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A Summer Road Trip on Your Wall


I had hoped to get a look at Douglas Coupland's exhibition at Monte Clark Gallery in the Distillery District, but they were still installing it when I went by at 1pm this afternoon. Luckily I happened to look across the red brick roadway over to Engine Gallery where Susan Szenes' show The Long and Winding Road is just finishing its run.

This is the last week for this collection of mixed media paintings, many of which take titles from pop culture such as "Bridge Over Madison County", "Easy Rider Goes North" and "Oh Country Road, Take Me Home". The overall theme of the show is The Road, as you might have guessed, but a deeper narrative comes out as you consider the work as a whole.

The first image is of a vintage camper trailer made from the instructions for a paper cutout (cut, fold, paste, etc. can be read along dotted lines within the shape). And we start off in the suburbs going on family trips to the country.

Szenes documents the role The Road plays in our lives from childhood on up including those early-adult jaunts of self-discovery that takes us across the country. Once we're grown up the only roads we seem to use move us around within the city. And at the end the branches of a tree are labeled as roads on a map as the city grows and we settle into old age.

Each piece includes elements of photography, collage and painting and give the work a kind of scrapbook quality which really pushes the nostalgic feeling of the work. The colours are mainly earthy blues and greens but in pieces such as "Easy Rider Goes North" and "Oh Country Road Take Me Home" bright reds signify some greater action or turning point in the narrative.

Susan Szenes - The Long and Winding Road runs until Tuesday, July 31st at Engine Gallery (Building 55 in the Distillery District)


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