Thursday, February 19, 2004

64. Galerie de l'UQAM, Universit� du Qu�bec � Montr�al, & 31. Centre de cr�ativit� du Ges�, 1200 Bleury., Montr�al, Qu�bec, H3B 3J3


I just got in the mail, invitations to UQAM's latest and greatest, they are obviously either feeling the effects of budget cuts. One-color invitations, that gives the artist's name, title of the show, and dates. Or perhaps, in a less gracious manner, they believe that if you're on the mailing list you should be completely aware of the contemporary art world here, so that any other information would just be pandering to your baser instincts. I've met Louise Dery, and I'll stick with budget cuts.

That all being said, Dominique Blain and Guy Laramee the 26th of February, the fun starts at 5:30. I'll see you there, with bells on!

UQAM's gallery is the epitome of a white cube, two of them actually. One really really big, the other merely large. The thing that I particularly like about it, is that they comfortably straddle the line between a museum and an art gallery. In other words, you're always going to get something published in conjunction with whatever they are showing. The documentation is always easy, clear and readily available. And the people who work there (mostly students) are quite friendly and willing to chat about the stuff on the walls. The easiest entrance is from the corner of Berri and Sainte Catherine, walk up the passageway until you hit the door, open and enter. The shows that I have seen there have been mostly hit and miss. As it does seem to be Ms. Blain's month, I'll give a full review next week.

Then yesterday, I was wandering around downtown, and took advantage of the situation in order to check out the show at the Centre de Creativite Gesu. While most people I know are aware of the theater and music that happens there, and the Raelians meet there once a month, I have never, ever seen anybody in there looking at the art. It is by the way, number 31 on the list below.

They have two galleries, one that is about 500 square feet, and another that is maybe 300 square feet. They also use the walls along the entrances to exhibit stuff. They have something happening right now called "Les rencontres interculturelles 2004." It appears that it is loosely affiliated with Black History month. One problem and why I write loosely affiliated, is that it started on January 14. That's sorta like celebrating La fete Saint Jean, on July 1.

The other problem that I found was that other than the artists being "artists of color" I couldn't find any other reason for the selection of artists. If any of you know what Cheryl Daniel, Christopher Kane, Carlyle Williams, Ivan Livingstone, Robert Dufour, Nancy D. Samberg, and Serge Emmanuel Jonge have in common besides skin tone, let me know, ok?

But, some of the stuff that they have there is quite cool. Mr. Kane makes masks in a sorta African/Aboriginal style using clothespins - they are absolutely exquisite, and amazingly graceful. Ms. Samberg seems to like canvas, and I think that she likes it an awful lot. She liberally coats it in thick paint, after having cut it and glued it onto other larger pieces of canvas. Sometimes she gets some interesting effects and juxtapositions, and when she does it kicks butt. But other times, it would be better served by twisting in the wind.

Ivan Livingstone makes (at least what is shown here) small paintings that remind me of the Rev. Howard Finster, you know the guy who did the painting on the cover of the Talking Heads "Little Creatures." I haven't quite decided if I like the titles of the paintings painted onto the painting itself, but they did make me smile. I can't remember any of Cheryl Daniel's or Serge Emmanuel Jonge's stuff, so I guess it wouldn't be such a good idea to discuss it - but I do believe it was there. And then finally there's the Robert Dufour stuff. You gotta literally follow a maze to the back of the church in order to find it, and then it is stuck in the small room, which by its very size does give a sense of claustrophobia. If the room was a tad more comfortable, the art would be better served, it is the sort of stuff that could quite easily be contemplated for more than the five minutes I allotted it, but if the room was bigger than ten feet by ten feet, with seven foot ceilings I'd be mighty surprised.

Then, finally, it has nothing to do with local art, but over at Modern Art Notes and the Los Angeles art blog (see the column on the right for the list of out of town Art Blogs) they're having a whale of a time discussing what's good (not much) and what's bad (an awful lot) about your generic commercial galleries. I highly recommend reading it, if only for the vitriol, I'm going to stay clear of the discussion, and save my venom for the Canada Council.

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