Nicole Bauberger retraced the path from her former hometowns of Peterborough, Toronto and Montreal all the way back to her new home of Whitehorse and beyond. She pulled over every 50 km to record the common ground that we so often take for granted: the road and the landscape it moves through. 183 twelve inch square oil paintings measure Bauberger’s migration across our country. One painting at a time, the exhibition expands our ability to imagine the vastness of Canada, capturing the mundane to sublime landscapes that we inhabit along the road home.
The road is our commons. We pay billions to make and maintain it. Our lives and livelihoods require it. And it’s inseparable from how we approach the landscape. This show is not so much about the experience of the landscape as it is about the experience of experiencing the landscape (to paraphrase Lance Blomgren in his 2009 essay on Yukon Drives, the series this body of work builds upon.)
Making this series, I have occupied that commons, using it for something it’s not usually used for. In this way I have taken up a unique position from which to reflect on the road, which is perhaps our largest collective cultural artefact. And it’s one we take for granted. It’s like the air, the atmosphere we need, which we can’t see, and which the practice of driving itself is changing.
As a landscape painter, I find that people respond most easily to familiar landscapes. This show links your own very familiar landscapes to landscapes from Montreal, Ontario, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Alaska, Whitehorse and Inuvik. As viewers move from one painting to another, their imaginations link them together, like an animation. The show offers a site for your own road stories, to tell each other or to write down in the booklets provided.
Canada has a strong landscape painting tradition. Many of the works in the canon look towards the wilderness. Fewer look at the way the artists got there.
Canada’s contemporary arts mostly inhabit urban centres. This series measures, 50 km at a time, the Canada between these cities. I have painted from many nameless places where people seldom stop: boring views from ditches as well as mountains and dramatic skies and traffic signs. In this show I invite viewers to travel with me across the country so we can look at Canada together.
Maybe finally, the “there” in Get There From Here is that common ground, where we both recognize where we are, and can meet there.