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FALK, Gathie

Alexander, Manitoba, 1928
Biography synopsis
Interdisciplinary artist Gathie Falk, known for her "veneration of the ordinary," has sustained a diverse practice spanning nearly sixty years. Raised in a Russian Mennonite immigrant family, she was offered free art lessons when living in Winnipeg in 1941, but because of family debts she was required to abandon school and work to support her family. In 1947 she moved to Vancouver where she studied at teachers college while continuing to work in factory jobs. In 1953, while teaching, she attended the University of British Columbia to take painting courses, studying under J.A.S. MacDonald (1957-58) and Jacques de Tonnancour (1959). It was only in 1960 that she showed her work in public at the annual Vancouver Art Gallery exhibition. Falk subsequently enrolled in the Fine Arts program at U.B.C., studying with ceramist Glen Lewis (1964-67) who introduced her to the medium that would become prominent in her work. In 1965, she left teaching to focus on her art production, and with a Canada Council grant built a ceramic studio. Falk held her first exhibition of ceramic sculpture and installations in 1968, and in the same year began to explore performance work, attending among others the Judson School for dance and performance. Falk produced a number of performances between 1968-1972; however, she eventually chose to return to painting and drawing in the later 1970s and 80s. She also taught Visual Arts at U.B.C. in 1970–71 and 1975-1977. Among the numerous awards she has received for her artistic production are the Order of Canada (1997), the Governor-General's Award (2003), and the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2013). The Equinox Gallery (Vancouver) has shown her work since 1982. Her first retrospective was held in 1985, and in 2022 she had a survey exhibition at the McMichael Gallery. In addition to public art works in Vancouver and other North American cities, her works can be seen in numerous Canadian public and private collections.
Media used
Performance art
University of British Columbia, 1955 - 1967 (under J.A.S. MacDonald (1957-58), Jacques de Tonnancour (1959), and Glen Lewis (1964-67))
File & Archive locations
University of Calgary Library, AB
Vancouver Art Gallery, BC - Library
Edmonton Art Gallery, AB - Library
University of British Columbia - Fine Arts Library
Vancouver Public Library, BC - Fine Arts and History Department
Winnipeg Art Gallery, MA - Clara Lander Library
Hamilton Public Library, ON - Local History and Archives Department
London Art Gallery, ON
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
Art Gallery of Ontario - Edward P. Taylor Research Library and Archives
Artexte Information Centre, QC - Documentation Centre
Toronto Reference Library, ON
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts / Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, QC
Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, QC - Media Centre
Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Documentation Centre, QC

Writings about
Exhibition of Works by Gathie Falk & Glenn Lewis Vancouver, B.C.: Vancouver Art Gallery, 1970.
Gershon Iskowitz Prize, 1986 to 2006. Toronto, Ontario: Gershon Iskowitz Foundation, 2009.
Younger Vancouver Sculptors: Fine Arts Gallery, the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, from October 15 through November 2, 1968 Vancouver, B.C.: The Gallery, 1968
Alfoldy, Sandra. The Allied Arts: Architecture and Craft in Postwar Canada Montreal, Quebec: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2012
Anderson, Heather and Chrystal Clements. Portraits: Unsettled Subjects Halifax, Nova Scotia: Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery, 2001
Art Gallery of Ontario, Women’s Committee. Ceramic Objects Toronto, Ontario: The Gallery, 1973
Art Gallery of Peterborough. Atmospheric Synthesis: Patterson Ewen, Otto Rogers, Gathie Falk, David Bierk Peterborough, Ontario: Art Gallery of Peterborough, 1985, 1985
Augaitis, D., et al.. Modern in the Making: Post-War Craft and Design in British Columbia Vancouver, B.C.: Vancouver Art Gallery, Berkeley Figure 1 Publishing, 2021
Augaitis, Dana. Gathie Falk: Ceramic Sculpture (1967-1976) Vancouver, B.C.: Equinox Gallery, 2018, 2018
Balkind, Alvin. Four Places: Allan Detheridge, Gathie Falk, Liz Magor, An Whitlock Vancouver, B.C.: Vancouver Art Gallery, 1977
Balkind, Alvin, editor. From This Point of View: 60 British Columbia Painters, Sculptors, Photographers, Graphic and Video Artists Vancouver, B.C.: Vancouver Art Gallery, 1977
Bellerby, Greg. Gathie Falk: Paintings 1978-1984 Victoria, B.C.: Art Gallery Greater Victoria, 1985
Belton, Robert James. Sights of Resistance: Approaches to Canadian Visual Culture Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2001
Beug, Lorne. Clay as Sculpture Calgary, Alberta: Alberta College of Art Gallery, 1977
Bierk, David, et al. New Perceptions: Landscapes Toronto, Ontario: Art Gallery at Harbourfront, 1983
Boucher, Melanie. "Effets de sculpture en performance: l’immobilité chez Gathie Falk et Megan Rooney/The Sculpture Effect in Performance: Immobility in the Works of Gathie Falk and Megan Rooney." Espace: art actuel, 115 (2017): 36-45
Bronson, A.A. and Peggy Gale. Performance by Artists Toronto: Art Metropole, 1979
Brown, Lorna, Greg Gibson and Jana Tyner. Beginning with the Seventies. Glut, Radial Change, Collective Acts, Hexsa'am Vancouver, B.C.: Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, 2020
Canada Council. The Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts 2003 Ottawa, Ontario: Canada Council for the Arts, 2003
Canadian Guild of Potters. Invitation I: Achard, Falk, Lindoe, Roy, Sures Toronto, Ontario: Canadian Guild of Potters, 1968
Caplan, Usher et al.. Treasures of the National Gallery of Canada Ottawa, Ontario: National Gallery of Canada, 2003
Centre culturel canadien.. Chaussures du pied droit pour hommes: céramiques de Gathie Falk Paris: Centre culturel canadian, 1974
Chaisson, Caitlin. "Apples, etc.: An Artist's Memoir." B.C. Studies 203 (2019): 163-165
Conley, Christine and Jane Martine. Gathie’s Cupboard 1988-1999: Paintings, Drawings and Prints Ottawa: Carleton University Art Gallery, 1999
Cronin, Ray. "Gathie Falk: A Retrospective.” CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal 165.6 (2001): 803–804
Enright, Robert. "The Thing in the Head That’s There: A Conversation with Gathie Falk." Border Crossings 12.46 (May 1993): 20-23
Ernstrom, Adele M. "Stealing the Show: Seven Women Artists in Canadian Public Art." Woman’s Art Journal 18.2 (1997): 53-55
Falk, Gathie. Gathie Falk: Chairs: A Series of Small Paintings Vancouver, B.C.: Equinox Gallery, 1985
Falk, Gathie. Performance Art Retrospective: Nov. 26, 1986 Ottawa, Ontario: National Gallery of Canada Library, 1986
Falk, Gathie. "Recent Work." The Capilano Review 1.50 (1989):136-141
Falk, Gathie and Ann Rosenberg. Gathie Falk: Beautiful British Columbia Thermal Blanket Series Vancouver, B.C.: Equinox Gallery, 1981
Falk, Gathie and Sarah Milroy. Gathie Falk: Revelations, Virtual Curatorial Talk (video) McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 2022
Fetherling, Douglas. Documents in Canadian Art Peterborough: Broadview Press Ltd, 1987.
Findlay, Len. “Rumours of Our Breath.” Border Crossings 12.3 (July 1993): 50-53
Gibson, Michael. Greg Curnoe, Paterson Ewen, Gathie Falk, Ron Moppett London, Ontario: Michael Gibson Gallery, 2013
Gogarty, Amy. "The Doris Shadbolt Pottery Collection." Ceramics Art and Perception 85 (2011): 72-74
Gold, Rob and Melanie Kruyt. Great Work!: An Overview of Contemporary British Columbia Artists. Vancouver, B.C.: Melanie Gold Artadvisory Ltd, 1996
Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art. Readymades: Arabella Campbell, Douglas Coupland, Stan Douglas, Gathie Falk, Geoffrey Farmer, Rodney Graham, Brian Jungen, Damian Moppett, Mina Totino, Ian Wallace, David Weir. Vancouver, B.C.: Gordon & Marion Smith Foundation for Young Artists, 2016
Graff, Tom. Night Skies: Gathie Falk. Lethbridge, Alberta: Southern Alberta Art Gallery, 1980
Graham, Mayo. Greg Curnoe, Paterson Ewen, Gathie Falk, Ron Moppett. Regina, SK: Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery, 1982
Graham, Mayo. Some Canadian Women Artists/ Quelques artistes canadiennes. Ottawa, Ontario: National Gallery of Canada for the Corporation of the Nation, 1975
Grande, John. "Survivors, in Search of a Voice: the Art of Courage." Espace 33 (1995): 40-42.
Grenville, Bruce et al. Gathie Falk. Vancouver, B.C.: Douglas & MacIntyre, 2000.
Grenville, Bruce, Bradley, Jessica and N. Jolicoeur. Corpus. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Mendel Art Gallery, 1995
Griffin, Kevin. "Gathie Falk and the Uncanny: Art that makes the Familiar Unusual at Equinox Gallery." Vancouver Sun 10 Dec. 2015
Heisler, Franklyn. Tables Turned: Aspects of Furniture as Visual Art. Banff, Alberta: Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, 1987
Heller, Jules and Nancy. North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century. New York: Garland, 1995.
Jacques, Michelle. Gathie Falk: Life & Work. Toronto, Ontario: Art Canada Institute, 2022
Johnson, Carl. Gathie Falk: Souvenirs du quotidien Rimouski, Quebec: Musee regional de Rimouski, 1999
Klunder, Harold and Ann Beam. Intervention: 31 Femmes peintres/ 31 Women Painters Montreal: Visual Arts Centre, 2018
Lacasse, Suzanne. National Gallery of Canada: Guide Ottawa, Ontario: National Gallery of Canada, 1988
Laliberté, Norman, and Alex Mogelon. Art in Boxes New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1974
Lambton, Gunda. Stealing the Show: Seven Women Artists in Canadian Public Art Montreal, QC: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1994.
Laurence, Robin. Apples, Etc. : An Artist's Memoir. Vancouver, BC, Berkeley, CA: Figure. 1, 2018
Laurence, Robin. “Gathie Falk.” Border Crossings 22.2 (May 2003):78-79
Laurence, Robin. “Gathie Falk.” Border Crossings 35.2 (June 2016): 145-146
Laurence, Robin et al. Gathie Falk. Vancouver, BC: Douglas & McIntyre, 2000
Lee, James-Jason. “An Apple a Day Keeps the Critics at Bay.” Border Crossings 19.3 (Aug 2000): 80-82
Lewis, Glenn, et al. B.C. Almanac(h). Vancouver, B.C.: ‎ Presentation House Gallery, 2015.
Lind, Jane. Gathie Falk (Canadian Artists Series). Vancouver, B.C.: Douglas & McIntyre, 1989
Lowndes, Joan. “Gathie Falk: Transfiguration De L’Ordinaire.” Vie des Arts 27.108 (1982): 58-60
MacDonald, Colin S. The Dictionary of Canadian Artists. (Volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker) Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2009.
MacInnes, Teresa. The Other Side of the Picture Ottawa, Ontario: National Film Board of Canada, 1998
Mars, Tanya and Johanna Householder, eds. Caught in the Act: An Anthology of Performance Art by Canadian Women Toronto, Ontario: YYZ Books, 2004
Martin, Elizabeth and Vivian Meyer. Female Gazes: Seventy-Five Women Artists Toronto: Second Story Press, 1997
Mastai, Judith. "The Anorexic Body: Contemporary Installation Art by Women Artists." Generations and Geographies in the Visual Arts: Feminist Readings, editor Griselda Pollock London, England: Routledge, 2005: 180-192
Matuz, Roger. Contemporary Canadian Artists Toronto, Ontario: Gale Canada, 1997
McCallum, Pamela. "On Shoes and Committee Meetings: Some Thoughts on the Erasure of Women." Tessera 27 (Winter 1999): 95-100
McKaskell, Robert and Marco Y. Topalian. Making it New! (the Big Sixties Show). Windsor, Ontario: Art Gallery of Windsor, 2000
Milroy, Sarah. Gathie Falk: Revelations Vancouver ; Toronto ; Berkeley: Figure.1, 2022
Milroy, Sarah. Gathie Falk: Revelations, Virtual Curatorial Talk Vaughan, Ontario: McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 2022
Newlands, Anne. Canadian Art: From its Beginnings to 2000 Richmond Hill, Ontario: Firefly Books, 2000
Newlands, Anne. Canadian Paintings, Prints and Drawings Buffalo, New York and Richmond Hill: Firefly Books, 2007
Oleksijczuk, Denise. Gathie Falk Vancouver, B.C.: Vancouver Art Gallery, 1993
Pagonis, Illyas. Fired Sculpture: An Exhibition Victoria, B.C.: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, 1974.
Philibert, David. "La Sculpture et au delà de la Sculpture dans l’Ouest du Canada." Vie des Arts 54 (1969): 44-48
Poser, Carol. "Patterning and Decoration: A Dialectic of Rhythm." Vanguard 10.5-6 (Summer 1981): 30-37
Redekop, Magdalene. Making Believe: Questions about Mennonites and Art Winnipeg, Manitoba: University of Manitoba Press, 2020
Richard, Alain-Martin and Clive Robertson, eds. Performance Au Canada, 1970-1990. Quebec, Qc.: Éditions Intervention, 1991
Roberts, Ann. Containment: The Space Within, an Exhibition of Clay and Glass Art at the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, January 18-April 10, 1994 Waterloo, Ontario: Waterloo Printing, 1994
Rosenberg, Ann. "Art Works." The Capilano Review 1.24 (1973): 5-63
Rosenberg, Ann. "Vancouver: the Four Voices of 'Four Places." Artmagazine 8. 33 (1977): 21-23.
Rossiter, Sean. “Hotrod and Cabbages: The Homely Surrealism of Gathie Falk.” Vanguard 12.8 (Oct 1983): 40–44.
Roy, M.. "Corporeal Returns: Feminism and Phenomenology in Vancouver Video and Performance, 1968-1983." Canadian Art 18.2 (2001): 58-65
Sawchyn, Linda. Gathie Falk Visions Kelowna, B.C.: Kelowna Art Gallery, 2002
Shadbolt, Doris. “Tableau Is Her Form.” Artscanada 29.166/167/168 (Spring 1972): 30–33
Shadbolt, Doris. “The Transparency in Clay.” Ceramics Monthly 35 (Feb. 1986): 25-30
Sirotnik, Gareth. “Gathie Falk: Things That Go Bump in the Day.” Vanguard 7.1 (Feb 1978): 8-10
Thom, Ian M. Art BC : Masterworks from British Columbia Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2000
Tourangeau, Jean. "Vancouver Now." Vie des Arts 32.127 (1987): 29-31
Townsden, Melanie Adaire. Beyond the Box: Diverging Curatorial Practices Banff, Alberta: Banff Centre Press, 2003
Trasov, Vincent. The Favorite Clothes of Gathie Falk Ottawa, Ontario: National Film Board of Canada, 1970
Tuele, Nicholas, and Christina Johnson-Dean. British Columbia Women Artists, 1885-1985 Victoria: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, 1985
University of Alberta, Latitude 53 Society of Artists. Issues in Clay: Western Canadian Sculpture: An Exhibition Edmonton Alberta: University of Alberta., 1982
Van Eijnsbergen, Ellen and Robin Laurence. Gathie Falk: Paperworks Burnaby, B.C.: Burnaby Art Gallery, 2014
Varney, Ed. Apples and Oranges: Cut & Paste: Collage in Vancouver: an Exhibition of Collages by Vancouver artists Vancouver, B.C.: Atrium Public Gallery, 1999
Watson, Scott and Sandra Martin. “Whimsical, Troubled and Bizarre: The Enigmatic Visions of Gathie Falk.” Canadian Art 2.3 (Fall 1985): 52–58.
Watson, Scott, Tom Graff and Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker. Gathie Falk Retrospective Vancouver, B.C.: Vancouver Art Gallery, 1985
Williamson, Moncrieff. Canadian Fine Crafts: An Exhibition Collection by Moncrieff Williamson Montreal: Canadian Government Pavillion, 1967
Winnipeg Art Gallery. West Coast Waves: Michael De Courcy, Dean Ellis, Gathie Falk, Sherry Grauer, Bill Jones, Glenn Lewis, Allan McWilliams, Liz Magor, N.E. Thing Co., Richard Prince, Dennis Vance Winnipeg, Manitoba: The Gallery, 1976

Writings by
Falk, Gathie. Gathie Falk Edmonton Alberta: Edmonton Art Gallery, 1978
Falk, Gathie. Gathie Falk/Videoseries 86/87: Videotape by Jean Gagnon and Paul Gauvin.GRAAV New York, N.Y.: 49th Parallel, Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art, 1987
Falk, Gathie. Pieces of Water: 1995-1996 Vancouver, BC: Equinox Gallery, 1996
Falk, Gathie. "A Short History of Performance Art as it Influenced or Failed to Influence. My Work." Artscanada 38.1 (Mar-Apr 1981): 12-14
Falk, Gathie. "Boot-Case Drawings." The Capilano Review 1.8-9: (Fall 1975): 309-312

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