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Must-Sees This Week: February 1 to 7, 2018

The first-ever Canadian showing of Frida Kahlo’s photo collection opens February 3 in Calgary as part of the Exposure Festival

Lots of great art exhibitions and events are taking place across the country this week. Here are our recommendations for debuting shows and events, and a few reminders about shows that are closing. Visit our Exhibition Finder for more listings of worthwhile shows that are already open.


The Glenbow Museum opens its much-anticipated exhibition “Frida Kahlo: Her Photos” on February 3 as part of the Exposure Photography Festival. The exhibition will unveil more than 240 images that were kept in Kahlo’s residence, Casa Azul, in Mexico. These images are part of a larger collection of 6,500 photographs that were only made public in 2007, and the exhibition marks the first showing of these photographs in Canada. Also opening at the Glenbow on this same day is “John Will: Photography R.I.P.”—featuring more than 40 works, the show will highlight the role photography plays in Will’s practice.

Also part of Exposure are Wyn Geleynse’s photographs showing in “Slackwire and Other Situations” at TrépanierBaer Gallery and two new exhibitions at Herringer Kiss Gallery. “The Photographers (A Group Show)” features artists working with contemporary photography, including Laurel Johannesson, Eszter Burghardt, Toni Hafkenscheid and Tia Halliday, among others. “Transformation” is an exhibition by ACAD photography students. Both exhibitions open on February 3 with a reception from 2 to 5 p.m.

Over at the Esker Foundation, an opening reception for both Kapwani Kiwanga’s “A wall is just a wall (and nothing more at all)” and DaveandJenn’s “Paradise for an in-between time” will be held on February 2 at 6 p.m. The following day on February 3, Kiwanga will present an artist talk from 1 to 2 p.m. discussing the research she undertook for her exhibition, which deals with facets of disciplinary architecture.

Starting this week, the Illingworth Kerr Gallery presents two solo exhibitions by Lisa Lipton and Amy Malbeuf. Lipton’s “Soon All Your Memories Will Be With Me” formulates a science-fiction narrative of a mission in space to save the human species, while Malbeuf’s “tensions” continues her engagement with tarps as an artistic material to address notions of identity and place. Both exhibitions open with a reception on February 1 at 5 p.m.; Malbeuf will lead a gallery tour at 6 p.m., followed by a performance by Lipton at 7 p.m.


Maureen Gruben’s new solo exhibition “QULLIQ: In Darkness, Light” launches at the Libby Leshgold Gallery with a reception on February 1 at 7 p.m. Gruben will lead a tour through the exhibition on February 2 at noon. Honouring the history of the qulliq—a traditional oil lamp used in the Arctic—Gruben’s latest works continue her activism for Arctic land and sheds light on different ways of thinking through urgent environmental concerns.

Takashi Murakami’s “The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg” opens on February 3 at the Vancouver Art Gallery. This marks Murakami’s first retrospective in Canada, showcasing more than 50 works from three decades of the artist’s practice. While at the VAG, make sure to catch the last days of “Gordon Smith: The Black Paintings” and “Carol Sawyer: The Natalie Brettschneider Archive,” both closing on February 4.

Franc Gallery launches Maggie Boyd’s new exhibition “Grapes” on February 1. Exploring the symbolism of a single grape in relation to her ceramics, Boyd uses the art form to investigate questions of gendered labour and politics. Unit 17 presents “The Pigeon Looks for Death in The Space Between the Needle and the Haystack,” an exhibition by Tiziana La Melia, from February 4 to March 17. A reception will be held on February 3 from 6 to 8 p.m.

“Memory Melody,” an exhibition of works by the late modernist painter Enn Erisalu, debuts at Gallery Jones on February 1. Erisalu’s mixed media works will be shown alongside previously unexhibited works on paper and text-based artworks. Over at the Polygon Gallery, the public talk “Excavating N. Vancouver” will be presented on February 4 at 1 p.m. in link with its current exhibition “N. Vancouver.” Moderated by curator Reid Shier, the panel discussion will feature Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, Cameron Kerr, Holly Ward, Tracy Williams and Cease Wyss discussing their practices.

The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery presents “Groundhog Day Redux,” a symposium with Dian Million, Kristina Lee Podesva and Kimberly Phillips, on February 2 from 3 to 6 p.m. As part of the programming for the current exhibition “Beginning with the Seventies: GLUT,” the symposium will investigate facets of feminism and archiving practices, considering how personal embodiment shapes our relation to archives.


Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art presents “Missing or Forgotten : Akonessen, Zitya, Tina, Marie and all the others” on February 2. Curated by Sylvie Paré, this travelling exhibition pays tribute to Indigenous women who have disappeared. Participating artists include Hannah Claus, Nadia Myre, Sylvie Bernard, Mariette Manigouche, Diane Blacksmith, Lise Bibeau, Annette Nolett, Diane Robertson and Akienda Lainé.

An exhibition of realist art, titled “IN OUR NATURE,” debuts at Lantern on February 2 featuring Tim Gardner, Andrew Valko, Mike Bayne and Brad Phillips. The reception runs from 7 to 10 p.m. on opening day.


“Napoleon: Art and Court Life in the Imperial Palace” is a major historical exhibition opening February 3 at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal. The exhibition brings together more than 400 artworks and objects, most of which have never been shown in North America, lent by the Louvre, the Château de Fontainebleau, the Mobilier national de France and the Musée national des châteaux de Malmaison et de Bois-Préau, among other institutions.

Four new exhibitions open at the Musée d’art de Joliette this week, and they will be formally launched with an opening reception on February 3 at 2 p.m. “LANDSCAPE: Shaping the Day” by Jacynthe Carrier and “11th Line” by Lyn Carter will respectively highlight these contemporary Canadian artists’ practices and their ruminations on the rural landscape. “Perceptions,” focusing on late Montreal painter Jean McEwen, and “Autodidact. Outsider Art from the MAJ’s Permanent Collection” will present lesser-known works from the museum’s permanent collection.

The group exhibition “Four Pillars” opens at L’Inconnue on February 3, featuring artists Hanna Hur, Laurie Kang, Maia Ruth Lee and Zadie Xa. An opening reception will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. Elsewhere, at La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse, “Ballroom” by Elisabeth Belliveau—an exhibition centred around the practice of still life—debuts with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. on February 2. Belliveau will give an artist talk about her work at 7 p.m. Over at OBORO, the solo exhibition “In and Out of Order” featuring Kristiina Lahde’s laborious sculptural wall works opens on February 3, running until March 10.


AGO First Thursdays on February 1 features artist Juliana Huxtable with a DJ set at 10 p.m. Elsewhere in the building, theatre artist Rhoma Spencer will be recreating the custom of Viey la cou, or the old yard, where traditional Mas is performed. The gallery will be transformed into a performative tableau inhabited by selection of Carnival characters, and specially scripted by the artist. Jasmyn Fyffe, a Toronto-based choreographer and dancer will present a new work exploring her relationship to Trinidadian tradition of J’ouvet and its emancipatory folklore.

The Theatre Centre launches its performance arts festival the Progress Festival this week. Running from February 1 to 18, the festival features both Canadian and international performance works. Part of the first week’s roster include artist and activist Syrus Marcus Ware’s live drawing portraits from his ongoing “Activist Portrait Series” at the centre on February 3 from 2 to 8 p.m. Later, from February 7 to 11, UK artist Selina Thompson presents “Race Cards,” a participatory project dealing with questions of race.

Curated by Rupert Nuttle, a retrospective on the late sculptor Kristen Fahrig, “Body Imprints,” opens at Loop Gallery this week along with Eunha Kim’s “Joy of Life.” An opening reception will be held on February 2 from 2 to 5 p.m. Over at Feheley Fine Arts, “Fantastic Transformations” opens on February 3, featuring work by Qavavau and Tukiki Manumie. Three exhibitions also open at Angell Gallery this week: Daniel Hutchinson’s “Tin Vision,” Rob Nicholls’s “Backwoods Song” and Rafael Ochoa’s “Fruits.” An opening reception will take place for all on February 2 from 7 to 9 p.m.


Shary Boyle and Emily Vey Duke’s collaboration The Illuminations Project opens February 3 at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. The touring exhibition is worth a look, being based in vibrant drawing and writing correspondence between Boyle and Vey Duke, compelling creators who first met in 1995 when both were emerging artists. Both Boyle and Vey Duke will do an artist talk and tour together on opening day from 2 to 3 p.m.

Elsewhere, Brent Garbett opens a show of paintings and drawings at Hermes on February 2 at 6 p.m. The show is organized by Dan O’Neill, who mentored Garbett during his time at NSCAD University.


“Modern Hyenas” opens at the Sussex Contemporary on February 2. Curated by Rosalind Breen, the exhibition features work by Ottawa artists Natalie Bruvels and Joyce Crago along with Toronto artist Wendy Nichol.


A new exhibition entitled “Distance Between Us” opens on February 2 at Open Space. Featuring Bill Bartlett, Peggy Cady, Kerri Flannigan and Patrick Lichty, the show’s artists collectively examine the influence of Slow Scan Television (SSTV) technology—an early technology from the 70s—on both telecommunications and media art.

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria hosts its next discussion “The Gallery as Authority? Part 3: Re-search a Community Conversation” on February 3 from 2 to 4 p.m. In link with the current exhibition “Point of Contact: On Place and the West Coast Imaginary,” the discussion will address how notions of place are formed.


Various Fredericton galleries host a collective Gallery Hop on February 2 from 5 to 8 p.m. Among the sites participating are Charlotte Street Arts Centre, the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, the Gallery on Queen, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and Gallery 78. Among the highlights are an egg-tempera demonstration at Gallery 78 and international works from the Beaverbrook Gallery’s renowned permanent collection on display.


Hamilton Artists Inc. presents “knock knock…” by Jeremy Pavka and Sean Procyk from February 3 to March 10. Using video, sound and sculpture, Pavka and Procyk create a multimedia installation to explore different current relationships to land and “disturbance-based ecologies.” The centre will simultaneously present works by the three recipients of Hamilton Artists Inc.’s annual Award for Distinction in the McMaster Studio Art Program: Emily Hamel, Priscilla Loo and Sarah Sproule. A reception for both exhibitions will be held on February 3 from 2 to 4 p.m.


Evans Contemporary unveils its next exhibition “Source Supplements” on February 2 with a reception at 6 p.m. The show will feature Catherine Telford-Keogh’s latest sculptural works—which take the form of the coffee table as its starting point—along with a screening of Telford-Keogh’s video Look Inside and You Will Find Me: A Five Minute Body Scan.


Drawing fans will want to make haste to the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery this week for the opening of three exhibitions on February 2 at 6 p.m. The first, “Beside Myself: Kelly Wallace” features the precise, technical, detailed scenes of the London-based Wallace. The second, “Making Marks: Works on Paper from the collections of the McMaster Museum of Art and the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery” includes classic drawings and prints by Käthe Kollwitz and David Hockney, among others. And last but not least, “Chemosphere” features Toronto-based artist Kate Wilson transforming small drawings into large, wall-sized installations.


On February 1 from 6 to 8 p.m., the public is invited to join the Canadian Roots Exchange to discuss the National Story Blanket—currently on display at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery—and participate in a workshop focusing on reconciliation. Created by youth, the National Story Blanket is a large quilt composed of individual quilts that are representations of reconciliation and decolonization in local communities across Canada. The Story Blanket is traveling across Canada hosted by each participating community to celebrate and honour our collective understandings of reconciliation.

These must-sees are selected from submissions and press releases sent to at least two days prior to publication. Listings can be found at

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