Rowan and Sif
there is nothing to obscure your view of the sky

featuring Doug Hunter, Dessa Harhay, and Stewart Evans

organized by Chala Hunter, Colleen O'Reilly and House of Commons

Rowan and Sif brings together an artist from Saskatchewan, Doug Hunter, and two artists from Ontario, Dessa Harhay and Stewart Evans.

The Rowan tree grew in the front yard of Doug Hunter’s house, in Saskatoon, alongside a myriad of other native trees and plants whose names and histories he knew well. He perhaps better understood the language of rocks and plants than our own.

Sif is the goddess of the earth, the goddess of the grain, and the goddess of the home.

These two, Rowan and Sif, are two parts of a whole. One of the earth practical, the other the mythological spirit and force of that earth. In the collective showing, these artists all explore the place where earth and the spirit meet, that inconclusive territory.

This show is partly a tribute to Doug, who spent his life lingering in and making art from this relationship to nature, and to himself. In 2007 he passed away, leaving a life’s work to his three children, who all wish to have his work be seen, be shared.

While he is known primarily for large-scale, outdoor sculpture, Doug Hunter’s wood block prints provide a window into a private world imbued with curiosity and sensitivity. His rough touch results in images that are visceral and direct, and demonstrate his understanding of his material and its unique characteristics. The explorations of spirituality and nature found in his prairie sculptures translate differently in his works on paper, into private emotional battles that read as a relatable and poetic narrative about life and love on this planet.
Dessa Harhay has become known for her rich, detailed paintings on wood panel. Like Hunter, she is drawn to nature, bodies and physicality, and arresting imagery. Her style is more classical, but embodies a similar interest in our relationship with our environment. There is a whimsicality that brings us to see the images as stories, as guides into an unknown and seductive world.

Although in a completely different format, Stewart Evans’ work explores the same duality between the natural and the human, between history and technology. His lights/sculptures are built from reclaimed wood, glass, copper and metal, and he consistently transforms these familiar materials into things that are original and dynamic.

He expresses a contemporary sensibility that is informed by the elemental and traditional.
The three artists are here in conversation, touching on questions about place, urban life and rural life, technology and nature and how they inform each other, humans and animals and where the lines are drawn between them. Here art is blended with design, roughness with the refined, the ancient with the elegant. Themes of nature, history, and memory emerge readily, as well as a sense of escape through fantastical re-imaginings of our physical surroundings.

ARTIST BIOS

Douglas Alan Hunter

Born Dorchester, Ontario 1953 – Died Saskatoon, Saskatchewan 2007

Doug Hunter creates expressive stone, steel and wood sculptures, as well as wood block prints. He works instinctively and usually with force.

Douglas Alan Hunter was born in 1953, in Dorchester, Ontario. Born into a family of dairy farmers, he spent his last year of high school at Beal Secondary (an arts high school) in London, Ontario. He then moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to pursue a career in the arts. There, he became a part of the Prairie Sculpture’s Association. The group organized and participated in numerous sculpture symposia, sculpture shows, snow carving events and educational workshops. Doug had several showings of his work, in Saskatoon, London (Ontario) and Quebec City. He also participated in several sculpture symposiums across the world, including in Vermont, the former Yugoslavia, Norway and Japan. In the summer of 1989, Doug created ‘Oskana’ (meaning pile of bones in Cree) for Wascana park in Regina, where it remains to this day. He was also a member of Team Saskatchewan, which took part in snow sculpture competitions at Winterlude and the Carnaval de Québec. Bryan Lane (his close friend and collaborator) led Team Saskatchewan to a first place finish at Winterlude in 1999. He continued to work privately on his print-making and sculpture up until his death (after a brief battle with Lymphoma) in 2007. His sculpture collection is currently on display on the late Bill Epp’s land (a renowned Saskatchewan Sculptor), just outside of Martinsville, SK.

Stewart John Evans

Born Kitchener Ontario 1984

Stewart’s career in light building/design began in 2007 with the Electrical Apprenticeship Program at Conestoga College in Kitchener.

After being taken on in the field, Stewart quickly began consulting on lighting for new homes and businesses. As an avid illustrator, his own ideas for lighting emerged and by combining his carpentry and metal working skills he began designing and building unique light fixtures. His Toronto commissions can be found in various homes and restaurants, notably the feature fixture at the House of Commons, an old Victorian house on Dundas Street that doubles as an underground restaurant, and MARBEN on Wellington West, a 5,ooo sq foot restaurant/bar that showcases six of his designs. His recycled balloon whisk lights, copper champagne flute chandelier and antique mason jar lights from this project were featured in Toronto’s Design Lines Magazine, as well as the Toronto Star.

Stewart uses a mix of reclaimed and new materials, often what he finds lying around machine shops, at antique markets or his mother’s backyard. Self-taught, Stewart’s innovative wood working techniques and distinctive metalwork lead to both rustic and streamlined creations. His large and georgic designs demonstrate a palpable sense of integrity and a brave use of space.

Dessa Harhay

Born Toronto, Ontario, 1981

Dessa Harhay grew up in Toronto but moved to Montreal to attend Concordia University. There she remained for some years, meeting the people with whom she would eventually form The YPF, a Canadian-based art collective. The YPF would go on to create a body of group works, which were exhibited locally and internationally. They still continue to exhibit and create art together. Also while in Montreal, Dessa was a primary curator for Galerie Accidentelle, a Montreal-based gallery featuring exhibitions from a wide array of contemporary artists. In 2007, Dessa spent the year traveling the United States, eventually finding a home in Chicago, where she lived in a large warehouse with a group of artists. She gained much influence from the creative atmosphere there. After some time, she decided to return to her home city of Toronto, where she currently works as an artist.

With a BFA double major in Communication and Cultural Studies and Studio Art from Concordia University (Montreal, QC, Canada), Dessa is endowed with a strong anthropological sensibility, and a sensitive cultural radar. She also works as an illustrator and graphic designer under the design company { + = - } (plus equals minus). Her commercial works have appeared internationally for companies including Joe Fresh, Intr-Version Records, Itsus International, Industry Clothing, Howick Brand, Dose Magazine, Warrior Magazine, Worn Fashion Journal and others. Her artwork has appeared in solo and group exhibitions at venues such as Jeff’s Electric Gallery (Los Angeles, CA, USA), the cruise ship Queen Mary I and Open Gallery (Long Beach, CA, USA), The Drake Hotel (Toronto, ON, Canada), and Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery and an exhibit in association with Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (Montreal, QC, Canada).

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