Gathie Falk has defined her work as a “veneration of the ordinary,” the witty and whimsical treatment of the common objects of everyday life. To this end, she has worked in a variety of media from performance art to sculpture, ceramics, painting and drawing. She was born on the prairies to Russian immigrants.Falk refers fondly to their close-knit Mennonite village where people had emigrated in the nineteenth century. She has memories of fields of juicy, red watermelons, the fragility and economy of eggs, her mother’s gardens, piles of fresh fruit from the neighbour’s cherry tree, homemade shoes and dresses, a colourful Parcheesi game board with mesmerizing illustrations of rural scenes. Visceral moments such as these, rising from the midst of economic difficulty, would later resurface in the content of her work.
Despite going to work early in life to help the family financially, Falk attended night school to complete her education and made time to study singing, violin and piano. After years of factory-work, she became an elementary school teacher. She devoted her spare time and summers to art studies and in 1965, after a decade of teaching, she decided to devote herself to a career in art. That same year she had her first solo exhibit and travelled to Europe for the first time. In 1968 Falk was introduced to performance art through workshops given in Vancouver by New York artist Deborah Hay. She was attracted to this medium that she found was well suited to her sensibilities. Falk turned to developing her unique performance style. Repetition of ordinary activities and motifs of domesticity that were central to her performance then, such as eggs, shoes and cakes, would recur in sculptural and installation works.
In the early seventies Falk turned her attention back to painting and sculpture. Signature pieces that were created in these years such as Eight Red Boots (1973) in the National Gallery’s collection are regarded by critics as theatrical and influenced by surrealism. The juxtaposition of ordinary objects in an unusual environment suggests a new, often dream-like experience of reality. This mood is also evoked through the enigmatic treatment of everyday objects such as a ceramic pyramid of glistening red apples, a birthday cake burning uncontrollably, weathered shoes preserved and encased. Other still lives, Picnic with Clock and Egg Cups, (1976) and Picnic with Birthday Cake and Blue Sky (1976) also in the collection, are examples of central motifs in Falk’s oeuvre that are about the passing of time, mortality and death. Cast in ceramic and covered with colourful glossy varnish, they are typical of Falk’s shiny, wet-looking surfaces and the intention that her sculptures resemble living, breathing objects. Dress with Candles (1997), made with papier maché and acquired by the National Gallery in 1999 exemplifies the artist’s recurring themes of life’s fleeting moments and the interplay between life and death.
In recognition for her achievements she was awarded the Gershon Iskowitz Prize in 1990 and was named to the Order of Canada in 1997.
Falk lives and works in Kitsilano, Vancouver.
Bio taken from National Gallery of Canada Website
1928 in Alexander, Manitoba
Brock Hall, U.B.C., Vancouver
U.B.C. Faculty Club, Vancouver
Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver
Toronto Dominion Bank, Vancouver
Department of External Affairs, Ottawa
Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa
Art Gallery, Stratford, Ontario
Petro Canada, Calgary
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Government of British Columbia, Victoria
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
CBC Collection, Vancouver
B.C. Central Credit Union, Vancouver
Stanmore Investments, Vancouver
University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge
Canadian Commercial & Industrial Bank, Edmonton
Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax
First City Trust, Vancouver
Ringhouse Collection, Edmonton
Indusman Collection, Toronto
Glenbow Art Gallery, Calgary
CBC Collection, Regina
Dupont Canada Inc., Toronto
Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, Toronto
Norcen Energy Resources, Toronto
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria
The Manufacturers, Toronto
Lignum Ltd., Vancouver
Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg
Musee d’Art Contemporain, Montreal
Museum London, London, Ontario
Memorial University, St. John’s Nfld.
Workman’s Compensation Board, Toronto
C.I.L. Collection, Toronto
The Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton
Grant MacEwan Community College, Edmonton
McMichael Canadian Collection, Kleinberg
London Life, London, Ontario
Art Gallery of North York, North York
Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt, Toronto
Kamloops Art Gallery, Kamloops, B.C.
University of British Columbia
Falk, Gathie, and Robin Laurence. Apples, Etc. An Artist’s Memoir. Figure 1 Publishing, 2018
The dazzling, The Things in My Head, a fit ode to Gathie Falk, Robin Laurence, Georgia Straight, November 2015.
Collection, Connection and the Making of Meaning (exhibition catalogue), The Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art, 2013. p. 80.
Laurence, Robin. Falk’s Late Style Takes Wing. The Georgia Straight, November 2007.
Sawchyn, Linda. Gathie Falk Visions. Kelowna Art Gallery (exhibition catalogue), 2002.
Newlands, Anne. Canadian Art From Its Beginnings to 2000. Firefly Books Inc., 2000. p. 103
Thom, Ian M. Art BC: Masterworks from British Columbia. Douglas & MacIntyre, 2000. p. 14, 16, 114-5, 134-135.
Milroy, Sarah. Falkland. The National Post, February 26, 2000. p. 5.
Gopnik, Blake. Fertile Fruit. The Globe and Mail, February 19, 2000. p. R3.
Grenville, Bruce et al. Gathie Falk. Douglas & MacIntyre, 2000. Print.
Richardson, Letia. Complex Simplicity. Artfocus, Fall 1997. p. 26.
L’ ABC daire du Musee, Musee d’art contemporain du Quebec, Les publications du Quebec, 1995. Lombton, Gunda. Stealing the Show. McGill University, 1994. Print.
Rybczynski, Witold. A Place for Art: the Architecture of the National Gallery of Canada. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1993. Print.
Enright, Robert. The Thing in the Head That’s There: A Conversation with Gathie Falk. Border Crossings, 1993.
O’Brien, Peter. Gathie Falk – Wynick Tuck Gallery, Toronto, May 2-23. Parachute Magazine, 1992. Rosenberg, Ann. Life Imitates Art for Fascinating Falk. The Vancouver Sun, Saturday Review, October 5, 1991.
Richard, Alain-Martin and Clive Robertson. Performance in Canada: 1970-1990. Editions Interventions and Coach House Press, 1991. Print. Lind, Jane. Gathie Falk. Douglas & MacIntyre, 1990. Print.
2019: Gathie Falk: New Paintings and Sculpture, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
2019: Cosmos: Erik Olson, Gathie Falk & Margret Nazon, Glenbow, Calgary, AB
2018: Gathie Falk 1974-2018, Michael Gibson Gallery, London, ON
2018: Gathie Falk: The Things We Grow, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
2017: Mostly Small Paintings, Michael Gibson Gallery, London, ON
2016: Water Again, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
2016: Heavenly Bodies Again, Michael Gibson Gallery, London, ON
2015: The Things in My Head, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
2014: Lux: Water, Michael Gibson Gallery, London, ON
2014: Paperworks, Burnaby Art Gallery, Burnaby, BC
2011: Presence and Absence, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
2010: Gathie Falk, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
2007: Gathie Falk: Dreaming of Flying, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
2005: Heavenly Bodies, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
2004: Baseball Caps, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
Gathie Falk/Apparel, Evergreen Cultural Centre, Coquitlam, BC
2002: Gathie Falk: Visions, Kelowna Art Gallery, Kelowna, BC
2001: Portraits, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
2000: Gathie Falk, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC (Retrospective Exhibition travelling to the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON; Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, MB; Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax, NS; Musee des Beaux Arts de Montreal, Montreal, QC Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, ON, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, NB)
1999: Gathie Falk: Souvenirs du quotidien, Musee Regional de Rimouski, Rimouski, Quebec, QC
1998: Galerie Rene Blouin, Montreal, QC
Traces : An Installation, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1997: Apples, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1996: Pieces of Water: 1995-1996, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1995: Heads, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1994: Nice Tables with Details, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
Recent Works by Gathie Falk, Art Gallery of S.W. Manitoba, Brandon, MB
1993: Clean Cuts, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1992: Development of the Plot, Wynick Tuck Gallery, Toronto, ON
1991: Venice Sinks with Postcards from Marco Polo Series, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1990: Hedge and Clouds Series, Isaacs Gallery, Toronto, ON
Ceramic Sculpture from the 60’s and 70’s, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
Hedge and Cloud Series, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1988: Support Systems, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
Support Systems, Isaacs Gallery, Toronto, ON
1987: Soft Chairs, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
Soft Chairs, Isaacs Gallery, Toronto, ON
Soft Chairs, 49th Parallel, New York, NY
1985: Painting Retrospective, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, BC (touring) Retrospective, 1962-85, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC
Chairs, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1984: Theatre in B/W and Colour, Isaacs Gallery, Toronto, ON
1983: Theatre in B/W and Colour, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1982: Pieces of Water, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
Pieces of Water, Isaacs Gallery, Toronto, ON
Herd One Installation and Cement Paintings, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1981: Beautiful B.C. Multiple Purpose Thermal Blankets, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1980: Night Skies, U.B.C. Fine Arts Gallery, Vancouver, BC
Night Skies, University of Southern Alberta, Lethbridge, AB
Night Skies, Glenbow Museum, Calgary, AB
1978: East Border & Sculptures, Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, AB
150 Cabbages and Borders, Artcore, Vancouver, BC
1977: Herd I, Forest City Gallery, London, ON
1976-77: Herd II and Drawings, National Gallery Tour
1976: 39 Drawings, Bau-Xi Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1974: Single Right Men’s Shoes, Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris
1968: Living Room, Environmental Sculpture & Prints, Douglas Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1967: Odalesque Gallery, Victoria, BC
1965: Paintings, Canvas Shack
1990: Salute to the Lions of Vancouver, Canada Harbour Place, Vancouver, B.C.
1988: Development of the Plot, Cineplex Odeon, Park and Tilford Garden, North Vancouver
1987-88: Diary, The Chancery, Canadian Embassy, Washington, D.C.
1979: B.C. Multiple Purpose Thermal Blanket, B.C. Central Credit Union, Vancouver
1971-72: Veneration of the White Collar Worker #1 and #2, Department of External Affairs, Ottawa
GRANTS AND AWARDS
2013: Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts
2003: Governor General’s Award in Visual Arts
2002: Order of British Columbia
1997: Order of Canada
1990: Gershon Iskowitz Prize
1980: Canada Council Senior Grant
1971: Canada Council Arts Bursary
1969: Canada Council Arts Bursary
1968: Sun Award
1968: Canada Council Arts Bursary
1967: Canada Council Short Term Grant
Michael Gibson Gallery
44 pages, colour illustrations, 5 3/4 x 5 1/2 in., softcover
Michael Gibson Gallery exhibition catalogue for Curnoe Ewen Falk Moppett. Our 2013 show that re-visited the original 1982 exhibition at the MacKenzie Art Gallery.
Sara Angel, Founder and Executive Director of the Art Canada Institute recently spent a morning at the Michael Gibson Gallery. Join Angel as she receives a tour of the exhibit "Chroma" and discusses with Michael Gibson and Jennie Kraehling the many artists exploring glorious colour through their artworks.