Friday, August 05, 2005

Sascha Hastings interviews Avrom Isaacs


I've pretty much given up on the CBC's online arts coverage, so nowadays I come across their articles obliquely and late (as is normal with just about everything in my life). Two weeks ago, maybe three Sascha Hastings interviewed Avrom Isaacs as part of the promotion and marketing of the Isaacs Seen exhibitions happening now in Toronto.

It's a nice interview, overall I'd give Ms. Hastings a B+ for the article, and from my perspective made even more interesting, because Mr. Isaacs was an art dealer. Initially, I confused Mr. Isaacs with Mr. Sable (another Toronto art dealer who recently retired). However upon re-reading my post - I quickly realized that in fact Mr. Isaacs and Mr. Sable were in fact two different people.

Some of the intersting bit (or at least interesting to me) were that the editors at the CBC still can't their act in gear. Once again, the pictures don't even come anywhere close to representing the text. OK, I'm being a tad over the top - they do manage to get an actual picture of Mr. Isaacs into the article. But to show you what I mean, at the beginning of the article, Ms. Hastings writes "Isaacs has discovered and supported some of the greatest Canadian artists of the later 20th century, including Michael Snow, Joyce Wieland, Greg Curnoe and Mark Prent." Cool, no argument there, as I haven't done any research (but I do hold a soft spot in my heart for Greg Curnoe). But my point is; that's the only time Mark Prent is referred to anywhere in the article. Fourth on a list of artists that Mr. Isaacs supported (I am always wary of the verb "to discover" when used when talking about art). Snow, Curnoe and a couple of other artists are actually referenced and discussed a couple more times in the interview - so what do the CBC editors choose to run as the picture? You got it, a detail of something called "Armistice" by Mark Prent. Then, they try but miss entirely when they actually attempt to illustrate a quote. Mr. Isaacs says "I also had shows of North American Indian art, African art, New Guinea art, Baluchistan wedding jackets, tent rugs from northern Tunisia." Which leads into his line "I mean, if you see my exhibitions at the Textile Museum and Hart House [at the University of Toronto], you’ll see that I had rather odd tastes at times..." So they duly pull up a picture of something that I imagine is haging right now at the Textile Museum - is it a picture of a Baluchistan wedding jacket? (What the heck is a Baluchistan wedding jacket?) No. a tent rugs from northern Tunisia? No. The picture is in fact some untitled Wall hanging, by Jessie Oonark. Who, if you know your Canadian art was an Inuit artist (or if you know how to use Google). Is Baluchistan going to be the fourth territory? I dunno.

Then to make matters even worse - during the course of the interview, there are two specific pieces of art mentioned. One made by Mr. Isaacs himself - which he in a roundabout sort of way disowned and now is feeling whistful about, and a house built out of Carnation milk cans.

Dan Patterson, Carnation Milk Can Assemblage (1947-1963 ) Carnation milk cans, wire, 228.6 x 175.3 x 320 cm, Purchased 1970, picture via the National Gallery of Canada (no. 15919)

Why is it, I can show you the picture of what they're discussing, but the CBC, can't?

Then to get to the meat of the matter - I gotta love Ms. Hastings, who I assume, someone correct me if I'm wrong, comes from that wonderful bureaucratic world known as the Artist Run Center. So, naturally, he asks Mr. Isaacs about his inclinations as an artist, man, if I had a dime for every time someone asked me, if I'm an artist...

Then, I gotta love Mr. Isaacs, judging from his responses he started his gallery the same exact way that Zeke's Gallery started, and his method of success is pretty much the same as how I've figured out how Zeke's Gallery is going to be successful. If you don't want to read the article, Mr. Isaacs answers were "I didn’t have anything better to do!" and "I'm successful because I've lasted this long. You just hang in there" respectively.

[update: August 11, 2005: I waqs told in no uncertain terms that Ms. Hastings, is in fact a she, much to my chagrin. It has been corrected, and apologies made.]

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