By Mabell, Dave on January 13, 2018.
“Devil’s rope” was the name First Nations members gave to barbed wire, as it began to define Texas ranches – and keep them off their ancestral lands.
Now its image has been transformed into something less violent in “Chasing the Devil’s Rope,” one of a group of new exhibitions opening today at Casa.
Longtime Lethbridge artist Adrian Cooke, now retired after decades with the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, will be on hand at a public reception at 7 p.m. as the new year’s first show opens for a month’s run.
Sharing the main gallery space are former Lethbridge resident Ryan Smitham and New York artist Yasunari Izaki, sculptors who have worked together since meeting at an art school in Brooklyn. Their “Accumulation of Memory” suggests the traces people leave behind through their lives.
It was during a year in New York, ironically, that Cooke says he began looking to Canadian images – snow fences, grain elevators – for inspiration. In his current show, he’s worked with a material that’s become even more prevalent than the wire: oriented strand board, now widely used in home construction.
“I love the textures on it,” and he’s carved and combined pieces to replicate such iconic Prairies items as plow blades and bull’s horns.
With the wire image, meanwhile, Cooke has used it as a layered image on computer-assisted works hanging like tapestry from ceiling to floor. Playfully, it also comes to represent the Big Dipper in the sky.
It’s not the political realities of barbed wire he’s exploring, Cooke adds, but its value as a design element.
Nearby, themes of spirituality, nature and family loss are explored by first-time exhibitors John Chief Calf and Valerie Furgason in “My Gift Coming Back from the Edge.”
In the upstairs concourse showcases, Casa visitors may view the calligraphy and images of Japanese physician Junichi Sagte, who’s also an author and poet. While he’s not working in Canada, a daughter is – operating a Japanese specialty store in downtown Lethbridge. Several of his books have been translated into English, and they’re now available here.
Rounding out the new show is “Discovery of House,” a bright and humorous salute to today’s “house” music, by Cardston artist Craig Talbot. And on the digital gallery screens, Milk River artist Mary Durant is presenting “Western Horses,” including photos of bucking horses.
All told, says curator Darcy Logan, the five exhibitions illustrate the breadth and diversity of the visual arts in Lethbridge . . . and how it relates to developments in the larger world.
The new show will remain on view during regular hours until Feb. 17. There’s no charge to attend this evening’s reception or to view the show later in the month.
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