This is one of those rare exhibitions that started out one way and over the course of the planning changed and evolved into the exhibition that it is today. The exhibition’s title, Distance & Displacement, was chosen right from the start to reflect the journeys of each of the artists and their work. Over the course of pulling the various elements and artists together, however, the show became very fluid in its nature and to take on the attributes of the show’s title. The name Distance & Displacement can now also reflect my own journey in bringing this show together.
Distance and displacement are two quantities that may seem to mean the same thing yet have distinctly different definitions. Distance is a scalar quantity that refers to "how much ground an object has covered" during its motion, whereas displacement is a vector quantity that refers to "how far out of place an object is;" it is the object's overall change in position.
The exhibition found its inspiration and impetus in the work of Kalsang Dawa, a Tibetan artist I had met here when Cindi Tomochko brought him to Pentiction to teach a painting workshop. I have also long been interested in the rich history of artists from the Pacific Northwest who have turned to Eastern Philosophy as their primary source of inspiration. One of the first converts in this regard was the late Jack Wise (1928 – 1996) of Vancouver who in 1966 traveled to study with Tibetan painting masters in India.
I have long been thinking of doing an exhibition of Jack Wise, and was re-inspired after a trip to Vancouver where I visited the studio of Laurie Papou. At the time Laurie was mid-way through the completion of her latest body of work consisting of three 5-foot-square paintings. The subjects were the human iris of her husband, her son and herself. Upon seeing these I immediately thought they had some of the same qualities of Jack Wise’s work, who was totally unknown to Laurie at that time. That sent me on a search and I was amazed at just how hard it was to gather a meaningful collection of Jack’s work, but I am happy with the ones I was able to pry out of the hands of their covetous collectors.
The next piece of the puzzle came this summer when Kalsang was teaching a painting course in Wells where he met Joseph Sanchez who was one of the mentors of the Toni Onley Artists Project. Not only did they get along, they found they had much in common in their outlook on life and in their creative explorations. They have since talked about a further collaboration but I am offering this up as a teaser for a larger dialogue, and I am excited to see how it unfolds.
The final piece of the puzzle for this exhibition was the addition of works by various Australian Aboriginal artists. These works were collected over a period of years while the owner, Elsa Gladwin, ran an underground hotel in Coober Pedy, Australia where local aboriginal artists would drop by and sell her their latest works. I have long been interested in this form of art, and it was an amazing thing to suddenly have them dropped in my lap. In looking at the works presented, I couldn’t help but also see a number of threads that tie each of these artists’ works together.