On July 14th, Burrard Arts Foundation opened two new exhibitions, one featuring their spring artist in residence, Laura Piasta, and another housing the in-gallery component of the inaugural Vancouver Mural Festival. The exhibitions occupy the BAF space in stark contrast to one another and it feels as though you are going up through floors of a museum rather that taking a few steps to the right as you move between them.
Piasta’s show, A Definite Volume But No Fixed State, is expertly curated within the gallery and give a the impression of an alien interior design. The ink works are mounted like paintings and layered with iridescent shimmer. They look like liquefied rock that the artist tamed into a rectangle and, when looking at them head on, it’s hard to believe that the images are not centuries-old rock formations. It might spoil the magic to say that Piasta used ink diluted in water to form these mythical geological prints. The works on the wall are offset by the sculptures that, in places, seem to litter the floor, at dangerous risk of being tripped over. Piasta used hydro-stone plaster poured into a spandex form which is then molded before it hardens. Some sculptures look like limbs, while others are reminiscent of eggs (one such sculpture is iridescent gold and pushes the boundary between the ink/sculpture dichotomy here). A second type of sculpture is also present in the space: rods attached at the base to a block of cement and at the top pinning something (hair or peach-pink nylon) to the wall. These pieces reject the fluidity of the other works and evoke something more human, more messily emotional, like a bedroom floor strewn with clothes and elastic bands with strands of hair still tangled to them.
The second exhibition is composed of pieces from over 30 local and international artist which span mediums from pencil crayon to paper cut-out, and is a preview of the forthcoming Mural Festival that will see the works going up around the Mount Pleasant and False Creek areas beginning August 20th. The murals in miniature provide a snapshot of the styles of working Vancouver artists and represent a kind of contemporary Vancouver School of art. Looking at the pieces that will take up residence in the wider community, it is clear that they will become icons of the city’s art legacy. Each piece is of the moment and the collection is diverse in imagery and emotion. No one work stands out against the rest, but rather, each piece is skillfully crafted and exemplifies the deep talent and commitment of the artists living and creating here in Vancouver.