Tag Archives: Vancouver

Carolyn Stockbridge: The humble rock star [interview]

by Zoe Pawlak

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Carolyn Stockbridge last year for her two person show at The Elliott Louis Gallery and meeting her in person. Her wise sensibility, humble rock star approach and honest commitment to her work all contribute to a place she has rightly arrived at through the study and making of good paintings.

Originally from the UK, Carolyn Stockbridge is a contemporary abstract painter living in Vancouver. She emigrated to Canada in 1979. Carolyn is particularly interested in 1950’s Abstract Expressionism. While her paintings can be seen as large explorations of colour, surface, space and composition, she incorporates concerns of daily living as well as the balance between nature and the urban centre that often result in bold and sensitive works.

The following is an interview with Carolyn as she gears up for her first Vancouver solo show, Grounds For Interpretation, opening at The Elliott Louis Gallery on January 13th, 2011.

Zoe Pawlak: You have been in Vancouver for quite a while now. What does it mean to have your first solo show in a city you have come to call home?
Carolyn Stockbridge: Firstly, thank you for this opportunity to discuss my work with you again Zoe, it’s always a pleasure. Showing work in my home town means a great deal to me and does have a certain feeling of ‘arriving’.  It feels very good to celebrate with friends as well the community that have supported me through the years. I’m appreciative of all opportunities to show and discuss my work, group and solo, it’s always rewarding. The time feels right and here we are!

ZP: Last time we talked about the influence of 1950’s Abstract Expressionism in your work. This is a less familiar visual language to Canadians than say landscape painting. Does Vancouver’s lesser familiarity with the history of Abstract Expressionism change the way your show is seen here, rather than if you were to show the work in say, LA or NYC?

CS: Well, I think Vancouver has quite a sophisticated viewer, as well, a history deeply steeped in painting of all styles including abstraction. I can’t say how the paintings will be seen as every viewer brings their own experience to what they are looking at and we all see through our own filters but I do believe abstraction is celebrated here just as NY or LA or Europe. The good thing about painting is that it allows for an immediate read and response and can be as simple as ‘I like it- I don’t like it’ even if its not entirely understood and I love that honesty.  I can only hope that the show is well received and enjoyed by those who want to take a look!

ZP: You recently spent time in NY.  What have you brought into the work from that trip?

CS: Time in NY and Woodstock was really about research and shifting mental gears. It pushed and pulled me out of my comfort zone which is exactly what I wanted and needed. Conversations with my mentor Henrietta Mantooth offered a deep stirring of creative juices and the work I saw in the city was paramount to taking the blinders off. So all in all, a very good ‘freeing up’ occurred and I returned to Vancouver fully charged with my brain and heart activated and vision on. I hope this is infused in my recent paintings.

ZP: You have mentioned influences of women like Shelley Muzylowski and Danielle Hogan whose sculptural works and paintings have informed your paintings. You also had the great pleasure of studying with one of Canada’s senior painters, Landon Mackenzie, at Emily Carr. Whose paintings are you looking at these days?

CS: Many actually, painters, sculptors, photographers. I am constantly searching for a sense of freedom in the work I look at and hope that I don’t ever stop looking. But most recently; the late Louise Bourgeois has captured my attention as so much of her work was created with an unapologetic irreverence. I’m taking in Cecily Brown, Joan Snyder and W. De Kooning side by side and of course Gorky and Diebenkorn are always a favourite. Yesterday I discovered books on Alice Neel and Howard Hodgkin buried under some stuff in the studio and there is the freedom of mark making I always want to invite into my work.


1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Smoking in the ladies room

There are few things that turn my crank more than strong, innovative artists and powerful, adventurous women. Together the two elements pack a heck of a wallop. This weeks wallop: the second in a series of artist profiles by dynamo artist-entrepreneur extraordinaire Zoe Pawlak, this time the focus on an artist both local to Vancouver and in attendance at Art Toronto 2010, Fiona Ackerman.


By Zoe

I have the great pleasure of sharing my studio with one of the hardest working ladies in Vancouver. Fiona Ackerman’s got a sense of great humor, likes good beer and knows what she’s talking about when it comes to painting. She is the perfect studio mate and is quickly becoming my fastest-made friend.

Fiona Ackerman is a rising star in the Vancouver art scene. Her two paintings in The Cheaper Show were bought up by the first two people in line and this fall she is enjoying the success of a second show at the Diane Farris Gallery with painters Will Murray and Nick Lepard. Parts Gallery is currently showing her work in Toronto and taking her to Art Toronto for the first time.

Zoe Pawlak: You said that showing at Art Toronto was like a 5 year goal for you and now it is happening for the first time this year. You are making the trek out from Vancouver to attend. With a job, a toddler and an active studio practice here at home in Vancouver, why is it of such importance to be in Toronto for the show?

Fiona Ackerman: I miss a lot of events and opportunities to chat with people because I’m juggling such a chaotic life at the moment. This will be my first chance to really just soak it in in some time, and I’ve been wanting to go for a few years. Having Parts Gallery bring some of my work to Art Toronto gave me just the excuse I needed to book a ticket. In a country as large as Canada, new painting tends to get considered in a very regional context. I am curious to see work brought from all over Canada show under one roof, in an international context.

ZP: There is a huge rise in women working outside of the home, but we often hear that real support for working women falls short. Being a mom and wanting to be in the studio full time, what challenges do you face?

FA: Actually, I’m not sure the challenges are special to being a mom. I think any parent trying to build a career with a young family at home will be challenged by a lack of time, and likely a lack of money. My particular challenge is part of what I do, or rather what I am – a painter. To say I work outside of the home would be unfair to my family. My work follows me everywhere, it follows me home. Yes, I have to share my time, I would love to be in the studio ‘full time’. That day will come. But my love ones will have to share me with painting forever.

ZP: Your abstract work is often void of direct narrative about your personal life. Was the figurative painting “Distraction” (which won Honorable Mention for the Kingston Portrait Competition) a bit about your longing for painting and it’s conflict with family life?

FA: Distraction is about sharing my love and attention. It is about the challenge of wanting a family, and being very driven as an artists. One is always a distraction from the other. At first I thought I was painting a portrait of a father and son. But as I looked at them sitting there, staring back at me from their assigned places on the sofa, I realized I couldn’t possibly paint a portrait of their relationship. They were sitting for me, and where I should have been seeing my family, I was seeing them in paint.

ZP: Your father, artist Gregor Hiltner, has enjoyed a successful, but somewhat unconventional career. How do his career choices influence your decision-making process as to where to show and how to work?

FA: I have learned so much from my father, and continue to. He always points out the joy and pleasure in the struggle to be an artist. Of course we all have big egos and want a successful career, but deep down it is truly about the quality of the work for him. I was very proud to show with him in Germany a few years ago, and I really hope that opportunity comes again soon. His advice is to proceed in your career with integrity, and paint with determination.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Will work for art

It’s happened — the planets have aligned, a blue moon is rising  and TIAF is looking for an intern!

I repeat, TIAF is looking for an intern! This is a totally plum job, a fantastic opportunity to work with one of North America’s most important and relevant contemporary art fairs.

You don’t need a background in arts either, although an interest will certainly help! It’s the perfect role for a recent grad from a marketing/communications program. You’ll be working at our downtown Vancouver office.

  • Duration: June 1st – October 31st 2009
  • Days: Monday – Thursday
  • Hours: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
  • Pay: $8.00 an hour


Working directly with the Director of Marketing and Communications of TIAF the candidate will assist with a variety of administrative and organization opportunities that relate to creating and implementing an effective marketing campaign to promote the 10th anniversary edition of the Toronto International Art Fair happening October 22 – 26th 2009.


Duties include:

  • Support the creation and of a varied communication campaign, including emails, html eblasts and newsletters to the numerous audiences of TIAF
  • Database management assistance for ensuring current and effective communication campaigns
  • Assist with creation of VIP program tools and website
  • Assist with the creation and delivery of TIAF brochures, vouchers, passes and any other pre-show PR tools to sponsors, stakeholders and other audiences
  • Assist with the organization and administration of the TIAF professional speaker series program with Power Plant
  • Liaise with cultural stakeholders to ensure valuable partnerships are leveraged and cross promotional programs are implemented
  • Provide assistance with the AGO opening committee where TIAF support/information is needed
  • Support marketing director with administrative needs where required
  • Travel to Toronto not needed or expected at this time.

To apply send letter and resume to Victoria Miachika, Director of Marketing and Communications to info@tiafair.com Interviews for qualified candidates will begin almost immediately.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Crunchy Handful

They’re impressed. I’m impressed. Are you impressed?

I’m not crying. It’s just allergies. Really.

If this doesn’t scratch your itch.

Oh my. Wow. Ok, now do it again, but faster!

And now something completely different: painting with guns.

Urban Prankster and twitter art.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Vancouver Art Hop

A really neat, immersive event coming up in Vancouver on Saturday April 18. Looks like it will be extremely engaging and interesting.

First of the day is Sarah Thornton, author of Seven Days in the Art World  will talk about and read from her new book at the Vancity Theatre. Later, Canadian Art is hosting a series of talks at various Vancouver galleries. Then head back to the Vancity for a reception and screening of Herb and Dorothy, a film the Washington Post calls “a love affair with art”.

Tickets at www.casv.ca

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized