MELANIE MINTY: Word of ‘Southbank’ art blows in with big summer wind storm

Surrey Art Gallery continues 40th-anniversary celebration with fall exhibit

Artist Carmen Papalia is part of “The Grove: A Spatial Narrative” exhibit at Surrey Art Gallery this fall.

Artist Carmen Papalia is part of “The Grove: A Spatial Narrative” exhibit at Surrey Art Gallery this fall.

SURREY — I have a great name for our era: The Tesla-Turing Era. You know, like the Roaring Twenties, the Edwardian Age, the Victorian Era. It does define us. In poetic terms, Tesla is the father of electricity, and Turing is the father of the computer. If nothing else, last weekend’s wind storm and resulting power outages showed us just how reliant we are on electricity and Internet services.

So what did you do when the lights were out? It sure wasn’t watching a movie, or surfing the ’net. You probably couldn’t get gas for your car (even if it didn’t get squashed by a tree), coffee for your breakfast or travel on roads kept in order with traffic lights. Some people also did not have water, as they are on a pump. I had flushing facilities, thank you.

Also, because of the light available during the day, I could spend time reading, and relaxing. Took a walk to watch the traffic backed up, tree fall and enjoy really fresh air. So, lazy. Enforced relaxation. Early to bed. OK for a bit, but not what we are used to in the Tesla-Turing Era.

When you are living in an era, you probably don’t document it. You live it. Surrey Art Gallery is not only celebrating local artists with its 40th anniversary, but also documenting our era. The new exhibit “Views from the Southbank III: Information, Objects, Mappings” runs at the gallery from Sept. 19 to Dec. 13, with an opening reception on Sept. 19 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

This is a very timely exhibit in the aftermath of the summer storm. Not only does it give an artist’s glimpse into the information-saturated age, but it just might let you see things – our age – from a different perspective.

“Views from the Southbank III” brings together three different sets of works by more than 20 artists who respond to this societal shift while, at the same time, capturing a cross-section of Surrey and its surrounding South of Fraser region. Some of the artists directly engage with the stuff of our digital world – infographics, information, data systems – weaving in this new reality to their work.

Another series of artworks re-imagines how we interact with information through forms of mapping and counter-mapping. A third group of artists resists the digital and ephemeral world by returning to the physicality and tangibility of objects through such forms as pottery, assemblage art and textile sculpture.

Marking the gallery’s 40th anniversary, this is the third and final part of the “Views from the Southbank” series of exhibits that has featured more than 75 artists from Surrey and its surrounding region throughout 2015.

Running in this same timeframe at the gallery this fall is “The Grove: A Spatial Narrative.” This multi-channel soundscape and visual narrative explores the community uses of a transient forest that abuts the Newton bus loop and Newton Recreation Centre in Surrey. The Grove has witnessed the extremes of human activity, from illicit transactions and tragedies to community connections over Sunday afternoon lunches and art interventions by a group of Newton neighbours who call themselves “Friends of the Grove.”

You must already know that I am a fan of Friends of the Grove. This handful of locals reclaimed this public space and keep on adding to the events and happenings in The Grove. This spatial narrative gives us a glimpse of The Grove. Presented as part of “Open Sound 2015: Polyphonic Cartograph,” a three-part exhibition featuring sound art as forms of mapping and counter-mapping. I have no idea what that actually means, but then I am not technically skilled as some others.

Last note comes via Facebook from the president of Fraser Valley Gilbert & Sullivan Society: “The tub is in the yard, the toilet’s on the deck, the sink is in the kitchen and we’re showering at the neighbour’s. Must be bathroom reno time!” And gee, at first I thought he was talking about wind damage. Ah well, at least we will all have tales to tell about the great summer storm of 2015. Gotta feeling that the artists are already creating a new exhibition.

melminty@telus.net