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                Bernard Safran, George Webber and John Dean

January 5th to 25th — Tuesday to Friday 11:00am to 5:00pm, Saturday Noon to 4:00pm

Museum of Contemporary Art-Calgary (MOCA Calgary, formerly Triangle Gallery) — 104, 800 Macleod Trail SE

Free admission. Donations are welcome.

Official opening: Friday, January 5, 2012 at 5:30pm

Presented by MOCA, Museum of Contemporary Art-Calgary

Curated by Jacek Malec, MOCA’s Out of the Shadows special exhibition has been devised as a flagship presentation and contribution to This Is My City.

Out of the Shadows discusses several aspects of street life — vanishing communities, urbanization, prostitution, homelessness, the working class, and the elderly - through the expressive corpus of work of three eminent artists: Bernard Safran (1924-1995) — a New York-born graphic artist, painter and photographer, George Webber and John Dean — two Calgary-based veterans of documentary photography.

The lower gallery features a selection of paintings and photographs by Bernard Safran from his seminal New York City Project documenting the unvarnished reality of, and a complex insight into, everyday life in three of New York’s boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn and Harlem — a premiere presentation of his work in Western Canada. His warm, dark palette sets the tone of the paintings, and emphasizes the brooding atmosphere of the city’s seamier quarters, while his photographs comprise a historical record of New York’s urban lifestyle, sub-culture and fashions of the 1960s and 1970s.

The upper gallery showcases a companion presentation with documentary photographic works by John Dean (East End/Three-Hundred Block Series from the 1970s/1980s) and George Webber (Calgary Series from late 1970s to 2011) reflecting similar subject matter in Calgary. Their close and prolonged observation of the ever changing sub-culture, urban environment and its inhabitants, provide a record of the multi-layered, disturbing and vanishing sections of Calgary. This observation offers the viewer an urban reality we often reject, preferring it to remain hidden, revealed only in shadows.

Out of the Shadows is an exhibition about the artists’ relationship with their respective cities, a remarkably personal story told through compelling paintings and photographs. Safran, Webber and Dean demonstrate a sense of human strength and decency arising from their careful observation of the harsh reality of the streets. The result is a perceptive but sympathetic account of those who attempt to build their dreams on a foundation of rubble, overcrowding, noise, litter, and indifference.

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