

Marcel Cholo is a Dene artist born in Liidlii Kue (Fort Simpson), Northwest Territories. The Dene of the Deh Cho (Mackenzie River) live on their traditional lands today as active members of 21st Century society while still keeping their ancient language (Dene Zhatie) and traditions alive.

Although born in the north, Marcel grew up in southern Canada. As soon as he finished college, Marcel headed back to the North. He spent many years (between periods of formal post secondary education and employment) living as a subsistence hunter and trapper with his relatives on his family’s traditional territory in the Northwest Territories. This meant living in remote wilderness, dealing with extreme cold, travelling overland by snow mobile and snowshoes in winter and on foot or by boat in summer, setting snares and traps, hunting and fishing in order to eat.
The stories that Marcel expresses in his art are a way to preserve and present ancient stories which were passed down since time immemorial by way of oral tradition. He transforms a wide variety of media (wood, antler, stone, quill, and hide) into shapes that embody his Dene culture. Most of the materials he uses in his art are harvested in special places or at special times throughout his life.

Marcel may consider (and think, dream, and sketch) how to tell a story for many years before he finds the right material to bring it to life. When he finds the right piece, he sees the story in the stone and allows the form of the materials to encourage it to emerge. Marcel feels that it is an honor to be part of this process, and sees it as essential to reclaiming Indigenous identity and culture. He says, “in a time when our roots have withered and we desperately need to reconnect to the land, to breath life back into our ancestral traditions, weaving them into the modern day, this is my path back to connection”.

 

Regan Johnston

When I was young I did a lot of art, and it came natural to me. In high school i did some art but was more interested in experiencing things first hand than spending time in the studio. In my twenties I didn’t do any art. I spent my time exploring the mountains in Canada, always wanting to go further and more remote. Travelling was also one of my priorities. I moved to Italy in my mid twenties to start a modelling career and enjoyed working and travelling all over Europe for a few years. While working on a short film for Vogue Italia I met a Dutch model who I eventually married. I always missed the rugged landscape of my home in Canada and we eventually moved back to Golden to start a life there.
I never forgot about art, knowing that someday it would be something I’d do. Once we moved to Canada I knew it was time for me to start painting. I was ready to dedicate myself to it. The concept of painting canvases was totally new to me, but I knew this would be my medium and I would learn to get good at it. I decided to make art my career; I had to make it work.
It starts with a moment that inspires me, whether that is when I’m climbing a mountain and see a dramatic landscape or strolling through a park and see some interesting light coming through the trees. Nature is my main inspiration. I love how, if you look for it, you can find the most beautiful abstract lines and shapes that flow together so perfectly.
Once I’m inspired I come up with the idea, and this is the most important aspect of the process in my opinion. If the idea isn’t right then it doesn’t matter what you do to the painting; it won’t work. I’ll spend a while figuring out my composition by doing different sketches of the idea, always thinking of the light source and how I’ll bring depth to my painting.
I try to convey a mood or feeling with my work. I’m not trying to showcase an animal or a landscape but show a moment that is special to me. Although my works are detailed, detail is the least important aspect of my painting. I want people to see my pieces and feel like they are seeing something for the first time. It’s important to me to create something I feel is different while being true to what exists in nature.
Conservation is important to me and this is another aspect I’m trying to bring into my work. Our planet is changing and there are so many small changes happening alongside the obvious ones that I’m trying to show.
It hasn’t been that long since I first picked up a paint brush and decided to pursue a full time art career and I’ve never been happier. I’m learning a lot as I go. With every piece I’m finding out more about the direction I want to go in. I find myself drawn to creating big pieces. Every painting is a challenge and I will continue to keep pushing myself and my ideas.