Category Archives: winnipeg art gallery

Art From Obituaries

Who would think of creating art from the obituary pages of a newspaper?

Dianna Frid that’s who.

The obituary artworks she’s created are currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery as part of an exhibit called Headlines- The Art of the News Cycle.

Dianna reads obituaries, hundreds of them, in the New York Times. She cuts out interesting ones and pastes them into a scrapbook. She circles phrases or combinations of words in the obituary that are thought-provoking or intriguing.

Then she chooses one of the phrases she’s circled

cuts out colourful letters to create its words

partitions the words in interesting ways

and displays them in four black squares.

The phrase the shape of a spoon comes from the obituary of Adrian Frutiger who designed type or fonts. His fonts are used on signs in public places around the world. Many fonts you use when you are creating a document on the computer were designed by Adrian Frutiger or inspired by his work.

This is the page in Dianna Frid’s notebook. She has Adrian Frutiger’s obituary on the right and on the left the phrase she circled in it and the sketch for her artwork

Adrain Frutiger once said in an interview “If you remember the shape of a spoon you used to eat your soup then the spoon had a poor shape.”

He went on to explain that when you are reading something if you remember the design of the font in which it is written it is a poor font. The font should help you read and understand the message of the written words without you actually taking notice of the font …… just as the shape of the spoon should help you eat something and enjoy it without you noticing the spoon’s shape.

Inspired by that phrase Dianna created her artwork.

“Look at me when I talk to you” the words of this art piece come from the obituary of a man named Clifford Nass who did research into how technology impacts personal interaction. He discovered that people were often far too busy multi-tasking on their various screens to actually spend time in meaningful exchanges with one another.

In a talk at Stanford University Nass encouraged people to make face-to-face time with others a priority and suggested we need to bring back an old admonishment he rarely hears now, “Look at me when I talk to you.”

This piece was inspired by the obituary of a musician named Lucia Pamela who liked to tell audiences her album Into Outer Space with Lucia Pamela was the result of her building a rocket, touring the Milky Way and stopping on the moon to record her music. She was the ‘only one from earth’ in a place called Moon Town where the recording was done.

You can see many more of Dianna’s interesting obituary art pieces on display at the WAG right now.

Since seeing Dianna’s art I have been looking at the obituaries in the Winnipeg Free Press with a new eye trying to spot unique phrases.

Here’s a couple I’ve found recently.

“nothing left to lose”- This came from the obituary of Stephanie Bednarczyk who left Poland after World War II and came to Canada with as she often put it “nothing left to lose.”

“two peas in a pod” This came from the obituary of James Birch an airline pilot from England who came to Canada in 1953. His obituary said that he and his wife Jean were made for each other like “two peas in a pod.”

I’ve always enjoyed reading obituaries, in fact, I often use them to find names for the characters in my fiction writing, but Dianna’s art has inspired me to look at them in new ways.

Other posts……..

A Different Kind of Obituary

Using Newspapers to Create Art of Exquisite Beauty

He Made Things Tick

Unique Memorials to Winnipeg Folks

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Using Newspapers to Create Art of Exquisite Beauty

Canadian artist Myriam Dion recycles old newspapers into intricate works of art that simply take your breath away. She makes tiny precise cuts in the pages of newspapers to create meaningful masterpieces. You can find some on display now in the Headlines exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

The name and date of the newspaper Myriam uses for each artwork are hidden somewhere in every piece. If you look carefully at the top of this photo you can see this one was from an August 2020 issue of the Wall Street Journal.

The page in the newspaper that inspired this artwork was describing the wildfires in California. Myriam often tries to pick appropriate colours and designs that convey something of the story. Here she has used the reds and oranges of the fire and the edge of the artwork looks sooty and singed.

Myriam usually includes some images that relate to the story on the page she uses for her artwork. Here you can see people in their cars trying to escape the fires.

Myriam works with an Exacto knife. With bigger works, she sometimes makes a stencil but most of the time, she doesn’t have a pattern figured out ahead of time before she begins cutting. She just improvises and lets the image and the content of the news story guide her hand. Dion says she has been influenced by handicraft arts like weaving, embroidery, lacework and other traditional handicrafts.

In this piece, Myriam has not only cut but has also folded the newspaper as well to create a collar.

If you look closely you can see an image of American Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, well known for her rulings that were instrumental in gaining equal rights for women in the United States.

Myriam used a copy of a page from the New York Times June 15th, 1993 issue, the day President Bill Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsberg to the Supreme Court.

Myriam used a collar shape for her artwork because Ruth Bader Ginsberg was known for the unique collars she wore with her judicial robes.

There are other pieces by Myriam on display in the current Headlines The Art of the News Cycle exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, each as intriguing as these two. You will want to check them out.

Other posts…………

The Wheat Oracle Who Wore Pants

Perfect Companions

I’m Back At Work

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Cora Hind- The Wheat Oracle Who Wore Pants

In a new exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery called Headlines: The Art of the News there is a photographic portrait of Ella Cora Hind. Later she dropped the Ella from her name and came to be known as Cora Hind. When I toured the Headlines exhibit with curator Riva Symko she told us Cora had been an agricultural reporter known for her uncanny way of correctly predicting wheat prices.

Cora often dressed in men’s pants, something quite shocking for a woman at the time, and tramped through Manitoba grain fields to collect information to write her agricultural stories for the paper.

Cora was born in 1861 in Ontario. Both her parents had died by the time she was five and so she and her two brothers went to live with their grandfather who taught Cora all about farming. Cora wanted to become a teacher but she failed the algebra part of her qualification exam. So together with her Aunt Alice, she decided to move to Winnipeg in 1882 where they’d heard there might be employment opportunities.

This photo of William Luxton who refused to hire Cora is in the Headlines exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

Cora had always dreamed of becoming a journalist so when she arrived in Winnipeg she went to see William Luxton the editor of the Manitoba Free Press. He was a friend of one of Cora’s uncles and so welcomed her warmly to his office, but was shocked when she said she wanted to write for the paper. Luxton told Cora women didn’t write for newspapers. Being a reporter was rough work often involving interviewing less than-savoury people. It wasn’t for a woman.

This old typewriter is part of the Headlines exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. When the Free Press editor wouldn’t hire her Cora learned to type and got another job.

Cora wasn’t deterred. She heard about a new office machine called a typewriter. She rented one, learned to type and got herself a job working for the lawyer Hugh John McDonald. But she was still interested in farming and grain growing and in 1898 started making crop predictions. Farmers came to trust her expertise and knowledge and she would submit articles about farming to the newspaper under the name E. Hind.

This portrait of John Dafoe who hired Cora as a reporter is also in the Headlines exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

In 1901 the brand new editor of the Winnipeg Free Press John Dafoe hired her as an agricultural reporter.

Cora would go on to earn an international reputation as an agricultural journalist and her predictions about harvest yields soon were the accepted source for establishing the price of Canadian wheat. She became known as kind of an ‘oracle of wheat’ for her accurate crop predictions.

She was also famous for the way she strode through grain fields in riding breeches, high leather boots and a Stetson hat. She went across Canada inspecting farms. In 1924 she travelled more than 10,000 kilometres checking out crops.

Cora played an important role in getting the vote for women in Manitoba

Cora founded the Winnipeg branch of the Canadian Women’s Press Club and helped form the Political Equality League with other Winnipeg suffragettes campaigning for women to get the right to vote in Manitoba which they did in 1916.

This photo shows the vest made by a Cree woman from Norway House for Cora. The vest is in the collection of the Manitoba Museum and Cora is wearing it in the portrait on display in the Headlines exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. In an exhibition at the museum showcasing the vest visitors were reminded that while Cora helped win the vote for Manitoba women in 1916 Indigenous women would not be allowed to vote until 1952. – photo by Lyle Dick

Cora Hind was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Manitoba in 1935.

This sculpture of Cora Hind by Miguel Joyal is included in the Winnipeg Citizens Walk of Fame in Assiniboine Park

When Cora died in 1942 they halted trading at the Winnipeg Grain Exchange for two minutes in her memory.

Other posts……..

What a Woman!

Finding Nellie’s House

Grain is King

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Winnipeg History in Iconic Photos

A new Winnipeg Art Gallery exhibit called Headlines celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Winnipeg Free Press.

One of the interesting pieces in the exhibit is a collage featuring photos from the newspaper over the years. It is fun to examine them and try to figure out what news story each photo represents.

Can you find Dale Hawerchuk signing with the Winnipeg Jets in 1981, images of the 1997 flood, protesters overturning a street car during the strike of 1919, the building of the Manitoba Legislature that began in 1917 and Elijah Harper rejecting the Meech Lake Accord in 1987?

What about swimmers at the Pan Am Pool in 1967 during the Pan Am Games, a pair of Siberian Tigers welcomed to the zoo in 1961 and a photo of author A.A. Milne meeting the bear who inspired his Winnie the Pooh book?

See the huge crowds in 1923 lining the streets to get a glimpse of the magician Harry Houdini? Of course, there’s the iconic Salisbury House which opened its doors in 1931, the Witches Hut at Kildonan Park built in 1970, and IF day a reenactment of a possible Nazi takeover of Winnipeg staged in 1942.

Check out the old Winnipeg City Hall demolished in the 1960s, the return of the Winnipeg Jets in 2011, the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral built in 1952, the Gimli Glider emergency landing in 1983 and a light artwork called Bokeh installed in Kildonan Park in 2019.

Recognize the performer Spoon Man at the Winnipeg Folk Fest, Burton Cummings in his grade 11 St. John’s Highschool picture or the Arlington Bridge?

Did you know Carmichael and Clementine were the first polar bears at the zoo brought there in 1939 and 1940 respectively or that the Golden Boy was placed atop the Manitoba Legislature in 1919?

This section features some iconic Winnipeg food, a fat boy with chilli fries, Alycia’s Ukrainian Restaurant and Manitoba Imperial Cookies from Goodies Bakeshop. The blizzards of 1966 and 1997 are shown along with photos reminding us of the Folk Fest, Festival du Voyageur, the flight of the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds over Winnipeg in 2020 and the Santa Claus Parade.

The man hanging onto the parking meter or is it a fence pole looking like he’ll be blown away by the wind is legendary Winnipeg Free Press photographer Jack Ablett. Is that his camera in his hand?

The Headlines Exhibition is at the Winnipeg Art Gallery till the end of May. You don’t want to miss it!

Other posts………..

Finding Fossils At the Art Gallery

I’ve Been Captured By A Famous Winnipeg Photographer

A Sad Memory at Winnipeg’s City Hall

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Winnipeg Welcomes the World

During the ten years I have worked at the Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq I have given tours to visitors from around the world.

I made a map with stars showing all the places the people on my tours came from last week

But this last week during the five days I worked at the gallery I think I set some sort of record for international visitors. This morning I sat down to list all the countries the participants on this week’s tours came from.

Central America -Mexico and Guatemala

Asia -Japan, China, Korea and Thailand

The Caribbean- Jamaica and Barbados

Africa- The Ivory Coast and Somalia

South America- Chile

The Middle East- Iraq and Afghanistan

Europe- Italy, Belgium, France, England

North America- Canada

Winnipeg artist Wanda Koop’s unique artwork showing the Manitoba Legislative Building at the Forks

This past week made me realize……..

Winnipeg really is a world class destination that attracts people from across the globe

International travel is back after its pandemic hiatus

The Winnipeg Art Gallery is an important place for people from other places to learn about Canada and its culture and history

Other posts……….

A Dream Day At Work

Oh What Fun!

What’s a Portscape?

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It’s All About the Frame

Jennine Krauchi- The Frame

This stunning beaded picture frame is the first thing that catches your eye when you enter A Hard Birth an exhibit currently on view at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

The photograph it showcases is by Joseph Langevin and was taken in June of 1870. It depicts Metis leader Louis Riel and the members of his provisional government. Their efforts ensured that Manitoba would have representation in Canada’s Parliament and be an official province.

Jennine Krauchi

Although the photo is a significant one it is the frame surrounding it that takes your breath away. It was created by Jennine Krauchi a master Metis beader who learned the art from her mother who in turn had learned it from Jennine’s grandmother.

Jennine worked on the frame for two years, first drawing out a pattern on paper, a pattern she had designed after carefully studying Metis beadwork dating to 1870. The beads are some of the smallest made and come from Venice.

Fleur de leis and shamrocks in the beading reference the Irish and French roots of many Metis families. The survey chain in the corner is a reminder of how Canadian soldiers were sent to Manitoba to survey Metis land that had been in some families for generations.

Jennine says beading is like praying for her. If she is sad or angry she stops beading because she thinks her troubled spirit will impact the quality of her work.

An example of porcupine quill beading by an unknown Metis artist dating to 1840. It is also part of the Hard Birth exhibit which tells the story of how our province joined Canada in 1870.

Metis beadwork was originally done with bones, shells, seeds or porcupine quills on hides. When the Grey Nuns came to the Red River Settlement they taught the young Metis women embroidery and the women adapted the embroidery patterns for beading Indigenous motifs.

Metis beaders are well-known for their colourful and intricate work and Jeanine Krauchi’s The Frame is such a fine example of the art.

Also included in the A Hard Birth exhibit is this special chair Jeanine Krauchi designed for Louis Riel who was prevented on the threat of death from claiming a seat in Canada’s Parliament, even though he was elected to it multiple times. The chair features Jeanine’s marvellous beading.

Other posts about the A Hard Birth exhibit……..

15 Ways To Use a Metis Sash

Stepping on the Chain

What in the World is a Wool Sack?

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Passing on Knowledge

Grandfather Teaching Grandson by Norval Morrisseau – 1990

We have a new exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery called Transmissions. One of its themes is how knowledge is passed on or transmitted from one generation to another. A piece in the exhibit is by famed Anishinaabe artist Norval Morrisseau. It depicts a grandfather teaching his grandson about living things and the way they are all connected to one another.

It got me thinking about photographs I might have that show knowledge being passed on from one generation to another.

My husband teaching our grandson how to play chess
My dad teaching our son how to pluck a chicken of its feathers
My Mom passing on her love and knowledge of music to my sister and me
My husband passing on his knowledge about right angles to kids we worked with in a tutoring centre in Jamaica
Me and the staff members of a school I worked at in Winnipeg with the young student teachers we mentored sharing our knowledge and experience about the education process
My Dad passing on his knowledge of gardening to two of his grandchildren
My Mom at 17 when my grandfather taught her how to drive and maintain a car
Our son learning how to make pickles from his great grandmother
Me teaching Chisanbop or finger math to kids
Our son with the high school basketball team he coached passing on the knowledge about basketball he learned from his own coaches one of whom was his Dad

We learn many things from the generations that come before us. Some of these things like the ones I’ve chosen to illustrate here are positive but others are not. We have to decide the difference and also decide what knowledge that’s been passed on from previous generations can best help us move forward in our own lives.

Other posts……….

Bold and Beautiful

I Taught Chisanbop

On My Grandparents’ Farm

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Finding Fossils at the Art Gallery

I pose with an interesting fossil on the wall at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

Last week I gave a tour of the Winnipeg Art Gallery to about thirty adults from many different countries who were students at a private college offering intensive English courses here in Winnipeg.

Fossil embedded in the staircase at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

The thing I think the international group found most fascinating about the tour were the fossils I showed them in the Tyndall Stone which composes the floor and walls of many parts of the gallery. It is unique to Manitoba.

The Gillis Quarry near Garson Manitoba – photo Wiki Commons

Tyndall Stone is a kind of dolomitic limestone quarried near Garson, Manitoba by Gillis Quarries which has been owned and operated by four generations of the same family since 1910. It is cream-coloured limestone and is mottled with darker dolomite which gives the rock a tapestry effect.

Fossil on the Eckhardt Hall floor in the Winnipeg Art Gallery

One of the reasons Tyndall stone is so appealing aesthetically is because it contains numerous fossils.

More fossils on the stairs at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

Over 400 million years ago southern Manitoba was covered with a shallow sea called Lake Aggasiz and its muddy sea floor was home to many different kinds of creatures who became a part of that floor when they died.

What kind of fossil is this?

As limestone was formed underwater by the action of organic and chemical agents the remains of corals, snails, cephalopods, trilobites, and brachiopods became part of the sedimentary layers.

Due to the receding of Lake Agassiz and glacier movement, the limestone deposits under the lake were raised to dry land creating a limestone belt about 100 miles wide that extends diagonally across Manitoba.

I am thinking this could be a coral fossil hiding in the shadow of a step at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

Tyndall Stone has been used in many different buildings of note in Winnipeg including the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

I suspect I could find literally hundreds of fossils in the art gallery’s walls and steps and floors if I ever took the time to count them.

There are many very interesting-looking fossils on the gallery walls

Other posts………..

Autumn Cruise Fit For a Queen

Writer or Palaeontologist?

Dinosaurs in Saskatchewan


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Why Are All Those Holes in the Ceiling?

Young visitors to the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s new addition Qaumajuq sometimes ask me why there are so many holes in the ceiling. I can’t be sure what the architect Michael Maltzan had in mind when he designed the building but Maxine Angoo an Inuk from Whale Cove Nunavut said in an interview that the ceiling’s many skylights remind her of seal holes in the Arctic ice.

I tell the children who visit the gallery that the Arctic Ocean is home to six kinds of seals- harp, hooded, ringed, bearded, spotted, and ribbon. In autumn and early winter, the seals must make breathing holes in the ice so they can come up for air regularly.

Some seals have claws up to 2.5 centimetres thick that help them make breathing holes. I have read that some seals use their teeth to make holes in the ice and can also butt against the ice with their heads or breathe on the ice to melt it.

The Inuktitut word for a seal hole is aglu. Seals remember where they have made their aglu’s so they can revisit them.

Unfortunately for the seals, polar bears also know about the seal holes and can be waiting at the edges of them when the seals come up for a breath.

Some visitors to the gallery have told me the holes in the ceiling remind them of the holes in the tops of igloos that allow for ventilation.

Of course, the holes which open to the sky and flood the new addition to the art gallery with natural light illustrate its name Qaumajuq which means ‘it is bright-it is lit.’

The stunning architecture of Qaumajuq is an artwork in and of itself that will always be on view even as the installations change in the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s new addition.

Other posts……..

It is Full of Stars

An Animated Whale Hunt

Seal Skin Astronaut

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Dog Transportation

Fort Garry 1879 by Lionel MacDonald Stephenson- Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery

If you had been living here in Winnipeg in the 1870s there is a good chance you would have received your mail via a dog team. Mail from England came to York Factory by boat and then was transported by dog sled to Fort Garry.

Dogsled team carrying fursfrom the Glenbow Museum collection

Dog sledges were also used routinely in the fur trade here in the Red River Settlement beginning in the late 1700s. Dog sledges carrying furs travelled in convoys of up to twenty-five with each team following the track of the sled in front of it. Teams could pull loads of up to four hundred pounds.

In summer the dog teams were sometimes used to transport bison meat using a travois.

Dog sled team at the Fort Garry gate in 1879

The Metis who were the primary residents here in the Red River Settlement were very proud of their dog teams and often dressed them in an ornamental way.

A collection of ornate dog sledge regalia is currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in their exhibit – A Hard Birth. Check out the gorgeous dog saddle with its intricate Metis beadwork and row of bells.

A Dog Cariole – 1825 by Peter Rindisbacher

Dog sleds could also carry people. Passengers sat in a cariole and passengers wrapped in furs glided in comfort over the prairie. Dogs could eat up to a pound of pemmican a day and were sold for as much as $20. A good dog could be more expensive than a horse.

In this 1848 painting by Paul Kane called Wedding Party a train of dog sleds are transporting guests for a prairie wedding.

Dogs responded to the driver’s whip for direction changes. In this alternate view of the Metis dogsled regalia currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery you can see the whip in the foreground and the driver’s gloves to the side.

If you had lived here in Winnipeg/The Red River Settlement a hundred and fifty years ago you might have seen dogsleds on the street instead of buses, cars, trucks or bikes.

Other posts………..

Between Dog and Wolf

Coop the Great- A Book That’s Not Just For Dog Lovers

10 Thoughts on Seeing the Movie- The Call of the Wild

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