Artful Musing

The two Kellys & Hitchcock | LAC’s unseen collection | 150 years of photography | Vimy

The late Grace Kelly, who starred in three Alfred Hitchcock thrillers (Dial M for Murder, Rear Window and To Catch a Thief), is not to be confused with Kelly Grace, the Toronto artist who has just created a body of work loosely based on the films of Hitchcock and the original The Twilight Zone television series for Ottawa’s Wall Space Gallery.

Grace Kelly literally became a princess, leaving Hollywood to help her husband Prince Rainier III rule the tiny principality of Monaco. Some might say she always believed herself a princess. At least she always appeared cool, glamorous and unattainable. Hitchcock was naturally obsessed, as he was with all his blonde leading ladies.

Contrast this with the women in Kelly Grace’s paintings, who generally tend to be more down to earth. Her paintings have a retro, pop art quality but expressed in what the artist calls “a modern voice.”

Sighting, Kelly Grace, 18" x 32", Acrylic painting on panel
Sighting, Kelly Grace, 18″ x 32″, Acrylic painting on panel

The paintings prepared for the Wall Space show are cloaked in mysteries. What is that woman staring at? Who is she talking to? What’s happening?

“There will be larger scale paintings as well as some medium works and a series of small paintings inside vintage cigarette tins,” Kelly Grace said in a pre-exhibition interview. “The tins are meant to be like a secret window into a 3D-diorama-like universe. These paintings are the full realization of images that have been in my head for years. This exhibition, Between Light and Shadow, is the debut of these new ‘film narrative’ works.”

The title of the show is also an excerpt from Rod Serling’s opening monologue from the first season of Twilight Zone in 1959, says Kelly Grace.

Woman in Curlers, Kelly Grace, 36" x 36", acrylic painting on panel
Woman in Curlers, Kelly Grace, 36″ x 36″, acrylic painting on panel

As for the relationship between the Kellys and Hitchcock?

The artist says it is “coincidental” that she grew up to admire Grace Kelly in her Hitchcock roles. She has done paintings inspired by Grace Kelly in Rear Window for a previous exhibition and, at the time of this latest interview, was working on a six-foot, double portrait that is “a subtle nod” to the driving scenes made famous in Hitchcock film To Catch a Thief starring Grace Kelly and another, Vertigo, starring Kim Novak. That painting will be in Between Light and Shadow.

The exhibition runs at Wall Space Gallery, 358 Richmond Road, April 12-30. For further info, visit www.wallspacegallery.ca.

Seeing the Unseen

Starting April 21, Library and Archives Canada is taking over a space at the Canadian Museum of History to mount annual exhibitions of art and artifacts from LAC’s massive, generally unseen collection.

The 'Four Indian Kings', John Verelst (ca. 1648-1734) © Library and Archives Canada / Portrait Gallery of Canada
The ‘Four Indian Kings’, John Verelst (ca. 1648-1734) © Library and Archives Canada / Portrait Gallery of Canada

Here are some of the rare objects planned for the first exhibition, which is called Moments from 150 Years Ago, or will be incorporated into the museum’s new History Hall opening July 1. The exhibition opening in April runs until Jan. 28, 2018

  • Full-sized portraits, known as the Four Indian Kings, of four delegates of the Iroquoian Confederacy to the court of Queen Anne in 1710. These portraits were painted by John Verelst and are believed to be among the earliest surviving oil portraits of Aboriginal people taken from life;
  • A handwritten page by Sir John A. Macdonald of the British North America Act of 1867, the founding document of Canada;
  • The 1869 painting, Canoe Manned by Voyageurs Passing a Waterfall by Frances Anne Hopkins;
  • A portrait sketch of former prime minister Robert Laird Borden, done during the Paris Peace conference by important British artist Sir William Orpin in 1919. The official group portrait, which would be made from this sketch, now hangs in the Imperial War Museum in London.

100 works / 71 artists

Bear, 1998, Jeff Thomas
Bear, 1998, Jeff Thomas

Ottawa photo-artists have done exceedingly well in the first of the National Gallery’s series of shows celebrating the 150th anniversary of Confederation. The exhibition, Photography in Canada: 1960-2000, running from April 6 to Sept. 16, brings together more than 100 works by 71 artists, including such national heavyweights as Michael Snow, Jeff Wall and Ed Burtynsky.

Ottawa’s Jeff Thomas is represented by one of his iconic photos of his son Bear (before his days in A Tribe Called Red) sitting in front of the kneeling First Nations scout that used to be at the foot of the Champlain statue on Nepean Point.

From Jennifer Dickson there is a halftone photo etching in sepia with applied colour. The triptych-like work is called Magic Circle/Eyes, from 1974-79, and is from the series Body Perceptions. A pair of eyes is seen at the top and bottom of the creation with a “magic circle” in the middle.

Two of Ottawa’s most famous photographers who both taught at the University of Ottawa and then decamped for Montreal – Evergon and the late Lynne Cohen – are both represented in the exhibition.

So is Lorraine Gilbert with a dreamy landscape, Looking Down Coyote Valley, British Columbia, 1989; Ted Grant, with a great news shot of Ben Johnson winning (temporarily) a gold medal in the 100 metres at the 1988 Seoul Olympics; Chris Lund, with a gorgeous shot of the rotunda of the Centre Block; and Robert Bourdeau with a moody view of battered industrial buildings in West Virginia.

And not to be forgotten: There is a Yousuf Karsh portrait of the late Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak from 1976.

Upcoming 

Vimy – Beyond the Battle is an exhibition marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The summer-long exhibition opens April 6 at the Canadian War Museum.

photography: His Majesty King Edward VIII unveils the Canadian National Memorial at Vimy Ridge. Library and Archives Canada, e011184988
Photography: His Majesty King Edward VIII unveils the Canadian National Memorial at Vimy Ridge. Library and Archives Canada, e011184988