Sarnia artist Gary Nixon was on hand at the Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery on Wednesday July 13, 2016 in Sarnia, Ont., as work from his upcoming exhibition was being hung. Look and See: Gary Nixon in Context opens Friday at 5 p.m., with a talk by Nixon set for 6 p.m. The exhibition runs at the gallery through July 24. Paul Morden/Sarnia Observer/Postmedia Network

A “pop-up” exhibition of work by Sarnia artist Gary Nixon opens Friday at the Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery in downtown Sarnia.

Gary Nixon in Context is the latest Look and See show by a local artist, organized by the public art gallery located at the corner of Christina and Lochiel streets.

It opens at 5 p.m. and Nixon, a former art teacher at St. Patrick’s Catholic High School, is scheduled to speak at 6 p.m.

The exhibition runs through July 24, and includes Nixon’s current work, in which he fuses objects from nature with paint and canvas, as well as earlier paintings and a selection of other work from the gallery’s permanent collection chosen to place his work in the broader story of Canadian art history, according to a gallery press release.

“The paintings can be self-referential events, or they can apply to mankind’s experiences,” Nixon said in the press release.

“Ultimately, I want the paintings to refer implicitly to universality and man to man, his conflicts, achievements and destiny.”

Nixon, who taught at St. Patrick’s for 21 years before he retired, stopped by the gallery Wednesday as the show was being hung.

“I was really excited when they accepted my stuff,” Nixon said.

He said it has been 15 years since he had a show at the county’s public art gallery, known at the time as Gallery Lambton and located then in Bayside Mall.

Nixon said he appreciated that the exhibition developed by gallery curators includes some of his older work, as well as recent pieces.

“I like that context, where you can see a progression in the artist’s work over the years,” he said.

The show is expected to include an approximately 40-year-old piece by Nixon that is part of the gallery’s own collection

“Gary’s artist journey is an inspiration for artists and viewers alike,” gallery curator Lisa Daniels said in the release.

“Inspired by nature and by the materiality of the paint itself, Gary has worked tirelessly, exploring artists responses to his passions by fusing together ideas, experiences, and the medium itself in truly unique ways.”

She added the opportunity “to witness his experiences through an exhibition of paintings that span over 40 years is a real gift.”

Daniels said the gallery’s Look and See exhibition program was created to take advantage of time available between regular exhibitions.

“Rather than let the gallery sit dark, we thought this would be a great space to put up an exhibition of a local artist,” she said.

“It’s short, it’s quick, but it’s still a really good exhibition.”

In the fall, the gallery put out a call for local artists interested in being part of the pop-up exhibitions and attracted more than 25 applications.

“We selected five artists to go out and have a studio visit with.”

Nixon’s exhibition is the second Look and See show organized at the gallery.

“It’s an opportunity for us to go out and see what else is happening in the community, to stay in touch with that,” Daniels said.

The Look and See program gives the gallery an opportunity to showcase more local artists, beyond those included in its regular schedule of exhibitions, she said.

The experience that artists gain from the process can also help them in their careers, she added.

Daniels said it’s also a way for the gallery to see what type of workshops can benefit the local arts community, and has already led to a photography workshop to help artists learn about taking photos of their work when they apply for grants, exhibitions and other programs.

“There are lots of reasons for doing this,” Daniels said.

“The best part is we get to show the community how active our artistic community is.”

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