Reviews & Short Biography
Mickey Meads at Drabinsky Gallery
Until May 7, 114 Yorkville Ave., Toronto; www.drabinskygallery.com
Mickey Meads’s new suite of photographs at Drabinsky Gallery, Assume Nothing, couldn’t have less in common with Gilligan’s work. Although both artists indulge in an unmistakable melancholy, Gilligan roars while Meads ruminates. Neither, however, trusts what is before their eyes.
Meads photographs seemingly harmless, even pleasant spaces, with a wide-eyed, John Ford-style vista view. He captures desert plains, massive but still traffic intersections, purpled lakes and cattle ranges – often allowing the centre field of the image to hold the focus of the shot as the top and bottom halves melt away, de-compose. This focused/unfocused dynamic, especially as used in his images of traffic, makes the cars and the people guiding them appear toy-like, unreal, too tidily defined to be moving objects in an otherwise busy landscape.
That effect alone is worth the visit, but it’s only when you begin to ask about the photographs, to find out where or why they were taken, that the truly spooky stuff slithers into the frame. For instance, that cattle range: The cows are grazing in an abandoned housing project, a kind of prison barracks created specifically to warehouse American aboriginals. Or, the lake: It’s eggplant purple because it’s full of run-off chemicals from a mine.
In Meads’s world, the lovely and the malevolent are intertwined, but Meads presents no determining clues, no visual “talking points” that allow the viewer to gain access to the images’ second, third, or 50th readings. Such intent opacity gives the imagery a pulling, nagging weight that you can feel, a low level of anxiety, but that you cannot identify, or, rather, verify, without the back-up information.
This blind-siding is a strategic choice on Meads’s part that some viewers may find delightfully tantalizing, and others may simply ignore, content with the knowledge that something weird is going on.
Personally, I’m all for asking questions in galleries. I worry that too many people feel they are not allowed to ask questions in art galleries, and/or are afraid they will appear uninformed.
Meads’s work, however, practically begs you to nag away at the gallerist, plays against the informed vs. the uninformed hierarchy by not giving the viewer, any viewer, solid information.
Fight the power, Mickey Meads, fight the power.
Educational and Professional Background
As well as being a practicing visual artist, I have taught and developed art courses in drawing, painting, animation, and design at the college and university level. I have been involved in the administration of the Alberta College of Art and Design in various capacities from department Chair to Vice-president/Academic Dean as well as serving as the Head and President of that institute. I was the founding President of the Canadian Centre of the Arts at Owen Sound, ON.
Advanced 4 Year Diploma, Honours, Vancouver School of Art (now called the Emily Carr University of Art & Design) 1971.
B.A. History, Fine Arts, University of British Columbia, 1971.
BA Anthropology, Honours, The University of Western Ontario, 1994.
Post Graduate course work, University of Calgary.
Canada Council Art Bank
The Flaneur as Intruder, Left of Main, Vancouver, BC, April 2019
Travel, Buckerfields, Vancouver, BC, April, 2018
A Philosophy of Railways in North America, Buckerfields, Vancouver, BC, April, 2017
Meads, Roundhouse, Vancouver, October, 2016
Stage, Firehall Gallery, Vancouver, BC, February, 2014
Highgate, The Cultch, Vancouver, BC, March, 2014
Assume Nothing: a Primer for Mickey Meads, Drabinsky Gallery, Toronto, ON, April/May 2011
Mickey Meads, James Gray Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, June 2009For Instance, Group Exhibition, Isabella Egan Gallery, Vancouver, BC, March/April 2008
Mickey Meads, Nanaimo Art Gallery, Nanaimo, BC, March 2007
mansell&meads, Artworks, Gabriola, BC, July 2005
bioGraphics Botanica, Alice Mansell and Mickey Meads, Evergreen Cultural Centre, April/May 2004.
bioGraphics: Staged Practices, Alice Mansell and Mickey Meads, Kootenay Gallery, September/October 2000.
bioGraphics: Staged Practices, Alice Mansell and Mickey Meads, Richmond Art Gallery, July/August 2000.
Courbet"s "Venus and Psyche" a Painting Lost by Alice Mansell and Mickey Meads, in the Body Missing Web site by Vera Frenkel, 1995-6 (http://www.yorku.ca/BodyMissing), the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, 1996.
bioGraphics: enGendered Positions, Alice Mansell and Mickey Meads, Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia, May/June 1996.
A Cup for a Cup, Forest City Gallery, London, Ontario, September/October 1993.
Miniature Art Show, juried show, Gibson Galleries, London, Ontario, December 1990.
Remy Martin, juried exhibition, W.R. Mitchell Gallery, Calgary, Alberta, Oct.1984.
Alberta College of Art Staff Exhibition, Calgary, Alberta, November 1984.
Alberta College of Art Staff Exhibition, Calgary, Alberta, October 1983.
The Un-College Staff Exhibition, James Ulrich Gallery, Calgary, Alberta, February 1983.
New Image Alberta, Alberta College of Art Gallery, Calgary, Alberta, traveling exhibition, November 1982.
Arthur Meads, Mira Godard Gallery, Calgary, Alberta, July 1 to August 14, 1982.
Alberta Now, Survey of Alberta Artists, for Alberta's 75th Anniversary, Edmonton, Alberta, June 1980.
Alberta College of Art Staff Show, Calgary, Alberta, January 1980.
Fifteen, Banff Centre Gallery, Banff, Alberta, 1979.
Watercolour Painting in Canada: A Survey of Traditional and Experimental Forms, UW Arts Centre Gallery, (National Juried Show), University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, June 7 to August 30, 1979.
Alberta Society of Artists Group Show, Juried Exhibition, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge, Alberta, April 1979; Shell Oil Centre, June 1979.
University of Calgary Faculty Show, University of Alberta Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta, March 1979.
Alberta College of Art Staff Show, Calgary, Alberta, January 1979.
A. Meads, A. Mansell, University of Calgary Art Gallery, Calgary, Alberta, September 8-22, 1978.
Little Gallery, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, March 1978.
Print and Drawing Show, University Gallery, Calgary, Alberta, November 1977.
Manisphere 1977, (National Juried Exhibit), Winnipeg, Manitoba, Fall 1977.
Faculty Exhibition, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, October 1977.
Corner Gallery, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, March 1977.
Four Photo Screen Printers, Gallery of Photography, Vancouver, British Columbia, March 1975.
One-Man Show at the Artist's Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia, March 1975.
Deerlake Printmakers, Vancouver, British Columbia, 1971.
R.M. Vaughan, The Globe
Roaring and ruminating on the matter of distrust
Apr 29, 2011.