April 17, 2020

TrépanierBaer Gallery moves to ‘Plan B’ with window exhibits

Eric Volmers
Calgary Herald

James Carl is a world-renowned sculptor who has exhibited throughout the world. One of his most prominent public works, Things End, sits outside the Festival Tower in Toronto. His work is in the National Gallery of Canada’s permanent collection.

But Maintenance, a small-scale exhibit of graphic works being featured at the TrépanierBaer Gallery as part of (Plan B): The South Window Project, might just hit a more timely, universal nerve for those strolling by the Beltline gallery.

His 2015 vinyl on powder-coated aluminum, dubbed Dirty Diptych, features what may be the unofficial symbol of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is a drawing here of a toilet paper roll and a pair of underwear,” says Yves Trépanier, co-owner of the TrépanierBaer Gallery. “It seems relevant to the times. Everybody wants toilet paper. We’re running out of the stuff. And here we have an artist who likes to use imagery and source material that is common to the culture. He has always done that. It’s like the more mundane, the more basic the object is, the more interested James is.”

Maintenance is the first of what will be a series of exhibits taking up the south window of the gallery, an artistic initiative to offer “a little relief from the restlessness, sluggishness and, at times, irritability” caused by the lockdown, not to mention keeping work by the commercial gallery’s roster of artists in the spotlight over the coming months. Even in these days of self-isolation, the gallery is on one of the busiest corners in Calgary. New installations and performances will take over the south window space, which faces 10th Avenue S.W. in Calgary’s Beltline, every couple of weeks. Each exhibit will link to a broader exploration of the artist’s work on the gallery’s website at trepanierbaer.com.

“We’ve been in this neighbourhood for 30 years,” Trépanier says. “We’re part of the fabric…. We know a lot of people in the neighbourhood and we live in the neighbourhood. We thought ‘How do we continue to talk to our friends and neighbours and clients and represent our artists when the gallery is closed?’ We’re hoping we can put a little bit of joy in people’s lives as they walk by the gallery and look at the south window and we can stay connected with our audience.”

Footprints have been painted on the sidewalk to indicate the proper social-distancing that spectators should abide. Trépanier says the gallery is in talks with various artists to do site-specific work for the space and plan to program other areas of the gallery as well. Specifically, the window looking out onto the second-floor window will become home to a timely video installation by London, Ont. multimedia artist Wyn Geleynse on two eyes.

“We feel that’s appropriate because everybody is stuck in their homes, apartments, condos and they are looking out the window a lot,” Trépanier says. “They are people watching. This imagery is suggestive of a person stuck in quarantine looking out at the world.”

The TranpanierBaer Gallery is located at 999 8th St. SW. Visit trepanierbaer.com

Image Credit:
Installation View of (Plan B): The South Window Project – James Carl: Maintenance