Untitled (Sitting Bull), c. 2002, mixed media on canvas, by Carl Beam

Confederation Centre Art Gallery: Three new shows

Exhibitions of Brian Burke, Carl Beam, Lisa Theriault

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Confederation Centre of the Arts will celebrate three new exhibitions later this month. The Art Gallery will host an opening reception on October 18 at 7 pm including live music, snacks, speeches, a cash bar, and mingling with the artists and other special guests. Featured exhibitions include: Carl Beam: Image Transfers; Lisa Theriault: Off-Season; and Predicaments: A Brian Burke Retrospective.

Predicaments: Brian Burke, a Retrospective 

I Know Where I Stand, 1993, by Brian Burke

An overview of the career of one of the Island’s most significant visual artists opens October 5 at Confederation Centre Art Gallery (CCAG) celebrating the work of Brian Burke. The long-awaited two-gallery show will be officially opened on October 6 and features over 100 paintings from a career that spanned 35 years.

Brian Burke (1952-2017) was one of Prince Edward Island’s most significant visual artists of the past century. Mostly self-taught, although he did study briefly under Eric Fischl at NSCAD, Burke was a painter with a distinct personal style. His works addressed social roles, alienation, and the absurd in darkly humorous figurative images.

“Brian Burke is still a local hero, but he was also someone who dealt with universal themes, and achieved international success,” explains Curator Pan Wendt. “He was a rare artist who both sold his work and achieved critical acclaim, and he was a painter’s painter, instantly recognized by his peers for his original and powerful vision.”

This exhibition sums up Burke’s career, ranging from his rough and direct early work, through his time in New York and his major exhibition Mister Man, to his last decade, when he worked in Luzern, Switzerland, and includes loans from many private and public collections. It is accompanied by a publication that features essays by Curator Pan Wendt, Burke’s spouse, fellow artist Judith Scherer, NYU art history professor Robert Slifkin, and Swiss curator Heinz Stahlhut.

“We are so pleased with the generosity and collaboration of many private and several public collections for lending work to us for this exhibition in particular the Artist’s Estate,” says Gallery Director Kevin Rice.

He continues, “This retrospective of nearly 130 paintings, including many completed in Switzerland and not shown on PEI previously, is really a celebration of an important Canadian artist. We hope we have a fantastic turnout at the opening reception at the Gallery on Friday, October 18 at 7 pm.”

Carl Beam: Image Transfers

Untitled (Sitting Bull), c. 2002, mixed media on canvas, by Carl Beam

The CCAG will present a large selection of Carl Beam’s mixed media paintings, opening October 18 and showing until December 29. These paintings interpret history, including many politically-charged events, through a collage technique. The exhibition, shown in the Confederation Centre of the Arts concourse, is curated by Pan Wendt. Carl Beam: Image Transfers includes 16 paintings donated by Milton Winberg in 2008, drawn from a larger body of work by the Ojibwe artist, who passed in 2005.

Lisa Theriault: Off-Season

Off-Season, Installation view at Art in the Open (Charlottetown, PE) on August 24, 2019 in the woods in Victoria Park.

Off-Season is a 21 minute video, completed in 2019, that reflects on Prince Edward Island’s tourism industry. The footage has a calm stillness and slow pace as it cycles through views of tourist destinations across the Island in the off-season, including closed shops, restaurants, booths, amusement parks, campgrounds, beaches, and entertainment venues. Subtle visible movements of the once bustling locations reveal signs of fall and winter, while cheerful signage and advertisements seem misplaced with few people around to witness them.

The audio was recorded at the same sites at the height of summer tourist season, producing a contrast that reveals the transitory nature of our experience of place. While Prince Edward Island is well known as a charming summer getaway, Off-Season blends familiar sounds with a different image of the island. Curated by Pan Wendt.

Lisa Theriault grew up in Charlottetown and several of her earliest vacation and work experiences were at some of these tourist locations, such as Sandspit Amusements and the Cavendish Boardwalk.