Pierre Coupey
After Olson I, 1987
Graphite on Arches paper

the poets have always preceded

art and poetry in Vancouver, 1960 - present

January 26, 2019 – April 27, 2019

Opening Reception, January 25, 7-9 pm

Tour with Guest Curator Lee Plested, Saturday, January 26, 1 pm

Marion Penner Bancroft, bill bissett, Robin Blaser, Judy Chartrand, Jess, Judith Copithorne, Pierre Coupey, Christos Dikeakos, Stan Douglas, Beau Dick, Geoffrey Farmer, Fran Herndon, Carole Itter, Roy Kiyooka, Tiziana La Melia, Al Neil, Judy Radul, Rhoda Rosenfeld, Trudy Rubenfeld, Nancy Shaw with many more.

This exhibition will explore some of the common methods and musings of poets and artists in Vancouver since 1960. Importantly, it gestures to the deep influence of the San Francisco Renaissance Poets on local writers (largely through the invitation of Ellen and Warren Tallman who hosted them in their home and at UBC). This project presents moments from this entwined history of visual and textual poets through examples of publications alongside focused presentations of artist’s work. A conversation emerges through similar modes of cut-up reference and shared formal experimentation, bounding beyond traditional metrical device to realize elegiac elaborations.

  the poets have always preceded will begin its rhizomatic journey around 1960, collecting resonate examples of experimentation in art and poetry to uncover some of the fervent conversation, collaboration and innovation which developed here. Rather than attempting to abridge this incredibly rich history, the exhibition touches on successive moments in artist’s practices to give an inspiring sample of the regions sophisticated achievements in art and letters.

  Many of these artists are known for both their words and images (bissett, Kiyooka, Copithorne, Itter, Neil, Coupey, Rosenfeld, Shaw, etc.) and actively publish writing and exhibit their art. Several these double threats are there from the beginning, and the exhibition takes the opportunity to present works by these steadfast radicals at various points over the decades. Other participants are focused on making art, but deeply involved in conversations with poets, engaged in their critical discussions at venues like Intermedia, the Western Front, the Kootenay School of Writing and Artspeak, to mention only the most public. San Francisco writers play an ongoing role, as they do in the exhibition. Their presence (Duncan, Blaser, Jess, Herndon, Killian, Bellamy) in this project is a tribute to their role in Vancouver’s scene as teachers, champions and companions. The exhibition continues through recent art from Vancouver that goes further in melding the moldable resonances of text with image (Chartrand, Douglas, Farmer, Radul, Dick, La Melia), to bring forward a few contemporary examples of this rich textual tradition.

  An essential element of the exhibition will be the written word itself, and will present the library of the Kootenay School of Writing as a public reading room within the gallery space. Visitors will have the opportunity to dive into a focused selection of the vast production of critical poetry that has been produced in Vancouver. This library space will also host a series of readings and discussion groups to present writing in a direct form, performed in the voice of the poet and digested and dissected through group discussion and review. Programs will include a reading by founding editors of TISH (a highly influential student journal which emerged from UBC in 1960), a Poet Theatre Workshop with Kevin Killian and Dodie Bellamy presented in collaboration with The Capilano Review, and readings and discussion groups conceived by local poets.