February 7 – March 14, 2015
This exhibition is focused on human interplay with architecture, in particular doors as liminal spaces. Doors are not only an entrance or exit but an opportunity for transition and transformation. The doors of downtown Medicine Hat retain some of the small-town feel of the community. The exterior doors and street-fronts, developed through minimal colour and strong directional lines, act as invitations for the viewer to enter into what lies beyond these portals in past and present.
The imagery in these paintings specifically reference Medicine Hat’s downtown buildings as an area with history and deep personal connection. Raised in Medicine Hat, I am intimately familiar with the storefronts and doorways. They symbolise memories of childhood walks and experiences of small city life. From the1970s to the present, I have seen a slow transition to a more modern urban downtown culture. Unlike the struggles of other city centres, our downtown’s urban development has been striving to find its own voice and personality. Some say it still retains a small town presence.
Part of me yearns for the yesteryear as I toddled behind my mother in my boots and overcoat….past the IGA on Maple Avenue, under the railroad walk tunnel onto Second and Third streets. We visited shop-to-shop to pay bills, buy groceries and occasionally take the city bus parked on Sixth Avenue when the weather turned nasty or became cold. Many of the families I knew from the Flats and Riverside walked to and from the downtown. It was a place of commerce and social gathering. For a treat at the end of our morning excursion, we would visit Kresge’s Department food counter for fries, a burger and a fountain pop or a milkshake.
In this exhibition, I simply wanted to capture nuances of the building structures before they disappear or change. I still remember some of the beautiful period buildings we walked by when I was a child that have now been torn down and replaced. Although many of the exteriors have been modified, the doors have retained their historical appeal. A sharp contrast between many of the public exteriors and what lies beyond as interiors has changed drastically on some streets and not at all on others.
In these paintings, I have used a copper penny faux finish as an under-painting to represent the sense of transition in the downtown: a weathering of the past years to a new, modern era. The backgrounds remind me of the years when the penny was actual currency that translated into a candy purchase at the corner store. The actual penny is joining penny candy as it drifts into memory
Text is important in my work. I have incorporated the old street names from 1914 and interspersed them with the current street numbers on some of the buildings I most frequented as a child.
Each painting focuses on a threshold or an architecture aspect with a strong graphic black line: a play on graphic novels and comic strips which utilise minimal inked colour. This style, coupled with the copper backgrounds define the architectural structure, simplifying the visual impact reminding me of a simpler life.