Art + Parcel at OAG and Martin Golland at City Hall

Maureen Korp

Nature provides much of the storyline in two exhibitions featuring the work of Ottawa’s artists. Art + Parcel, a year-end holiday sale of artwork, is up and running in the Ottawa Art Gallery’s Galerie Annexe. Over at the Karsh-Masson Gallery in City Hall, the mythic work of Martin Golland is on view in the exhibit I built this garden for us. First, we look at the myriad delights of Art + Parcel.

Have you been making a wish list of late? Certainly, it would be good to end 2023 with a welcome kindness. The artists whose work is on offer in Art + Parcel might have something for you. All of the work is framed. All is modestly priced. And, when purchased, off it goes, one wrapped parcel, easy enough to carry, an original artwork in the arms of a lucky new owner.

What sort of work is on offer? A wide variety, including photography, printmaking, painting, mixed media, collage, and textiles. In the many artworks lining the gallery’s walls, there is a sense of calm, quietude. The embroideries of Judi Miller—Poppy Field (2023), for example —are small, finely stitched studies of fields of flowers. Each is framed in cherrywood. Lilith Ohan’s watercolours of flowers are elegant studies, among them Bloom Whisper (2017). Mouvement Rose (2021), a collage by Eliane Saheurs, is a particularly quiet work of colour and calligraphy.

Eliane Saheur, Mouvement Rose, 2021
Photo Maureen Korp

Even the troubles of the LRT appear calmed in two paintings of its train cars by Eryn O’Neil. Her use of geometry and colour in Interior (Train) from 2020 is particularly remarkable. The composition, centred on a gold outline, suggests something blessed and holy, a church monstrance for all to see — but not to touch.

Alexa Mazzarello’s photograph of an apple caught this writer’s eye. The photograph, entitled Interrupted Snack (2021), presents an apple, half-eaten, sitting in a state of readiness on a windowsill. The light is beautiful. It cradles the apple. Who left the apple on the windowsill? What happened? A telephone call? The doorbell? Worse…?

There is more to the story in Reid McLachlan’s Hymn of Vengeance. Might the book club ladies know? The artist’s composition is compelling. A beautiful woman dressed in black looks at us. Overhead, a wishbone hangs from a butcher’s carcass hook. On the table, a crow is drawn atop a child’s alphabet block, one with the letter “V.” In the bottom right-hand corner, we see a small sketch of several women, clustered together, holding…books in their hands. Who wrote the book? What happens next?

All of the artwork in Art + Parcel is priced for sale. Many are available as monthly rentals for less than the cost of lunch in this town. If your eye lights on something you like, better not hesitate. The little red squares on the Gallerie Annexe walls are markers of what was there but has already been carried away. This is Art + Parcel, after all—someone else bought it.

Martin Golland’s exhibit at City Hall is a work of narration and contemplation.  Its imagery is fragile, the sort found in half-awake, half-asleep night dreams we half remember. Childhood recollections are one source, half-heard adult conversations another.

In the composite work entitled Shallow Seed (2023), for example, we may be seeing what happens when the seed is not well planted. The collage includes a group of initialed eggs hidden in the underbrush. Were children only allowed to collect eggs marked with their initials? Or did children mark the eggs as they found them? Part of the story is untold.

The paired paintings, Starling’s Rest (2023) and Chants of open weariness (2022), present a long view over water into some yellow activity in a blue sky on the right; on the left, top to bottom, is a tumult of red and yellow.

A small sculpture entitled All the inhabitants (2020) displays a dead butterfly, a few dead insects, some sharp barbs in an open box. Weren’t we warned not to bring such “trash” home? Nearby, Migrator (2023), a painting of dark undergrowth, appears to have a Disney elephant lurking about.

Martin Golland, All the inhabitants, 2020
Photo David Barbour

On the back wall of the gallery, 45 mixed-media paintings have been hung in three rows of 15 each. Each is the same size. Not one the same as the other. Sit down, let your eyes wander. These are daydreaming images, one multiplying onto the other— a condor flying overhead, a camel in the underbrush, a sad little teddy bear. Here are bits of memory you had forgotten. Is that figure in the garden a lost statue of Mary? Or someone far away, head bent in mourning?

In Martin Golland’s paintings, all appears possible. The wall of 45 paintings is entitled Orphan Wall (2020—2023).

Both exhibitions are an easy walk for Sandy Hill folks, snow and ice permitting. If you were the sort of child who found stories in clouds overhead, your stories are here, too.

Continuing exhibitions

Art + Parcel: A Holiday Sale
until January 7

Ottawa Art Gallery, 10 Daly Avenue
Free. Wheelchair accessible.
Sun., Tues., Wed.: 10 a.m, to 6 p.m.
Thurs., Fri., Sat.: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Closed Mondays

Martin Golland­­–I built this garden for us, until January 21

Karsh-Masson Art Gallery, Ottawa City Hall, first floor, 110 Laurier Avenue West
Free. Wheelchair accessible.
Open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.