“I Guess I Need More Grace Than I Thought” by Toronto artist Yael Brotman.
“He’s the bad boy of the Canadian art scene,” said Nino Ricci, raising an (ample) eyebrow at Iain Baxter&. As the UTAC crowd finished chewing on Ricci’s words of introduction, the man with the ampersand-emblazoned cap took his place at the podium.
“I’m from the slide generation,” explained the black-clad Baxter&, as a laptop was plugged in before him. “But I’m moving into PowerPoint.” After the lights were dimmed, Baxter& launched into his presentation—about his life’s work, about his “sense of place.”
The topic of Baxter&’s talk echoed the theme, and, indeed, the name of the evening; Sense of Place, a print exhibition organized and circulated by the Windsor Printmaker’s Forum, saw the works of thirty artists competing for attention in UTAC‘s cozy confines. And Can-con heavyweights Alistair MacLeod, Nino Ricci and, yes, the inimitable Iain Baxter&, were to provide the soundtrack (words, not music) for the first few hours of the evening. After showing fifty-odd slides of his conceptual creations, Baxter& stepped away from his glowing computer, and joined MacLeod and Ricci in a discussion about—you guessed it—sense(s) of place(s).
Nino Ricci introduces the speakers; Alistair MacLeod looks on.
If you’re wondering what a “sense of place” is, we’ll let you in on a little secret: you’re not alone. Although some time was devoted to defining this theme, the giant question marks floating around the room at the beginning of the reception were only slightly deflated after the discussion wrapped up. While MacLeod’s sense of place seemed to be forever informed by his Cape Breton upbringing (even though he has lived in Windsor for the past forty years), Baxter&’s conception of autobiographical space was, and is, rooted in the ever-evolving present. Whereas MacLeod’s works represented a return, Baxter&’s creations betokened a departure of sorts. Simply put, the geo-cultural prophesies of these two Canadian icons couldn’t have been more different. And this difference seemed to provide the common thread in the exhibiting printmakers’ works.
Alistair MacLeod is swarmed by the literati.
From traditional prints (the Windsor Printmaker’s Forum defines these as: “monotypes, etchings, woodcuts, lithographs, and silkscreens”) to more modern takes on printmaking (digital prints and found object creations), each artist’s contribution to Sense of Place helped to create a fragmented landscape of returns and departures. Even if you missed UTAC’s opening reception (the highlight of which, by the way, was a reading from Alistair MacLeod’s No Great Mischief), you still have another three months to get acquainted with these thirty talented printmakers’ senses of—and questions about—place.
All photos by Nick Kozak/Torontoist.