Vancouver artists Steven Shearer and the collective Hadley + Maxwell are the winners of this year's $10,000 VIVA Awards for emerging British Columbian artists, funded by the estate of Jack and Doris Shadbolt. The awards ceremony at the Vancouver Art Gallery this evening will also include the granting of the $25,000 Audain Prize for lifetime achievement, given this year to 92-year-old landscape artist E. J. Hughes.
Collaborators Hadley Howes and Maxwell Stephens work together to produce a range of works, from film sets, video and photography, to writing, opera and dance productions. One of their continuing projects, begun in 2001, involves rearranging the personal living spaces of prominent art-world figures from Montreal to Melbourne, Australia -- including artists, curators and critics -- a conceptual spoof of home-decorating shows. The couple received their training as artists at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver and the prestigious European Graduate School in Switzerland.
They currently teach together at ECIAD.
Fellow VIVA recipient Shearer has gained steady recognition for his artistic responses to mass media. Like Hadley + Maxwell, he works in many media: collage, painting, digital photography, serigraphs, installation and music. His inspirations are various. Much of his work incorporates images downloaded from the Web, and Shearer repeatedly draws on popular culture, often referring to androgynous youth idols Leif Garrett and Shawn Cassidy in works that probe the mass mentality of teen culture and the complexity of teen sexuality. An exhibition at Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver this winter marked Shearer's coming of age as an artist, including a new body of exquisite portrait drawings of counterculture types that Shearer describes as "longhairs."
Hughes, winner of the Audain Prize, is B.C. landscape painting's grand old man, a living link to the art history of the West. (As a young man, he studied with Charles H. Scott, Jock Macdonald and Fred Varley.) After a stint as a war artist from 1939 to 1946, Hughes settled into rural life on Vancouver Island, painting vivid pictures of the B.C. landscape that reveal nature plied by the demands of agriculture, forestry and tourism. In 2001, he was awarded the Order of Canada. In 2003, the Vancouver Art Gallery initiated a full career retrospective of his work, which toured across Canada.