Downtown/s - Urban Renewals Today for Tomorrow, The 2017 Windsor-Essex Triennial of Contemporary Art
Art Gallery of Windsor - Ontario, Canada
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Downtown/s - Urban Renewals Today for Tomorrow
The 2017 Windsor-Essex Triennial of Contemporary Art
October 21, 2017 – January 28, 2018
Downtown/s - Urban Renewals Today for Tomorrow, The 2017 Windsor-Essex Triennial of Contemporary Art brings together examples of contemporary art made by 22 artists living and working in Southwestern Ontario, Windsor-Essex and the Greater Detroit region surrounding the theme of downtown - downtown destruction and downtown renewal. Since the Great Recession, and the major economic downturn that started in 2008 as well as Detroit’s bankruptcy in 2013, Windsor has seen a significant amount of change and transformation in the last decade. Like many other urban centers across North America, this city has continued to experience a variety of shifts in economic, agricultural, social and cultural growth. To reflect the expanding footprint of Windsor’s new downtown core, artists are engaging with and presenting work in additional venues, including the University of Windsor’sSchool of Creative Arts, theWindsor Symphony Orchestra, Capitol Theatre, Windsor Sculpture Park – City of Windsor and Artcite Inc. In its entirety, this year’s Triennial is a call to action – an invitation to the public to experience anew the City of Windsor, albeit from its alleyways to its picturesque waterfront.
Curated by Jaclyn Meloche, PhD, Curator of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of Windsor
Guest Juror: Kirsty Robertson, PhD, Associate Professor, Western University, Canada
Over the last century, our suburbs have expanded and merged into moats around our urban cores. They compete with, stifle and simultaneously support efforts of downtown revitalization. I grew up in the suburban fringe of a mid-sized American city, the son of a construction worker whose labor made such utopian enclaves possible. Today, my work picks up where my father’s left off.
The site-specific installation Monolith / Mirage (Windsor) considers the quintessential suburban facade of vinyl siding. At once a material and a system, vinyl siding was designed for quick installation with minimal maintenance. Such a system has spawned single family dwellings and apartment complexes at a price and speed that could keep pace with our continual suburban exodus. In Monolith / Mirage, I took a decidedly less efficient route, opting to treat vinyl siding as an opportunity for large scale marquetry (a process usually defined by small scale mosaic work using hardwood veneers). Through this reapproach, I sought to explore it’s rhythmic potential of shadows cast as they give shape to the brilliant glow of vinyl’s molded surface. The work rises out of or slips into a plinth of pea gravel and landscape edging that surrounds the entire gallery wall, engaging in the duality of our illusionistic pursuits - from material mimicry to our elusive quest for home ownership.
Bus Stop (en route to the Eternal City), is a curious collision of strip mall stucco, store front awnings and photographs of a built environment in flux. Part ruin, part monument, part resting place for the suburban flaneur, the work is a contemporary reworking of Robert Smithson’s notion of “ruins in reverse.” Smithson wandered the New York suburbs, seeing the new construction all around him - a rise based not on historical significance of the site, but rather a belief in its utopian (or commercial) future. The works Bus Stop and Monolith / Mirage peel back the layers of this aspiration, bearing witness to the foundation and cautiously celebrating the facade