Monday, January 31, 2005

Last one for today


What is it with Orange? Is it the new black? On Saturday I got invitations from Galerie Lilian Rodriguez, Galerie Rene Blouin, and Galerie Roger Bellemare that all used the same darn color of orange, then when I got back I noticed that the invite for the Maison de la Culture Le Plateau also was in orange. What gives?

Ooops! I just realized (call me dense) that the design for this here blog includes orange headlines. Obviously I'm going to have to pick a new template.

More on Fishing with John James by James Prior at Skol


Next on the list, of kick-ass art is the stuff by Mr. Prior. First off, completely ignore the gobbledy-gook and bafflegab associated with the exhibition. "...James Prior interprets reality and changes his appearance, drawing inspiration from feminist art and theory to undermine modern male stereotypes. Through themes of aging, love, and solitude, he mimics the photographic codes of family shots and documentary photography, revealing their hidden underpinnings."

Umm, can you say instead that this is a bunch of small and medium sized photographs hung willy-nilly on one wall, with a large aquarium sorta thing that holds a bunch of objects normally associated with fishing, sorta like a shrine or memorial, and the piece-de resistance, six (it could be seven or maybe five, I was too enthralled by it to even think of actually counting) fairly recent televisions on their sides, all running some looped videos that were static shots of six (or seven, or five) outboard motors. There might have been something else in the room, too. But after all the smoke, oil (I was certain I could smell it) and noise, I was too overcome to even so much as be able to glance at anything else.

While whoever wrote the press release desperately needs to discover a sense of humor, I would re-write it to say something along the lines of this:

In the same way that John Lurie fabricated an entire career out of making things up with no prior knowledge or experience beforehand, James Prior riffs off of what might be perhaps Mr. Lurie's greatest achievement, Fishing with John, in order to stand the whole outdoorsman thing on its ear. Sorta like, but not exactly like that which Tred Barta does. Taking a tired old form and breathing new life into it by doing things nobody else has.

Have you ever seen an exhibition on fishing inside a contemporary art gallery? Didn't much think so.

Enough with the re-write of the press release, let me foam at the mouth some on (as the folk at Skol put it) the A/V instalation. Remember the rush of adrenalin you got when you first heard Sonic Youth? Or Lamonte Young? Wagner? If you don't, stop right here, don't bother reading any more, and get yourself to a much more safe, sedate and quiet place, I think you might like something like this.

If on the other hand, the noise, and non-standard use of things to evoke new emotional responses in your young body by the aforementioned musicians is something that you remember fondly, then you'll get a kick out of (as the folk at Skol put it) the A/V installation by Mr. Prior. If you get a smile thinking about Keith Moon tossing a TV out of the window of the Hotel Bonaventure, this is for you.

Basically, the TV's are on their side, because that way, as small 10 horsepower outboard motors are taller than they are wide, you can see the motors in all their glory. Instead of Cinemascope or widescreen movie viewing you get narrowcasting. Then by filming the six (or seven, or five) motors and then screening them all at the same time (in a semi-circular fashion) Mr. Prior attempts (and somewhat succeeds) in overwhelming your senses - hence why I had the olfactory hallucination. I wouldn't call it a chorus of outboard motors, that implies way too much harmony, softness and things nice. It's more like an attempt at a bombastic massing of outboard motors, which because they are only 10 horsepower motors is doomed to failure. There ain't no way you can get a put-put to go BOOM!-BOOM! But you gotta give the guy props for trying. Personally I can't wait until Mr. Prior decides to go Powerboat Racing with John.

Oh yeah, the show goes on until the 12th of February, and Skol is in the Belgo Building, 372 Sainte Catherine West, #314 to be precise, they're open standard gallery hours (Wednesday - Saturday, noon to 5 pm).

More on Faire du surplace at Circa


As observant readers will note, I saw some art over the weekend. I figure some all of it requires more words than the single letter grade that I gave on Saturday, unfortunately I don't have that sort of time, so I can only deal with a couple. If anybody would like more information about any of the shows I saw, please email me.

At Circa, there was this group show called "Faire du surplace" which got translated into "Marking Time." While, I'm not entirely certain I understand how the curators of the exhibit figured each specific piece was marking time, I can vaguely wrap my brain around the following lines from the Press release; "Faire du surplace presents in situ works in which the Making takes precedence over theory, and marking time suggests the concrete limits of time and space."

So if I understand Mme's Bolduc and Logan, these are supposed to be a collection of artworks each which took time to make and because of that, the pieces themselves don't have any other meaning other than "Blam! They're there."

Phooey! You can say that about any darn piece of art, good or not. Heck, if they wanted to be slightly more specific about it, they could've gone to Nord South Interieur, last year I saw these amazing handmade wood grandfather clocks, that were all gears and pulleys, no box. Or in other words, really pretty objects that marked time. However, despite the gobbledy-gook and bafflegab of the press release I was completely fascinated by the piece by Marie-Josée Laframboise. It doesn't photograph real well, as you can see here:

And here:

[photos shamelessly lifted from the Circa website, apologies, but thanks tons!]

Basically, Mme. Laframboise took a whack of fishing line, strung something like a dozen twenty foot lengths from a post in the gallery to one of the walls. She then took a bunch of colored threads (a variety of colors, too) and neatly knotted the thread to two, or more of the fishing lines. It gave off a sorta wacky and twisted Cat's Cradle feel, although there was something in the gallery that mentioned electric trolley wires. As there haven't been electric trolleys here in Montreal since the 1960's I'm a tad skeptical of going down that route. But it was gloriously intricate, and all shimmery in the sunlight, which made me happy.

There were two other pieces in the exhibit that were also pretty cool, but didn't quite nail it (or anything else for that matter) as well as Mme. Laframboise did.

I'm looking forward to seeing how Natasha Hebert ties (pun intended) all the art together in the catalogue. My only other comment would be that if they really wanted to mark time, then that in situ line in the press release should have been more emphasized. I dunno, maybe by asking the artists to start creating their work at the vernissage, and aiming to have everything completed by the end of the exhibition, sorta like an exhibit by Barclay Gellhaus at Artcule back in 2002, where if I remember correctly he was weaving together leaves into some humongous poncho-like thing that was then going to be suspended from the ceiling.

Oh yeah, the show goes on until the 19th of February, and Circa is in the Belgo Building, 372 Sainte Catherine West, #444 to be precise, they're open standard gallery hours (Wednesday - Saturday, noon to 5:30 pm).

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Getting out of here to see other people's art


Yesterday afternoon I went down to the Belgo Building to see if I could find me some stolen paintings. Unfortunately, I am not a good detective so I couldn't even figure out where on the walls they might have been.

However, I did get to see more art than you can shake a stick at. In no particular order, I saw

Louise Masson at Trois Points. B-
Realisations at Joyce Yahouda. C
The Store at Joyce Yahouda. C+
Allover + by Leopold Foulem at Lieu Ouest. B-
Shirley Wiitasalo at Rene Blouin. (If anybody knows where the stolen painting was in the gallery, I'd love to know.) C-
How I learned to stop worrying and love the U.N. by Kate Rusko at Bumper Gallery. B+
Sehnsucht by Manuel Frattini and Anxiety Apology by Afshin Matlabi at Optica. C-
L'Angle mort by Frederic Lavoie and Presque ca by Valerie Blass at B-312. C+
David Hall and Vida Simon at Lilian Rodriguez. C
The Con U Fine Arts PADA Show at Gallery 306. B-
James Prior's Fishing with John James at Skol. A-
Faire du surplace at Circa. B+
Onetop at SAS. C-
Surfaces sensibles by Marc Audette at PFOAC. C
and Susan Valyi (along with some other artists) at Galerie Luz. B

There were probably some other galleries I was at, but as they did not have any available paperwork, press release, price list or stray invitation I don't have anything to jog my memory the day after.

I will write more and in detail about some of the shows, but as you can see from my grades way too much of it was very pedestrian. If you would like to read some very enlightening comments about some of them before I put mine down, go read Mike Patten's Blog, now. He did the Belgo Building last week, and has written very well about what he saw.

Then as two asides, one of the more hilarious things to watch was just about each and every gallery owner in the entire building fall over themselves chatting up Anne Marie Ninacs. Apparently, despite her small stature, she wields some mighty big power.

And if anybody talks to Pierre Francois Ouellette, could you do me a favor and explain the concept of sarcasm to him for me, please? Apparently he's in a snit over this post that I wrote back in August. Although now he's likely to get in another snit because of the grade I gave Surfaces sensibles by Marc Audette.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Montreal is not a cultural city


I first came across this headline: "City to be named a cultural capital of Canada" on Thursday, in the Globe and Mail, and it is in reference to the venerable Toronto scoring a cool half a million dollars from Liza Frulla and friends. At almost the same time, I came across this: "Proposition de Politique de développement culturel pour la ville de Montréal." Which announced a meeting to explain the Montreal's new cultural policy. I then went to the meeting. There were about 40 people there, including the 10 people involved in giving the presentation. I was sorta surprised that there were even that many.

Then, digging a little deeper, there's this press release, and this variation on it, which lead to this "summary of an academic article" written by Kevin Stolarick, Richard Florida, and Louis Musante.

Now the academic paper touting how Montreal is "The Rising Star of the Creative Economy," is all fine and dandy. And I'm all for a bunch of 10 bureaucrats traveling around the city to explain what's happening at city hall to the citizens of this fair city. But I can't help but wonder how much Dr. Florida charged in order to come up with his paper. I can't imagine that it would be less than $10,000. I also wonder about the fiscal responsibility of sending a touring road show complete with recording, transcribing, and translating, as well as a fancy audio-visual presentation so that 160 people (40 times the four meetings) can learn absolutely nothing new, because it has been published since November.

Last I heard there were a number of underfunded cultural institution, I can't help but thinking that perhaps someone like the Centre des arts contemporains du Québec à Montréal could have used some of the cash spent on some fancy academic paper so that they could have continued their exhibition schedule.

Then if Montreal is "supposedly" such a freakin' hotbed of creativity, then why is Toronto garnering all the headlines? And if in fact the Government of Canada is giving away half a million bucks to cities that are "supposedly" creative, why have cities like Regina (a noted breeding ground of all things stimulating) and Kelowna, British Columbia scored the money, while Montreal has never even had the guts to apply [2003 applicants, 2004 applicants].

Oh and if you're as steamed as I am, there's a meeting at 1550 Metcalfe, 14th floor at 9 am on Monday the 31st where they are going to discuss how to make culture more accessible, and then at 5 pm there's another gabfest, this time at 3680 Jeanne-Mance to tout Dr. Florida's academic paper. See you there!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Radio Roadsworth


Last night, Roadsworth made it to Radio Canada. The program "Porte Ouverte" had a round table discussion between Roadsworth, Yves Sheriff and Francyne Lord. You can listen to it here (Streaming Windows Media).

Basically Mme. Lord's point is/was that the city does have a process for handling and allowing public art projects. Unfortunately, on the website for the Montreal Bureau d'art public they don't have any sort of information about the how's and the what-to-do's. They do have a list of what they consider all the public art in Montreal. They separate them out into three categories, Assemblage (or which there is one example), Installation (which has eleven), and Sculpture (201). They also have a document outlining the competition for a new piece of art in Molson Park (unfortunately the deadline was in November).

I have some additional ideas percolating. I'll let you know how they go, as they happen.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Not Art, but proof that Montreal is a very safe city


Where else in North America would the lead news story be the alleged mugging of a 60 year old man?

The police admit that they aren't quite certain if in fact a mugging did take place, they can't find the victim, and other details are even sketchier.

CBC Montreal, Police hunt for victim in metro attack.
The Montreal Gazette, Métro beating victim disappears.
TVA, Un sexagénaire attaqué par quatre jeunes hommes.
Le Journal de Montréal, Sexagénaire frappé à coups de canne dans le métro.

Nothing like getting a rest from all the death and destruction that is normally considered news, eh?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Nicolas Mavrikakis' How to Become an Artist


I've been meaning to write about Jérôme Delgado's 702 word review of the recently closed exhibit at the Maison de la Culture Le Plateau and the Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec. More so I could comment on the exhibit itself, than on the review.

While I recognize that it has become acceptable for curators to write reviews, and artists to curate and write reviews, I am not comfortable with the blurring of the lines. Given the power that M. Mavrikakis has a reviewer for Voir, things should be made clear as to the how's and what's of an exhibition he organizes.

To get the easy stuff out of the way first, M. Delgado's review is nice, if I were grading it, I'd give it a B or a B+. He mentions seven of the artists (even though there are eight involved in the exhibit) none of them in a negative manner and quotes from Mavrikakis' collection of paper that passes for a catalogue.

While M. Delgado does mention that M. Mavrikakis is an art critic, he does not examine how M. Mavrikakis decided on the artists he wanted to include. He accepts (rather uncritically) that all of them are good artists and ends his article with a rather simplistic open-ended question: [my bad translation] "Why did these artists make it? And others didn't? Nobody knows." Yeah, right, and Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus, no matter what Chico says.

I only got to see half of the show, being carless, and having a day-job trucking out to Ville Saint Laurent is not an easy task - even for art. But I could make some calculated guesses as to what was out in the boonies.

Now that I've finished the overture, on to the meat of the matter: The curatorial abilities of M. Mavrikakis. I strongly doubt that he did much work beyond choose the artists, and write the text for the catalogue (as it is printed on paper, I can't give an exact word count, but it looks like it's about 1,000 words). That, my friends, is not being a curator.

The show is hung extremely sloppily, it took me about 30 minutes to try to figure out where Yan Giguere's art started and Marie-Claude Bouthillier's ended. And even after thinking I got it, somebody else pointed out that I might be wrong. There was an acrylic cube containing archival material from Clara Gutsche and David Miller (the eighth artist) which was completely incongruous with the rest of their art and the exhibit. The doughnut effect of the gallery was bad, as M. Mavrikakis used simple room dividers that then had blowups of the applicable pages from the "catalogue" that pertained to the artist that they were closest to. And those pages are ridiculous, an abbreviated artist CV and what they consider the "lessons" that they learned on how to become an artist. And, while I'm at it the volume on the video that accompanies the exhibit (but is not part of it) was louder than the volume on the videos by Manon De Pauw, which were part of the exhibit.

I did like what was inside the doughnut, personal effects from all the artists, but that stuff wasn't exactly "Art" with a capital "A." But it is always tons o' fun to peer into personal spaces, that's why you're reading a blog, right? And while it did attempt to show certain aspects of each artist's creative process, I strongly doubt that Mathieu Beauséjour really uses or needs condoms in order to make art. But it fits in nicely with his piece "Do I Really Need to Suck an Art Critique to get a Review." M. Beauséjour's addition of a collection of rejection letters was highly un-original, although as entertaining as his choice of personal materials.

While I'm at it, in the catalogue M. Mavrikakis makes some sort of noise about how the artists chosen are representative of a variety of different career paths. However, a quick scan of the CV's doesn't make this obvious. There are a number of exhibition spaces where five of the seven (official) artists have exhibited. Add in the preponderance on Artist Run Centres and from this seat the artists are pretty darn homogenous.

I asked Joanne Germain (or the person who I assumed was Joanne Germain) if I could get in touch with M. Mavrikakis, because I really would like to ask him a bunch of questions about the exhibit. Some how I strongly doubt that he's gonna give me a call anytime soon. Pity. However, if you're reading this M. Mavrikakis, I'd love to give you the space to reply, feel free to email me, or call me at 288-2233 so that we can arrange something.

To wrap this sucker up, I think it would have been way better if M. Mavrikakis had called the exhibit, "I think these Artists are kick-ass," and then gone into detail as to why he thought the work they did was so wonderful. That would have been extremely insightful. I also would love to know if M. Mavrikakis owns the work of any of the artists involved. I can't be too harsh on him because after all it is his first attempt at being a curator, but given how many exhibits I would imagine he's seen, I would have hoped he could have gotten off to a better start.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

New Blog Roll Additions


This could, quite soon get out of hand - but for the time being it seems reasonable. I've either just discovered or found out about the following blogs and website. I highly recommend 'em.

Paul Litherland's website. He's a kick-ass local artist.
Baseball and Real Life. While I no longer have a taste for anything to do with baseball, Stu Shea still does, and he writes well.
Art for a Change, I don't know Mark Vallen, nor do I remember how I came across his blog, but it rocks.
A Painting a Day, Duane Keiser is amazing. 5 minutes of your time is all it will take (each day).
Art News Blog, it seems like Dion Archibald's heart is in the right place.

Why is this news? #1


I don't understand, the CBC somehow decided that the second time Costco sold a Picasso doodle was Art news.

Why is this news? #2


Back in September, the New York Times wrote about Marla Olmstead. The BBC picked up on her story a couple of hours later. La Presse decided yesterday to publish something.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Do Suzan Vachon, Jean-François Cantin and/or Pierre Leclerc make "murales lumineuses?"


Back in August I pointed out that the fun folk who were deciding what "new art" to stick in the Henri-Bourassa metro station had decided that they wanted a luminous mural. Last week Le Devoir reported that they had decided who would be their three finalists (unfortunately the whole article is not available on line, but the meat is).

I'm obviously gonna have to do some more research on who does what to see if I can't handicap the winner. And by the way, congrats to all three of 'em are in order.

Friday, January 21, 2005

What do Marc DeSerres & Bernard Lamarre collect?


Back at the begining of the year, I came across this article from the San Francisco Chronicle about Steve Oliver's art collection. An easy enough read, and insightful in a People Magazine sort of way. But it got me thinking, as Mr. Oliver is Chairman of the board of SFMOMA, I wondered what Marc DeSerres (the President of MACM) and Bernard Lamarre (President of the MBAM) collect, if they collect (I would assume that they do) and if they would open up their collections to the public as Mr. Oliver has done.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Nice writing


Started my day off with a smile... From today's New York Times.
Our ability to spin gold from the dross of our experience means that we often find ourselves flourishing in circumstances we once dreaded. We fear divorces, natural disasters and financial hardships until they happen, at which point we recognize them as opportunities to reinvent ourselves, to bond with our neighbors and to transcend the spiritual poverty of material excess. When the going gets tough, the mind gets going on a hunt for silver linings, and most linings are sufficiently variegated to reward the mind's quest.
Many of the heroes and redeemers we most admire were unhappy people who found it impossible to change how they felt about the world - which left them no choice but to change the world itself.

Written by Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard, is the author of the forthcoming "Stumbling on Happiness" and published on the Op-Ed page, today.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Kick-Ass Reading


I'm still trying to play catch up with a bunch of things here, so posting continues to be short. If I can be so bold as to bring this essay to your attention: Art in an Era of Intolerance by by Lynne Munson, deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities in the US.

Initially a speech she gave in 2000, now part of a book, it is still relevant on many levels. And if I can be so bold, let me point you towards one of them - right here.

I was initially informed of this by someone else, unfortunately for the life of me, I can't remember who. Apologies for no proper shout-out, but thanks tons!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

RM Vaughan rocks my world!


I've been busy, apologies for the sketchy posting. While I'm otherwise preoccupied can I direct your attention to this article by RM Vaughan initially published in the National Post, but now graciously hosted by the good folk at Good Reads.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

All Roadsworth, All the Time!


Mr. Gibson is certainly getting around. The Gazette piles on with a wonderful and fabulous 1,930 word article about L'Affaire Roadsworth by T'cha Dunlevy [one page version here].

Quotes from: Jean-Pierre Desmarais (Roadsworth's Lawyer), Marc Mayer (director of Montreal's Musee d'Art Contemporain), Darren Becker (Montreal city spokesperson), and Richard Cote (political aide to Helen Fotopoulos).

Apologies to regular readers, but if you're reading this for the first time because of the article in the Gazette, these are the applicable links for all things Roadsworth.

My first post (December 10, 2004) which got the ball rolling.
Post number two (December 13, 2004) discussing historical precedents.
Post three (December 14, 2004) compilation of all the online sources as of that date.
Post four (December 20, 2004) a discussion of what had happened up until then (with a small addendum since - I have since spoken to Maitre Maurice Forget, it seems that my email got lost in cyberspace, he is following the case).
Post number five (December 23, 2004) a bigger, better and improved compilation of things online about Roadsworth.
Post six (January 13, 2005) new additions and discusion of how many different people have responded.
And post seven (January 14, 2005) the La Presse editorial from the week previous (I still haven't had time to translate it, sorry).

As I've mentioned many times, If you're new to the whole thing, don't forget to write to Mayor Tremblay and Helen Fotopulos telling them what you think. I'd be extremely grateful.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Illégal, l'art urbain?


I just received the electronic version of the editorial written by François Cardinal in last Saturday's La Presse along with permission to post it here. I will attempt to translate it for the blokes in the blogosphere later in the day.

La Presse
Forum, samedi 8 janvier 2005, p. A19

Illégal, l'art urbain?

François Cardinal

Les rues de Montréal ont été prises d'assaut. Bien accroché à la signalisation au sol, des fils barbelés, des hiboux, des prises de courant et des fermetures éclairs ont surgi de nulle part en pleine nuit, l'an dernier.

Mais si vous avez manqué ces images peintes sur la chaussée, il y a peu de chance que vous les croisiez un jour. D'abord parce que le passage des voitures, la neige et le sel s'affairent actuellement à les effacer. Et surtout parce que les policiers ont passé les menottes aux poignets de l'auteur de ces oeuvres d'art le 29 novembre dernier.

Malheureusement, les 53 chefs d'accusation auxquels fait face Peter Gibson, alias Roadsworth, pourraient carrément le jeter là où il sévit depuis maintenant trois ans, la rue.

La police a évidemment agi par devoir en arrêtant ce Montréalais d'adoption. Après tout, il a pris d'assaut la rue sans aucune permission. Si quiconque pouvait peinturer la voie publique à sa guise, le résultat pourrait être assez malheureux, merci.

Par contre, le Service de police de Montréal a déjà fait preuve d'une plus grande ouverture à l'endroit de l'art urbain. En 2001, les policiers avaient mis la main au collet de Maclean, cet artiste qui utilisait du ruban adhésif rouge pour cacher deux lettres sur les panneaux d'arrêt afin de faire ressortir le mot ART, puis ils l'avaient relâché avec une petite tape sur les doigts.

Pourquoi dans ce cas avoir utilisé une telle coercition avec Roadsworth? Il n'est pas question de destruction de la propriété publique. Il s'agit au contraire d'un embellissement de l'environnement urbain, d'une geste artistique posé dans une ville qui se targue justement de la place qu'occupe la culture dans ses rues.

Pourtant, l'artiste est aujourd'hui passible d'amendes de 265 000 $.

Tout cela est pour le moins exagéré. D'autant plus qu'aucun de ces dessins ne nuit à la sécurité publique. Il faut les voir pour constater à quel point ils se confondent à leur environnement. Mieux encore, certains renforcent la sécurité des piétons comme ces fils barbelés qui, peints de chaque côté d'un passage clouté, attirent l'attention des automobilistes.

Pourquoi permettre aux entreprises d'installer d'immenses affiches criardes en bordure de routes mais empêcher un artiste qui propose des interventions infiniment plus discrètes de peindre un coin de bitume?

Plutôt que de brimer le talent de cet artiste, Montréal devrait donner à Roadsworth toutes les permissions nécessaires pour poursuivre son oeuvre. Partout dans le monde, des villes tentent de trouver des moyens originaux pour se démarquer alors que Montréal se voit offrir sur un plateau d'argent la chance de le faire. Qu'attend-elle pour sauter sur l'occasion?

Peter Gibson ne mérite absolument pas d'aller en prison. Il ne mérite pas non plus ces amendes qui lui pendent au bout du nez. Tout au plus, les tribunaux devraient l'obliger à peindre le bitume montréalais en guise de travaux communautaires.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Canada ain't the US, and this is not good


This one really caught my eye. How could any country that calls itself "free" allow a Montreal investment executive to attempt to obtain a court order preventing The Gazette from publishing an article.

Gimme a freakin' break! Publish the darn article, and then if it is libelous, wrong or otherwise not "correct" sue the heck out of the publisher and the writer and the editor and anybody else you can get your hands on. But if an investment executive can muzzle a newspaper, this is not a good country to live in.

Underground Roadsworth? Alternative Roadsworth?


La Presse kicked butt today, but I'm just slightly biased. They published a 1,295 word article by Mario Girard about L'Affaire Roadsworth. One of the things that I particularly liked was that Zeke's Gallery isn't mentioned anywhere.

Then I missed it last week, but the Mirror's Rantline, had a particular tasty piece of ranting about Roadsworth as well [scroll down to the next to last one]. What I found interesting, is how Roadsworth has successfully covered just about every different part of society that I can think of. The Mirror covers (ostensibly) the underground, CMAQ does the underground, right, Urbania covers the glitzy lower Saint Laurent Eurotrash folk, Le Devoir gets the intelligentsia, La Presse gets that mass-appeal sensation going, CJAD [6mb dl] and The Gazette get the angryphones, the National Post gets the cowboys in Calgary, the Globe and Mail gets the pinstriped suits on Bay Street, Maisonneuve gives a literary bent to the whole shebang, and it goes on and on and on.

If you're new to the whole thing, read here and then don't forget to write to Mayor Tremblay and Helen Fotopulos telling them what you think.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

La Presse is rockin' Le Devoir is sinking


I don't know what 's in the water, but it seems that La Presse is going hog wild in their coverage of the visual arts in the new year. I think htat this is wonderful, amazing, great and a very good thing.

They have two articles published since the weekend, one a 567 word overview of the building boom in big libraries. It was written by the very same Francois Cardinal who wrote the editorial about Roadsworth. I did not know that there was a building boom in libraries. He also wrote a 839 word article aobut our very own Bibliothèque nationale du Québec, which is almost finished being built right now.

The overview is nice, the reason it caught my eye is that the headline read: "The New Temples of Culture." I missed the real article because it had a much more pedestrian headline. It has a nice descriptive bit about the library is going to repair a big rip in the urban fabric. I however will wait to pass judgement on the building until I've actually seen and been in it.

Then today, La Presse also has a nice informative (but short) 288 word article on how the Musée Juste pour rire scored $443,742 so that they can digitize part of their collection. If this is what Liza Frulla meant when she said that she was going to be giving more money to museums (or the news release, here) then I'm against it. The Musée Juste pour rire is as much a museum as my shoes are, and giving almost half-a-million dollars that could be better spent on oh, say a gazillion other places is ridiculous. And to top it off, I betcha that the resulting website is worse than the CBC's.

And Le Devoir needs to pick up the pace slightly, the only thing of interest that they can come up with is a 773 word reprint of a Presse Canadienne article about how Anthony R. Westbridge thinks that the auction market for Canadian Art is going to continue to get better. I'm certain that the other article on the same page of the hard copy of Le Devoir was that the sun will be rising in the east tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

More on "Cultural Cities"


In today's Washington Post [reg required, etc.] there is an article about White River Junction, Vermont becoming the next cultural city. It seems like every gosh darn mayor in North America wants to turn their burg into some sort of magnet for creative types.

I've discussed some of the details of Mayor Tremblay's plans for Montreal here, and I've also discussed some of the problems with his plan, here.

Since it appear that the plan for White River Junction is to get behind the new Center for Cartoon Studies, I figure that it can't be all bad. I haven't read the Proposal for a policy of cultural development for the Town of White River Junction, I'm not even certain that there exists such a thing - but if there was I'm fairly certain that it would be a little bit more involved in the nuts and bolts than the Proposal for a policy of cultural development for the City of Montreal's.

In the meantime, since Montreal itself seems to be a kind of hotbed for Comic art it'll be interesting to see if anybody from here decides to go down there, or if somebody decides that something similar should be offered here, in French.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Robert Spickler is weird


In this morning's Le Devoir, M. Spickler writes a 1,293 word "Lettre-fiction" that despite my lack of French readin' & ritin' still comes off like some weird science fiction.

Somehow he's figured that by listing off as many cultural institutions as possible, and then suggesting to his readers to think about how they would feel if every last one of 'em shut down, he might be able to shame some of them into paying attention to Montreal's new and improved! Cultural Policy.

Shaming people, or making them feel guilty about not doing something ain't gonna accomplish much. Accentuating the positive is way more effective. If I was going to shame or make Mr. Spickler feel guilty, then I would make some sort of mention of how can a museum think that they are going to be relevant to people by showing a show for one whole entire year? If I was going to accentuate the positive, I say something more like "man that sure is another nice exhibit about how wonderful it was to be in Montreal in the 1960's."

Planning for the 2010 Olympics


On the same day that Roadsworth had an article in the Globe and Mail (which was not available on line) Alexandra Gill wrote something that approaches space filler about the arts stuff that's going to be happening during and around the 2010 Olympics.

Other than say that there is $12 million dollars out there, and giving some vague background on the arts during the Olympics, she didn't write much.

Nothing about the previous times that the Olympics were in Canada, and what happened art wise. (Although now that I think about it, does anybody know if Calgary had any art affiliated with their Olympics?)

Nothing about where to get more information on how to score some of the $12 million dollars. And now that I check 'em out, why does the Globe and Mail publish something like a "call for entries" that is only available to residents of British Colombia? Isn't it supposed to be a "National Newspaper?" Or are they going to start publishing articles about the winners of the Prix du Quebec now as well?

Sunday, January 09, 2005

A Busy Week ahead


Clear your calendar for the 13th, the new "Art" year has started and somebody forgot to coordinate their agenda. These are the new shows opening this week. If you're interested in joining me at one or all, feel free to swing by the gallery sometime before 4:30 on Thursday, ok?

Galerie B-312: Frederic Lavoie does "L'angle mort." Valerie Blass does "Presque ca." The vernie starts at 5 pm.

UQAM Gallery: Glissements. Art et écriture (with art by Gwenaël Bélanger, Martin Dubé, Julie Favreau, Thierry Marceau, Nelly Maurel and Myriam Yates) and Les lois de l'indifférence (art by Roméo Gongora). The vernie starts at 5:30 pm on Thursday.

MAI: Heeseung Ko does "moving." The vernie starts at 5:30 pm.

Centre Clark: Manon Labrecque does "Plaintes." Justin Stephens does "Update on Hippies." The vernie starts at 8pm on Thursday.

And then finally somebody with some sense in their head...

Circa: Faire du Suplace with art by Catherine Bolduc, Josee Dubeau, Marie-Josee Laframbroise, Manuela Lalic and Janet Logan. This one has the vernie on Saturday the 15th at 3 pm. Makes life way easier.

Oh, and while some of the above is happening Mike Evin will be playing his wonderful melodies here from 7:30 pm. If you're joining me at any of the vernies, you're most welcome to come hear him. He rocks!

Friday, January 07, 2005

The Montreal Art Review Round Up (edited version)


I just posted to Metroblogging Montreal, the round up. 1,228 words about every darn article I can find that was published this week about Montreal Artists or Montreal Art. Click here to read it in its full glory.

If you want just the highlights, or a teaser, try this:
Murray Whyte at the Toronto Star writes 1,297 words about Istvan Kantor's upcoming show at the Art Gallery of York University. Ummm, maybe I should take it back, what I said about articles of more than 1,000 words. First Whyte screws up who the artist was in the most recent blood throwing incident, and then, second, he just doesn't get it. Cinque Hicks, over at Bare and Bitter Sleep, put it best, "when you've built your whole identity on being against something, only to have that something turn around and suddenly admire you without transforming itself in any way, it means that you've failed..." - link - C

Update, February 9, 2004: I have just been informed that I am in fact the one who is wrong with regards to the piece that Mr. Whyte refers to in his article. Mea Culpa, and apologies to Mr. Whyte and anybody else that took offense. I am in discussion as to whether I am the one in fact who doesn't get it, and as soon as we have figured out an answer, I'll let you know. In the interim, I should revise Mr. Whyte's grade upward - B+

Number 3: This one struck me as just flat-out weird. A 1,111 word article by Ève Dumas about a French from France actor, Denis Lavant, playing British Painter, Francis Bacon, on a stage (yes, theater!) here in Montreal, in French. I saw M. Lavant in the last piece of theater he did, and man, can he growl. As the article is about theater, I figure it is ineligible to be graded. If I get to see the play, I'll try to let you know.

Then we switch from the dailies, to the weeklies, and despite Isa Tousignant's shameless self-promotion of her increasing the arts content of Hour Magazine a gazillion percent, this week the Mirror stomps her on her keyboard and throws it into the snow. They have six articles, compared to her one book review.

Mr. Bottenberg was forced to think on his feet. Good thing, he gets a priceless quote from Chloe Lum, "it's like, bang on shit for an hour and then get the fuck out." - B

And if there is anybody out there that can tell me what the Mirror's definition of a "Noisemaker" is, I'd love to know. In going back through their archives and looking at who the previous "noisemakers" were I can't figure it out for the life of me.

Serge Fisette is freakin' incredible by writing 2,753 words about what happened in the Sculpture field in 2004. Good on Espace for publishing it (although I am certain it helps being the editor to get articles that length published). Umm, I don't have the time to read it all right now, and I'm certain that once I do, there will be a whack of things that get my dander up. But for the time being he gets an A++ just for the amount of words. Props and kudos!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

A day-begining laugh

Because Modern Art Notes is the place to go for thoughtful discussion on and about editorial pages. Especially since Tyler has never professed to reading one before. (The entry is also anti-, anti-, anti-, because anti- is easy. And it also takes advantage a tabloid paper not known for art criticism in an effort to score a cheap point or two. I didn't hear the MAN suggesting that the Post spend a thin red dime in Indonesia, did you? Still, I'd guess that the Slate's new art critic will trumpet his disapproval of MAN any minute now.)
Does anybody know if Slate gets read by more people looking for cultural fluff than Bloomberg?

Bringing Stuff to your Attention, number three


Then finally, yesterday, The Globe and Mail went to town in hyping the "original" Canadian Art. The premise was simple, send Simon Houpt down to the states sometime during the fall (I'd love to know who paid for his trip) and then run an article that touts publicizes and markets the Our Land exhibit at "Massachusetts's prestigious Peabody Essex Museum" and the Totems to Turquoise exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. The first question out of my mouth with regards to the Peabody and Essex was "who?" The second question that quickly followed was "I betcha Mr. Houpt thinks that the Art Gallery of Mississauga is a prestigous place as well."

Some other choice quotes, submitted for your approval:
"This is about marketing," Irwin [Ronald Irwin, the Canadian consul-general in Boston and a former minister of Indian Affairs] explained in a brief interview during a walk through the museum. "This is how you turn a $5,000 piece into a $50,000 piece: Get it into the museums and have them put their stamp of authenticity on it."

"People want a Good Housekeeping seal of approval, and there are limited ways to get that."

"[John] Grimes and co-curator Karen Kramer approach their subject with extreme sensitivity. Pieces are accompanied by relevant quotes about life in the North from the Inuit themselves, rather than explanatory comments by the curators. "We were reluctant to get into viewing the pieces through an anthropological lens," said Grimes. "That sets up an observer-observed relationship."

"A soapstone owl by the Cape Dorset carver Paulassie Pootoogook is given deeper meaning by the comments of the artist Jacoposie Tiglik..."

"Stepping into Our Land is like being transported back in time and thousands of kilometres north..."

"And in a move that recalls a federally approved Canadian cereal box, wall text is printed in both English and Inuktitut..."

and lastly, "If visitors like what they see, they can purchase original pieces from the museum gift shop, including an exquisite Chilkat button blanket by Dorothy Grant (Haida), priced at $10,000."

Bringing Stuff to your Attention, number two


Again, of the holidays, Peter Goddard wrote a very nice article in the form of a conversation with himself about "the best and the worst of '04." Most notable, and the thing that I like best is the following: "In this country [Canada], art is treated like comfort food for the brain."

I don't know if it is because all of his articles are available on line, or if it is something else, but Mr. Goddard is quickly climbing the ranks of my favorite art critics.

Bringing Stuff to your attention, number 1


Over the holidays, The Montreal Gazette run a fluff and feel good® article about Avrum Morrow. Read it now, 'cuz I think that the Gazette deletes their articles something like seven days after publication. And then call (514) 282-3301 to set up an apointment to go see the paintings.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Artnet.com? More like Artnot.com


It is gray and cold here. Hence my grumpiness. But it occurred to me that there are people out there who think that Artnet.com is a wonderful website. I've been scanning the magazine side of it for a couple of months now, and I finally figured out why it annoys me so much.

Their headquarters are in Berlin. But they don't give a rat's heinie about anything outside of the United States, or more precisely, Manhattan. Down the sidebar, they list what they call "Regional Reports." Well, here's how up to date they are:
Düsseldorf - December 30, 1999
Atlanta - November 27, 2001
Cologne - November 5, 2002
Seoul - January 27, 2003
Paris - March 5, 2004
Madrid - April 13, 2004
Basel - July 6, 2004
Tokyo - August 5, 2004
Berlin - September 24, 2004
London - November 2, 2004
Washington, D.C. - November 16, 2004
Chicago - November 24, 2004
San Francisco - November 30, 2004
Miami - December 8, 2004 (not so bad)
Brooklyn - December 14, 2004 (ok, this is up to date, but Brooklyn being called a "region," gimme a break!)
Los Angeles - December 15, 2004
Philadelphia - December 16, 2004
Italy - December 22, 2004 (yeah, this is timely, but Brooklyn being given the same weight as Italy!?!)

Given the recent brouhaha over Art in America writing about artblogs, I'd suggest these websites instead of Artnot.com's.
Atlanta - The View...
Basel - Artcore
Berlin - n-tier
Brooklyn - yeah, right!
Chicago - iconoduel
Cologne - Sorry, my German isn't all that hot.
Düsseldorf - ditto
Italy - Milan, Art-Blog
London - Cathy Lomax
Los Angeles - Rarified Air
Madrid - gotta work on my Spanish
Miami - artblog.net
Paris - Paris Art
Philadelphia - Roberta Fallon & Libby Rosof
San Francisco - Anna L. Conti
Seoul - I'm tossing in the towel
Tokyo - Ditto.
Washington, D.C. - DC Art News
And then I'd add in Vancouver (Marja-Leena Rathje), Toronto (Sally Mckay), Montreal 1 & 2 (ArtTwit and Mike Patten). And if you are so inclined you can probably find scores more.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Lotsa La Presse


Catching up on what went down during the holidays, La Presse was particularly busy publishing articles about the Visual Arts. Three by Jérôme Delgado, one each by Stéphanie Bérubé and Nathalie Collard. Pretty cool for a local daily.

On the 17th of December, Ms. Bérubé wrote a 685 word piece on the future of "The City of Energy" in Shawinigan. Apparently things weren't so hot in 2004. They only got 30,000 people. For comparison purposes, in 2004, Zeke's Gallery got 5,695 folk in the door. I wonder what I could do with 20% of their budget... It appears that as a consequence Liza Frulla (the Canadian Minister of Heritage) is going to throw more money at them (and other Canadian Museums as well).

On the 19th of December, Mr. Delgado wrote the first of his three articles, This one clocking in at 567 words. Manon Blanchette and her staff are doing a tremendous job. Just before the holidays they landed an article touting a show that opened in November.

On the 24th of December, Mr. Delgado was working overtime. A 1,195 word article on Yannick Pouliot. Basically an edited interview, it concentrates mainly on his piece "La Volière" which was in Artefact, on the mountain this past summer.

La Volière, by Yannick Pouliot

Anytime La Presse, or any other daily here, publishes something of that length, I'm always super pleased. And to top it off it is a very good article, too.

On the 28th of December, Mr. Delgado mails it in. A 504 word article that professes to be an overview of the Montreal Art World in 2004. He manages to miss seven months, and a bunch of significant things (in no particular order).
1. The move of La Centrale.
1½. The move of Skol.
2. Artefact
3. Désert
4. The Store
5. Oboro's New Media Lab
6. Eaux Arts Électroniques
7. The Cremaster Cycle
8. Isa Tousignant becoming Arts Editor at the Hour
9. Mouvement pour les arts et les lettres
10. The proposed changes to the way the Canada Council funds artists

And that's just from cribbing stuff from Isa, Christine and Nicolas.

Then finally, on the 22nd of December, Ms. Collard writes a 1,144 word article about Louise Larivière. Marred by name dropping, and things that while aren't exactly flat-out lies are a tad inconsistent. "Louise Larivière répète qu'elle n'a jamais reçu un sou de subvention..." [blokespeak: Louise Larivière repeats that it never received a penny of subsidy] while two sentences later, she goes on to talk about how wonderful the various public exhibits she mounted were. Digging a little bit further, on the website for Reporters Communication (the organization that Ms. Larivière runs) they list the Arrondissement Sud-Ouest de Montréal, the Arrondissement Ville-Marie de Montréal, Fonds de solidarité de la FTQ, the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de la Métropole, the
Ministère du Tourisme du Québec, the Office du tourisme de Québec, Parcs Canada, Tourisme Montréal, Tourisme Québec, the Ville de Charlemagne, the Ville de Montréal, the Ville de Québec, the Ville de Repentigny, and the Ville de Terrebonne
as partners. If that ain't getting public grants, then I don't know what is.

Interesting Choice of Pictures


Walter Robinson writes in Artnet Magazine, "the most trivial [artistic gesture] -- belonged to Andrea Fraser..." however as it is buried at the end of his 1,308 word article his editor most likely missed it, which is why the image that is on the front page of Artnet Magazine linking to the article is of the very same, and very trivial Andrea Fraser, naked.