Friday, January 30, 2004

Fun with math!


Today the Art Newspaper released their annual survey of attendance figures. This lead me to the Musee des beaux Arts web site, and low and behold they give attendance figures for all of their shows going back to 1980.

So I figure we can do a compare and contrast exercise here.

In 2002 the MBAM had a total of 478,957 visitors.
In 2002 Zeke's Gallery had a total of 3,454 visitors

"So what?" I hear you say. Well, given that Zeke's ain't never going to be a museum, and that the MBAM spent almost $40 million dollars to get that attendance ($82.48 per visitor), and Zeke's spent considerable less (I ain't gonna be so silly as to release my financials on the internet - Zeke's Gallery has never been a public company) think very low five figures instead of mid-eight figures, I wouldn't have been able to spend $20 per visitor if I tried really really hard, as a consequence, I would venture a guess that I run a much leaner organization.

Using easy math, during the Herbert List: Romantic Wanderer, exhibition, they got a total of 30,316 people to pony up $12 each to go see it. (316 people/day, $3,792 in revenue/day). Using the same easy math, during Francois Dufault's "la main du bluesman" exhibit here, I got 667 people in the door, they didn't have to pay a cent. The Hubert List exhibit ran for 96 days, Francois Dufault's exhibit lasted 36 days. If "la main du bluesman" had been on display for the same amount of time I probably would have gotten 1,781 folk in here to see it, or in other ways of calculating, 6% of their total.

If Zeke's Gallery was 6% the size of the Musee des Beaux Arts then the museum would be slightly larger than 20,000 square feet, or less than 1/4 the size of a football field, in total, including the office space.

I'm very happy not running a museum. Marc DeSerres or Maurice Forget (or somebody else) are in for a tough swim if they take the gig at the Musee des Arts Contemporain.

For your consideration the past couple of years at the museum
Edouard Vuillard: Post-Impressionist Master 95,273 visitors - May 15 to August 24, 2003
Voyage into Myth: Gauguin to Matisse, the French Avant-Garde 205,088 visitors - January 31 to April 27, 2003
Richelieu: Art and power, 46,612 visitors - September 20, 2002, to January 5, 2003
Riopelle, 110,428 visitors - June 20 to September 29, 2002
Italian Old Masters from Raphael to Tiepolo, 88,547 visitors - April 24 to August 4, 2002
Herbert List : Romantic Wanderer, 30,316 visitors - January 23 to April 28, 2002
Piranesi-Goya & Francisco Goya and Jake & Dinos Chapman, 38,317 visitors - October 10, 2001 to January 27, 2002
Aluminium by Design, 21,103 visitors - August 23 to November 4, 2001
Picasso Erotique, 194,740 visitors - June 14 to September 16, 2001
Pierre Ayot, 14,705 visitors - March 29 to June 17, 2001

Then the past couple of years here at the gallery
Fancois Dufault, La main du bluesman, January 26 - March 2, 2002, 667 visitors
Julia Asimakopulos, EphemeResine, March 12 - April 7, 2002, 830 visitors
Carmen Bouchard, Jumelles / Twins, June 26 - July 14, 2002, 267 visitors
Katia Taylor, Kitty Snaxxx, July 26 - August 18, 2002, 458 visitors
Nadia Bertrand, I am not J.C. I am N.B., August 22 - September 15, 2002, 281 visitors
Etienne Farret, Projet Bosnia, September 19 - October 10, 2002, 330 visitors
Maclean, Sportsmanlike Driving, October 25 - November 14, 2002, 397 visitors
Antoine Claes, Banal Phenomene, November 22, 2002 - January 5, 2003, 749 visitors
Yvan Arseneault, Bustum, January 10 - February 2, 2003, 416 visitors
Bertrand Lavoie, Les Morons Attaquent!!, February 6 - March 9, 2003, 512 visitors
Yaakov Goldhacker, Parallel Reality, March 13 - April 6, 2003, 262 visitors
Sylvain Lavallee, depuis 63, April 10 - April 22, 2003, 257 visitors
Martha Fleury, Traces, April 24 - June 8, 2003, 686 visitors
James Saint Laurent, Saint Laurent x3, June 12 - July 20, 2003, 512 visitors
Michael Hunt, The Inverted Democracy, July 24 - August 31, 2003, 588 visitors
03-04 Preview, September 25 - October 12, 2003, 326 visitors
March Gregoroff, October 16 - November 2, 2003, 289 visitors
Carrie Jardine, Stay Gold, November 6 - January 4, 2004, 1000 visitors

You can do the math. I got some art to go see.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

How to get a gig here (Music version)


Once again, I've been stuck behind this desk for way too long. As a consequence, I haven't been able to get anything other than serious desk jockeying done. Which means that writing about Art is going to be difficult - as I haven't seen any new Art since Maurice Richard. And even then, it wasn't new to me.

So, I figured that since I've been talking a lot about the music happening here, I'd let everybody know how to go about getting a gig here, if you happen to be a musician.

It can be summed up in three words: Talk to me.

However from experience I have written out what I consider "guidelines" and I call "The Missive" and other people refer to as "the Rules." I can't stand the concept of rules, and so anybody who calls them that is pretty much looked at as a perfect example of toe-sucking boot licker, or perhaps they've just had too much liquor and they're looking for some toes to suck, I am never certain.

That all being said, they are constantly evolving, and as I have never gotten around to being a full-fledged geek, I am never certain which version is the one that somebody has read. Therefore, I'm now going to go way out on the limb and post them here, complete with additional commentary. Assuming that I continue to not see art tomorrow, I might post how to get a gig here (Visual Art version) tomorrow - but you never know.

So without further ado:

What you need to know in order to play music at Zeke�s Gallery

1. No plugs.

2. Two (2) sets, about 45 minutes each.

3. Before and during the show please announce that deposits are being accepted for the CD that will be made of the show. $5 and it guarantees a low number.

4. Before each set, please announce to the audience where the fire exits are, and that in the case of a fire or another catastrophe, that jumping out the window is a much easier and faster means of getting out of here, and that breaking a leg (or legs) is much more preferable to dying.

5. Doors open at 7:30, band on stage promptly at 8. I strongly urge you to say "7:30" to anybody who asks what time the band will play. Most Montrealer�s are tardy, this way there should be no latecomers.

6. Soundcheck at 5:30, sharp. In order to make sure that the recording doesn�t suck there must be a soundcheck, it is not so that you can set up your instruments and make sure you hear each other, it is to make sure that the microphones are recording you properly. The entire band needs to be here by that time. If there are problems or difficulties, let Zeke know in advance, at least one day in advance. If the band is late for soundcheck I will cancel the show (sorry, but it is an extremely important facet of the show).

7. I suggest a "free contribution" instead of a ticket price. A published ticket price serves as a barrier to entry. (�Jeez I only have $10 in my pocket, why should I give it to them?�) Once people are in they do cough up cash. Depending on the crowd, and the band we�ve been averaging between $3 and $6 per head.
I am in the process of revising this policy. My thoughts on the matter are now more along the lines of "screw 'em if they can't pony up the cash." Musicians and galleries need to get remunerated, we all have rent that needs to be paid. I like the idea of $10 a ticket, or $5 if you're a member of the gallery (remind me to explain membership here in the future). What I'm stumped on is the split between the gallery and the band - if you have any ideas please let me know, ok?
8. I have a collection box here that works well. Or you are welcome to use a guitar case or some other means.

9. No postering outside. There is a $500 fine for postering, from my perspective there are way more efficient uses of time, energy and money to publicize stuff. Handbills personally delivered, posters in appropriate places/stores (i.e. Universities, other venues, caf�s, indoors etc.) This is the one things where I will become a meany and totally nasty, and cancel the show at the last minute if I find out about posters (sorry, but I do feel very strongly about this).

10. There are seats for 25 folk, standing room for about another 25. If more people people show up, in the past they have sat on the floor. Getting the place full is not rocket science. You need to tell people, and the more people you tell, the more people will show up. If you are to shy to tell people, or think it beneath you to tell people, or think that there are better means than telling people about your show, then there probably are better places to play. Getting 12 fannies in the seats makes for a very good audience.
If you're reading this far, and you're not a musician with a band, you might want to consider paying attention to the right hand column, I keep it up to date as to who, what and when is playing here. You're always welcome
11. Having a small flyer, and handing it out to everybody you meet and talk to, starting two weeks before the show aids in helping them to remember when and where the show is. Giving a pile of flyers to your friends and asking them to help in promoting the show is also an effective means of getting those fannies in here.

12. As far as promoting the event I figure on about a 1% response rate to email, a 10% response rate to direct mail. And a 50% response rate to personally handing out flyers to people that you know (for every 2 you give out, one person will probably show up). Leaving the flyers in stores, clubs or other locations are a waste of money, time, and contributes to the garbage problem, it has a worse response rate than that of email. Also you might want to make sure that everybody in the band is involved in promoting the show. If there are 4 of you and you each get 4 people and they come with a date, the gallery will be jam packed.

13. Telling people that it will be a live recording and taking deposits for the recording also is highly recommended

14. Two weeks before the show I automatically email Voir, Ici, The Mirror, The Hour, La Presse, The Gazette, Le Journal, Le Devoir, CFCF, CBC (radio and TV) Global-TV, CJAD, Mix96, CKUT, CISM, RCAAQ, MontrealPlus.ca, ZeD TV, Instant Coffee and L_S_D and unless there is something screwy they all list the events here. However, just having a listing will not get anybody to show up, if you have sold 2,000,000 records and/or have the number one record on Mix96 and/or your picture has been on the cover of Spin then a couple of people might show up due to a listing.
If you know of other places where I should publicize events, please bring 'em on
15. One week, and then 2 days in advance of the show let Zeke know how many people you are expecting, so that I can figure out the best configuration of the gallery.

16. If there are any chairs, music stands, or other accessories that you require, please bring them with you. The gallery has a limited amount of chairs that are all required for the audience, and no other accessories.

17. If you would like help in making/designing a flyer, the gallery has more computer power than it needs and a fair amount of graphic design capabilities, I�d be more than happy to help make them and/or design them. If you start handing them out about 2 weeks in advance of the show, to everyone you meet there will be a very good turn out.

18. The show will be recorded for a future CD release. The CD will be a limited edition of 100 copies, maximum. CDs sell for $15 retail ($13.04 + GST/QST). The gallery gets $6.52, the band gets $6.52, and the government gets $1.96

19. If you would like you band to be included in any of the promotional material sent out by the gallery after the show (i.e. four color glossy flyers, samplers, etc.) you should learn and play "Zeke and the Wheel" by RB Morris. We come out with a sampler, once a year, and a CD of various bands all playing the same song attracts way more attention than yet another generic compilation. If you would like a copy of the song, or sheet music ask Zeke.
This seemed like a good idea at the time, and it really is a kick-ass song, but it is way too complicated. Or in other words, I have lost the damn CD that I used to have, and I have never been able to track down the sheet music
20. If you would like to use the recording for other purposes, please credit the gallery on the CD (�Recorded at Zeke�s Gallery, 3955 Saint Laurent, Montr�al, Qu�bec H2W 1Y4 on date, available as a limited edition CD from Zeke�s Gallery.�) Copying it for friends is not suggested, as it takes $6.52 out of your pocket.

21. The cover of the CD will be in the style of all the other CDs here. There are no liner notes, no song titles. The name of the band (or the musicians) �Live at Zeke�s Gallery� the date, and the volume number are what gets printed on the cover.

22. The band will get one copy of the CD to verify and check that it is suitable and acceptable to release. I strongly urge that you not worry over missed chords and other mistakes, and concentrate on the sound quality of the CD. If there is more 80 minutes worth of music it is the band�s choice as to what gets cut.

23. If you would like to videotape the event ask Zeke beforehand so that we can figure out the logistics and organize things (plugs, camera placement, who will operate it, etc.) before soundcheck.

24. No cameras with a flash.

25. No drugs, other than those sold at the gallery.

26. Zeke is a heavy smoker. Smoking is permitted in the gallery.

27. No practicing at the gallery, before during or after the show. Know all your songs before you arrive.

28. Mention to everybody in the band that it is a very good idea to say "Hello" to Zeke and introduce themselves.

29. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the available nights. We book events a minimum of a month in advance, with a preference for 6 weeks or more in advance.

30. Zeke needs the names, addresses and telephone numbers and instruments played of ALL band members, before the show.

31. Mentioning the artist who made the art on the walls is a very good idea.

32. Please, don�t move the plants, furniture or touch the art without asking first.

33. It is imperative that you come to the gallery before the gig. Getting a feel for the place is a very good idea, and Zeke needs #15, and #30 before the show, dropping them off in person doesn�t hurt.

34. Folk involved with the gallery (namely yours truly) will spend about 10 hours working on your show (set up, sound check, post-production, etc) if you and your band can�t do the same with regards to rehearsals and promoting the show please strongly consider playing at another venue.

35. Please give Zeke a copy of your set lists before the show. It helps immensely with the editing of the CD.

36. Announce before, during and after the show that CDs are available for sale, and that Zeke is taking reservations/deposits. It helps immensely in sales.

37. If I don�t hear from you a week after getting the proof copy, then I will assume that it is copasetic (in other words � it meets with your approval) and release it for sale. If there are changes, corrections, or problems with the proof copy you must let me know before seven days have passed, again, it makes life easy at this end.

38. 4, 6, 9, & 33 are the only ones carved in stone, if there is something that you want to change or add, talk to me. I�m open to all suggestions and possibilities. All you gotta do is ask.

Now that you've read 'em, drop me a line, and lets do a show, ok?

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Following up - Pemi & Rob


Once again, it seems like it happens once a week or so, I run out of ideas to write about. But thankfully this ties in nicely with last night. Your standard issue more than a week old S.F. Gate article Or in other words when in doubt ask somebody to do something. OK?

And then there's this article. I'm not certain that anybody here, last night, truly woke up one day and wanted to play in the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, but it does give insight into the life of a classical musician.

Then there's this article. Nothing to do with music, but it is just flat-out wrong on multiple levels.

Tomorrow I should have more.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Big Multi Syllabic Words


Besides getting all excited about the upcoming Pemi Paull gig here (tonight at 7:30, hint, hint) and hustling the Live at Zeke's Gallery Box Set of CDs (2003 version). I also started to fill out an (insert ominous music here - dum-dum, dum-dum) application for the Canada Council Grants to Professional Artists in Visual Arts (including Photography) and Independent Critics and Curators: Creation/Production Grants.

According to the guidelines "Residencies may encompass research, exhibitions, community initiatives, structured interactions, professional development activities and activities related to permanent collections. Research-based residencies must demonstrate a specified outcome or impact for the host institution."

How do you define "Structured interactions?" or "specific impact for the host institution?" Sounds to me like I need to get myself a high school teacher (they are always good for structure, don't you think?) Or perhaps I'm barking up the wrong tree and need to find some scaffolding. And then get a bulldozer to crash into it (specific impact�)

In bold they also state "Please note that if you exceed the indicated word limits, the supplementary text will not be presented to the peer assessment committee." No wonder the whole Canadian Art world adores big words! Pity the whole thing couldn't be done in German, I could probably create one word that would be 4,000 letters long that would describe everything. The French people are obviously at a disadvantage because in general it takes about 1.5 to 2 as many words to explain something in French as it does in English, and while they have translated the entire document they haven't taken into consideration the cultural differences.

If you don't believe me, try these:
Please � je vous en prie (1 versus 4)
May I � Est ce que je peux (2 versus 5)

Get the picture?

They then ask (with rather ominous overtones) that you "describe your practice (previous and current work) and the program of work you intend to undertake if you receive a grant. If you wish, you may also provide information on the aesthetic or cultural tradition that relates to your work." If you're an artist you only get 500 words, if you're a curator you get 1,500. Now earlier, I had railed against the concept of asking visual artists to write, as it is not their native language, but now upon looking at the fine print I also find it ridiculous that they put limits on the sucker. Obviously life is unfair

I'll attempt to stick in links later (yeah, right!) and perhaps write more about writing for the Canada Council, but I gotta go do a sound check for the fabulous Pemi Paull String Trio right now.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Holy Smokes!


First off, I gotta apologize. I misspelled Pemi Paull's name on the right. Jeez! (sound of me smacking my head) You'd figure that I would at least be able to spell.

But, now that it has been corrected, you gotta gotta show up Tuesday evening, here. He is playing with a string trio and from a cursory Google search, it looks like he is the most accomplished musician to have graced the gallery, not that there wouldn't be an argument from Mack MacKenzie, Heather McLeod, Willy Porter, Craig Morrison, or any of the other 118 performers who have played here.

Doing a copy/paste from the first web site:

Pemi has been a member of l'Orchestre Baroque de Montr�al for three years, and has worked extensively with the Qu�bec City-based baroque ensemble, Les Violons du Roy. Pemi has been invited as a regular participant at Prussia Cove Chamber Music Festival in Cornwall, England, and Domaine Forget International Chamber Music Festival, appearing in concert with distinguished artists including Anthony Marwood, Ian Swensen, Ulrike-Anima Mathe, Daniel Phillips, Laurence Kayaleh, and Paul Watkins. An avid chamber musician, he appears regularly with the Musica Camerata, and Allegra Chamber Music series, and has performed in festivals in Turkey and Mexico. In 2002 Pemi was the recipient of the CBC Prix Galaxie Rising Star Award for Chamber Music. In February 2003 he gave the Quebec premiere of Gy�rgy Ligeti's Sonata for Solo Viola. - link

I'm impressed.

This gives me an opportunity to re-tell you that every single one of the concerts that happens here is recorded. Pemi's show tomorrow night will be Volume 96. So far, it has been difficult getting recognition from anybody who lives outside of town about this. But, as far as I know the only people who are doing this (recording live concerts and then releasing them as CDs almost instantaneously) are Clear Channel and Zeke's Gallery. Now normally, I wouldn't be touting the accomplishments of the aforementioned humongous publicly traded corporation, but given that their accomplishments are the same as the gallery's, yet, they have

3 business segments: broadcasting, live entertainment and outdoor advertising. As of 2/02, the Company owned 1,225 radio stations and 37 television stations, and owned 776K outside displays. For the 9 months ended 9/30/03, net revenue rose 7% to $6.64B. Net income before accounting change rose 77% to $958.4M. Results reflect increased revenues due to acquisitions and increased gains on marketable securities - link.

And the gallery has me.

For the record, these are the bands that have played here, and have CDs that are available:

Aaron Shragge & Friends, Amphibitronic, Andre Kirchoff, Cosmo Demonic Telegraph Company, Craig Morrison, David Pearce, David Sanders, Dirty Ol' Band, Dr. Tom's Leather, Dragana, Ensemble en Pieces, Eric Hammerbeck & The Crying Cowboy, Eric Ormsby, Francois & Nathalie, Gilles Deguire, Hakeem, Heather Mcleod, Hejira, Hugh Fisher, Infinite Moksha, Jeff May, Kali & Dub inc., Katie Moore, Kitchen Fire, Kola et Denise, Lew Dite Skiffle Group, Mack MacKenzie, Marie-Desneiges Stockland, Mike O'Brien, Nathalie & Francois, Orit Shimoni, Pat Loiselle, Play aneou, Randboro, Robert David & Sandra Luciantonio, Rusty Pea Colour, Sam Torontour, Short Stories, Slim Sandy, The Underground Divas, Triple Double, Tzventan

The CDs are $15 each. Swing by and give them a listen, most are supremely kick-ass, I split the money 50/50 with the bands and supporting local musicians is always a good thing.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

An Apotheosis of Freaking Desuetude


Read this, and then come back here, ok? I'll wait.

Read it, good. I only wish I could write as well as Dave Barry. Besides being a great writer, he does get it.

The idea that Art needs words like: limns, dialectical, venerate in order to be better understood is completely and thoroughly backwards. In this specific instance describe, logical and honor work just as well. The only thing that the big words serve to do, is puff up the ego of the writer, and prevent people from being interested in art. As an aside how many Hungarian films have you seen? And without subtitles? If you don't understand the language, then it is highly unlikely that you will participate in the activity.

Yesterday I was at a white cube for a round table discussion with seven artists. A white cube person dressed in black moderated it. The basic idea was three BIG questions about Art. In order they were something like:

1. Curators are writers are teachers are artists, what do you think?
2. When you make art, or curate an exhibition, to whom are you responsible?
3. How do you get people to come see your art?

But they were all asked with many multi-syllabic words in much longer and complicated sentences that approached paragraph length if not full-blown novels. I asked my question, and then sat back (I did not want to hijack the proceedings, sometimes being polite and deferential is not a bad idea). But man oh, man! trying to concentrate on a multi-part sentence that appears to be there only in order to give the person speaking it as much floor time as possible is not my idea of fun.

My question was "How do you define a curator?" As there were a whack of artists there, along with some other people who had a vested interest in the answers, it took some time to get through all of them. The answers were in no particular order, a person with power, a person who make decisions about art, a person who can help an artist get paid, and then the one that really pissed me off; a gatekeeper.

Art Gatekeepers use big words to prevent people from getting in. When what they should really be doing is greeting people and helping them to understand. Curators should really be acting as translators for the Artists and as hosts for the public. You invite someone into your house, the standard issue idea is to try and make them as comfortable as possible. Living in Montreal there are people who do not speak the same language, if they are friends of yours you don't let the Arabic speaking person hang around bored while you speak in Creole with the other friend.

That all being said, you should get your butt down to the Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery. Chih Chien Wang's piece is very witty, and there are a couple of other pieces there that deserve your attention as well. Tell Piera and Michele I sent you.

Friday, January 23, 2004

News and reviewers


Originally, I was gonna go straight for the jugular and ask you guys directly to either cough up for a raffle ticket, or go for the donation button on the right. But then it occurred to me that there have been enough changes in the reporting of the Arts here in town that that would be more than enough to keep me occupied. [full-disclosure: This is my opinion, and it is most definitely slanted]

First List:
Henry Lehman, the Gazette
Bernard Lamarche, Le Devoir
Jerome Delgado, La Presse

OK, these guys (notice that they are guys) are the highest profile and most read. Henry is a sorta older, chatty guy. His reviews tend towards non-confrontational and he mostly reviews the standard issue stuff. Artist-Run Centers, Museums, and the commercial galleries that have been around for eons. He has written a review about an exhibition at the gallery once.

Bernard is a youngish guy, who because of the paper that he writes for is way more important than you would think. If there is one person that you want to get to your exhibition and then write about it, he's the guy. He also writes about Rock 'n' Roll and last I heard he had some sort of gig on Bande Apart on Radio Canada, he likes baseball and beer, and strikes me as pretty much your standard issue Canadian. You know the type, polite, mousy, not looking to upset the applecart, more likely to ignore phone messages than return them. He too, has written an article about the gallery once.

Jerome is the one that I don't know that well, as he has only shown up at the gallery once, briefly, and never written about it. Probably in his mid-forties and strikes me as a French version of Henry Lehman. As both the Gazette and La Presse are mainstream, their editors seem to be, like the public they work for, scared to death of Art. Which then leaves Mr. Lehman and M. Delgado in a rather interesting position. They can write about anything that they feel like, but if they draw attention to themselves, they are likely to lose the gig. So they both play it extremely conservatively.

Second List
Christine Redfern, The Mirror
Matthew Woodley, The Mirror
Isa Tousignant, Hour
Nicholas Mavrikakis, Voir
Lyne Crevier, Ici

Christine is overworked and underpaid, but as the Mirror is normally a stepping-stone to other more lucrative gigs treat her very nicely. She has written a whack of reviews about the gallery.

Matthew is the big cheese when it comes to writing about Visual Arts in the Mirror. He's overworked, but not as underpaid as Christine. The thing that I particularly like is that the Mirror (and Quebecor, by extension) seems to have made the executive decision that Visual Art on the cover is not a bad thing. For the Fall Arts preview, they did Heidi Taillefer and for the Winter Arts preview, they did Kristi Ropeleski. Write 'em a letter telling them you like Art on the cover, ok?

Isa also works at the Saidye Bronfman Center, so be wary (like you are when you're reading stuff here) about anything in Hour that talks about the art that they have there, ok? She has written a bunch of stuff about shows that have happened here at the gallery, and she has probably the best training of anybody writing about contemporary art in town. The unfortunate thing is that it seems to me that there are not an awful lot of people out there reading the Hour. But people who would be reading your CV don't know this, so getting a review in Hour has its benefits, just not the same as those of the Mirror.

As I am already being sued, and being threatened with another, I am leery of writing anything about Nicholas Mavrikakis. He is the only writer that I have taken entirely off of my mailing list, and who is barred from entering the gallery at anytime for any reason. If you want to know the details, you gotta talk to me in someplace where it is a libel free zone, ok?

Unfortunately I know diddly-squat about Lyne. She has never written about the gallery, and the amount of readers that Ici has makes Hour look like the biggest thing in the world. That all being said, I still hold a soft spot in my heart for Ici (see page 28 of this week's issue) if only because Voir should have some competition.

Third List
Unknown - CBC radio
Unknown - CFCF TV
Tracey Mckee - Global TV

Jeanette Kelly used to be the arts reporter for CBC Radio 1, and I was hopin' and a wishin' that she would get the gig as host of Home Run. It seems that Meredith Dellandrea has taken over the arts reporter gig (but as she is listed as producer, I imagine that this is only a stop gap measure) I figure that somewhere in about March or April things will have worked themselves out. Until they have, all I can really say is that I'm lost and clueless about CBC radio, if anybody has any suggestions, ideas, or absolute knowledge feel free to let me know. (And yes, I know about the specialty shows, but those are for a later discussion.)

Now here is where it gets strange, you see I don't own a TV, never have. Christine Long is the person who deals with the entertainment stuff, but she just announced that she was taking her maternity leave. [if you're reading congratulations!] While my standard issue take is that it isn't all that important to get Visual Art on TV, because most people who watch the TV tend to think that they have seen the exhibition by seeing it on TV. And it doesn't translate into fannies in the seats if you get my drift. When Christine has covered stuff here at the gallery, I have had people show up and say "I saw it on TV!" So from my perspective, CFCF is well worth your time, I just don't know who to talk to.

Then there's Tracey McKee. Global is to CFCF what Ici is to Voir. She rocks (she actually was able to convince me to wake up at 5 am last January, and it was really cold then, too, in order to interview me). Tell her I said so.

Fourth List
Radio Canada

Holy Smokes! More than 1,000 words, you must be bored, or have something better to do now. Besides I am so completely confused by Radio-Canada that I really can't write anything helpful. I just keep sending them stuff, and hoping that it sticks, sometime it does, sometime it doesn't. Again, if you have any clues, I'm all ears.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

The hits just keep on coming...


Some figures:
41 emails sent today.
105 emails in the wait until later inbox.
68 emails in the respond sooner inbox.
115 emails received, today.
12 phone calls received today.
6 phone calls made today.
25 people stopped by the gallery today.
4 very large coffees drunk today.
1 beer drunk today.
2 Artist submission received today.
1 Job application received (no I'm not hiring) yesterday
1 band submission received today.
3 vernissages, missed tonight so that I could attempt to catch up.

And yeah, it seemed like a normal day. OK, now that I got that off my chest, we can get back to our regularly scheduled program.

Last night I went to Salon Alterna-tif. They were having a vernissage, and I couldn't resist telling people that I was going to see an exhibition at a barber shop! Overall it wasn't bad. There were about 5 different artists exhibiting, all of them architecture based. I got to meet Aude and Roberto, check out page 39 of Vie des Arts (man I'm jealous, they got page 39, and I got page 40! Jeez! Me and Rodney Dangerfield, we're like this) to find out more about their gallery.

The artists had names like, DRAR, NIP, VLAN, EKIP, SE BUSCA and apparently the second name of the space is now, haiRArchi. Why can't they just keep things simple, like a Joe, and a Susan, or a Betty and a Bill?

Most of the art was sorta just there. Not bad, not spectacular. But there was one set of things, over-sized slides hanging out in the western window of the store front. About 5 or 6 of them, each 5 or six layers think with things stuck in between each layer. Things like small torn bits of tissue paper, or fishing line. As pretty paperweights they work, as small sculptures they work, too. I think that they were made by VLAN. If I remember correctly they were $420 each, I'm not certain if they were priced right, but then again, I wasn't the part of the crowd that they were aiming for.

Then, and I will be mentioning this again, and again, and again until y'all get it. ok? You're invited to the vernissage of Dominque Blain at the Musee d'Art Contemporain on the 5th of February at 6 pm, ok? Something about foxes in henhouses. I think I like it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Padres 1926


Padres 1926

As a favor to a friend, I'm making a link to his blog it is called Padres 1926.

30 Slides and an Artists' Statement


First off apologies for the lack of an entry yesterday, but I was busy with the three most recent CDs that had been recorded here, and some legal stuff (more on that later).

But today, as I interviewed yet another artist, it occurred to me that for beginning artists, and specifically people who have not gone through academia that the Artists' statement is one of the more scary things around. If you want to get a Canada Council grant, you gotta write one, if you want to apply to the Conseil des Arts et Lettres du Quebec you gotta write one in French. If you want to apply to have a show at any of the Artist-Run centers in town (or elsewhere) you gotta write one. They also help your standard issue commercial gallery with the fluff that they use to impress folk, they can be turned into a section for a catalog, yada-yada-yada.

Here, I specifically do not ask for one. And I think that the whole concept smacks of elitism, which ain't a good thing. If you're talking to somebody who lives in Athens, are you going to judge them by their ability to speak to you in your language? What about holding a conversation with somebody who speaks ASL? If you can't make your hands flutter in the right direction, you're going to end up looking mighty foolish.

Musicians, when they want to apply for something get asked to play their instrument. Dancers when they want to do the Nutcracker for the rest of their life get asked to dance. Writers get asked for examples of their writing. Could you imagine Charlie Parker trying to explain one of his solos to a Canada Council jury? Or how about Nabokov dancing in order to give you a better understanding of Lolita? Why are artists asked to write? Visual Art is a language, if you don't understand it, you're either blind, or still only six months old.

If you're fluent in a visual language, why would anybody expect you to be fluent in something else? Yes, Linus Pauling won the Nobel Prize twice, and Ice Cube can rap and also act, but the number of people who are accomplished at two completely different things are exceedingly rare. Yes, I know how to cook, but I wouldn't be able to work as a chef at Maxim's. Yes, I can ride a bike, but no matter how much I wish I could, I would not be able to finish the Tour de France.

So why do the mandarins in Ottawa and Quebec city insist that artists be writers too, in order to get money?

Monday, January 19, 2004

The bestest sculpture in the whole damn town!


Today I had to go to the Regie du Logement (no, I'm not coughing up any details) and while hauling my butt out there is a humongous hassle, there is one super special thing that makes the whole trip worthwhile.

Being able to pass by, touch and take a long gander (made even better by the sunshine today) at the Maurice "Rocket" Richard sculpture at the corner of Viau and Pierre de Coubertin. Don't give me any nonsense about Lord Nelson, and while I really like the stuff that Armand Vaillancourt has made, Jules Lasalle & Annick Bourgeau have nailed the sucker smack dab on the head as to the collective conscious of Quebec in bronze.

Lemme explain, or give you the recipe. First you take one mythological figure who actually walked this earth, then you add one part of a hockey arena named after him. Take a ton or two of bronze, find yourself the most famous picture of the man (you know the one where his eyes are glaring at you as he threatens to shove that puck down your throat) and create a variation that appears to be about three times life-size. You know, your standard issue 18-foot tall god. Then (as if that wasn't enough) place it in a part of town that isn't frequented too much, so that the folks [sorry Taher] who show up can gaze upon it in serenity and with a complete sense of calm. And you have your standard issue recipe for a kick-ass statue.

But this ain't no stinkin' standard issue kick-ass statue. This is the bestest most thoroughly awesome tribute to a savior that I have ever seen. For stuff like this we gotta delve deep into the top-secret files of Sculpture Inc.

First off, you gotta understand that here in Quebec, Maurice "Rocket" Richard (ever wonder why "Mom" Boucher was named Maurice?) was as close to a God as you can ever get. You've heard of Babe Ruth, right? Well he was bigger than the Bambino. You've heard of Jonas Salk? Bigger again by at least half. Linus Pauling (ok, you might not have heard of him, but he is the only person ever to win two Nobel Prizes) Way bigger. Pet Rocks? Y2K? Hula Hoops? They ain't got nothin' on the Rocket. Trust me on this, he was big. When I said that he was a mythological figure, I wasn't lying (even if the pictures here think I am).

Second off, Quebec still is Catholic up the wazoo. Although back in the day you neighborhood priest was not somebody to be messed with - today you listen politely, but he doesn't carry the same power that he used to. Way back then if your priest didn't want you doing something, you weren't doing it. 50 years ago when your priest said "jump." You didn't ask "when?" You asked "how high?"

And those two things combined are what makes the Maurice "Rocket" Richard statue so great. M. Lasalle and Mme. Bourgeau added one thing to it that you would never see on the man (even if he was 18-feet tall). On his right calf is a palm print. That's right, right smack dab in the middle of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve you can lay your hands on the Rocket so as to get cured of whatever ails you. Although I am not a believer, I have laid my hands on the Rcoket, and sure as shooting I felt better (unfortunately I was just draggin' my ass to the Regie, but it still worked) I'd betcha a nickel to a dime that it works on headaches, leprosy, aneurisms, and anything else that you could think of, as well as it works on the blahs.

Statue Maurice Richard, originally uploaded by Serge_qc.

Get thee to the Viau metro now! Sayeth he.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

It's Sunday!


Happy Birthday to A.A. Milne.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Acting normal, ok?


Nothing like a little bit of publicity to keep a gallery guy on his toes! The cover, last week, of the Montreal Mirror! Not bad, eh?
The place was jumping today. Yet again, no time for a nap.

So, I'm going to take the easy way out, since I haven't had a chance to see anybody else's art today.

Normal Blog entry number 1:
Apparently Britain's most popular artist is not able to get any respect. Excuse me while I cry in my beer for him. (heavy sarcasm) the man make millions of dollars, excuse me, pounds, and is annoyed because his stuff ain't in a museum?!

Normal Blog entry number 2:
In England they are tossing up a trial balloon to see what the reaction would be to allowing tax deductions for donations to Museums (seems like I've been reading the Guardian a bunch, eh?). Sounds like a good idea to me. Currently in Canada the way things work is thusly: Buy a piece of Art (notice the capital "A") hang it in front of your couch for more than three years, then start to think about donating it to a Heritage Institution, convince the people on the acquisition committee that your scrawl on a napkin really is the most important thing in Canadian Culture since sliced bread, then start to negotiate, negotiate some more, then go out and get the sucker appraised (serious business, how do you think some galleries manage to stay afloat?) then if nobody involved in this mess has changed their mind, you're pretty much good to go. What do you get for your troubles? Depending on what it is that you're donating, either a tax receipt for the appraised value, or an entire new wing to a museum.

Normal Blog Entry number 3:
According to The Austin American-Statesman, art stuff outdraws sports! (apologies for the ridiculous sign-up required) In other news, it is cold outside, baby. Duh! Other than the University of Texas what sports are there in Austin? And in a university town you're by definition going to have a whack of intelligentsia.

Normal Blog Entry number 4:
In Miami they are suffering from what folk here already know about � festival-itis. Only in this case it is Art-Fair-it is, three of them all at the same time. Jeez, some people get all the luck.

Normal Blog Entry number 5:
Some British guy with a title is jealous about the headlines that things like the Turner Prize and other contemporary art grab. My favorite line? "Conceptual installation art is worthless and people don't want it." Cool!

Normal Blog Entry number 6:
Israel's ambassador to Sweden went berserk and tried to electrocute a whack of people at an opening, because he didn't like the art that was being exhibited. This one gets two "cools." First for somebody honestly coming out and saying what they believe about a piece of Art. Second for doing it in such a way that Gunilla Skoeld Feiler and Dror Feiler are going to be newsworthy for at least a weekend.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Reading between the lines of two White Cubes


So, things have now returned to what could be called "normal." If anything that happens here could be called normal. On Wednesday I was up in Lennoxville (where they set a new record for cold) for the opening of Carmen Bouchard's "Jumelles/Twins" Exhibition. It went super smooth, and the drive there and back wasn't so bad. Extra special thanks go out to the driver.

Vicky Chainey Gagnon (the assistant curator at the Art Gallery of Bishop's) did a fabulous job with the show. She's going to be on TV (and become a certified vedette in the process) discussing it. Although for the life of me, I can't remember the name of the TV show she's going to be on. Dominique Godfrey did an extraordinary piece of work, she's the person who is responsible for getting all the media types to show up, pay attention, and nod sagely when the multi-syllabic types spout. Given that the Stanstead Journal, the Sherbrooke Record, Tele-Quebec, Radio Canada, and a whack of other journalists all showed up at various points to do features on the show, and all were nodding sagely, she rocks. Then can't forget Donny (who hung the entire show) Gentiane (who's working on a different project with me) and Jennifer, and Sophie (the curators of the other show) who also helped, and should be thanked.

As it was the proverbial cold day in hell, the turn out for the vernie topped out at about 60 people. The vibe was something I have some to expect from a white cube gallery. Small groups that milled around the food table, and whispered. I can only imagine what their conversations were like. The reaction to Carmen's pictures and dresses was very cool. As they were hung outside of the white cube in a corridor leading towards the bathrooms, the folk I caught passing through, would sorta be walking all business-like when out of the corner of their eye they would catch a glimpse of a dress hanging high on the wall. It would make 'em stop in their tracks, look down and check out the photographs. The reaction of the women was amazing - definitely something that I wasn't quite able to do myself. My guess would be that it is sorta like the reaction that they would have upon flipping through a copy of Vogue and then having a Proenza Schouler skirt just jump right off the page, suddenly everything gets real quiet, and the rest of the world fades away.

Everybody who spoke with Carole totally got into the concept of the exhibition (for the uninitiated, and in a very short space, dressing up in the same clothes as somebody else, because you want to, not because you have to, and documenting the whole process). Where I would've imagined going in that because Carmen's show was the equivalent to the opening act at a concert, there would be a polite nod in her general direction, and that would be it. But, pretty much all the media folk spent as much time with her as they did with Sophie and Jennifer.

Then last night I went to the vernies at UQAM for Jennifer Macklem & Luke Roberts's "The World May Be Post-Dated," and France Guerin's "Point trente trois et des poussieres (.33)." First off the difference between the UQAM Gallery and the Bishop's U Gallery is like the difference between the Sodebo Trimaran and my little putt-putt. While I do not for an instant think that the world is anything but past-due, there are at least 33/100's of dust. I ended up introducing myself to Louise Dery who was quite gracious, and I also saw Sylvie Gilbert there, and glommed onto the difference that she makes between her Work and her Personal life. This should make things much more understandable in the future, or at least taste much better.

Luke and Jennifer's show really did not put the space to good use. There was a lot of wandering around, and as it was quite cold there were just about enough people at the vernie to make for two baseball teams, and because of all the space between the pieces, we could have played a game right then and there - I told you it was a BIG space! There was any obvious connection between their art, or for that matter between the various pieces that each of them made (although to Jennifer's credit she wasn't jumping all over the place and her pieces did look like they all came from the same hand). Her stuff was playful and silly, although it would have been super cool if the handle to the contraption in the far corner actually did something. Luke doesn't seem like he has found his voice yet (hey! Can I sound like a curator, or what?!) Between the drawings, the video, the paintings, the prints, and the other stuff that I can't remember that was hung on the walls he seemed to be attempting to discover what was going to stick. I guess I'm going to have to go down there again, towards the end of the show and see how hard he threw them up against the wall.

Ms. Guerin's Art, in comparison, was a thoroughly delicious and understated extravaganza. Due to my recent rediscovery of the joys of architecture, looking at the three pieces in her exhibition and arguing heatedly about where the bathroom, living room and bedrooms were was tons of fun. The sucker that was hanging on the wall (the other two pieces were hung on the floor and on a table - don't forget that the UQAM Gallery is cutting edge!) was sorta, kinda like trying to eat your imaginary soup with an imaginary fork. I ended up pretending to squint and making my brain get all twisted exotic yoga positions. Wicked cool stuff, dontcha think? Because of Ms. Guerin, things look good for the next exhibit there, hint, hint, hint.

Thursday, January 15, 2004



Between Bishop's University, grant applications, Zed TV stuff, editing CDs, selling LPs, hustling raffle tickets, and dealing with the cold, there hasn't been much time to write - not even the hour that I alot myself every day - sorry.

I'm going to the UQAM vernie in about 15 minutes, and then by 8pm the grant application should be whizzing its way to Ottawa, and then I'll be back in the saddle like normal. More tomorrow, ok?

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Catching up (or So much Art, so little time.)


Vernies that you should go to:

14 January, 5pm � Gesu
14 January, 6 pm � Victoria Hall
15 January, 5:30 pm - UQAM
18 January, 2 pm � Stewart Hall
22 January, 5 pm � Maison de la Culture Marie-Uguay, 6052 Monk
22 January, 5:30 pm - MAI
22 January, 6:30 pm � Saidye Bronfman
31 January, 2 pm � Galerie 306

Le Centre du Creativite Gesu is not only the place where the raelians meet, but, as far as I can guess, in order to balance out the karma they also show potentially kick-ass art in a very convenient spot. This one is called something extremely precise "Les Rencontres interculturelles 2004." Eight different artists doing something. The art that I have previously seen there has been good, ain't never been to a vernie there, and as I will be in Lennoxville, I'm going to be missing this one, too.

But what I am most annoyed about missing because I'll be in the Estrie, is Dana Velan's vernie at Victoria Hall. If you have any chance don't miss it. Dana (Ms. Velan, to you, ok?) draws humongous canvases. But in this case, if my memory serves, there are going to be a whack of books. (I got a sort of advance preview in December). The show itself is called "Ash and Roses." I'll leave it up to your imagination to try and figure out what it is going to be like. But honestly, unless you break you leg on the way to Victoria Hall (or are in Lennoxville with me) you have no excuse for missing it.

On Thursday, UQAM is celebrating France Guerin's show along with a traveling exhibit from Waterloo � really nice pastels on the invites. As I'll be back in town, I'm going to try and hob-nob with the local intelligentsia.

Sunday, I'm going to try and make it out to Dorval, they got "le Design contemporain au Qu�bec." I have a soft spot in my heart for Stewart Hall, I got to meet Maitre Forget AND Lise Bissonette AND Joyce Millar when I was there last, and as the show is organized by UQAM, there promises to be some intelligentsia there to (always makes for a fun time).

On the 22nd, things get ugly. Three openings on the same night! All paid for by the same folk! You'd figure that somebody would consult with somebody else so that there wasn't this massive conflict. That's why I like scheduling vernies here on Saturdays at 8 pm, ain't nothing else happening at that time other than movies or dinner, and y'all know that movies can be seen at another time, and dinner can wait. In short, head out to Verdun, and then if you choose to stay on the west side of town head up to the Saidye, Lauren Nurse personally delivered her invitation to me, and I gotta admire the moxie. At the Saidye it'll be fun to see Sylvie, and Isa (can't forget about "The Weather" � the name of the show, silly). The MAI thing-y is an installation by Denyse Gauthier, and depending on the weather I'll try and make that, too.

Then finally, on the 31st, Daniel LeBlond opens "Existence." As far as I can tell, it'll be easy to make it there, as there are no conflicts, and it is near by.

If you don't want to go alone, give me a shout and we can figure out logistics, ok?

Monday, January 12, 2004

Not exactly a day off, but...


I'm in Lennoxville, hanging Carmen's show. More tomorrow.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Getting stuff sold. Part 63c


Last night after the vernie, I went to Le Boudoir, because I was so damn tired. I figured that either I was going to fall asleep in my chair, or that perhaps there was half a chance if I plied myself with a beer or two that I might experience a second (or third, or fourth) wind. I should've gone to the casino, my half a chance would've landed me better than the daily-double.

As I was being driven, I first made a pit stop at A.R. Lussier to show my driver the phenomenal display that they had in their window. It also afforded me a chance to actually count the number of guns - close but no cigar, we counted thirteen, and as some had been removed, I think it actually would have been more like sixteen originally, the basic premise is the same, but sadly, my specifics were as wrong as the raelians.

But then we ended up at Le Boudoir, one of my favorite places in the city (they posses THE best seat in all of Montreal, ask me about it, and I will specify exactly where it is. One of the reasons that I like Le Boudoir is that while they are a bar, they exhibit art, and they exhibit it well. Then according to the scuttlebutt that I have heard they actually do stuff that makes the artist happy - hence the title of this entry.

The art that they had on the walls was not particularly good or interesting (unless you squinted hard enough to make your temples throb). But, just because this particular exhibit wasn't mind blowing didn't take away from their rep. "Their rep?" I hear you ask, well, lemme explain. If you're an artist, there are scads of restaurants, cafes, bars and other alternative spaces where it is possible to exhibit your art. Some of these places are kick-ass, some of these places suck the big wazoo. Le Boudoir kicks ass. Hence the rep.

"Why do they kick-ass?" I hear you ask. [Full-disclosure: as I am not an artist, and have never been an artist, all of the following information is based on second and sometimes, third hand, information. In other words, take it as far as you can throw it.]

If you're an artist, and this in certain respects can apply to galleries as well, you need to identify what your goals are for exhibiting. If you're exhibiting at an alternative space, it is pretty much a given that you're pretty high on the concept of selling some of your work. So question number 1: Are there lots of people who frequent the space? In the case of Le Boudoir the answer is a resounding "Yes."

Question number 2: Do the people who frequent the place actually buy art? Or do they sit around and cry into their beer, barely lifting their eyes above the lip of the glass? In the case of Le Boudoir, the answer is another resounding "Yes."

Question number 3: How do they handle sales? Or in other words, if I were to go up to some nameless staff member and ask for some information about the artist or the art, would I get a shrug of the shoulders and a "Huh?! What are you talking about? There's art here?" Or are the people who are employed to work there going to give you a phone number? A CV? Take a deposit and place a red dot on the tag? Take your money and let you walk out of the place with the piece? Shrug their shoulders and let you walk out of the establishment with the art after you've promised to pay the artist the following day? In the case of Le Boudoir the answer is, you guessed it, take a deposit, and place a red dot on the tag.

This, to me is the most important thing that you can get in an alternative exhibition space, if the staff will help in selling your art, then you don't have to hang out there 24/7 getting wired on coffee or so completely snookered that your tongue doesn't recognize your lips anymore. It also helps if they actually end up giving you the money, instead of pocketing it and saying "Huh? There used to be some art there?"

Question number 4: How do they handle damage and theft? This ain't something that I am particularly fond of, 'cause no matter how you look at you're gonna be pissed (or at least annoyed, miffed, or dare I say it disappointed). If they say that it is all you responsibility, then they might be wankers. But, be forewarned that if the place does burn down, you're likely to suddenly have an awful lot of empty space in your studio. In the case of Le Boudoir, the answer is a resounding "I don't know.' But I would imagine that they would at least buy you a beer.

Question number 5: Why are they hanging YOUR art on their walls? In the case of Le Boudoir, it strikes me that it is a sincere and effective means of supporting local artists and helping the community that they serve - I have never asked anybody who works there, anything other than "Could I get a beer, please?" But the attitude that the staff has is one of "local is good."

There's this restaurant that approached me in my position as Gallery Guy and asked if I had any art that would be suitable for their walls. Now this was a kick-ass restaurant that I really really liked, I came up with a catalogue for them of available art, and they liked the stuff I was showing them. But none of the art here got on their walls, because they were looking to decorate their place for free! They wouldn't even cough up a free dinner for the artist of the paintings, all that they would offer was a possibility that the pieces might sell, and for that possibility they wanted to take 15% commission. I told them to take a hike. They said that it would be "good exposure" for the artists; I muttered under my breath, "what do you think I do for a living? Pick my nose?" Sadly, I no longer frequent the restaurant.

Question number 5.5: Do they want a commission? Easy litmus test to see why they are hanging your art on their walls. Once again, Le Boudoir comes through with flying colors.

Question number 6: How and when do they let you hang the show? Sadly, there ain't much wiggle room here, most of the places either will ask you to show up at 3 am, and hang after they have closed for business, or if they are slightly more understanding, give you a window of a couple of hours early in the afternoon before things get hectic. As they are an operating business there ain't much room to maneuver here - but you never can tell until you ask.

Question number 7: How and where do you sign up? Normally stuff on the walls of an alternative space is not curated. I've heard of a couple, but Le Boudoir ain't one of them. If their sign up sheet gives you a show next Wednesday, think hard about it. If on the other hand their next open slot is in July, 2005 and is good for a week. You might have found a good spot. I don't think Le Boudoir is booked until July 2005, but I am certain that you can't hang your stuff there next Wednesday.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Two shows in one week! Holy Smokes!


Besides Kristi Ropeleski's "Blood Harmony" that opened here on Thursday, we also have Carmen Bouchard's "Twins" opening at the Art Gallery of Bishop's University on Wednesday. You'd think that Zeke's gallery was some sort of major institution or something.

Initially I wrote about Carmen's show when it was up on the walls here;

"Carmen and Carole Bouchard intended to celebrate their �sisterly bonds� with a trip to Japan in which they would only wear matching outfits. The trip got cancelled, but the dresses were made � so instead they were worn in Los Angeles. The ensuing photographs of the experience, and the dresses themselves make up the exhibition entitled Twins, by Carmen Bouchard.

"From being called �every woman�s nightmare� by a very insecure British woman, to encountering two 8 year olds who had been dressed identically by their parents, the entire experience was a transformative one for both sisters. It ends up not only questioning the very nature of identity and individuality, but also the validity of fashion and the fashion industry as it relates to women in the Western world.

"Getting dressed has always been considered a very personal expression. By deliberately wearing the same outfit as someone else, one ends up purging some, if not all of their personality. It is considered acceptable practice in children, and is forced in military organizations, prisons and the like. By voluntarily doing this the Bouchard sisters not only contradicted the Western idea of the individual as supreme, but also simultaneously contradicted the opposite belief of the effacement of self as the path to enlightenment, as they are excluding themselves from society and emphasizing the differences between the two of them as a unit and the rest of the world.

"The pictures, originally taken with a variety of disposable cameras, are more than 20 times their original size in order to emphasize the �otherworldly-ness� of the experience. The original dresses (some of which will be worn during the vernissages) are pinned to indoor clotheslines and accentuate the domesticity of the situation. Combined, the oversized snapshots and homemade outfits hint at a condition that should be entirely familiar, but is not quite.

Subsequent to the exhibition, Canadian Art magazine decided to publish "Nixon's Wives," and now Ms. Bouchard got the gig at Bishop's, I'm pleasantly surprised, and pretty much ecstatic. I can only wonder as to Carmen's emotions.

The thing that I'm most looking forward to, is having to deal with the "white cube" nature of the Bishop's U Art Gallery. By placing the art in a different place ("context" for you syllable watchers) a completely different feeling happens. Think about how you'd view your favorite painting if it was used as the background for an ad for the Gap, instead of being on your wall (above or in front of your couch). Hearing your favorite song played live by the composer, versus hearing it on TV as the background music for an ad for the Gap. Although the difference between Bishop's and Zeke's is not as large, as those between Art for Art's sake and Art for Commerce's sake. and both of us are attempting to do similar things (among them, getting folk to see and connect with Art) it will be interesting to see how Ms. Bouchard's Art plays there.

Once it is hung (unless I'm really motivated, no blog entry for Monday) I'll fill you in on the details. If you're anywhere within 50 miles, by all means go see it, ok?

Thursday, January 08, 2004

The devil finds work for idle hands


No post today - I'm in the midst of hanging Kristi's exhibition.

Don't forget to come to the vernissage on Saturday, January 10th at 8 pm. Mention the blog; get a free beer.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

The next show, be here, or I'll be forced to have a talk with your mother


Everybody knows that "Sex sells" right? Remember to bring cash, check or credit card to Kristi Ropeleski's show. But don't be surprised if your reaction upon seeing her paintings is similar to realizing that the escort you hired is a two-headed midget with acne due to chronic steroid abuse who also ends up stealing your reproduction of that painting by F.H. Varley. More to the point, "Blood Harmony" refers to a vocal technique common in hillbilly music, Kristi's paintings sing out like the bastard love children of Lilias Torrance Newton & Regina Seiden Goldberg.

That's what I wrote initially in the emails that I was sending out to the various media outlets in order to inform them of Kristi's show. The more time passes, the more I like it. Because it, to my ears, hits you hard over the head with a sledgehammer about what Kristi's paintings are like, even if you have never heard of F.H. Varley, Lilias Torrance Newton or Regina Seiden Goldberg. Her paintings are so in your face, it is ridiculous, they effectively take you by the short and curlies and wrench hard with a twisting motion. You get the idea. They are about as aggressive as Mike Tyson on a bad night.

The main focus of the exhibition is the Blood Harmony series, right now numbering a ridiculous eighteen! You try doing that, in oil, in under a year. They are relatively straightforward paintings of her friends and other folk in the neighborhood (assuming that you're not one of the long distance readers, I would bet even money that you know at least one of the models). The twist, hook, or where it gets painful, isn't in that all of these folk are naked from the waist up, but in that they are all looking straight at you. Not that they're looking to punch you in the nose, but more along the lines of looking at you like they know that you're not telling all the truth. The idea of being called a liar by a painting is an interesting concept, wouldn't you think?

I'm personally looking forward to living with them for the six weeks that the show is going to be up. Coming in to work in the morning and getting stared down by a bunch of folk is a daunting idea. I'm not certain if seeing them once during a vernissage will do them justice. But then again, I know that I have told the truth.

The "two-headed midget escort with acne due to chronic steroid abuse" is a reference to Kristi's Monster's and Heroes series. She took some pictures from a muscle magazine (I forget which one, but you could ask her) and redid them as oil portraits. Although they aren't looking at you with the same aggressive eye contact that the Blood Harmony series has, the physical aggression is what is self-evident in this case.

Nonetheless, or despite this, Kristi really is a gentle and sweet person, very good natured with a smile on her face � but, I wouldn't want to run into her in a dark alley if she was carrying a paint brush.

For her exhibition we're up to a whopping five vernissages (openings for you long distance folk).
Thursday the 8th at 5 pm, the non-smoking vernissage, for all of you healthy art collectors.
Friday the 9th at 2 pm, the Super Secret VIP, by-invitation-only, RSVP Vernie with fancy-ass food and drink.
Saturday the 10th at 8 pm, The regular vernissage appropriate for everybody, the one to come to if you're only coming to one.
Sunday the 11th at 2 pm, Kid-friendly vernissage with home made cookies and chocolate milk.
Sunday the 11th at 5 pm, Pet-friendly vernissage with kibbles and bits for our four legged friends (and the feathered folk, too!)

If you're too lazy to scroll up to the top to see the address: 3955 Saint Laurent, Montreal, Quebec Canada (for you out of towners)

PS [Full disclosure: I'm the gallery guy who is curating the show, do not for an instant think that I am objective. That line about the truth? Yes, it was true, but... understand your sources.]

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Monsieur Armand Vaillancourt to you!


As I mentioned yesterday, I got to see the Armand Vaillancourt show at the Centre des Arts Contemporain de Montr�al even though it was closed. No, it wasn't because I'm special (you are special) it was because I tried the door, it opened, and when the dude on the mezzanine called out that they were closed � it being a Monday and all, I said all I wanted to do was look at the art, and he said "ok." It might have had something to with my use of "please" and "thank you," I dunno (or actually "s'il vous plait" and "merci.").

Anyhows, M. Vaillancourt is an impressive artist. If you type his name into Google you get 4,550 hits (in comparison if you type "Zeke's Gallery" into Google you only get a number that looks like 1,050). Granted he's been around for a little bit longer than the gallery has, but that's a whole 'nother story.

I haven't been able to find an on line version of his CV, but I ain't slogging through 4,000+ links, I got stuff to write! Suffice it to say that man has been called a legend in the press fluff from a gallery in Saint Paul, and they aren't too far from the truth.

He lives around the corner from the gallery, and the exhibition is taking place two blocks away from the gallery, so missing it would be something egregious (c'mon, every now and again a big word makes me feel impo'tent!)

John K. Grande (got it right this time!) wrote about the man:

Where is the cherished notion of society in artistic activity and expression? Current artistic expression often expresses notions of hybridity, of nihilism, or most often a postModern malaise for which no remedy is offered. The conditions of modern life are reflected in these works, but the patient's illness is neither prevented nor treated, merely described. There is a lack of direction in many artists' representations of what I would call a "formal notion of what creativity is". The whole process has become all too self-conscious. As such we can learn from looking at Armand Vaillancourt's art and life, for his background and long experience reflect social concerns through direct action. � link

Stop reading right now and go see M. Vaillancourt's work, I'll wait, you're probably not all that far away from it, either

... you back? Good.

If on the other hand you're one of the folk reading this long distance, try this, or this, or this, or this. Mr. Grande is right that you can learn from looking at M. Vaillancourt's art. I'm not entirely sure if I agree with him about "hybridity," "nihilism," "postModern malaise," or "a "formal notion of what creativity is.'" But I'll leave that discussion to die like some roadkill by the side of the road.

At the Centre des Arts Contemporain de Montr�al, they have a bunch of M. Vaillancourt's paintings (not so impressive, but there is one really big sucker which could be considered impressive just on the basis of it's size) and a whack of his sculptures. Now the sculptures kick-ass from here to Embarcadero Plaza (inside joke, click on the link).

I'd almost grown up with one of his sculptures. There was this thing that got put up across the street from my mom's house, and the scuttlebutt in the neighborhood was that the Westmount matrons forced the fig leaves on the sculpture. Because initially the cartoon characters were, gasp! Butt naked! It wasn't until I was doing the research for this here blog that I discovered that it was by M. Vaillancourt.


Now besides the nekkid folk in Westmount, there are also three of his pieces in Carre Saint Louis, one at the botanical gardens, and one on Mount Royal. Enough to say that even if the man had not won the Prix du Qu�bec you've seen what he has created, and a large majority of the bureaucratic mucky mucks in this province have decided that regular Joes should see what the man has done. Why Marcel Brisebois or Guy Cogeval haven't come around to this way of thinking I don't know � but that's another roadkill of an argument, better left to rot, by the side of the road.

Mr. Grande also writes in the introduction to his book "I had to go behind the mask of Armand Vaillancourt's public image, to try and find out what make him tick. I was surprised to find a pleasant, engaging and thoughtful individual, whose commitment to the creative impulse has gone far beyond the ordinary, even remarkable."� link

Now, since I have only briefly met M. Vaillancourt once (in front of his house, on the park, where he flirted with the woman that I was with) and I don't pay much attention to the white cube notion of art writing, I neither have to go behind any mask, nor am I particularly worried about what makes him tick (as long as it keeps ticking). I am solely concerned with the art he makes, and if you haven't figured it out 850+ words into this blog entry, let me make it even more obvious, it rocks! I would not be surprised by anything about M. Vaillancourt, least of all him being engaging (duh! He's an artist!) or thoughtful (he's taken some extreme views in his long life, I would hope he could think) and committed, jeezus! By definition he's gotta be committed (and no, not that way, silly).

I got no pictures to show you of the exhibition, and as the place was supposed to be closed, I wasn't expecting to be able to take notes, so I don't even remember the names of the damn pieces � but there's some drippy stuff, some cut-out stuff, some beat up stuff (probably burned too!) some things that stick up, and a Volkswagon Beetle toy car which probably would cause (or has caused) multi-syllabic contortions from the white cube crowd. Well worth your time, and if you sign the guest book you can probably feel fairly confident that M. Vailancourt will read your comments.

Lastly as an addition to Mr. Grande's introduction, yes, it was Shakespeare who wrote "This is an art which does mend nature: change it rather; but the art itself is nature." But he wrote it in A Winter's Tale, not Twelfth Night. He also wrote "And do not call them bastards."

Monday, January 05, 2004

Kick-Ass Art!


Although the rest of the world has gone back to work, the Montr�al Art World (scene?) is still slumbering. I went for a walk along Rachel this afternoon, and sure as shooting, the Centre des Arts Contemporain de Montr�al was closed (but I still got to see the Armand Vaillancourt show, more on that later) Galerie Graff was closed Artus was closed, hell even Caf� Rico was closed!

Encadrement de Stijl was open, but the three paintings they had in their window display were really bad. But there was hope... A.R. Lussier was open. Woo! Hoo! Who you ask? AR Lussier, ferblanterie (huh? Yeah, I'm confused, too.) Or more to the point, if I flip over the business card it reads, "Tolerie artistique, fabrication exclusive sur pieces en galvanize." (sorry about the lack of accents, but I haven't quite figured out how to get them to work on this web site). I guess that they are some of the folk who will benefit the new initiative from Fran�oise Gauthier.

Basically they make badass stuff out of metal. Wicked Cool, Kick-Ass, Wonderful things. But the thing that was really awesome was their window display.

In a nutshell, take some quarter inch metal bars about five feet in length, stick 'em in dirt, make them sorta curvy (you know like they are swaying to a samba beat, or a nice spring breeze). Weld some old guns on top and then mess around with the guns so that they, too have interesting attachments either in front of the barrel or in the bullet chamber. Then lastly, repeat this about a dozen times, making sure to vary the guns, the curves, and the attachments, while placing the two curvy guns with attachments at either end of the display in front of mirrors so that you can site down the barrel and pretend to pull the trigger.

Cool, eh?

Now, if I were writing for Parachute, I'd stick in some words like horticulture, environment, mortality, and aggression. But I'm not! So I'll use words like flowers, the earth, kill and anger (saving eight syllables in the process, that's it, we gotta save the syllables, they are in limited supply). Watch.

The artist (I asked for their name, but nobody in the shop knew) in one way (my way) of looking at the piece, wanted to say something about the current, violent state of the world, and at the same time cause you to step back and think about the massacre at the Universite de Montr�al.

"About a dozen." Although I didn't count 'em specifically, I'd sure as shooting bet you that there were fourteen of them, one each in memory of Genevi�ve Bergeron, H�l�ne Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz, Maryse Lagani�re, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Mich�le Richard, Annie St-Arneault, and Annie Turcotte.

Planting the guns like flowers (one word done with) in the earth (two!) is a reference to how common guns are in our society, adding the attachments to the guns is a way of focusing the flower reference (they all are attached in a vaguely petal-like manner). Handguns are not used for much more than killing things (three!) and if you're angry (four! Badda-bing! Badda-boom!) and own a handgun it is fairly likely that you're going to at least think about killing the thing (or person) who is making you angry. Flowers on the other hand are fragile and pretty things, almost the exact opposite of Smith & Wesson. This combination is going to make you think.

OK, enough with the monosyllabic art analysis, if you want to talk about it with me, get yer butt down to A.R. Lussier, and gaze fondly in the window (which is what I did this afternoon, took me a full ten-minutes before I realized that the guy in the shop was staring at me staring at the art!). Then email me, or swing by the gallery and we can talk (or type).