Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Angelo Cavagnaro’ Category

This year’s graduation exhibit at the Freda Diesing School was held on April 19 and 20. It was by far the weakest of the five I have attended. In previous years, there have always been one or two students who were ready to become professional artists, but this year there were none, although a reassonably large number could be ready if they keep working for another year or two.

Unfortunately, this year’s show featured too many shaky hands on the paint brush and failures to find the grain. Too often, what passed at a distance was flawed close up.

However, that’s not to say that the exhibit was disappointing – just that it could have been better. The longhouse on the Terrace campus of Northwest Community College is always worth a lingering visit, and I never object to a preview of those who might become promising new artists in another few years.

longhouse-interior

The work of many of the best artists was visible in the display of paddles at the entrance. This is probably no accident, since a painted paddle is one of the first assignments given to students in the school, so students had plenty of time to perfect their results.

entrance

Inside, I first scanned the exhibit for artists whose works I had seen before. Sam Mackay, the winner of the 2012 Mature Student Award produced a solid effort in his “Wolf Howling in the Moon” mask:

sam-mckay-wolf-howling

 

I also looked for works by Jared Kane, from whom I bought two prints last year. He proved to be one of the more imaginative carvers in the show, but the fact is obscured by the lack of finishing on many of his works, as well as his attempts to use light washes of paint that only look sloppy. His potential is obvious, but he seems to be working against himself in these respects:

jared-kane

This year’s Mature Student Winners (who only found out they had won at the show) also showed considerable potential. Steven Wesley, this year’s winner of the award, produced the very solid “Eagle Transformation:”

steven-wesley-eagle-transformation

 

Roberta Quock, one of this year’s honorable mentions, produced “Wolf Mask,” one of the best finished and painted masks in the exhibit:

roberta-quock

 

This year’s other honorable mention, Lorretta Quock Sort showed a similar talent. I particularly liked her mask, “Long Face Willie Campbell,” carved in honor of a grandfather she had never met and reserved to give to her parents::

lorretta-sort-long-willie-campbell

By the time I had looked around the show a few times, two artists stood out. The first was Lyle Mack, the latest from the large and talented Nuxalk family to attend the school. The painting on Mack’s “Beholder of the Light” was imperfect in one or two places, but with some retouching this frontlet could would no trouble meeting professional standards:

lyle-mack-frontlet

However, the most promising artist in the show was Angelo Cavagnaro. His “Gitmidiik Wild Man” mask and “Lunar Eclipse Mask” owe their success to their high standard of painting, but, although their treatments of their subjects are conventional, both are competently carved:

angelo-cavagnaro-wild-man

angelo-cavagnaro-luna-eclipse

Cavagnaro also contributed to the show a bowl entitled, “Supernatural Flounder” which was the most imaginative piece in the show – so much so that I took it home with me. Despite the roughness of some of the carving, this bowl, more than anything else, suggests what he might be capable of with another year or two of practice. When I posted a picture of it to Facebook, it immediately attracted Likes from four or five proffessional artists:

100_1585

Most of the pictures in the show will be in The Spirit Wrestler Gallery’s “Northern Exposure” show in Vancouver at the end of May. Several students were also planning to add additional pieces for the southern show, which I look forward to seeing. As always, I anticipate that show, but I look forward even more to seeing what first year students like Robert Quock and Lorretta Quock Sort will be doing next year, with another twelve months of development.

 

Read Full Post »

When Angelo Cavagnaro was completing his projects for his second year at the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Arts, senior adviser Dempsey Bob stopped by his work bench.

“What’s that?” Bob joked. “A flounder?”

Cavagnaro says that he had intended the bowl to be a halibut, as its shape and the two eyes on one side suggests. However, remembering Bob’s comment, he named it“ Supernatural Flounder.” It’s a fittingly whimsical title for what I consider a whimsical piece.

“Supernatural Flounder” reflects not only the importance of fishing to traditional Northwest Coast cultures, but of grease. While the northwest coast of North America historically supplied the abundance of food necessary for cultures centered on status and art, the diet was low in fat, or grease as it was generally known.

Just as in medieval Europe, people craved grease incessantly. In fact. stores of grease – usually from the oily oolichan or candle fish, whose season was in early spring, when supplies would be at their lowest – were a sign of wealth. To this day, it remains a traditional delicacy. Historically, it was a treat at feasts and ceremonies, where it would be served to guests in highly decorated bowls. Some of these bowls were about the size of Cavagnaro’s piece, holding enough grease for a single serving. Others were a couple of metres long, and must have served dozens.

“Supernatural Flounder” is a transformation piece, like many that I have bought. The human face in the tail suggests that the fish – whether halibut or flounder – is one of those supernatural creatures that can assume human form. Many depictions of such creatures show them in the moment of transition, which is often shown as dramatically agonizing, like some of the computer-generated transformations of werewolves in modern horror films.

However, Cavagnaro takes a somewhat different approach. The body of the bowl is simply carved, with fins indicated by rough shapes scored with a couple of lines apiece. That leaves the human and fish faces to be emphasized, their lips and nostrils painted with the same red, and their eyes with the same black. There are differences in the shapes of the eyes and their sockets, but if you look at the piece long enough, the resemblance is undeniable. Both have the same blankness, inviting a comparison which explains why I call the piece whimsical – in the end, the human face ends up looking not that different from the fish’s. The result is a creature that looks at home with its dual nature, whose stomach just happens to be where the bowl is.

As a carving, “Supernatural Flounder” could stand more attention to finishing details. The interior of the bowl is rough, and there are many places on the carving where the artist’s working against the grain is still obvious. On a piece that is so minimally painted, such details stand out, and need to be thought about. But the general shape and proportions is well-thought out, and Cavagnaro shows the same steady hand on the paint brush as in his other works.

In the end, the bowl turned out to be the only piece I bought at the graduate show. As I write, it sits on a sideboard a few paces away, where I can enjoy by turning my head a few centimeters.

100_1585

Read Full Post »