Prairie Dog
Feb 10-23, 2000

New Artists Holding Back?
By: Greg Beatty

Generation Next, curated by Regina art critic Jack Anderson features work by six emerging Regina artists. It's Anderson's thesis that formerly influential artistic movements such as modernist abstraction, funk and folk art no longer hold much sway here. Instead, he suggests these artists reject formerly authoritative limits and freely explore a range of media and subject matter.

Among the more poignant works are two sets of etchings by Daryl Vocat and Tracy Templeton. Vocat depicts men embracing, maxims like "We Put Heaven Together" and "Silence Will Not Protect Us" inscribed tattoo-like on their skin. Templeton's etchings include a fence post dwarfed by a tree, a gate hanging off its hinges and a root cellar besieged by weeds. These images lament rural Saskatchewan's economic decline and depopulation.

Trees figure prominently in the work of both Tim Domoslai and Debbie Wozniak. Her multi-panel paintings of rosehips and birch trees may equate matriarchy with fecundity, while the dominant male order seems infused with an autumn chill. Domoslai's Simulacrum features a cast rubber duplicate of a tree branch, juxtaposed with the cloth-wrapped original. The sterile display cabinet housing the work is a retort to the artifice and absurdity of natural history exhibits.

Brian James has created a 3-D aerial view of a stadium in which aboriginal people (represented by strings of beads) are relegated to the stands while players from dominant culture (represented by pins) roam the field. In a similar vein, Jefferson Little uses plastic toy knights and cowboys to construct miniature morality plays.

Despite his emphasis on electronic technology in his catalogue, none of the artists presents work in 'new media.' Viewing this exhibition, I got a vibe similar to that which I get when watching "Freedom 55" TV commercials where young people in the prime of their lives obsess over retirement planning, while their adventure-loving older incarnations have fun. In art, unlike investment I think it should fall to the young to take risks rather than play it safe. For some reason, this exhibition lacks the youthful exuberance so evident in the Eileen Lampard-curated Next Generation show at the Rosemont in 1994.