City Guides » Hot Summer Guide

Visual arts

Installations, paintings, photography and more: Here are our picks for ways to spend your summer encircled and enriched by the arts.



Choose a month:
[ June | July | August & September ]

June 19 (opening with artist attending) to August 1
Scott Connarroe, By Rail
Across the calendar’s squares, most people deal with life’s demands. But are they living their lives? Photographer Scott Connarroe rode the rails across North America to view local landscapes from a different angle. By Rail is about looking at how our localized experiences fit into larger systems of culture and landscape, at how we are positioned in some grand sweep of history.” Perhaps life isn’t one big to-do list, but a big, collective to-do. Continues Connarroe: “This being summer and it being a journey project, I expect people will probably generate a little extra wanderlust at the show.” Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery, 166 Bedford Highway, 1st floor, Seton Academic Centre, Tue-Thu 11am-5pm, Sat-Sun 1-5pm

June 24 to August 1
Everyone deserves an experience, thought or sensation to take home with them at the end of the day. Contemporary art jewellery, says Vanessa Neily, artist and curator of group exhibition Adornable, embodies a sense of individuality, a desire to step out of the rat race or to stand out from the masses---the mass market. “Wearing art jewellery, the wearer is showing a confidence that goes beyond simply looking pretty,” explains Neily. Rather, the wearer is “broadcasting lighthearted themes that reflect the best of their true character.” On or off the body, she adds, the work sends that signal. Hydrostone Art Gallery, 5519 Young Street, Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun noon-5pm

June 12 to August 1 (Curator’s talk on July 25, 4pm)
People Like Us: The Gossip of Colin Campbell
What’s work without gossip, rumour, story and overheard conversation? Video and performance artist Colin Campbell ventured into his workplace---the “nascent, self-conscious Toronto art community,” as exhibition curator Jon Davies puts it---and “showed off how subcultures like these are given form and held together by gossip.” A workplace may be its own subculture. At least, it’s a place where subcultures intersect. Campbell understood where the states of our lives, our working lives, were going. With their themes of desire, self- performance, social conflict and the slippage of identity and truth, his videos seem to anticipate our contemporary hyper-awareness of our public selves. Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery, 5864 Gorsebrook Avenue, Loyola Academic Complex, Tue-Fri 11am-5pm, Sat-Sun noon-5pm

July 22 (reception 6pm), July 23 to September 5
Laurie Swim, Land, Sea & Memory
When you’re busy, your day-to-day relationship with textiles amounts to a pile of laundry, or spilling coffee on the carpet on your way out the door. Quilter Laurie Swim goes deeper, showing “the relationship Nova Scotia has always had with the sea and how it has affected our way of living---influenced culture,” as she puts it. In “Make and Break,” for example, Swim refers to “a little engine invented in Nova Scotia that changed the way inshore fishermen went about their day’s work.” In another, “Choices,” she explores the trend of youth leaving for work outside the province. Mary E. Black Gallery, 1061 Marginal Road, Tue-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat-Sun 11am-4pm

July 28 to August 29
Judith Leidl, The Artful Cat
There’s that person at work, that cat person. The cat appears as the screensaver, on the bulletin board and in the lunch-hour conversation of that person. You wonder, at first skeptically, then enviously, about the depth of that person’s love for that cat at home. Judith Leidl’s paintings may help you understand that love. You may also grasp how the feline form inspires different formal approaches, the representational and the abstract. Also a printmaker and teacher, Leidl’s work uses intensely saturated colours, sensual figures and a sense of mystery (as pointed out in her biography on After seeing this show, you won’t look at that cat person the same way again. Craig Gallery, Alderney Landing, Dartmouth, Tue-Fri noon-5:30pm, Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm

July 24 to October 10
Stephen Kelly, Open Tuning (WaveUp)
You’re convinced the air, lighting, noise, co-workers are all bad for you. You’re cut off from the world, especially the natural. This moving (physically and emotionally) sound installation connects “urban Halifax and the remote North Atlantic Ocean” via a real-time internet connection, explains artist Stephen Kelly. The gallery installation translates into motion and sound-wave data it receives from Fisheries and Oceans Canada buoys. Natural cycles, such as tidal rise and fall, are recorded. But, he adds, “looking and listening closely reveals a system in constant motion [but] that never repeats itself. I’m interested in the idea that these environments are complex to the point of being completely unknowable.” Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 1723 Hollis Street, Mon-Wed, Fri-Sun 10am-5pm, Thu 10am-9pm

August 3 to 29 (opening reception, August 5, 6pm)
Graham Ward, Camera Obscura
Graham Ward has put in long days and nights, taking pictures with a hand-built camera and developing images from glass plate negatives. “I’ve always believed artists create the art no matter the tools they choose to use,” offers Ward. “A beautiful picture can be created using the simplest of materials.” For him, process is elevated to the level of result. “The effort it takes to get the image is just as important as the image itself. Flaws and imperfections can only authenticate and add to the beauty of the photograph.” ViewPoint Gallery, 1272 Barrington Street, Wed-Sun noon-5pm

August 7 to October 3
Sobey Art Award: The 2010 Atlantic Long List
Wouldn’t it be nice to be recognized at, and for, one’s work? Sometimes critical appraisal---constructive criticism, and why not praise?---is sorely lacking in the work world. Because art is work, the art world lacks in the validation department, as with any other sector. The Sobey Art Award long lists, which represent five regions of Canada and have already been announced, may change that for one artist. The Atlantic Canadian long list---Lucie Chan, Graeme Patterson, Mario Doucette and Vanessa Paschakarnis, with Emily Vey and Cooper Battersby shortlisted---presents diverse practices, thoughts and emotional resonance. Their work awaits your attention. Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 1723 Hollis Street, Mon-Wed, Fri-Sun 10am-5pm, Thu 10am-9pm

August 27 to October 3
Giving Notice: Words on Walls Who hasn’t dreamed of telling the boss “Up yours!” then up and walking out to enjoy the summer off? Give notice? Bah! Those close to fulfilling the wish may take inspiration from the artists in Giving Notice: Words on Walls. They counter conventions by placing “hand-painted letters or custom-cut vinyl, apply[ing] font-based words, phrases and sentences directly onto gallery walls; in effect, these artists borrow the walls as public tablets to write on,” reads Dalhousie Art Gallery’s website. The group includes Cathy Busby and poet Christian Bök and “play[s] with the ‘authority’ of the gallery and the written word while exploring the relationship between visual art and language.” Dalhousie Art Gallery, 6101 University Avenue, Tue-Fri 11am-5pm, Sat-Sun noon-5pm

to September 6
Food for Health and Hungry Planet
Whether you’re brown-baggin’ it, ordering from the same ol’ place or stuffing the usual bag of chips down your gullet, work can take the enjoyment and meaning out of food. Take an extended lunch---c’mon, it’s summer---and head down to Pier 21. It’s hosting two travelling exhibitions, Food for Health and Hungry Planet. The former, from the Canada Agriculture Museum, explores various “Canadian initiatives” that strive for nutritious and safe food. In the latter, from the Montreal Science Centre, issues such as famine, drought, political power and global production are considered. Pier 21, 1055 Marginal Road, seven days a week, 9:30-5:30pm

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