Art Show: Transcending the Doodle

Two new exhibitions at Arts Underground take doodle-like lines to new levels.

In Wearable Art, Qaqtis (pronounced like cactus) uses these kinds of lines in acrylic paint to make hoodies and sneakers unique. Her show is in the Focus Gallery, in the front room.

In the Edge Gallery, located in the back room, Whitehorse artist Amber Church inscribes lines with a similar character into her textured collage-based mixed media works in her show Silhouettes.

Both artists’ work rewards close observation with intricately rendered detail.

Wearable Art features two lines of mannequins in hoodies that flank a row of sneakers on plinths. Qaqtis uses marker-like lines in black and bright solid acrylic colours to create intricate one-of-a-kind patterns on these garments. The lines are all heat-set, so the works are washable.

Qaqtis’ patterning covers most of the shoe surface, however, to see what colour of canvas Qaqtis was painting onto you can look at the tongue. Often the shoelaces “tie in” the colours in Qaqtis’ painting, making the shoe into a unified composition.

For the hoodies, all of one sleeve is usually covered. Some open space leaves room for the eye to rest. Qaqtis also paints the inside of the hood. Images in the line drawings include UFOs, faces, gramophones and a palm tree with feet, reminiscent of tattoos.

Qaqtis has added dice to many of the hood-tying strings, and some of these are painted, too. Her commitment to producing a sustained body of work makes the show impressive.

Church was unable to attend the opening of her show as her daughter, Inara Yvaine Kuhn Church, arrived early, earlier that week. By all reports both are doing well, and the exhibit looks just fine, too.

Church has created deeply collaged surfaces. She builds up layers of texture, imbedding burlap, paper doilies, corrugated cardboard, buttons and gears in acrylic medium. She adds layers of transparent glazes to make rich surfaces, leaving her cut outs almost caught in amber. Since that’s her name, I wonder if that is an inspiration for her method of working.

In each of these pieces, figures, mostly animal, feature as cut out silhouettes. Abstract or representational shapes are cut out from their insides, so they’re not monolithic shapes, but lacy. In the standing ravens, Church cuts out more silhouettes of ravens in flight inside their shapes. She often traces the outside edge of these collage elements with what looks like black marker.

I enjoyed Church’s use of colour especially in “Raven Mad 1” and “2.” Church has layered rich and various red glazes, including a transparent magenta, over other colours, even yellow. This makes a truly delicious rich red. Against this colour, she sets the black ravens, seasoned with blue. This use of complementary colours makes both colours more intense.

Church also inscribes her painted surfaces with marker-like lines. See if you think they share similarities with Qaqtis’ work.

Both exhibitions continue at Arts Underground in the Hougen Centre on Main Street until May 28, Tuesdays through Saturdays.

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