Autumn in Nova Scotia is often our best season, weather-wise, of course, but also in the galleries. It also signals the return of popular favourites such as Nocturne and a newer arts festival, Responsive: International Light Art Project Halifax.

Organizers haven’t yet announced participating artists and groups, but save the date for Nocturne 2019: Oct. 19. This year, artist and arts administrator Tori Fleming curates the festival, which has the theme of “Scaffold.” As the call for submission says, “Scaffold asks artists to explore how temporary structures can be used to make a larger commentary on the social, physical, and political structures that shape our lives.”

Nocturne has been bringing art to the streets of Halifax for 12 years. The newest art festival in our bustling scene is Responsive: International Light Art Festival Halifax, running Sept. 25–28 at seven venues across Halifax.

It includes 19 artists from around the world. Partners include Dalhousie Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and NSCAD’s Art Bar + Projects. While most of the art projects will only be up over the four days of the festival, Dalhousie Art Gallery is mounting the exhibition Atmospheric Events featuring the artists James Geurts (Melbourne), Andreas Schmid (Berlin), and Christine Sciulli (New York) until Nov. 24.

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia will mount two new exhibitions this fall: Althea Thauberger’s The State of the Situation and NSCAD Lithography Workshop: Contemporary Editions. Althea Thauberger first showed at the AGNS as part of the second Sobey Art Award Exhibition in 2004. This exhibition brings together four of her challenging film installations, creating the first survey of her career to date.

The NSCAD Lithography Workshop was one of the most prominent innovations of NSCAD’s conceptual art era. Organizers revisited the program this past year, inviting seven of the country’s leading contemporary artists to create a lithograph edition with NSCAD staff and faculty (professor Ericka Walker also produced a print as part of the revamped litho workshop).

Melanie Colosimo curates the exhibition, which includes works by Shuvinai Ashoona, Jordan Bennett, Shary Boyle, Brendan Fernandes, Amy Malbeuf, Ed Pien, Derek Sullivan, and Ericka Walker. Both exhibitions open at AGNS on Nov. 9.

Currently on view at the MSVU Art Gallery is a reprise of an important 1989 exhibition, Africville: A Spirit That Lives On. Thirty years on, in collaboration with the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia, the Africville Genealogical Society and the Africville Museum, this project looks back at the original exhibition and takes the opportunity to reflect on what has happened since.

A companion project, a solo exhibition by recent NSCAD graduate Letitia Fraser opens at MSVU on Sept. 14. Fraser, a recipient of the 2018 RBC Emerging Artist Award, paints portrait of family friends and community members onto commercial fabrics, creating rich, tapestry-like portraits of the vibrant life of North Preston and the African Nova Scotian community.

As she told The Coast’s Brandon Young on the occasion of her NSCAD graduation exhibition earlier this year, “we’re not represented very well, so I just want to show my community in another light.” Nov. 3 is the end date for Fraser’s exhibition and Africville: A Spirit That Lives On ends on Nov. 10.

Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery will be displaying an exhibition by a frequent visitor to the city, British artist Tom Hammick, whose paintings and prints will be familiar to many gallery-goers (he showed for years with Gallery Page and Strange, and his works have been included in group exhibitions at the AGNS and other public galleries in the city).

Lunar Voyage is a series of woodcuts that explores what Hammick calls “an existential road journey taken into space,” and which addresses “the outsiderness of being an artist and the unique incompatibility of life on our planet.” The exhibition runs Sept. 14–Nov. 17.

It all makes for an exciting season at the public galleries and for the festivals, with a strong mix of local and regional artists, as well as national and international figures. One can discover emerging artists like Letitia Fraser and be introduced to artists who are making an impact across the world. And we haven’t even got to the commercial galleries and community exhibition spaces—see my next post for those highlights.

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