Christopher Crowder, Brent Roe Collaboration

13 August 1985 - 7 September 1985
Opening Reception 13 August 1985 8pm

East Gallery

Artist Summer Studio Project: The Last Word in Magic

This exhibition features a collaborative, multi-media installation by two Toronto artists, Brent Roe and Christopher Crowder. As part of Mercer Union’s Summer Studio Projects, over the past four weeks these artists have developed a walk-in drawing/painting using the floors, walls and ceilings of the gallery space. The vitality of Christopher Crowder’s and Brent Roe’s past collaborations and their method of working ideally suit this type of studio project, allowing the artists sufficient time to develop a specific work on location.

Christopher Crowder attended the Emily Carr College of Art in Vancouver, and in 1981 received his Masters of Fine Art from York University in Toronto. Since 1980, he has participated in solo and group exhibitions and events in Toronto, Burnaby, Vancouver, and Courtenay, B.C. Christopher Crowder is a Board Member and Founder of Eye Revue in Toronto.

Brent Roe received his B.F.A. from York University in Toronto in 1980, and his M.F.A. from York University in 1983. Since 1979, he has participated in solo and group exhibitions in Toronto, Montreal, Kingston, Guelph, Hamilton, Oshawa, and Lethbridge, Alberta. Brent Roe is represented by Wynick/Tuck Gallery Limited, Toronto.

The Art Post, October/November 1985

At Mercer Union, Summer Studio Projects kept the humid months interesting. From August 13 to September 7, two pieces showed opposite ends of the artistic endeavor.

Column in Situ by Spring Hurlbut is a well considered attempt at resolving variables of form, light, and colour in a specific environment. The shiny, cylindrical black column is attacked by slate-gray plaster as if by a fire, wide at the base and licking toward the ceiling Sisyphus-like in a frenzy of movement. But like the Biblical burning bush, the column is only a conductor of energy and thus, though seemingly consumed, remains undiminished. As a site-specific sculpture the shape creates a balance through opposition to the bleak, white room. Its movement seems to be vertical, beginning beneath the grey floor and reaching high above the ceiling, as if these were but poor impediments to its upward journey and it was just passing through.

In contrast to this spare, uncluttered work stands The Last Word in Magic a collaborative room-painting by Christopher Crowder and Brent Roe.

The entrance has a time-bleached skull decoratively adorned with dried flowers over a V-shaped mantle, a sentinel belying the “Should we laugh or cry?” questions raised by the work within. Roe’s numerous cartoon sketches depict men and skeletons at work, play and war (a drawing of a man collecting corpses in a donkey cart is set beside one of a man riding a bicycle), all rendered in the same, impartial grey line. Crowder’s larger drawings, using unmixed colours that seem to come straight out of a watercolour set, include a ram’s head, an Illustrated Man and Woman, a cupid, a serpent’s head, a vase, and many abstract looking scribbles that sometimes resolve themselves into figures and some times not. The combined effect of these images is general confusion, which on close inspection sometimes crystallizes into poetry.