Great Garden of the Gulf Exhibition
by Treva McNally
The end of January brings the Seventh Great Garden of the Gulf Juried Exhibition to the Confederation Centre Art Gallery and this year, more than 180 pieces of the best art being produced on the Island were submitted for judging.
Last year, I went down to the Centre during the judging period to see everything that had been submitted, and then I went back when the chosen works were hung for exhibit. I enjoyed the challenge of seeing if my selections would bear any similarity to what the judges chose, and was pleased that more than half my selections matched those of the judges. Then I realized that this really wasn't too hard to do because each year there will always be at least ten or twelve pieces which stand out as significantly better than the rest and would be included no matter who did the judging. The balance of the selections will be a reflection of the artistic taste or values of those on the jury.
Andrew Hunter was the juror chosen this year to pick the works which would be shown, and when I read about his selection process in the newspaper, I wondered what type a show he would assemble. He had picked two paintings by Teri Morris, "Afloat" and "Canadian Winter" as his starting point and used their themes of land and sea to form the exhibit. The result is a show that ties together thematically but seems more uneven in talent compared to last year's show.
But it really doesn't matter because those really good pieces are still there. No matter what your artistic taste, there probably isn't a person in the world who would not have chosen Ben Stahl's "Child of the Holocaust" for inclusion. It is a breathtaking work and would be at home in any gallery. Richard Vickerson's "Howatt's," a watercolour of an Island homestead, and Sylvia Ridgway's batik "Birches-Whatever the Season" would also likely be choices in any show. Greg Garand's impressionist oil, "Summer Street," depicting Summerside is a piece of art I would always enjoy looking at.
I liked Brian Swanson's oil, "Watching Ryan," showing a couple on the beach, Brian Burke's "Elusive Image #2" of a faceless man, Levi Cannon's carving of "The Sacred Herons," John Cox's huge floral, "Glasgow Leaves-Oxford Flowers," Wendell R. Dennis's use of light on a lighthouse in "Rustico Lights," Lesley Dubey's intaglio and chalk "Crows of Fanningbank 5," Nan Ferrier's busy, detailed "Montague Montage," and Sue Gallant's close-up photograph of a burned building, "PEI dividing line series #3."
When you go through the gallery, your list of favourites will probably include a few I've chosen here, but you'll likely see a few that will make you wonder why I didn't include them in this article. But just as with a jury, it's all a matter of taste. The show runs until March 25 and is well worth a look.