The year 1979 was a watershed moment in the history of Coquitlam. Coquitlam Centre opened and the centre of the city moved from nearby the Fraser River to a new gathering place in the north, hugging the local mountains. At that point in time, the city counted about 41,000 citizens. In 2016, about 141,000 people called Coquitlam home.
The Art Gallery at Evergreen invited visitors to join their neighbours and their neighbours’ neighbours in creating an exhibition as unique, vibrant and diverse as the City of Coquitlam. The exhibition opened with a Collage Party led by Winnipeg artist Paul Butler and included a crowd-sourced collection of Coquitlam treasures, a continuous portrait of local residents that was projected in the gallery and community-generated art made at several more Collage Parties. We welcomed our visitors and their communities to share in this exhibition by the people of Coquitlam for the people of Coquitlam about the people of Coquitlam.
The Collage Party is a nomadic studio made open to the public where participants come together to make art in a social setting. Since 1997, the Collage Party has been staged throughout North America and Europe in museums, private residences, public schools, universities, hospitals, department stores and community centres.
Paul Butler’s multidisciplinary practice hinges on the logic of collage, from the traditional approach of combining collected-paper source materials to staging events focused on combining participants and establishing collaboration and community, always with a canny intuition for proximity and balance. Butler has exhibited at venues including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; White Columns, New York; Creative Growth Art Center, Oakland; and La Maison Rouge, Paris.
All images: Installation view of EXPO 79/16, exhibition at the Art Gallery at Evergreen, 2017. Photography: Blaine Campbell.