Photographs

2001 to 2003

Nostalgic Canadian Prairies Photograph Nostalgic Canadian Prairies Photograph Grain Elevator and Train Photograph Grain Elevator and Train Photograph Grain Elevator and Train Photograph Grain Elevator and Train Photograph Hay Bale in Field Photograph Hay Bale in Field Photograph Hay Bale in Field Photograph Hay Bale in Field Photograph Nostalgic Canadian Prairies Photograph Nostalgic Canadian Prairies Photograph Nostalgic Canadian Prairies Photograph Nostalgic Canadian Prairies Photograph Nostalgic Canadian Prairies Photograph Rocky Mountain Photograph Rocky Mountain Photograph Rocky Mountain Photograph Rocky Mountain Photograph Digitally Manipulated Landscape Photograph Digitally Manipulated Landscape Photograph Digitally Manipulated Landscape Photograph Digitally Manipulated Landscape Photograph Digitally Manipulated Landscape Photograph Nostalgic Canadian Prairies Photograph Nostalgic Canadian Prairies Photograph Digitally Manipulated Landscape Photograph

Altered Landscape Photographs Statement

Many people complain that contemporary art is "elitist and inscrutable". These individuals, some of whom have been exposed to the Fine Arts through their education, defer to print stores and framing galleries when it comes to making aesthetic decisions. At such places one will often find factory-made, photo-lithographic prints of oil paintings by Robert Bateman and Thomas Kinkade. Why do people choose to purchase these copies instead of original works by local artists? The reason cannot be economic, as many of the reproductions by Bateman and Kinkade cost as much as an original work by a local artist. The reason probably has little to do with quality, as the mass-produced works found in print galleries often lack the craftsmanship and artistry that most artists bring to an original work. The question I needed to answer was, how can local artists compete with the powerful limited edition print industry to find support for their work?

I approached several print and framing galleries with some of my oil paintings to see what would happen. Many of the gallery owners responded by saying, "I've never heard of you before" and, "These are very nice, but your images are too local." I suspected that another reason for there reticence in allowing my work into their galleries was the limited financial return associated with one-of-a-kind images which can only be sold once. With a bit of research I soon learned that there are a few publishing houses – McGaw Graphics, Canadian Art Prints, Wild Apple Graphics – controlling the distribution of art prints across Canada. These distributors have artists working for them on a contingency basis, but the only works that are considered for publication must adhere to a strict list of attributes recorded in a "Trends Watch" brochure. This requirement ensures that every artwork is "...current along with the latest design trends." ( http://www.canadianartprints.com/index.php?page=design_trends ) I believe that the damage caused by this dynamic is such that the art found in many Canadian homes has been reduced to the level of banal homogeneity while local values and aesthetics are largely ignored.

In 2001, I began addressing this issue with a series of "strategic art incursions" in Calgary and surrounding area. These incursions are best defined as performance-based works which incorporate new media. I call these performances Thomas Kinkade Will Destroy Us All, Art in the Street and Art at the Crossroads. I began by photographing scenes that had local significance. I then scanned the images and manipulated them using Adobe Photoshop®. Next, I printed the abstracted images onto watercolour paper, signed and dated the work, and then gave each image a unique number in a finite series. The notable thing about these works is that they are not copies of pre-existing paintings like a Kincade or a Bateman, but exist only as works on paper. They occupy a gray area between traditional printmaking and contemporary art prints. More importantly, they subvert the industrial definition of a "limited edition print" and return control of the image to the artist.

The next step of my project required me to actively promote and educate the public about the work. During the summer of 2001 I set up a display at the Crossroads Market, and then again on the Stephen Avenue pedestrian walk in 2002 and 2003. I spoke to many Calgarians and visitors to the city, I answered questions, handed out brochures and sold my "limited edition prints". I also related my experiences to other artists by putting together a lecture called "Should I Like It? An Examination of Sources of Authority in Popular Culture" which I presented at a humanities conference in Waikiki, Hawaii, a location that inspired several oil paintings of amazingly complex Banyan trees (click this link to see images of these paintings).

The last step of my project was to convince the owners of print and framing galleries to carry some of my works. Although lacking name recognition, I was successful in persuading approximately twenty gallery owners in Calgary and the surrounding area to purchase a selection of images that might appeal to their clientele.

The dynamic that exists between the corporation, brand association and renown of the artist (whose original images are reproduced in the copy) leads to a hegemonic "corporate aesthetic" that leaves little room for local values ideally voiced by a community's artists. Although it would be impossible to reverse this trend, I now believe that indigenous aesthetic discourse can successfully compete with ready-made aesthetic experiences. Over a three–year period I learned that artists can find support from their community (including those who seem intimidated by contemporary art) by working with subjects that have local significance, by becoming involved with the public and by educating people about the artwork. Although my images were very accessible due to the naturalistic subject matter, I believe that artists whose images are heavily abstracted or non–objective will also find willing patrons.

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© 2016, Terry Reynoldson