Because John climenhage hates artist statements

by Michael Fazackerley

Spacetime. A somewhat inscrutable term that for most probably evokes something to do with Einstein (or perhaps Stephen Hawking) and relativity. The science of it tends to be largely baffling to anyone without a physics degree. The experience of a place in spacetime is, however, much more relatable. What follows is that we cannot be somewhere and observe anything, or change position, without the passage of time occurring. No place without time, and vice versa. You can feel that reality. No need for the cumbersome business of complex mathematics, unless you like that sort of thing.

This is perhaps why science and art often serve as mirrors for each other, translating ways of knowing into their respective mediums. They also share that lack of mutual exclusivity. Though we do not speak of ‘artscience’ despite how it too permeates our understanding of things. Different types of art and artists reflect and reveal each other too.

John Climenhage’s life of exploration into art, science, and philosophy tend to find their way into his brushstrokes. What looks like a painting of the surface of things gives way to something deeper via some form of alchemy, or maybe even magic. When Climenhage set out with his plein air painting kit early in 2020, what began as a personal exploration of a particular time during the emergence of the pandemic became something more. As he traveled out from his downtown home he encountered places in Peterborough that he had seen, and even painted, many times before. Many had changed over the years. Some things he had painted in the past were no longer there, or in some cases even disappeared shortly after. Memories of these places connected to their histories, to other people, other times there, and to other artists.

Soon a coalescing of fellow artists formed around this current moment of reflection that we, like John, have all been forced to stop and take heed of in our own particular ways. What began as the “Pandemic Year” painting series stretched back in time to touch the heritage and cultural history of Peterborough. It evolved to include poetry from Ann Jaeger, Bruce Whiteman, and Justin Million reflecting upon their own experiences of these times and places. Laura Thompson participated in and captured the cross-pollination of ideas and conversation between the artists in video art presentations that curate the concepts they were exploring together.

The works created from these intersections in response to Climenhage’s paintings, along with some archival information and videos, became The Climenhage Project.

An opening night of performance readings from Whiteman and Million go along with the exhibition of John Climenhage’s paintings at Sadleir House, Thompson’s video series, and an interactive walking tour of the places in the paintings created by Ann Jaeger where you can experience your own journey through spacetime in Peterborough.

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