Fall arts picks: our top visual arts exhibitions for the season

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      Someone once described podcasts as entertainment “for when your eyes and hands are busy.” Art is kind of the opposite. It’s for when your eyes are free—but ideally your mind is, too. Put on your headphones and step into a gallery to feel the power of art. Stay as long or as little as you want—but maybe you’ll find something that moves you, with whatever senses you’ve got free.

      Splash Art Auction preview exhibition

      Pendulum Gallery until October 19

      Almost 100 works of art are up for sale to raise money for Arts Umbrella in its 41st annual auction. Whether or not you’re not in the position to drop a pretty penny on a painting or photograph, many of the works are on public display at Pendulum Gallery. Look through works from dozens of celebrated Canadian and international artists before they’re snapped up at Arts Umbrella’s Splash fundraising gala on October 21. 

      Intimacy and Distances

      Centre A until November 10

      The first Canadian solo exhibition from Tokyo-based interdisciplinary artist Maiko Jinushi was largely completed during the isolation of COVID. How does physical and emotional distancing affect the ways people relate to each other? Using videos and drawings that range from spare and simple linework to photography and poetry, Jinushi’s collaborations with artists around the world examine the push and pull of technology in our interpersonal relationships.

      RISE: Sandeep Johal and Sara Khan 

      Art Gallery at Evergreen until November 26

      Created as a collaboration between two local South Asian artists, RISE is playful and ponderous. While Johal and Khan are both mothers to young children and have immigrant family histories tied to the 1947 Partition of India, their personal experiences are markedly different. These shared similarities and splitting points make their work a conversation, as they meld shapes, patterns, and silhouettes into works that invite questions about what it means to create communally.

      Lotus L. Kang: In Cascades

      Contemporary Art Gallery until January 7

      Enter the B.C. Binning gallery and look up at Lotus L. Kang’s latest installation, In Cascades. The textural interplay of industrial steel, holding up huge photographic films, merges hard and soft, fixed and open. The films—which Kang calls skins—respond to their environment, meaning they’ll change over time depending on the light and humidity of the gallery. Make it a regular stop on your trips through Yaletown and watch how the art reacts to the city in ways that not even the artist can predict.

      Latin American Heritage Month exhibitions

      Various locations, October 6 to November 2

      The fifth annual Latin American Heritage Month has a variety of vibrant visual arts exhibitions around the city. Ocean Art Works on Granville Island will show traditional Guatemalan barriletes (kites) and create a community Dia de los Muertos altar. The Centre of International Contemporary Art will display a colourful, bold solo exhibition of Ángeles Agrela’s arresting portraits, and costumes from Latin America will also be collected for public viewing.

      Vancouver Outsider Arts Festival

      Roundhouse, October 12 to 17

      Running as a five-day festival for the first time, the seventh iteration of Canada’s only outsider arts festival prioritizes showcasing artists from outside the mainstream. Dozens of people are set to take part, including a unique collaboration with the Outsider Art Festival in Helsinki, Finland, that features four films from Finnish artists. After the festival wraps up, the exhibition will move east to Port Moody Arts Centre, where it’ll be on display from January 11 to March 4.

      North Shore Art Crawl

      Various locations, October 13 to 15

      Don’t let the post-Thanksgiving blues get you down. Wander through dozens of locations from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove for the 13th annual North Shore Art Crawl, where artists and artisans throw open their studios for a behind-the-curtain peek at what goes into creation. More than 50 artists are offering opening receptions, demonstrations, or activities over the weekend, with creators showing off every medium from classic oil paintings to hand-blown glass. 

      New West Cultural Crawl

      Various locations, October 14 to 15

      Free events abound as part of New West’s 20th annual culture crawl, which has grown from a one-day art walk to a city-wide celebration of local talent. Besides the wealth of workshops, open studios, and artist talks, there will be an assortment of other cultural events, too: a poetry slam at Groove Cat, an artisan craft market at Anvil Centre, and a concert at the Gallery in Queen’s Park. 

      Rojina Farrokhnejad: Gods and Monsters

      SUM Gallery, October 14 to December 1

      Myths and legends are more than just stories: they offer insights into how our ancestors understood themselves and the world. Iranian-Canadian artist Rojina Farrokhnejad pulls stories from the past into the present, infusing old and new to examine the binaries that myths present. Her work fuses painting, sculpture, and filmmaking, metamorphosing between media just as her own subjects metamorph between representations and abstractions.


      Janaki Larsen Studios loading bay, October 19 to November 29

      How much can you capture in four colours? For fine art photographer Michelle Leone Huisman, the answer is everything. Her latest exhibition—portraits of beloved family dogs—examines how canine companions came to have such an outsized impact during the pandemic. Huisman uses a 19th-century printing process of tricolour gum bichromate over palladium, creating vivid, long-lasting images of puppers that mix contemporary with classic.

      DTES Heart of the City Festival

      Various locations, October 25 to November 5

      The 20th anniversary of the DTES Heart of the City festival is on full display this year, with the theme “grounded in community, carrying it forward.” The dozens of events span everything from comedy, performance, and cultural gatherings to poetry, documentaries, and music. Some events of note this year include We Live Here II, hyper-speed videos of local BIPOC youths’ artwork projected onto the side of buildings; and Reweaving out Words, an afternoon showcase that connects weaving to language through different avenues. 

      13 Moons Around the Lake 

      Bill Reid Gallery, October 25 to January 28

      Nlaka’pamux artist Nadine Spence honours family, the lands, the waters, and the salmon cycle in her curated exhibition. Between Spence’s artwork, bentwood chests, chest carrier platforms, Nlaka’pamux regalia, and works from artists from other Nations in the same geographic area, 13 Moons Around the Lake celebrates the richness of southern BC and the complex healing journeys of elders—especially grandmothers.

      Denyse Thomasos: Just Beyond

      Vancouver Art Gallery from November 10

      Although she passed away in 2012, Denyse Thomasos’ impact on Canadian and contemporary art continues to be felt. The Trinidadian-Canadian artist created huge works, often centring themes of slavery, colonialism, and diaspora, layering dense details into thatched, geometric works that conveyed strong political messages without exploitative imagery. This retrospective assembles more than 70 paintings and works, charting the ways her art used different techniques to create scope and scale.

      Eastside Culture Crawl

      Various locations, November 16 to 19

      In the area bounded by Columbia Street, First Avenue, Victoria Drive, and the waterfront, hundreds of artists work in solitude in their studios—until once per year the doors are thrown open and the general public streams in like motes of dust in the light. That might not be exactly what happens, but it’s the image that lives in public consciousness. Explore the art for the festival’s 27th year, with everyone from newly emerging creatives to internationally established artists showing off their chops.