For the last three weeks, it's been hard to walk by Big Medium without being pulled in. The large window front of its Canopy-based gallery is completely overrun by brightly colored stripes and cut-out patterns of various textures and sizes. The interior is closer to what one might expect from the gallery: works on canvas evenly spaced around the walls with two boxlike painted benches (also vibrant and patterned) set in the middle. But in turning back to the windows, the viewer will notice a change in the installation work. The relative brightness of the exterior light coming through the window reveals the installation to be a screenlike lattice through which can be seen the constant flow of artists, artisans, and clients of Canopy walking between the studios, Sa-Tén Coffee, and the parking lot. Operating as a coarse one-way mirror, the incredibly colorful curtainlike work plays on two fronts to our visual perception: the first through color, the second through shifting transparency and movement.
Like the curtain, Erin Curtis' wall-based works in her solo exhibition "A Narrow Escape From History" are made of layer upon layer of perforated canvas, each stretched over the one below, then further patterned through brightly colored paint. The result is something that's part textile, part painting. Through that, the references the artist makes in her statement regarding her work's links to cross-cultural textile patterning is somewhat validated even if other references to architecture and tribal adornment remain less apparent.
In the same way that the interior of Big Medium is hidden from the outside by a visually loud perforated screen rather than a complete opaqueness, formal aspects of the wall-based works (particularly the vibrancy and vibration of the palette) drown out nearly all conceptual connection buried underneath; it's probably there, just not blatantly visible. What's left is easy, pleasurable viewing of unique painting/objects and painting/environments – with just a sprinkling of voyeuristic people-watching through the lattice to spice things up.
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