Three Dimensions of Expression
By Katherine Fawcett
The intentional use of space, surface and shadow to create artistic flow is unique to sculpture. An “off the wall” experience of sculpture’s three-dimensional nature can be both exciting and challenging, and Whistler’s art galleries are at the forefront of showcasing the work of some of Canada’s finest sculptors.
A tiny pine cone is nothing short of a miracle. Hold one in your hand, and you can’t help but appreciate its intricate, delicate beauty and the potential of a tree contained within it. Now, imagine that pine cone 10-fold — even 100-fold — crafted of cold steel, intentionally placed outdoors, and you have a work of art that will challenge your perception of both nature and self.
Floyd Elzinga is an Ontario-based artist who creates metal art that reflects “the aggressive nature of seeds.” Every piece (needle) in Floyd’s larger-than-life pine cones is crafted from Corten weathering steel and perfectly hand-welded into place. The steel is then galvanized, blasted in a giant kiln and left outdoors to rust in the elements. Jessica Wardle-Twitchen, senior art consultant at Whistler Contemporary Gallery, says Elzinga’s pine cone sculptures are extremely popular, especially the large ones. “Floyd’s not like any other artist. He uses a natural weathering process, and they evolve as they continue to rust outside. It’s an ever-changing sculpture.” Wardle-Twitchen said standing next to a gigantic pine cone “makes everything around you feel slightly out of proportion… makes everything uncanny.”
David Robinson’s works are also featured at Whistler Contemporary Gallery. The Vancouver artist’s stunning pieces, which incorporate a variety of materials ranging from bronze, steel and silver to concrete, mirror and paper, are “all about tension and balance,” said Wardle-Twitchen. “His work has this playful element that could be pushing, could be pulling. It’s really, really interesting.”
Robinson’s newest piece at the gallery is called “Foothold,” a 23-inch-high table piece featuring the figure of a man wedged in a rock crevasse. Whether the figure is climbing up, pushing the rock apart, being squeezed or simply resting it is left open to interpretation. The human figure is central to Robinson’s striking work, but the placement of the figures with unexpected features invokes drama and other-worldliness.
Janis Woode is a B.C. artist currently showing in Adele Campbell Fine Art. Sometimes whimsical, sometimes disconcerting, always thought-provoking, her sculptures are tight, three-dimensional stories.
“It might not always be clear what the narrative is,” Woode said from her studio home on Salt Spring Island. “I like to leave things open to interpretation.”
Woode’s pieces involve copper wire coiled, wrapped and spun into what look like human tornadoes. She often incorporates odd and intriguing objects into her pieces. An old brass tap. Puzzle pieces. Chains. Gears. Even the keys from a manual typewriter. There is an energy in many of Woode’s highly innovative pieces that suggests the figures are on their way somewhere; there is no time stagnation here.
Visitors to Whistler may know figurative sculptor James Stewart’s work before seeing it in Adele Campbell Fine Art. Stewart’s large, powerful sculpture “Jeri,” a Capoeira dancer in repose, overlooks Fitzsimmons Creek between the upper and lower villages. Since the work was installed three years ago, visitors and locals have interacted with the iconic piece in sometimes surprising ways. “Someone put angel wings on the back of it,” said Stewart. “People curl up in the arms. It’s been on people’s Tinder profiles. It’s really got a life of its own.”
Life-like but larger than life, Stewart’s pieces are exquisitely detailed, yet the mark of the artist remains. His favourite medium is Chavant’s Le Beau Touché, an oil-based clay. “It doesn’t dry. It captures every fingerprint, every mark. You want to have the rawness. The process is there.”
One of Stewart’s newest pieces at Adele Campbell Fine Art is simply entitled “Whistler.” It’s a representation of Chris Spring, a local Olympic bobsledder. “He has an arched back, head down.”
Alva Gallagher, an award-winning Canmore, Alta., artist originally from Ireland, is a three-dimensional artist featured at Mountain Galleries. Gallagher works primarily in glass and resin. Her sublime pieces are inspired by oceanic movement and elements. Gallagher’s passion for the sea and the dual effects of waters and ice manifest in dramatic pieces that take the viewer on a journey.
Communications Director Ben McLaughlin said Gallagher explores concepts of depth and rhythm in these ice-pool portals. “She harnesses their intrinsic beauty to capture transient moments of tidal and glacial movements, enticing the viewer to peer into their intricate depths.”
Some of Gallagher’s exquisite pieces are wall-mounted, and others are free-standing, but all are breathtaking.
Artist Alison Galvan’s work, also featured at Mountain Galleries, combines whimsical narrative and quirky characters in unique hanging mobiles that are both flamboyant and a bit cheeky.
McLaughlin says Galvan’s thought-provoking pieces are “designed to catch you off guard; to make you laugh. Ultimately, Galvan’s work is a study in her personal growth and illumination of the silliness of our seriousness.” The armature for each figure is recycled newspaper. In her artist’s statement, Galvan says this is “symbolic of the secret stories hidden inside each of us.”
The figures in her mobiles are positioned together around a common theme — downhill skiers and boarders, chefs in the kitchen, even a mobile based on a yoga class — and structurally supported by chains and bicycle wheels.
Galvan is a serious artist who doesn’t take herself too seriously. “I want to share my stories through my art,” she says, “and laugh with those that also embrace a lighthearted attitude. Simply put, I just want to have a hell of a time!”
Repose - Alva Gallagher - Mountain Galleries
Thaw - Alva Gallagher - Mountain Galleries