Mixed media at the Art District Gallery

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The sixth show from the artist-run Art District Gallery opened Oct. 23, featuring the most recent work of 16 local artists.</p>

Located by the corner of King and Cedar Street, the gallery opened in March of this year and is a grassroots initiative seeking to present the public with contemporary, vibrant works in various media, ranging from assemblage to jewelry-making to paintings. 

With a lively, unpretentious ambience, the gallery’s modest size fully immerses attendees with a diverse assortment of works, creating a welcoming space while also encouraging discourse. “It’s an artist-run gallery so in order to be an artist here you have to volunteer time in the gallery, and work on a committee which helps keep the gallery going,” explained Brenda Murray, artist and gallery chair. 

Murray’s own work, Breakfast at Le Rouquet, Paris, was among those sold during the event. As one of a three-part series, Murray’s meal paintings present themselves as comforting snapshots of life.  “I like to paint food, and that was a really wonderful moment that I had, just going to a little café around the corner from our hotel on a cool morning,” she explained, gesturing towards a series of three pieces, which invite the viewer in with their vibrant colours and familiar subject matter. 

As one moves further along the gallery, a captivating series of acrylic paintings by Cathy Amos line the wall. These colourful pieces, which portray small, faceless figures against bright backgrounds, are at first joyful and innocent. However, as the artist explained, there are darker, personal underlying messages when one looks more closely. “In my family, we had a medical situation this spring and winter, so when I had time to stand at my easel, these paintings just happened. It’s not typical of what I normally do, but a lot of my emotions came out, and these little people suddenly emerged,” said Amos. One piece, entitled Strength, depicts a figure holding up a smaller figure on its shoulders, creating at once a haunting yet hopeful impression on the viewer. 

The liberal, non-restrictive approach of the Art District Gallery allows artists an outlet for their voice and grants them the freedom to experiment with various media, styles, and techniques outside of their usual approach. In turn, viewers are presented with a transitional glimpse at the shifting internal and external landscapes of the artists from show to show. 

L.T. Dougherty, whose three pop-up “myth cabinets” come from her work in a collage exchange based out of New Zealand, utilizes found items and images to weave ethereal, fantastical stories within the confines of an 8.5 by 11- inch box. Dougherty’s Paperstories series takes the artist’s childhood memories and places them in an otherworldly context. “For this particular series, I was working with childhood memories. For The Undine, I used to live on a farm, so I read a lot of fairy tales. My other outlet was to hang around the river, and of course, a child who reads a lot of fairy tales and hangs around a river is going to start looking for mermaids. That was the kind of thing I was working into the series — images that reminded me of things I wish had happened in my childhood,” she explained. 

“There’s a diverse assortment of styles, but they’re all kind of abstract,” commented Spencer Ann Butler, a student at the University of Waterloo and gallery attendee. 

The Art District Gallery’s current exhibition pieces will be on display until Dec. 1. 

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