Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Canadian Art thinks that these are the best things


Now I shouldn't really be bashing the magazine called Canadian Art. They published an amazing article about Zeke's Gallery written by R. M. Vaughan back in 2001. However, while I appreciate what they are attempting to do, there are times when I disagree with how they go about it.

They are celebrating their twentieth anniversary, and as a consequence have decided to republish (on the web) "articles that highlight the main players and events that have shaped the Canadian art scene over the past two decades."

Article number one, from 1987. 3,397 words written by Peggy Gale. The whole article can be summed up by the final paragraph:
In a world of power and commodity, the photograph itself is commonly undervalued, seen as a mere tool. But in the hands of Jeff Wall, the iconic, the powerful, the useful are compounded in large and brilliant photographic images. In Ian Wallace's work, coolly detached, the intellectual, educator and flâneur notate the city and history. The work is making its impact, but elsewhere.
I'm never a big fan of the big word, especially when used in a context such as this. But what am I gonna do? Write a letter to the editor, seventeen years after the fact. Also, in going through Google, I came across this interview with Mr. Wall.

Article number two, from 1984. 3,613 words by Gary Michael Dault. It is a profile of Philip Monk. It touts him as a full-time art critic, I imagine that the money was so good, that he felt like he was slumming when he got the gig at York University. Although my memory doesn't stretch that far back, I am certain that twenty years ago there were at least another dozen people in Canada who were "professional art critics." Although, I find it very interesting that Mr. Dault doesn't count the fine folk who write for newspapers as critics.

Article number three. 3,991 words by Susan Crean from 1986. Now this is where I see that Richard Rhodes (the editor of Canadian Art) might be pushing things. The article is titled "The Declaration of Independents: How freelance curators are turning Canadian galleries inside out." Professing to be a profile piece about Renee Baert, Elke Town and Peggy Gale, I can't help but thinking that the fine folk at the Canada Council are likely to be reading these articles at the very same time that they are making decisions about various changes that have been proposed. (See previous posts here one, here two, here three, here four, and here five) Something along the lines of, things are finally good now, why mess with success?

Article number four, 4,700 words by Richard Rhodes, from 1995. It is supposed to be a piece about some exhibition by Noel Harding in Russia. But somehow Mr. Rhodes forgot to mention Mr. Harding's name in the first five paragraphs (almost 800 words), and the whole article comes across more as a travelogue of Communist Russia instead of a detailed piece about a wicked cool exhibition.

So, if I get this right, Canadian Art magazine thinks that it more important to be a curator in Canada as it is to be an artist. There are articles profiling four curators/critics and articles profiling three artists, and one of those is more like a travelogue. They promise more, hmmm.

Monday, December 27, 2004

New Year, New Job?


I came across indeed.com, which sure is a cool website.

Type in one word, and see what pops out:
If you're in Washington DC and can teach drawing, somebody is Seeking an Art Tutor.
If you're in DC, and can't draw, but like contemporary art, I hear that the Smithsonian is looking for a mid-twentieth century and contemporary African art Curator.
If you're in NYC and want to spend someone else's money, Citigroup is looking for a new Art Curator.
Still in NYC, this one looks perfect for bloggers, an Editorial Coordinator for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Now if they would only branch out to Canada...

Newspaper to avoid


The Gazette in their infinite wisdom, decided to publish an article called Faces to Watch where they "asked our entertainment writers to choose two artists each to profile and tell our readers why we think they're going to have high-profile a year in 2005." And while I have nothing against any of the writers or the artists chosen, I think it is absolutely reprehensible that they give the "Circus Arts" a nod, but somehow manage to completely avoid anything that could even be remotely considered the Visual Arts.

Behind the scenes


Since an awful lot of people seem to be all atwitter about Art in America publishing a 782 word sidebar about Art Blogs, I thought I might write something similar about the Art Blogs, I read. But then I thought about it again, and said to myself, "naw, I'll wait for a rainy day." So instead of that, there's this. [For those of you who are disappointed by my decision, ArtTwit is amazing, and Mike Patten is wonderful.]

For the past little while I've been compiling a bunch of articles that deal with the Art World without discussing the actual art in any great detail. Sort of like reading the business pages of the newspaper. In my mind that's where all the meat happens.

Back at the begining of December the Field Museum sold 34 paintings of 19th Century Western art for $17.4 million. The thing that made me sit up and take notice was that the bulk of the paintings were by George Catlin, who according to the article "painted during his travels in the American frontier in the 1830s." If my memory is correct, very similar to what the Group of Seven did on this side of the border about 80 years later. The selling price averages out to a little bit more than $500,000/per painting, which strikes me as reasonable for what they are. However, on this side of the border, for a variety of reasons the Go7 grabs disproportionately more headlines anytime a painting of theirs gets sold.

Then, a couple of days later, Lily Koppel anticipating the year-end frenzy of remembrances wrote about what had happened to the prices of the art by Richard Avedon, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Helmut Newton since their deaths. With the most interesting tidbit being, that the "Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco, which has the largest inventory of Avedon's work, has temporarily suspended sales" and "The Helmut Newton Foundation has not released anything since Newton's death." So it looks like (from this tiny sample size) that Death as a Career Move, can be aided infinitely if there is one person or organization who can benefit immensely and control the market. Remember that when you're writing up your will, ok?

And continuing on, I think I was reading Carolyn Zick's blog ('cuz she's the only Seattleite on my blogroll) when she pointed out that there had been two articles (one, two) about Seattle's inability to get good Arts Administrators to hang out for any length of time, and that was one of the reasons why Seattle did not have such a kick-ass art scene. Which, if read together with these articles (one, two, three) and combined with this quote from Marc Mayer:
Government doesn't make culture, but good government generously finances the infrastructure that gives culture an opportunity to breath, to grow, and to serve the public's need for it.
does not give me great hope for Quebec becoming the next hotbed of Contemporary Art. As I mentioned in the interview, I am not a big fan of throwing money willy-nilly at a problem in order to make it go away.

But, all is not doom and gloom, I discovered that there is a new-to-me museum in Trois Rivières. The Musée québécois de culture populaire, which is not all about things Kétaine.

But since I am writing about doom and gloom, we can't forget what happened to the erl gallery owners. Where it appears that they weren't so hot in arts business management (maybe they should move to Seattle) and as a consequence annoyed the heck out of a bunch of people who are now suing them. But that's a whole lot better than the fate that awaits the owners of the Exclusive Art gallery. They got convicted.

Then finally, I'm a tad disappointed that I don't live in NYC, the latest attempts by the National Arts Club to pump some fresh blood into its aging ranks looks like they're fun.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

More Free Roadsworth


Well it looks like we're hitting the bigtime! Yesterday I was interviewed on CJAD, the local News/Talk radio station in town. You can listen to the interview here [Warning: It is a 6MB MP3 file] - and extra special thanks, props and shout outs to OptimusCrime for hosting it.

Roadsworth's work can be seen here:
Flickr Photostream, Here 1, Here 2, Here 3, Here 4, and Here 5.

If you do a search on "Roadsworth" he now gets 1,820 hits.

Some of the more significant developments:
The article by Patrick Lejtenyi in the Montreal Mirror that started it all off.
The article by Bernard Lamarche in Le Devoir, that got the ball rolling.
The article by Christopher DeWolf on the Maisonneuve website, that gave it a big push.
The letter to the editor in La Presse by Diane Miljours.
The letter to the editor in Le Devoir by Diane Miljours.
The second article by Bernard Lamarche in Le Devoir.
The third article in Le Devoir by Bernard Lamarche.
Urbania magazine's petition drive.
The discussion on the ArtForum website.
And Wooster Collective's Legal Defense Fund drive.

Also, there have been articles in the National Post, La Presse, and an editorial in the Gazette, but unfortunately none of them are available on line.

And don't forget to drop a note to Mayor Tremblay and Helen Fotopoulos telling them what you think. Thanks.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

This is called a test


Click Here. It is a link to a blog called "Modern Art Notes." It is written by Tyler Green. Mr. Green is the grand doyenne of art blogging. The prevailing attitude around the arts-blogosphere is that a link from Mr. Green's blog is like manna from heaven.

The reason that this is a test, is that I'm thinking that I might be able to send him more readers than he can send me, if he linked to this here blog in his main column ('cuz both of us link to each other in our blog rolls). His blog is a mighty fine blog dedicated to covering the arts, and well worth your time.

You click, he reads his stats, we find out the answer.

Big Important Stuff


Maybe Canadian Art, and contemporary Canadian is getting some respect. Who would've thunk?

I just discovered that "Her Long Black Hair" by Janet Cardiff, that was in Central Park this past summer, won First Place in the category of Best Show in an Alternative or Public Space in the International Association of Art Critics/USA 2003-2004 AICA Awards. And not only that, but Rodney Graham got second place in the category of Best Exhibition of Time Based Art (Video, Film, Performance Or Sound).

But the bestest (as Ms. Cardiff in now based in Berlin, and Mr. Graham in on the west coast) is that Rosalind Pepall, Curator of Decorative Art at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts won first place in the category of Best Architecture Or Design Show for "Ruhlmann: Genius of Art Deco."

Cool! Amazing and serious props to Ms. Pepall for scoring that. I hope she enjoys the dinner at MOMA on January 25th, and I hope that she gets a big honking raise, too.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Small Insignificant Stuff...


It occurred to me, that since both Nicolas Mavrikakis, the Art Critic for Voir, and Bernard Lamarche, the Art Critic for Le Devoir are moonlighting as curators - M. Mavrikakis at the Maison de la Culture le Plateau, and M. Lamarche at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec - that I probably should ask both newspapers if they had a conflict of interest policy in place. So I did.
-----Original Message-----
From: Chris from Zeke's Gallery [mailto:zeke@zeke.com]
Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 2004 11.08
To: cbeliveau@ledevoir.com; redaction@ledevoir.com; fDesmeules@voir.ca; info@mtl.voir.ca
Subject: Policies


I was wondering if it would be possible to get a copy of your conflict of interest policy with regards to critics/reviewers, please?

Thank You very much in advance,
Chris Hand

Zeke's Gallery
3955 Saint Laurent
Montreal, Quebec H2W 1Y4
(514) 288-2233
If I get a response, I will let you know.

Update #1, 11:30 12/21: The email address of cbeliveau@ledevoir.com, bounced.

Update #2, 13:23 12/21: I just heard back from François Desmeules, the editor in chief of Voir. As he puts it "No such thing. Application of deontological code of journalism as defined by FPJQ."

From the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec website:
9. Conflicts of interest

Whether monetary or not, journalists must avoid situations that could create a conflict of interest, or that could even have the appearance of a conflict of interest. They must avoid any behaviour, commitment or job that could weaken their independent stance, or that could sow doubt in the mind of the public.

When journalists serve or seem to serve specific interests, there is a conflict of interest. These interests may be their own or those of other individuals, groups, unions, companies, political parties, etc. The conflict of interest can occur through diverse contracts, favours or public commitments. Public interest should be the only principle that guides a journalist's choice to publish information. Facts should not be suppressed in order to preserve or enhance the image of a particular individual or group. By breaking the indispensable link of confidence between journalists and their public, conflicts of interest cast doubt or may appear to cast doubt on a journalist's choice to disseminate information.

The fact that journalists may be deeply convinced they are honest and impartial does not make a conflict of interest acceptable. The appearance of a conflict of interest is as damaging as a true conflict.
I'm very glad that M. Desmeules got back to me so fast.

Monday, December 20, 2004

My interview with Marc Mayer


Back in October, I had an opportunity to interview Marc Mayer, the new director of the Musee d'Art Contemporain de Montreal. If you'd like some more information on him, and what he has done, click here. I'd like to thank him for taking the time out of his day to be interviewed, and I'd also like to express and emphasize my appreciation and special thanks to James Boddie and Luciana Mastropasqua for all their help with this interview.

Marc Mayer: So, whaddaya want to know, Chris?

Zeke: First off, an easy one, which Basquiat painting was the one that got you interested in Contemporary Art?

Marc Mayer: It was called "Notary." I was an art history student at McGill then, something of a disco bunny, grooving on Baroque architecture and chaos theory. That picture really threw me for a loop because I had read about Basquiat in magazines. I used to look at all the art magazines in the store, because I couldn't afford to buy any. I had heard about this show at the Musée d'art contemporain where I could see some work by the artists I saw in those magazines. Basquiat was a big deal in those days . So I take my bike out to the Musée when it was on the island and I'm standing in front of this thing and I'm like, "What on earth is it?." I got all the other stuff in the show. I was moved by the Keifers, I was moved by the Baselitz's, All those artists, made me go "Ooh" and "Aah" but I couldn't figure out Basquiat. And standing in front of that picture I said, "God. Is that ever ugly.” I didn't get it and I thought, "This is some type of joke. This is imitation expressionism." But I said to myself, "I'm going to figure this out" and it kept me there. I couldn't let it go. He was 22 at the time. I was older than that. And I thought, "How does this guy get a huge, international art career and he's younger than me?! And with this?" It got under my skin. The painting itself got under my skin, and I eventually started really seeing it. I gradually realized that even though there's a large element of deliberation in his work, he knew exactly what he was doing, there was also a large element of letting himself go and not really knowing where it was going to take him. Sort of wearing your heart on your sleeve and pointing at it with your other hand. The more work you see by Basquiat, the more you realize just how highly skilled he was. He could pull things off that those early expressionists could never do. Those pictures are so real, emotionally, and so well made. I can go on for years about him but that was the picture and it was one of those milestone works that pushed me over the edge and turned me into a bona fide contemporary art buff.

Notary, Acrylic, oil stick and paper collage on canvas mounted on wooden supports, 71" x 158"

Zeke: Sticking with early stuff, who are the old artists, before the 1900s, that you really like? Stuff that's not in your job description.

Marc Mayer: I was once obsessed with Guarino Guarini. He was the guy. The highest grade I ever got in my life was for a paper I wrote on Guarini. The professor said, "This is original scholarship, nobody's ever noticed this before." I was really proud of myself and so in love with Guarino Guarini, I could almost feel him in the room, though he had died a few hundred years before. You could really sink your teeth into his stuff. Looking at his buildings and thinking about them is like solving a spatial puzzle. It's the baroque period we're talking about, so he made structures as complex as the surface ornament. He had the freakiest imagination of any of them. It was thrilling to gather information on this guy who was largely forgotten, perhaps because so many of his buildings were destroyed over time. The German romantics were also a major influence for me. I see German romanticism everywhere: in 50s abstraction from the United States, thanks to Robert Rosenblum, but I also see remains of that sensibility, that anti-enlightenment sensibility that the Germans developed, in expressionism, Dada and Fluxus. Caspar David Friedrich was another artist who I thought was really interesting because he and people like Runge were inventing an iconography for Protestantism. I was interested in Protestantism and saw lots of similarities between it and communism when I was a student at McGill, which made at least one of my professors scratch his head because normally you connect Catholicism with Communism. I wrote this insane paper about how Martin Luther and Lenin were historically parallel figures. And the relationship of their respective countries to the world was also very similar. Protestantism was interesting to me from a historical point of view and seeing it work itself out through art was particularly fascinating. That's where I learned that artists are very important. Artists are important contributors to our intellectual life. Forget all that stuff about how art contributes to spiritual life, or quality of life, or even pleasure, artists bring new information into the world from the unique perspective of the visual arts heritage and the growing set of tools at their disposal. We learn things that we can't learn anywhere else, that we can't learn from philosophy, from science, from nowhere. A lot of our attitudes come from art. Anyway, I was very interested in 19th century German romantic painting and its connection to German independence movements and German unification. I had some great teachers at McGill, Glen, Cheetham, Judkins.

Zeke: And then I gotta ask you about Quebecois art. Both canon and non-canon. Do you have any favorites?

Marc Mayer: Right off the bat, if you are talking about recent stuff I'm a big fan of Nicolas Baier. I can't get enough of his work. Love it. Almost everything I've ever seen done with Photoshop was silliness, most of it just goofing off with the features and not serious picture making. And finally, here is somebody who understands what Photoshop is essentially about and is not interested is all the whiz-bang, but just in basic digital processing as a way to make larger and more interesting photographic images. He understands collage and is making an original contribution to that tradition. There are lots of terrific artists in this town, dozens of them, with photography and sculpture being particularly strong these days. Going back a little, there's a wonderful history of abstraction here that is still very much alive. If you look at the abstraction that was done here in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, good luck trying to find anything superior. And this is some of the most intellectually challenging art, tough stuff for most people. Abstraction is the thing that gets people to say "I'm sorry, I don't get it, I don't know what the hell you're talking about with this picture." Anyway, some of us love it like mad because it helped change the world. Montreal had some really heavy hitters back in the day. We did an early 50s Molinari show in New York when I was at the 49th Parallel. There was an elderly gentlemen who came about once a week until the show closed. I chatted him up one day. He said, "I had no idea that these things existed in the world in the early 50s. If I had seen these paintings then, I would have sold my house to buy them." That gave me a rush. Just before I came back to Montreal, an American colleague of mine reported after coming up here ahead of me "Oh I went to see your future museum. I had no idea I would be spending so much time in the permanent collection!" People outside of Canada have no idea about the abstraction that went on here in the golden age and that makes me crazy. My partner, who is an American painter, just discovered Jacques Hurtubise. He says, "how come I've never seen this before in my life?." He's excited about seeing all this work for the first time. He loves it. He's an abstract painter himself and can't understand why he's never heard of any of these guys, never saw any of this work before in his life, didn't know it existed. There are lots of reasons for the Quebecois to be proud of their artists, despite our relative obscurity as a culturally dynamic society. The development of abstraction in Canada is a Montreal story, as far as I'm concerned, except, of course, Jack Bush. This museum was founded back in 1964 to answer an urgent local need for new art to have a place, for Quebecois artists to have their own showcase. I'm hoping that we can someday take it to the next level and show the collection permanently.

Zeke: To my mind, one of the reasons why nobody has heard of Quebec art is that it is so socialist here. An artist doesn't make scads of cash, but they can live comfortably.

Marc Mayer: They don't live comfortably, Chris.

Zeke: Relatively, it's way better than being on welfare.

Marc Mayer: It is better than being on... come on, living on grants doesn't get you comfortable... Nobody lives on grants. You've gotta do other stuff like teach, wait tables, finish rec rooms…

Zeke: There is still that support network so they can be out there as artists. And once they're out there...

Marc Mayer: They can keep making and keep showing. And there are plenty of opportunities to show if you're good…

Zeke: But there's no gun at their back, there's no knife at their back pushing them to go to Paris, to New York, to wherever to show. You're showing in Quebec, life is fine and dandy, you're relatively comfortable and OK, that's all she wrote. If there were more people who were pushing to get you out there, then come back, then we would have way more. And it's a lack on the government's part in just not having any focus as to what exactly good, just an "art is good," let's throw money at it and then wash our hands of it.

Marc Mayer: Government doesn't make culture, but good government generously finances the infrastructure that gives culture an opportunity to breath, to grow, and to serve the public's need for it. It's the Canadian people themselves who make art as a function of their culture, from their own unique perspective on life and the world. The art made here is about who we are, how we think and how connected we are to the world of ideas. It's really not up to our artists to go out and hustle themselves in foreign countries, but of course the ambitious ones have to. What a defeat that is for us as a society! Christ, why not move to France and be a permanent creative alien for the rest of your life. It worked for Picasso. Good luck with that. It's pretty distracting trying to be a professionally creative person in a foreign country with mysterious social codes and curious ways to measure canvas. The odds are definitely no better for you in France than they are in Québec. Or you could go to the States, much better, right? But you will never be an American artist and Canadians aren't known for trying. Germany is great, there's certainly a strong market and an avid public, people line up for hours to see exhibitions. But, again, you will never be a German artist either, that's crystal clear. And forget about promoting Canadian art abroad as a surplus commodity. Art is never exported, only imported. We beat up on our artists an awful lot here. We're always asking them to donate things for charity auctions, or telling them to "Get a haircut! Get a job!" Let's get off the artist's back. Canadians need to buy Canadian art, it's the best investment they can make. We need to get all excited about it and say "Come to my house and I'll show you some amazing art." But right now it doesn't work like that anywhere nearly as much as it should. The art world functions in very different ways in different countries, when it works well, there's a strong market that supports many artists and there's a strong cultural infrastructure that permits a certain independence for institutions to identify and explain the really great stuff as a service to the public and to posterity. The reason there are so many German artists and so many American artists in the big international shows is because they each have a strong national market and an adequate cultural infrastructure. Their artists have a big collector, connoisseur and commentary machine behind them and so smart people from those countries who want to be artists have a shot at a bright future, though it's only possible for a small few, even there. In any case, I view the current art economy in Canada as an interim situation. We can't go on forever like this. We need to encourage a national market, like, now.

Zeke: I agree entirely. I'm trying to figure out my own way to run a gallery on how to shift things around because I recognize that the situation, as it is, is just ridiculous. Everybody's preaching to the converted and it's not going to be helpful for anybody in the long term.

Marc Mayer: God bless 'ya. I have a lot of respect for dealers, especially when they have a good eye and they're right there at the graduation ceremony saying, "I'd like to talk to you and I'd like to see all your slides." I have nothing but respect for those people, they do great work. And it's a tricky business, it's so not easy. You know, art is expensive because, let's say somebody makes 12 good things a year. To be able to live on those things, they have to be at a certain price for you to make that $40K a year, if that's what you and your cat can live on. Do the math. Most people think the dealer stuff is all very tricky and mysterious. It's actually not. We're talking wholesale/retail and we haven't developed that nearly enough in Canada. The socialist system, as you call it, was a good thing at first as a leg up for our society, because it permitted us to have a lively scene. Now we have a rockin' scene, we've got some great artists of all ages, a corpus of brilliant work the dead ones left behind, what do we do with all of this? Write another grant? Come up with a new category of CARFAC fees?

Zeke: Get them out there so they do stuff worldwide.

Marc Mayer: Well, they have to be celebrated here before the world is going to care. I call up an American museum to sell a show of Montreal art. "How many people is this show going to bring to my museum?" they ask me; or "Never heard of your artist. Nobody knows this stuff here. Don't need to do anybody that big a favor."

Zeke: But there's the flipside, to go to someone and say "I understand your market," like the Cirque du Soleil. Had Guy Laliberte ever been to Las Vegas before?

Marc Mayer: Las Vegas called him, I'm presuming. That's how it works. "Don't call us, we'll call you. Oh, and, let me be the one who knows my market, thanks." What I think is important for the Musée to do now is to organize exhibitions to sell to the United States, shows of artists who have prominence on the international scene, who they want to show, but who they can't figure out how to do themselves and would just as soon let us do it because we're good. We did that with our Shirin Neshat show. She was born and raised in Iran, educated in the United States, is technically an American artist, though she doesn't make art about being American, but from a contemporary Persian point of view. Big hit for us here. There still hadn't been a big touring Shirin Neshat show in the States, despite some serious fame. But Paulette Gagnon, our chief curator figured out how to do it. We have certain opportunities that a lot of American museums don't have because of the way we're financed and run. Meanwhile, by organizing great touring shows we raise our reputation and then we can also raise the reputation of our local artists into the bargain. You're going to be seeing catalogs, real catalogs of the artists we show from Quebec. I don't think you should have to wait to be 50 to get a decent catalog out of this place. We're going to have larger exhibitions of the best artists in the city. We're going to be rolling out more international shows as well - rather than put the young Quebecois artists in the smaller gallery, the one with the stage, we're going to be putting the artists you see in the magazines in there in smaller, sort of “introduction to” type shows. Just give me a chance to figure out how.

Zeke: I like that.

Marc Mayer: It's our job to promote Quebec artists. It really is. Even if there was a strong local market, it would still be our job to boost our own. But we have to do it strategically to be as successful as possible and keep our audience excited. And its really important to keep the great foreign stuff in front of people here. If only to show how good our work looks next to it!

Zeke: There is a division between pop culture and contemporary visual art. If I get you right, it seems to me that you're trying to get people to cross over that line as opposed to blurring the line.

Marc Mayer: I want people to understand... Isaac Julien, the show we have right now, here's somebody who was well on his way to a brilliant career as a documentary film maker. Won awards. Could have won an academy award as a documentary film maker, probably. But he doesn't want to do that. He wants to make art and he sure does. Isaac Julien belongs to the next generation of video artists, there's more poetry in it, more narrative, but he's very careful to keep it abstract and about impressions. For example, in True North, he tells the story of the first person to reach the North Pole, a black man it turns out, as if it was a dream you had of a beautiful black woman walking in gauzy dress and sandals on a beach of giant ice crystals. I want people to realize that art is not an alternative to industrial-strength pop culture, it's really something else altogether and you have to let yourself get into it gradually. Like hockey, You have to know the rules. You have to know a little bit of the history and the rules. With art it's sort of the same. What are the rules of the game? What's the history? Who are the big players now? Why them? Well, tell yourself that this comparison with hockey would only hold true if there were rules and there aren't a whole lot of them left in the visual arts. That's the thrill of it. Everyone should be familiar with what their generation has done in art. Because your generation is representing a world to you that is distinctly your generation's perspective on who we are now, partly in relation to what people used to say about themselves back then, and partly with what no society or person has ever been able to say about themselves in quite this way before. That's really exciting stuff and you can participate in it. You can talk to those artists, or to your art loving friends and say "I disagree with you. I get what you're getting at but I disagree that this is the best way to represent our generation." It's really exciting stuff to me. So it's not the same thing as hockey where breaking the rules gets you a penalty. Rules are made to be broken in art. They're not made to be broken in hockey. When you cross the blue line ahead of the puck, you will always be offside. The artists of your generation have a lot in common with you. They might have had the same pleasure you had with other forms of culture. They may have seen Blade Runner, too. They may well also listen to Eminem and 50 Cent. They have the same cultural references and you might be able to recognize them as the artist processes them onward. If you can get into it, you might find an easier point of access to contemporary arts through your own generation more than through some other generation, but that's just in theory. I had a teacher at McGill who taught the history of Canadian art by starting with the present. His reason for doing that was because the really tough stuff was the most recent. And "you guys are just starting out with this material. You've still got plenty of energy. You're not pooped out yet. Let's get this tough stuff over with. And then we'll have the nice religious paintings at the end for desert." New art is usually pretty exciting, and I want there to be a bigger audience because it deserves it. But I ain't fooling myself that we will ever fill the Big O with a Bruce Nauman slide show.

Zeke: Like I said: to cross over the line and not to blur it.

Marc Mayer: There are some basic misconceptions. A) art is meant to decorate and it should rhyme with the curtains and it should be beautiful. Since when? B) Art is good for you. It's like going to school. Wrong. Wrong. It is dangerous. Don't get too involved if you value your opinions, because it can change your mind about things. And not just through sloganeering. Through tricking you. A lot of art, if you let it into your head, is very clever about tricking you into thinking differently about things, so watch out. What was the other one? C) It's just impossible to understand. Someone is pulling my leg. So stand in front of it for a whole three seconds why don't you! It's not a movie! If you've got it all figured out in a flash, what the hell use is it? Don't you enjoy thinking? And there are more misconceptions, like it should mean something and be clear about it? The truth is not so clear, why should art be? Often, if you give someone a clue or two, they go, "ooh. ok its coming to me."

Zeke: That's the basic idea. Get them to look around and determine that it doesn't bite and then it's "OK, cool. I'll come back and look again."

Marc Mayer: We have these events at the museum that bring new people in. We have smart people on hand to answer questions about the art. Some people are timid, and you don't want to just presume that they don't know what they are looking at. I usually just say, "Hi! I work here, and if you have any questions..." And the next thing you know, "I do have a question for you. Could you help me here? I don't get this." You give them a clue or two and the next thing, they're going "Wow." It's important to talk this stuff up with people. When I worked in Buffalo at the Albright-Knox, I gave a guy an A-Ha! moment in front of a painting by Mondrian. He was a motivational speaker in town to give a lecture. And because he was a really famous guy, the director asked me to give him a tour of the museum because he couldn't do it himself that day. So I gave him a tour of the museum. In front of the Mondrian, he says, "O.K., this is where I hang up on you." I told him that the painting was a response to an intellectual problem. Roughly put, How can a painting still be a painting if it doesn't refer to anything outside of itself? If it isn't at the service of any other information but its own inherent information. For you or me, it's a philosophical dilemma, for Mondrian it was a spiritual dilemma, and it is comparable to the kinds of problems that scientists might pose to themselves. I said, "It's art that's pushing itself to the absolute limit as if asking, What am I if I'm not serving any other purpose but being myself." I said, "That's the problem that artists have addressed for about fifty, sixty years from the time of Kandinsky and Mondrian, until about the late 1970s." He said, "You mean... I've been suffering with this all these years, not being able to get what all the fuss was about. And with just this one clue, that took you a short sentence to give me, I suddenly get it? I don't know that I'm any more interested, but it's a beginning!" He was going around looking at some other abstract paintings, the Arps, the Nicholsons, the Pollocks and Rothkos .... "Ok, so this is this guy's version of how to solve that problem and then this guy's." And by the time we get to op-art, he's having this revelation. Nobody bothered to take the time to give him the clue, or he never asked.

Zeke: When people come into the gallery, I say "Hi! How 'ya doin'" and they're shocked. Somebody is actually talking to them at a gallery. That's how it should be.

Marc Mayer: Good for you for doing that. I once had that happen many years ago in New York and it was with some amazing work - Charles Ray - I was with my parents and we walked into this gallery. There was a pitcher on a table, just some stuff on a table. We walked in, looked around, headed for the door. The dealer calls out to us, "Did you notice that all the things on that table are slowly turning? No? Go back and look again." I'm with my parents and they're scratching their heads, and we're standing there staring when my mother suddenly shrieks in French , "Oh my god, they're turning!" They were all turning very slowly, like clockwork. Everything on the table – amazing, beautiful, like a prop in an early Polanski. If he hadn't said that, we would have walked in, walked out, and said, "What the hell was that?" Instead, it was this amazing experience. And we ended up talking about it again at dinner, how it was just as exciting as seeing the Richard Serra work, giant metal plates that really blew their minds because they were scared to death we'd all be crushed by them. But it isn't done. We don't have enough opportunities to do that. First of all, you have to get people into a room with art, but you can't just abandon them in there.

Zeke: No, not at all.

Marc Mayer: But, Chris, there's a problem with talking too much. The artist wants to talk to people directly and doesn't quite understand that they don't get the work and why the curator has to, sort of, intervene. Your blowing my magic by chatting this stuff up so much.

Zeke: My way of dealing with it is: "You're the artist. You know your work entirely, inside out. But I'm on the viewer's level because I'm not you." I'm going to get them in, no matter if I lie, steal, or cheat, and then, if I can get them interested in the art, if I can get them engaged. Great. Just because I say something, doesn't mean that somebody else won't say the exact opposite about the art. And somebody else's viewpoint is equally valid, if not more so.

Marc Mayer: You want to give people the freedom to come up with their own idea and have their own experience. Make sure the first thing you say on the wall is not: "This is the world's greatest artist." "Ok, then I'm some sort of idiot if I don't see that right of the bat?" Give people the information that they need as a point of access. Very often you find yourself in a situation, especially with collectors who say, "Why do you people feel that you need to explain every bloody thing to me? Like I haven't spent the last 20 years looking at art?" Well, people get really pissed at us if we don't A) because their tax dollars are going towards this and they, like, have questions, and B) I don't want them to walk in off the street and feel like an idiot every time they come in here. That's why we need to explain everything to people. We get the artists saying, "Ungh! Get that thing out of there. I don't want a label next to my painting. I don't want anyone to see that." Well, sorry, you do art, we do museums.

Zeke: I insist on doing that. I say, "I want everything titled." I don't want any untitled or numbered this or series that because, yes, these are people coming in and seeing new stuff that may or may not be up their alley. They're just walking in, they have to read a title. It's 30 extra seconds that they're in front of the painting.

Marc Mayer: I don't agree with that, even if you put on untitled, they'll have to read that as well. For me, that's interfering with the creativity. I want the artist to be perfectly free and they're not perfectly free with these galleries. No. You can be perfectly free with your work and then, if it's good enough, we'll certainly put it in the museum. If it's really great, we'll give you a big show and a catalog because we think you're all that. We agree with you. You're work is wonderful. But, you have to understand that most of the people who will come to see this, hopefully, aren't going to be your relatives or your good friends. They're going to be people who, often, have no idea who you are and probably not much of a clue about this other stuff around here, either. They need a clue. And that's our job, to give them a clue. Sorry if that sort of casts a shadow on your experience. You want to speak to them directly. I get that. But the people who want to be spoken to directly don't read any of that stuff on the wall. I don't read it, except to see how the competition speaks to the public. Seasoned art lovers go straight to the work and they go, "OK, what's going on here? Gonna figure it out for myself if it takes me 20 minutes." They're not going to read any of that other stuff. It's like peeking at the solutions to the crossword puzzle. It's like saying uncle. If you're really into art, it's like cheating to read the wall label too soon. Or you just glance at the name if you want to cut to the chase.

Zeke: OK, one last question, is Sophie Rristelhueber a babe? I saw the Sophie Ristelhueber show that you organized at the Power Plant and I was blown away.

Marc Mayer: Thanks. You know, I didn't get a lot of feedback from that. She's one of my all-time favorite artists. She's brilliant. She's tall, she's got dirty blonde hair, she's like 50. One of the smartest people I've ever known. And also incredibly brave. She has a very poetic practice. She wants to show metaphorical examples of scars. Scarred earth, scarred languages, scarred bodies, the scar. That's her subject.

Zeke: That's why she rocks like nobody's business.

Marc Mayer: She doesn't care much about photography, though she's pretty damn good at it.

Zeke: She's doing wonderful stuff that she wants to do and thank god that she's doing it because no one else is doing it.

Marc Mayer: You have to be careful with her. Don't ever call her a political artist because she'll jump down your throat and the more you know about the work, the more you agree with her on this point.

Zeke: There's tons of people that don't want to be political artists.

Marc Mayer: Her point is not political. She's interested in scars. She's not a war artist. She says, "I hate it when people call me a war artist. I have no more interest in war than the next guy."

Zeke: And, other people describing an artist's stuff, explaining it, to me if it makes it easier for them to comprehend using terminology that the artist don't like, that's fine by me. As time progresses, they will get more comfortable with the art. Then they will start understanding the artist's terminology. I've followed that path myself. Having the gallery I've actually gotten to a point that sometimes when I walk into a show, I'm thinking, "How would I have done this?" Which is something that, I realize, very few people do.

Marc Mayer: Well, a lot of art criticism now is not art criticism, it's museum criticism. It's done by frustrated curators. I remember my first review in Buffalo of a show... I used to design my own shows in that museum because we were two curators and a very small staff, so I had to design all my installations, no architect, no designer. I did an arts and crafts show with a collection from LA county. Great arts and crafts collection, a decorative arts and furniture show. And I thought, "How am I going to display this? I'll put all the furniture on three-foot high plinths, that way it won't feel like a showroom and we can look at the furniture as if we were looking at the original drawing, from the perspective of the original conception, the relationship between the person who made this table and the table as an object in space. At eye level." Very clever solution, I thought. I put all the furniture at eye level and it was a hit with the audience. But, the critic said, "This curator has given us the dog's eye-view of the arts and crafts movement." Then he proceeded to write not about the arts and crafts movement so much as about the show itself and picked it apart. You get this a lot.

Zeke: I like it when they print anything, I don't worry about what they say.

Marc Mayer: Just write something. I think it's too bad though, if you're an artist who has come from England or Germany to show in Montreal, it isn't to get rich. You're probably already doing really well if you're going to get a show at a museum of contemporary art. We certainly aren't going to discover anybody from foreign countries. We'll bring in the best of what's out there. Why would they say yes to us? Is it because we're nice? One of the reasons is that they're curious. They have some favorite Canadian artists. They think Canadians are great, particularly the Europeans, there are a lot of Canadians they admire. In the case of Isaac Julien, he says, like, "I've been looking very seriously at the work of Jeff Wall and Stan Douglas for years.” So he wonders, what would a review by a Canadian art critic of my work be like? I know what the British think, what the Americans think. I'd like to know what the Canadians say about my work. I'm really curious about that. To get new information, to get new feedback. If it's a bad review, by that I don't mean just negative, but wrong-headed, he's gonna say "Ooops, sorry, wrong number." That's a drag. It's really important for us to have a higher profile, particularly vis-à-vis the United States. They're big, big cultural consumers. If this place becomes one of those cult centers for contemporary art, and we serve our local population wonderfully, and we also create shows of international artists and ship them over there for tours in the United States. Then we become Europe's point of entry into the North American audience. Then, when those people come here, and they go, "I always wanted to see that contemporary art museum in Montreal because I've seen so many great shows from there, I read the ads and the reviews in ArtForum, I see what's happening, and I'd like to go there." So they come here and they see the permanent collection, and they see the history of abstraction in Quebec and they say, "Holy Jeez! Who knew?” That's really good for us. Then, with time, we can say, "OK, here's an artist. Graduated four years ago from Concordia or UQÀM. Totally unknown outside of Quebec for now. Totally going to blow your mind. Please come and see it and then take the show." We can't do that yet. One step at a time. Then we can start to promote our local artists on the international scene. We can't do this alone. We need to get local people to help build a big buzz. We need to get those collectors who have collector group friends in the United States who are on boards out there to say, "You will not believe what's going on in Montreal. There are three or four artists today, nothing like what's going on in New York. Nothing like this." And it's true. You don't have anything like this. They're were all going "Oooh and Aaah" at the Toronto art fair about Pascal Grandmaison, Michel de Broin and Jerome Fortin. It was very stimulating. The Montreal art dealers did very well, apparently.

Zeke: I think the Montreal fair could be as good as Toronto, if not better. AGAC does their best. For the past three years, they have rented out an entire floor of the Delta hotel, shoved everybody into rooms, but...

Marc Mayer: Not every dealer wants to do hotel shows and I think the collectors are starting to tire of the format. All those bruised shins from bumping into furniture.

Zeke: By my count, I have a list of more than 535 places that are dedicated to showing art in this town. Unfortunately, AGAC has only twelve members.

Marc Mayer: That's interesting. I'd like to see that list. Are they... I was leading a seminar at UQAM for graduate students. One of the professors said, "Oh. Whenever I go to Europe I see art that, a year later, maybe two years later, I'll see at the MAC. How come you're not discovering anyone? Why is it always hand-me-downs?" OK, now listen carefully, museums don't discover artists. This is like going to heaven for artists and it really shouldn't be their first shot at addressing an audience. We don't discover artists, that's not our role. And the day I get into discovering artists, fire my ass because that's not what I'm supposed to be doing. And secondly, what I really don't do is shows for art experts or for people who can fly around Europe only to come home and say, "Oh, yawn! Look at Montreal. Finally discovered this artist two years later." She's not from here, that artist! How on earth could we discover her? My audience, about 90% of my audience, doesn't go to Europe to see new art. They want to see it at home in their own town. It's great for you to be a jet setter. I'm not making shows for your, certainly not for myself and neither are my curators. There are plenty of places in Montreal that are making shows for serious art experts, as they should. Places that will give a promising artists their first break. There are tons of those places, and that's what makes Montreal so great. The museum should not be one of them. We are about confirming and explaining work that has matured and that has a following, and especially about serving an audience that will show up to see work they have already heard about, just like a major theater or a concert hall. And if they haven't seen the work before or heard of the artist, they can be confident that we aren't making this stuff up and that this really is what is going on now.

Zeke: OK, thank you tons, I've taken up way too much of your time, it was very enjoyable.

Marc Mayer: You're welcome.

Roadsworth related


Things calmed down over the weekend, just a tad, and I was able to get some sleep. If you've been hiding under a rock for the past week, there's an artist here in town who has been busted for doing his art. His name is Roadsworth, and you can learn all about the case here.

And don't forget to write to the Mayor and let him know what you think.

In the meantime, I found it very intereresting that the city of Montreal gave the Centre de design de l'UQAM $10,000 so that they could exhibit Montreal street art in Saint-Etienne, France. Does anybody know if there is a newspaper in Saint-Etienne?

The reason I ask is because, over the weekend, James Boddie got his letter to the editor published about l'affaire Roadsworth in the Gazette. This is in addition to the previous letters to the editor that have been published in La Presse and Le Devoir. [oops alert! I just noticed that Diane Miljours is the author of both letters written in French! Maybe it is an alias for James Boddie, and it actually is just one person writing]

Then, on Friday December 3rd, I wrote an email to Maitre Maurice Forget, who is chairman of the Montreal Arts Council, asking him if he would write a letter in suppport of Roadsworth. I haven't heard a peep from him. Now he might be on vacation, or busy with other things. But what I found extremely interesting over the weekend was that as part of his extremely generous donation to the Musée d'art de Joliette was a whole whack of stuff relating to, about, and from l'affaire Corridart.

Cool, eh? For those of you too young to remember, or like myself with very short memories, Corridart "was a major project of the Arts and Culture program of the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal."
On July 13, 1976 Mayor Jean Drapeau and the executive committee of the City of Montreal ordered that the exhibition be dismantled. They alleged that the works contravened city by-laws regarding the occupation of public space, and that some of them represented a danger to public safety. - Link
If I remember correctly, the whole thing got settled 13 years later when the city paid the artists involved in Corridart $85,000.

As I've said before, it is nice to know that the city has changed in dramtically in 29 years and become a much more Artist-Friendly place.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Art Review Round Up - pointer


If you would like to read it, it has now moved here.

Interesting reading


Nice and simple

From NPR, Where Science Meets Art.
Anna L. Conti's interview with Mark Grim.
Todd Gibson of From the Floor Fame, writes about the business side of art.
NEWSgrist and From the Floor point out that controversy in art is not limited to Montreal. Although, both of them miss one right in their backyard.

And then since everybody else is doing it, I might as well.
First, wake
Second, fabian marcaccio at mam
Third, thinking and not thinking
OK, still with me? now here's where it get complicated...
Fourth, Meaning in Art is Bad?
Fifth, thinking about thinking and not thinking
Sixth, Franklin's Response
Seventh, Fragmentary Thinking
Eighth, Was ist Äufklarung?
Ninth, simpleposie question for the day #278
Tenth, Addressing a Deficit of Dorking

What's Contemporary got to do with it?


Back at the end of November, Heffel Fine Art made the newspapers by successfully auctioning off a painting by E.J. Hughes for $920,000.

Fishboats, Rivers Inlet

The line that caught my eye was this: "Hughes can now count himself among Emily Carr, Lawren Harris and Jean-Paul Riopelle in the upper ranks of Canadian artists."

So that's what some nameless writer at the CBC thinks is the heart of Canadian Art?

Then, skipping down the garden path... The press folderol for the auction states; "There are a handful of Canadian artists who command six-figure prices for their work. Paul Peel, Emily Carr, Tom Thompson and Canada’s Group of Seven, Jean-Paul Riopelle... E.J. Hughes, Alex Colville and Jeff Wall." And, yes, the Heffel press release doesn't make mention of Paul Kane.

So it seems that the nameless writer at the CBC figures that expensive paintings equals important Canadian Art. Nice thought for the day, eh?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

More paranoia


Mr. Policeman, if there is any information you would like to know about Zeke's Gallery, I have nothing to hide. Give me a shout at (514) 288-2233, or swing by 3955 Saint Laurent. Trying to decipher my horrible French Translations, and figure stuff out from them is just going to give you a headache.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Free Roadsworth, compiled


Update, for those visitor's coming From the Floor, or Metafilter, Roadsworth's work can be seen here:
Flickr Photostream, Here 1, Here 2, Here 3, Here 4, and Here 5.

Then for everybody, if you're looking for things Roadsworthy, try these suggestions:

Post number one
Post number two
Post number three

The article by Patrick Lejtenyi
The article by Bernard Lamarche
The article by Christopher DeWolf
The letter to the editor in La Presse by Diane Miljours
The second article by Bernard Lamarche

Other posts by OptimusCrime, Malice Aforethought, From The Floor, Marc Snyder, After Death is Eternity, Undernews, Blog-Cafe, Shatnerian, Arrive en ville, Dead People Taste Like Chicken, On the Fence, Small Flightless Bird, Jean-Pierre Cloutier, to leave a mark, Montreal City Weblog, ni.vu.ni.connu, i never knew, Waking Up in Bliss, Vu d'ici, mnemosyne, Le Periscope, Nicolas Dickner, ArtTwit, Cameron's House of Fun, Spamnet, blogvert, [design ops], the Meridan Christian Church, and UrbanPhoto

and the articles appearing in le Centre des Médias Alternatifs du Québec, The Dominion, Urban Exploration Resource Forum, Nullwhore, 20hz - Montreal, Psssst! Forum québecois branché, Trombisketch, Cafe L'Urbanite, and UrbanPhoto.

And don't forget to drop a note to Mayor Tremblay and Helen Fotopoulos telling them what you think. Thanks.

[Update June 3, 2006: There is an extensive interview with Roadsworth now available, Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four.]

The CBC's Arts coverage is really bad.


Could somebody who is more intelligent and smarter and wiser than I am explain to me what the difference between this story:
Beaverbrook's disputed art draws more visitors, from August 30, 2004

and this story:

Beaverbrook dispute drags on but spurs attendance at NB gallery, published 3 and a half months later?

The August story is 249 words long, the December story is 432 words long. Ok, so I put on my thinking cap... 183 more words, this should be a good thing. Ok, reading closely, we now know that the lawyers have billed everybody $1.5 million. Is this news?

Then there are some quotes from Vincent Prager, a trustee of the Canadian Beaverbrook Foundation and Dan O'Brien, chair of the Beaverbrook gallery's board of directors. Is this news?

And then towards the end of the December article the CBC writes:
...the current legal process – still in a preliminary stage – is going slowly but said that while the gallery is open to an out-of-court settlement, that is not yet in the works.
However at the very end of the same article the CBC writes:
The British foundation and the gallery are settling their respective suits in arbitration.
So which is it folks?

Then lastly, the December article doesn't make any mention of figures, the August article does, I wrote about 'em here. If everybody agrees that Zeke's is 1/10 the size of the Beaverbrook, does this now mean that Zeke's Gallery is 20% of the way towards a story on the CBC?

Paranoid? You bet!


In case you missed it, I am attempting to get the city of Montreal to drop all charges against an artist named Roadsworth.

Today his case got written up by Bernard Lamarche in Le Devoir.
Last week it got written up by Patrick Lejtenyi in the Montreal Mirror.

As a consequence of the articles and an awful lot of support from other Montreal Bloggers, there were more than 400 people who read this site yesterday, and today we're looking at more.

But what is most interesting were the visits by people using computers at the Montreal Police (who actually checked it out three times as of this writing) the Direction Générale de L'Informatique, somebody from the Assemblée Nationale.

My guess is that the visits from the Governor General, and the Bibliothèque Nationale were honest visits looking for information on the visual arts in Montreal.

If you haven't yet, please drop a note to Mayor Tremblay and/or Helen Fotopoulos who are the politicians large and in charge.

If you'd like some suggestions as to what to write drop me a line, or check out Jean-Pierre Cloutier's blog depending on your language of choice.

This is one of the folk who have checked out the blog today
The Quebec Ministere des Transports.

This probably was just an nice visit, it seems that the Governor General
(or somebody in her office) had done a Google search for Montreal Artists, and gues who was number one?

This one is just plain, falt out scary.
I have no freakin' clue who ar what the Direction Generale de L'Informatique is, but my guess is that they aren't nice. If you know anything about them, please let me know.

You standard issue visit from the cops.
Or as they are known here the Communaute Urbaine De Montreal. They actually have checked out the blog three times, does anybody know if they need a warrant?

Maybe this was the one and only Lise Bissonnette, head honcho at the
Bibliotheque Nationale checking out the blog, after her old place of business wrote about it?

Assemblee Nationale

Monday, December 13, 2004

Free Roadsworth

Art History - or the more stuff stays the same


I'd be the first to tell you that I don't know diddly about Art History, but I am doing my darndest to learn as quickly as I can. As a consequence of "L'affaire Roadsworth" I discovered that the city did the same sort of thing back in 1976.

There was an article printed in Le Devoir back in 1999 written by Francine Couture, which goes on to explain that when there was a TV series on Drapeau, they completely whitewashed l'affaire Corridart.
Mais pas un mot n'a été dit sur un autre événement lié à la tenue des Jeux olympiques: l'affaire Corridart, une exposition d'art contemporain qui devait se tenir sur la rue Sherbrooke et dont le maire ordonna le démantèlement quelques jours avant l'inauguration des Jeux. Le maire avait fait ainsi acte de vandalisme car la majorité des oeuvres de l'exposition furent abîmées, sinon détruites.

Cette omission est d'autant plus étonnante que le démantèlement, ainsi que le procès intenté contre la Ville de Montréal par les artistes de l'exposition, avaient fait l'objet d'une couverture importante par la presse écrite. Celle-ci avait dénoncé avec vigueur ce malheureux événement. Un nombre important de journalistes avaient alors relevé que pour prendre une telle décision, le maire avait cavalièrement écarté la compétence administrative et artistique des personnes responsables de l'organisation de cette exposition et qu'il avait ainsi fait un geste antidémocratique.
Then, if you would like to listen to some stuff about l'affaire Corridart, click here.

In 1996, Quartier Ephemere did an exhibition on Corridart, in 2001 the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery of Concordia University also did an exhibition about Corridart. (and here, too)

As you can see from the photos below, (Maclean's Art Sign project, 2001, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7) it looked like the city was getting better. Maclean was hauled before the cops, but they were sensible then and decided not to press any charges.

Yes it is my bad for not knowing about Concordia's exhibit (I was busy with Maclean at the time...) but I can claim that I wasn't in the art biz back in 1996... (like it'll do me any good...) and I wasn't even in the city during the summer of 1976. From what little I've been able to see it looks like it was a kick-ass show. [click on "LXVIII and LXIX" to see one piece of work from Corridart]

But it is utterly shameful on the city's part to continue pressing charges against Roadsworth.

If you would like more info on Corridart, try here, and here. If you would like more details about Maclean's art project, contact me, or him.

Saint Laurent and Napoleon

Clark and Saint Viateur

Clark and Saint Cuthbert

Clark and Fairmont

Casgrain and Bellechase

Alymer and Prince Arthur

Alymer and Milton

Linky Love


You may or may not have noticed that I changed the template last week. As part of the change, I also changed my blogroll. I think that I have links to everybody who has graciously linked here, however I just realized that one of the best blogs around, that I read about twice a day, somehow got overlooked.

Long story, short. Mike Patten writes tons of wonderful stuff about more art than I can shake a stick at, apologies for the oversight, and his blog has been added down and to the right.

If you have a blog about art, and/or have linked to me, and I have not reciprocated, please let me know, it is not because I don't want to, or don't like you, it's just pure stupidity on my part.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Montreal Stuff


Tuesday the city announced the winners of the Pierre-Ayot prize, and the Louis-Comtois prize. For those outside the loop, or who missed all the headlines, the Pierre-Ayot goes to the "best" artist in Montreal under the age of 35, who has been practicing art for less than 10 years, had a show (group or solo) in Montreal during the past year, and lives and/or works in Montreal. What isn't mentioned, is that as it is sponsored by The Montreal Contemporary Art Gallery Association, and the city, if the artist is not represented by a gallery who is a member of AGAC, then your chances of winning are pretty much nil, nada, zero, and next to impossible.

While I can point out and give you addresses of over 500 places in Montreal that exhibit contemporary art on a regular basis, AGAC has eighteen members.

Congrats to Jerome Fortin, and I am certain that the $3,000 he got is better than a kick in the pants, and his dealer, Pierre-Francois Ouellette probably is going to enjoy the $2,500 that can be used towards an exhibit.

The Louis-Comtois Prize is similarly organized, except there is no age restriction, and one must have been a practicing artist for more than ten years. If you win, you get $5,000. Congrats to Stephen Schofield and Joyce Yahouda.

For what it is worth here are lists of the previous winners of each prize, and their Google Juice:
1996: Marie-France Brière = 373
1997: Pierre Dorion = 1,900
1998: Rober Racine = 1,040
1999: Sylvie Laliberté = 3,800
2000: Guy Pellerin = 971
2001: Roberto Pellegrinuzzi = 483
2002: Alain Paiement = 952
2003: Richard-Max Tremblay = 457

Pierre-Ayot Prize:
1996: Nadine Norman = 557
1997: Stéphanie Béliveau = 262
1998: Marc Séguin = 13,400
1999: Émmanuel Galland = 289
2000: Nicolas Baier = 995
2001: Nathalie Grimard = 138
2002: Michel De Broin = 1,130
2003: Pascal Grandmaison = 560

For what it is worth, Yvon Cozic, Georges Curzi, Bernard Lévy, Jo-Ann Kane, and Marc Mayer were the members of the jury.