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Poets pair with artists in collaborative show

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Kathryn Gabinet-Kroo is seen with A Rose in the Garden of Wings, one of her bird paintings with insets. (Photo courtesy of the artist)

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but in the upcoming exhibition of artwork and poems inspired by one another, both are on equal footing.

Poetic Notions, which is showing from Feb. 13-17 at the E.K. Voland Gallery in Montreal, is the brainchild of co-curators Carolyn Boll, a poet, and painter Holly Friesen. They asked 15 creative pairs to participate in the show.

“Because it is by invitation, the first person I thought of was Kathryn Gabinet-Kroo, who already lives between the two worlds of writing and art,” says Boll.

Gabinet-Kroo works out of the catacomb of artists’ studios in Complexe du Canal Lachine, painting exquisitely realistic renditions of nature, as well as translating such authors as Marc Séguin and Joséphine Bacon from French to English.

The Poetic Notions invitation prompted Gabinet-Kroo to pair up with Rae Marie Taylor, who makes art, but also writes.

“We share visual arts, writing and being American,” says Gabinet-Kroo, who was born in Oregon and moved to Montreal years ago, after meeting her future husband in Israel.

Taylor was the recipient of a Nonesuch Creative Artist Residency, a program in Parrsboro, N.S.

“When Rae came back in October, she wrote a beautiful piece for me about what the Minas Basin was like, with amazing imagery and a lot of colours mentioned. One of the lines refers to ‘myriads of stones, strewn like carpets of green, pink, copper, purple, swirling grey, wet with white,’ and she talks about a heart-stopping horizon.

“That’s why I painted an oval inset of a sunset over the Bay of Fundy with Partridge Island in the background,” says Gabinet-Kroo.

The oval is inset at the heart of the oil painting’s tondo shape, a 76-centimetre wood panel circle depicting the multi-coloured beach stones exposed by the receding tide. The round painting is edged in copper-coloured oils and, alongside Taylor’s poem, Gabinet-Kroo hopes to front them with a stand holding water-polished stones.

“This painting is about preserving and taking care of the earth. I’ve always loved beach stones, having grown up next to the ocean. And I have a thing for water,” says the artist, whose past series have included ocean scenes and koi ponds.

Gabinet-Kroo’s use of insets are a carryover from her delightful and ongoing Birds series. In it, she utilizes finely patterned Japanese chiyogami papers as backgrounds for perched and flying scarlet tanagers, hummingbirds, buntings and the oddly named red-cheeked cordon-bleu, among other species.

Some of her paintings are being printed on eco-friendly clothing fabrics and sold by the Montreal company Le Galeriste.

At the exhibition’s opening on Feb. 13 at 6 p.m., the writers, including Taylor, will be reading their poems. The public will also have a chance to meet them at an event on Feb. 16 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.  “It will be an opportunity to casually talk with the artists and poets, a midwinter hang-out, a Montreal moment,” says Boll.

Boll is working with paper-cut artist Susanne Strater, while Friesen is collaborating with Los Angeles writer Annie Bruno. “It’s a nice bridge between people with different ways of thinking,” says Boll.

The others in the show include artists Suzanne Blouin, Arielle Côté, Jennifer Goddard, Nicke Gorney, Lydia Haywood-Mun, Rachelle Marcoux, Theresa Passarello, Mary Perchanok, Sue Rusk, Gabby Scope, Kathryn Shriver and Wendy Thomas, along with poets Stephanie Bolster, Melissa Bull, Madeleine Caritas Longman, Moe Clark, Sue Elmslie, Sheryl Halpern, Emmy Huot, Victoria Leblanc, Melanie Mitzner, Elizabeth Paulette-Coughlin, Blossom Thom and Carolyne Van Der Meer. 

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