MOCA Calgary’s extensive double-header of contemporary First Nations’ art may be wrapping up this weekend, but it’s ending on a grace note well worth checking out — even if you’ve already seen Narrative Quest in the main gallery and Carl Beam upstairs.
For Saturday’s closing reception — besides the usual mingling, refreshments and music — a tribute will be paid to one of the artists showcased in Narrative Quest, the late Joane Cardinal-Schubert, a renowned Blackfoot artist who passed away in 2009. The reason for singling her out among the other exceptional talent on display is rather simple — without her efforts there would be no show in the first place.
“The Alberta Foundation for the Arts commissioned Joane Cardinal-Schubert to assist them to strengthen their First Nations collection, and she worked with them to make some additional acquisitions which are reflected within Narrative Quest,” explains MOCA artistic director Jeffery Spalding.
“Her notion… late in her life was to very kindly give back by reflecting on some of the more important artists in the province and making sure that those achievements were retained in the public collection,” he says. “So that’s how the collection gets to be the way it is, and how the exhibition gets to be the way it is.”
As such, Calgary-based art historian and curator Monique Westra will deliver a lecture on Cardinal-Schubert.
Of course, there’s much more to peruse within the exhibition. Spalding describes Narrative Quest as a “survey from artists of the most senior achievement, such as Joane, Faye Heavyshield, Terrance Houle — all the artists of great distinction…. Alex Janvier…. As well as some other younger artists that are not as well known to us.”
The Carl Beam exhibition is equally noteworthy in that its works had previously never been shown in Canada. Beam, who passed away in 2005, was an Ontario-born artist of Ojibway descent know for incorporating photographic images on a variety of materials using screen printing, photo etching or creating emulsions.
The works at MOCA, says Spalding, were originally produced for a 1999 exhibition in China — afterwards private collectors scooped the pieces up before they could be shown here. Besides some large-scale paper pieces, the MOCA show features works created on silk.
“I can be excused for saying, ‘you really want to see it,’ says Spalding. “They’re really beautiful, powerful, stunning things.”
The closing reception for Narrative Quest and Carl Beam is Saturday, August 25 at MOCA Calgary, 1 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.