Public Art - Virtual Walking Tour

The Shenkman Arts Centre experience is enriched through the addition of public art owned by the City of Ottawa. These works are part of a permanent collection which complements the Centre’s seven galleries and two commissioned artworks.

Lower Level

Shenkman Arts Centre Lower Level Map

1. Reid McLachlan: Nesting Instinct 2007 (detail)

2. France Choinière: Ciné-tableau XXXIX Tête, 1991 (detail)

3. Danny Hussey: The Order of things print Works 2005 (detail)

4. Jeff Thomas: FBI Bear with Indian Scout 1996 (detail)

5. Agnes Ivan Shadows: and Silhouettes 1982 (detail)

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1. Reid McLachlan
Nesting Instinct, 2007

In his powerful figurative paintings, Reid McLachlan explores what it means to be human through the exploration of faith identity and mortality. His work focuses on the artist’s own personal ghosts, but they also speak to the hopes worries and fears in all of us life, love, death, loss, faith. The dark disturbing canvas, which shows a man and woman working out a troubling issue depicts the woman seething, the man contrite. His painting acts as a form of personal expression, where life experiences become part of his art through the use of mysterious symbolism and smoky, barren landscapes. “In my paintings I am exploring the universal themes of the human condition and searching for meaning, understanding and hope in our self-centered, material-obsessed society”. McLachlan’s work demands that we stand open, vulnerable to the fears that lurk beneath our carefully contracted reality.

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2. France Choinière
Ciné-tableau XXXIX Tête, 1991

There is a haunting and elusive quality to the work of France Choinière. The medium is photography, but the photographs have been manipulated and their surfaces altered; the chosen subject is essentially portraiture, yet the figures that emerge are anonymous and unidentified; the viewer in turn becomes the object of the gaze emanating from those arrested images, drawn into the dual role of observer and observed. Such is the case with the Cine Tableau series, inspired by the golden age of cinema: the film noir period of the late 1940s and 1950s. Choinière used a combination of acrylic paint and Xerox images to create these shimmering motion-picture stills, deepening the shadows to recall the expressionistic and mysterious film noir cinematography. Choinière studied visual arts in both Ottawa and Montreal. Her work is part of numerous public and private collections, including, the Air Canada Centre, and the City of Ottawa.


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order of things

3. Danny Hussey
The Order of Things Print Works, 2005 (detail)

Hussey’s current work has focused on connecting everyday unrelated items placed in proximity with each other reveal an interconnectedness that might not have been otherwise realized. Hussey’s work tends to be less about the rendered images and more about the context of that image in relation to other images and the work’s surroundings. The images are not intended as subject matter, but are rather tools to reveal the subject, where each image has its own identity and purpose yet when combined it creates a unique whole.

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Detail of FBI Bear with Indian Scout

4. Jeff Thomas
FBI Bear with Indian Scout, 1996 (detail)

Jeff Thomas images have stimulated public and political debate on the issues of First Nations identity and representation, often commenting on the stories told by public monuments. Research uncovered the fact that, due to budget cuts, the kneeling Indian scout sculpture placed at the base of the Champlain monument was unfinished. The figure would have been seated in a canoe and installed in an alternate location. The current placement of the sculpture characterizes historical memory and the notion of the European as victor. Thomas photographed his son Bear at the monuments. Thomas is represented in numerous major collections in Canada Council’s prestigious Duke and Duchess of York Prize in Photography.

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Detail of Shadows and Silhouettes

5. Agnes Ivan
Shadows and Silhouettes, 1982

Charcoal and graphite on paper

The abstractions of Agnes Ivan illustrate liberty, spontaneity, and strength. They are the manifestation of daily struggles, hopes, desires and joy, capturing the feelings of a moment. Ivan's artistic approach can be illuminated by her lighthearted quip of what it is to be an artist: "I think being an artist is a weird combination of belonging to a religious order and being an addict. You have the faith of a totally committed convert and the desperate financial need of a junkie." Ivan was born in Budapest, immigrated in 1962, and graduated from the Ontario College of Art in 1973. She has been an art instructor at Guelph University, Ottawa School of Art, and Toronto School of Art. Her work can be seen in numerous private and public collections in Canada, France, Germany, and Spain.

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Centrum Level

Map of Centrum level at Shenkman Arts Centre

1. Dan Sharp : Making a Decision 1984-85 (detail)

2. Denis Tourbin: The Watercolours 1985 (detail)

3. Petra Halkes:The Port of Brindisi

5. Isabelle Gauvreau: Buste Venus 7 2005 (detail)

6. Marie-France Nitski: Flying Animals 1988(detail)

7. John Marok: House/Home 1991 (detail)

9. Adrian Göllner: Stand

Detail of Making a Decision

1. Dan Sharp
Making a Decision, 1983-84

Combining the aloofness of modernism with a congenial desire for the viewer to find associations within his work is what makes Daniel Sharp's spontaneous abstract paintings unique.  Composed of circles, colours, grids and gestures, his paintings are created to be situated within the context of culture.  Sharp considers his artworks successful when the viewer is able to interpret and apply them to their personal understanding of the world.  Geometric shapes emerge from the hasty, diluted and luminescent brush-strokes of Making a Decision.  This is characteristic of his style of moving from sharply defined shapes into soft diffused surfaces.  Making a Decision was included in exhibitions in St. John's, NFLD, Peterborough, ON and St. Catharine's, ON where it won the Juror's Award in Rodman Hall Art Gallery's 1985 Ontario Jury Show.  An experienced curator, Sharp was the Artistic Director of Gallery 101 in Ottawa from 1989-1991.  He currently manages the fine art collection of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

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Detail of The Watercolours

2. Denis Tourbin
The Watercolours, 1985

Poet, painter and performance artist Dennis Tourbin's work operates as an exploration between painting and literature that presents the printed word in a visual manner. The developing technology of the media and news plays an important role in the artist’s work, since cultural media has shifted the interaction between the content of an image in relation to the meaning of words. Tourbin, who passed away in 1998, explored the area between painting and literature and moved the word beyond the printed page, examining the explosion of media and its impact on the way we perceive things. He referred to his paintings as visual poetry, and he had developed a multi-media form that he called a painted play. Containing brightly coloured newspaper headlines and reproductions of photographs, his watercolours frame the context in which art and current events has come to be perceived and valued. Tourbin’s numerous works were exhibited, published, and performed throughout North America and Europe. His works can be found in the National Gallery of Canada, the Canada Council Art Bank, the National Archives of Canada, and numerous private and public collections throughout Canada, such as the Charlottetown Confederation Centre for the Arts.

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3. Maskull Lasserre
, 2009

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Detail of The Port of Brindisi

4. Petra Halkes
The Port of Brindisi

Oil on canvas
Petra Halkes is a social artist. Her work calls out for the re-consideration of the images we see in newspapers and on television. In her ‘On the Move’ series, she takes as her subjects the plight of political refugees, protestors, and crowds of tourists, all of whom are searching for better circumstances. The Port of Brindisi narrates the plight of 12,000 Albanian refugees who were turned back at the port in Italy. The large gulf separating the two boats, one vacant and one crowded, widens the divide between the haves and the have nots, stressing the masses involved. The appeal of Halkes’ work has more to do with narrative than the tactile, visceral sensation of paint, but in this stirring work, she marries the two as abstract planes of colour converge to form the fate of the refugees. Born in The Hague, Halkes immigrated to Canada in 1967 and is now based in Ottawa. She has pursued Fine Art and Cultural studies both in Canada and the Netherlands. Her paintings are in numerous private and public collections, including those of the National Aviation Museum and the City of Ottawa.

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Detail of Buste Venus

5. Isabelle Gauvreau
Buste Venus 7, 2005

Gauvreau's artwork is articulated around the exploration of the feminine form. She has elected to work exclusively on paper for its sensual and intimate qualities. The central themes and concerns of her work are related to women and their shifting roles and place within society. This exploration extends to an essentialist connection with nature and the intimacy of the relationship between women and their bodies. Gauvreau's work strives to explore beauty through darkness, questioning society, and seeking out new means of communication and comprehension. Gauvreau completed her BFA at the University of Ottawa, and has exhibited at Galerie St-Laurent + Hill.

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Detail of Flying Animals

5. Marie-France Nitski
Flying Animals, 1988

Inspired by a mixture of dreams, a liberal imagination, world-mythology and life itself, Marie-France Nitski created an assemblage of emerging creatures that interlock like puzzle pieces. Strokes of oil pastels in brightly contrasting colours form an energetic burst of animal activity in every direction. Nitski's composition is reminiscent of a spontaneous line-drawing or paper cut-outs. Born in France, this Chelsea resident moved to Canada to receive her training in visual arts. She also spent three years studying art in Chile. Her interest in Prehistoric art and a myriad of world mythology and beliefs are apparent in the mystical creatures found here. Her research in this vane has taken her to Bolivia, Catalonia, Brazil, Mexico and back to France. Dreams are another important source for Nitski, significantly for this piece that of being able to fly. She has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in Ottawa and Quebec as well as internationally.

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Detail of House/Home

7. John Marok
House/Home, 1991

Acrylic on canvas.

Painted when John Marok was just eighteen years old, the Barn Series clearly shows the first appearances of what would later characterize Marok’s works: stylized figurative motifs of homes, plants, and inanimate objects. His canvas entitled House/Home is rooted in the realm of reality and imagination, presenting a rural Quebec landscape from his past with an infinite play of appearances. The childlike naïveté of the forms, the simplicity of the composition, and flat planes of colour all combine to create an homage to the memory of Marok’s subject, as much as to the subject itself. Born in Montreal, John Marok attended John Abbott College and Concordia University. He has been awarded grants by the Canada Council and completed research residencies in Europe and Canada. For the past twenty years, Marok has been living and working in Wakefield, Quebec where he maintains his studio.

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9. Adrian Göllner
, 2009

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3rd Level

Map of Shenkman Arts Centre 3rd level

1. Su Roger: A Fortuitous Confluence of Motives 1989 (detail)

2. Mark Marsters: Seduced by her astrological cat suit, 2001

3. Maggie Wesley: Rhythm of Steps

4. Ineke Standish: Code Blue 1994 (detail)

Detail of A Fortuitous Confluence of Motives

1. Su Rogers
A Fortuitous Confluence of Motives 1989

In this work Su Rogers melds two prominent traditions in Western art, the landscape and portrait. She uses these traditions to explore her apprehension of the world. A Fortuitous Confluence of Motives is a work that is layered with actual and implied realities, and a sense of isolation. Highly interested in the psychological drama people face in their lives, she uses her own life as a gateway to represent universal loneliness. Here two girls almost identical in appearance reference her personal experience as an identical twin. The separation as adults evoked a sense lonesomeness. Rogers consistently expands her introspective look to explore universal emotions, motivations, fears and relationships. Rogers graduated with her BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax.

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Detail of Seduced by Her Astrological Cat Suit

2. Mark Marsters
Seduced by Her Astrological Cat Suit, 2001

Enamel on masonite

Local artist Mark Marsters was always fascinated with pop ideas, the role of the viewer and the relationship that the artist has between his medium and the public. The abstract paintings purchased by the City are part of the Techni-Colour-Binge-Series and juxtaposes text, colour and bold patterns leaving the figure out of the composition and as a result making the viewer the only figure involved with the works. The text takes the place of human characters within the composition. This series was exhibited at the Ottawa School of Art in March 2002 shortly after the artist passed away. One of Ottawa's talented and accomplished artists, Marsters works of art have been in solo and group exhibitions in Canada, Chile and England. His many public artworks can be seen around Ottawa, and his works are represented in the collections of the Canada Council Art Bank, Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa Art Gallery, City of Ottawa and the Owens Art Gallery in New Brunswick.

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Detail of Rhythm of Steps

3. Maggie Wesley
Rhythm of Steps

maple plywood and pine

Rhythm of Steps was inspired on a farm that Maggie Wesley grew up. The farm house had multiple staircases and as kids when she wanted to find out what the adults were doing, she would sneak around the staircases to listen in downstairs. When designing this sculpture, it was made to be movable, it is because she saw herself as always moveable and the stairs were always movable. As the viewer you can reposition the sculpture and reconfigure it to reflect any kind of environment that you are interested in. First she designed a very small maquette out of Styrofoam and foam board. Once she had concept worked out in her mind she constructed the sculpture in a large scale. After finding an antique sewing box from the 1800’s that opened up in a similar fashion she saw how to design the joints so that they could reverse upon themselves. This took her about a year to resolve. Maggie Wesley studied at the Ontario College of Art & Design and currently resides in Dunrobin, Ontario.

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Detail of Code blue

4. Ineke Standish
Code Blue 1994 (detail)

Ineke Standish's subject matter was always compelling and thoughtful, at times gritty and hard to face. Her work addressed not only her concerns about ecology and the transition of materials, but also the transition in real life issues. This artwork, Code Blue, is a large gray steel square pillar with Braille symbols embossed on the surface. Since her husband lost his eyesight, Braille became a new form of communicating for the artist. The Braille marks on the steel form identify the words Code Blue, which is a metaphor for the installation's title. Code Blue is the medical term for when someone's heart stops beating, and the crash cart is brought forward to send an electrical charge through the body to bring life back. However, Standish states: "this work is not meant to be literal, but more to show the inevitable transition of physical and spiritual energies." Ineke Standish was born in the Netherlands and emigrated to Canada in 1953. She graduated from the University of Ottawa's Visual Art Department in 1995. A scholarship was created in her memory to recognize the importance art played in her life.

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Find out more about public art at the City of Ottawa.