Wednesday, June 30, 2004

More on Steve Kurtz


From CAE_Defense.

June 29, 2004

Contact: media@caedefensefund.org

U.S. Attorneys attempt to cast $256 technicality as health and safety issue in "stealth" indictment
Professor Steve Kurtz was charged today by a federal grand jury in Buffalo, New York--not with bioterrorism, as listed on the Joint Terrorism Task Force's original search warrant and subpoenas, but with "petty larceny," in the words of Kurtz attorney Paul Cambria. (See http://www.caedefensefund.org/ for background.)

Also indicted was Robert Ferrell, head of the Department of Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Public Health. The charges concern technicalities of how Ferrell helped Kurtz to obtain $256 worth of harmless bacteria for one of Kurtz's art projects.

The laws under which the indictments were obtained--Title 18, United States Code, sections 1341 and 1343, covering mail and wire fraud--are normally used against those defrauding others of money or property, as in telemarketing schemes.

This is a far cry from the bioterrorism charges originally sought by the District Attorney. To make a "federal case" out of such minor allegations, the District Attorney will have the burden of proving criminal intent.

"There was very obviously no criminal intent," said Kurtz attorney Cambria. "The intent was to educate and enlighten." Cambria suggested that the pursuit of such a minor case at the federal level was profoundly absurd. "If the University of Pittsburgh feels that there was a contract breach, then their remedy is to sue Steve for $256 in a civil court."

The U.S. District Attorney attempted to cast the issue as one of public health and safety in a public press conference called without the knowledge of either defendant's lawyers, thus eliminating the chance of rebuttal. During the conference, parts of which were broadcast on local Buffalo news channels, U.S. Attorney William Hochul and U.S. District Attorney Michael Battle repeatedly alluded to "dangerous" and "bio-hazardous material," even though the charges have nothing to do with such issues, and scientists universally regard the materials in question as safe.

At one point in the press conference, U.S. Attorney Hochul stated that Serratia marcescens, one of the two bacteria ordered by Ferrell, "is in fact a dangerous material in that it can cause pneumonia." Serratia cannot cause pneumonia, only aggravate it in someone who already has it, and very rarely at that. Furthermore, it would be hard to characterize as a "dangerous material" something that high school students routinely use in biology class experiments. (Easily trackable by its bright red color, S. marcescens is commonly used to demonstrate the many ways microbes can be destroyed--e.g. with household bleach. The other bacterium, Bacillus globigii, is also used in experiments as a stand-in for dangerous microbes--precisely because it is harmless.)

Many believe the attempt to cast the $256 technicality as a public health and safety issue is a face-saving measure by the government, which has already expended an enormous amount of time and money in their fruitless pursuit of this case.


Although the original bioterrorism charges are now completely off the table, the trial still promises to be financially and psychologically draining for the defendants.

The international support of the defendants by artists, scientists and other citizens has been remarkable; it is crucial that this support continue as the government extends this outrageous and wasteful persecution into a grueling trial.

To donate to the defense fund, please visit http://caedefensefund.org/donate.html. Updates on the case will be posted at http://www.caedefensefund.org/. To receive more frequent updates by email, please join http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CAE_Defense/.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Michel Hellman on Roberto Dutesco


Le Devoir might have come out of their shell. They have allowed the plebes, like me, to read an Art Review, without having to subscribe. Yipee!

Michel Hellman wrote 768 words on Friday about this year's open air exhibition on McGill College Street, downtown. Y'all remember two years ago when Earth From Above was showing here. Well, it appears that BloWup gallery organized something similar. Just not on an international scale.

Is one of the photos in the exhibit, it is selling for $2,500. Ooooh! Pretty Horses! You can also get a copy for $280. According to Mr. Dutesco, the horses represent liberty and communal living.

M. Hellman is kind. He gives a nice, small bio of Mr. Dutesco, who makes his money as a fashion photographer.

Is one of the pictures in his portfolio. Ooooh! Pretty tie, love those eyes! I think it has already been sold. The pictures that M. Hellman likes the best are those of the Dalai Lama

Mais ce sont surtout les photos du dalaï-lama et de son entourage qui occupent une grande place dans l'exposition. Ce sont les seuls personnages de toute la série. Le dalaï-lama est un important symbole pour l'artiste puisqu'il représente « la paix incarnée ». Sur ces photographies sont inscrits des messages, des citations ou des proverbes inspirants provenant de sources aussi variées que Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Kennedy ou Jimi Hendrix... Ces oeuvres cherchent donc à faire passer un message d'harmonie, de bonheur, puisque, selon le photographe, la paix dans le monde ne pourra arriver que lorsqu'on aura atteint la paix intérieure.

Ooooh! Pretty robes, love the hand gesture! Notice any similarities between the tie and the Dalai Lama?

In M. Hellman's interview with Mr. Dutesco he writes:

En rassemblant des images « faisant appel à l'imaginaire et à la pensée », il veut que le spectateur s'arrête, contemple et réfléchisse. Ce sont avant tout des oeuvres qui poussent à la méditation.

Or for the blokes reading this "He assembled the images by making a call to the imagination and thought, he wanted the viewer to stop, contemplate and reflect. These are the works that foster meditation." Apologies for the horrific translation, but it is better than using a computer.

Ummm, not to belabor the obvious, but couldn't he have done the same thing, better by handing out joints at the corner of McGill College and De Maisonneuve?

M. Hellman goes on to explain how the photographs are group thematically, but not in a precise order. Or in more colloquial speech, "we threw them up there, and then tried to figure out how to explain it so it didn't make us look stupid."

The only real fault that I can find with the review is that M. Hellman swallows hook, line and sinker that "Reporters Communication" says that they don't receive any sponsorship or grants, ie money from corporations or government. If that is the case, then why one their website do they prominently list the following partners?

Cascades, Epson Canada, Kodak Canada, La Presse, Ministère des Affaires municipales et de la Métropole, Ministère du Tourisme du Québec, Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch, Nikon Canada, Office du tourisme de Québec, Tourisme Montréal, Tourisme Québec, Trevor Cadbury, Ville de Montréal and the Ville de Québec?

Apologies for being so all over the place, but it strikes me that this exhibit is just another boodoggle designed to separate folk from their money by using fancy-ass words that don't mean diddly-squat.

Kick-Ass Post


Not here, there!

Everything you wanted to know about going into a gallery in ten easy questions. All furnished to you by Paige West.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Wicked Cool Stuff!


I told you it was going to be "All Childe Hassam! All the Time!" One of the advantages to putting on an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is being able to roll out of bed and get reviews. As you might realize those reviews are not necessarily always going to be good, but then again Childe Hassam has been dead for almost seventy years, so it ain't like he's going to be having a hissy fit or anything.

But, beyond the standard issue reviews in the New York Times, or the New York Observer, I am seriously impressed, jealous, and my socks have been blown off because The New York Review of Books reviews the show, and they don't just get some nobody to put 2,742 words on paper. No, they take their stuff sorta seriously. They go out and get John Updike to pen the review. Very Cool! (Although I wonder if Mr. Updike had to pay the $12 admission fee? or if he was comped? or if he's a member?)

Now, unlike the Entertainment Weekly here in town called Voir, the New York Review of Books is a very appropriate place to name drop - from my superficial knowledge of the magazine, all of its readers know just about everything. Mr. Updike none-the-less does a superlative job of name dropping, check out this list:

Bonnard, Celia Thaxter, Cézanne, de Kooning, Edward Hopper, George Bellows, George Luks, Gustave Caillebotte, Jasper Johns, John Singer Sargent, John Twachtman, Monet, Pissarro, Puvis de Chavannes, Saul Steinberg, Seurat, Turner, van Gogh, Washington Irving, Whistler, William Dean Howells, and Winslow Homer - impressive, eh?

Then, he gets even better, in the New York Observer review, Hilton Kramer does not mention one painting by name, in the New York Times, Michael Kimmelman writes about one painting ("Room of Flowers") and to their credit, the New York Times does publish three reproductions. Mr. Updike on the other hand, mentions and discusses forty-two (by my count) of Mr. Hassam's paintings.

Now we go over to the dark side... From his writing, Mr. Updike views Mr. Hassam's work in a much more favorable light, he doesn't go overboard, but he doesn't diss like Kramer and Kimmelman. He does however have some particularly pointed comments about H. Barbara Weinberg. What is it about the art world that makes people get snippy? One of his remarks ("...chief curator of this exhibition as well as of the rather tendentious Realism and Impressionism show at the Met ten years ago...") leads me to believe that he holds grudges (what did Ms. Weinberg do to him, ten years ago? Maybe he DID have to pay the $12 admission fee) I am not certain if this is a good thing. He then goes on to call her a liar ("...in her remarks at the press preview described Hassam as the American painter who went to Paris and brought back Impressionism; yet the room devoted to his three years studying and living in Paris, from 1886 to 1889, does not seem especially Impressionistic.") Although, taking a step back, I'd be mighty impressed if John Updike called me a liar.

I gotta get back to work, now. With a little luck, nobody else will write about Childe Hassam for a while, and I can get back to blogging about stuff here in Montreal.

All Childe Hassam! All the time!!


Since I started I guess I should continue. The New York Observer chimes in with their take on how bad Childe Hassam was.

On first scan, Hilton Kramer seems a little more nuanced and less over the top than Michael Kimmelman did in last week's New York Times. Mr. Kramer uses 773 words.

Some of the better ones: "The exhibition is simply too big for its subject." And "Hassam himself clearly understood that the flag paintings were his greatest work. (I would say his only great work.)"

But unlike Mr. Kimmelman, Mr. Kramer did not do any reasearch other than flipping through the catalogue that accompanies the exhibition. Of the 773 words in the article, 35% are quotes, or attributions from the catalogue. Good thing, H. Barbara Weinberg is a good writer.

Update: The New York Review of Books got John Updike to review the show, unlike Mr. Kramer he seems to like it, but he doesn't like the curator. My comments are here.

Anybody want to introduce me to Michael Audain?


Again last week, the CBC reported about the Vancouver Art Gallery getting $2 million from the Chairman of their Board of Directors. Nothing terribly newsworthy there, but it is nice to read good news every now and again.

Sarah Milroy on getting old and in the way


Last week, Ms. Milroy wrote a rather negative review about the Alex Colville: Return exhibition which is currently in Toronto, and then will be touring over the rest of the country. She spends 1,313 words (not enough in my mind) discussing things. My favorite words are: "...you have to admit that the wheels have fallen off and call for a taxi home. Sadly, the exhibition organizers missed the opportunity to make that judgment call."

The only reason I point out this article, is that it shows Colville getting hammered as he gets old. Over in New York, Childe Hassam seems to have suffered the same fate (albeit about eighty-years ago). Is this representative of how we treat our elders?

Friday, June 25, 2004

Lori Freedman, Jean Derome and more!


What's happening next Thursday. It promises to be a rockin' time!

Late Addition: Free for Members of Zeke's Gallery, $5 for everybody else.
It will become Live at Zeke's Gallery CD Vol 132, once the evening is done.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Noah's Ark in Shawinigan


Le Devoir sent Jean-Claude Rochefort up to Shawinigan to check out the latest and the greatest "happening" up there. They published his 1,174 word review on Saturday. Sorry for taking so long to get around to it, but I've been busy!

I'm glad to see that it is one of the articles available to anybody, I just wish they would do more of that for the articles about Art. But on to the review:

M. Rochefort calls the show "une collection d'oeuvres pas si mal" or in blokespeak not a half-bad collection of work. But further down he complains about the lack of Quebecois Artists, which as it was printed in Le Devoir is to be expected. Does this mean that Pierre Theberge doesn't give a hoot about Quebec Art, or that Quebecois Artists don't do animals?

I'm not certain how to read his criticism of François Pompon's The Great Stag,

M. Rochefort says; "que l'on verrait mieux sur le parterre d'un siège corporatif de la rue Sherbrooke qu'à côté des petits chefs-d'oeuvre d'art moderne de Brancusi..."

Umm, not to belabor the obvious, but why would it be better in front of some head office on Sherbrooke Street? Because more people would see it there (as the show is in Shawinigan, or the equivalent of the middle of nowhere)? Or is he slighting the cutting-edge-ness of corporate art? I dunno, but it does jump out at me like a sore thumb.

I might have to make it up there though, 'cuz Ydessa Hendeles' Teddy Bear Project is on display, and everybody has been foaming at the mouth about how fabulous it is. If I make it, I'll let you know.

Following Up


In yesterday's entry, I was complaining about the lack of a review in the National Post about the Barbara Cole exhibit in Washington, well it turns out that there is a version of it available on Ms. Cole's website. Cool!

Cool Blog Alert


I got this from Greg Allen, and on first glance it does look pretty darn cool. MOMA has created a blog for their Junior Associates. It is a pretty standard issue Art Blog, but as their aren't many art blogs out there, each new one should be celebrated, right?

My only complaint would be that I think Maggie Lyko, and Alexandra Olson should be signing their entries, or is that Jason Persse and Marcie Muscat? I can't tell.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Mea Culpa


Back on Sunday, I wrote "Keep a close eye on tomorrow's Globe and Mail..." Well, it has now been three days, and nary a peep out of them.

The reason I wrote that, was because I had a rather interesting conversation with Sarah Milroy, about the lawsuits, and it seemed like she was going to follow up her profile of Guy Cogeval with a new article.

I'd have to say I was wrong. I don't know if the Globe and Mail doesn't think that it is newsworthy, or if there is something more to it. I'll leave it up to you to decide.

Hey maybe I've been missing something.


Now that the Gazette has gone subscriber-only I seem to have picked up on scanning the National Post in order to fill up the time that otherwise would have been spent reading articles from the Gazette.

Imagine my surprise then when contrary to what I previously thought, it seems that they actually DO publish articles about art. Today they published J. Kelly Nestruck's 328 word piece on Barbara Cole, because she is having an exhibition at the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC (or in other words, something "impo'tent).

First off, if you check down on the right-hand column, Mr. Nestruck (or maybe Ms. Nestruck, I'm not certain, I've never met him/her) writes one of the blogs that I suggest that you read daily. It is called On The Fence. Call it a pleasant surprise, I had no idea that Mr. or Ms. Nestruck did anything other than blog. (But I guess ALL bloggers do something else.)

As for the article, the first thing that struck me was how similar the superficial description of Ms. Cole's work was to that of Laurie McLeod. Now don't get all pie-eyed on me, the only reason I know anything about Ms. McLeod is because of this article that appeared in Sunday's New York Times.

According to Mr. or Ms. Nestruck "Fascinated by the distortions and reflections of light on the bottom of the pool [Barbara Cole] frequented, the former fashion editor of the Toronto Sun decided to give underwater photography a try... " According to Jennifer Dunning (no confusing y-chromosomes there) the writer for the gray lady, "in Laurie McLeod's "Waterhaven No. 1 (Luo Yong's Dream)...images unfold underwater on film..."

Both of them go on, Ms. Dunning doing a better job of reviewing the exhibition she has been assigned, because Mr. or Ms. Nestruck has not been given that assignment, Mr. or Ms. Nestruck has been given the assignment of doing a profile of the artist, hence the aside about her previous job as fashion editor. Which leads me back to slagging the National Post about their coverage of Art - which would you prefer, a full on review of an important show in Washington DC? Or a fluff profile of an artist having an important show in Washington DC?

Here's to hoping that some bright editor at the National Post has Tyler Green's phone number and/or email address so that they can follow up a very nice profile with a serious freakin' review. If Blake Gopnik can make it from Toronto to Washington DC, so can the National Post.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Jérôme Delgado on Trevor Gould


Once again catching up on the backlog, over the weekend Jérôme Delgado wrote 573 words about Trevor Gould's exhibit at Lilian Rodriguez.

Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case might be, I really can't say anything other than "job well done." It makes me want to go see the exhibition.

Marjorie Bronfman v. Myles MacDonald


An interesting exercise in compare and contrast. CBC News reports that an artist named Myles MacDonald spent three-and-a-half years collecting cans and bottles, which he then returned for the deposit, and then gave the cash to the Art Gallery of Prince Albert (Saskatchewan, not the can).

Contrast that with this:

The National Gallery of Canada announced on the 25th of May, that Ms. Marjorie Bronfman gave them $350,000 in order to purchase "exceptional drawings."

I got the news originally from La Tribune de l'Art. Which does note that the National Gallery has already used some of the funds (or maybe all of the funds) to purchase A Roman Capriccio with Figures by Giovanni Paolo Panini

and Saint Ambrose Triumphs over Heresy by Gottfried Bernhard Göz.

Ms. Bronfman also gave the National Gallery two other drawings, Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo: An Angel Holding a Martyr’s Palm and Angels with a Laurel Wreath. I'd love to see how much they were appraised for.

The Art Gallery of Prince Albert is attempting to match Mr. MacDonald's gift. Personally, I think that if Ms. Bronfman had given the National Gallery $345,000 and the Art Gallery of Prince Albert $5,000, she would have gotten more bang for her buck.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Propos d'Art in The Gazette


Obviously a slow news day, Sarah Dougherty writes a fluff profile of Louise Beaudry, and her company Propos d'Art. According to the article she "advises companies and individuals on how to build and display art collections."

A couple of points, I get a big kick out of the reason Ms. Beaudry gives for starting her company - "I was constantly being asked, 'How do I know if something is good?' or, 'How do I avoid paying too much?'"

According to her web site the artists she represents are as follows: Paul Cloutier, Lorraine Dagenais, Monique Danis-Bastien, Élisabeth Dupond, Louise Duval, Suzanne Ferland, Lucie Jolicoeur-Côté, Julianna Joos, Manon Lambert, Jacinthe Tétrault, Diane Trudel and Michel Veltkamp.

Hmmm, advising companies and individuals about art collections while representing artists at the same time, I wonder if she has sold anything other than the artists she represents to BCE, Gaz Metro, Cirque du Soleil and the local law firms that are her clients.

Can you say "conflict of interest?"

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Two quick things


a) Keep a close eye on tomorrow's Globe and Mail, I'll bet you dollars to donuts that they finally write something about Guy Cogeval being sued.

b) While looking up the press release for the Nelson Henricks exhibit (see below) I also came across the press release for the Musee des beaux Arts getting together with the Metropolitan Museum in Mew York to do an exhibition on Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann. Initially I was quite impressed, but then upon a closer look, I became confused.

The press release is dated June 17, apparently the exhibition opened at the Met on the 7th of June. Huh?

Nicolas Mavrikakis on François Lacasse


Over at the sister publication, Voir, one of the two articles by Mr. Mavrikakis are available on line. He writes a surprisingly short 433 words on the latest and greatest at Rene Blouin's Gallery.

It appears that Mr. Mavrikakis is back to his usual self. He starts off being self-referential (to paraphase "Back when I started writing about art, fifteen years ago..."). Umm, like this is of any help?

He then goes completely nuts on the name dropping. Check out this list:

Keith Haring
Jean-Michel Basquiat
Bernard Frize
Ross Bleckner
Gerhard Richter
Ian Davenport
Markus Döbeli
Damien Hirst
Stéphane La Rue
Marie-Claude Bouthillier
Carmen Ruschiensky
Martin Bourdeau

That's 35% of the content, right there folks. While he goes on to say some very effusive things about M. Lacasse's work, I do think the reader would have been better served with either something shorter - like "Hey this stuff rocks!" or something slightly more detailed than

Its painting is doubly rich. It is a continuation of modernity, this be-with-statement a reflexion on the pictorial matter and its expressive possibilities (consistency of the acrylic resin, sensuality of run painting, coloured tensions or, on the contrary, harmony of tone...). But its painting also exploits the almost mimetic capacity of art. Its tables often evoke milk, honey, amber or the resin..." [translation via Babelfish]

which is absolutely everything he writes that would qualify as being descriptive of the art on the walls.

Isa Tousignant on Nelson Henricks


It occurred to me that I had been remiss in covering the local reviews. So, I'm going to correct that mistake. In this week's Hour Isa Tousignant writes 511 words on the Nelson Henricks exhibit at the Musee des beaux Arts. One problem is that a good two-thirds of it is quoting Stephane Aquin, the curator of the show (although if their is only one piece in the show, what exactly differentiates M. Aquin as curator from M. Aquin as collector? or any other title for that matter?)

Ms. Tousignant starts off alright, but once she starts quoting and/or paraphrasing M. Aquin it goes all academic and white cube. Who in their right mind is going to read The Hour for sentences like: "...reflect the two-ness of the piece itself with its split screen." Or "Out of confusion and multiplicity rise the most personal, singular interpretations."

Despite this, it still looks like a pretty kick-ass piece.

One place Anna Somers Cocks might want to check out


I came across this article by Amei Wallach in today's New York Times, and as I mentioned yesterday that Ms. Cocks (or is it Ms. Somers Cocks?) was flat-out wrong about the lack of political art, I figured I should point out some concrete examples.

From the article:

The political artists who were celebrated in the 1980's, from Leon Golub to Barbara Kruger, were enraged and on-message. Their spirit is very much alive in "Terrorvision," an exhibition on view at Exit Art through July 31, in which 59 international artists confront the politics and experience of terror, with images that range from photographs of blood-splattered streets to declassified film of nuclear weapons tests in the Nevada desert.

From Exit Art's web site:

Terrorvision is a multidisciplinary arts project that examines how definitions of terror are shaped by individual and collective visions, experiences, memories and histories. This exhibition explores how personal, spiritual and physical events influence our notions of terror and how these unforgettable moments - and the cultural and media artifacts that represent them - have come to define our most extreme fears. This exhibition aims to explore how these definitions and relationships are transformed and determined by geography, generation and personal experience. Terrorvision is designed to serve as a study of terror as depicted through the ingenuity and inventiveness of today's artists.

'Nuff said. As I find more, I point 'em out. Also, as an aside, I sorta have this nagging suspicion that Exit Art is a [gasp!] white cube!

Sylvie & Yseult Riopelle talk


Last Saturday La Presse ran an interview with the two sisters. Nothing terribly spectacular, as it was based around the launch of the second volume of the Catalogue Raisonné.

What I found most surprising is that they project that the entire Catalogue is going to take nine volumes.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Compare and Contrast, the Rebecca Belmore version


The CBC reports Aboriginal artist selected to represent Canada at 2005 Venice Biennale. The Globe and Mail reports Belmore to represent Canada at Biennale.

While the CBC version is longer (390 words to 123 words) the Globe and Mail is actually more informative. They write who was responsible for making the decision, while the CBC turns it into a puff piece about how powerful and graceful Rebecca Belmore's work is.

Bizarre Art Theft


Well, apparently Miriam Bedard's parents are getting into the act.The Journal de Montreal has this thing about her saying her parents are liars.

Hmmm, and I thought relations with my folks were difficult.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Anna Somers Cocks should get out more


Newsgrist informed me that Anna Somers Cocks wrote what is called an Argument for the Independent in the UK, braying about the lack of "political" Art nowadays.

Ummm, could I suggest that she get the heck out of her white tower? There is a ton of it going on.

Her whole deck of cards is founded on some cursory research about an auction organized by Chuck Close to fund Kerry, some art that Langlands & Bell have done that was short listed for the Turner Prize, some work by Sue Coe, the biennial at the Whitney, and Documenta. Getting out on the streets and checking things out, would clue her in that there is political art being made now. It will appear in museums worldwide, later, once the dust has settled.

As I mentioned yesterday, the politics involved in exhibiting Art are as political as any government. As she is based in London, and last I heard Tony Blair was supporting Mr. Bush, I can't quite see how any British Art that is overtly political and against them is going to be able to rise to the surface, yet.

On a more specific point, in her article she writes that the pictures of the destruction of the World Trade Center, the torture at Abu Ghraib, and the death of Nicholas Berg (she can't even remember his name) are "pictures are masterpieces of horror, more famous now than the Mona Lisa, Sunflowers, Picasso's Guernica." Can you say W-R-O-N-G?

Somehow I don't think that a) the Mona Lisa or Sunflowers qualify as masterpieces of horror, even though they are quite white cube. And b) if all of the current events she mentions are better than them, then what about the pictures of My Lai? Rwanda, ten year's ago? Heck, the Johnstown Flood? And those are only the ones that immediately spring to mind for which I can easily find links.

Even though I am most definitely NOT white cube, I have enough between my ears to differentiate between contemporary things and stuff that will (and frequently does) last for a long time, last I heard, the Mona Lisa was a very old painting. Last I heard, Kerry had a good chance of defeating Bush. The old stuff that survives, tends to be called "Masterpieces" the stuff that fades away, just fades away.

Art Theft?


This one is just plain bizzarre, according to The Globe and Mail Myriam Bédard and her husband are being investigated to see if they in fact stole 20 paintings by Ghitta Caiserman-Roth. I got the intial link from the Montreal City Weblog. It also appears here in French, and eventuaqlly will be picked up all over the place.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Guy Cogeval, no Beaulieu.


Sarah Milroy writes a glowing portrait of Guy Cogeval in today's Globe and Mail, somehow she forgets to mention anything about the three lawsuits against him.

I can't imagine the Globe and Mail doing the same thing for Michael Cowpland (although if my memory serves they did do it for Bre-X).

BorderCrossings => Parachute


CBC reports that BorderCrossings got some sort of magazine award. Cool! but the question that I have, is that they mention that BorderCrossings has a circulation of 5,000. Hmmm, Parachute has a circulation of 5,000. I wonder what the circulation of Canadian Art is, and is it a reflection on the writers, the publishers, or the country that there ain't more people interested in reading about art?

Not Canada, Not Quebec, Not Montreal - but worthwhile none the less.


Although it has tons of problems, the New York Times is still a good read, and I especially like how they have figured out how to allow bloggers to use their articles without having them expire. So this post will be understandable for a long time.

Last Friday, Michael Kimmelman reviewed the "latest" and "greatest" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Childe Hassam exhibit.

Now, normally I wouldn't bother commenting on this review, but it just so happens that I know someone who was intimately involved with the exhibition, so unlike a newspaper reporter, I can throw out all question of "integrity." Plus I haven't even seen the exhibit. Fun, eh?!

To start off, I gotta give it to the Times, unlike the newspapers on this side of the border where 700 words is a looooong review, this one clocks in at 1,512 words, although I am not certain they are a good use of newsprint (lucky me, I read it on a screen!).

Mr. Kimmelman states from the get go that he is not a fan of Mr. Hassam's paintings. Fair enough, but I would have liked to know in some more detail as to why. He uses lines like "he of the candied views of patriotic, flag-draped New York during World War 1." And "He stuck doggedly to other cheerful themes of Americana during his long, lucrative career...just as he stuck pretty much to the same ingratiating, occasionally cloying brand of Impressionism decades after Symbolism, Expressionism, Cubism, Surrealism and a slew of other new-isms had come and sometimes gone."

Umm, could this perhaps be jealousy? Just because someone is "popular" doesn't mean that they suck. Toss this sort of stuff into a different cultural medium, and Bruce Springsteen, Walt Disney, Sylvester Stallone, Margaret Mitchell, and Steven Spielberg would be the equivalents of lepers.

Then after bashing Hassam for doing the same type of painting for too long, he does a complete about face and writes "Constancy is usually admirable..." So which is it? Make up yer damn mind!

Mr. Kimmelman then continues (yeah, I sorta figure that this would be considered a "close read") about the prevalence of minor historical figures getting retrospectives. If he picked his nose up off of the keyboard long enough he might realize that "All Picasso! All the Time!!" would quickly get dull. When was the last time he went and reviewed the Met's permanent collection?

Mr. Kimmelman then goes on to talk out of both sides of his mouth, when he talks about how Barbara Weinberg deliberately left out "most of his dubious, stiff late pictures" but Hassam still sucks, and then a paragraph later quoting one of his predecessors at the Times "Hassam, as good an Impressionist as America ever produced... The sparkle of his early work dwindled..." Shouldn't he have gone and written something about how his predecessor was absolutely wrong? According to my way of reading "sparkle" is something good.

In the next paragraph, he figures that bullying on one person ain't enough, when he writes that "American Impressionism was never very good to begin with..." If I had the time I'd love to see what he has written about Mary Cassat. And his interpretation of something Hassam wrote is on a par with me attributing his tone in this article to not having enough time in the morning to have his second cup of coffee.

Mr. Kimmelman continually bashes Hassam for stuff that he did later in his life, but if the paintings that he did later in life aren't in the damn exhibition what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? He also subjects Hassam to the 21st century politically correct treatment implying that Hassam's stuff ain't worth the price of the frame using words like "cranky," "jingoistic," "reactionary and xenophobic" to back up his argument. How many nasty people can you name who did significant stuff? One, two, three, four.

Backing up slightly ('cuz I am writing this on the fly, and it ain't gonna see a second draft) at the beginning of the article, Mr. Kimmelman writes, "Retrospectives are supposed to change one's notion of an artist." Yes, that might be the case some of the time, but Museums shows no matter what or when are supposed to inform the public and if they are good make people realize new insights.

He mentions that the exhibit was originally supposed to take place "a few months ago" but was rescheduled so as to be able to coincide with the Republican National Convention that is happening in New York City this fall. Does he actually think that the people running the Met are that dense? Running a show by a racist artist, who according to Mr. Kimmelman was only interested in making money, while there are some influential right-wing people who also seem to be only interested in making money? Political commentary anyone?

Things to do

The Globe and Mail review of Françoise Sullivan


I think I am going to be switching tactics in mid-blog. Instead of long blog entries on multiple things, short entries on one thing, whenever. OK? So no more Sunday Art Review Round-Up, as I come across them, I'll post 'em.

The Globe and Mail had Gary Michael Dault fawn reviewthe latest exhibit by Ms. Sullivan in Toronto.

Yes, she's good great, but lines like "...are without a doubt among the most accomplished, luminous, chromatically revelatory paintings I have seen in a long, long time." Cast a certain lack of journalistic credibility over the article. Maybe it is just because Mr. Dault hasn't been out of Toronto in a while.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004


Click on the picture, and then show up. Everybody's invited. More details to follow. (or if you want the "short" version: 4066 Saint Laurent, Raw Space One - June 18, 7 pm. Lotsa Art, Lotsa performance, good times guaranteed).

Monday, June 14, 2004

The Isaiah Ceccarelli Ensemble


No rest for the wicked - not only did the Montreal Improvised Jazz Mafia come and play here last night, but we got a mastered CD out of it, too!

Isaiah Ceccarelli - batterie
Jean Derome - saxophones, flûtes
Bernard Falaise - guitare
Lori Freedman - clarinette, clarinette basse (invitée spéciale)
Joane Hétu - saxophones, voix

71 minutes of wonky music heaven! Click on the cover in order to see it in glorious living color!! If you would like a copy (we're only going to make 100 of them) they are $15 each and available from the gallery.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

The National Post actually covers art!


Catherine Osborne notwithstanding, the National Post doesn't seem to me like a newspaper that tries to cover Art. But, it seems that every now and again, they do. This being a case in point. I'm not certain whether I should be ecstatic, or annoyed.

If you would like some comparison, try this.

And yeah...


If you're reading this on Monday, please note that there are a bunch of new posts down below this one.

And I discovered via Kathleen O'Grady that Zeke's Gallery got mentioned in Bust Magazine! Page 40, third column, about half way down if you have it, or get it.

This issue (summer 2004) with Jena Malone on the cover.



Yeah right! If you readthis then obviously the barbarians are at the gate.

Maybe you should read this.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Russell Smith - The attendance gap at the church of art


Well, it looks like I might have almost caught up with my backlog. Ten days ago, Mr. Smith wrote this piece in the The Globe and Mail. And, while on the surface, it strikes me that I should agree with it, upon a closer reading, I most emphatically don't.

While he laments the lack of coverage for Visual Art on TV, he laments it in the wrong way. He goes about asking whay questions like: "what are the thematic and aesthetic preoccupations of Canadian or other architects/dancers/composers right now? What schools of thought, what rival tendencies exist? How is this new book written? In what way does that style or technique differ from previous books? Is conceptualism over? Is the new airport art any good? How can you write an opera today?" can't be asked on the boob-tube.

Umm, I hate to break it to Mr. Smith, but there is a good reason why it is called the "boob-tube." Mr. Smith probably thinks that CBC News: Sunday and Good Morning Canada are the highest rated shows on each network. Although now that I look at what Good Morning Canada really covers, I'm not even certain that Visual Art would belong there.

From my perspective, most people who do see Art on TV, tend to assume that they have seen whatever exhibit was covered, and don't get off their asses to go see the art, hence the nickname "couch potato."

I would recommend that Mr. Smith speak to his editors, and see if the G&M couldn't cover art in Canada more comprehensively. It might be more fruitful seeing if they want to ask the questions like "what are the thematic and aesthetic preoccupations of Canadian or other architects/dancers/composers right now? What schools of thought, what rival tendencies exist? How is this new book written? In what way does that style or technique differ from previous books? Is conceptualism over? Is the new airport art any good? How can you write an opera today?"

Thursday, June 10, 2004


There is way too much stuff happening here to do anything other than go through the archives. This is an installation shot from Sylvain Lavallee's show "Cycle de vie." It happened here in December of 2001.

Quartier international wins the tournament


It's finally installed. Radio-Canada has the details about Riopelle's sculpture that was ripped out of where it was suppossed to be, and moved to where the money is.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Big News


As y'all probably know,

Canadian Press reports that the Musee des beaux Arts bought yet another painting by Jean Paul Lemieux. I've already commented on what I think about M. Lemieux's art here.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Nice doin' business with ya!


Next in line is this: MoMA's mob connections - MoMA's Shed Tapes - Carl Carrara. I think I KNow I got it from somebody, I just can't remember who.

Government and the Value of Culture - via The Artful Manager


Apologies for not posting an awful lot. There have been way too many things occupying me. So now I'm going to try and make it up.

First, as it says in the headline, I came accross Government and the Value of Culture from reading the Artful Manager. What caught my eye, was the line "I don’t think the term “high culture” is very helpful to any party to the discussion." It is a nice easy read, in big print that asks some cool questions.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Get Active, ok?

Click on the banner, and donate and/or Sign the Letter of Support and/or Join the Demonstration (Buffalo, NY. 9 AM, June 15, 2004). You can also stay up to date on what's happening by clicking here.

I've written about the situation here.

Way behind schedule!!!


One problem with doing the CDs, is that I get behind schedule with the art stuff. I haven't quite figured out how to balance both, give me time, ok? In the meantime, here's what I've been meaning to write about, in a slightly truncated form, and as I am behind the eight-ball, I'm gonna let the Sunday Art Review Round-Up take a break this week, instead of stressing myself more by trying to get that out, too.

In no particular order:

The Gazette covered the lawsuits that involve Guy Cogeval, some more background can be gleaned from this article from the Art Newspaper. I've also been told by Tyler Green that the Art Newspaper has published an article about the whole sordid business, unfortunately it ain't available on line.

In the Globe and Mail, they continued to cover more sordid art business, apparently Andrew Orkin, a Hamilton lawyer, his older brother, Mark Orkin, and his older sister, Sarah-Rose Josepha Adler are being sued by Elizabeth Taylor (yes, that Elizabeth Taylor) over possession of a painting by Van Gogh. Cool, eh?

Way back in May, the Journal de Montréal did a synopsis of the Museum's Day where they touted that 120,000 people took part. Hmmm, 30 museums, 120K people, 4,000 people per museum, somehow it does not strike me as something good from a city of almost 4 million.

Also, in May, ionarts (a kick-ass blog, by the way) did a particularly good posting on war art. Good thing it was Memorial Day in the states, eh?

Then because there were a wicked amount of auctions, there was a wicked amount of coverage, the CBC decided to tout that a painting by Lauren Harris sold for $1.5 million dollars, yawn. The Globe and Mail said that it sold for $1.4 million, what's $100,000 between journalists? Yawn, yawn. La Presse goes for "un de chez nous" and trumpets a Clarence Gagnon selling for $600K, yawn, yawn, yawn. Then there is more coverage here something attempting to pass itself off as analysis here.

Then over at the "real" arts coverage, last year the Musee des beaux Arts went gaga over the 60's, then the 35th anniversary of John and Yoko's bed in took the city by storm, well now the Jardins Botaniques are getting hip to nostalgia, Louise-Maude Rioux Soucy reports in Le Devoir about the "Flower Power" show there. I would guess that Ms. Rioux Soucy writes really well, 'cuz the exhibition sounds very interesting.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

The "Other" Zeke's Gallery


Besides doing art exhibitions (which is more than a full time job) one of the other things that is as important is getting people to see the art. Most people (at least here on Montréal) don't really care about it contemporary Canadian Art.

One of the things that I have done as a direct attempt to get people in here to look at the art, is schedule concerts. One of the offshoots of scheduling concerts is that they get recorded, and then released as limited edition CDs.

This has been incredibly successful, tonight the band Randboro is going to be playing, and it'll mean that something like an extra 30 pairs of eyes will have an opportunity to see Philip's paintings.

Incidentally to that it sometimes means that I have to work on the CDs, and this is what I have been doing for the past couple of days. I've just recently finished four of them. Marie Desneiges Stockland & Nikita U is/was volume 119 (or in other words the 119th thing that has been recorded here). Unfortunately I don't know of a way to get the sound files posted here, so you're going to have to take my word for it.

Marie has played here before (back in November) and she is always a pleasure to hear. She's got a voice like a nightingale and her songs kick butt, too. But hearing Nikita U was a revelation. They got 44 fannies in the seats here, and as the two of them are still in college, I can safely say that most, if not all of the audience, had not been in an art gallery in the past year.

Mike Spilka & Pat Boivin played here the same night as Matt Stern (see below) and I'm looking forward to hearing more from them.

This show, broke all attendance records (I'm still amazed that they managed to squeeze 85 people onto the couches). If you look closely at the cover for Mike & Pat, you can almost count everybody.

Then finally, the last CD that I finished was by Throwback who despite being enamored of cheesy eighties hits are an amazing album.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

"Olga" by Dana Rempel


It is busy here right now, so I will continue with the retrospective of things that have shown here. This is called "Olga" it is by Dana Rempel, and it was part of the fifth exhibition here.

His show was called "Love for Sale." Basically what he did was send away for a catalogue of Russian mail-order brides and then did portraits of them based on their pictures in the catalogue. There were eighteen of them in total in the show.

I made many sophmoric comments about his subject matter (hey, easy jokes are fun...) but the seeing them all at once sorta took it out of the gutter (or the bathroom, depending on your preference) and as with Kristi's show made it very interesting because each and every damn one of them was staring at me for a month.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

OK, now it is getting really scary


Short quick hit.

MassMOCA (a really kick-ass place) is (maybe was) showing The Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere. To quote from the web site

The Interventionists explores the work of contemporary artists who have utilized the strategies of art to engage non-art audiences. In large part, these strategies are influenced by the political art of the 1980s but they look entirely different. Strange tours of New York City, public laboratories on genetics, parasite mobile housing units, and architectural clothing are some examples of this tactical genre. The task of The Interventionists is to provide a large survey of these projects while maintaining their integrity as projects dedicated to social change. In so doing, the exhibition provides an insight into the changed role of political art since the late 80s.

While I don't use "public laboratories on genetics" or "architectural clothing" I know people who use both, and I utilize non-art strategies to engage art audiences, so this isn't too far from home.

Well, on Sunday, two of the members of the Critical Art Ensemble (the folk doing the exhibition) got subpoenaed by the FBI and are going to be indicted under the USA Patriot Act on June 15. (The AP article is here.)

First an Art dealer guts punched and threatened with death for exhibiting art, then artists get thrown into jail, what's next?

Thanks to Mikel for the lead.

And for some of the gory details on what it is like to be detained by the FBI, try this link

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Apologies for disappearing


I've been busy writing stuff. As a consequence I haven't had much time to write anything here. But I have been amazed, while I might have been busy, this blog has been going crazy. The Lori Haigh - Guy Colwell thing has caused a gazillion folk (ok, not a gazillion, but something along the lines of 500 people) to come check it out.

So how about some pretty pictures? This one is called September 13, 2003 and is by Philip Bottenberg, and the one below is an installation shot from Yaakov Goldhacker's exhibit that happened here last March.