In conjunction with the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery’s exhibition Idyll, artists Audrey Capel Doray and Joan Balzar held a discussion about their work and their careers, which have spanned almost five decades. Capel Doray and Balzar reflected particularly on the 1960s and early 1970s and the context in which their work was produced.
The conversation was moderated by Lorna Brown, an independent artist, curator and writer. Brown is currently working on a web-based project on Vancouver Art in the 1960s.
Born in Montreal, Quebec, Audrey Capel Doray received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from McGill University. She went on to study at Atelier 17 in Paris and at the Central School of Art in London. After moving to Vancouver in 1957, Capel Doray taught at the Vancouver School of Art from 1959 to 1961 (now Emily Carr University of Art + Design). She joined the New Design Gallery in 1962, a critically important arts space that presented live theatre, visual art, films, concerts, lectures and poetry readings and attracted the likes of Marshall McLuhan, Raymond Massey and Lawrence Ferlinghetti to its events. Doray’s transparent plastic kinetic-audio-light sculptures were featured in Arts Canada and received critical acclaim across North America by the end of the 1960s. After a revelatory trip to Salt Spring Island, Capel Doray returned to Vancouver a landscape artist, using new media technology to represent nature; she would later participate in the Stein, Carmanah and Tsitika valley art projects. A recipient of four Canada Council awards, Capel Doray’s work is held in numerous private and public collections, both nationally and internationally. A selection of her work is on view at the Belkin Art Gallery.
Joan Balzar graduated from the Vancouver School of Art in 1957, and went on to study in Paris (1957), Mexico (1959) and Guatemala (1959). Balzar was a prominent member of the Vancouver scene during the 1960s – when she had several exhibitions and was included in important group shows – and was a key figure in the development of West Coast abstract painting. In her work, Balzar incorporated a Minimalist interest in mass-produced industrial materials, specifically neon, while continuing to explore the possibilities of psychological manipulation through color, light, and spatial illusion. The result is work that moves beyond the conventional frame of painting, attempting to create a more experiential relationship strongly related to the ideas of Marshall McLuhan and the psychedelic movement. Her work is included in private and public collections both nationally and internationally. Balzar lives and works in West Vancouver, British Columbia, and is represented by the Elliot Louis Gallery, Vancouver, BC. Balzar’s 1967 work, Fusion is included in Idyll.
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