Exhibitions

The Michael Wright Art Gallery (MWAG), Outlet Gallery, and City Hall Gallery at Leigh Square feature a rotating program of exhibitions by local and regional artists. The exhibitions advance knowledge, appreciation and understanding of the visual arts by integrating art into community life and contributing significantly to the cultural landscape of Port Coquitlam.

 

Exhibition Viewings

The Michel Wright and Outlet Galleries will be re-opening to the public for in-person exhibition viewings on Saturdays starting July 17 from 1pm to 4pm. 

Support Structures / Jen Candela and Lyndsay McKay

The Michael Wright Art Gallery presents Support Structures by Jen Candela and Lyndsay McKay. Through this series of sculptural and two-dimensional works, Candela and McKay present their artistic explorations in materials ranging from bioplastics and cardboard to fungal cultures that speak to the constantly evolving dependencies that exist between objects, bodies, and environments.

jencandela.ca
lyndsaymckay.com

VIRTUAL ARTIST TALK

Coming soon.

Jen Candela Artist Interview

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, what is your background and how did you begin your professional practice?
I moved to Vancouver from Toronto in 1998, and studied textile arts at Capilano College between 2001-2003. I had my own textile design studio for a number of years where I produced handwoven and dyed garments.

After I had my son in 2012, I lost interest in doing production and began to question whether I wanted to make commercial work. I shuttered my studio in 2014 and decided to go back to school to finish my art degree in 2016. It was the best decision I ever made for my art practice; I was reintroduced to art through a conceptual and critical lens that has pushed my work into a completely different place, one that is much more meaningful to my life than simply making work to sell.

2. What subject matter do you work with and why?
My work considers psychological and emotional landscapes and how they can be articulated visually and sculpturally. Recently, it has taken the focus of the shelter as both a literal and metaphorical refuge from the larger forces bearing down on us all – forces like climate change and social inequality. My work is largely an attempt at cultivating optimism in the face of despair, which is probably one of the reasons I’m so attracted to using vivid colour.

3. How does the idea of community relate to your practice?
Community is really central to my life and I believe in the power of people working together to achieve positive outcomes and social change. I have recently tried to incorporate cooperation and collaboration into my art practice, looking for ways to engage family, friends, and neighbours in elements of my work. This collaboration can be as simple as asking them to save their cardboard boxes for me; with 21 Shelters, I enlisted a number of people to help me cut up the cardboard – a very laborious process – in exchange for baking them bread or babysitting their kids. I have also got my son and husband directly involved in helping me construct larger works like Anderson Shelter, which was a great project to engage them in at the beginning of the pandemic last March.

4. What is your dream project?
I would love to build a large-scale replica of an Amazon box out of Amazon boxes. It would be something people could hang out in, like a shelter, complete with lights and furnishings made out of Amazon boxes.

5. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as an artist?
“Keep going”, was the advice of one of my instructors when I was in deep with a project that wasn’t going well and I just wanted to quit. It has become a mantra for me, something I draw strength from when I’m feeling uninspired or when something doesn’t work out quite as I wanted. Often when you keep going, things emerge that you weren’t expecting that take you in new and more meaningful directions.

6. Name three artists who’ve inspired you.
I’m a huge fan of the photographer Andreas Gursky – I love how his work distills really complex and large-scale issues into beautiful human landscapes. Alfredo Jarr is also a huge inspiration – his memorials are deeply meaningful and really strike an emotional chord with me. And the photographer Barbara Kasten, who creates these colourful sculptural installations for the purpose of being photographed vs. viewed as sculpture.

7. How has COVID-19 impacted your professional practice?
The pandemic has made me think more deeply about the things that we need to survive, both physically and mentally. Things like food, shelter, clean water, and on an emotional level, our personal relationships. It’s also made me more anxious of the future – how can we get out of the mess we’ve created? The shelters I’ve been building are a way for me to work through and express these things.

Our Terrestrial Spirit / Christina Norberg and Arleigh Wood

The Outlet Gallery presents Our Terrestrial Spirit by Christina Norberg and Arleigh Wood. In this collection of works Norberg and Wood explore our connection to the natural world from the perspective of being inseparable from it, rather than dominators of it. Through their multi-layered artwork, these artists investigate the importance of connection to the land in both the physical and spiritual realm.

christinanorberg.com
arleighwood.com

VIRTUAL ARTIST TALK

Coming soon.

Christina Norberg Artist Interview

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, what is your background and how did you begin your professional practice?

I began my practice straight out of high school more than twenty years ago. There has definitely been times that my practice has taken a back seat since then, like when raising my children, but I have never stopped making art entirely. I knew many years ago that I would create until the day I die.

2. What subject matter do you work with and why?

The world in its natural forms and the nature of consciousness of all of life are the themes that have been ever present in my work. I think there is a commonality in the presence of nature, and in learning to quiet our minds and find some kind of peace. I’m always thinking about what the world needs most, and what keeps coming up for me is a break from the pressure of the world and how our own minds impose that pressure upon us. A break from our own minds. When we pay attention to nature, we are reminded that we are inseparable fro it.

3. How does the idea of community relate to your practice?

Community is everything to me. It is what fuels me. I understand that everything I do has a ripple effect to those around me. My practice is an extension of that, as my intention is to create work that reflects my highest wishes for all.

4. What is your dream project?

I would love to create a large scale immersive installation, collaborating with other artists, that travels the world.

5. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as an artist?

Just show up everyday and never stop experimenting.

6. Name three artists who’ve inspired you.

Meghan Hildebrand, Gregory Euclide, Meredith Dittmar

7. How has COVID-19 impacted your professional practice?

It has helped me to focus even more on what really matters to all living beings on this planet.

 

Arleigh Wood Artist Interview

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, what is your background and how did you begin your professional practice?

As a child I was always making something, keeping my hands busy stitching, painting furniture, jewellery making, drawing and even designing.

After high school I went to Concordia University in Montreal to study Art and Design and then continued my studies in the UK (University of Hertfordshire) to complete my BFA. I spent a few years travelling and working in a gallery in London and then decided to move back to my hometown of Vancouver. Once I moved back I rented a studio space at 1000 Parker and started my career making art, many years on I am still creating in this iconic building.

2. What subject matter do you work with and why?

My work focuses on landscape and it’s connection to humans and the spirit.

What is the sensation that you feel when you step into the landscape? Memories flood the heart and brain to create a wave of emotion and a physical reaction. My paintings recreate these feelings through the use of mixed media including photo collage, ink, paint and found objects.  The layered photographic images I use are taken in places of strong personal memory.  But they are also intended to relate to a common memory.  I explore ideas of nostalgia, the loss of memory as well as the building of fables to fill our desperate desire to hold onto good memories. The sharp-edged shapes of the Geometrics Series transport the viewer into a place that is both real and imagined. This journey into the mind and body reflects how we as humans experience entering a new environment. These paintings add a narrative layer to the recollection of events or sensations associated with a specific place. The colours and textures reference earthly treasures like the Aurora Borealis, glacial caves, mountain tops and flowing rivers. The work honours these terrestrial features and draws our attention to their fragility and spiritual importance.  The artwork speaks to ideas of home – where we feel at home, how the landscape around us creates a home, the body as home, the spirit as home, childhood memories of home and displacement from home. On a larger scale these works relate to the climate crisis and the realization that the earth is home and the emotions that surround witnessing it’s deterioration.

3. How does the idea of community relate to your practice?

My work speaks to the interconnection of all beings in both body and spirit. It is through connection with community that we can explore healing and growth.

4. What is your dream project?

I’d love to collaborate with other artists on a public art project or a mural in another country.

5. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as an artist?

Progress is quiet and slow.

6. Name three artists who’ve inspired you.

Andy Goldsworthy, Robert Smithson, Frida Kahlo.

7. How has COVID-19 impacted your professional practice?

At the beginning of Covid, my studio was closed and my children and husband were at home while we were renovating our home. Out of necessity, I developed a new series of works in ink that could be made in a very small space (half a desk to be exact) with only snippets of time needed to work on each layer. I would set up little vignettes for these ink paintings and would photograph and post them for sale daily on social media. Every one of them sold and if the collector was local I would hand-deliver the works which gave me an opportunity to connect in a deeper way within a very isolating time. After I was able to return to my studio I continued this “Flux and Floe” series on a larger scale as seen in the display at the Outlet gallery.

 

Treasures from the Recycle Bin/ Elvira Monteforte

The City Hall Gallery presents Treasures from the Recycle Bin by Elvira Monteforte. Elvira is a ‘Canexican’ artist who was born and raised in Mexico City and moved to Canada in 2006. Elvira felt deeply connected with our culture of recycling and discovered the beauty within it. All the packages utilized for this exhibition come from everyday household consumption.  Instead of polluting the environment, Elvira developed a creative challenge of diverting urban waste into artistic pieces and imagining them as rare cultural artifacts, unearthed in the future from the landfills of a past civilization.

VIRTUAL ARTIST TALK

Click here to watch an inspiring virtual artist talk from Elvira Monteforte where she leads a virtual tour of her exhibition and art practice. 

 

Elvira Monteforte Artist Interview

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, what is your background and how did you begin your professional practice?
I graduated from Industrial Design. Industrial Packaging design always took my attention, but it wasn’t until I arrived in Canada when I got in touch with the actual industrial packaging in detail through the practice of recycling.

My professional practice has been in fact, quite eclectic, since I have done a little bit of many artistic activities: Graphic design, painting on clothing, painting on different objects like glass or furniture, painting pianos, painting murals for more than 12 years in a variety of styles and project sizes, residential and commercial, and now, painting on recycled materials and wastes of nature like rocks branches and driftwoods…

2. What subject matter do you work with and why?
My subject: to transform something that was… into something that becomes. Deconstructing and reconstructing to create something new from something old. The creative challenge to disguise an existing something with a new look. Why? I find it very attractive to play around with paintings, fabrics, plastics, random materials, discarded items, natural materials, man-made materials, machinery parts, old clothes…endless possibilities for creativity.  As a result, surprising original pieces!

3. How does the idea of community relate to your practice?
The nature of my practice has been almost always closely related with the community since I have done public art intended to be enjoyed by the community like the six pianos that I painted to be played in public spaces, or the Painted Salmon I made for Coquitlam’s anniversary celebration now installed in Poirier Rec Centre; or the PoCo Pop Trees I made out of recycled plastic containers collected from the community of Port Coquitlam, symbolically representing the parks and recreation logo made with a piece of everybody’s recycling. Or my new adventure as an artist in residence in Lions Park this summer, where together with my friend Dolores Altin we are going to dress up 25 trees, and to offer 6 workshops for the community to come and have fun with us making the dresses, and enjoying their beautiful park dressed full of colour!

4. What is your dream project?
To be the artist between an Art Gallery and a company like “Got Junk”, selecting and transforming trash into original treasures… that way, involved in the beautiful world of Contemporary Art, I would be having a lot of fun while making a good living.

5. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as an artist?
There is a phrase that my brother repeats to describe an artist and I really like it as advice:

Artist: the One who likes oneself doing what oneself likes the most…

6. Name three artists who’ve inspired you.
In my case I couldn’t pick up a list of 3 artist that inspired me, I simply love to be enchanted by works of art that I see here and there; in a museum or in the streets, or in a book, or on the internet, in a Gallery, or in a movie, in an art magazine, or a public building, etc. What influences me is the shock of the surprise caused by a piece I encounter, although I might not know the name of the artist who made it, it is the style and innovation, the creativity and originality, which will make a mark to remember.

My father was an artist well known for his authenticity. He was an actor, composer of his songs, and performer. When people asked him what advice he would give to new generations of artists perusing an artistic career, he used to answer: “If you want to be an artist, do not listen to advice… just follow your instincts.”

He probably influenced me to not pay too much attention to who is who doing what.

7. How has COVID-19 impacted your professional practice?

On the one hand, delaying the launching of some projects with schools intended for 2020, and on the other hand, promoting the creation and testing of new ideas for projects that now are ready to be delivered, so no complaints, every cloud has a silver lining.

Exhibition Viewings by Appointment

Exhibition viewings are now available by appointment. Contact tracing and COVID-19 screening are required prior to entry. Facial coverings are encouraged. For general inquiries please contact arts@portcoquitlam.ca

Contact

Lesley Perrie 
Public Art & Engagement Specialist
Tel 604.927.8442
Email perriel@portcoquitlam.ca