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Last night Mr. Hammond travelled all the way from Maine in order to play here. If you'd like to hear it, click here, stream it, ogg vorbis. [30:11 minutes, 29 MB]
For the second set he played his songs 'Prespective,' 'Something New,' 'Home,' 'Constellations,' 'Surely,' and someone else's song called, I think 'What's goin' on.' If you would like more information about him, check out his website, benjaminhammond.com or his MySpace site. Or better still go down to the Jazz Festival on Wednesday and see him.
Saw this, and said cool! Then went to this website and discovered that they want $30, plus taxes! C'mon... If you're a member of the SMQ they're only going to charge you $22.50. I think I'll wait for the remainders.
I like this contest much better. If I was a photographer, having an opportunity to get Edward Burtynsky, and Toronto Star photo editor Ken Faught look at my photographs would be wicked cool. Congrats, Shout outs and props to Paul Teolis, and Ian Ligertwood.
Congrats, Shout outs, & Props to Nicolas Grenier, Dil Hildebrand, Daniel Langevin, and Luce Meunier
Nice to see the RBC painting competition is doing such a surperlative job, again. They announced the short list today. Nicolas Grenier, Dil Hildebrand, Daniel Langevin, and Luce Meunier are the local artists who made the cut. There are only three artists from Vancouver, and two from Toronto, so there might be something to Montreal being creative...
Some of the things that caught my eye, they have repositioned the competition so it is now "the highest total award of any painting competition in Canada." Oooh! I'm impressed. Second, while the title says "16 painters" if you look at the list there are in fact only 15. It'll be interesting to see how many newspaper editors catch the mistake. So far La Presse, hasn't. Third some bright wag thinks that winning the prize is the same as "giving winners an opportunity to advance their careers." Last year I railed about how the RBC Painting Competition was absolutely useless as a tool for career advancement. Last year Etienne Zack got about 727 hits on Google. This year he gets about 1,350. Last year, Dionne Simpson got about 420 hits. Now she gets about 824 (although I'm glad to see that she is exhibiting in New York). So it still looks like it is useless as a tool for career advancement.
Then could someone explain to me what proceedures were followed with regards to Luce Meunier's application? She is having an exhibition at Lilian Rodriguez's Gallery right now and until the 22nd of July, and appears to be represented by Ms. Rodriguez. Given how ethical the art world is, I want it in black and white from someone in the know before I think that Ms. Rodriguez recused herself when they were discussing Ms. Meunier's work.
[update June 29: I just received a response from Suzanne Willers of RBC, she writes,
Thank you for your email and interest in the RBC Canadian Painting Competition. Lilian Rodriguez did recuse herself from judging Luce Meunier's paintings. The decision to include Ms. Meunier was made by the two other jurors for Eastern Canada.
FYI - there are 16 artists but only 15 paintings. One of our Western semi-finalists are a duo - David Foy and Jennifer Saleik of Calgary.
I feel much better now.]
And then finally, since the Royal Bank doesn't think it all that important to show what the work looks like, click on the links to see examples of the work by the Montrealers.
Two weeks or so ago, I went to the Musée d'art contemporain to see the Brian Jungen show. Back in something like 2004 a friend (who isn't even in the art business) gave me a head's up about Mr. Jungen's work. Then when he got mentioned in the New York Times, I figured that I should enlarge that area of my brain that keeps track of what Contemporary Canadian Visual Artists are doing. It soon became obvious I wasn't going to need all that space in my head, as the man and his work were coming to town.
Basically by the time the show had arrived I had worked myself up into a serious tizzy, complete with drool dripping down and off my chin, a slight tremor in my hands (I even spilled a beer at the vernissage), and the sort of accelerated heartbeat one only associates with hummingbirds and 16 year old girls waiting for Ryan Cabrera to come out of his hotel room. While going through the show, there were little bits here and there, that didn't quite live up to my expectations (what could? After all I have seen Rachel Sweet live and in person). Hence the B+, had I just gone on my anticipation I would have given Mr. Jungen an A+++++++, but I've learned the hard way, it is always a good idea to look at the art before making comments.
A couple of small things, the museum needs to get a hipper translator, 'Nike Runners' is a term that only exists in the mind of a 45 year-old male Anglophone Canadian who last did anything physical in about 1982 or so. The technical term would be 'shoe' if someone wanted to appear with it and hip they might use 'Kicks,' if they were not so keen on contemporary culture 'sneakers' still works, and it appears that Mr. Jungen prefers 'trainers.' If you wanted to be in the know, Mr. Jungen trashed some perfectly good deadstock. It'll be interesting to see in 10 years, which appreciates more, the original shoes Mr. Jungen used, or the work he made from them.
Secondly, the museum needs some better acoustic insulation, while I was reading the chat tag (and almost lost my cookies coming across the term 'runners') I could still hear all sorts of stuff from Pascal Grandmaison's videos, and while there ain't anything specifically wrong with that, as I walked the 15 feet towards 'Isolated Depiction of the Passage of Time' it did become a problem, because I was supposed to be able to hear the soundtrack from the film 'The Great Escape," which I couldn't, and as it was rather brightly lit, the chat tag referring to 'the glow' of the TV inside the sculpture was made to look stupid, because there wasn't any glow.
As I'm talking about 'Isolated Depiction of the Passage of Time' I might as well continue.
Isolated Depiction of the Passage of Time by Brian Jungen
I can't find any easy documentation about the who was involved in the prison escape at Millhaven in 1980, nor if the escape attempt was successful or not. But the information that goes along with the piece sure as shootin' sounds purty. According to the press release from the Vancouver Art Gallery about the exhibit the "number and colour of trays in the work correspond to the number of Aboriginal males incarcerated in Canada's penal institutions, highlighting the disproportionate number of Aboriginal men serving time in the country’s corrections facilities." This got changed for the Walrus Magazine article (printed a couple of months later) to "each of the approximately 1,200 trays represents an aboriginal male incarcerated in a Canadian prison, the different colours correspond to the length of sentences meted out, and the sounds one hears represent the televisions provided in the windowless cells." Which is good, because as far as I can figure something like 18% of the approximately 20,000 people in Canada in prison are aboriginal; or about 3,600. And if the trays were to correspond then there could only be a maximum of 1,638 aboriginals in prison in Canada (117 trays per stack, 14 stacks) and that is if the TV itself were one of those flat screen TVs that didn't take up any space.
Mr. Jungen chose the film 'The Great Escape' as the film to be played in the piece. Now I have no idea if it was because the rights were cheap for 'The Great Escape', or if there was any other reason that that particular movie was chosen, because to me, Papillon probably would have been the better choice, or if Mr. Jungen could live with the idea of some other leading man that of Steve McQueen, Cool Hand Luke. Both of which have as a premise a man who must at all costs attempt to escape from jail no matter how many times he gets caught. 'Papillon' is a frame up, and 'Cool Hand Luke' is because of public drunkenness, both way more appropriate to reasons why indigenous people anywhere get tossed into prison than being a prisoner of war.
There are also some drawings in the room, I wasn't too impressed, but you figure that since it is a 'retrospective' early work, by definition needs to be there. Suffice it to say that I'm glad Mr. Jungen decided to drop the drawing part of his visual arts career. The 'Little Habitats'
Little Habitats by Brian Jungen
are silly kid stuff, I've seen better paper folding at the Redpath Museum, and then I found out that instead of being folded, they are actually held together with bulldog clips! If you didn't know, we have a much better and much larger buckyball here in town already. The airbrushed aluminum Air Jordan boxes called 'Michael' and all of the other incidental Air Jordan works feel to me like secondary things added on as an afterthought because they are easy to make (either folding some cardboard and clipping it, or contracting out the fabrication of aluminum boxes, or sticking some rocks inside some vaguely sports like fabric material) so as to make whomever is bankrolling him an easy way to make some money back.
But thankfully, that wasn't all there was. There are these balls called 'Trade' if I remember correctly, a series of three animal hides stretched over what appears to be balls used for sports. They are very discreet, as the lines to mark the differences between a basketball and a soccer ball are not all that easy to make out. Initially I thought that they were some sort of flapper hat that he had made. But then I saw the lines, one of the other things that made it difficult to realize what they were was that in real life a basketball and a soccer ball are entirely different sizes. But these pieces are all the same size.
Ok, enough bashing, after all this is supposed to be a good and positive review, reading what I've written so far you wouldn't guess that would you? But remember I do give it a B+. It does get better, I promise, The 'Study for Red'
Something that looks an awful lot like Study for Red by Brian Jungen, uploaded by Barry Hoggard
But the softball really gets to the meat of the matter in what Mr. Jungen does well. Transform things. Pure and simple, pretty much in your face, and if I had a Ph. D. thesis to write I could probably riff for at least 60 pages on the whys and the how comes of Mr. Jungen's need to transform things. But I don't so I'm going to try and keep this slightly shorter.
One thing that I'm not entirely comfortable is the transformations that happen in the same piece between shows. 'Beer Cooler'
Beer Cooler by Brian Jungen
has been photographed (as you can see) with Budweiser cans, as I assume it was presented at New Gallery in New York where Budweiser is King. Here they use cans of Molson Export which is not by any stretch of the imagination the most popular beer, nor are they the same size as the one's from New York (and I also would suggest that they switch to bottles when in Quebec as beer can culture hasn't truly made it over the border) so the lid is almost shut instead of being held high. If you're going to try and make a comment about beer and the choices that folk from the first nations are faced with when they venture into the second and third nation's cultures (you can't really see it in the picture, but there are some wicked cool drawings etched into the cooler) you definitely need to get you icons right.
And since we've discussed heavy metal art here, I'd venture a suggestion that Beer Cooler could be considered a piece of heavy metal art (as well as a piece of NFL art - although it could have been even better if the drawings on the beer cooler somehow related to Hawaiian first nation culture).
Speaking of sports (I couldn't resist, sorry) Mr. Jungen's 'Talking Sticks' are crazy good,
Talking Sticks by Brian Jungen
but as I'm being nitpicky beyond belief (I guess I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, sorry) there is no such thing as a 'generic baseball bat.' I tried to look at the markings but they had been carved out and I did not want to touch them as the guards had been extremely helpful and friendly and I did not want to get on their bad side. But, all baseball bats are individual models based on the preferences of professional baseball players. As there is not much baseball culture in Vancouver, I can easily see how a curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery could have gotten confused between a baseball bat and a softball bat. I hope that they wouldn't be confusing giclées with a lithographs, so I don't think they should be confusing softball with baseball (if in fact that's the case).
Then continuing along with the small stuff, I promise I will get to the big stuff soon, I was particularly taken by 'Mise en Scene.'
Mise en Scene by Brian Jungen
A collection of stacked plastic chairs with a couple of fluorescent lights stuck in the middle. It gave off a eerie sort of glow (almost like one of those mosquito zappers) and there are endless ways in which you can let you brain wander as you look at it - How does it relate to the whales? How does it relate to native culture? What's up with the Dan Flavin stuff? Where are the certificates of authenticity? You get the idea.
I'm going to ignore the aboriginal wall carvings he did - because I'm already at something like 1,800 words.
But now to the BIG stuff.
[update: After re-reading this section, and sleeping on it overnight, I'm not altogether happy with it. Apologies, and I hope at some point I have the time to come back to it and do a re-write.]
First off 'Prototypes for New Understanding' are kick-ass, wonderful great, amazing, bring a smile to my face, and lots and lots of fun. Second of all, unless Michael Jordan recently moved to New York City he does not own any of the 23 that are on display and that are called 'the complete collection.' Richard Lacayo, some guy in Vancouver who lucked out and got the gig to write about Mr. Jungen for Time magazine, wrote 'The Vancouver-based Gen X writer Douglas Coupland has one. So does the great Air Jordan himself. His representatives contacted Jungen to acquire one last year after reading an article in Sports Illustrated about the New York City show. Once the Prototypes started selling briskly, Jungen may have been tempted to start churning them out like, well, like tribal art for the tourist trade. Instead, and wisely, he brought the product line to a different conclusion. He made just 23. That's the number Jordan made famous.' I went through all 23 of them that were displayed, and the closest I got was #21 which is part of a 'private collection, New York' all the others are clearly marked as to who owns them and where, and none say 'Chicago' or 'Michael Jordan.'
Brian Jungen, Prototype for New Understanding #21, 2005, Nike athletic footwear, Private Collection, New York, Photo: Trevor Mills, Vancouver Art Gallery
Now that I have that off my chest, beyond the obvious creativity shown by the prototypes, I can't comment authoritatively, because I haven't been able to get around to see the Robert Davidson show. I quite like #7, #8, the private collection, New York's #21 and the other ones that actually do look like masks, complete with eyeholes.
Prototype for New Understanding #7, 1999, Nike athletic footwear, Collection of Joe Friday, Ottawa, Photo: David Barbour, Courtesy of Carleton University Art Gallery
Prototype for New Understanding #8, 1999, Nike athletic footwear, Collection of Colin Griffiths, Vancouver, Photo: Trevor Mills, Vancouver Art Gallery
I'd love to know a little bit more about the actual fabrication of them. Did Mr. Jungen hand stitch them himself, outsource the work? Was he able to get the original sneakers at wholesale prices? Or did he pay full retail? And if he paid full retail is that why he reused the boxes?
One key thing about transforming things (as Mr. Jungen does) is that both ends need to be recognizable. Or in other words you need to be able to recognize both what the original material was and what the final product is for it to be recognized as a transformation. You do remember the Transformers, don't you?
At which point I think I'm losing it. I wanted to break 3,000 words on this one, but it ain't gonna happen. So for the last part, the sorta whale like sculptures (they are not whales by any stretch of the imagination) are really cool. If I don't get this up now, I'm never going to be able to get my Pascal Grandmaison review up before his show ends.
If you'd like to see some of the cool stuff I found on line about and on Mr. Jungen, check these out.
For the technical stuff: The show is up at the Musée d'art contemporain, 185 Sainte Catherine West until September 4th. The catalogue costs $12, the museum $8 and it all is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day and until 9pm on Wednesdays.
If you'd like to download it, click on this [4:44 minutes, 40.5 MB Windows Media File]
Or you can watch it right here. Basically Dominique and Eric performed here on October 31, 2005, not exactly the turn around time I'm used to. But it was a wonderful, fantastic and special evening, so as they say 'better late than never.'
In Slate Daniel Gross writes an article which has lines like 'a 6 percent annual return for 109 years,' 'returned 10.5 percent per annum' 'a compound annual return of 11.3 percent between 1974 and 1999,' and 'masterpieces tend to underperform lower-priced paintings by a substantial margin.' All while talking about paintings.
I haven't had a chance to read the review by RM Vaughan (but I will), however from my perspective RM Vaughan is the best writer on Contemporary Art working in Canada today. And the current status quo (Roy Arden and people like him) don't like it when things start changing (as they are now). I have never seen an establishment critic write a negative review (ok, maybe one) and as the recipient of some cattiness I quite enjoy it when the establishment feels threatened.
On Monday evening, Jarred Coxford, Ben Warner and Shawn Dascal played to a very appreciative and vocal audience. A great time was had by everybody, I'm certain. If you'd like to know more about the band, try the Revised Edition MySpace profile.
As for the review, I don't quite understand why Robert Enright chose to use the word 'apposite' in his article, as the Globe & Mail is a daily newspaper, showing off your vocabulary is not the apposite thing to do (unless of course your name is Warren Clements). And how the Galapagos islands are appropriate for 'hard labour' and difficulty is beyond me, last I heard they were pretty nice places to hang out and while away the time on a beach.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I always like it when art is front page news. But sometimes I just wish it would be better written. In today's Le Devoir there's an article written by Frederique Doyon, that, in my opinion would have been better served if it had been published in yesterday's paper (for the anglos, and out of towners, Le Devoir does not publish on Sunday). It is unfortunately moneywalled, but I will translate and comment so that y'all can read it. Italics - the original French, duh!, Bold - My bad translation into English, Regular - my commentary.
First off, this is the picture that accompanied the article.
Wouldn't it have been a better choice to have taken pictures of the skateboards, and then listed the names of the pieces, and the artists, instead of this 'cheesecake' photograph of some woman and a security guard?
Les graffitis épatent la galerie Une centaine de skateboards tatoués par des graffeurs réputés sont exposés à L'autre Galerie
Frédérique Doyon Édition du lundi 19 juin 2006
La sous-culture urbaine ne fait généralement pas bon ménage avec les murs aseptisés des galeries d'art. Mais Yves Laroche travaille à renverser cette mentalité et à apprivoiser ces artistes anonymes dont on reconnaît souvent la griffe. Sa galerie du Vieux-Montréal, autrefois consacrée exclusivement à l'art commercial, accueille maintenant des oeuvres d'artistes qui ont la rue pour seul canevas. Pour son premier anniversaire, L'autre Galerie lançait mercredi Street Camp, une exposition de skateboards métamorphosés sous le pinceau ou la bonbonne de ces créateurs hors normes.
The urban subculture generally doesn't make a good mix with the antiseptic walls of art galleries. But, Yves Laroche is working to reverse this mentality and tame the anonymous artists of whom we often only recognize their tag. His Old Montreal gallery, otherwise devoted exclusively to commercial art, currently welcomes the work of artists for whom the street is their only canvas. For his first anniversary, The Other Gallery launched on Wednesday camp de rue, an exhibit of skateboards transformed by brush or can by these creators outside the norm.
Graffiti and skateboarding are as much underground culture as comic books and the X-Games. Unless someone tells me otherwise, I imagine that the skateboards are for sale, and that Yves Laroche is taking a 50% cut, which sounds pretty commercial to me.
Ils s'appellent Turf One, R. Suicide, Zïlon, WK Interact, Kodak, mais aussi Julian Garner, Josh Bertrand, Francis Kosh. Méconnus du commun des mortels, ils incarnent pourtant le nec plus ultra de l'art urbain, dixit le magazine de référence en la matière, Juxtapoz, qui les a plus d'une fois mis en vitrine. C'est d'ailleurs à travers celle-ci que le galeriste et la conservatrice Ximena Becerra ont lancé le projet d'immortaliser cet art par essence éphémère dans une exposition inédite qui se déroule jusqu'au 25 juin.
Their names are Le gazon un, suicide de R., Zïlon, sem. agissent l'un sur l'autre, Kodak, and also grenier de Julian, Josh Bertrand, Francis Kosh. Ignored by most people, they represent the latest word in urban art, so says the magazine of record, Juxtapoz, which has on more than one occasion published their work. It is from there to here (I think I got that, but I'm not sure) that the gallery owner and curator Ximena Becerra launched this project designed to immortalize this art that is essentially ephemeral in a new exhibit which runs until June 25.
Ms. Doyon, how many contemporary artists who exhibit in Montreal are not 'ignored by most people?' And how does having an exhibition immortalize anything? Is there a catalogue? Some academic review? Heck this article didn't even get flagged as culture by Le Devoir.
«Ce ne sont pas des artistes qui fréquentent les galeries, dit Yves Laroche. Certains sont même très réfractaires à y exposer.»
'These are not the artists you would see in a gallery,' said Yves Laroche. 'Some of them are not inclined to exhibit their work.'
Contradicted at the bottom.
Pourtant, ils ont été nombreux à répondre aux annonces passées dans Juxtapoz depuis un an, les invitant à déverser leur génie créateur sur la petite surface d'une ou deux planches à roulettes.
However, a bunch of them responded to advertisements that ran in Juxtapoz for a year, asking them to create something on a small surface of one, or two skateboards.
«Je n'ai pas imposé de règles, ni de thème, affirme Ximena Becerra, ex-étudiante en art de l'université Concordia et assistante d'Yves Rocher. Je demandais juste qu'ils peignent sur leur skate.»
I didn't make any rules or a them, said Ximena Becerra, former art student at Concordia University and assistant to Yves Rocher. I just asked that they paint on their board.
OK, so then what did Ms. Becerra do, in order to get the title curator? She didn't make any rules, impose anything, she didn't write a catalogue, it doesn't sound like she excluded anyone, maybe that's her mug in the picture and I really screwed up in my translation and ' commissaire' means someone who can be photographed? And what do cosmetics have to do with anything?
La jeune femme et le galeriste, qui se passionnent pour cette culture marginale depuis plusieurs années, ont ainsi réuni deux symboles propres à la culture underground, le graffiti et le skateboard. «On revient à la base parce que, souvent, la première chose que [ces artistes] ont faite, c'est de peindre sur un skate -- sur leur skate», explique Mme Becerra.
The young woman and the owner of the gallery, who has been passionate about this fringe culture for a bunch of years, united two significant symbols of underground culture, graffiti and skateboarding. 'We always return to the beginning because often the first thing [these artists] did was to paint on a board - their board,' explained Mrs. Becerra.
Le coup d'oeil déroute. La centaine de planches à roulettes bigarrées qui s'alignent sagement sur les murs blancs de la galerie semble incongrue.
A quick glance around reveals something weird, about a hundred skateboards with multi-colored wheels all aligned properly on the white walls of the gallery.
Mais simuler un lieu désaffecté, improviser un chaos n'aurait pas mieux servi le cadre. La disposition met plutôt en évidence l'écart qui sépare encore cette forme d'art indomptée et le milieu sophistiqué de l'art contemporain.
But to make the place look like a dump, to make it chaotic would not serve the purpose. The way that they are set up highlights the differences between this wild art and the sophisticated and refined sensibilities of contemporary art.
Yeah, right. I bet dollars to doughnuts that they just didn't have any imagination.
Le style bédéiste côtoie l'iconographie diabolique, d'outre-tombe ou fantastique, mais on y trouve aussi des oeuvres plus abstraites. La texture et la lumière qui nimbent les personnages un peu glauques de David Choquette, Montréalais issu du milieu du tatouage, subjuguent -- c'est un des coups de coeur de la commissaire. On y reconnaît les animaux naïfs et inquiétants de Katie Olivas. Les pionniers new-yorkais du «graff» Shepard Faireh et WK Interact y figurent également.
The comic book style side by side with devil symbols, other styles or the fantastic, but we also find some more abstract works. The texture and the light feathers the slightly fuzzy people by David Choquette, a Montrealer involved in tattooing, underground - is one of the curator's favorites. You can also see the simple and worried animals by Katie Olivas. The New York pioneers of 'graff' Shepard Faireh and sem. agissent l'un sur l'autre also are shown.
Mistake, the name is Shepard Fairey, he was born in Charleston, South Carolina and is 36 years old. He can't be a pioneer because he wasn't even born when graffiti started. By the way this puts the lie to 'underground culture' he also designed the poster for the Johnny Cash biopic 'Walk the Line' that got nominated for a bunch of awards - underground my eye! WK Interact has been featured in Time magazine.
Le Canadien Francis Kosh pousse l'ironie jusqu'à insérer un fragment de planche tagué et «graffé» dans un cadre à dorures ornementées. Objet hybride, son Ode au vagabondage ressemble à un curieux artefact, issu d'un croisement entre Renaissance et modernité.
The Canadian Francis Kosh pushes the irony envelope by placing a tagged and graffitied piece of a board into a gilt frame. A crossbreed object, his Ode to Vandalism resembles a curious artifact, something between the renaissance and modernity.
Quelques graffeurs montréalais réputés s'y sont aussi donné rendez-vous : Other, qu'on a pu voir dans le récent documentaire Next, A Primer on Urban Painting, a finalement accepté de se prêter au jeu de l'exposition parce que son ami Turf One -- autre artiste en vue -- y participait. «Il ne veut pas trop être associé aux galeries commerciales», dit la conservatrice. Il préfère faire voyager ses graffs sur les wagons de trains. Les deux comparses ont d'ailleurs réalisé un dessin en direct le soir du lancement. A suivi un encan silencieux dont les profits seront versés au Café Grafitti.
Some well know Montreal graffiti artsists are also included: L'Autre, who was featured in the documentary Après, une amorce sur la peinture urbaine, finally accepted and participated in the call because his friend Le gazon un - another artist showing - participated. 'He didn't want to be associated too closely with commercial galleries' said the curator. He prefers to let his graffiti travel on the side of trains. The two (friends?) also drew live during the launch. Their drawing was auctioned silently, with the profits going to Café Grafitti.
Yves Laroche renoue ainsi avec les formes d'art qui l'ont d'abord incité à ouvrir une galerie. «En 1991, on a essayé l'art contemporain, mais on était en pleine récession, raconte celui qui, depuis de nombreuses années, traque les graffs au gré de ses voyages dans les grandes villes du monde. Il n'y avait que trois galeries à l'époque dans le Vieux-Montréal. Maintenant, on est une trentaine.»
Yves Laroche was also reunited with the art forms that initially incited him to open a gallery. 'In 1991, we tried contemporary art, but there was the big recession, he said, for a number of years, but he kept an eye on graffiti while he traveled to the large cities around the world. At the time there were only three galleries in Old Montreal, now there are thirty.'
I seriously doubt that there were only three galleries in Old Montréal in 1991, I can't fact check it easily, but I'll get back to you.
Si ce genre d'oeuvres est plus «passionnant» que «payant», note le galeriste, il faut croire que son travail, aidé par l'air du temps, commence à porter ses fruits. Lors de notre visite, des gens des boutiques Aldo, dont le siège social compte déjà un mur consacré aux graffeurs, se montraient désireux d'acheter une série de skateboards. L'artiste Zïlon, qui participe à Street Camp et qu'Yves Laroche exposait avant, a déjà un mécène : le groupe Les Trois Accords lui a acheté une pièce et envisage de lui faire graffer sa caisse claire.
If this type of work is more 'passionate' than 'profitable' says the owner of the gallery, you need to think about the work, helped by things happening here and now, it is starting to make money. During our visit, some businessmen from the Aldo shoe stores' head office which already has a wall dedicated to graffiti, showed a desire to purchase a bunch of skateboards. The artist Zilon, who participated in camp de rue, and whom Yves Laroche has exhibited previously, already has a collector: the group The Three Agreements bought a piece and would like him to graffiti the jewel box (I think).
The fine folk at the Gazette barely give any space to local, provincial or national art, so I find it extremely interesting that they choose to editorializing about the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition in Piccadilly. As they are the Montreal Gazette, I do think that if they were going to do an editorial about contemporary art that they should have at least given lip service to something local. Like, say the Métis-sur-Montréal or Artefact Montréal, or the Montreal Arts Council's Design Competition. Or maybe someone besides myself started to read what they have printed about contemporary art in the past, and that is why they came up with this, rather nice line; 'expostulations on junk art, found art and the primacy of perception (rather than the artist's intention) are the stock in trade of art criticism' is a great line.'
The curmudgeon in me will say, all that it is going to do is make an awful lot of mothers go to the National Gallery with their three year-old daughters.
Emily has been and continues to be the most popular girls name since 2003. It was the third most popular in the nineties. So as a consequence of this promotion there are likely to be lots of children at the National Gallery. I wonder if they are going to give any school trips a break, and if I was named Emily and looking for some quick cash, I'd station myself outside the front door, and offer my services to people looking to save a couple of bucks.
Richard-Max Tremblay gets press John Heward goes along for the ride
Unfortunately it is an article about his condo and not his art. Although on the bright side today's art review (unfortunately moneywalled) is about a John Heward show, and Richard-Max Tremblay also mentions Mr. Heward's work because he owns about 25 pieces. It must be Mr. Heward's birthday or something, because I can't imagine any other reason why he'd be written about twice in today's Gazette.
Initially, I was going to give the man a B+, but then I saw the catalogue and realized that M. Roy-Bois had accomplished something that made me slack jawed, so I upped the grade. Basically, last week I trucked on over to the Musée d'art contemporain to see all three shows that they have up. I ended spending four hours, yes four hours. I paid attention to every last little detail I could find, something ridiculous like 12 pages of notes. So when I looked at the catalogue one of the things that jumped out at me was that in the turning rooms thing (you know, the one called Satellites?) I noticed that one had a blue carpet and the other one had a beige carpet. I asked myself 'now, why would they have gone a changed the carpet?' Because I was convinced, 100% certain, ready to bet dollars to doughnuts, that both of those spinning rooms had the same color carpet.
I went back and re-read my notes, nothing there. Which served to convince me that there in fact had been a change. I tried to imagine why - had someone spilled some coffee? Had they discovered that the blue carpet contained asbestos? Had they decided that it looked too much like the blanket in Ghetto, so they changed it in order not to confuse people? Given what I had written down in my notes, something as significant as that, I would have noticed and noted.
So I figured that I should truck back to the museum and see if I had in fact been so impressed with M. Roy-Bois' work that I experienced it as one thing, and not a collection of individual pieces.
Short answer: I was wrong. My memory had failed me. And the power and intensity (ok that's just a little bit over the top) of M. Roy-Bois' work made me lose control of my critical faculties.
Now to backtrack a little bit, the show, called Improbable and Ridiculous (in translation) is anything but. Basically, two revolving T-shaped room-like things, three drawings of high rise buildings, and an interesting sorta bed-like thing. It is very probable and extremely rational, although as you've read, my response wasn't (which actually makes the title of the show more understandable).
The first drawing is called Antiheros, it is on the wall to your right as you enter into the show, now that I try to figure out why it is there, I figure that M. Roy-Bois did is so as to show the importance and significance of bad generic architecture but it does not make it obvious. It only gets obvious when you see Satellites. As I mentioned two revolving T-shaped room-like things, pretty much what you'd expect to see at the home show. Except that both of these room-like things, are pretty much decrepit. The carpet (either color) is very badly installed, and there are plaster patch jobs on the wall. Pretty much what I would expect to see if some sleazy-ass telemarketing firm that only hired midgets in order to save money (smaller people means lower ceilings means reduced heating costs) would leave behind after they found an even cheaper space to rent. Or if I was a full patch member of the upper middle class what I would imagine a shooting gallery would look like.
By putting these pathetic looking models of rooms on a pedestal M. Roy-Bois is pretty much making it extremely obvious to just about everybody that shoddy design by bad architects trying to copy Walter Gropius is not a good thing. I got a big kick out of having to constantly shuffle around as I tried to look into two revolving T-shaped room-like things. There are three large-ish windows that gave me a chance to look in from almost every perspective (except one). The outside of these two revolving T-shaped room-like things is unfinished wood and what I assume is insulation - just as you'd expect if they were going to be dropped into a larger structure that already had the outer shell finished, like the building in Antiheros.
After you've had your fill of the two revolving T-shaped room-like things, if you are as curious as I was you follow your nose and end up in a second room in the museum (a real room). On either side are two more drawings Curator and Ghostwriter (although Curator is named Commissaire in French, and I translated it). Unfortunately I don't remember which one was on which side. For the record, the blue carpeted Satellite is on your left as you enter the museum space, and it is on the inside front cover (or your left) as you read the catalogue. But what is most wicked cool is the interesting sorta bed-like thing which is called Ghetto.
I got a serious rush out of crawling into it (you are actively encouraged to do so by a sign on the floor), and once in I figured it was pretty much an urban tent. It has the same outside construction as Satellites but on a much smaller scale. 6 feet wide by 4 feet 8 inches high by 6 feet 8 inches long. It looks, especially from a distance and on a pedestal as it is in the museum like it is portable, like a tent, but due to the construction method way more urban than anything made out of Gore-Tex or whatever they are making tents out of these days.
However, once I was inside, it was cool. I started thinking instead of a tent, it actually was more like one of these post-modern (or whatever fancy term you feel like using) canopy beds. Or if you want to go for the most obvious idea a cage for rats. Between the name of the piece, the drawings of the buildings, the bolt on the inside of the door (so you can lock yourself in) and other smaller details, M. Roy-Bois takes the obvious and starts flogging that dead horse, hard, really hard.
It would be enjoyable to riff off of the titles of the drawings and try to figure out what was going on in M. Roy-Bois' mind as he was assembling the show (somehow I get this vague sensation that the titles of the drawings were the last things done). But I will hold myself back from such a pleasurable task, and let you mull that one over. What I did that was even more fun, if you can believe it was possible, was to take off my shoes, crawl into the Ghetto and wait for someone else to come looking. Looking out from inside a piece of art when some is looking at the art itself is way cool, especially when they are not expecting it (mid week early afternoons, after lunch would be the times I would suggest).
Be forewarned, it stinks of paint (or at least it did when I was there) and because the spring on the door is quite springy if you are as old and creaky as I am, getting in ain't a breeze. I'd also like to know if the electrical outlet is working (while I was there, I was unable to find out if it indeed did work).
Then as an aside, 'cuz this is getting long, in the catalogue, those pictures that made me go back for a second time are taken inside of Satellites, which in real life is impossible. The picture of Ghetto is taken from the outside, while a person is inside. Or in easier terminology bass awckwards.
Then finally for the technical stuff: The show is up at the Musée d'art contemporain, 185 Sainte Catherine West until the 20th of August. The catalogue costs $12, the museum $8 and it all is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except June 19, and until 9pm on Wednesdays.
And I almost forgot, the picture used for the invitation is the very same picture used for the cover of Tangent #6, the British 'zine published by my friend Karen D'Amico, who also has an art blog called Fluid Thinking. M. Roy-Bois is featured inside as well. Tangent #6 (along with 1 through 5) is available here at the gallery if you would like a copy.
And then to begin... First off, none of this is new, museums have complained about a lack of funding since there were museums. Dr. Brooks wants to get his museum into a brand spanking new space, or as they wrote in the 2004 Annual Report 'the Museum clearly needs a new home if it is to reach its potential as a key component in Canada’s strategy for investing in the development of a modern post-industrial economy.' So what does he do? He gets on national radio and whines.
My basic point is that there are too many darn museums. According to John McAvity's organization, there are 49 museums in Ottawa and another nine in Gatineau, for a total of 58 museums that should be visited on your next school trip to the Capital region. Three per day, means that your school needs to spend about three weeks in Ottawa to visit them all. Like any school board is going to do that. Heck I betcha dollars to doughnuts that even the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board doesn't get their schools to visit all 58.
At 3:57 in the recording, Anna Maria Tremonti asks 'how common?' in reference to Dr. Brooks' statement about wanting a new museum being a fairly common occurrence. Well, here in Montreal, I know of at least a dozen museums that would love a new building, and if I spent more than 10 seconds thinking about it I probably could come up with a short list of 40 or so, the only ones who wouldn't want a new building, are those whose newest building is less than five years old.
Dr. Brooks then goes on to explain that they need a new building because of 'archival issues.' Once again, there are always going to be 'archival issues,' up until the 1980's it was common practice to store paper things in folders with acid, which is why all things used to save and store paper nowadays shout 'acid-free!' on their packaging. You would be amazed at how things were stored and saved 100 years ago. In 100 years they will be horrified at how we store and save now.
They then start talking to Mr. McAvity, and he states that there are 2,000 museums in Canada. In fact, according to Mr. McAvity's organization there are 2,801 museums in Canada. According to the Ontario Museum Association there are 719 museums just in Ontario.
He states that there are about 59 million visits to museums in Canada, each year, like this is a bad thing. That's about two visits per person each year. In England they just recently stated that they have as a goal to get every child into a museum once per year. If you're just scanning, that means that Canada is doing better than England in getting people into museums, or (and I think I believe this one more) the method of collecting statistics is flawed.
Ms. Tremonti then shows off her tremendous skills as an interviewer by asking why the public isn't aware of this chronic lack of funding - somehow she completely forgot that every person in Canada goes to visit two museums per year, and that when they are at those museums they somehow completely and utterly miss all the pamphlets, signs, posters and other methods cultural institutions use to ask you for money. Personally, I can't think of a single article written about a museum that doesn't mention funding difficulties. Heck! They even manage to fit it into today's article about the Emily Carr portrait. Mr. McAvity then wanders off into a world of his own making where he is worried about scaring volunteers and how he heard Ms. Termonti talk about lovely lobbies.
It goes on for a bit where he whines about needing 'operating funds' and the folk at the CBC were able to find a 'quote' from Bev Oda, the minister for Canadian Heritage, where ostensibly she waffles on funding because the 39th Parliament is a minority government. However, if they had bothered to roll the tape back a little, everybody would have been able to hear the honorable Ms. Oda say, and I quote:
Certainly we have initiated looking at the museums in Canada. Our first responsibility is to the national museums under the purview of Canadian Heritage, and in that regard we've also looked at the Auditor General's report and the recommendations she has made regarding those museums, and I've asked the department to prepare responses to those recommendations.
I've had the pleasure of visiting hundreds of museums as I've travelled across the country. As you know, many of those museums, small or large, are private. Some are provincial, some municipal.
We want to make sure the culture and the heritage of the country are maintained and respected. So part of the question is--and I don't have a response yet--how can we help the museums outside the federal purview, and to what extent.
Historically, different programs have come along depending on the needs of specific museums, and a great effort has been made to try to help every community...
Which is a lot more positive and upbeat as a response than the bit that the Current and Ms. Tremonti chose.
Mr. McAvity goes on to say that he isn't worried about Federal funding (so, what exactly is the issue, then?) because 'previous conservative governments have been very supportive.' I'd like to remind Mr. McAvity that the last time there was a conservative government here in Canada, there was no EU, Los Angeles had two football teams, Kurt Cobain was still alive, The Late Show with David Letterman could be seen on NBC, and the internet had not been invented. Saying previous conservative governments have been supportive is as relevant to museum funding as my weight.
I'll gloss over some of the other not so smart comments that Mr. McAvity made ('we don't think new museums should come into being unless they have a sustainable business plan in place.' Like, I'm all for museums with unsustainable business plans!) so as to get to the first factual error he makes (in my post of yesterday, I referred to them as lies). He says that there was a large uproar in Britain when they instituted admission fees for museums. In December 2001, the British Government passed a law that abolished admission charges for museums. And in case you want to double check me, he says it at 11:50 into the recording.
Thankfully Mr. McAvity doesn't spend much more time on the program and he ends his time with a line about how he is extremely concerned with 'small museums' and how the small museums 'are history at its finest.' While on the face of it, that statement sounds mighty nice, like something that everybody should believe, when you actually go look at some small museums you can see that in fact it ain't the case. For example, in Mississauga there are two of these 'small historical museums.' Benares Historic House, which is supposed to look like 1918, and the Bradley House Museum which has been restored to look like it was supposed to look like 1840, or so. I can't imagine that there is such a significant difference that Mississauga really needs two historical re-creations especially when there is the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse (1848), Fort York (1812), George Brown House (1880), Riverdale Farm (1860-1920), Spadina House (1880) and Todmorden Mills (years unknown) all in Toronto already. The Bradley house has already been moved once from its original location so it isn't like anyone is insisting on accuracy.
But unfortunately, Ms. Tremonti and the rest of the people who work at the Current decide they are going to talk to Mike Robinson of the Glenbow museum. I don't think they should have. At 13:45 in the recording Ms. Tremonti asks Mr. Robinson how much money the Glenbow museum receives from the government. He replies 'about $3.5 million.' In their annual report, the Glenbow museum states that they got a $5 million gift from the Alberta Government that they use as part of an endowment, it also says '$4 million dollars of funding for this project was secured through the Province of Alberta’s centennial legacies grants program. Negotiations for a further $5 million from the Government of Canada’s centennial program are well underway,' and for some reason that I can't quite understand they put money received from the Federal government in the category called 'fundraising' like it was the same as if I had written them a check.
At 14:04 he states that the Glenbow museum is the only 'independent museum' (I assume he's talking about the whole country) because they are a 'non-governmental organization.' I have no clue what he means by that. Obviously he has never inquired about the Musée des beaux arts here in Montreal, it is a private organization. He obviously is confusing the Redpath and McCord museums here in town with something I can't quite comprehend, as both of them are not government organizations, and I'm certain that if I put my mind to it I could come up with half a dozen museums in each province the are not government organizations (this is the second mistruth that I referred to as a lie yesterday). I'd also question his definition of 'largest museum.' Is he talking square feet, attendance figures, operating budget, or something else?
At which point I pretty much stopped believing anything that Mr. Robinson said. He babbled on about how he was quite proud of how they had lightened the exhibitions (ie they weren't so heavy). That sure as shootin' makes me wanna rush right down and see a show there. Apparently he believes that the museum should pander to the lowest common denominator in Calgary so as to make sure that those attendance figures are as eye popping as possible.
Somewhere around 17:45 in the recording, Ms. Tremonti started asking about the differences between a cultural institution and a commercial institution, as if they were opposites. Ms. Tremonti it is possible to be both (have you not heard of the Cirque du Soleil?) and there is lots of gray space in between them as well (not for profit, charity, and government, just to name a few possibilities). Mr. Robinson's answer was a beaut! Apparently the reason why the Glenbow won't become a commercial institute is because the employees there would leave, and they could not function without their staff. This is after stating that the Glenbow paid less than industry standards (15:38 on the recording). yeah, right. Someone leaves, because there's a better paying job and the whole frickin' museum grinds to a halt?
As part of the deal, Smithsonian Networks was to get the right of first refusal on commercial documentaries that relied significantly on the museum's archives, curators or scientists.
The underfinanced Smithsonian has argued that while the agreement might restrict some commercial filmmakers from selling their handiwork elsewhere, it would affect only a limited number of projects. A Smithsonian official has said that incidental use — a lone interview with a staff member or a few minutes displaying the riches of the Smithsonian collections — would not mandate offering that particular project to Showtime.
But the idea of a public institution's granting preferential treatment to a commercial entity has alarmed many in the documentary and academic worlds, who worry that the venture will discourage independent filmmakers from taking their projects to other outlets or from putting their work on the Internet on a noncommercial basis.
Next time the Current decides to do something on culture, I hope that they spend a little more time trying to get some things correct instead of slapping something together and hoping that nobody will notice.
[update June 29: I got an email from Mr. Dixon, in it he wrote, "A misguided trip through the paper's copy desk resulted in a nonsensical half-sentence getting added by an editor. In fact, the change contradicted what I originally wrote, if not the rest of the article. I should have been consulted, but wasn't. Under tight deadline pressure, that kind of thing can happen." I'd like to thank him for writing to clarify things.]
I don't quite know what to make of this article in the Brooklyn Rail about a recently closed exhibit by Garry Neill Kennedy and Joanna Malinowska. On one hand all press is good, and it is a good review, so that makes it even better. However, the idea that a Governor General's Awards winner exhibits in an 'alternative' gallery in New York does not make me happy. It just confirms to me that a) Juries know jack about choosing good art, and b) Contemporary Canadian Art gets no respect anywhere, even when it is shown in Canada. [So everybody understands, can you find me the press release or any images from Garry Neill Kennedy and Joanna Malinowska on the Canada Gallery website? Notice how their's is the only one missing them...]
Judging from the headline of this article from the Chicago Tribune, I was expecting something slightly different. I figure that there is at least one person who will be aware of these neighborhood museums in Chicago. But, I was expecting something much more similar to the Maisons de la Culture that we have here, but according to the article they are much more like neighborhood McCord Museums than anything else. Pretty gosh darn cool.
Still trying to play catch up, this is one of the things that annoys me at exhibitions that are organized in a sloppy fashion. It was only pure fluke and chance that I had my camera with me, so I was at least able to have something which could work as a mnemonic aid. There wasn't any list of who the artists were that I could take away with me, no price list, no invitation, no listing in Hour or Voir (there was a listing in the Mirror, but they don't archive their listings, so fuggedaboutit once it's over).
But I still managed to like the art.
So if you know who created any of the pieces, or are one of the creators yourself, please feel free to let me know. Thanks.
It has been way too long, I have 33 other artists that are backlogged. Back in March, March! we went to see M. Le Blanc's work. It was at Wilder and Davis, about which I have previously written.
The space itself is wonderful, and any show there would get at least a C, even if I were blind. That being said M. Le Blanc's drawings are nice, nothing groundbreaking, pretty, and all right. In his press release he makes mention of some serious 25¢ words. I don't get why he needs them, they are perfect for that children's story that you haven't quite gotten around to reading yet.