Saturday, April 30, 2005

Wired Coincidence


This is flat out strange. Due to some fairly simplistic radio habits (I listen to the CBC) and some procrastination on my part. I came across a picture of the gallery that I wouldn't have expected in a gazillion years. On Saturday's WireTap with Jonathan Goldstein is broadcast at 6:30 pm. It's a nice enough program, but as with all CBC program's there's a picture of the host - well Mr. Goldstein apparently liked how he looked when he was here on the 14th of December 2002 during a Waffledude benefit for Santropol Roulant.

Personally, if I were Mr. Goldstein I would have chosen this one.

Jonathan Goldstein at Zeke's Gallery.

I think the photo was taken by Anthony Seaberg, but I'm not certain. The photo itself was nicked from the Waffledude website. Click around for number 7 and number 20 to see the originals.

If you click on the WireTap with Jonathan Goldstein link, the piece of art over his left shoulder is by Antoine Claes and is simply called "bicyclette." It has been sold.

Friday, April 29, 2005

If you have some spare time - Repeat from April 7th


Once again, the Montreal Mirror is doing their best of Montreal competition. As you might now, I take it very seriously. Zeke's has won it three years in a row. I very much would like to win it for a fourth time. The deadline is today at midnight.

If I can make some suggestions for your vote, assuming that you of course, do vote. Click on the picture above to do so. If you've already voted, apologies for the repeat, thanks if you voted for Zeke's Gallery and can I suggest that you go see Decalage at the Parisian Laundry instead.

Best political/social cause - L'Affaire Roadsworth
Best live venue - Here, duh!
Best gallery - Here, duh!
Best art exhibit - the choices from here would be the following. Phillip Bottenberg - Ocean of Intangibles, Toly Kouroumalis - Lucid Dreams in a Winter of Death, Jean-François Lacombe - Above, Below, Center & Ether. Although there are plenty of other exhibits that you should consider, too.
Best blog - This here one, duh!
Best neighbourhood - Mine or Saint Henri
Best building - Musee d'Art Contemporain or the Belgo Building
Best bartender - Yam at Casa Tapas
Best pickup spot - Art Galleries
Best play - the Anorak

For the record (and the out of towners) the runners up in the Best Art Gallery in Montreal category for the past three years have been.

In 2002, Musée des beaux-arts, arteVISTA [sadly now out-of-business], VAV Gallery, and Fashionlab [sadly now out-of-business]. And there was also a tempest in a teapot about the vote.

In 2003, Elle Corazon, Boutique Fly, Rad'a, VAV Gallery, Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery, Liane & Danny Taran Gallery, Galerie Noel Guyomarc'h Bijoux d'Art, Espace verre, and Centre Clark.

In 2004, VAV Gallery, Studio 303, Liane & Danny Taran Gallery, The entire Belgo building, Shayne Art, Boutique Fly, Rad'a, Galerie Noel Guyomarc'h Bijoux d'Art, and Centre Clark.

Thanks Tons!

Congrats to Iain Baxter


For scoring big with the Molson Prize. 50 large for a career that spans 50 years. Pity his gallery hasn't updated their website.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Jeanie Riddle shakes things up and causes stuff to shift at the Parisian Laundry


Two weeks ago I went to the opening of Decalage, a group show by scads of Masters students at Concordia University. It was tons 'o fun, and tremendously entertaining. As it was the opening, there was only time enough to do a quick scan of the artwork there. So I promised myself I would go back and give it a closer and more thorough viewing. Last Tuesday I did. If you haven't seen it yet, go, go now. And I mean now it is only open through the weekend. The address is 3550 Saint Antoine West, and there is a catalogue launch on Saturday the 30th at 3 pm.

At the vernissage

In between the opening and the close and thorough viewing on Tuesday, I also was able to see the undergrad student shows at Concordia and UQAM. Before I launch into my screed about Decalage, I gotta wonder what's up at Concordia. The UQAM student show is open to anybody. The Concordia show is by some sort of selection process. The UQAM show has something like 75 students exhibiting, the Concordia show had 18. The UQAM show had a catalogue, for the Concordia show I was told that I would have to photocopy 85 pieces of paper that were in a binder on the counter. The UQAM show was endlessly fascinating, wonderful and kicked butt. The Concordia show had one artist who rocked. (For the record his name is Cody Lee Stephenson). I think that the folk responsible for making the choices for the Concordia undergrad show should pass it on to someone else. Maybe the folk at UQAM.

But back to Decalage. 31 artists, something like eight of them doing their thesis shows. If you haven't realized it by now that makes for an awful lot of art. To get it out of the way early - the good stuff was created by Ms. Riddle, Geneviève Chevalier, Esther Choi, Tegan Forbes, Shauna Kennedy, Christine Kirouac, James Francis McDougall, David Spriggs, Charles Stankievech, and Tomasz Szadkowski. But if you give me a chance to backpedal slightly, an awful lot of the art (and most of the stuff done by the people whose names are not in the list above) was very heavy on the theory, but very light on the explanation behind the theory. Sorta like trying to understand Bohm's law of holonomy by just looking at the cover of the book. And that's probably more of the reason why their names don't appear on the list. But then again, some of them did flat out suck. And then again you can't forget that my memory also flat out sucks, so some of the missing names might just be something like an oversight on my part, apologies in advance.

Overall I'd give the show a B+, the space an A-, Jeanie Riddle better have been given an A+ by her thesis reviewers with at least four gold stars, and if you want details, information or opinion on anything that I don't write about here, or anything that I did write about, ask away. As I have already annoyed 21 artists, by not mentioning their names after the words "good stuff," I'm going to refrain giving each of the named artists a specific grade, so that I can at least still think that some of them will be willing to talk to me, and not knife me in the back when I go back for the catalogue launch.

Now, first off, the Parisian Laundry is a spectacular space to present art. However the person responsible for choosing those fake white walls, so that wall art can be displayed needs to borrow some of the creativity from the artists who exhibit - 'cuz they don't help the space in any way shape or form. I can suggest a whole whack of possibilities if anybody is interested.

Then, on to the art. In no particular order.

Charles Stankievech did a piece (unfortunately I didn't take notes during the vernissage) that was basically just sound. Downstairs in the basement there are three rooms, but there is a hallway leading off to the third room, Mr. Stankievech kept the hallway dark, which would normally make it very ominous and unlikely to attract any visitors (most folk tend to be scared of dark spaces). But he used some sort of tiny speakers that then broadcast bird sounds, or as someone I know says "chewies." Thereby shifting perceptions to a much more warm, inviting and friendly space where the darkness could be used as a method to encourage exploration. As it was a group show, there wasn't much in Mr. Stankievech's work that directly referenced the other work on either side of his, but his work was extremely effective in transforming a passageway into a destination. If I remember correctly, there might have been wires, too, but then again, it just might have been the smudges on my glasses.

I gotta point out here, that "Decalage" when translated from the French means "Shift." And while it was supposed to be the overriding theme of the art in the show, sometimes it shifted the meaning of the art, and sometime the art shifted the meaning of the title. Apologies in advance for my overuse of it and all the other synonyms I can find in this post.

Christine Kirouac was one of the few artists who did fairly straight forward old-school art. In her case it's called painting. She took the Q&D (quick and dirty) method towards shifting things, by hanging her paintings in what could be called non-standard places (see the darn picture, below). I'm not certain if it was just a sense of relief from a whole whack of theory stuff that aided me in liking them, or if it was the bold red color, or if it was because it took me a whole 7 minutes (and help from my friends) to realize that the second painting was of a railing in the metro, and as a consequence I slapped my head and pronounced myself stoopid. But for whatever reason I really liked them. Probably for a combination of all the reasons above. One of the things that became evident as the afternoon wore on (I think it took us about four hours to see the whole shebang) was that while Concordia might be great at getting students to think about their practice, methods, and reasons for doing art, one thing that they lack is in giving student artists experience in what makes for an engaging art viewing experience. Maybe that's why the undergrad show was a scary experience, too. I hope that things change with the new Arts building. But somehow I feel the theory art that doesn't give two hoots about the viewer is going to be around for a little bit longer. Only in Canada, pity.

But back to Ms. Kirouac's art, while her hanging method was like being hit over the head with a two-by-four with respect to the theme of the show. It truly was her paintings that kept me looking. Jeanie, who had been acting as tour-guide for our visit on Tuesday used some fancy-ass term to describe the drips on the right hand seat, I was willing to give Ms. Kirouac the benefit of the doubt and call 'em a mistake. But a tiny, tiny mistake, sorta like using your salad fork to eat your fish.

Christine Kirouac's work.

Tomasz Szadkowski is another one of the old school artists (although not that old school, as he is a photographer). I can pretty much sum up what makes his art good in one word. Gorgeous. My best guess would be that he is sorta keen on the color green, but then again I have been known to be wrong. I would also guess that these are his two favorite pictures from a series of green pictures, but then again I have been known to be wrong. Taken on their own, the pictures just ooze some sort of Zen like contentment, while I was looking at them I found myself unconsciously humming "Ooom." Whatever. Because of all the other theory pieces in the room, my brain went into overdrive, hence the guesses, then I started humming again, I was then forced to turn away before I developed whiplash.

Tomasz Szadkowski's work.

Tegan Forbes was another photographer included in the show. But unlike the guy above with the unpronounceable and really difficult to type name, Ms. Forbes chose to shift things by taking pictures of what I assume is herself with pictures of graffiti projected on her body. If you're dense, normally, graffiti is painted on walls or other public places, Ms. Forbes' body is about as private as you can get. Yeah, it's sorta simplistic, but they are pretty. Sometimes (see above) pretty is good enough. As there were four of them, in total, it was much easier to see that there was some sort of thought behind them, and I didn't have to resort to any guessing as I did with the guy above with the unpronounceable and really difficult to type name. You might think that by reducing my commentary to one word, that is two letters shorter than what I wrote about Mr. Szadkowski, I might be simplistic. Tough.

Tegan Forbes' work.

Jeanie Riddle and I got into a humongous discussion/argument about her pieces. Initially I was all against them, complaining that they were "theory, Theory, THEORY!" that didn't give a hoot about the viewer. But unlike every other piece of theory art there, this one had the artist there to explain, and defend it. As a method to change people's minds, it works. If I can be so bold, if you're an artist who likes and works with theory, stick around your piece of art, and actively engage people in discussion about it as the come by to look. It works.

Now, don't quote me on this, cause if you remember, I wasn't taking notes. But if I remember correctly, Ms. Riddle trained as a painter. As you can see from the photo of her work, she isn't exactly painting right now. And whether it should be called a reaction or an exploration I don't know. But after another beer I think I at least had a grip on what she was trying to do - now, after yet another beer, I'm not entirely confident that I can explain it back (I never was a good student, hence the lack of notes). I think it goes like this; painters sometimes work with paint chips (small little bits of colored paper) and Ms. Riddle was looking to see if she could break down the process of making a painting into some sort of set of discreet steps that somehow showed or explained the process.

Now I tend to view art as discreet objects and when they aren't, I get grumpy. So initially, as Ms. Riddle was being such a gracious host, I was gonna be polite and tell her that I preferred the smaller box like (or model like) thing on the left as you approached the pieces. Fortunately, Ms. Riddle saw right though me, and we got into the highly charged conversation that left both of us happy and tired.

The part of Jeanie Riddle's work that I liked initially better.

David Spriggs got me coming and going at the same time. The first time, during the vernissage I had to pick my jaw up off the floor, as there was only one other artist who caused me to even open my mouth I sorta was prepared to give him the blue ribbon, and call him best in show. But then at the close viewing on Tuesday, I heard some pretty convincing, or maybe they were just loud, arguments as to why what he did was vapid, shallow, without meaning, and contrary to everything good in this world. Since I had forgotten my earplugs those arguements were tough to ignore. But on the other hand - there is always another hand - they look pretty darn slick and cool. Basically, imagine making really thin slices of a suitcase, thinner then you would for your standard issue carpaccio. Then imagine that those slices are slapped onto your standard issue acetate, suitable for your standard issue overhead projector. Now, put them back in order, so that what you have approximates a suitcase. That is sorta like what you would get from one of Mr. Spriggs' pieces of art. Or if you would like it using less words, an engineer's blow-up diagram of a suitcase on acetate. What makes them cooler than you or me, is that they are then suspended in this thing that looks like an aquarium. The scuttlebutt around the VAV building is that his skills at securing and building the aquarium like housings is less than one would like, and will probably cause future archivists and restorers lots of problems down the line. Then still going with the gossip going around at the vernissage, he wants more than a king's ransom for them. My suggestion to Mr. Spriggs? Go to New York young man. According to the gossip going around, they are willing to throw money around like it is going out of style down there - but you might have to apply to Hunter or Yale first. He also does another piece with clouds replacing the suitcase, it comes out better in the picture but the suitcase is better in real life.

David Spriggs work

Esther Choi makes me realize that I mighty be liking photography more than I initially thought. Or perhaps as this is a student show, that Evergon and the other photography professors at Concordia are pretty darn hot. Upon some reflection, I'd be giving the props to the profs at ConU. Go Man, Go! Ms. Choi's work is a pretty darn simple, a black and white picture, split into three separate prints, of some vines. But, jeez! She has spent what I would imagine is the better part of her life learning how to make prints. As the paperwork was sorta sketchy, hence my lack of info about the theory stuff, I have no clue as to what sort of printing process she used but looking long or looking close, or using the most powerful magnifying glass you can find her work is the bomb. I could probably foam on for about another 500 words or so about the grid pattern, and or how black and white vines on a wall in something that is attempting to look like a white cube shifts something, but I have three other artists to write about who could use the words.

Esther Choi and Julie Boivin installation shot.

Geneviève Chevalier probably gets my vote as the best of the best. Or maybe that's bestest. But then again, maybe not, I gotta remember to be diplomatic, so let me take that back. Ms. Chevalier is as good, no better than everybody else in the show. Yeah, right. The reason I say that, is because although I was fascinated by Mr. Spriggs' work at the vernissage, the gossip and hearsay made me think twice. And while at the close viewing I discovered and thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Riddle's work, at the vernissage I was prepared to write it off. Ms. Chevalier's work caught me by the short and curlies at the vernissage and more significantly, during the close viewing it stood up to the scrutiny, and got better. Basically, if I remember correctly, Ms. Chevalier was the only artist who upon entering into the building that is Parisian Laundry understood what and how to deal with it. Fairly simple, just a bunch of boxes underneath the steps leading up to the second floor, where the thesis projects were. Not exactly something that I would call gorgeous, but I stood there dumbfounded for easily 15 minutes at the vernissage trying to work my brain around her work, and then another 45 minutes at the close viewing (where I got to feel extra special, cause I could crawl around and in it). Any piece of art that keeps my attention that long, especially while I have a beer in one hand and my gorgeous girlfriend on the other has got to be good if not better. I'm deliberately not posting a picture of it because the pictures I have don't do it justice.

OK, I'm losing steam here, so James Francis McDougall might be getting short shrift. At this rate I don't know why I'm doing this darn thing, it looks like I'm going to end up pissing off every last artist. Hey, promise me you'll go see the show for yourself, that way I might not get beat up this weekend, ok? I think this might be why they got a different person to write about each artist, I'm close to a 3K word count, and I still got a gallery to run. His prints are as it says in the bio thing-y that I got "super colorful pop prints" look at the picture. I like the one on the right. A lot.

James Francis McDougall's work.

And finally Shauna Kennedy, gets a free punch. I really like her stuff, but I'm way too tired to write about it. Look at the picture, go to the show, tell her that I sent you, ask her for an autograph, heck, buy it, then perhaps I won't get pummeled.

Shauna Kennedy's work.

And then in going over the photos of the show I realized that my list of artists is most definitely incomplete, you gotta check out and listen to Ian Campbell's piece which I think is called Core.

What makes it even cooler is that you gotta search for it first. It ain't exactly in your face.

Then I almost forgot that Julie Boivin's piece is nice too.

And lastly, before I completely space on all of my responsibilities all the photos were taken by Guy L'Heureux, and if you want to contact him, call me, or Jeanie.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

heavytrash is cool


heavytrash is sort of like ATSA, but with an American bent. Endlessly enjoyable.

Fun Stuff


One of my favorite writers, R.M. Vaughan interviews the artfag. Silly, but fun. I can't wait for the artfag to come to Montreal.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Shafting the artist, episode 7,865


Next I saw this press release put out by one of my favorite organizations, the Société de développement du boulevard Saint-Laurent. In it, they use the normal purple prose to go on and on about Saint Laurent. What I found reprehensible is that they have published a poster (see below)

"To pay tribute to Ryan Larkin, SDBSL has produced a commemorative poster for the 100th anniversary of The Main illustrating one of his works. This poster will be sold at Main Madness from June 16 to 19 and August 25 to 28, and a portion of the proceeds will help Mr. Larkin create his next film."
Now last I checked, it is possible to get a poster printed for something like 10¢ a pop. Given that the SDBSL gets its money from a tax on a tax that is paid by all of the businesses on Saint Laurent, I find it utterly disgusting that they are not giving all of the proceeds to Mr. Larkin. Why they think that they're need for money is more important than his is just flat out bad.

For the out-of-towners who would like some background on Mr. Larkin, start here, then go here for the recent history.

Out of town follow up


Back at the beginning of the month I referenced the exhibit in Los Angeles "i am 8 bit." This morning I came across FORT90.com who has some pretty darn cool pictures of the show. (Props and shout outs to Waxy for pointing me towards i am 8 bit in the first place, and for the pictures, too.)

Monday, April 25, 2005

Catch this while you can


I don't know how long the Globe & Mail allows people to read its articles, but there's an article up now about Pascal Grandmaison written by Sarah Milroy. Simple enough as a piece of the hype machine (see the picture below of the actual page)

What I'm not happy with is how Ms. Milroy flips in the middle of the article from listing how well M. Grandmaison's career is doing and a profile-like piece, to some sort of analytic review of the meaning of his work. Can we get one of the other, please? And as it's in a daily newspaper, I'd sorta be keen on seeing the profile instead of the analytic review. Why Susan Sontag's ideas about photography need to be referenced in an article that also includes details about M. Grandmaison's tenants, I don't understand.

The second thing about the article (although in fairness it isn't about the writing, which overall is good) that annoyed me was that M. Grandmaison is being touted at the beginning as being the latest and greatest Canadian Artist, much in demand and upon who's shoulders we should assume the future of Canadian art will be carried. One problem, the lengthy list of things he's doing includes the following exhibits:
Galerie René Blouin - now
Dazibao - now
Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal - next week
Jessica Bradley Art & Projects - May
Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art - June
Jack Shainman Gallery - the future
Prague Biennial - June
Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal - 2006
Eight shows in a year is obviously nothing to sneeze at, but look at the list. There are only two shows which happen outside of Canada. The Jack Shainman Gallery is known for African photographers., The Prague Biennial is going to be the second one held there. And while for M. Grandmaison both should not be sneezed at, and are obviously great opportunities - but to tout him as the latest and greatest because of all of this action in Canada and "outside" of Canada is ridiculous ("It's not often that an artist makes a flawless entrance into the art world," "Pascal Grandmaison, 29, is one of the favoured few," "This is poignant stuff" are but a few of the purple phrases that Ms. Milroy uses in her article). If Ms. Milroy wants kick ass Canadian photographers, who are likely to change the world, where's her article about Sarah Ann Johnson? Ms. Johnson got rave reviews in both the New York Times and the Village Voice, yet is nowhere to be seen in the pages of the Globe & Mail. Or in a nutshell, hoarding artists on this side of the border, and then thinking that they're going to change the world doesn't quite make sense in my book.

Quick Hit #4


Here's the press release for the RBC Financial Group Canadian Painting Competition.

This is the jury (separated geographically):
Marc Mayer, director of Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal
René Blouin, director, Galerie René Blouin, Montreal
British Colombia
Lisa Baldissera, curator, Art Gallery of Victoria, Victoria
Landon MacKenzie, artist and associate professor in visual arts at the Emily Carr Institute in Vancouver
Linda Book, director, Drabinsky Gallery, Toronto
Ben Reeves, artist and art professor at Western University, London & 2001 RBC Canadian Painting Competition winner
Shirley Madill, vice president, chief operating officer and director of programming of the Art Gallery of Hamilton
The Maritimes
Alex Livingston, artist, Associate Professor, Nova Scotia College of Arts and Design, Halifax
The Praries
Yves Trepanier, Founder, co-owner, TrepanierBaer Gallery, Calgary
I'd guess someone from Ontario wins.

Deadline for entries is May 13, 2005. And all the details can be found in the press release.

Quick Hit #3


There's a call for papers for "Insides, Outsides and Elsewheres" a conference that will be happening in Edmonton in October.

Quick Hit #2


In case you missed it, here's the report from International Trade Canada about the Canadian presence at the ARCO 2005 Contemporary Art Fair.

Quick Hit #1


If you're looking for a cab here in Montreal, can I suggest calling Télétaxi at (514) 725-9885 and ask for cab #235. Good until June 21.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

James Adams on Norval Morrisseau and the Competition Bureau of Canada


There's an article in today's Globe and Mail about the behind the scenes machinations happening with respect to the paintings of Mr. Morrisseau. Interesting, yes. But I would have preferred if Mr. Adams had done the necessary research to find out who the people behind the complaint are (after all if Dean Beeby can use the freedom of information act, then Mr. Adams should be able as well) instead of just accepting that they are "believed to be owners and auctioneers of Morrisseau art." As Mr. Morrisseau's exhibit at the National Gallery is not scheduled until 2006, it isn't exactly like there is a serious deadline approaching, tomorrow.

And instead of quoting National Gallery curator Greg Hill about why there haven't been more exhibitions by first nations artists at the National Gallery, I would have preferred to hear how Mr. Hill plans to authenticate the 60 works that will be in their exhibition, given the current state of affairs.

Years spent on a single painting, minutes spent on words about the painting


In today's Globe & Mail (attention the link will be lost in less than seven days) Gary Michael Dault writes a very positive review about the most recent exhibition by Harold Klunder at the Clint Roenisch Gallery. Unfortunately he quotes from "show's invitation card, 'Klunder works on single paintings for long periods, sometimes years at a time, and in doing so they become invested with a deep, mutable, interior sense of self. His paintings are vivid evidence of his effort to give shape to consciousness itself.'"

For the less artspeak fluent around - "giving shape to consciousness itself." Could be explained as "being aware," and that "deep, mutable, interior sense of self," could be pronounced easier if you said, "they are fairly original." Now I haven't seen the paintings themselves, so I can't comment on them, and I'm fairly certain that they do rock, but c'mon! The review is 416 words long. 10% of it is the quote, which to me does nothing to add to what Mr. Dault has previously said, and in fact takes away from it.

Friday, April 22, 2005

New Blog Roll Additions


Tragic Bliss - Art Blog
The OC Art Blog - ditto
Chris Ashley: Look, See - Artist Blog
Kunstspaziergänge - German Art Blog
Markmaking - Art Blog
New Art - Art Blog
JMG Artblog - Like it says
www.tapestryresource.com - Art Blog
Art Blog - duh!
Iowa Art Blog - cool, eh?
University of Michigan School of Art & Design blog (A&D Plus) - Art Blog

Actually I have about 29 additions that need to go up - the one's above are those that are specifically art related. My best guess is that I need to seriously re-jig the blogroll, which might have to wait until the weekend. This, I think, serves as a public reminder to myself that it needs to be done. Thansk for bearing with me.

New Gallery Alert


Farrah Merali writes in The McGill Daily about Yves Laroche opening a "new" gallery in his basement. Called L'autre galerie (how original) almost 20% of the artists at l'autre are also on the roster at Yves Laroche. However the thing that really gets my goat is that Ms. Merali quotes Jenny De Luca (a promotions and sales worker at l'autre) saying "Many of our artists exhibit or have exhibited in Paris, Los Angeles, and New York, which are known for their avant-garde galleries and openness to what is different. Montreal, although known for its diversity and creative people, lags sadly behind in this regard." Which is just flat out wrong.

Some of the avant-garde galleries here in Montreal:
Liane and Danny Taran Gallery, 5170, Cote St. Catherine, Montréal, Québec, H3W 1M7
Centre de design UQAM, 1440 Sanguinet, Montréal, Québec, H2X 3X9
Centre de diffusion en arts visuels et médiatiques UQAM, Pavillon Judith-Jasmin, 405 rue Sainte-Catherine est, salle J-R930, Montreal, QC, H2L 2C4
Art Mûr, 5826, rue Saint-Hubert, Montréal, QC, H2S 2L7
Centre d'art et de diffusion Clark, The Fashion Plaza, 5455 De Gaspé, #114, Montréal, Québec, H2T 3B3
Quartier Ephémère, 745 Ottawa, Montréal, QC, H3C 1R8
Circa, 372 Ste-Catherine W, #444, Montréal, Québec, H3B 1A2
Joyce Yahouda Contemporary Art, 372 St Catherine, #427, Montréal, Québec, H3B 1A2
René Blouin, 372 Ste-Catherine W, #501, Montréal, Québec, H3B 1A2
And there are plenty more.

Then, I'd like to know exactly which galleries in "Paris, Los Angeles, and New York" Ms. De Luca thinks are so open, or more open than galleries here in Montreal. As I mentioned many times before, the Montreal Art world is as insular as any other art world (although to be fair, with the upcoming changes [2, 3, 4, 5, 6] to the way the Canada Council funds things, and the Charest government's focus on business and the arts, the insularity that Montreal has might soon disappear like a puff of smoke.)

Survey Says! Art-thérapie


I found the answer to my question in the previous post. Someone writes in Montréal Campus about art therapy students. That was easy.

Arts Educators, unite!


A lot of short quick hits today, from last week's Link, Tyler Boyle writes about Arts Education students not getting enough respect. You always want to know that you're not the last on the line. If studio arts students look down on arts education students, and engineers look down on arts students, and med students look down on engineers, etc. Who do arts education students look down on?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

What you might be interested about in the Quebec Budget

From page 14, of the budget speech, and the picture is from page 52 of the budget plan.
Promoting arts and culture

: increase private investment
Culture is not only the mirror of our society, but also the torch that enables it to shine throughout the world. Last year, we introduced various measures to improve the socioeconomic conditions of Québec creators. It was a gesture in recognition of the tremendous contribution artists make to the growth of our culture. This year, our objective is to increase business investment in Québec culture. For our cultural industry to flourish, everyone must invest. That is why the Minister of Culture and Communications set up a steering committee composed of representatives from the cultural community and government. Although the committee has not yet completed its work, it has already proposed scenarios for encouraging private investment.

Concrete measures
I am pleased to be able to implement some of their proposals immediately. First, I am announcing the creation of Placements Culture, which will support development of the arts and culture thanks to private sector contributions. To get this initiative off to a running start, the government will contribute $5 million.
The Minister of Culture and Communications will announce the terms and conditions of this measure in the weeks to come.
Again with the aim of fostering increased private-sector contributions to the funding of culture, I am announcing that museum memberships will be given the same tax treatment as theatre subscriptions and, as a result, will be fully tax-deductible.
I am also announcing an additional $5 million in funding to support some of our museums that are experiencing financial problems.
Lastly, I am announcing that the capital cost allowance rate for businesses that acquire works by our artists will be raised from 20% to 33 1/3%.
If I had a vote, I would seriously consider giving it to Charest. Then again, there's always the plaint of "he could've done more!" And I'd love to see the list of museums that are getting funding. I'm certain that the people at the museums not "experiencing financial problems" are not going to be happy.

Missed Opportunities


Drat, 5 days! Last week there was this conference in Vancouver called Museums and the Web 2005. From a quick scan of the website, it appears that there was a whack of interesting stuff being discussed.
DigiCulture, A Study In User Behaviours With Digital Cultural Materials In Contemporary Art.
Beyond Hits: Gauging Visitor Behavior at an On-line Manufacturing Exhibit.
Curating for Broadband.
Are some of the papers that I will be reading in the future. I'm surprised to see that there wasn't any specific paper about blogs, but then again, I don't think that there are any museums out there that have blogs, yet.
And then, hopefully, someone from the Musée d'Art Contemporian, the Musée Nationale des Beaux Arts du Québec, and the National Gallery was there, so that they could learn something.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

51 weeks apart


It has been awhile since I mentioned anything about Nicolas Mavrikakis, but this was just too good to pass up. On April 22, 2004 he wrote a review about the orange/brown collective show at Blizzarts. On April 14, 2005 he wrote a review about the orange/brown collective show at Usine C.

I wrote about his review last year, here. This year he uses 13 more words than last year. To give M. Mavrikakis some credit, he does mention their show last year (but not his review).

Last year he name-dropped Emmanuel Galland and Bernard Pivot, this year he name drops Patrick Coutu and BGL. Last year he called them young artists, and said how he was always on the lookout for them. This year he calls them young artists, and attempts to goad the Musée d'Art Contemporain into hosting a show of theirs. Last year Robert Boulay made a comment about the article, this year Robert Boulay made a comment about the article (although this year's comment is a tad more confusing than last year's). Plus ça change...

More art on the radio in French


Again from last night's Porte ouverte. This time with Ben Vautier. Again, no time to listen, yet. One question, though, in the introduction they state that M. Vautier is a "living legend of contemporary art." I might be a tad biased, but I think that might be overstating the case slightly.

Art on the radio, in French


I haven't listened yet, but last night on Porte ouverte, they spoke with René Derouin. It lloks very interesting - Hopefully, I'll have time later in the day to listen to it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Burning bridges can be fun - revised


The original post has been removed at the request of Tyler Green

Burning bridges can be fun


Yesterday, I had an interesting email conversation with Tyler Green of Modern Art Notes. It concerned one line in a post of his that I thought was unfairly picking on someone. As I still think he is unfairly picking on that person, I figured posting my email exchange with Mr. Green (with the lead pipe in the conservatory) might be interesting to three people. Since two of those people are important to me, you must be the third.

Full disclosure: I have not, nor do I intend to ask Mr. Green for permission to post this. However, if he requests that I take down the post, I will - so I have no idea how long this will last. Read now, read often, and then memorize and destroy.

Secondly, contrary to my previous postings of email conversations, (with Murray Whyte of the Toronto Star and Jerome Delgado of La Presse) my running commentary is in italics throughout. Apologies to everybody who doesn't give a hoot, come back tomorrow, I'll be back in regular form.

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 13.28
To: tylergreendc@yahoo.com
Subject: A quick question


What's with the picking on Lenny? I do not see what or how he has done anything to you that would cause what appear to me a fairly constant barrage of invective. It really doesn't make for interesting reading.

Hope everything else is well.

Baseball Sucks

-----Original Message-----
From: Tylergreendc@yahoo.com
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 13.30
To: Zeke's Gallery
Subject: Re: A quick question

Then look harder.

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 13.52
To: Tylergreendc@yahoo.com
Subject: RE: A quick question


See the attachments. Can I get some help, please?

Baseball Sucks

The attachments were four jpgs. See below for what they were.

attachment 1

attachment 2

attachment 3

attachment 4

-----Original Message-----
From: Tylergreendc@yahoo.com
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 14.02
To: Zeke's Gallery
Subject: RE: A quick question

No, it's not important. I'm not going to drum anything up, let's just say there's a long history.
There are many reasons the guy doesn't get mentioned by me.

And you're still missing my point: I was criticizing DCist for running reviews by someone with clear conflicts of interest, not the author.

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 14.31
To: Tylergreendc@yahoo.com
Subject: RE: A quick question


OK, fine enough. I can sense when it is better to let sleeping dogs lie :-)

As for the conflict of interest. From my perspective, if a gallery owner states clearly and loudly that they run a gallery, then any review they write would be ok in my books. Heck, I write reviews all the time. Where I find it a little bit slipperier is when critics go and curate shows. Because, often there is stuff happening behind the scenes that most people would not be aware of. Where with gallery owners, I assume that the general public could be able to figure out what's what.

Up here, Nicolas Mavrikakis did curate a show (he's the reviewer for the local equivalent of the Washington City Paper) and did not disclose in the paper what he was doing (he had reviewed all of the artists in his show, favorably, in the months leading up to his show, called ironically enough "How to be an artist.") His newspaper, wasn't even aware of what he was doing on the side.

On the brighter side, Bernard Lamarche (the reviewer for the local equivalent of the NYTimes) did a show at the Musee des Beaux Arts du Quebec. He and his newspaper decided that it would be a good idea if he didn't review any museum exhibitions for a year on either side of his show. While I'm not certain I agree with how they decided to avoid the conflict of interest I applaud them for trying.

Then in the case of Sarah Milroy (the woman who took Blake Gopnik's place at the Globe and Mail) which wasn't about an exhibit that she curated, but a review of a show by close friends, she and the G&M just completely dropped the ball. See here for my post on it.

And if you're interested this is the text of my email to the Globe and Mail about Ms. Milroy's article:
-----Original Message-----
From: Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Sent: Saturday, April 16, 2005 15.17
To: newsroom@GlobeAndMail.ca
Cc: Letters@GlobeAndMail.ca; egreenspon@globeandmail.ca
Subject: Conflict of interest policies


Do you have any conflict of interest or ethical policies for your arts reporters? And are they the same, or different as for reporters in other sections? In today's edition of the Globe and Mail there is an article by Sarah Milroy that states at the beginning of the article "I have known Claudia Beck and Andrew Gruft as friends for nearly a decade, but I have only recently begun to think of them as art collectors." And while on the surface it seems that she is doing the full-disclosure dance and being completely transparent, I can't help but thinking that there is a double standard at work here. If Mathew Ingram was friends with Darren Entwistle, would a sentence like "I have known Darren Entwistle as a friend for nearly a decade, but I have only recently begun to think of him as the CEO of the largest company in Vancouver" have been published in your newspaper? Or would you have assigned the article about Telus to someone else?

Your Truly
Chris Hand

Zeke's Gallery
3955 Saint Laurent
Montreal, Quebec H2W 1Y4
(514) 288-2233

Full disclosure takes care of 99% of conflict of interest to me - and with the other 1% retractions, corrections, and implementations of CoE policies should work fine. To me there isn't enough writing about the visual arts, and there's even less reading of the visual arts. Stumping to get somebody silenced (even if there is a history) doesn't benefit the community at large.

On a brighter note, have you read, do you read Rebecca Mazzei? Arts editor for the Detroit Metro Times. She has got to be one of the best writers I have come across in a very long time.

And finally, when are you coming to town? Jonathan Glancy is going to be here at the beginning of May, the MACM has got a summer blockbuster opening in the middle of the Month, and Marc Mayer, its director gives very good quote, and and and.

Baseball Sucks

-----Original Message-----
From: Tylergreendc@yahoo.com
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 15.31
To: Chris @ Zeke's Gallery
Subject: by the way....

Care to explain what you mean?

He gives lip service to the internet in paragraph four by quoting Tyler Green. However in an article about Art Critics, talking to Mr. Green would be the equivalent of me writing about hockey and quoting Garrett M. Graff about the Capitals.

This is a quote from a previous post of mine. Notice how Mr. Green ignores all of my previous questions and centers immediately on his name. Also, only after I brought the post to his attention (after all I wrote it on Friday, and while I recognize that there aren't many people who are as obsessed with my blog as I am, I do figure that any blogger that is worth their salt does know enough about Technocrati, and other methods to keep track of when and where their name is mentioned.)

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 16.03
To: Tylergreendc@yahoo.com
Subject: RE: by the way....


No offense intended at you. But your blog, serves as a pointer to other places where there are reviews. There is not much "criticism" in there per se. As it is the only reference to the internet in Mr. Speigler's piece, it struck me as being in there in a rather incongruent manner. Then (and this is where you might take it personally - apologies in advance and after the fact) doing art reviews for Bloomberg, and using you as a source for his piece about critics, while being good for you - I can't really see Bloomberg as being where an awful lot of folks are going to go for their "art reviews." As I wrote, sort of like going to Mr. Graff about his views on Hockey to buttress an article about the Capitals. Heck doing Art Reviews for AP, or CNN wouldn't be much better, the parent organization's priorities are elsewhere. I'm not faulting you or your opinions, just where they are and what I imagine is the expected response from the reader.

Had Mr. Speigler quoted whoever is writing the ArtForum blog, you and Terry Teachout and maybe someone else about art criticism on the internet, that would have been alright. Had he quoted anybody who was not earning $150/piece as a freelancer, that would have been alright. Had he done some comparison to say the criticism in the Voice in the 50's, or pamphlets in London in the 1880's that would have been alright. Heck, had he just re-written Andras Szanto that would have been wonderful.

Baseball Sucks

-----Original Message-----
From: Tylergreendc@yahoo.com
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 16.07
To: Zeke's Gallery
Subject: RE: by the way....

Interesting. I suppose that two-time Pulitzer winner Joe Morgenstern doesn't count as a film critic because not an awful lot of people go to the Wall Street Journal for movie reviews. After all, the WSJ's priorities are elsewhere.

Nice redirect here. What Morgenstern, the Pulitizer Prize or the Wall Street Journal has to do with our discussion, I don't know.

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 16.14
To: Tylergreendc@yahoo.com
Subject: RE: by the way....


Exception proves the rule. Heck I read Dan Neil and I've never had a driver's license or driven a car.

Baseball Sucks

-----Original Message-----
From: Tylergreendc@yahoo.com
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 16.14
To: Zeke's Gallery
Subject: RE: by the way....

Most interesting.

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 16.22
To: Tylergreendc@yahoo.com
Subject: RE: by the way....


I'm not saying that you or Morgenstern (BTW where was he quoted?) a bad writer, just saying that in an article about how art criticism sucks, he (quite possibly, intentionally) avoided any Art Critic who was a "must read."

Baseball Sucks

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 16.24
To: Tylergreendc@yahoo.com
Subject: RE: by the way.... follow up


And quoting from a three year old Jerry Salz article doesn't count :-)

Baseball Sucks

-----Original Message-----
From: Tylergreendc@yahoo.com
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 16.24
To: Zeke's Gallery
Subject: RE: by the way.... follow up

With each email you amuse me more.

Obviously trying to bait me. If I can pat myself on the back, I didn't bite.

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 16.26
To: Tylergreendc@yahoo.com
Subject: RE: by the way.... follow up


I aim to please. So, back to the original question - when are you coming to town.

Baseball Sucks

-----Original Message-----
From: Tylergreendc@yahoo.com
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 16.28
To: Zeke's Gallery
Subject: RE: by the way.... follow up

Our email exchange has me so eager.

If he thinks that Zeke's Gallery is the only reason to come to town, and if you remember from above, I didn't even make mention of a darn thing happening here at Zeke's Gallery, then to my mind Mr. Green really doesn't give two hoots about art in any way shape or form, and is only interested in seeing his name in print as often and as large as possible. This is the email that really made me angry.

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 16.34
To: Tylergreendc@yahoo.com
Subject: RE: by the way.... follow up


Keep me posted, and have a great day. I gotta get back to work, now.

Baseball Sucks

So, I bowed out. Thanks for bearing with me on this. I fully expect that Mr. Green will remove me from his blogroll, I'm not terribly worried. On the other hand because of his behavior, I will no longer read him.

Anna L. Conti raises the bar


I for one, am a big fan of long interviews with artists and people in the arts field being published on the internet. If memory serves it was while reading one of Ms. Conti's earlier interviews that made me realize that I could do it too. But, jeez! She's now gone and taken that concept and done it one better. How am I gonna keep up? yesterday's entry on her web journal is a conversation she had with Sandra Yagi while the two of them were looking at the art of Forest Williams. Ms. Conti calls it her "first attempt at an "artists looking at art" piece" and while I understand the tedium and difficulties in transcribing any recording, I can only keep my fingers crossed and wait patiently for the second, and the third, and the fourth and the... In case anybody is unclear as to how I feel about it, it is fabulous and wonderful and highly recommended reading.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Randy Kennedy restores my faith in the New York Times


Cool and informative article in today's New York Times about the next step in street art. Mr. Kennedy tracked down and interviewed Revs (for background try this, or this). Although to be fair, it looks like Mr. Kennedy picked up the trail and introduced it to a larger audience from reading Gothamist. Who may have in turn gotten it from Untitledname.com, who in turn might have gotten it from jakedobkin, at which point I stop sleuthing and start working, again.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Dancing at the Renaissance Ball just before the roof caves in


Then there's this story published on the Macleans website from Canadian Press (in Halifax, too!) about problems and difficulties at the National Gallery of Canada. The article gives a long list of logistical problems such as a leaky roof that threatens to damage art, and disorganized storage facilities. It then goes on to point out all the cost cutting measures that have been implemented, such as reducing exhibitions and cutting staff, because of this crisis. What I find most interesting is that the National Gallery touts that it is hosting its "first-ever national fundraising event on May 28, 2005," the aforementioned Renaissance Ball, which has as its lofty goal to raise a cool $1,000,000. And what are they going to do with all that money? "The proceeds from the Ball will go toward the purchase of a work of art for the permanent collection, a work which will be featured in the Gallery’s Renaissance exhibition." Last I heard, there was not such beast as a Canadian artist from the Renaissance. Personally, I'd be happy if they just got the darn storage space organized.

The state of the market?


Last week or so, Stéphane Baillargeon, dutifully reported in Le Devoir the latest information from the fine folk at L'Institut de la statistique du Québec about the Art Market, here. Now I won't get into his article, which I would guess is fairly similar to the press release from the government.

Christine Routhier (who I think is the person responsible for the reports about the visual arts) was only able to track down 23 art collecting companies here in Quebec, and as the note says, that number includes governmental companies, too.

Hmmm, on the Globe and Mail's Top 100 companies by Market Capitalization, there are 18 that are here in Montreal. OK, so not all of them have corporate collections. But I could easily come up with another 20 companies who aren't on the G&M Top 100 how do collect. So, I would automatically assume that the figure listed there are under-reported.

Then, the thing that really gets me, is if one wants to talk about "the market for Quebecois art." What I would be talking about is how much that Borduas went for, or what the lower estimate for that Riopelle is. I don't care much about the $9,000,000 spent here in Quebec on art in 2003. I am interested in the freakin' Quebecois artists whose work gets sold, anywhere. Or in a pinch, how much was sold by Art Galleries here in Quebec. In either case, I'd venture a guess that the dollar value is significantly higher, and as far as being a point of chest thumping pride, way larger.

Then as long as I'm on the topic, this chart about museum acquisitions in between 2001 and 2003, is interesting on a couple of points.

A) Ms. Routhier only sent questionnaires to 33 museums in Quebec. According to la Société des musées québécois there are 39. That's almost a 20% difference, who was left off the list, and why? Or is it something silly, that I could have over looked, like say six museums opening in Quebec in the past two years?

B) In 2003, the average value of a piece of work donated to a museum by someone living in Quebec was $2,795. In the same time period the average value of a piece of work donated by someone from outside of Quebec was $13,513. Or in other words, if you are one to judge art by its dollar value, the stuff being donated by outsiders was almost five times better than what the locals donated. Or to put it another way, the local collectors don't know jack.

C) The average value of a piece of work acquired by a museum in Quebec, by donation, or purchase was $3,176. In slightly more colloquial terms the museums here, don't know much more than the collectors here.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Yet another reason to mention how wonderful Rebecca Mazzei is as a writer


Jeezus! This is becoming like an obsession! I gotta stop it. But Peter Goddard writes a 550 word article about a sold out program at the Royal Ontario Museum. Now there are tons of jokes that I can make at the expense of Torontonians, because of the fact that they would even consider paying $155 to learn how to paint-by-numbers, but I'll hold my tongue, and let you think up the punch lines. I just hope that for that price, some velvet is included.

The reason I bring up Ms. Mazzei, again, is that in going through her archives last week, I found that she had written yet another wonderful article about the inventor of paint-by-numbers back in July, 2004 (as an aside, just to underline how wonderful her writing is, I spent 30 minutes searching through the New York Times' Magazine's archives looking for the article because I was certain that I had read it there). As the Smithsonian did an entire exhibit on paint by numbers in 2001, I can only assume that not on are Torontonians foolish with their money, but they are also four years behind the times. And then finally, for those of you who want to try your hand at it, on line, click here.

Claudia Beck and Andrew Gruft seem like nice people


Sarah Milroy writes a nice 1,390 word feature about two of her friends. Heck, from the first paragraph you know it's going to be nice - because she states very clearly, right at the beginning of the article "I have known Claudia Beck and Andrew Gruft as friends for nearly a decade, but I have only recently begun to think of them as art collectors." Now, I'm one for full-disclosure and transparency in reporting, but somehow, I have this nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach that if, say, Mathew Ingram was friends with Darren Entwistle, that his editors would let him write an article that began "I have known Darren Entwistle as a friend for nearly a decade, but I have only recently begun to think of him as the CEO of the largest company in Vancouver." I wish that the Globe and Mail (or for that matter any darn publication) would start taking the ethics of their arts reporters half as seriously as they take that of their cartoonists.

But, enough of my grouching about editorial policies, back to the article at hand - despite that overall "oh isn't this wonderful" nature of the article, Ms. Milroy writes a couple of seriously weird lines. After stating that she "only recently begun to think of them as art collectors." She recants and flips 180º in the next paragraph when she writes "Over these first years of our friendship, my periodic requests to find out more about their collecting met with a polite "perhaps some day soon" vagueness." Now, does this mean that she was thinking of Ms. Beck and Mr. Gruft as collectors in the first years of their friendship, but because she wasn't able to get any hard and fast answers, that she stopped thinking of them as collectors, or that the first line is wrong? Then towards the bottom, she's able to get some porn into the Globe and Mail when she quotes Ms. Beck, and describes what one would assume was a valentines (or anniversary) gift from Mr. Gruft to Ms. Beck. Why? I she feels the need to do so, I can only imagine.

This is one of the rare times when I would have to say that I would have actually liked to have read Alexandra Gill's review of the exhibition.

Manon Blanchette comes through with flying colors


In today's La Presse, yet another interview with the unstoppable Marc Mayer; 942 words versus 1,156 for the one he did with Le Devoir, last Monday. Not much new or different, slight change in the tone, due to the nature of the changing readership (I still stand by my idea, that Ms. Blanchette (Head Honcho of Communications at the museum) should work on getting Mr. Mayer into the Journal de Montreal). The only thing that I see that could conceivably be called a scoop is "Marc Mayer en prépare une si grande [retrospective] qu'elle occupera « tout le musée » en 2008. Bon joueur, il se réserve de dévoiler le nom, disant tout au plus que « c'est un artiste, une artiste, qui peut investir le musée de façon importante et merveilleuse »." [Blokespeak translation: Marc Mayer is preparing a very large retrospective, which will use "the entire museum" in 2008. Keeping his cards close to his chest, he prefers not to divulge the name, other than to say "it's an artist who can invest in the museum [ed note: I'm not certain I get that nuance, either] in an important and marvelous manner."] In the past I've made up lists of artists who haven't shown at the museum, if you have any ideas on who it might be, let me know. I might just start a betting line.

Sad news about an artist I'd never heard of


I realized the other day that I had reach a certain age. I had started to read the obituaries, regularly. What that means in the greater scheme of things, I'll leave for another day. However, this morning I came across this one about the death of Ida Libby Dengrove. Who? The courtroom artist for NBC from 1973 to 1986. Some interesting tidbits in there.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Kick-Ass Article by Marc Spiegler


I gotta give Lenny a big thanks for pointing this article out to me. It's written by Marc Spiegler, who keeps an archive of his older articles here.

Basically, his point is that Art Critics have become obsolete. He goes through a number of examples, that all translate quite well here in Montreal. The only real fault that I could find, is that he doesn't really talk about the internet, or any of the other numerous new media that I would consider as having taken over from the old media that he calls (quite properly) obsolete.

I've had some time to give it a closer read, and while I still think it is a worthwhile read (way more worthwhile say than reading a copy of October) there are some things that need to be pointed out.

First and foremost, the picture that accompanies the article on the top

Just plain ridiculous and silly, don'tcha think?

Then, to lead into the article proper, the first quote is from Samuel Keller, who is this guy:

Can you say "cliché"?

His quote is to bemoan the lack of powerful critics these days. Specifically "When I entered the art world, famous critics had an aura of power." Oooh! those aura's are real easy to spot, aren't they? If taken from a slightly different angle one could almost say that Mr. Keller seems to wax nostalgic for the good old days, back when painters were painters and a good cigar was a smoke. Heck, back in the day Art Basel/Miami (or however it is punctuated) was just a gleam in its director's eye. The problem with his "complaint" and the thesis of the article is that the article itself lacks any historical overview. Everyone and everybody in it is referencing one period of time (roughly 1930-70) one place (New York) and then comparing it to their references for today. And then doing that badly.

In the second paragraph, Mr. Speigler complains about the lack of pay for Art Critics, ("Even the swankiest art publications, such as Art Forum, Frieze and Art in America pay only $100 to $150 per freelance review") Unfortunately, he's doing the old apple/orange switcheroo. For that $150 (US) those critics are writing something like 200 words. Somehow, I don't think that either Peter Schjeldahl, or Arthur C. Danto works for chump change. I'd love to know how much "the swankiest" magazines pay for a 5,000 word feature (or did I miss the boat, and they don't do those sort of things anymore?). Because those are the sort of things that Mr. Speigel is lamenting.

Then continuing my line of picking and choosing - Third paragraph: "Only a fool goes into the arts for the money, of course; prestige is the bigger draw." If prestige was such a big draw for the arts, then there would be no such thing as Canadian Art. Heck Quebecois art would have disappeared eons ago. He then quickly follows that with this: "For centuries, criticism functioned as the rough draft of art history..." He then mourns the passing of critics like Clement Greenberg (1909-1994) and Pierre Restany (1930-2003) as the passing of the "rough draft of history." Umm, I don't know how good your math is, but two dead guys from last century doesn't make for more than one century, does it? Am I missing something? I regularly point out to folk, that my knowledge of Art started in 1998. I've been playing catch-up since then, so is there anybody out there in the big ole internet who can point out some kick-ass art critics from the nineteenth (or hey, even the eighteenth) century? Please?

He gives lip service to the internet in paragraph four by quoting Tyler Green. However in an article about Art Critics, talking to Mr. Green would be the equivalent of me writing about hockey and quoting Garrett M. Graff about the Capitals.

I could go on and on and on (and I just might tomorrow, 'cuz this is fun) but I gotta still point out that despite his missing all sorts of marks, and not nailing a darn thing down tight. He still is right.

Addendum 6pm. Jeez! I spaced entirely. I forgot entirely about the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University and their studies about Arts Criticism in the US. Way more detailed, in depth, and while not exactly a fun read, very, very interesting. Try the one on the visual arts.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Denise Desautels rocks the house


Holy Smokes and wowsuh! As you might have known, tonight Patrick Warner was launching There, there, here tonight. As is normal with most poetry launches, there's a reading that goes along with it. For the most part the poetry readings that have happened here in the past have been multiple author affairs. I thought, however, that this one was going to be a solo show.

Boy was I mistaken! Carmine Starnino (he looks better in real life than in that photo, honest) somehow arranged for a second poet to read. And what a poet! Ms. Denise Desautels herself. What do you think of them bones? And here I thought being promised to meet a Governor General's Award Winner was the cat's meow.

Oh, and she reads quite well.

I am disappointed with Peter Goddard


One of the things I strongly suggest to artists exhibiting here, is that they limit themselves and not have anything else exhibited within three months (before & after) a show here. Why? Case in point #563C: This 1,304 word feature about Kelly Mark. She currently has three (count 'em, three!) shows up and running. If you do the math with me, that amounts to less than 435 words per show. Not good coverage if you ask me. I'd prefer to space the shows out and get 1,000+ words, three separate times.

Then to focus my attention on Mr. Goddard, somewhere towards the end of the article he quotes her dealer (which, to me, amounts to his tacit agreement) "Kelly is a major artist." Disappointment #1 - If she's a major artist, why not do a 1,300 word feature when she doesn't have a show? Or perhaps a full on review of at least one of the shows?

Disappointment #2 - His first paragraph name drops Jim Morrison and Jeff Koons, and then he goes so far as to use the fancy-ass word "abattoir," just to show how sophisticated he is. Given this picture of Ms. Mark's neighborhood and Mr. Goddard's desire to make a metaphor for her life out of organization, I would have gone for the park up the street, or perhaps the highway down the street. And I would have completely dropped the name-dropping. What does a dead pop star have to do with Contemporary Canadian Art?

Disappointment #3 - He quotes unnamed sources. C'mon, this ain't the Gommery commission. If he couldn't find anybody who would say that Ms. Mark was a perfectionist and obsessive for the record, then maybe she isn't.

I guess, sometimes everybody has a bad day.

Everybody piles on the Power Plant


Since I don't read the Toronto Entertainment weeklies, I can probably keep this short.

1. Peter Goddard on Dedicated to you, but you weren't listening at The Power Plant.
2. Sarah Milroy previews Dedicated to you, but you weren't listening at The Power Plant. (My post about her preview.)
3. Sarah Milroy reviews Dedicated to you, but you weren't listening at The Power Plant. (Does anybody have a copy of it? I could translate it into French, hint, hint, hint.)
4. Sally Mckay discusses Dedicated to you, but you weren't listening at The Power Plant.
5. Timothy Comeau reviews Dedicated to you, but you weren't listening at The Power Plant.
6. Jennifer McMackon reviews Dedicated to you, but you weren't listening at The Power Plant.

I assume that there are more out there. Can anybody tell me if the Power Plant just went and hired a new publicist?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

More proof Montreal is different, and likely to get better still.


Once again things here are not like in other places. Today's example is the interview with Marc Mayer in yesterday's Le Devoir. When was the last time the director of any museum made it onto the front page of your local newspaper? Unfortunately the powers that be decided that they want to charge you cash money in order to read it on line.

Fortunately, I got a copy, unfortunately I also translated it. Be forewarned, I play fast and loose when I go from French to English, there are some things in the English version that are only there for the easy laugh. It's best if you're bilingual. If you want more proof of how bad I am as a translator, check out some of the previous newsletters.

Quelques jours après sa nomination comme nouveau directeur du Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal (MACM), Marc Mayer a croisé une petite famille de touristes québécois sur le parvis de la Place des Arts. Le père a vu un panneau annonçant le musée et a proposé une visite. La mère a refusé tout net en lançant qu'il n'y avait «que des cochonneries là-dedans». La remarque grossière a traversé le muséologue comme un coup de dague.

A couple of days after his appointment as new director of the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal (MACM), Marc Mayer came across a small Quebecois family of tourists on the promenade of Place des Arts. The father had seen a billboard announcing the museum and suggested that they go for a look-see. Mom completely refused and screeched that there was "only a bunch of stupid stuff in there." The coarse remark crossed the museologist like a blow of scraping-knife. [that last sentence was done completely by computer - but was too wonderful to change.]

«Ça m'a fait rire jaune, dit Marc Mayer, rencontré la semaine dernière. Y a-t-il encore beaucoup de gens ici qui pensent comme ça ? C'est épouvantable ! Il faut tout faire pour abolir cette perception. Il faut que ce musée devienne un point de référence, un centre d'excellence, dont les gens seront fiers.»

"It made me feel very embarrassed," said Marc Mayer, when we met last week. "Can there still be that many people from here who think like they do? It's terrible! We have to do everything in our power to get rid of that perception. [note to Mr. Mayer - next time you do an interview with the press, make sure that the Journal de Montreal gets a day of exclusivity, getting interviewed by Le Devoir is preaching to the choir.] The museum needs to become a point of reference, a center of excellence, a place for which people can feel proud of their heritage."

Après huit mois d'examen et de rencontres, Marc Mayer est prêt à lever le voile sur ses intentions de refonte du Musée d'art contemporain, ce qu'il appelle son «énoncé de vision». Il rêve de rapprocher son institution de la ville et des artistes. Il souhaite aussi agrandir son musée et le doter d'un important fonds de dotation qui lui permettrait de multiplier les achats pour bonifier sa collection.

After eight months of meetings and discussions, Marc Mayer is ready to lift the veil on his intentions to recast the Musée d'art contemporain, what he calls his "statement of vision." He dreams of bringing the institution, the city, and the artists together. He also thinks it would be a kick-ass idea to enlarge the museum and get a much bigger and more serious acquisition fund which would permit him to score more kick-ass Quebecois art and make the permanent collection much better.

Osons une allégorie catholique, d'autant plus de circonstance que Marc Mayer remplace Marcel Brisebois, un vrai de vrai abbé à la tête du MACM. En forçant le trait, on pourrait proposer que ce dernier fasse figure de Pie XII tandis que son successeur incarne une sorte de Jean XXIII. Ainsi, à un pape de l'art contemporain d'une relative passivité, succède un dirigeant qui proclame l'aggiornamento de son institution, c'est-à-dire sa mise à jour, afin de l'adapter au monde actuel.

Because the Pope just died, let's make a catholic allegory out of this whole contemporarily Art/Museum thing, 'cuz if you can remember back when Marc Mayer took over from Marcel Brisebois, Brisebois was a priest's priest, if you want to force the issue it was sort of like when Pius XII died and John XXIII took over. Going from a passive Pope of contemporary art to one that wants to modernize the institution, in other words make it more up-to-date, you know - give it a little zing. [note to Stéphane Baillargeon: There probably are more similarities between Brisebois and Pius XII than you could shake a stick at - but the Mayer - John XXIII comparison seems a little sketchy to me.]

D'abord, Marc Mayer souhaite donc mieux inscrire son musée dans la ville et dans le monde, pour ainsi dire urbi et orbi.... «Cette institution est vraiment originale, dit son directeur. C'est le seul musée d'art contemporain au Canada et le seul en Amérique du Nord qui fonctionne en français. Mais il faut se décrisper un peu. Il faut devenir encore plus dynamique et multiplier les contacts avec toutes les forces vives de la culture actuelle.»

To start with, Marc Mayer wants to make his museum more involved in the city and in the world, or to speak what looks like Latin in a French newspaper, inside and out. "This institution is truly original" say its director, "the only contemporary art museum in Canada, and the only one in North America that speaks French. But it needs to get a little looser, become more dynamic and make friends with the various cliques and tribes of coolness that are here in town." [note to Marc Mayer: There's this thing in Toronto called MOCCA. While you may not consider it a museum, there are other people who do.]

Il parle par exemple d'inviter plus de compagnies de théâtre ou de danse et même des groupes de la riche scène musicale underground de Montréal, dont The Arcade Fire, dont il admire le travail. Il veut également réserver des soirées complètes à des fêtes artistiques. «Le MACM doit devenir un lieu de rassemblement», résume-t-il.

He speaks of potentially inviting theatre or dance companies or even the phenomenally popular underground music scene here in town. Heck The Arcade Fire who he likes an awful lot. He'd also like to kick off a series of nights dedicated to artistic endeavors. "The museum needs to become a meeting place" he continues.

Le nouvel organigramme de l'institution témoigne de cette volonté de jeter des ponts vers les communautés environnantes plus ou moins proches. Le service du marketing et des communications devient la direction des services aux publics. La nouvelle direction de l'administration et des activités commerciales comprend notamment les services de l'édition. Surtout, l'éducation et la conservation fusionnent dans un nouveau service intégré. Paulette Gagnon prend la tête de cette direction tout en demeurant conservatrice en chef.

The organigram of the institution bears witness to this building of bridges between communities near and far. Marketing and Communications becomes "in the public service." The administration is being pushed in a new direction and its commercial activities will notably include publishing. Above all, the education and conservation departments are being combined and Paulette Gagnon does not lose her job as chief curator.

«Les musées ont tendance à accepter les chapelles, dit M. Mayer. Je crois que les conservateurs doivent devenir de grands vulgarisateurs et qu'ils peuvent beaucoup apprendre des éducateurs. Je souhaite fusionner les mentalités et encourager les dialogues.»

"Museums have this habit of becoming like bank vaults" Mr. Mayer says, "I think curators need to become the hippest folk in town, and they can learn an awful lot from the educators. I hope to combine the two ways of thinking and get them talking."

Né à Sudbury, diplômé en histoire de l'art de McGill, ancien directeur de la Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery du Harbourfront Center, à Toronto (1998-2001), il arrive du Brooklyn Museum de New York où il était directeur adjoint de l'art (deputy director for art). Il y a notamment organisé une rétrospective de l'oeuvre de Jean-Michel Basquiat qui a largement contribué au renouvellement de la peinture américaine dans les années 1980. Le travail, exposé jusqu'en juin, a été salué de manière dithyrambique par la critique new-yorkaise.

Now M. Baillargeon tosses in some boilerplate material about Mr. Mayer's background and then gets way too academic for a family newspaper in explaining how the reviews of the Basquiat show, which Mr. Mayer co-curated, were "poetic."

Fort de cette expérience, le directeur souhaite s'impliquer davantage dans le travail de conservation et annonce qu'il organisera personnellement un nouvel accrochage de la collection permanente en 2007. Marcel Brisebois, qui aura finalement dirigé l'institution montréalaise pendant une vingtaine d'années, soit la moitié de son existence, n'a jamais monté d'exposition. De ce point de vue, Marc Mayer se rapproche plus du modèle de Pierre Théberge (au Musée des beaux-arts du Canada, à Ottawa) ou de Guy Cogeval (à celui de Montréal), aussi bons administrateurs que conservateurs.

Back to my bastard translation: Flush with this experience, the director wants to take advantage of his curatorial skills and organize a "new and improved" hanging of the permanent collection in 2007. Marcel Brisebois who finally directed the Montreal institution for well nigh twenty years, which was almost half of its existence never curated a single show. Taken from this angle, Marc Mayer is much more like Pierre Theberge or Guy Cogeval, who besides being kick-ass administrators are very capable curators. [note to Stéphane Baillargeon: Brisebois was not hired to curate, not were Theberge or Cogeval. Brisebois got a new building for the museum, downtown, I might add. Theberge got an extension built here in town and then skidaddled for the hinterlands. Cogeval (as far as I know) has never been asked to build a building - it’s a completely different skill set.]

«Je trouve ça important de rester impliqué de manière intellectuelle», résume le principal intéressé en annonçant du tac au tac une nouvelle manière de négocier avec les expositions. «Il faut oser frapper plus fort et affirmer beaucoup plus nos coups de coeur», poursuit-il en donnant cette fois l'exemple de l'exposition consacrée en 2003 par le MACM au photographe montréalais Nicolas Baier. «Nous ne lui avons pas donné assez de place et nous avons produit une petite plaquette qui n'était pas à la hauteur de notre admiration. Cet artiste majeur méritait mieux. C'est à Montréal de souligner à fond l'importance et l'originalité de son travail, pas au Musée des beaux-arts de l'Ontario.» Le MACM se reprendra à la fin de l'année avec une exposition conjointe sur Nicolas Baier organisée avec le Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal.

"It is important to say involved in intellectual pursuits," continues the head honcho, interested in announcing point by point (can anybody out there translate "tac au tac" better?) a new method in dealing with exhibits. "You gotta aim higher, stronger, and really make people aware great this stuff is, he continues, Giving as example the Nicolas Baier exhibit that was at the museum in 2003. "We didn't give him enough space and he produced something that wasn't up to our level of admiration. He's a major artist and he deserves better, much better. It's Montreal which should be underlining his importance and showing the originality of his work, not the AGO. The Museum will get a second chance at the end of the year when it combines forces with the Musée des beaux Art de Montréal on the next Nicolas Baier exhibit to get shown in town.

[Update April 13: MACM and MBAM aren't combining on a Baier show, they are just producing a catalogue on Baier together]

Marc Mayer rêve aussi de pouvoir déployer davantage la collection permanente et ses quelque 6000 oeuvres de 1500 artistes, dont 80 % sont toujours vivants. «Nous avons deux grandes forces : d'abord l'histoire de l'abstraction à Montréal, que l'on peut raconter du début à la fin, de Borduas à Charles Gagnon; et puis les installations, dont on possède plusieurs exemplaires magnifiques, de Bill Viola à Louise Bourgeois. Nous devrions continuer à enrichir cette collection unique qui peut attirer les touristes et les amateurs d'art du monde entier.»

Marc Mayer also dreams of the day (sounds much better than "power deployed" don't you think?) when the permanent collection with it's 6,000 pieces by 1,500 artists (and heck 80% of them haven't kicked the bucket, yet) can be better displayed. "We have two big themes here: Abstract painting which goes from the beginning to the end, from Borduas to Charles Gagnon; and then you can't forget about installation art, where we have some kick-ass examples from Bill Viola to Luoise Bourgeois. We need to continue nourishing this unique collection, which can then be used to attract art lovers from all over the world."

Pour exposer ces merveilles, il faudrait donc de nouvelles salles, et le directeur connaît bien les réticences étatiques à investir dans une nouvelle aile à court et à moyen terme. «Le musée a été bien pensé, dit-il. Mais nous n'avons pas assez d'espace. Je souhaite lancer le débat. Je ne dévoile pas de solution concrète, seulement un problème pour l'instant. J'ai beaucoup d'ambition pour cette institution, mais je n'irai pas trop vite.»

To exhibit this stuff, we need more rooms, and the director knows well the bureaucratic difficulties in investing in a new wing for the short to medium term. "The museum was well thought out," he says. "But, we don't have enough space. I want to start a dialogue. I don't have the solution, but I do want to make people aware of the problem right now. I have lots of hopes for this museum, but I don't want to go too fast."

Pour bonifier la collection par contre, il propose une solution qui a fait ses preuves ailleurs et qui implique à plein le secteur privé. Le MACM ne dispose que de quelques centaines de milliers de dollars par année pour acquérir des oeuvres d'art qui font encore malheureusement tiquer les contemporains.

To make the collection better, he is suggesting a solution that has worked elsewhere, by bringing in the private sector. The museum only spends chump change each year in acquiring art which only continues to piss off the contemporaries (I don't understand that sentence, either.)

«Je veux un fond de dotation substantiel qui nous permettrait d'acquérir beaucoup plus d'oeuvres racontant l'histoire de l'art contemporain, résume le directeur. Notre fonds n'a que deux millions en caisse actuellement. Il faudrait atteindre environ 25 millions pour s'activer correctement sur le marché de l'art. Nous allons donc lancer une campagne permanente et retenir les dépenses tant que ce seuil ne sera pas atteint, ce qui nous donnerait au moins un million par année, voir un million et demi, pour acquérir des oeuvres nationales et internationales.»

"I want a substantial acquisition fund which would permit us to get lots more work that would tell the story of contemporary art," resumes the director. We only have two million dollars in cash actually, and it would require about $25 million to enable us to act responsibly in the art market. So we're going to launch this permanent campaign and lower our expenses until we get there, those who give us $1 million/year will see us turn it into $1.5 million to get national and international treasures."

End of story. If you'd like more, there is an awful lot of similar stuff in my interview with him.

As for what I would do to make the museum better?

First off, fix the freakin' restaurant. There's a festival dedicated to this city's food, and at the museum you're only choice of a view is between a post, or some scrawl done by a sixth grader on a school trip to get some learnin'. Ditch the vault, so as to get more space for diners, and then ditch the chef. Toss in some new menu items that somehow relate to the exhibits there. And make sure that the food gets you into En Route's best restaurants in Canada for the next dozen years.

Second, make sure Beverly Webster Hall is being used every gosh-darn night. Whether for Arcade Fire (who for the record wouldn't be able to fit into the museum) or some other band, poet, lecture, film or what have you.

Third, make the memberships mean something. Give discounts on catalogues, discounts on events at BW Hall, bring a friend for free, stuff like that. And aim higher. Right now the levels are $25, $50 and $75. Umm, not to belabor the obvious, but if all you ask for is chump change, all you're gonna get is chump change.

And I could go on, but I do have some work to do here, feel free to email me for more.