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WAKE UP is the title of the exhibit, currently on show at the Charlotte Hale and Associates Gallery in Toronto, featuring two Durham Region artists. But it could as easily have been called LOOK UP. Both Lynne McIlvride and Francis Muscat of Uxbridge Ont., draw inspiration from the spinning activities of the sky around us; for McIlvride it's tornadoes, for Muscat it is orbiting planets.
While both artists are long time friends and have had exhibited together twice before they each worked independently on this show but the resulting works in textile, wood and glass demonstrate a complex synchronicity that speaks to their relationship and to this connected global village we inhabit.

The bending twisting tornadoes McIlvride creates from zippers, bobbles, scraps of fabric and thread are a way to externalise the recent turmoil in her personal situation. The Twister is the metaphor she uses to examine the turn of events in her life. Previously McIlvride had lived and worked on a farm in North Durham Region. Of course her tornadoes instantly bring to mind the force which took Dorothy away from the black and white world of domestic bliss and into the confusing Land of Oz, of flying monkeys, singing munchkins and walking, talking scarecrows, tinmen and lions. Dorothy's tornado was ultimately benign and whether McIlvride's turn out to be that way too is yet to be seen.
However it is worth noting that along with the fabricated tornadoes on display there are also cats in various poses, drawings cut out and placed in boxes on rugs of old knitwear.
It seems within the colourful chaos, the tumbling tumultuous rotating form McIlvride began to discern something familiar, something comforting and something of a contained energy, a cat curled in on itself but ready to pounce. There is a pattern after all, within the swirling, some governance within the apparent disorder. Within the crouching tiger a hidden dragon even.
The drippings of the spinning cone do not deposit these felines but instead they grow from the corona. The cats arise from the rabbit hole of the vortex. McIlvride has stared into the tornado and seen these forms inside.

The work Muscat has created for the exhibit seems to have come as well from staring into those spinning tops. His curvaceous glass towers are evocative of the Marilyn Monroe condos of Mississauga. The topper, the last layer of glass had to be more than just a tabletop however. Muscat looked into the tunnel created by many multi-coloured layers of glass and saw them come together on one plane. Within the rotation he saw, not the coziness of the home-front McIlvride saw, but it's opposite, the vastness of the universe and its constant circling. Inside the funnel he saw the beginning of systems, of our systems, of our existence: He saw planets. The spinning orbits around Muscat's glass planets are made of silk string carefully built up into concentric patterns. They are as if he stole Van Gogh's starry starry nights and sealed them, amber-like, for the eternities.
Its been many years since Van Gogh took up a brush but in the interim there are people who think that the Dutch impressionist was accurately capturing the turbulent flow of light through a liquid sky. He may have been painting math that is. And math is just another word for pattern recognition. Is Muscat's silk a road through the chaos, are his dwarf planets stepping stones of glass out of our twisted world? Marshall McLuhan chose Poe's tale of the maelstrom to illustrate the world that electronic media would bring into being. We are living that story now. The storm of electrified information is overwhelming, confusing, anxiety-inducing. McIlvride's tornados are hers but they are also ours. This whirlwind world we occupy, well its hard to stand-up to anything, for anything as the ground shifts so quickly around us. But McLuhan also left us a message. He said watch for patterns and pay attention to the pattern-watchers. Muscat and McIlvride have been looking up, watching the skies, keeping notes and they are seeing something there, patterns, something that may be something. They are not saying what yet but watch these two artists. Look them up and maybe you too will wake up to the world around you.

by Will McGirk 2015

By Degrees: Recent Constructions and Paintings

June is a good time of year to think about the work of Lynne McIlvride Evans. As nature creates displays of colour, texture and shape all around every ditch and field resonates with Lynne's work, densely packed shapes and textures, profusion, order.
When I first saw her work about sixteen years ago, it stopped me in my tracks. It still does. Then all the characteristic elements were already in place: the rich complex imagery, the use of three-dimensional object in relief, the gorgeous colour, and last but not least the intense spirituality. I have followed her progress and watched her explore, expand her vocabulary, and experiment with new ways of working. This exhibition brings together threads of several different explorations and looks back over about four years of intense production.
In the nineteen years since she graduated from York University's BFA program, Lynne McIlvride Evans has had a busy and productive career. Her work is hard to place in the spectrum of contemporary modern art. She marches to her own drummer and explores themes that interest her intensely in a unique and very particular way. Hovering between painting and sculpture her meticulously executed works are packed with imagery and symbolism, blazing with colour, mind bogglingly complex and intricately constructed. This is a delicate balance of spirituality, material exuberance and craft. It is organic, sincere and authentic. Most definitely, it is not ironic.

There are many Christian references. One of the few flat paintings and the only achromatic work in the exhibition, Meditation in Three Parts is a large work composed entirely of the word Jesus, endlessly repeated as an act of meditiation and prayer. Lynne describes it as a 'holiday from colour' and says she started in one place, and allowed the design to develop organically with no deliberate intellectualizing.
That making art is a form of worship for Lynne is particularly evident in the labyrinth paintings. The designs come from historical models found on the floors of mediaeval cathedrals such as Chartres. Worshippers trace the path of the labyrinth as a form of prayer. Lynne follows this path when she is painting or constructing her works, just as a walker would.
Her spiritual life and her work are inextricably entwined. The series of cross-shaped works in the exhibition show this very clearly. She responds to the symmetry of the equilateral cross. A richly painted cross-shaped surface is the starting point. Inset beneath this surface is a riotous and variable world of constructed shapes, found objects, and colour.

The work on the invitation, I Don't Know Where I Am But I'm Pretty Sure I'm Drowning, is a cross inspired by text, in this case a hymn from a book of prayers to be used at sea. Parts of the text, lines of type cut from the pages: ...will your anchor hold in the floods of death, when the waters chill your latest breath...for example, wind about the surface to reward close observation. Beautifully constructed three-dimensional objects, reminiscent of sea creatures, fill the recessed space. On the surface waves rotate around the centre and move along the arms of the cross from coolness to warmth.

Not only found texts, make their way into her work. She is now harvesting a long hoarded set of old bird books. This winter a month in Italy, a visit to Assisi and reflections on St. Francis inspired a bird theme and several new crosses will incorporate these delicate and inventive constructions.
There are some pictures of mediaeval alterpieces on her studio walls, which she brought back from this trip. They combine two and three-dimensions, sumptuous surfaces, rich narrative imagery and great spirituality. They reveal what I think might be the origin of this artist's inspiration and the roots of her creativity. Her work celebrates, much as these alterpieces do, the place of human beings in their richly imagined cultures, their spiritual beliefs and their connection to the natural world. She is speaking a universal language in a particular voice.

by Judith Tinkl - June 2004

Judith Tinkl, after early studies in drawing and painting, discovered quiltmaking in the early seventies. She has combined an active career in the fibre arts with teaching and administrative positions at the Ontario College of Art & Design and involvement with various arts and crafts organizations.

Lynne McIlvride Evans at Prime

Lynne McIlvride Evans and her dairy-farmer husband live in Uxbridge, north of Toronto. Evans has been known to turn the family farm into an outdoor gallery and set up her hotly coloured, lavishly detailed constructions out in the fields. Right now, however, they are heating up Prime Gallery, which is hosting Evans' new exhibition, Flora: Recent Paintings and Constructions. There is, as far as I can make out, only one painting here, and it's a honey--a roseate, mega wall-chart, teeming with botanical images, biological names and terms, and garlands of fecund, quickening phrases culled from the Bible's Song of Songs. A joyful explosion of Evans' deeply held Christian beliefs, the big painting, which fairly perspires with pinks, oranges, yellows and golds, would seem perfectly in place in Frida Kahlo's kitchen in Mexico City. Indeed, Evans' constructions, which make up the rest of the exhibition, seem heatedly tropical in a way that, had you not known about Uxbridge, would probably locate them as Central or South-American. Shallow, glassed-over shadow boxes, they are flower-based, hieratic studies in riotous symmetry, with leaves and blossoms cut from heavy, lavishly painted papers, each joyously praising the artist's diety-rich nature.

Saturday, November 4, 2000