Union Gallery


Next Door: A Skeleton Park Neighbourhood Art Project

June 17–August 17, 2020

Chantal Rousseau, Kathleen Sellars, Francisco Corbett, Diane Black, Jocelyn Purdie, Dave Gordon, Erika Olson, Simon Andrew, Marney McDiarmid + Grace MacDonald, Kilombo, ck nosun, Don Maynard, Jan Allen + Cheryl Pagurek, Matt Rogalsky, Corcoran Peppley + Josh Lyon, and Maureen Sheridan

Co-presented by Union Gallery and Skeleton Park Arts Festival
Exhibition Team: Neil Bettney, Nicole Daniels, Carina Magazzeni, Greg Tilson. Exhibition Assistance: Elise Ngo, Holmes, Will Boyle, Sinead O'Hara, Maggie Whitmore, Rebecca van Gennip. Designer: Neil Bettney

Next Door is a temporary art exhibition in the Skeleton Park neighbourhood featuring original works of art by local artists dispersed throughout the area. Installations may be seen by the public from a safe distance outside of homes, through windows, and in the natural elements as they make their way through the Skeleton Park neighbourhood.

The project is a collaborative effort between the Skeleton Park Arts Festival and the Union Gallery and acts as a response to the current and ever-shifting moment we find ourselves facing in relation to public health. Next Door emphasizes the hyperlocal—celebrating and making public practices of “next-door neighbour” artists. The project addresses recent changes we are all adapting to, including staying at home, spending an increased amount of time wandering around our neighbourhoods, and coping with the lack of communal gatherings. Next Door aims to bring artmaking and viewing together as a form of supporting mental health and community building during an unprecedented moment of extreme isolation. The project also responds to the current inability to open galleries’ doors, and encourages community engagement with art in an open space, within a safe distance and at one’s own pace.

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Artist Statements and Biographies

Chantal Rousseau, Frogspot, 2020, double-sided vinyl flags and GIF. Photo: Chris Miner.

Frogspot highlights two species of frogs and one species of toad that can be found in the Kingston area—the Western Chorus Frog, Grey Tree Frog, and American Toad. Each is depicted with an insect or mollusk that forms a part of their diet. My work has become increasingly aligned with my interest in urban nature and exploring and depicting who we share space with.

Due to the permeability of their skin, frogs and toads are very sensitive to contaminants and toxins in their surroundings. They are considered an indicator species as their ability to thrive, or not, is a barometer of the health of the ecosystem. At times when human generated pollution has been high, declines have been noted in their populations, likewise, healthy amphibian populations point to a functional and healthy environment.

Chantal Rousseau’s practice brings together popular culture, sex, death, nature, and technology. Playing off fleeting internet obsessions and subcultures, she intertwines humour and the macabre and makes feminism sexy. Her work has been exhibited across Canada and internationally, including: Hallwalls Institute of Contemporary Art, Buffalo; Widget Art Gallery; The Wrong — New Digital Art Biennale; Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris; The New Gallery, Calgary; Latitude 53, Edmonton; Mercer Union, Toronto; and La Centrale, Montreal. Her GIFs were featured as GIF of the Day on the New York art blog Art F City in 2014. She has an upcoming solo exhibition at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in the fall of 2020. She is a graduate of the University of Guelph (MFA), and Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design (BFA), and currently resides in Kingston.

Kathleen Sellars, COVID Head, 2020, steel, plaster, wood, styrofoam, caulking, found object, paint. Photo: Chris Miner.

My work presents current social issues from a personal perspective. Issues of mental health have been a recurring theme, revealing insights into the personal and physical impacts on individuals that are often hidden or removed from public view. The ideas drive the medium; works range from discrete objects to interactive installation, photography, robotics, performance and community collaboration. In all works, by eliciting a physical or emotional response, I try to create an experience whereby the viewer can personally appreciate the ideas.

COVID Head is a sculptural representation of the feeling of living within the context of the current pandemic. It explores ideas of isolation and the psychological impact of daily lived experience in the media-heavy environment of COVID-19, our constant inundation and consumption of news about the virus, multitudinous facts and ever-increasing numbers of deaths. In the context of the Next Door exhibition, COVID Head exposes our fear of the contagion and, as a consequence, each other, our individual struggles and personal vulnerability.

Kathleen Sellars is an artist based in Kingston, Ontario. Her artwork, which encompasses traditional sculpture, time-based media, performance and collaborative community practice, has been exhibited across Canada for over thirty years. She has received funding from a number of provincial and federal agencies, including the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and Kingston Arts Council. Her work is in the collection of The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, among others. She received a Bachelor of Fine Art at Mount Allison University (1986) and a Magisteriate of Fine Art at Concordia University (2000). Sellars teaches sculpture and new media at Queen’s University.

Francisco Corbett, FORWORLD, 2020, spray paint, oil stick, paint marker and acrylic on unstretched canvas. Photo: Chris Miner.

FORWORLD is a display of my physical energy, vibrant colour and ambition. My process is physical and reminiscent of running for sport. The FORWORLD paintings were all created in rapid succession and with a large amount of focus on the physical energy that went into making them, in order to translate that same energy to the viewer. Within my work, I regularly use very intense, vivid and heavily saturated colours, to express positivity and grasp the viewer’s attention right out of the air. FORWORLD is an installation in motion—the paintings themselves will alternate throughout the duration of Next Door, to express a living, breathing series of works, and conclude with a final painting that I will be producing via live stream. Each of my paintings are fueled by my ambition and passion.

Francisco Corbett is a 22-year old emerging artist based in Kingston, Ontario, and was adopted from Guatemala when he was 5 months old. Freedom is at the core of his practice, and he regularly remixes and modifies found and reclaimed objects. His works range from abstract acrylic painting, fashion design, public/human sculptures, and performance art. Some of his creative influences are drawn from artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Banksy.

Diane Black, Schooling, 2020, acrylic on canvas. Photo: Chris Miner.

A “school” of fish is a group that moves together, each individual in concert with the others. I see this as an apt analogy. The measurement lines stretching between fish in my piece Schooling reminds us of the current need for physical distance, while also representing a connection between each of us. We are fortunate to live in close proximity to the inner harbour, the beauty of which is a constant reminder of the importance of aquatic life. We see close-up how essential it is to respect the air, the land, the water and the creatures whose home we share. Further, I hope my project will encourage viewers to reflect on how our community is moving together through a challenging time. We have work to do. Every one of us is connected to the whole. Every one of us plays a part in keeping our community a healthy, caring and vibrant place to live.

Diane Black grew up on the east coast of Canada but regular road trips to visit family on the west coast instilled a deep devotion to the beauty and diversity of this big, wide country. Diane came to Kingston 28 years ago and the Skeleton Park neighbourhood is the beloved place of home and work. Visual art has been a focus since early childhood. Post-secondary education began in Fine Arts and then illustration, with a major in Book Illustration. The idea of using art to tell stories began there and it remains a central theme in her work, whether through painting, printmaking, functional ceramics or sculpture.

Jocelyn Purdie, Hybrid Forms, 2020, caul fat, hand-dyed wool, fake fur and frosted mylar panel. Photo: Chris Miner.

My work includes sculpture, photography and installation and is driven by my interest in landscape, geography and ecology. Hybrid Forms draws on my interest in human relationships to the environment and the way the natural world is imagined within that context. The sculptures (modelled on seed pods) are made with treated caul fat, fake fur and hand- dyed wool thereby alluding to elements of plant and animal life.

Hybrid Forms considers this particular moment in our global collective history. It is a time of fear, anxiety, generosity, collective spirit, perseverance and sadness but also a time of science—of biology, mutations, and transformations. Reflecting on what is an acknowledgement of a surreal or sci-fi moment in time, the Swamp Ward Window, becomes a laboratory of sorts where the imagination has no limits and where ideas of what is real and what is possible, surface.

Jocelyn Purdie is a Kingston-based artist and curator. She has exhibited in solo and group shows locally and extra-regionally since the mid-1980s. Recent exhibitions include: the Agnes Jamieson Gallery, Minden, Ontario; Modern Fuel Artist Run-Centre, the Verb Gallery, and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston, Ontario. She has received support through the Ontario Arts Council and her work is in several private collections. She is the curator of the Swamp Ward Window Project an alternative venue for contemporary art in the community and was a member of xcurated, a curatorial collective formed in 2011. Over the years she has been active on the Board of Directors of the Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre, the Arts Advisory Committee and the Public Art Working Group of the City of Kingston and is the former Director of the Union Gallery at Queen’s University.

Dave Gordon, Bird in Bush, 2020, acrylic on canvas. Photo: Chris Miner.

I paint watercolours and acrylic paintings. My practice has also spanned photography, found objects and text. In 2004, I painted 7 Sparrows, based on a photo of the woods near Frontenac Park with the cutout silhouettes of the birds added to the image like notes on a page of music. The painting displayed outside of my home, Bird in Bush, presents a cardinal in a tangled thicket of branches, with a cloudy sky in the background. The depicted scene is actually the view from outside the window at the back of my house—a snapshot in March of a dense tangle of wisteria, when the first public call to stay-at-home was announced. The branches are black and dominate. The bird, small and bright red, offers some hope that the gloom will lift some time soon.

Dave Gordon was born in London, Ontario and moved to Kingston in 1976 to teach in the Fine Art Department at St. Lawrence College. He was a founding member of the Forest City Gallery in London (1973) and Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre (formerly K.A.A.I.), in 1977. His work is held in public collectives including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Museum London, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, the Canada Council Art Bank, as well as private collections. He has a studio at NGB and has lived in the Swamp Ward since 1998.

Erica Olson, Neighbourhood Designer Colour Collection, 2020, colour print on paper. Photo: Chris Miner.

As I go out each day for my mental health walk, I find social distancing becoming normal. I find myself walking and walking in the same popular, picturesque loops. I started to take my cell phone with me to take photos of the usual things like flowers and waterfronts. The more I did this, the more I started to notice the less obvious things around me: parking spots, fire hydrants, and non-natural objects that I had basically ignored before. It came to my attention that even without the riot of colour that nature provides, there are subtleties in the reds and greys of buildings and the colours of doors. I decided to collect colours on my camera for this project and create a Neighbourhood Designer Colour Collection like one might find as swatches in a paint store. I have taken photos of the walls, porches and doors of the participating artists of Next Door, printing the solid colours up and placing them in a grid pattern to follow the panes of glass of my front door. In a sense, I am collaborating with all of the artists in a small way.

Erika Olson began her fine art studies at Queen’s University, which gave her a foundation in painting, drawing and sculpture. Looking for a broader artistic experience, she attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design where she explored textiles and conceptual art. She completed her BFA at Concordia University in 1997 concentrating on painting and relocated to Kingston to set up her art practice. She has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in commercial and public galleries and an artist run centre. Erika has exhibited in Kingston, Toronto and Calgary and in the UK represented by the Innocence Gallery. Erika has had commercial and artistic success in traditional painting and pastel drawing, with subject matter such as still life and landscape, and has equally demonstrated strength in conceptual work. Her next solo show is in the fall of 2020 at Studio22 Open Gallery in Kingston, Ontario.

Simon Andrew, Lines of communication, 2020, wire, insulator, light bulb, metal pole. Photo: Chris Miner.

When working, I concern myself with structural relationships, ideas and the physicality of the medium. The materials I use are treated as substances of meaning with their own history, not merely a vehicle to a desired end. I try to make my work produce unanticipated links and associations. I hope it does not immediately reveal all it has to say to the observer, but rather over time at different levels. Ideally, the work should grow with the observer in an unpredictable way. They are distilling processes, often primed by an event or a place and hopefully concluding as a reconstructed analogy. In this work I am playing with ideas around communication. Lines of communication is a symbolic representation of how we connect during this time of imposed separation.

Simon Andrew was awarded first prize (Northern Region) for his work in The Laing National Landscape Competition. His work was also selected for The Hunting Group Contemporary Art Competition. He has received arts council grants and is represented in major corporate collections, including Glaxo Wellcome, Hewlett Packard, Canadian Business Development Bank, Fidelity Investments and Her Majesty the Queen in Right. He has attended residencies in both Canada and abroad and was the recipient of a full fellowship award from The Vermont Studio Center, USA. Simon won first prize for his work in Exposures, an exhibition which was judged by curators from contemporary public art galleries in Canada.

Marney McDiarmid + Grace MacDonald, Flora & Fauna #2, 2020, chalk marker on glass. Photo: Chris Miner.

Flora & Fauna #2 is a large-scale chalk installation on windows featuring botanical drawings of native plants and flowers that bloom during Ontario’s late spring and early summer. Playful squirrels and local birds interact with the plants, illustrating the relationships between flora and fauna that are essential to the well-being of our ecosystem. By mirroring the natural communities in the adjacent park, this work emphasizes the importance of outdoor spaces as a place for connection, especially during times of social distancing. This installation is jubilant and community-focused, extolling the joy and solace that can be found through connection to our natural environment. The transient nature of chalk places emphasis on the creation of the piece as much as the final result. Members of the public are invited to watch the artists install the work. The piece’s underlying emphasis on conservation is mirrored in its low environmental impact—the only materials used in its creation are chalk markers, imagination, and human labour.

Flora & Fauna #2 is a collaborative drawing project by Marney McDiarmid and Grace MacDonald. Marney McDiarmid is a nationally renowned ceramic artist who makes illustrated tableware and sculptural ceramics. In response to COVID-19, she has taken her drawings to the streets in the form of window-based chalk drawings. Grace MacDonald is a local illustrator and elementary school teacher whose practice involves doing art classes and initiatives with school-age children.

Kilombo, We Out Here, 2020, Audio. Photo: Chris Miner. Please listen with care and caution.

Part of how Canadians define themselves is in opposition to the United States, particularly when it comes to racism, policing, and white supremacist violence.

In the wake of the historic uprising in response to George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, many people of colour in Kingston began to publicly share their experiences of racism in the city.

These are their stories.

The audio in this installation contains stories of racism and racist violence.

If you would like your story to be added, please contact: weoutherektown@gmail.com

This artist project is not installed at the artist’s home, and is being hosted by Skeleton Park neighbours.

Kilombo is a Guaraní boy who makes electronic music and wants land back.

ck nosun, build your condos far away from here, 2020, digital print wheat pasted onto wood, various sizes. Photo: Chris Miner.

build your condos far away from here is a commentary on the proposed development of the site of the former Davis Tannery. I’m frustrated that a lot of conversations about this issue have centred around how to best proceed with development, rather than whether or not development should occur at all. I’m angry that homeless people are being scapegoated and blamed for littering the area and supposedly making it dangerous; I’m disappointed that people are willing to destroy one of the last wooded areas close to the downtown core, where so many animals make their homes; and I’m afraid of a future in which the continued gentrification of the area pushes out the best people who live here. Capitalism and colonialism are what contaminated this land in the first place. Why should we look to them to provide a solution?

ck nosun lives in Kingston/Katarokwi, where they make digital works intended to promote anti-authoritarian, anti-colonial, and anti-capitalist struggles.

Don Maynard, This is the way the world goes round, 2020, inflatable globe, plastic rod, fairy lights, battery, hardware. Photo: Chris Miner.

I made a work similar to This is the way the world goes round in early March, near the beginning phases of when social distancing measures in Canada were taking place. I was thinking about the rotation of the earth and how to create that movement in a very simple way, utilizing inexpensive materials that were available at the Dollar Store. I gravitated towards the transparent globe because of the ability to see all the oceans and land masses at once. The stick that the work is suspended from reflects the 6 foot distance required for social distancing. I have reimagined this piece by making it a mobile so that it will move with the wind.

Don Maynard lives and works in Kingston, Ontario. His practice includes painting, sculpture and multimedia installations. Public artworks include Archive, Fallen Star for the City of Ottawa, Stand of Birch for the Cyrville Station of the Ottawa Light Rail Transit Line for the City of Ottawa, and Wave for the City of Toronto. Maynard exhibits his work both nationally and internationally. He is the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and a Chalmers Fellowship. Previous solo exhibitions in Kingston include Tidal Mass at NGB Studios and Franken Forest at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Ottawa. Maynard is represented by Newzones Gallery in Calgary, Alberta, and Sears-Peyton Gallery, New York, New York. His works are in private and public collections at home and abroad.

Jan Allen + Cheryl Pagurek, Taking Tea, 2020, two-part mixed media installation: video projection with audio, 17:00 minutes on loop; photograph on vinyl. Photo: Chris Miner.

The installation Taking Tea draws on Cheryl Pagurek’s body of work with the image of the teacup to reflect the incursion of global events in the domestic sphere, especially the increasing incidence of forced migration, civil violence and environmental catastrophe. For Next Door, Cheryl teams up with artist and curator Jan Allen to create a two-part installation at 100 and 104 York Street. The multi-media project Taking Tea refers to the history of Jan’s Skeleton Park neighbourhood home as a site of tealeaf readings. During the 1970s, people in the area would converge on a business—situated in what is now the living room at 104 York Street—to gain insight into the future and to probe the mysteries of their personal lives.

In today’s pandemic, sequestered in our homes and observing social-distancing constraints, we are made vividly aware of our collective enchainment in global forces. The Taking Tea photographic and video installation invokes tasseography, the practice of tealeaf reading to foretell the future or confirm intuition. The work speaks to our appetite for prognostication amidst uncertainty, and the ways in which we reflexively ground ourselves in times of crisis by connecting with our immediate surroundings. Taking Tea affirms the power and significance of small personal actions in precarious times.

Jan Allen is an artist and an award-winning writer and curator. She has been creating work, exhibiting, advocating for the arts, and instigating projects locally, nationally and internationally since the 1970s. Her practices have received significant support from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. Jan retired as director of Agnes Etherington Art Centre in 2019. She has enjoyed living in Kingston’s Skeleton Park Neighbourhood since 2007.

Cheryl Pagurek is an Ottawa-based artist. her work in installation, photography and digital media has been exhibited widely in Canada and internationally. Highlights include Currents, an ongoing public art work commissioned in 2011 at the Market Place Transit Station in Ottawa, and numerous video screenings in Canada, USA, Brazil, France, Columbia, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Ethiopia. An interactive digital project was at the heart of her celebrated solo exhibition Connect/Connexion at the Ottawa Art Gallery in 2019. Cheryl was the recipient of the 2020 Corel Endowment for the Arts Award. Her work is represented by Patrick Mikhail Gallery Ottawa/Montreal.

Matt Rogalsky, Making Culture, 2020, amplified sourdough starter and cooling bread crust, soundlazer speakers on motorized platforms. Photo: Chris Miner.

In this unusual moment of our history, many people are turning to the handmade, particularly breadmaking, for various reasons: it’s therapeutic to work with your hands, lovely to engage with the helpful tiny organisms which make leavened bread possible, and if you bake for other people, it offers a chance to see them at their doors when dropping off.

One of the first things to happen in The Great Pause was that all the flour vanished from stores, which gives an idea of the popularity of baking. I have prior experience with sourdough but hadn’t taken the time to raise a culture from scratch for many years. I started a new one at the end of March and it was several weeks before it really took off. Then, through the month of May I was baking two loaves a day on average and taking it around to friends and neighbours. I’m still baking, but now that it’s warmer weather I can’t have the oven on as much as I’d like.

The starter I started was so active I put some microphones on it and recorded its lively bubbling and burping. Those recordings are the basis of this installation, along with the crackling sounds of bread just removed from the oven, as its crust cools. The organisms doing the work of leavening were all cultured from the air in my kitchen. It’s good to remember in this time where we are fearing a tiny invisible virus, that we benefit from other tiny invisible microorganisms like yeast, and of course as much as 1 to 2 kilograms of our body weight is made up of bacteria with which we live mostly in harmony.

This installation occupies a driveway space between 90 and 94 Main St, between facing walls of two houses. Highly directional loudspeakers on motorized platforms are constantly redirecting beams of sound to create aural illusions. Sourdough sounds reverberate in this listening space which you are invited to enter and enjoy.

Matt Rogalsky’s work in sonic arts includes live electronic music performance, sound/intermedia installation, and study/recreations of late 20th century live electronic music by David Tudor and other composers. His revisioning (with John Driscoll and Phil Edelstein) of the installation work Rainforest by Tudor and his group Composers Inside Electronics was acquired in 2017 by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, for its permanent collection and is currently on exhibition in the newly redesigned MoMA. Other current work includes development of a collaborative dance piece with Vancouver-based choreographer Ahalya Satkunaratnam, and collaborative research with geographer Laura J Cameron focusing on soundscape, listening practices, and the life and work of early Canadian field recordist William WH Gunn. The Gunn project has resulted in several works of research-creation: the outdoor sound installations Octet (2016) and Into the Middle of Things (2017, with LJ Cameron), and the concert work Revisitation G (2018) make use of Gunn’s historical field recordings in exploration of his practice. Rogalsky’s ambisonic surround-sound remastering of Gunn’s classic monophonic environmental sound LP A Day In Algonquin Park was recently presented at the Park’s Wildlife Research Station, where Gunn was once Director, on the occasion of its 75th anniversary. Rogalsky teaches at Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario where he leads the Sonic Arts Studio in the Dan School of Drama and Music.

Corcoran Peppley + Josh Lyon, nistijianan, 2020, natural and found materials. Photo: Chris Miner.

nistijanan is a meditation on making a home and all that goes into it, a reflection on what it is to be “at home” as a place of safety and separation, and a prompt to remember and consider our non-human neighbours that have become more visibly present in our neighbourhood during the course of the current social isolation.

Josh Lyon and Corcoran Peppley have been creating art together since sometime in the mid-90’s, each bringing different skills and passions to the works they create. Josh is a multi-disciplinary artist, musician, animator, filmmaker, educator, and is one of the co-founders of Calliope Collective, a not-for-profit arts collective, dedicated to producing experiential and immersive performances that transform familiar and underutilized spaces in the city, through puppetry, projections, music, circus arts and dance. Corky is a member of local performance troupe Kingston Stilters, and loves working with textiles, blending art and craft together in her explorations of a wide variety of mediums. Inspired by the skills and techniques of past generations, she is also a keen outdoorswoman and integrates the beauty she gathers in wild spaces into her work. Corky and Josh have collaborated on a number of creative arts and community arts projects over the years.

Maureen Sheridan, Coronavirus Still Life, 2020, acrylic on canvas. Photo: Chris Miner.

Interpreting the world around me is at the heart of my art practice. I want my paintings to create an emotional response or connection. I hope my personal interpretation of the world through painting will resonate with viewers and speak to their own experience. Our surrounding environment and experiences while growing up shape a person. Having always lived by large bodies of water, the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario, I have developed an enduring fascination with water and my particular regional landscape. My painting could be termed “perceptual realist” in that the subject matter is specific. From mainly local sources, I find meaningful subject matter. I tend to avoid narrative but try to be faithful to what Jack Chambers called the “ping” of perception—the moment when a complex scene is perceived as meaningful in all its detail as well as en masse, so that the artist can render it with fidelity, and convey the excitement of that moment to others. This is how inspiration works for me. My paintings are about specific yet timeless moments.

Maureen Sheridan is a perceptual realist based in Kingston, Ontario. She is primarily known for her contemporary genre scenes of people and life in Canada. Regional nature experiences are her main inspiration, although her work includes series based on regular visits to Latin countries such as Portugal and Spain. Since graduating from the Queen’s University Bachelor of Fine Art program in 1989, Sheridan has been exhibiting in solo and group exhibitions. Her work has won various awards, including a “Best Painting in Show” award at Toronto’s Outdoor Art Exhibition. Her works are included in private and corporate collections in Canada, the U.S.A. and Europe.