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Must-Sees This Week: May 28 to June 4, 2014

There are lots of great exhibitions opening this week, and interesting art events happening too. Here are our best bets.

The first major visual art exhibition of Douglas Coupland opens at the Vancouver Art Gallery on May 31. Featuring more than 100 works, including several new large-scale installations, “Douglas Coupland: everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything” surveys the past 14 years. Also included is a site-specific public artwork Gumhead—a 7-foot-tall self-portrait by the artist, to which (yes) passersby are invited to attach their chewing gum. Over at the Rennie Collection, another prolific Vancouver creator, Rodney Graham, gets a collected works show that also opens May 31. American artist Marie Lorenz, known for her unusual watercraft performances, gives a beachcombing-related talk with Vancouver artists Rebecca Bayer and Josh Hite on May 29 at 6 p.m. at the Vancouver Maritime Museum, with a related beachcombing workshop slated for Hadden Park Field House on June 1 at 1 p.m.

Two promising exhibitions by contemporary Canadian female artists open at the Esker Foundation on May 30 from 6 to 10 p.m. Montreal’s Cynthia Girard presents “Unicorns and Dictators,” an installation that melds the candy-coated world of fantastical animals and birds with the heavier phenomena of class struggle and power politics. Meanwhile, Hamilton’s Beth Stuart offers “Doubting Thomas,” a project that considers the difficulty and possibility of mapping geometric abstraction onto the human body. Melding craft and costume, painting and sculpture, Stuart’s works lead up to a new, immersive theatrical scene that elaborates a fictional dialogue between three historical figures: constructivist textile designer Varvara Stepanova, prohibition-era sexologist Ida Craddock, and turn-of-the-century bohemian and dandy Florine Stettheimer. Make sure to catch a May 31, 3 to 4:30 p.m., exhibition tour with the artists for all the behind-the-scenes details.

The CAFKA (Contemporary Art Forum of Kitchener and Area) Biennial kicks off May 31 at 7 p.m. at Kitchener City Hall, heralding a month of installations, interventions, projections and performances by Canadian and international artists in the public spaces of Waterloo Region. Among the highlights are public artworks by Sara Graham, Seripop and Krzysztof Wodiczko, as well as exhibitions featuring José Luis Torres, Max Streicher and Dylan Reibling. In a related program, the University of Waterloo Art Gallery has curated a series of performances featuring Jessica Thompson, Johannes Zits and Terrance Houle, among others; that series launches June 2 at 12 noon on UW’s arts quad.

Jon Rafman’s explorations of the deep web continue in “Hope Springs Eternal,” an exhibition that opens June 4 from 5 to 8 p.m. at 944 Queen Street West as part of an association between Montreal’s Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran and Toronto’s Libralato. Elsewhere, the art-world lead-up to WorldPride continues, with “Camp Fires” at the Gardiner Museum exploring the concept of camp in the work of three important Francophone Canadian ceramic artists: Léopold L. Foulem, Paul Mathieu and Richard Milette. Curated by Robin Metcalfe, the show opens to the public May 29. On the commercial scene, “Magenta wants to push physical reality to its leaky margins” brings together works by Patrick Howlett, Sandra Meigs and others at Susan Hobbs Gallery opening May 29 from 7 to 9 p.m.; “Better With Age” showcases Jane Corkin’s extensive photography collection at her eponymous gallery starting June 4 from 6 to 8 p.m.; and “Carly Waito: Microgeographica” features more crystal simulacra by the artist at Narwhal starting May 30 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Though best known, perhaps, for her landscape paintings of Ontario and the Arctic, the late Doris McCarthy also made trips to Atlantic Canada. On May 30, Studio 21 puts a selection of her oils and watercolours created in Atlantic Canada on view, with a related reception on the same day from 5 to 7 p.m. and a talk by McCarthy estate executor Stephen Smart at 4 p.m. (Domestic landscapes—drifts of shoes by an apartment-entrance door, say—are highlighted in a concurrent show by emerging artist Julia Vandepolder at the gallery as well.) Elsewhere, Ron Shuebrook gives a talk on May 31 at 2 p.m. at the MSVU Art Gallery in which he reflects on a career that spans more than half a century. And emerging artist Gabriel Parniak—who created an international stir this past year with his beaded version of a Tim Hortons cup—debuts new work at Parentheses starting May 30 at 7 p.m.

A different kind of art crawl is on tap May 31 from 12 noon to 5 p.m. with Passport Dare-Dare 2014. Purchase a “passport” at Dare-Dare’s head office near Metro St-Laurent, then proceed to La Vitrine, Artexte, Vox and other venues to collect unique artist-designed stamps. The event winds up with a party at Saint John’s the Evangelist Church starting at 8 p.m.

These picks, published each Thursday, are chosen from press releases and exhibition notices sent to at least two days prior to publication. For listings of art exhibitions, openings and events, visit

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