May 28, 2011 to July 24, 2011

Frontrunners is curated by Cathy Mattes and co-organized with Urban Shaman Contemporary Art Gallery
Opening reception: May 28, 2011 – 7:00pm to 11:00pm
Panel Discussion: May 28, 2011 – 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Frontrunners is a multi-exhibition project that recognizes the impact of the Professional Native Indian Artists’ Inc., also known to Winnipeggers as the Indian Group of Seven.  Their story, and the context and time in which it happened, is a starting point for discussing the history of artistic and political action within Winnipeg by artists of Aboriginal ancestry.

The project features work by Alex Janvier, Daphne Odjig, Joseph Sanchez, Norval Morrisseau, Jackson Beardy, Carl Ray, Eddy Cobiness, Louis Ogemah, Jackie Traverse, Lita Fontaine and Darryl Nepinak.

Plug In ICA will present work by Alex Janvier and Joseph Sanchez while the work of other artists will be located at Urban Shaman Contemporary Art Gallery.

During his long artistic career, Alex Janvier has mapped Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal engagement with the land.  The residuals of those encounters are expressed in his painting with fluid line, bold colour, and abstracted landscapes that are inspired by quillwork and bead design.  Hidden in his diagrammatic paintings are symbols and overt expressions that affirm Aboriginal connection and rights to the land, and document colonial encroachment.  How Janvier references the shifts in land and cross-cultural relationships is present in this component of Frontrunners, exposing his formative role as a frontrunner for contemporary artists of Aboriginal ancestry.

Alex Janvier (RCA), a Dene Suline and Saulteaux painter from Cold Lake, Alberta received his fine arts education from what is now the Alberta College of Art and Design and has been a full time artist since 1971.  Janvier has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Canada, the United States, and Europe.  He has executed many public commissions, including the Morning Star, located at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.  Janvier’s work can be found in numerous public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Mendel Art Gallery.  Janvier has received the Marion Nicoll Visual Arts Award, the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, the Order of Canada, and most recently, the Alberta Order of Excellence.  He has also earned two honorary Doctorate of Law degrees.  In 2003, he opened his own gallery in Cold Lake, Alberta.

Juxtaposing Aboriginal philosophies, oral history and experience with modern “artspeak”, Joseph Sanchez’s performance character Indio Dali, who is very opinionated and critical of current descriptions of fine art, will rant about ecology, acceptable aesthetics and art themes and the role that the Professional Native Indian Artists’ Inc. played in challenging hegemony in the Canadian art world.

Joseph Sanchez is a mixed media artist and arts administrator of Taos Pueblo descent living and working in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  He works in painting, drawing and performance.  Sanchez has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Canada, the United States and Mexico.  His work can be found in public and private collections around the globe.  In addition to being one of the founders of the P.N.I.A. inc., Sanchez also co-founded the Moviemento Artistico del Rio Salado (MARS) and the National Association of Artist Organizations (NAAO).  Sanchez has worked with many art galleries and educational institutions, most recently as Chief Curator and Interim Director at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The opening reception of Frontrunners will take place on May 28, 2011 from 7:00pm at Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, 460 Portage Avenue with a performance by Joseph Sanchez at 8pm.

On the same day, May 28 from 2 to 4 pm at Plug In ICA there will also be a panel discussion about the formation of political and artistic action among Aboriginal artists in Winnipeg.  The panelists will be Cathy Mattes (moderator), Louis Ogemah, Alex Janvier and Joseph Sanchez.

Frontrunners events are free for all and all are welcome.