New exhibit at The Reach blends heritage and visual art

A living soul, a Canadian icon and a piece of Abbotsford’s history will make up the latest exhibition at The Reach Gallery Museum.

Stone T’xwelatse is the centre of the upcoming exhibition at the Reach Gallery and Museum. The show will also feature works by Betty Goodwin and the history of  the Khalsa Diwan Society Sikh Temple in Abbotsford.

Stone T’xwelatse is the centre of the upcoming exhibition at the Reach Gallery and Museum. The show will also feature works by Betty Goodwin and the history of the Khalsa Diwan Society Sikh Temple in Abbotsford.

A living soul, a Canadian icon and a piece of Abbotsford’s history will make up the latest exhibition at The Reach Gallery Museum.

The three shows being unveiled next week are: Man Turned to Stone: T’xwelatse; Betty Goodwin: Darkness and Memory; and Our Communities Our Stories: Sikh Pioneers – 100 Years of Immigration, Integration and Identity.

The exhibits run from Thursday, April 14 to Sunday, May 29 at The Reach, 32388 Veterans Way.

According to curator Scott Marsden, it’s more than just a display.

“It’s heritage and visual art, and how it blends together.”

One of the reasons they combined the three shows was to attract a cross section of the community: Stó:lo people, contemporary art lovers and Sikhs.

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Man Turned to Stone: T’xwelatse

The ancestor of a Chilliwack Stó:lo tribe, T’xwelatse is a man who was born thousands of years ago.

He was transformed into a four-foot-high granite statue as punishment for mistreating his wife.

Through his transformation, he was meant to teach others how to live together in peace.

To the Stó:lo, Stone T’xwelatse is a beloved ancestor – a stone man with a living soul.

His visit to the Reach Gallery is the first time he will be featured as part of an art installation, said Dave Schaepe, director of the Stó:lo Research and Resource Management Centre.

T’xwelatse’s presence is meant to be an informative one, where he will spread his history and life lesson to the people of Abbotsford.

“It’s important because the message is one of learning to live together, and with that comes a history that most people aren’t aware of,” said Schaepe.

T’xwelatse will attempt to bridge the cultural understanding between the Stó:lo people and their neighbours, added Schaepe.

In the great hall, he will be surrounded by video and photographs that focus on the transformation and repatriation of the Stó:lo people and local land.

As T’xwelatse is considered a living object, he will be brought into the gallery just prior to the opening, as the guest of honour, said Marsden.

He wears a cloak at night and doesn’t like to be poked, added Marsden.

“Whether we believe it or not, the Stó:lo do. We don’t have to accept the belief but we have to respect it,” he said.

Schaepe echoed Marsden’s thoughts, adding this is a way to “challenge people to think outside of their cultural comfort.”

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Betty Goodwin:  Darkness and Memory

A leader on the contemporary Canadian art scene since the late ’60s, the works of Betty Goodwin will be showcased at the Reach – the only B.C. museum to host the travelling exhibition.

Betty Goodwin: Darkness and Memory will feature more than 30 works by Goodwin, drawn from the permanent collection at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal.

“She broke the mold and set some national standards,” said Marsden. “She laid the foundation for a lot of contemporary art practise.”

He described her work as versatile, as she utilized numerous raw materials, including tar, tarpaulin, steel rods and tiles.

A subtle humanist perspective can be seen through her drawings, collages, paintings, sculptures and installations, which focus on passage and notions of memory.

According to Marsden, the theme of absence and presence, life and death, and water and air are prevalent in her works.

Hosting an exhibit by Goodwin is a huge compliment for the Reach, said Marsden, adding that it will bring Abbotsford credibility amongst the art community.

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Our Communities Our Stories:  Sikh Pioneers – 100 Years of Immigration, Integration and Identity

Arriving more than a century ago, Sikh pioneers from Punjab, India came together to establish a community in Abbotsford, anchoring it with one of the first Sikh temples in North America – the Khalsa Diwan Society Sikh Temple in Abbotsford.

Built between 1908 and 1911, the temple is the only one of its kind in the Americas to be designated as a National Historic Site by the Canadian Government.

As the only early Sikh temple that has survived intact through the first century of settlement, the Gur Sikh Temple signifies personal sacrifices, perseverance and resilience.

Its restoration represents one of the first steps in preserving the century long history of Sikhs in Canada.

Historic photos that document the development and establishment of Abbotsford’s Sikh community, family artefacts that illustrate the stories told by pioneers and a glimpse into the Sikh faith will provide a background for the community-wide temple centennial celebrations.

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The exhibitions open on Thursday, April 14 with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m.

It will include wine and hors d’oeuvres, and a performance by the Semoya Dance Group.

On Saturday, April 16, they repeat their performance at 1 p.m., which will be followed by a panel discussion.

For more information, contact The Reach at  604-864-8087, email info@thereach.ca or visit thereach.ca.

Admission to these events and the exhibitions is free.