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Indepth Arts News:

"December: Sara Angelucci, Janet Bellotto, Robin Hesse, Ron Hewson, Tania Kitchell, Thérèse Mastroiacovo, Laura Millard, Isabella Stefanescu, Joanna Strong, Larry Towell, Aidan Urquhart and Janet Morton "
2001-12-04 until 2002-01-12
Cambridge Galleries
Cambridge, ON, CA Canada

Work by twelve artists has been selected as a series of propositions that address the question: What does December really feel like. These images reflect the characteristic darkness in which we live at this time, the sudden onset of the cold, the melancholy of the year's end, the season's charm and its excess.

For the most part, there is no reference to the traditional iconography of this time of year, instead, this exhibition proposes an alternative to traditional decorative imagery with art that is expressive and experiential.

December is paradoxical: the encroaching cold and darkness bring people together seeking physical and psychic warmth, yet December separates and isolates too. The easy street level conviviality of the warmer months gives way to a desire to cocoon and the rush to get home out of the cold and the dark. The tempo of life seems to increase as the days shorten. The early onset of darkness after the introduction of daylight savings time comes as a shock to the psyche. Curiously, that first snow that often occurs in December, brings light with it, reflecting the sun, and bringing with it a perception of warmth.

December is the end of the year, and it carries with it the sentiment of endings and new beginnings. The passage of time is acknowledged emotionally, not only for the impending end to the calendar year, but to a life time of calendar years. The iconography of the New Year's celebration often features an old man or Father Time and a baby in a diaper ˆ the new year. In December, adults become openly nostalgic for the innocence and naiveté of childhood, in regret of the knowledge of the passage of time and in longing for a return to pre-adolescent youth.

The contemporary experience of the month of December is highly mediated. The season's traditional music has become increasingly associated with shopping mall and department store Muzak. Television representations of the festivals and observances usurp the participatory character of the seasonal celebrations, making ordinary people spectators of a rehearsed, sanitized and glamorized simulation of the real thing. The television news reports seasonal public spirited contributions to homeless shelters, fires started by faulty Christmas tree lights and space heaters, and the strength of the economy measured in retail sales. And the cable station plays a continuous loop of a log burning in a fireplace.

What does December feel likeNULL How do we experience December in CanadaNULL As a celebration, and as a spiritual religious feeling, December remains a project to be constantly reinvented.

Laura Millard

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