British Columbia

'You can never go back, that was a golden era': Eric Metcalfe exhibition blends art with jazz

The influential artist is known for his abstract paintings and his work as a performance artist, which has earned him the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Visual Arts and a Governor General’s Award.

Even though his alter-ego, Dr. Brute, is retired, Metcalfe still draws on jazz music for inspiration

Pictured here: Dr. Brute, the leopard-print-donning, saxophone-blasting alter-ego of Vancouver artist Eric Metcalfe.

Dr. Brute and his leopard print saxophone once hung with the coolest cats, in the smokiest jazz filled cellars but these days, the alter ego of artist Eric Metcalfe has been put to rest.

Metcalfe created Dr. Brute in the 1960s, a time when visual arts, poetry and jazz would swing in the same circles.

"That was kinda the thing we were all doing at the time was alter-egos," he told host of CBC's Hot Air, Margaret Gallagher.

Metcalfe's works have earned him the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Visual Arts and a Governor General's award.

Over the years, Eric has created album covers for B.C. jazz artists, including the late Ross Taggart and Jennifer Scott.

A 'golden' era

Now, fans old and new can see the covers alongside the works Metcalfe has been polishing for the last decade, at his latest exhibition: Gargoyles and Improvisations.

Gargoyles and Improvisations brings together elements from Metcalfe's eclectic artistic interests including jazz, video, mural painting and light projection.

“A composer writes his score and these are visual scores," said Metcalfe of the album covers and visual works he's been creating since the 60s. (Cellar Live)

It also features a room filled with pieces from the 60s and 70s that were central to his early career.

"I'm not trying to go back there, there's no way. You can never go back; that was a golden era," Metcalfe said.

Still, he'd like to see the art scene look a little more like it used to.

"In the 50s and 60s there was a lot of dialogue between the painters and the poets and the musicians. They would go to the clubs and the painters would hang out, drink in these places and there'd be discussions around the music … they would go and see poetry and they'd hear jazz," he said.

You can see Metcalfe's works at the West Vancouver Museum until Oct. 28.