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John Kissick/Gwen MacGregor: Two for the Road

Gwen MacGregor Shed 2010 Video still Courtesy the artist

Summer can be a time for contrasts—expanses of sunshine following a quick, intense thunderstorm, say. The current pairing of solo shows at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery would seem to extend this seasonal duality, with the bright, anxious, music-inspired dazzle of John Kissick’s paintings meeting the cool, calm, scientifically sourced pensiveness of an installation by Gwen MacGregor. The former exhibition, titled “A Nervous Decade,” features more than 20 paintings that Kissick has produced during the past 10 years. Inspired by 1960s civic architecture, disco-versus-punk debates, abstract painting’s divisive history and art’s institutionalization, Kissick’s canvases are jam-packed with references, gestures, quotations and second guesses. MacGregor’s show also intrigues, taking creative process out of the studio and into nearby streams. Her “Research, Flow Charts and Data Banks” is the latest iteration of KWAG’s River Grand Chronicles series, which presents projects related to a major local waterway. MacGregor, who has worked notably in the past with GPS data and environmental observation, chose to approach the series with a canoe trip along the Grand River. During the weeklong trek, she captured a variety of images (a number of which can be viewed on her tumblr) and more geolocation data. The result in the gallery is an installation, made of recycled packaging, that maps the area in which MacGregor travelled; Shed, a video projection of MacGregor’s route superimposed with the Haldimand Tract, an area around the Grand promised to the Six Nations in 1784; and another projection based on photographs from the voyage. Together, Kissick and MacGregor’s shows promise a balance between homework and fieldwork, inside and outside—a combination that’s hard to resist any time of the year. (101 Queen St N, Kitchener ON)

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