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Joy Munt | Rain, Steam & Speed

Project Room ~ January 20th - March 12th, 2017

Joy Munt |  Rain, Steam & Speed

Exhibition Opening Friday January 20th 7:00- 9:00 p.m. ~ Artist Talk Saturday January 21st ~ 1:00p.m.


It is with great pleasure that we are able to present the twelfth installment of our continuing partnership with Island Mountain Arts Summer School of the Arts in Wells, BC and their annual nine day artist-in-residency program in the Toni Onley Artist Project.

Each year the Penticton Art Gallery has offered one of the participants an opportunity for a solo exhibit here at the gallery. The intent to an incentive to continue developing the ideas and projects started while participating in this studio program. This ongoing partnership with Island Mountain Arts is also of great value to artists from the Okanagan as the Bernie and Toni Cattani Family Foundation has also committed funds to send at least one regional artist up to Wells to participate in this program annually.

In 2016 the Toni Onley Artist Project featured Jeffrey Spalding C.M. RCA and Anong Migwans Beam as its mentors. For more information on how you can apply for this coming year’s program along with scholarship information, please visit the Island Mountain Arts website at:

Each year the selection of the artist for this exhibition is left up to that year’s artist mentors and when asked to describe their reasons for selecting Joy Munt’s work for this year’s exhibition Jeffrey Spalding C.M. R.C.A. and Anong Migwans Beam wrote:

The trouble with artist residencies is that time is always so fleetingly short. Participants can just start rolling and then find it is time to pack up again to return home. Given this reality it is thoroughly explicable that some arrive with pre-conceived plans and commence at the residency just where they left off at their home studio: a change of location, new temporary studio associates and a few new site specific experiences but otherwise, no real time to contemplate major shifts in artistic direction.

So too the absolute artistic freedom to make whatever you wish can act as an unexpectedly confining trap. Making satisfying art that arouses the interests of others is no easy feat. When you find something that works for you: a style, a compositional approach or a favoured technique it can be extraordinarily hard to let this ‘success’ go and simply ‘free-float’, to start all over again, fresh each new day. Our past defines our present. This is particularly prevalent with artists basing their work upon the land. It often appears that the fulfillment of the finished painting was already fully conceived before the ‘scene’ was ever actually perceived.  We can hold a steadfast view of who we are as artists and the fundamental components that define our artistic characters. Exploration can be bound to a short tether. Experimentation and branching out is anchored by the awareness of who we were as artists yesterday, not who we could aspire to be today or tomorrow.

Joy Munt hit the road running at the Wells Residency. She brought with her numerous works in progress and commenced a commendable, industrious program of completing and creating a staggeringly impressive large body of work. Over her career she has developed an approach that necessitated the expenditure of vast amounts of labour in the construction, sanding and finessing her abstracted land works. The rich and variegated surfaces are the result of this near manic obsession with abrading away multiple layers to create the desired visual textures. Viewers are customarily awestruck solely by the evident investment in massive amounts of time to create the works. The results are indeed very impressive and satisfying.  One could wax eloquent that the works seem to conjoin with the legacy of abstracted landscape art of western Canada: the patterned fields of Takao Tanabe, Otto Rogers, Gordon Smith, the grid-tartans of Ted Godwin, perhaps with a glance over the shoulder to the router-gouged surfaces of Paterson Ewen .  The geometries of prairie ploughed fields used as a scaffold around which to organize abstract compositions is a time-honoured tradition. This historic template can guide, however it can also act as a constraint upon new formats. So too her passion has been for gathering and incorporating truncated text fragmentsfrom prairie elevators, rail cars and other agricultural/industrial sources. They speak of weathered cryptic signs fading into the patina of nostalgic time past: disassociated numbers and letters without a discernible message: signifiers without a signified.

All of these characteristics are her hallmark traits in the production of her contributions to modernist-formalist abstractions. Joy Munt, at Wells, rocketed through creating many impressive finished works in this mode. Then, additionally, she did something special that caught the attention of me and my associate Anong Beam. She bravely dared to drop many of her foundational underpinnings. She began to explore different ways to compose and envisage her work, and hence herself.  Should her art address specificity of place and meaning?  Could a work be made in one day, one pass, one layer? If it didn’t look like it took a lot of work could it still be a work of art? Travelling the known path is surely the most prudent career decision.  Venturing off-road is where the adventure of art truly commences.

Joy Munt Artist Statement:

I am transfixed by a beautiful and deteriorating world of industry juxtaposed amongst the prairies, trees, rivers and coasts.  The manufactured world, like the landscape, can be full of nostalgia and symmetry. I think of the words of Simon Sharma’s as he describes the painter JMW Turner’s quest to represent the power of industry amongst the landscape “instinctively Turner wanted to see if the belching smoke and a cantering train would generate that kind of beauty, what he does is the industrial sublime.”

The industrial sublime is all around us.  We have grown up around the trains, shipping containers and grain elevators.  I choose to paint the elements of industry side by side with natural landscape to create a dialogue.  Is it a celebration of industry, recognition of its limitations or simply nostalgia?

This world of industry is my muse for both the sentiment generated by it being a huge part of my landscape memory and for the freedoms it allows us in our daily life.  Yet, within the sentiment I have for this deteriorating world of industry is knowledge of the need for environmental change, our landscape depends on it.

My process is evident in my art; it’s not something I hide, use and then discard, or disguise. The techniques and tools I employ – layers of pigment, sanding, scraping back, lettering – are there, exposed in the finished work.  I have chosen to paint with the tools of trade for my application, my main brush being a power sander and applying layers of paint with rollers, large brushes and scrapers. 

(Rain, Steam and Speed is the title of an 1844 Turner painting of a steam train crossing the river Thames.

Joy Munt Biography:

Joy Munt was born and raised in Calgary AB. She then moved to BC to attend the University of Victoria, there she received her BFA in Visual arts with a double major in Sociology with a minor in Film Studies.

While attending University Joy’s primary focus was photography and video installation, painting became a focus after art school. Drawing upon the idea of what her personal landscape was, Joy found inspiration in the industrial world around her and the cross over from photography to painting had a strong effect on her work. For Joy this meant the process was as much a part of the subject matter as the landscapes themselves.

Now settled in Vancouver, Joy has lived in four different Canadian cities in three provinces. Experiencing the rural and cosmopolitan landscapes of Ontario, Alberta and BC has left an indelible impression on her art. Joy finds much beauty in the constant changing vignettes of the city and its rural counterparts. Inspired by industry, construction and transportation as they play upon their natural landscapes. Evidence of shipping containers, grain elevators, construction and trains is obvious in Joy’s work.


Later Event: January 20
RE:Claiming the Taken