Popular Culture, Folk Tradition and Fine Art Collide at CBU Art Gallery This Fall

The Cape Breton University Art Gallery will open its fall exhibition this Friday evening at 6 p.m. True Grit features works of art by Nova Scotia artists David P. Stephens (Sydney, NS) and Kyle Jackson (Halifax, NS). This gritty and good-natured exhibition presents works spanning decades of these artists’ careers.  

Stephens and Jackson have known each other for 25 years, and their acquaintance is largely based on their mutual connection to the Nova Scotia folk art community. Despite their affiliation to folk art, they are not folk artists in the strictest sense. “Kyle and David make works of art that combine a number of references, drawn from a variety of traditions,” explains curator Laura Schneider. “Throughout their careers, they have been very difficult to pin a label on as they sample from such a broad range of aesthetics and ideas.”

Their works include references to popular culture, art history and the Nova Scotia folk tradition. Both artists have achieved recognition in some interesting ways outside of the gallery context. Stephens is also a member of the Art Car community. Art Cars are vehicles modified by their owners as a form of self-expression. These modifications may range from surface decoration to the overall transformation of a vehicle to look like some other object or creature. Stephens has participated in The Orange Show Pennzoil Art Car Weekend in Houston, Texas and his unique cars have been documented by CBC’s On The Road Again with Wayne Rostad. Lucky, one of his Art Car pieces, will be displayed in the exhibition at the gallery. 

Jackson is an eclectic artist whose relationship to the folk art community began when he was a student at NSCAD in the 1980s. Since then, Jackson has been a fixture in the Halifax art scene and has exhibited regularly and taken part in many unusual projects. His most recent adventure came when he participated in the 2013 season of HGTV’s program Canada’s Handyman Challenge.

“I wanted to develop an exhibition that would remind our audience that art can and should be a whole lot of fun, and I couldn’t think of two artists that would be a better fit for the job,” says Schneider.

The exhibition opens Friday, August 23 and runs until Friday, November 1. The CBU Art Gallery will also be presenting an Outsider Film Series. Films in the series will explore a number of themes and artists that exist outside of the mainstream. Subject matter includes the Art Car phenomenon, graffiti art and outsider artists. Screenings take place at 7 p.m each Wednesday in October and admission is free to the public.

For more information visit www.cbu.ca/art-gallery.