RM Vaughan, Globe and Mail, has included Wolastoq (Beautiful River) as one of his five favourite exhibitions in 2010.
Wolastoq (Beautiful River) at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton Inspired by the giant watercourse that flows directly past the Beaverbrook itself, Wolastoq (the pre-European name for the St. John River) commissioned the crème de la crème of New Brunswick artists to respond to the river’s integral role in the life of the city, the province and indeed the Atlantic region.
Curator Terry Graff assembled works by new and established artists, as well as historical works from various regional museums, to present an exhibition that did much more than simply map the river’s winding, often politicized path. Via painting, mixed-media works and performances, viewers experienced a river that inspires (and dredges up) as many mixed emotions as it does tasty trout.
Geography shows are often bogged down by sentimentality or, worse, can feel like Grade 5 history lessons, but Wolastoq avoided such pitfalls and presented the subject’s natural wonder in all its turbulent, calming, playful and treacherous splendour.
Two artists even canoed down the damned thing, and that’s more than I ever did in the many years I lived by its shores.
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