Shannon Anderson’s Top 6 Canadian curated moments

by | Feb 7, 2011 | Curatorial | 0 comments

[This list is part of an informal archive of Canadian curated moments put together by Canadian curators from across the country. Shannon Anderson is an independent curator, writer and editor. Her writing has been published in Canadian Art, C Magazine, Art Papers and she has written essays for publications produced by Oakville Galleries, the Thames Art Gallery and the Koffler Gallery, among others. She is currently curating exhibitions for Oakville Galleries, the Blackwood Gallery and the Varley Art Gallery.]

For me, a selection of top curated moments is hard to pick not because there haven’t been lots of good group shows of Canadian artists, but because I automatically start thinking that my choices should be big, earth-shattering, National Gallery-scaled stuff. But I think Canadian curators do the smaller, tighter shows best, in some ways. So, my top 5 are really, really subjective. These exhibitions are largely the ones that I keep coming back to in my own writing and curating, either for their theme or for particular artworks I can’t get out of my head. Some have lots of artists in them, some just a handfull, and others are solo shows. I’m not sure these would rank in an official “top 5” list on anyone else’s list, but they’re important ones for me, and some really helped channel my interest in contemporary art.

1) The Power Plant, 1994-1995
Naked State: A Selected View of Toronto Art

16 September to 6 November 1994
Artists: Lois Andison, Michael Belmore, Michael Buchanan, Millie Chen, John Dickson,
Michael Downing (and Dancefront), Michelle Gay, Catherine Heard, Greg Hefford,
Karen Henderson, Marla Hlady, Francis Le Bouthillier, Teresa Marshall, Janet Morton,
Carl Skelton, Max Streicher, Corneil Van der Spek, Robert Windrum
Curated by Louise Dompierre and Arthur Renwick

Press Enter: Between Seduction and Disbelief.

21 April to 11 June 1995
Artists: Sylvie Bélanger, Jim Campbell, Edmond Couchot, Luc Courchesne, Christine
Davis, Catherine Ikam, John Massey, George Bures Miller, Christian Möller, David
Rokeby, Julia Sher, Bill Spinhoven
Curated by Louise Dompierre

I loved everything that came out of the Power Plant in the mid-90s (the Louise Dompierre years) when I was doing my undergrad. The PP really fuelled my interest in contemporary art. In particular, “Naked State: A Selected View of Toronto Art” and “Press Enter: Between Seduction and Disbelief” introduced me to a slew of great Canadian art. This was my first time seeing works by David Rokeby, Marla Hlady, Catherine Heard, Janet Morton and Max Streicher, and they all made a serious impact.

2) Agnes Etherington Art Centre and others

23 June to 9 September 2001
Artists: Diane Borsato, John Dickson, Fastwürms, Jamelie Hassan, Peter Hobbs,
Barb Hunt, Brian Jungen, Komar & Melamid with William McClelland, Linda Montano,
Anne Ramsden, Clive Robertson, Mitch Robertson, Joyce Wieland and Mel Ziegler
Curated by Jan Allen, Jennifer Fischer and Jim Drobnick

“Museopathy” was held in various institutions and museums throughout Kingston. These kinds of collaborative exhibitions are really inspiring, and while I wish there were more of them, I can only begin to imagine the complexities of pulling off something like this. I really regret not making the trip to Kingston to see this show…

3) The Legacy of Joseph Wagenbach
July – December(?) 2006
105 Robinson Street
Iris Häussler, Curated by Rhonda Corvese

This installation really shook up the art community, not to mention the area residents. The controversy and engagement that swelled up over the course of this project was unforgettable. I think it also served as a great example of how a curator can provide a close and supportive role to an artist without trying to mingle with their own interests with the artist’s creative vision.

4) Oakville Galleries

Karilee Fuglem
8 February – 6 April 2003
Curated by Kim Simon

Millie Chen: Hungry Ghost Rubric
16 November 1996 to 12 January 1997
Curated by Marnie Fleming

I spent about seven years working for Oakville Galleries, so something would be wrong if I didn’t list them here. These are both solo shows, but they’re part of a long list of Canadian artists who have staged creative interventions to the Gairloch interior. The
exhibitions by Karilee Fuglem in 2003 and Millie Chen in 1996 are among my favourites for the way they touched the life of this old house, which has always felt a bit haunted to me.

5) Blackwood Gallery

Artists: James Carl, Brian Jungen, Nestor Kruger, An Te Liu, Damian Moppett
12 September – 20 October 2002
Curated by Barbara Fischer

I admire so many of the shows that Barbara Fischer put together for the Blackwood Gallery. While the bigger, multi-venued stuff such as General Idea, “Soundtracks,” “Projections” and “Traffic” are great, I also enjoyed the smaller shows for the way Fischer gathered a handful of great works under a simple but strong (and usually a bit playful) theme.

6) Textile Museum of Canada

Wildlife: A Field Guide to the Post-Natural

Artists: Lois Andison, Nina Katchadowrian, Jake Moore, Warren Quigley, Louise Weaver
12 July to 19 November 2000
Curated by Lisa Gabrielle Mark

This was another of those smallish but engaging exhibitions. While it was curated by Lisa Gabrielle Mark, I’d consider it typical of the shows that Sarah Quinton has programmed and curated for the Textile Museum over the years, where contemporary art is framed in terms of textile practices.