The Artist/Studio Creative Dynamic
June was such a great month, creatively speaking. I had the pleasure of finally getting out to an opening at Xchanges Artists’ Gallery and Studios on June 3, 2016- this time for Victoria Edgarr‘s mixed media exhibition entitled “Nexus“, which then led to a studio visit to Victoria and her husband Alain Costaz‘s studio, which is also home to Ground Zero Printmakers located in old Chinatown, Victoria, BC. My only regret is that I didn’t get around to this ages ago. Our enthusiastic group included myself, Miyoko Caubet, Jean Maddison, and Paulette Turcotte.
Both Victoria and Alain’s art practice span several media. Victoria’s art springboards from printmaking to drawing, hand-made books, storytelling and personal “mythologies” to multimedia sculptural pieces. Her works reveal a keen eye and aesthetic sensibilities that are at once layered, textured and expressive in tactile ways that keeps one returning to look some more. The nuances of realism in the drawings allow one to recognize why this space is both subject and source of inspiration. This is a space I wanted to know. I wanted to drink tea there and listen to Victoria and Alain tell me their stories all day.
The drawings and etchings are balanced with cheeky, abstract works that play with space and forms on the surface while presenting unexpected treatment of the wall itself. These walls don’t just receive art, they are active participants and collaborators that provide a play space for light, shadow and textures. We are liberated by the artist to read, explore and have personal interaction with the works, breaking all the ‘no touchy’ art taboos.
The other aspect of this exhibition that I appreciated was how Edgarr deftly handled the whole space. Xchanges is a smaller gallery and even though it got pretty jammed on opening night the diversity of works remarkably created space. Such an inspiring night. We couldn’t wait to check out the studio where this work was made.
The Studio as Muse
On June 25, 2016, Miyoko Caubet and I visited Victoria and Alain’s studio at 5491/2 Fisgard Ave. in Chinatown. We actually cruised Fantan Alley first because we missed it. We finally figured it out and worked our way up the steep old staircase and into the studio, which has several rooms and other areas that comprise the whole.
To say the studio has atmosphere is an understatement. This is not something that comes automatically – it takes time to evolve. There’s history everywhere here and the smell of printing inks took me back to my student days at York University. Alain and I happily chat and I grill him about how they first met over 30 years ago at Concordia University as students, while his frieze of clay sculptures eaves-drop from overhead. Miyoko got to learn something about etching techniques (among other things) from Victoria. I will let the pictures speak for themselves. Some can also be found on my Tumblr blog. Miyok will be posting her own blog on their conversation. We will be going back. If you want to take classes check out the offerings at Ground Zero Printmakers where Victoria and Alain are of course master printers and teachers.
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