The Art Perspective blog is a collection of thoughts, musings, and reflections on art, artists, and current happenings in the art world. 

Behind the Canvas: Michael Thiessen

This week we catch up with emerging Canadian artist, Michael Thiessen. Michael was born in Dawson Creek, BC but grew up in Vancouver. Michael's work is inspired by his travels and growing up in a rapidly changing environment. His work continues to attract interest from both new and established collectors and he is one of our "artists to watch". 

AP. Give us a quick bio, where did you grow up? What or who inspired you? What are some of your proudest achievements?
MT. I was raised in Vancouver by a single mother. We lived three blocks from the beach and I was a fairly introverted child, so I spent a lot of time by myself scaling the rocky shore and inventing storylines; I guess you could say I was inspired both by the natural landscape and by Stephen Spielberg.

AP. How would you describe the type of art you create?
MT. It's representational. I try to invoke the feeling of being there as much as is possible. I would probably have to say that my work is about place, more than anything else; and our place in the world.

AP. What project(s) are you currently working on?
MT. I have been working on a series of paintings inspired by San Francisco scenes, and I just recently started a series on Vancouver. The paintings are colder and wetter looking, so it's kind of refreshing in an odd way.

AP. Where can people find your art? How can they purchase a work?
MT. I am represented by galleries in both Edmonton [Bugera Matheson Gallery] and Vancouver [South Main Gallery] so anyone interested in purchasing a work can contact either gallery. I am also fairly active on social media, and post pretty much everything on my Facebook Artist page.

AP. Who is your favourite creative person? Why?
MT. It's hard to pick just one, I could pick dozens. Probably Henri Matisse, I've always been inspired by his paintings.

AP. What is your favourite album of all time?
MT. Right now I'm listening to The Kinks, but I really love all genres of music. Earlier today I was listening to Kendrick Lamar, so the type of music I listen to really depends on my mood. I like how music can really shift your outlook or perspective - I'm always listening to music when I paint, so there's no doubt that it influences my work.

AP. If you didn’t have to work what would you do with your time? 
MT. Paint and travel.
AP. So not entirely different from what you do now, I guess that means you're on the right path.

AP. Speaking of being on the right path, what is your favourite journey?
MT. My girlfriend and I were living in London about a decade ago, and in the spring we quit our jobs and traveled around France for a month. I have a habit of falling in love with places, but no place has been as special to me as France.

AP. Do you have a favourite piece you have personally created? What is it?
MT. Usually my most recent work is my favourite. If I end up looking at them too long I get sick of them, and I want to change them so I'm my own worst critic. There are a handful that I think turned out well, 'Dolores Park' is one that I particularly like.

AP. What are your thoughts on the influence of fashion and music on visual arts?
MT. I think it's immense. It's not always easy to tell in the moment just how much influence art forms have on each other, but I think retrospectively you can always spot it.

AP. Who is your favourite author?
MT. Ernest Hemingway. I like his straightforward writing. It is good.

AP. Where do you go for inspiration?
MT. I like to go for long drives; that's probably apparent in my work. Lots of my paintings are sort of homages to the open road.

AP. What is your greatest achievement in life so far?
MT. I think it hasn't happened yet.

AP. What is your favourite colour?
MT. All of them. Although in my work I tend to use a lot of cerulean blue, and a lot of yellow oxide.

AP. What is the one thing you want to share with everyone reading this?
MT. I know every artist says this, but I'm gonna say it anyway, buy lots of art!!! No one that I know has ever regretted it.

For more information about Michael's work, or to purchase a work, please contact the South Main Gallery at 604-565-5622 or Bugera Matheson Gallery at 780-482-2854. 

Vancouver Art Gallery: Why It's Time

Every city reaches a point when rejuvenation of key elements, landmarks, or attractions must be undertaken to reinvigorate the city, to breathe new life into arts and cultural institutions. Such was the case in Edmonton, with the Art Gallery of Alberta. The original building was built in 1968, and after a design competition that saw Randall Stout Architects from Los Angeles win, the city opened the new gallery in 2010, to increased subscriptions and over 30,000 visitors in the first six weeks. This signalled a significant design shift in a previously stagnated city, once the Art Gallery of Alberta was opened, other projects started in development, five years later Edmonton's downtown core is almost unrecognizable as new design projects for an arena, new museum, entertainment district, hotels, restaurants and condos are all underway. Similarly a province over, Saskatoon is set to open it's new gallery the Remai Modern in 2016. Saskatoon and Edmonton share many similarities, both being river cities, both experiencing strong economies as well as cultural revolutions as a renewed focus is placed on the development and promotion of arts and culture in both cities.

Some may argue that Vancouver doesn't need a kick start like Edmonton or Saskatoon did; the city is filled with glass condo towers, new projects are a regular occurrence and Nordstrom's flagship opening speaks to a strong retail commitment. Vancouver needs this new Art Gallery space, not to kick start development, but to kick start culture. In a city as culturally diverse as Vancouver, it has kind of lost it's soul. Sold out to foreign investors who have never stepped foot, visitors who shop at world class boutiques like Dior, Chanel and Hermes - but what about the art? What is inspiring the next young generation in one of the best cities in the world?

Herzog de Meuron has for decades been an undisputed champion of revitalization projects. From the Tate Modern, to the Arts Center in Minneapolis and the Elbe Philharmonic building in Hamburg, they understand design and function in a way that invigorates and excites. Heck, they even took retail to a new level in Tokyo with the design of Prada's boutique. And so too will their design bring function and form to Vancouver's downtown core. In amongst the glass towers, their new design for the Vancouver Art Gallery pulls organic design elements, allowing flow and integration with the surrounding area, inviting busy pedestrians, and business folk alike to wander through, to sit, to experience something different.

Whether or not you like the design is irrelevant, Herzog de Meuron know what they're doing and they do it incredibly well. We are about to see another city transformed around a cultural iconic design. The people and visitors in Vancouver don't need another glass tower, they need a place to engage with art, a place that reflects the incredible surroundings of the city. A place that brings people together and challenges while it informs.