Winnipeg becomes Art-i-Peg

Local artists explore the city’s ugliness and beauty in Cre8ery art exhibit

“Winnie Gets Lucky” by Kevin Friedrich, oil on canvas with wood frame, 2010. Jordan Miller

Nothing summarizes the ugly decay and subtle beauty of Winnipeg like a walk down the Exchange District’s Adelaide Street.

Overrun with stunning antiquated buildings, crumbling storage facilities and empty parking lots, the street is a shadow of what the Exchange once was.

It’s fitting, then, that the Cre8ery art gallery, located at 125 Adelaide, has opened Art-i-Peg, an exhibition celebrating Winnipeg’s hideous and alluring aesthetic.

“I can’t see myself not being involved in art,” said Jordan Miller, director of the Cre8ery. “Because I live in Winnipeg, it’s everywhere.”

Miller and Cre8ery manager Shawn Berard called for submissions to the exhibition in 2009 with the goal of exploring Winnipeg and what it means to be a Winnipegger. The exhibition features pieces by 15 local artists.

“We looked for something different from each artist,” said Miller, explaining that Art-i-Peg displays diverse mediums, including photography, paintings and collages.

From portrayals of a summer canker worm infestation to a haunting photograph of a Corydon Avenue Chicken Delight, the chosen subjects are equally diverse and captivating.

Among the highlights are two expressionistic, acrylic paintings by artist Cindy Dyson.

Winnipeg, to me, is ... filled with character.

Cindy Dyson, artist

“Winnipeg, to me, is ... filled with character,” she said of her painting “Adelaide,” which portrays the Exchange District street in bold colours. “Each building is different.”

Dyson’s second piece, “Seven,” is a striking, vibrant rendering of a 7-Eleven store.

“Everything is grabbing for your attention ... each product is shouting ‘Look at me!’” she said, explaining the overwhelming saturation of colours and images in her piece.

Artist Kevin Friedrich incorporates irony and slapstick comedy into his work.

His piece “Winnie Gets Lucky” has the famous Winnipeg bear offering a Lucky beer can to a hand puppet.

“A lot of artists drink Lucky in Winnipeg ‘cause it’s cheap,” he laughed.

Friendrich added that Winnipeg art is slightly more lowbrow and rough-around-the-edges than what he has seen elsewhere in Western Canada.

Winnipeg is also affordable enough to ensure that an artist can actually make a living, he said.

“I don’t think I’d be able to own a house and be an artist anywhere else in Canada.”

Art-i-Peg is on display at Cre8ery at 125 Adelaide St. until Tuesday, Jan. 18. The exhibition is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12-6 p.m. and Monday and Thursday from 6-10 p.m.

Published in Volume 65, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 13, 2011)

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