Gallery Exhibit: Douglas Coupland mixed-media at VAG, vol. 4 (Canadiana)

Old school goalie mask
the kid who had one of these, played goal, whether he was good or not

Evidence from mixed-media master Douglas Coupland’s exhibit at Vancouver Art Gallery – the assortment of items i captured from the wide-array of mediums he works with/in, are arranged into 7 volumes for convenience. This is volume 4, Canadiana (my title, not his).

B&W TV showing parliament
CBC coverage of parliament – a communal experience for so many (and kinda like the TV we watched the World Cup on in Jamaica)

The survey exhibition of Douglas Coupland‘s diverse art at the Vancouver Art Gallery during Summer 2014’s was really kind of a big deal for me.

As someone who works in many medium – though primarily a writer (I think) – seeing his work from books to sculptures to silkscreened slogans to paintings and various other art on substrates to collections of seemingly random yet somehow interrelated artifacts was reassuring to me that one can be a polymath and excel in many disciplines, and do so with courageous experimentation and whimsy.

I especially enjoyed seeing his archival notebooks displayed as a “art piece” in their own right. Indeed, I am rather obsessive about my notebooks, journals, scrapbooks and have gathered and collected items – from ephemera to snippets of poetry to logistics – since I was a wee lad. I keep all of these dossiers inventoried in a storage locker in hopes one day they will be relevant or useful to someone else besides me. Actually, I don’t really care about the anyone else, I keep them for my own amusement and reference.

Another aspect I loved was seeing him “remixing” paintings by the noted Canadian Group at Seven. I’m especially intrigued by Frederick Varley, the “Bohemian“ of the Group and someone i’ve written about extensively (specifically his time in Vancouver). Seeing Mr. Coupland and Mr. Varley’s works side-by-side gave me an opportunity to ruminate about how we all build cartoons on the shoulders of someone else and have implied permission interpret themes and designs to fit our contemporary circumstances and present ideas in a new context.

What follows are snapshots from Coupland‘s explicit-stated photography encouraged exhibit called “Everywhere Is Anywhere Is Anything Is Everything”. The following volumes are loosely compiled from amongst assembled snapshots I happened to take. Keep in mind, there was plenty more goodness in this exhibit, this is just what I happened to capture. Artifacts are presented here for my own amusement and reference but you’re welcome to “look over my shoulder”.

PS A few “meta“ items are included to add a bit of “colour commentary” to the collection.

Quebec license plate
that’s right, Montreal held an Olympics, granted it was a Summer games but regardless, didn’t seem to have the cachet of the Vancouver party, legacy conversation always seems disappointing
Canadian items, various, on shelves
shelves holding our collective rec rooms and garages – just add old shag carpet and faint smell of kerosene
De-humidifier (operational?)
part of exhibit or actual dehumidifier?
Can and jar of spices
imagine these on the shelf of a trapper’s cabin up in the hills, always meaning to be used but never are
Whale meat package
is it sashimi grade? PS official food of strident Japanese nationalists
Saskatchewan license plate
i’ve had to spell Saskatchewan for Americans (and others) on forms for all kinds for decades, Saskatoon doesn’t make it easier (i was born there)
Klik, canned meat
Klik – i’ll use this instead of Spam now – in reference to email, not the foodstuff, thanks just gross – though in certain Micronesian Islands, it is an honourable luxury food
Canucks hockey cards and coupon
look at this Canucks lineup – no wonder no Cups, solid mullets though
Tahiti Treat box
oh red and vaguely like Hawaiian punch but fizzy – yum(ish) PS not from, or sold in Tahiti
Woodward's Motor Oil
Woodward’s brand – more than groceries Note: Made in Canada, hmmm, does Canada still refine or just export crude bitumen?
Beer cans
i tell ya, opening a beer used to take quite bit of time… first ya had to smelt the tin
Saskatchewan license plate (green)
i love spelling Saskatchewan – Tip: A good test when you meet Americans pretending to be CDN in Europe, See if they can say Regina with snickering.
Invasion plans
do you remember that time Canada was planning for a US invasion (if we didn’t invade them first)?
Thermos with pheasant
critical gear for a day of labour
Bean sauce
close to the lowest choice in the pantry
books for women and collectors
As you can see, CDN women have always had access to relevant research to meet their needs (/sarcasm) as have collectors

Museum blurb:

“Douglas Coupland: everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything” is the first major museum exhibition of the artist’s work and will be presented at the Vancouver Art Gallery from May 31 – September 1, 2014. Deftly capturing the spirit of the age—or, as the artist refers to it, “the 21st century condition”—Douglas Coupland’s ideas are often encountered on the written page. But the themes he explores in his writing have appeared in his artwork as early as the 1980s when he was a student at the Emily Carr College of Art & Design. In this survey of Coupland’s work, we encounter his incisive social analysis in a variety of forms including installation, painting, photography, prints, sculpture, quilts and wallpaper. His synthesis of contemporary events, popular culture, new technologies and art historical references―that range from the paintings of Emily Carr and the Group of Seven to the Pop sensibility of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein―resists an identifiable style. By incorporating everyday materials and objects and referencing images that have become culturally iconic, he probes the way that things, images and processes of contemporary life affect our understanding of the world around us.

Whatcha think?