Howell & Riddle

Dates and Venue 7-31 Jan 2010 | Winsor Gallery. 3025 Granville St., Vancouver

Reviewer Ed Farolan

Vancouver photographer Brian Howell's portraits in black and white, the “Impersonators” series including Sy as Michael, is currently on display. In the same gallery, Montreal-based artist Jeanie Riddle's paintings spanning three years of studio practice is also on exhibit.

Brian's style is straightforward--basic headshots of the impersonators. He gets his subjects looking directly into the camera, thus giving the impression that they're staring at you--making you feel uncomfortable, perhaps. In an email interview, I asked him a few questions about his art:

EF What got you started in photography?

BH I got started in photography after my yellow 1974 VW beetle broke down and I sold it for parts and bought a camera. I began photographing people immediately. I had a genuine and naive curiosity and wanted to experience people and hear their stories. I became interested in photojournalism and did everything to pursue it.

EF Why your interest in impersonators?

BH My interest in impersonators developed from wanting to comment on celebrity obsession, a chance meeting with a few Elvis impersonators and a frustration with media outlets dedicating many pages to celebrity and compromising coverage of bigger issues.

EF Any future projects?

BH I am working on a variety of new pieces that are colour and will be quite different from the impersonators work.

EF Anything else you'd like to comment on about yourself and your art?

BH It may be noteworthy to point out that I continue to work on editorial projects as well as art. I am a regular contributor to Van Mag, Maclean's, Geist, B.C. Business and other publications.

L-R: Alley, Mighty, Hero. Artist: Jeanie RiddleJeanie Riddle makes her debut here in Vancouver. She exhibits 10 of her large-scale oil paintings which span three years of studio practice. Her paintings are clearly influenced by simplified modernistic constructs, and are minimal in their composition. A graduate of Studio Arts at Concordia University (2005), she was a finalist in the Royal Bank of Canada Painting Competition (2008), and is currently the Director and Curator of the Montreal gallery, Parisian Laundry.

Here is a transcript of an an email interview:

EF What inspired you to be a painter?

JR Inspiration comes at me continually as I create works. I work and network with other practicing artists, I seek out exhibitions when travelling, I engage in 'actual' dialogue constantly, by this I mean that my point of entry into the visual arts is about how I feel in the world- what is around me- what I am grappling with, emotionally and physically. I believe myself to be in tune with the present- artworks stop time. They reference a particular moment but are often contextualized after the fact. I think I am a building a legacy for my daughter. I am inspired by visual vocabularies I see around me. In my early life artists like Riopelle and Pollock felt real to me- I could locate voice in their paintings. Later, the monsterous muscularity of ab ex, minimalism and pop art all seeped into my ways of thinking.

EF Your evolution as a your early paintings, they're photographs, or appear to be photographs, and in your recent exhibition, you have what seem to be black holes.  Could you elaborate on this evolution of your work?

JR I am trained as a painter. The photos you are speaking about are actually documents of installations where I build whole environments. I still make this work. It really depends on the exhibition and my time in and out of the studio. Paintings are easily whole worlds where as the installations are only contextualized at their sites or through documentation.

EF What are your future projects?

JR I continue working in my studio furthering my painting language as often as possible

© 2010 Ed Farolan