Now in its 35th year, Visual Arts Mississauga’s Annual Juried Show of Fine Arts began its run at the Art Gallery of Mississauga earlier this month. The show highlights dozens of works submitted from across the province and selected by a panel of jurors. Along with Stuart Reid and Brian Smith, Christof Migone, the director and curator of UTM’s Blackwood Gallery, is on the jury of this year’s show.

This year, 248 works of art were submitted to the show, and the large selection is reflected in the quality of the work on display. Through a variety of media and subject matter, the show exhibits the many unique worldviews of the selected artists.

Each viewer will be drawn to different pieces, and the gallery encourages visitors to cast their votes for the People’s Choice Award. The winner will be announced at the end of the exhibition. Meanwhile, the jury has selected a few artists and presented the other awards.

The first-place prize went to Susan Campbell’s “Open House Interventions”. This unique collection of photographs highlights abandoned household items, such as toilets and furniture, found on city streets and demarcated by coloured tape. It was selected as the winner for its “conceptual nature as an invention or intervention of urban space and overall composition”, according to the museum.

Other winners include Steven Volpe’s “Self Portrait with Accomplices” (second place), Sarah Martin’s “It Was that Same Night” (third place), Julia Vanderpolder’s “Still Water” (honourable mention), and Paul McCusker’s “The Gas Bill” (Committee’s Choice Award).

Perhaps the most unconventional of the winning pieces is Natasha Gouveia’s “1,496 Staples”, which won the AGM Mississauga Artist of Distinction Award. The piece certainly lives up to its title, combining a large piece of wood with simple tan acrylic paint and, presumably, 1,496 staples.

Aside from Gouveia’s piece, there are few others that stray from conventional forms. One great exception is Nacho Cartagena’s three-dimensional “Artilleria Elevator”. This wall-mounted sculpture made entirely of cork evokes a whimsical Wild West-inspired, multilevel world. This fun piece is a good breather in a painting-heavy exhibit.

However, that’s not to say that there aren’t some great paintings here. One of the many standouts is Diana Hillman’s “Police Car”. This simple, small oil painting depicts a familiar scene: a police officer directing traffic at a quiet intersection. But Hillman’s impressionistic brush strokes give the painting a hazy tone and perfectly complement its rainy atmosphere.  Andrew Verheockx’s “East View” takes a far sharper approach, giving a nearly photorealistic look to his urban street scene. Among the staunch geometrical grid of skyscrapers, the one sign of chaos is the cabs whooshing by in the foreground. In bright yellow and out of focus, the taxis lend the painting a dynamic undercurrent of action.

Pat Bond brings yet another flavour to the exhibition with “Rest and Peace and Happiness”. This large work shows what one can do with a marker and acrylic paint. Embracing an apparently Asian artistic influence, the piece looks like a very elaborate illustration from a children’s book that would give kids nightmares. The small woodland creatures throughout the piece wouldn’t look out of place in a Tim Burton film. Though it’s in black and white, there is an organic quirkiness to the piece that immediately draws the viewer’s attention.

This gallery’s small space is used economically to fit a large number of works.  It never feels overcrowded, although they have used just about every comfortably available foot of wall.

Considering the variety, VAM 35 offers something to just about everybody who comes to see it. These jury-selected artists all fought for their spot, and the result is another diverse but high-quality exhibition from the AGM.

VAM 35 runs until March 2 at the Art Gallery of Mississauga.
Visit for more information.

  • Marta Alvarez

    Nacho Cartagena’s magnificent three-dimensional work: “Artilleria Elevator”. A wall-mounted sculpture made entirely of cork. This Elevator is located in Valparaiso, Chile.
    Congratulations and best of luck at the Florence Biennale 2013.
    Marta Alvarez