Right now and running until April 28, the Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq is presenting a marvellous retrospective exhibition of the work of American-born Canadian artist Tim Gardner called Tim Gardner: The Full Story.

Working primarily in watercolors, oils and pastels, Tim Gardner draws inspiration from various sources; nature, urban scenery, the mundaneness of everyday life, masculinity and the idea of being alone in vast spaces. These are just some of the subject matter that Gardner takes creative energy from.

What makes Gardner truly a remarkable artist is that his paintings capture the essence of what he is trying to convey and communicate in a hyper-realistic way. They are so realistic that you get a sense when looking at his paintings that one bad brush stroke could ruin the entire piece, but more than that, Gardner’s paintings offer a real sense of warmth and comfort to the viewer that is very special.

Tim Gardner has a very definite Winnipeg connection. Though he was born in Sioux City, Iowa, the family would end up moving to Waterloo Ontario, and eventually, he ended up moving to Winnipeg in his Grade 12 year, where he was a student at Fort Richmond Collegiate. Gardner credits his art teacher at Fort Richmond, Allan Geske, for supporting and fostering his art. Geske also helped him put together a portfolio for university applications.

Gardner ended up going to the University of Manitoba where he got a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), and from there he received a Masters of Fine Arts from Columbia University in New York.

Stephen Borys is the Director and the CEO of the WAG-Qaumajuq, and he is also the curator for Tim Gardner: The Full Story. As he explains, “The works are literally coming from across North America. We borrowed works from major museums and galleries … but a lot of the key works came from private collections across the country and the United States, and that was the most difficult thing … to gather those works … but we wanted to get the best things to really give a survey of Tim’s work over 30 years.”

Borys and the WAG-Qaumajuq got in touch with Gardner’s two major dealers, Monte Clark Gallery in Vancouver and Gallery 303 in New York. Both of the galleries had great inventories of where Gardner’s sold works went. The galleries then contacted the buyers to see if they would lend the pieces to WAG-Qaumajuq, which they generously did.

The exhibit consists of more than 130 of Gardner’s works, running from his early paintings that were actually done while he was a student at Fort Richmond Collegiate to his more current work.  As Borys states, “Fortunately Tim also kept things. On one of my visits to Tim out west, he pulled out this folio of works from Grade 12 … there were some still lifes, some landscapes … I’m glad he kept them because they are in the show.”

Photo Credit: 303 GalleryTim Gardner, "Great Divide," watercolour on paper. (303 Gallery)

Tim Gardner: The Full Story is curated by theme. As Borys explains, “We’ve given the show about 10,000 square feet so there is lots of space. We are covering 30 years … you could lay it out chronologically … on the other hand, [Gardner] sometimes goes forward and backwards with chronology … so we chose to do it by theme.”

Borys continues, “There is a whole section devoted to his family … there’s one gallery of the large scale portraits, another one based on his spring break trips … Los Angeles, New York. Then there’s a gallery called 'Canadiana,' it has the best most recognizable Canadian scenes. There is the 'Whiskey Bottle Gallery,' where there are literally 12 bottles of whiskey he’s painted. Night and day … solitary figures … there are about a dozen themes in the show.”

No matter what background a WAG-Qaumajuq patron comes from -- young or old, rich or poor, casual viewer or passionate art devotee -- there is something in the exhibit that anyone will connect with. Gardner’s works have a reality and warmth to them that anybody can relate to.

As Borys put it, “Every so often we do a show that connects with a lot of different people, from a lot of different neighbourhoods, backgrounds and perspectives … and this is one of them. We do sometimes create shows that are truly accessible … visually, intellectually and emotionally … Tim garner hits all those buttons.”

For more details visit the WAG- Qaumajuq’s website. Don’t miss out! This is an exhibit that everyone should see.

HJ"Self Portrait with Old Piano," 2020, watercolour on paper. (Monte Clark Gallery)
fjj"Manhattan Ave," 2018, watercolour on paper. (Monte Clark Gallery)
ghdj"Donut Shop," 2022, Watercolour on paper. (Monte Clark Gallery)