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Elly on the Arts: Previewing the Northern Juried Art Show

"This is a big week for visual arts in Flin Flon and area - in fact, this is a big week for all northern visual artists."
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Paints and paintbrush.

This is a big week for visual arts in Flin Flon and area - in fact, this is a big week for all northern visual artists.

This is the week of the Northern Juried Art Show (NJAS). The NJAS has been held every year since 1976, making it the 46th anniversary of the show. Many of these exhibitions have been in Flin Flon, but they are moveable - they travel to different northern locations from year to year. It has become more challenging for smaller communities like Gillam and Churchill, Leaf Rapids or Snow Lake to fill all of the volunteer spots necessary to host such an event. The responsibility for hosting an NJAS has been assumed by The Pas, Thompson and Flin Flon in the past few years. Even during the height of the pandemic, Thompson and The Pas held online events to showcase our northern talent.

This year, Flin Flon has the honour of hosting a real live show with actual jurors viewing actual artwork, in person and giving written feedback to each of the artists. The R.H. Channing Auditorium in the Flin Flon Community Hall is already alive with activity, as the volunteers from NorVA Centre and the Flin Flon Arts Council set up the newly painted pegboard hanging surfaces, unpack the various artworks, make sure they are labelled with the appropriate tags and hang or place them to their best advantage for viewing.

The jurors take over the room on Tuesday and Wednesday to adjudicate each piece. This year, the jurors are Diana Thorneycroft, a Winnipeg artist who has shown numerous collections of her work all over the world. She has won many awards, which include the Manitoba Arts Award of Distinction (back in 2016), the Assistance to Visual Artists Long-term Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, several senior arts grants from the Manitoba Arts Council and a Fleck Fellowship from the Banff Centre for the Arts. She also taught at the University of Manitoba School of Art for 25 years before focusing on her art practice full time. Her biography states that she is “known for making art that frequently employs black humour and hovers on the edge of public acceptance.”

This particular quality made her a bit of a hero to the second juror, Mike Spencer. Spencer graduated from the University of Manitoba School of Art with a bachelor of fine arts (with honours) in 2009 and from NSCAD (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design) with a masters’ of fine arts in 2011. While he was a student at U of M, he and his class had T-shirts made with the slogan “Our teacher is the dead bunny lady” - the teacher in question was, of course, Thorneycroft and the reference was to an installation of deceased rabbits she had made in a Winnipeg park. To get more details, you will have to attend the NJAS and ask them about it. Spencer has shown work in Montreal, Winnipeg and Halifax. He was the gallery manager of the NorVA Centre from 2012-2022 and now has a multi-disciplinary practice encompassing ceramics, digital imagery and photography, live-action cartoon puppetry and lighting design.

The Northern Juried Art Show will open to the viewing public at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 2 with the awards being announced for the artists beginning at 7 p.m.. There will be a wine and cheese reception in the auditorium and an opportunity for the artists and interested members of the public to interact with the jurors. Prizes will be awarded in each of seven categories including painting, watercolour, drawing and printmaking, three-dimensional work (categories include jewellery, stained glass, basketry, leathercraft, beading and tufting; stone, wood, clay or metal), photography and youth categories (one for ages 9-12 another for ages 13-17). There will also be prizes for the Best in Show and for the piece that best represents the theme of the exhibition, “The Water and the Wild”.

The gallery will be open June 3 from 12 p.m.-6 p.m. and again on June 4 from 10 a.m- 4 p.m. The final prize will be announced at 3:30 p.m. Saturday and that will be the Peoples’ Choice Award. Visitors will have the chance to vote on the artwork that they find most appealing throughout the show and the votes will be tallied at 3 p.m Saturday. There is no admission charge for the exhibition.

There will be an online art show featuring all of the works presented at the NJAS as they are photographed in situ by photographer Noelle Drimmie. It is hosted by the Manitoba Arts Network and can be seen on their website at manitobaartsnetwork.ca during July and August. You will also be able to view the work of all of the juried art shows held in Manitoba this year. Hope to see you there.