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  • HUB @ 302

    Location: CALGARY, AB

    The Alberta Society of Artists invites all juried members, associate and non-members to..
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  • Open Call for 2020 exhibitions

    Location: Vernon, BC

    We are an artist run gallery seeking submissions from emerging artists for our..
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  • Beacon Original Art Fall Show & Sale

    Location: Calgary, AB

    Saturday October 19, 2019 from 10am - 4pm. Featuring more than 30 artists..
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  • Open Call:

    Location: Vancouver, BC

    The Federation of Canadian Artists (FCA) is having an open exhibition for members..
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  • Open Call: All 10

    Location: Vancouver, BC

    Calling all Canadian Artists! This is an open submission call for a lightly..
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  • Earth

    Location: CALGARY, AB

    The Alberta Society of Artists invites all Juried, Life, Student, Associate Members and..
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  • Reza Rezaï / Mehmoon

    Location: Calgary, AB

    TRUCK Contemporary Art is pleased to present Mehmoon by Reza Rezaï. Through the..
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  • Outside, In

    Location: Lethbridge, AB

    Opening reception September 28th 7-9pm for the Allied Art Council's Gallery Stroll! OUTSIDE,..
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  • National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society 2019 Fall Online International Exhibition

    Location: Windsor, ON

    The National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS) invites oil and acrylic painters..
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  • “Motion” International Call - Art & Literature Journal - Deadline October 31, 2019

    Location: Toronto, ON

    | Theme: Moving or being moved. Shifting, stirring, changing places. The rise and..
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  • Beaver Sheppard: Solo Exhibition

    Location: Montreal, QC

    Archive Contemporary presents a comprehensive solo exhibition of Beaver Sheppard’s artistic canon, for..
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  • ANCESTRAL MINDSCAPES

    Location: Toronto, ON

    Ancestral Mindscapes is an autobiographical collaboration using video, sound and photography to explore..
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  • Clay Tile Workshop

    Location: Edmonton, AB

    Participants will be working with clay to hand-build tiles using a variety of..
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  • Edible and Medicinal Gardening Lecture

    Location: Edmonton, AB

    Ukrainian settlers brought with them a wide range of traditional knowledge and practices,..
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  • Acrylic Painting for Beginners

    Location: Edmonton, AB

    Do you want to create a bright & beautiful acrylic landscape in one..
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  • Willow Heart Weaving Workshop

    Location: Edmonton, AB

    Willow Heart Weaving Workshop In this workshop, participants will learn how to trim and..
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  • New Craft Coalition: Call to Artists

    Location: Calgary, AB

    New Craft Coalition, invites applications from all mid-career and professional artists to be..
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  • Invisible by PAINTER8

    Location: Edmonton, AB

    Please join us at PAINTER8, and other Edmonton art lovers alike, for the..
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  • 19th Annual Stouffville Studio Tour

    Location: Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON

    The 19th Annual Stouffville Studio Tour is an event you don’t want to..
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  • Wheat Centrepiece Workshop

    Location: Edmonton, AB

    Join this class to learn how to make a didukh-style centrepiece that can..
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  • Radio Silence

    Location: Quebec city, QC

    Québec, August 19, 2019 – Folie/Culture invites all those who express themselves through..
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  • LOOK AGAIN!

    Location: Saskatoon, SK

    LOOK AGAIN! PAINTINGS BY KATHLEEN SLAVIN AND GAIL PRPICK AT UNIVERSITY..
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  • Watercolour Workshop with Frank Townsley

    Location: Vancouver, BC

    Sunday 22nd September 10.00 AM - 5.00 PM ..
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  • Figureworks 2019

    Location: Ottawa, ON

    Figureworks 2019 Call for Artists The call for submissions to the 10th annual juried..
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  • Quasi-Nature

    Location: Montreal, QC

    Archive Contemporary Art Gallery is pleased to present Quasi-Nature, a group exhibition curated..
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  • National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society 2019 Fall Online International Exhibition

    Location: Windsor, ON

    The National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS) invites oil and acrylic painters..
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  • Unsettling Nature

    Location: Toronto, ON

    An Exhibition at: The Garage Gallery Benmiller with Artists Jill Price, Leslie Putnam, Morag Webster..
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  • Through the Eyes of a Child

    Location: CALGARY, AB

    Artists Statement: Ed Flanagan My wife had a career as an elementary school..
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  • Exposition solo Lac-Mégantic

    Location: Lac-Mégantic, QC

    L'eau, une mine d'Art du 8 juillet au 8 septembre 2019..
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  • Sustainable Fashion Designer Looking for Studio Space in Mississauga

    Location: Mississauga, ON

    Hi, I'm Amanda, I am an emerging fashion designer starting my business designing..
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  • 32 Points- 32 Voices: A Compass of Peace

    Location: Toronto, ON

    32 Points - 32 Voices: A Compass of Peace International Exhibition September 6-27, 2019 Cedar Ridge..
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Jim Swain: Paintings

By Robert Amos November 22, 2004

} Jim Swain: Paintings at the Community Arts Council Gallery By Robert Amos Jim Swain: Paintings at the Community Arts Council Gallery Sussex Place Suite G-6, 1001 Douglas Street, 381-2787, until November 17 An untitled acrylic on canvas from Jim Swain’s show at the Community Arts Council Jim Swain’s painting titled “Alcohol can take me there” was stridently coloured and had a dipsomaniac tilt to it. I noticed it about ten years ago at a fund-raising auction at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Seen across a room of wine-swilling yuppies, here was a work of art which spoke to its context. I approached the painting to check for a signature in the lower corner. The artist had inscribed it - not with his name, but with five letters - “words”. I laughed out loud. Whoever the artist was, he had grabbed my attention. Ten years later, on the eve of his latest show, I cornered the artist at his home and asked him a few questions. His Oak Bay bungalow was tidy, and richly furnished from Value Village. Four matching ceramic TV lamps, in the shape of ducks on the rise, battled for my attention with the many paintings of mountain splendour by unknown amateurs. “Ugly is just as interesting as beautiful,” Swain quipped, “and a lot cheaper!” His own paintings tend toward lurid primary colours, and all represent people in some state of existential extremis. “Now and then I drift back to a more conservative concept, but to me they are dismal failures. You can fool everybody but yourself. And, you know, those failures always sell the best!,” Swain lamented. Despite his overheated style, Swain apparently knows how to paint. He has degrees in education and “intellectual history”. He has exhibited in Victoria at Open Space, the Macpherson Theatre, through Art Rental, and this will be his third solo show at the Community Arts Council gallery. If his goal was to paint for the marketplace, he believes he could do it. “I could be an art forger in a wink,” he boasted. But Swain has principles. “Painting is a personal trip that you go on, “ he continued. “The thing is that you have to be totally honest. There are a million forces that pull you in this direction or that. On the market side, they ask is: the frame nice? can he really draw? And on the other side, you’re up to your ass in deconstructionism and philosophy. It’s difficult.” But for 30 years he has persisted. “It’s what I do. Art is a debate about the human condition. That’s what paintings have always talked about. I don’t think art should disappear on the wall. It should grab you and make you wonder.” Grab? Wonder? You bet! The current show presents 21 pictures, each 20 x 24 inches. They are framed with cheap lumber and duct tape. (The ones in his own living room had old brass picture lamps affixed to the frames). Swain’s strategy is to sell them all. The last three shows did indeed sell out, to some degree because each painting is priced at only $200. “I don’t charge much for them. I don’t want them filling up the basement. The ones that are sold are spread out and gone. I don’t want to think about them. If they came back, I’d probably paint over them.” Swain paused to contemplate that frightening thought. “Then it would be just me and the paintings. I don’t want that,” he insisted. Certainly Swain has his influences. The late, wild canvases of Picasso speak clearly to this 56 year old Victorian. Swain quotes his hero: “Art is an exquisite con.” And Andy Warhol’s example is a guiding light. Swain quotes him too: “Art is what you can get away with.” Songs from the existential void by Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits play over and over in this artist’s mind. “I’ve a terrible story to tell,” Swain offered. “As Tom Waits would say, “you’ve heard this story before, and here it comes again.”” He’s voluble and cultured, but seems to treasure the inhospitable secrecy of the carport studio in the secluded garden of his home. “I can hide in my darkened studio,” he chortled. I confess I have never seen a less well-lit painting place. To avoid interruption, he told me, “I lock it - from the inside.” There, he pokes and slashes with a select few primary colours of acrylic paint. His preferred brush is a congealed chunk of rigid bristle. I tried to bring our conversation around to the “meaning” of Swain’s work. The artist laughed. “Just look at the colour,” he demanded. “What more can I say? I’m already screaming at the top of my voice!”. Well, then, perhaps he’d tell me why he writes “words” in the lower right corner of each of the paintings. Obviously, he’d been asked that question before, and had a few answers lined up. “I can’t tell you,” he began, and paused to see it I’d accept that. “It’s a dada thing,” he offered next, referring to Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst. “Well, really,” he ventured at last, “I have this sort of ritual that, when I’ve signed a picture, it’s all over: it’s finished. I won’t touch it again. And once you’ve finished a picture, all that’s left is... words.” ___________________________________________ Copyright © 2004Robert Amos Robert Amos is an artist and art writer who lives in Victoria, B.C.. He can be contacted by e-mail and you can view his paintings at www.robertamos.com