Thursday, March 6, 2014
Handle with care
GLENN COOK St. Albert Leader
The Art Gallery of St. Albert is handling things with care with their newest exhibition. Featuring the work of artists Teresa Stieben, Susan Casault and Peter Ivens, Fragile Elements opens today (Thursday), shining a light on different aspects of the natural world. Stieben’s mixed media sculptures use found and recycled materials to replicate the birds’ nest she and her husband have seen start to disappear from natural areas like Big Lake and all around Alberta. “We started noticing how much the landscape is being torn up for one reason or another — more oil wells going in, pipelines going through,” said the Edmonton-based artist. “We really started noticing the landscape being altered quite a bit. And I started thinking, the more we are destroying our landscape, the less place these birds have to nest. … The thought that came to my mind was, ‘Who will hear the last birds sing?’” The materials Stieben uses range from paper to grass and leaves, all of which she either has on hand or finds at recycling
centres or garage sales. “Nothing could be bought new for this,” she said. “So it has that recycled, reused component in it.” And that has given her a new respect for the resourcefulness of birds. “The first (nests) were a total failure. They just kind of fell apart in my hands as I was trying to build them. I had to use a little more dexterity,” Stieben said. “I thought, ‘These birds are amazing!’” Stieben added that she doesn’t consciously use fragile materials, but it certainly helps convey her message about environmental sustainability. “What we do as human beings affects everything around us,” she said. “We’ve talked to farmers in different areas, and they say, years ago, they had lots of (songbirds), and now they have none.” Meanwhile, Casault, who lives on an acreage in Parkland County just west of Edmonton, uses pencil crayons to create drawings of various prairie flowers that are exceptionally detailed. “I’ve really concentrated on the close-up view,” she said. “There are a lot of textures and colours that people might not generally notice.” Casault said she works from photos she
Photos: GLENN COOK St. Albert Leader
Riverbend (above) and Humble Beginnings (right) by Peter Ivens are two of the many works included in the Art Gallery of St. Albert’s latest exhibit, Fragile Elements, which opens today (Thursday).
takes herself, and using pencil crayons allows her to go into that much detail. “I guess I’m just a detail person,” she said. “I love working with a pencil, and because the pencil is so small, you’re using a very controlled medium. I just love the whole drawing aspect of it, and coloured pencil allows you to get the detail because you’re working with such control.” She hopes that her drawings take people who see them back to their own childhood experiences.
“I think a lot of people are the same as me, and they’ve seen a lot of these natural elements themselves,” she said. “I just hope they enjoy the whole thing. I only draw what I enjoy myself.” Peter Ivens is bringing his work up from Calgary, including a number of watercolour paintings that focus on scenes of rivers and streams. Fragile Elements runs until April 26 at the Art Gallery of St. Albert (19 Perron Street).
Oscars alright, alright, alright BRUCE KIRKLAND Sun Media New Services
Photo: Sun Media New Services
Actress Lupita Nyong’o accepts the Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role award for ‘12 Years a Slave’ onstage during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California.
Oscar is one generous golden guy: In the early going at the 86th Academy Award ceremony in Los Angeles on Sunday night, the awards were spread around. The task was accomplished so freely and widely that no trends emerged, no film could dominate the night and few categories went against the predictions of the experts. The expected began happening early: When the first envelope was opened on the stage of the Dolby Theatre, Jared Leto won as best supporting actor. This was for his stunning work in a transgendered role in Dallas Buyers Club, a drama about AIDS medicine. For weeks, the long-haired, blue-eyed eccentric had been touted as the winner for his big comeback role opposite best actor candidate Matthew McConaughey. Leto had taken almost six years off from his acting career, turning from the odd drama Mr. Nobody to other artistic pursuits such as music. Leto has been touring with his band 30 Seconds To Mars. Yet he was transformational in the role of Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club for Quebec director Jean-Marc
Vallee. And he was impressive in his acceptance speech for the Oscar, his first. This had been his first nomination, too. Leto told the audience in the Dolby Theatre that he was dedicating his Oscar “to the 36 million people who have lost the battle with AIDS.” Leto also waxed poetic about his mother and brother, his mom for “teaching me to dream” despite the challenges she had as a single mom, his brother for being his best friend. Dallas Buyers Club quickly won a second Oscar, this time for the artistically convincing makeup that helped Leto and McConaughey do their duty in the film. One of the night’s oddities was the quick low and then high for John Lasseter and the Walt Disney Animation Studio. The Disney animated short Get a Horse! —a brilliant intersection of vintage B&W with modern 3D in a Mickey Mouse cartoon — shockingly lost to a short from France and Luxembourg. Mr. Hublot, directed by two shy guys with little experience, accomplished the trick. But the fortunes of Disney changed in the best animated feature category. Frozen did what all the Oscarologists predicted: It thawed out and won an Oscar. In its case, Frozen beat
out Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, the exquisite work of a Japanese master whom Lasseter admires and routinely honours. But Frozen has huge box office, great music and great accolades and that pushed it over the top. In some of the lesser categories, a wide variety of countries were given a shoutout, including Canada. The Oscar for best documentary short went to The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life, a co-production of Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. Sadly, the star of the doc, Alice Sommer-Herz, died just a week ago at the age of 110. As for other categories, the American film 20 Feet from Stardom won as best documentary feature, the Danish film Helium won as best live action short and the Italian drama The Great Beauty won as best foreign language film. This is Italy’s 11th Oscar in this category from its 28 noms. There is one trend that has been hinted at: Gravity won the Oscar for best visual effects. It is expected to be the first of a clutch of technical awards for the innovative space thriller.