I met Judi Michelle Young, president of the Sculptors Society of Canada, at their 500 Church Street gallery on a Tuesday afternoon. I was interested in talking to her about the society and the Canadian Sculpture Centre’s current exhibition of contemporary portraiture, Eyes of March. What I got from our conversation was that and much more. Judi was interested in sharing highlights of the neighborhood’s architectural history, her experience of the evolution of our city’s fashion and art scenes and we discovered so many things in common.
The Sculptors Society of Canada is entering its 88th year. The fantastic thing is the inclusivity of the society. Sculptors need not work in a prescribed medium, approach, or subject matter to be considered for membership or being part of group exhibitions like this one. They have not been in their Church Street location for long, perhaps 4 years. It is a lovely space, albeit tiny for the society’s big ambitions. Natural light enters the space through floor to ceiling street-view windows. The gallery’s design is maximizes the modest room; there are two floor levels in the open gallery space.
Once a year, the Canadian Sculpture Centre holds a themed exhibition featuring portraiture and figuration. This year’s has been coined, Eyes of March, a theme that is interesting and provoking, yet inclusive of all members. Members submitted two to three pieces each, depending on size and all mediums were accepted, from traditional stone to whatever else you can think of. Eyes of March features 20 works in wood, stone, bronze, clay, aluminous cement, gypsum cement, and terra cotta by 10 sculptors.
Judi tours me around the gallery, offering tidbits of information on the artists and their works as we go. Al Green, who generously sponsors the Church Street location, has three small figurative bronzes in the show. Master carver, Gordon Becker works heavily in the film industry carving props in urethane foam, Judi tells me. The soft, living fleshiness that he evokes in his graceful walnut dancer balanced on her steel and aluminum stand amazes me. At the risk of sounding silly, her clavicle really takes my breath away. I decide that it is my favorite piece.
Camie Geary-Martin is known for working in bronze and the two fascinating figurative pieces in Eyes of March are testaments to why. Her work is downright emotive. Elaine Jaques is showing two sculptures in aluminous cement, one fragmented bust captures my attention and holds it. I am interested in the juxtaposition of raw and polished alabaster in Elizabeth Merei’s pieces. Her Mexican alabaster is nearly translucent and truly glows. In her work, I am reminded why the vibrancy and variance of natural stone never ceases to amaze me. Peter Shoebridge presents two ceramic heads created from life models. One appears to be polished while the other is left rough. They are stunning, with their enthralling evasive gazes and stylised short hair.
I leave the Canadian Sculpture Centre thoroughly impressed by the society and the array of works that their members have created. There is so much talent, emotion, variation and variety on show in Eyes of March.
Text and photo: Emily Kovacs
*Exhibition information: March 12 – April 2, 2015, Canadian Sculpture Centre, 500 Church Street. Gallery hours: Tue – Fri: 12 – 6, Sat: 11 – 4 p.m.