Touring exhibit features work of Shaunavon artist PDF Print
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Tuesday, 05 March 2013 13:50

 

 

Shaunavon based artist Kent Tate is creating some spectacular works that are gaining widespread acclaim with recent showings in various international film and new media festivals, symposiums, group screenings - exhibitions, along with a solo gallery video installation here in the south west.

 

Tate’s work has been featured in a couple of local new high-profile exhibits, including one launched by the Art Gallery of Swift Current last year.

He is also among the artists selected for the juried exhibition organized by the Eastend Arts Council entitled “Visions of Eastend: Under the Living Sky,” The show is currently in Moose Jaw and will be touring a number of communities across Saskatchewan throughout 2013, including Shaunavon at the Grand Coteau this December.

Tate owns and operates Pulsing Earth Media that produces and distributes DVD’s about mountain, prairie, desert and volcanic landscapes in western North America and Hawaii.

The company has been selling their movies to libraries, museums, and bookstores across Canada and in the U.S. since 2005, although Tate’s career as an artist began long before that.

Born in Rivers, Manitoba, Tate spent most of his childhood in Germany and Ottawa. When he was 14 his father died and two years later Kent moved to the United States with his mother where he attended the University of Utah studying painting and film. In 1980, Kent returned to Canada and settled in Toronto before graduating.

The next half dozen years were a creative time for the budding artist, as he produced and exhibited  a varied number of works involving paintings, films, and music.

In the mid-1980s Tate moved to Vancouver exhibiting installations, paintings and sculptures on a regular basis from 1984-1990.

It was a growing fascination with nature and the world around him, however, that ultimately led Tate to a more serious pursuit of video production.

A  summer trip to the Arctic in 1990 - originally to see the Pingos (mounds of earth-covered ice found that can reach up to 70 metres in height) - helped ignite that interest, highlighted by a boat journey along the MacKenzie River.

“There was a sunset that lingered for hours and hours,” recalled Tate. “I thought it was amazing and I was smitten.”

In 1992, Tate visited the Big Island of Hawaii and  was “smitten” once more by Kilauea Volcano, motivating him to move to Hawaii where he owned a house in a native Ohia rain forest just outside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Tate spent more than twelve years living in the area, working on a number of projects, including a year-long stint as the producer - director -editor of a television show for the East Hawaii Cultural Center. The show, called “Arts Seen,” featured stories about local artists. In 2001 he met and married Cheryl who grew up in Port Townsend, Washington and had moved to Hawaii in the 1980’s.

Tate returned to Canada in 2003 and a trip through the Crowsnest Pass, to visit the grave site of his grandfather in Cardston, Alberta, proved to be another important inspiring moment.

“I just fell in love with Canada again,” he stated. “I forgot how expansive and phenomenal the country was.”

In 2005 Kent and his wife Cheryl moved to Victoria helping to care for his terminally ill sister. After she died in 2007, Kent and Cheryl started re-evaluating their own lives and considered plans to move to another part of the country.

“We realized that since our business was primarily web based, it didn’t really matter where we lived,” he said.

An internet search for western Canadian locations with the most annual sunshine directed them to southeast Alberta and Southwest Saskatchewan.

They toured a number of homes in communities through the region, before being drawn to Shaunavon.

“It was a perfect day when we arrived here,” he said. “The town looked like magic - everything was so vibrant.”

“We looked at other communities, but we liked the quality and integrity of Shaunavon.”

The move allowed Tate to re-focus on his filmmaking career, and he found plenty of nearby material to shoot, including the Frenchman River Valley, Ravenscrag Formation, and Grasslands National Park. In fact one of his most popular films, “Long Horizons,” was videotaped in the captivating prairie landscapes  of Grasslands National Park, Frenchman River Valley, Cypress Hills, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Red Deer River Valley (Drumheller), and Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park.

The sky interacting with the hoodoos, badlands, and prairie tells the story of the sublime beauty of these rare and unusual places in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

“This is a special part of the country where we have very interesting and beautiful, formations,” he said. “This area also has a unique quality of light that is quite unlike anywhere else in the world.”

The Swift Current exhibit, organized by the AGSC’s curator Kim Houghtaling, was entitled “Kent Tate: Movies for a Pulsing Earth” and featured a cross section of video created by the Shaunavon artist.

The display included nine large flat-screen monitors - positioned in groups of three on three different walls - simultaneously playing a variety of Tate’s work.

The exhibit also featured an accompanying artist statement, an essay by Saskatchewan based artist, writer, and curator Jeff Nye, and a haunting auditory of re-mixed NASA satellite sound recordings.

“There is no accompanying audio for the pieces, only the slow oscillating sounds of the earth itself,” explained Tate.

The unusual use of sound has a purpose, of course.

Like everything else in the show, Tate wants visitors to re-examine their surroundings, paying attention to the unique beauty the planet has to offer.

“The show includes footage of urban and rural works and our interaction - or lack of interaction - with nature,” he stated. “We are part of something much larger and amazing - it’s a gift and we should enjoy and celebrate it.”

The unique use of sound for this show was a bit of a departure for Tate, who usually creates his own musical compositions for each film.

“I started playing the piano when I was young and at one time there was a debate as to whether I would have a career as a musician or as an artist,” he said.

“But I didn’t like performing, which is a problem for a musician,” he added with a smile.

“Videos are very much like a musical composition,” he continued.  “Ideally, you can get the same feeling emotionally that you do listening to music.”

Movies for a Pulsing Earth enjoyed a strong run in Swift Current and earned high-praise and admiration from visitors.

Laureen Marchand, artist and owner of the Grasslands Gallery in Val Marie in a review written for Gallery West, had this to say about the exhibit:

“ . . . Playing on the monitors are images of spectacular landscapes, animals interacting with their environment, and humans casually going about their ordinary lives. . .”

“As you observe, move about, and absorb this exhibition, relationships amplify and meaning takes shape. Though it sounds trite to say, you feel clearer about your connection to the Earth. Kent Tate’s patient and gorgeous photography and demanding sequential editing, his use of a subtle yet noticeable presence of sound, and his creation of the androgynous watcher, an alternate viewer through whom we can identify our own distancing, combined with curator Kim Houghtaling’s insistence on our physical involvement with the work, allow a rare understanding of what it really means to engage with the “pulsing” planet we live on.”

During a career that now spans more than three decades, Tate has received grants, awards and residencies for his projects from the Banff Centre, the Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council, BC Arts Council, Hawaii State Arts Foundation, and most recently from the Saskatchewan Arts Board. He is a member of CARFAC and the Saskatchewan Filmpool in Regina where his movies have been shown in every annual Filmpool screening since moving to Saskatchewan.

A tour of Kent Tate’s “Movies for a Pulsing Earth” has been organized by curator Kim Houghtaling and the  Art Gallery of Swift Current with bookings from numerous major galleries in Saskatchewan beginning in 2014.

 

 
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