Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Bernard Lamarche on the Biennale de Montréal


Somehow I thought that there had been an awful lot more press about Claude Gosselin's baby (actually, now officially an adult) but it appears that only M. Lamarche has waded into the waters. Over the weekend he wrote 1,393 words.

Pretty much an overview instead of a review (which, to me is a very good thing in a daily newspaper) M. Lamarche does a thorough and comprehensive job.

I've been to the Gazette building part of it, and commented about one of the opening nights here and from the people I've talked to, there doesn't seem to be anybody out there (so far) who is going to rave about it. I've heard a variety of excuses, from M. Gosselin being tired, to lack of money, to "no ideas," to M. Gosselin being extremely bitter about not getting the job that went to Marc Mayer.

It'll be interesting to read what Jerome Delgado, Nicholas Mavrikakis, Henry Lehman, Isa Tousignant, and whoever is covering visual art this week at the Mirror, have to say about it.

What I think will be more interesting, is will Sarah Milroy swing into town? Or can Pierre Pilotte get somebody from the New York Times or some other out-of-towners in to check it out?

M. Lamarche writes that M. Gosselin draws comparisons and similarities to Liverpool's Biennale. They've already been written up in The Guardian, let's see how that comparison plays out over time.

Quebec Art follows on the heels of Canadian Art


In case you missed it, there are a whole whack of Tom Thomson paintings hanging out in Russia. It made headlines from Halifax to Victoria, as there wasn't anything that struck me as being particulalry pertinent to the world here in Montréal, I didn't write anything about it. However, two weeks ago, Le Devoir wrote an article about how the Hermitage will be doing an exhibit on Riopelle in 2006.

I would've loved to have been a fly on the wall listening to the negotiations. Props and shout outs to Guy Cogeval, and Nathalie Blondil. My only question is if Jean Charest was able to make Quebec first, and best when it came to fixing out the Health Care System, why Line Beauchamp, couldn't have done the same thing for Quebec with regards to art? Swirls, drips and globs are way more interesting than a whack of landscapes.

Bernard Lamarche on Thomas Kneubühler


Does anybody out there have any kick-ass suggestions about getting me organized? I've got 37 things here waiting to be blogged. Some like this article that have been hanging around for almost three weeks.

Bernard Lamarche wote 763 words about Mr. Kneubühler's exhibit at Skol. One one hand I quite like the fact that M. Lamarche spends almost 40% rehashing his thrashing of Mr. Kneubühler from 2002, nothing like a good Mea Culpa from a reviewer every now and again to make you realize that the words they write are not handed down from god.

On the other hand, reducing a review to 458 words ain't good. And, the compliments are a tad backhanded. "La nouvelle série de Kneubühler, plus intéressante à tous les points de vue..." [my translation: The new series by Kneubühler is more interesting [than the previous one I was talking about] from all sides..." And "...Kneubühler démontre qu'il précise son approche de ce monde du travail qui l'intéresse. C'est de bon augure." [Kneubühler shows a precision in his work that is interesting. This augurs well for the future.]

There's something about that word "interesting" which makes me feel that M. Lamarche wouldn't quite think of taking a bullet for Mr. Kneubühler's work.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Survey! Survey...


We interrupt this regularly scheduled broadcast with a plea for you to fill out a survey.

Todd over at From the Floor asked me if I would participate in an attempt to gather some basic stuff about people who read Art Blogs (you know you're very special, Art Blogs are a small subset of an already relatively obscure field). I've already taken it, and also made my comments known. So I can vouch for it 100%.

If you have about 5 minutes in an already busy day, it would be very nice if you could fill it out. Besides this here blog, and From the Floor, A Daily Dose of Architecture, Art Addict, art blog, art.blogging.la, Coincidences, Gallery Hopper, Greg.org, Iconduel, Modern Art Notes, Modern Kicks, and In Search of the Miraculous.

As Dan at Iconduel writes, "I'll leave the full explanation to Todd Gibson, market research guru, Whitney docent and shamefully formidable art blogger."

So without further ado... Fill It Out!

Thanks tons!

Friday, September 24, 2004

Montréal is a strange town


Yesterday was party central, the Biennale was open for business and then down the street at Quartier éphémère, there was a vernissage for Cat Loray and Alexandre David. And while normally the idea is to get a whole whack of people to come to a "party" so that they end up at least being able to say that they had a chance to see the art (like at a well attended vernissage it is really possible to see the art).

Part of the crowd that was here for one of Chris Dyer's vernissages.

Well, last night was flat out bizarre! As the Biennale was being held in the building that used to house the late lamented Montréal Star and more recently the Montréal Gazette the party was held in the lobby. I sort of predicted that there wasn't going to be any art in the lobby, and despite the presence of a video (apparently taken by Claude Gosselin) and some moose antlers with lights in them there wasn't really any art.

Now I can understand the concept of the Biennale wanting to be all museum-like and going "oooh! We can't have anybody spilling wine on the art!" But, they weren't serving any wine, it was all cash bar, beer and liquor - from what I understood the "open bar" happened on Wednesday night, and M. Gosselin has yet another vernissage tonight. It sounds like he wants to be all Zeke's-like and have multiple vernissages for different niches. However, I still find it wince inducing that you need to throw a damn party to get people to see art and then you make it sorta difficult for them to see the art. And don't get me started on the smoking! At one point I counted more people outside the damn building than in the lobby!

So after we had our fill of lobbies Biennales and smoking outside, we decided to take a jaunt over to Quartier éphémère who have a superlative reputation in this town. And the thing that struck me was how every damn soul in the joint was all squished into Cluny (for those of you from out-of-town the restaurant/bar in the same space, but separated from the art by some walls and a couple of doors). There were maybe three people talking and chatting in and around one of Mr. Alexandre's pieces (which are creatively called "Deux choses différentes" or in blokespeak - "Two different things"). But at Quartier éphémère the attitude wasn't museum like, there were people who worked there who were drinking and smoking while walking through the space.

So I figured that this may be one reason why art from Montréal doesn't get any freakin' respect on the international stage, the freakin' people involved in the art world here don't like art! How else can you explain something like 300 people at two vernissages who were refusing to see art?

Thursday, September 23, 2004

The Interview with Chris Dyer


Zeke: How did you get into painting?

Chris Dyer: Painting? Well, I've drawn all my life and then when I went to college in Hull, Québec, that's by Ottawa . . .

Zeke: When you say you've been drawing all your life, that's where I want to start.

Chris Dyer: Well, I've always had this creative energy in me.

Zeke: Where do you think that comes from?

Chris Dyer: I have to speak for myself, but I like to assume that everyone has this creative instinct in them as... we're images, we're in the image of God, and God's the creator, so we have this feeling inside that we want to create.

Zeke: When you were a kid, what type of stuff would you create?

Chris Dyer: Well, I started with scribbles, and crayons and stuff, and those hand paintings, but the earliest stuff I can remember was aliens. Do you remember that TV show V, with the spaceships and stuff, and the aliens that were humans but they would rip off their skin and they were lizards inside - that's the type of stuff I would draw. You know, their spaceships … it's awesome. So that's the earliest I can remember. Like robots, giant robots.

Zeke: So, at the time, what were you getting from it?

Chris Dyer: TV.

Zeke: No, what were you getting from it? Not where did you get it.

Chris Dyer: What was I getting from it? Teachers liked it, that would pump me up. Also, something that would pump me up was that kids around me dug it and a kid likes to feel loved, and I like to feel loved too, so you get good energy that way and get good at drawing and it motivates you.

Zeke: So after the kid stuff, how did you develop your style?

Chris Dyer: I'm still developing my style. I always drew or created some sort of thing. As a kid I used to build these clubhouses out of all the furniture and there would be rat tunnel and at the bottom of the pit I would put a radio and a little desk and there I would draw and write. And now I'm living it. But I always drew in school. Me, I was one of the best in the class, you always want to keep on working on it. When I came out of school I was like, "Man, what am I gonna do with my life?" And I always had it like a joke, because I always knew I was going to come Canada when I was living in Peru and I didn't know what to do, but I told my friends, "I'm going to go to Canada and become a cartoonist." It was the biggest joke because it's so far off in Peru. Maybe in Montréal it is something you can do but in Peru it sounds like a huge joke. But then when I came here I tried to get into that, I wanted to get into animation, and I took fine arts to get my skills better. In my last year of fine arts I went to an animation studio and I saw how hard they had to work and I was like, "No way, man. I'm not going slave all night for a 10 second frame. So I kept working on the fine arts side and that really helped me express my feelings.

Flamer, Acrylic on busted Skateboard, 2004

Zeke: Were there and specific classes that turned your crank or any specific teachers?

Chris Dyer: Oh, teachers in college... There were always nice teachers that would help you get more like... Because I'm a little bit stiff in my style, I still think that I'm a little bit stiff, but there were some teachers that were like, "Get messy." It's mad. It doesn't have to look like a picture. Art is not supposed to be totally realistic. You can be messy. Abstract art can look beautiful. Anything really... my first college, I couldn't say that anything really stands out. It was barely scraping the surface. Ottawa U totally demotivated me.

Zeke: Why?

Chris Dyer: Because it was really not fun. I had studio classes but the teacher wasn't teaching anything. The little I learned in my first college experience was totally forgotten because I was in the same class as people who were just learning the basics and then the teacher sent so much homework. Like, "OK bring three paintings by next class" and from my style, you can see that it takes me a long time per painting. I was like "Man, I can't do three paintings and do a good job." I would rather make one really good painting than three crappy ones. After that, I just quit, packed, and went to Montréal. I went to Dawson College. And there I did have awesome teachers, and the one that stands out the most was Carmello Blandino. His first year, and he also changed over the three years we were together, but in his first year he was real strict and that was good because he knew I had talent, and he pushed me to be even better. If I was doing realism, he would say "Look at the microscopic light that's hitting the top of his eyeball. Get it all. Don't let anything slip." So I did that, and I could do it, but you just work hard. It was good that year. The next two years he loosened up as well, he found his own path in life, it was more spiritual, and it came through in his classes. He was like "Alright, use your brain. Find a new idea". And then the last year, he was like "Paint time and space." You know, getting more mystical. As he grew, I was growing in my own right, so it went well. So I'm out of college, but I still stay in touch and he's doing really well.

Zeke: Do you envision going back to school for more stuff?

Chris Dyer: No, man, I'm done with school. I've been there for too long and I'm really enjoying not doing homework.

Zeke: Who's your favorite artist?

Chris Dyer: There has been many artists over the years depending on what I'm feeling at the time but MC Escher was always a huge inspiration because he was always so tight and detailed. In my linear style, he motivated me to get that tight and I'm still working on it. And Mati Klarwein, he's the artist who did the cover for Santana, Abraxas, and his stuff is awesome. He would spend five years on one painting so it would get retardedly detailed and plus he had mad technical skills and with oil so he could do anything realistic or turn it surrealistic and he was from Spain. And he was in the same era as Dali, but nobody knows about him.

Zeke: A lot of people know about him, they just don't know his name.

Chris Dyer: They know of his art, maybe. When I tell people, they're like "uh..?"

Zeke: It's connected to Abraxas, and more people have seen Abraxas than Dali paintings.

Chris Dyer: But there's so much more. He's got a round painting [ed note: after clicking the link, look at the one on the ceiling]. You have seen that one?

Zeke: Umm hmm.

Chris Dyer: It's so dope. He's my favorite painter if I had to say anybody else. I guess I like Alex Grey, but he's pretty new to me. A lot of people might think that I take a lot from him, but we're similar in the way that we're both colorful and detailed and spiritual.

Zeke: How did you get into painting on skateboards?

Chris Dyer: It started with … I had been skateboarding since I was a kid and retook it back in the late 90s, I guess '98, I'm always trying new things. I did a skateboard and then I went on.

Zeke: What made you think to paint on a skateboard.

Chris Dyer: It was a good canvas, it was just lying there. I guess something I really wanted to do was a graphic like the ones in the 80s by this artist named Jim Phillips. He did all the graphics for Santa Cruz skateboards. Something that always stuck in my mind was his Roskopp series of monsters because they were so detailed and so well done. One day I had the inspiration to do one of those monsters and I did it on a skateboard because that was right for that and then I didn't do it for a year. And I was living in NDG, on Oxford St. right next to this new skateboard shop that opened called Alena, and they were really into the arts. I wanted to get my art show there, but it was really difficult. So he said, "We're having this broken deck show and I want to fill up the room, so do as many as you want and you'll have a lot of art." And I was like, "Cool!" because this guy knows a lot about artists and if I got some of my boards in, I can show my skills, I just have to get it on a board and I can get my name out there with other good artists. I did one, then I did two, and then three, and then the show didn't happen, and then the show got delayed by a year, so by the time the show happened I was on board with 50. But when the show happened, I was tree planting, so I totally missed it and I wasn't even there and when I got back I was like, "Man, I did all of this for nothing." Then I exposed the boards anyway at Le Swimming and that's what people liked the most. They were like, "Your skateboards are awesome." I guess it was also that it was my newer stuff so each painting improved. I always thought I was done with that period and then I came here and you said "I want to have the skateboards for this thing" and I said "Alright, man. So let's just work at it." I was aiming at 100, but that's a pretty far off goal. I got to around 65. I'm pretty happy. I don't think I could have pushed myself any more because I almost lost my head this winter.

Angel of Death, Paint Marker on busted Skateboard, 2000

Zeke: Of all the boards, which is your least favorite?

Chris Dyer: I don't know. I like them all. Even when they come out ugly, they still have some energy that captured a moment. I guess the one - the Blacklight Raver - I did that one when I started going to rave parties because I was getting invited to expose there. I was never into that scene because my friends were like "No, don't go to raves, raves suck" but I would go and have a blast. I tried to express the energy of those parties but, because I'm not a part of that culture, it might of not come out perfectly the way I wanted it. It was also the first time that I used fluorescent colors. I didn't have a hold of them that well. It still captures a good dance thing, it's not totally horrific.

Blacklight Raver, Acrylic on busted Skateboard, 2002

Zeke: How do you decide what you want to paint on a board?

Chris Dyer: I get ideas. A lot of my ideas come when I'm meditating, when I'm supposed to keep my mind blank. That's when my mind wants to act the most because it fights against me. Sometimes I have ideas that will stay in my head forever. Sometimes I'll have a really good idea and I'll go to my sketchbook. I'll do a really fast sketch to capture the idea. Eventually I'll get to it. If I'm really feeling it, I'll do it right away. Other times, I'll have sketches that will wait in a book for years and then I'll say "What do I do next? This sketch has a lot of potential."

Zeke: When you have the idea, are they completely formed? And you go back and try to recreate. Or is it that you have this idea, so when you create it, you modify and change, and go with the flow.

Chris Dyer: Both.

Zeke: So which is one that would have come full on?

Chris Dyer: Well, it depends on the sketch. Sometimes I'll be really faithful to the sketch, sometimes I'll modify it. I guess the one - Smoke Signals - I wanted to express how cloudy my brain felt in the last half of a year. All these bubbles around. All of them I keep developing as I go.

Smoke Signals, Acrylic on busted Skateboard, 2004

Zeke: Which one came up completely formed in your head. Which is one that you had this idea and that, as you painted it, it developed on its own into something different?

Chris Dyer: I guess all of them. As you go, you say "What if I put this here…"

Zeke: Just pick one so you can explain to me how it started and how it ended up.

Chris Dyer: One that totally just keeps developing from an idea or just freestyle?

Zeke: I figured you did have the images and the ideas and some of them developed and some were right there.

Chris Dyer: Sometimes I freestyle totally.

Zeke: Which one did you freestyle totally?

Chris Dyer: This one here - Alex Gavin's Energy - it was the first time I tried this style after hanging out with Other. He just chose a blotch to spray paint and then he goes. I did the same thing. Some blotch you spray paint and then you see the lines. Except for the realistic stuff, most of it is like, "Let's see what happens." Then things come out and I'm like, "Interesting." Something that changed a lot throughout the process. You have this one with the boobs, sexual one. It was like, "OK, let's see what happens." This one I kept on adding. Each sketch that I do, I add more and by the end, it's totally different. I do a scribble of a car with a bunch of crap and stuff and the next sketch will get better.

Zeke: When you are coming up with your ideas, do you have the style down? I figure there's about half a dozen different styles in here. When the idea comes, do you have the idea of the style you want to do it in, or is it "I want to this idea in this style?"

Chris Dyer: Yeah, I do a sketch, and then I'll decide what style will be the best.

Zeke: What's that process to decide which style will be the best.

Chris Dyer: Let's go to the Man About to Crash. Usually I would have done that in watercolors because it is very detailed. Even without color, it would have been a very detailed drawing. I could have just done a black and white and it would still have looked good. Watercolors are a good way to put colors fast and then I can draw on top of it. But I said, "Let's challenge myself let's do an acrylic". Acrylics are so dry and it takes longer. That one there - that's watercolors. I'm losing my train of thought. I guess I decide right before what medium would be better.

The Man About to Crash, Acrylic on busted Skateboard, 2004

Zeke: It's not so much medium, but style. You have certain ones like Man About to Crash, then We are all Cells of the Same Body, and then HOH Supermodelz which are very cartoony. Then you have DMT and Lion-I City Blues and Progressive Evolution #2, which are drawings and realistic, but they're much more symbolic. How do you choose? I imagine that the idea of Progressive Evolution #2 could be done in a more cartoon style.

We are all Cells of the Same Body, Acrylic on busted Skateboard, 2004

Chris Dyer: It goes with the theme. The theme for HOH Supermodelz, it's my friend being silly, so cartoon flows nicely with it. Those pieces with psychedelia, it more like I'm trying to express emotion so symbolism feels better. So, Lion-I City Blues is basically the way I felt the summer after my girlfriend left. I felt sad, I felt blue, and I felt chained, and I felt industrialized because I was stuck in a city. Those tubes on the side. So symbolism helps me better to show those things than a cartoon would.

Lion-I City Blues, Acrylic on busted Surfboard, 2004

Zeke: When you're doing something with the symbolism, is your technique different than when you do something that is more cartoony?

Chris Dyer: Technique? No, I'm not the type of painter that is super-expressionist and waving the paintbrush in the air. I'm sort of stiff in that way. I lay color one at a time. I'm like "OK, this feels blue" so I put the blue and then the light blue and put the dark blue. It's pretty simple. It's just a matter of time.

HOH Supermodelz, Acrylic on busted Skateboard, 2004

Zeke: How did you get into the symbolic stuff? I would imagine that that stuff came later than the comic stuff.

Chris Dyer: I used to do comics in my era when I wanted to do animation. I did a big, fat comic book with 60 pages. I got a handle of the comic style. I got really burnt out on it so I don't do comics any more.

Zeke: What happened?

Chris Dyer: There's so many and the more you do, the better you get and by the end I was getting so detailed with all of the things I wanted to express that it would take me a week to do a page. It was too much. It was a huge compromise of time. I was getting more into the fine arts. You can't dedicate your time to everything. And then the symbolic stuff. I think it's because this year I went back to experimenting with drugs, and that's the way. I had stopped for a bit after my spiritual period and I'm still in my spiritual period. I guess it's because I'm always moving on. I don't even know myself. Things just flow through me. I can't look at it intellectually. I'm just a medium. Yeah, I'm grateful for whatever style flows through. Sometimes I wish I could go back to that style because I really love that painting but I can't. It's done. Even if I try, I can't get it because it's not me, it's something beyond me. I can only be faithful to what I do.

Zeke: Where do you envision yourself going next?

Chris Dyer: I'd like to travel next year and recharge my energy. I'd like to re-inspire myself from the world, hopefully from a totally point of view of the world. I'd like to keep on moving. I like the progressive evolution of my spiritual self because I think that's my ultimate higher being.

Zeke: With regards to the painting, where do you want to be going?

Chris Dyer: I have been wanting for a while to do stuff like Mati Klarwein and just get one huge canvas and work on the canvas for a year. That's not just financially feasible. I tried to pull it off this year but I couldn't get the grants to live off. Still, I'm just staying with the skateboards. Which is cool, because I have to flow with what destiny brings me. If my destiny is skateboards, that's awesome. It's still really fun. I don't hate it at all and it's given me a huge opening into the skateboard industry that, right now, it's moving pretty good and hopefully I'll find more financial rewards that way. Not that I'm into it for the money, but now it's my career and I have to think that way. Hopefully, one day when I'm established enough I can go by, I can just go and do art for the sake of art and not worry about money. And that's what I would love to do. Have a simple life, maintaining in a country place, do a couple trips here and there. And working on a painting that would benefit humanity in some way. Do something new.

Progressive Evolution #2, Acrylic on busted Skateboard, 2004

Zeke: What would you like a viewer to get from your art.

Chris Dyer: Each board has its own message. Pretty much as I've changed throughout the years from more self-centered, violent person to a more spiritual person who wants to help the world heal, because there's a lot of problems in the world and I think that we all should have a little part in it. Just help out. The purpose of my life is to use the talents that God gave me to pass on a good message. There are so many bad messages out there in the media and TV. There's so much violence and being bad is good. I'd like to be like "Hey! You can be a good person or spiritual and it's a cool thing, too. Being religious or spiritual doesn't make you lame or gay." I really appreciate when I hear people say "Hey! Your painting really helped me out a lot because I was feeling that way inside but I didn't know that anybody else was feeling that way and now I can accept that and I can come to terms with it and now I can come to terms with it." And that's great. And also… just showing how hard a person can work inspires them to go and chase their dreams no matter how hard it seems to go for it because this world isn't designed for the arts. I'd like to pass on as many good vibes as possible about my many environments around me.

DMT, Acrylic on busted Skateboard, 2004

Zeke: With regards to the show, what were you expecting?

Chris Dyer: With the show… I'd have to say that since I had this goal of traveling next year, I really wanted to sell a few of them and be able to finance this trip for a year. A half a year to a year would be nice. So that was one goal. I didn't know it at the time when I was doing it, but I have never done so much art as I did this year. Never in my life, pounding the art constantly. Now that it's done, it shows me so many different faces of inner myself day by day because each day there were so many people. People changing by the seconds. So that put my expectations high and to go for it. What else can I say about the show? I guess to get Montréal to see what I got.

Zeke: Anything you're disappointed with?

Chris Dyer: With the show or the art?

Zeke: Yes and yes.

Chris Dyer: I'm not disappointed that I didn't get to 100 because you can only do what you do. I wanted the cover of the Mirror and the Hour. I can't be disappointed that if hasn't happened yet but there's still potential to get that. I love to still get into Juxtapoz because it's something I've been trying for years but I never had an in. I'm not disappointed yet. I have to be happy with whatever comes out. Sometimes I look at something I've done and I say "Wow, I'm horny. Oh, I got really violent on that one. Or, "Woah, what's that entity that's inside me? That's freaky scary." I can't be disappointed. I can only be who I am and I love myself for it.
Zeke: Is there anything else you want to say?

Chris Dyer: If I get a chance for other people to hear me: We've got a beautiful world and we're all such a beautiful human race. There's no good or bad. The whole world is going through the same things. We can make it. We can go through the shift of consciousness without destroying ourselves. And I would really like for us to go through that without the need of a mass destruction or a mass catastrophe. I think we can all unite and I think we can all find the love inside. So we all become united and stop the struggle and help each other out in out own personal, inner struggles towards whatever. Love is the way, I guess.

Zeke: Thank you very much. Was it difficult?

Chris Dyer: No, it was awesome. Interviews are fun.

[note: I edited this slightly, cleaning up one mistake, and clarifying some things, along with adding some more links on Thursday Sept. 23]

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Champ libre gets the full treatment


Jérôme Delgado, La Presse - Sept. 11, 646 words.
Nathalie Guimond, Voir - Sept. 16, 683 words.
Isa Tousignant, Hour - Sept. 16, 733 words.
Bernard Lamarche, Le Devoir - Sept. 18, 723 words.
Jérôme Delgado, La Presse - Sept. 20, 680 words.

Total = 3,465 words

Champ Libre press release, 1,481 words [pdf document].

Six curators (577.5 words per), 125 artists (27.7 words per), 20 countries (173.25 words per). I wonder how many people will come see it?

I'm not a big fan of video art, but I gotta give props to Champ Libre, doing stuff in a big way, tying in with Les journees de la culture. At the risk of annoying people with my constant repetition, I don't like it when newspaper art critics repeat press releases. Ms. Tousignant is the only one who stands out from the crowd by focusing in on the Ping Pong that is going to be happening (although Mr. Delgado does mention it in his second article - doubly interesting when I discovered that Le Devoir is the daily newspaper who "partners" with Champ Libre, I would've figured that M. Lamarche would've been the one to write two articles).

Anyhows props all around to Francois Cormier, Cecile Martin, Camille Dumas, Marie-Anne Moreau, and Francois Vandaele.

Kick-Ass post alert!


Slow on the uptake, I'm trying to catch up. Early last week Sally Mckay posted something she wrote for Lola magazine back in the day.

Very nicely written it brings up things that are still relevant today, and as I'm the one reading it, very specific to Zeke's Gallery, too!

France's loss is Montreal's gain


Last week there was a small bit in La Presse about the French auction house, La maison Drouot soliciting items here in town. Sorta like a hoity-toity Antiques Roadshow. The thing I found most interesting was how with my bad French comprehension, and not much research, I was able to find that about two years ago, France loosened the rather stringent laws governing auction houses, and as a consequence La maison Drouot started to lose some market share and/or money (Sotheby's and Christies moved into Paris in what seems to me a big way). So it seems that Drouot decided it was time to go international, too.

I wish 'em the best of luck.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Bound to fail


According to the CBC Les Grands Ballets Canadiens are going to start advertising on TV in order to attract more fannies into Place des Arts.

According to the article the ads will be run on ART-TV, RDI, and Radio-Canada. Then, the killer:

...the new ads will take up about 80 per cent of the company's publicity budget. Each of its six scheduled productions will cost $60,000 to promote on TV, leaving the company to eliminate or drastically reduce more traditional marketing techniques like poster campaigns or prints ads.
So, they have a total budget of $480,000. I would love to know how much of the $360,000 is going to the production of the ads, and how much is going to administration. But, I can't see how advertising on RDI (the French news channel) and ART-TV is going to attract a younger audience.

In a slightly related note, according to Drew McManus, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra spends less than $100,000 to run it's website, and they sell $2.5 million dollars worth of tickets through it.

I would suggest to Les Grands Ballets that they make their website a little bit better, if they want to attract younger audience members.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

All Marc Mayer! All the time!!


[update (December 20, 2004: If you're interested in the nitty-gritty, you might like to read my interview with Marc Mayer. Click here.]

If you've been reading the local art press in French, you couldn't help but noticing that the Musée d'Art Contemporain got themselves a new director. His name is Marc Mayer, and by my count, there have been ten separate articles written about him, five alone from Le Devoir.

In chronological order:
Francine Arsenault, Musée d'Art Contemporain press release - 880 words.
Jérôme Delgado, La Presse, Sept. 9 - 647 words.
Nicolas Mavrikakis, Voir, Sept. 9 - 848 words.
Commentary by the readers of Voir, Sept. 9 - 12 - 2,980 words.
Désautels, Radio-Canada, Sept. 9 - 5 minutes, 27 seconds [Windows Media].
Jeanette Kelly, CBC Radio, Sept. 10 - Sept. 10 - 1 minute 27 seconds [Real Audio].
Jérôme Delgado, La Presse, Sept. 11 - 908 words.
Normand Thériault, Le Devoir, Sept. 18 - 785 words.
Bernard Lamarche, Le Devoir, Sept. 18 - 1,313 words.
Frédérique Doyon, Le Devoir, Sept. 18 - 1,152 words.
Frédérique Doyon, Le Devoir, Sept. 18 - 1,274 words.
Nathalie Petrowski, La Presse, Sept. 19 - 1,822 words.

Total amount of words: 12,609. Not bad, eh?

Then some of the fun stuff that had been written previously:
Sarah Milroy, Globe & Mail, July 1 - 866 words.
Toronto Life, November 2000 - 1,004 words.

And, selected quotes:

In the end the Leroy exhibit is a fascinating failure; the kind of show for which one is ultimately, if grudgingly, grateful as it provokes a harder look at the farcical cycles of hype and calculation that fuel the art market. The Power Plant's new curator, Marc Mayer, should be applauded for opening his first season with such a vexing car wreck of an exhibit. - R.M. Vaughan, Feb, 1999.

The Power Plant's new director Marc Mayer, who appears to program shows off the covers of glossy art magazines. Perpetually star-struck, Mayer has offered us one Next Big Thing show after the other, most of them underwhelming. I enjoy flash as much as anybody, but Mayer walks around his own openings looking like he's left a car idling outside to whisk him to the airport. Is the Power Plant just a résumé pit stop? Mr. Mayer, please start showing up at smaller events or risk losing the already slipping respect of local artists. - R.M. Vaughan, Dec, 1999.

Marc Mayer is highly regarded for his articulate organization of many important contemporary exhibitions. His intellectual vigor, his wide-ranging interest and curatorial experience in contemporary art, and his significant management abilities made him an ideal choice for this critical leadership position at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. - Arnold Lehman, June 2001.
Ignoring the personal differences between Mr. Vaughan and Mr. Mayer (although they do make for some delicious reading) it will be interesting to see how his tenure plays out. Mr. Vaughan comes out as an extremely good predictor of the future, how many years will Mr. Mayer stay in Montreal? Mr. Mavrikakis asked him that very question (in French) and Mr. Mayer responded: "I can't make any promises." On the other hand, in talking to Ms. Petrowski he said "I want to plant myself somewhere and stop moving all the time. Montreal seems to be the ideal city in which to do this." Hmmm, what happened in a week?

Then, much has been made over Mr. Mayer's "seeing the light" in front of a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting twenty years ago while a student at McGill, the CBC, La Presse and Le Devoir all mention it. I'd love to know which painting it was, and as Mr. Mayer was working on a Basquiat retrospective at the BMA before he departed, if it will included, and then if MACM is now going to be included on the tour schedule. Ms. Petrowski asked him that, and as of now, the answer is "no," it isn't coming to Montreal (or at least the MACM).

Ms. Petrowski also did the silly what are you reading/listening to/watching stuff at the bottom of her column, and the only thing fairly interesting there is that he still finds Sophie Ristelhueber inspiring. The reason that I find it interesting, is that he curated a show of her art when he was at the Power Plant in Toronto, and I was quite struck with he photographs, too. According to me (too) Ms. Ristelhueber's work rocks.

Then, the other thing that stuck me about all the articles was in hyping the MACM, most of them parrotted that it is the only "contemporary art museum in Canada." With the differences being that the MACM collects art, while the Power Plant and Vancouver's Contemporary Art Gallery just exhibit. Umm, what about MOCCA?

And finally, there are the de-rigeur "reaction" articles. And, jeez! I'd hate to be in Marcel Brisebois' shoes right now. While everybody has been uniformly excited about Mr. Mayer coming to town, the quotes haven't been as kind to the outgoing director. Pierre-Francois Ouellette says "we need somebody passionate, who constantly repeats the need for art in today's society." Which I read as M. Ouellette believing that M. Brisebois didn't have it. M. Ouellette also mentioned in passing that a friend of his said that Mr. Mayer went to galleries when he was in Toronto, which juxtaposes in an interesting fashion with what Mr. Vaughan wrote in 1999 - although to be fair, Mr. Mayer was in Toronto for two more years after that was written, and his behavior could have changed.

There's lots and lots more to be mined from all the articles written, and I haven't even gotten to the radio interviews - but I do have some other work that needs to be done. And after I've finished this entry, there will have been 13,573 words written about Mr. Mayer and his new job.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Old Stuff #3


If I can keep up this pace, I might be able to catch up by the middle of next month or so. If you didn't know, I adore the New York Review of Books. One example of why is this 5,189 word review of Hatchet Jobs: Writings on Contemporary Fiction, by Dale Peck. While it is about literary criticism, I found it sorta useful if I transposed it over to the visual arts.

From this seat here at the gallery, I think that any press is good press, and if I'm dishing it out, I should be able to take it, and if tongues wag, then eyes and fannies will follow. Enough with the cliches, but as you've heard before, there is not enough space here in Montreal given to the visual arts, and most of the writers here, are too scared to write what they think, and most of the artists and gallerists are too thin skinned to do a darn thing about it.

Old Stuff #2


It appears that at the beginning of the month I had a little too much time on my hands. There are at least 50 articles that I bookmarked, so that I could comment on them here. Josef Joffe (publisher and editor of the German weekly Die Zeit) wrote, way back then, in the International Herald Tribune about attendance figures and then combined that with what people thought about the art shown, and how it plays in the US vs. Europe (or more precisely Germany).

One of the tastier lines is:

The opening shots were fired in February by the critic of the distinguished German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. Without having seen the collection, he aimed his volley not so much against MoMA as against imperial America. Regurgitating a piece of European Kulturkritik as old as the American republic itself, this critic insinuated that what America has in the way of culture is not haute and what is haute is not American.

Or if you don't want to read the article, a show organized by MOMA in Berlin will have been seen by 1.2 million people. Apparently this makes it popular. But the critics (those who know stuff) think the show sucks, even though they never saw it.

Gawd! I love the art business!

Old Stuff #1


Some guy named Tom Utley is way too jaded. Way back in August he wrote an opinion piece for the Telegraph. Basically, he riffs off of the idea that there shouldn't have been such a big fuss about Munch's "Scream" being stolen, because there are an awful lot of poster reproductions all over the place.

He then continues on to make some comments about the "Art Market" which is why I bookmarked the article. It doesn't look like I'm going to be buying a Rolls-Royce anytime soon.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Street Art #3 - Stare


The view right outside the front door of the gallery.

And a slightly better picture of the same thing.

Once again, if any of you know who is responsible, please ask 'em to get in contact with me, and as with Roadsworth, let 'em know I think that they rock.

Street Art #2 - New Roadsworth (and somebody else)


So does anybody out there know him?

New Roadsworth 1

New Roadsworth 2

Not Roadsworth but somebody else almost as cool

If you do, please ask him (nicely) to get in touch with me. Thanks

Street Art #1 - Bez


I don't know how many of you have been up to the corner of Saint Laurent and Bernard, but if you turn right on Bernard, you can see the art of Bez, who has been profiled at the Wooster Collective

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The numbers game


Apologies for the short post today, but I am in the midst of grant application heck. In today's Globe and Mail there was a nice short piece about how the Art Gallery of Ontario got 210,000 visitors for their Whistler Monet exhibition. Looking at their annual report, last year they got about 460,000 visitors. So we can safely say that this year is likely to be called "a very good year."

What I find interesting is that the Musée des Beaux Arts, also gets about half a million people each year.

It costs about $36 million to run the AGO, and about $32 million to run the MBAM. Zeke's Gallery gets about 1% of the attendance that the two museums get. As I am writing grants, I am dreaming about getting 1% of the funding... $300,000 would go a very long way towards making things really rock here.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Everybody on Max Stern


I seem to be fixated. Apologies if you're getting tired of me flogging this particular horse, but until I get it all out of my system, I'm not quite certain if I'll be able to concentrate on anything else. There are two exhibits about Max Stern happening here in town right now. The first is at Concordia University and the second is at the Musée des Beaux Arts. As you might have guessed, they ammassed an awful lot of press last week.

In no particular order:

Jeanette Kelly for CBC Radio, September 8, 438 words or 1 minute, 41 seconds.
Jérôme Delgado, La Presse, September 12, 679 words.
Bernard Lamarche, Le Devoir, September 11, 1,260 words.
Concordia News, 734 words.
Claude Couillard, Radio Canada, 357 words.
Marie-Christine Trottier for the radio program Désautels on Radio Canada, August 31, 227 words, or 5 minutes, 35 seconds.
Marie-Christine Tremblay, Decormag, 810 words.
Presse Canadienne via Canoe, September 1, 195 words.
Concordia University Press Release, August 31, 903 words.
Barbara Black, Concordia's The Thursday Report, September 9, 512 words.
Musée des Beaux-Arts press release, 1,031 words.
TOTAL = 7,146 words
Number of art exhibits on now in Montréal that aren't about Max Stern = 98

I'm not certain what to make of this. On one hand, I really like the idea of two exhibits being designed around an art dealer (no matter how hard I try to get rid of it, I still do have an ego), one at Concordia University, and the other at the Musée des Beaux Arts. I also realize that when you get two not small organizations pushing stuff to the press, they are quite likely to be very successful. Then if you add on the fact that Max Stern's estate (or in other words, his family (oops, my bad, according to M. Lamarche he didn't have a family)) gave whacks of cash to make the exhibits possible, thereby enabling the museum and gallery to save their money for other stuff, it all adds up to make me go "hmmmm." I'd like it if some of those other exhibits got some of the press that Max Stern got.

Briefly, I stuck the links to the two press releases so that I could compare which publications did more than regurgitate. To sum them up, Dr. Stern was a really nice guy who died in 1987. He was an art dealer who sold a bunch of paintings by artists who are much more famous now than they were then (partially because some of them are dead too), the Musée des Beaux Arts is showing 50 pieces that Dr. Sern's donated to a variety of museums in town. Concordia is also showing 50 pieces (not the same ones) that have been hanging around the houses of some really wealthy people, after passing through Dr. Stern's hands. And then to top it all off, everybody is going to be doing a bunch of cool stuff to commemorate the memory of Dr. Stern.

From all the wordiness about these exhibits, there ain't an awful lot more than what's in the press releases. Ot the nine articles written, there are only two people who write anything original. ANd each of them seem to limit themselves to a paragraph each, the first, M. Lamarche, writes:
Dans le magnifique catalogue qui accompagne cette double présentation, l'historien de l'art François-Marc Gagnon souligne que le goût de Max Stern aura été de facture classique avant tout : l'importance est donnée à la forme plutôt qu'au contenu, à la bonne composition ainsi qu'à l'harmonie des couleurs. Les oeuvres qu'a côtoyées Stern donnent de la beauté une vision consacrée. Et il faut bien donner raison à François-Marc Gagnon, ce qui revient à dire qu'il y a dans ces expositions beaucoup à voir.
Or if you want a quick and dirty translation, "The kick-ass catalogue states that Stern's taste was fairly conservative, beauty ruled. You gotta give props to François-Marc Gagnon because 100 works of art is a lot to see."

And then M. Delgado writes:
Les deux expositions, elles, sont somme toute décevantes. Oui, c'est toujours plaisant de voir en une salle plusieurs Borduas, mais l'ensemble est éclaté et inégal. Ce qui est dommage, c'est ce qui domine: paysages peu délicats, surréalisme douteux et couleurs extravagantes. Comme quoi s'opposer à l'académisme n'est pas gage de qualité.
Or "The two exposures, they, are altogether disappointing. Yes, it is always pleasant to see in a room several Borduas, but the unit is burst and unequal. What is a pity, it is what dominates: not very delicate landscapes, doubtful surrealism and extravagant colors. As what to be opposed to the academism is not pledge of quality."

OK, so let me get this straight, if I understand the reviews, Dr. Max Stern was a really important art dealer who was instrumental in getting Canadian art on the map and making careers for artists like, Alfred Pellan, E.J. Hughes, Emily Carr, Goodridge Roberts, J.E.H. MacDonald, Jean Dallaire, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Jean-Philippe Dallaire, John Lyman, Jori Smith, Marian Scott, Paul-Émile Borduas, and Stanley Cosgrove but despite a really great catalogue the art in these exhibitions suck.

Looks like I gotta go see it.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

John Griffin, Matthew Woodley, Jamie O'Meara, RM Vaughan, and Katherine Gombay


An old article from The Guardian Unlimited called "A few quiet words for culture" got pointed out to me by both Lenny at Washington, DC Art News and Marja-Leena Rathje and I found it extremely cool. Last year, Ian Mayes wrote that The Guardian had about 60 art "critics backed by a similar number of editors and subeditors. The Guardian arts desk has about a dozen commissioning editors and subeditors to call upon (about twice the number of 10 years ago). The largely literary Saturday Review, which did not exist 10 years ago, has a similar number."

Now while I don't read The Guardian regularly, that number, on the surface, seems impressive. Until I start to look a little closer. Under the heading of "Arts" Mr. Mayes includes Books, Film, Television, Architecture, Visual Art, Jazz, Pop Music, Classical Music, Dance and Theater, and there are probably some other sub-genres that I missed. If I were to compare that figure to what we have locally, I am certain that while no one media outlet could compare to The Guardian (well, probably the CBC / Radio Canada, but they aren't print media). Montreal as a whole would completely and thoroughly smoke 'em, and considering the size of London, we would compare favorably (yes, it is nice that everything here has to be written about in two languages).

One of the problems that I find here (and I might add that Mr. Mayes mentions, too) is the lack of space that the arts get. Now I recognize that most media outlets here in town (with one major exception) are ad driven, so there ain't much I can personally do about it, except rail against the wind. If I ever get enough cash, I will try and do something about it, but don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen. Mr. Campello, compares the space and numbers of art and art critics in the Guardian with that in Washington DC, which is fine, but as I am not in Washington DC, it ain't nothing but cool cocktail conversation to me.

My major beef, and one of the recurring themes in this here blog, is the freakin' quality of the criticism. All too often, it strikes me that whoever is doing the writing is going through the motions, or sleepwalking until a better gig comes along. The number of art critics in town who I consider to be kick-ass writers can be counted on the fingers of my left hand. In no particular order; John Griffin (Movies, the Gazette), Matthew Woodley (general arts stuff, The Mirror), Jamie O'Meara (Pop Music, the Hour), RM Vaughan (Visual Arts, Freelance based out of Toronto), Katherine Gombay (general arts stuff, CBC Radio). A couple of points to make - first and foremost, because my ability to read French is directly proportional to my ability to dance, I'm dealing with a limited set of writers, I am certain that there are some really kick-ass critics here in Montréal who write in French, but it takes me about 17 times as long to be able to read and understand them, so I don't do it as often as I should. Second (and this should be self-evident) my list is entirely personal, I would hope that yours is different.

Somehow (and I am not certain how) Visual Art is not dealt with in the same way as the rest of the arts. Somehow Visual Art, and its synonym "High Art" has come to mean that anything written about it has to be academic, dry, and full of ponderous prose. If someone is writing 750 words for a daily or a weekly newspaper, there is no reason why it should be like that. If the other cultural mediums can be reviewed in a manner that is more informal, why can't visual art?

The need to use words like "emanate," "emotional submission," or sentences with lines like "narrative can be interpreted as the extension of a verb," or "psychodramas of a surrealist bent," strikes me as rather absurd. The people who read daily and weekly newspapers might be the same people who read Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, but my best guess is that when they're reading something that has a sex reporter listed on the masthead, they're not exactly looking to read things that would raise their grade point average.

If you've been reading this for a while, you might realize that I've been hammering at Nicholas Mavrikakis because of his name dropping in his reviews. Although it is extremely convenient to pigeon hole things ("Phish is like the Grateful Dead with a touch of Miles Davis from the 1970s"), when you're pigeon holing it helps if peole have actually heard or seen your references. The Musée des Beaux Arts gets about half a million people going through its doors each year, Zeke's Gallery gets about 5,000, and I would hope that the most popular contemporary art gallery in Montreal might get about 10,000. I don't understand how referring to something that might have been seen by a fraction of that many people is going to be helpful to anybody except the author's ego.

Then finally, I have heard from way too many people that there is "too much art" in Montreal to review everything. On first hearing it, I nodded like an idiot and swallowed it hook, line and sinker. By the provincial government's count there are 144 media outlets in Montreal. If I'm lucky, I'll read or hear (I don't own a TV) about a quarter of them. I can guarantee you that like sheep they all will cover pretty much the same damn things over and over and over. Rene Blouin's Gallery, Joyce Yahouda's Gallery, VOX, Dazibao, Articule, Oboro, the three museums, Pierre-François Ouellette's gallery, the Saidye Bronfman Centre, the two university galleries, Clark, and maybe another half-dozen that I'm spacing on. Or in other words about 10% of the galleries in town.

Taking the easiest route, since the begining of the year Voir has published 49 reviews (most of them written by Nicholas Mavrikakis), The Musée des Beauz-Arts got five, The Musée d'Art Contemporain got four, Rene Blouin got three, Joyce Yahouda, Graff, Clark and B-312 got two each. Or in slightly different words, seven galleries have received more than half of the reviews in Voir. My guess would be that Le Devoir, the Gazette, and La Presse have similar slants.

I hope that eventually I will have more praise for the Art Critics in town, but right now, something needs to be done, preferably quickly, that would make them as worthwhile to read as John Griffin, Matthew Woodley, Jamie O'Meara, RM Vaughan, and Katherine Gombay.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Still Busy


Feel free to entertain yourself with this article.

I'll be back tomorrow I promise, there's still a lot of fine tuning that needs to be done for Chris Dyer's exhibition.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Chris Dyer in action!


Really really short post today. I've got the non-smoking vernie for "Metaphysical Boarding, Visionary Art by Chris Dyer" happening right about now. If you're in town come by and check it out.

D.M.T., Acrylic on Busted Skateboard, photo by Paul Litherland

If you're more into the bigger and better party, the blowout vernissage is on Friday at 8 pm.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004



Yes, I realize that it has absolutely nothing to do with Montreal, but I might have to change the pants I wear after reading Rob Walker's Consumed column in Sunday's New York Times Magazine. According to him, Levi's likes the white cube. Aaarrrgggghhhhhhh!

Jérôme Delgado on Patrick Coutu


M. Delgado jumps on the bandwagon, or becomes a lemming depending on your point of view. I've already written about Bernard Lamarche of Le Devoir reviewing Patrick Coutu's exhibit at Rene Blouin. I've given up on writing about Nicolas Mavrikakis' reviews, 'cuz they just bore me to tears, but last week he, too, reviewed the Patrick Coutu exhibit at Rene Blouin, so now M. Delgado writes a review of Patrick Coutu's exhibit at (you guessed it) Rene Blouin.


Jérôme Delgado: 482 words
Nicolas Mavrikakis: 645 words
Bernard Lamarche: 701 words

Are the readers of La Presse, Le Devoir, and Voir all so similar that the same art will appeal to all of them? Or is it that their readership is so completely different that nobody who reads one would think to read any of the other papers? Or is it something else?

Second, in Voir's listing of galleries there are currently, 87 different exhibits, and they aren't comprehensive. I find it absolutely incomprehensible that Mr. Mavrikakis and Mr. Delgado could not find a single other exhibit worthy of reviewing in town (Mr. Lamarche was first to press). It isn't like they didn't know about each other. Mr. Lamarche's was published on Saturday the 21st, Mr. Mavrikakis' was published on Thursday the 26th, and Mr. Delgado's was published on Sunday the 5th.

Third, what nuances are there between the writing styles of Mr. Delgado, Mr. Lamarche, and Mr. Mavrikakis that would support three separate reviews? All of them dutifully report on Mr. Coutu's previous exhibits, and they all dutifully give a cursory description of the pieces. And that's about it, granted my comprehension of written French ain't superlative, but there ain't no way I'm gonna confuse the writing of any of the three musketeers of art in Montreal with Alexandre Dumas, but if I ran into them in person I might confuse them with the Three Stooges.

Eve Wood moonlights and then writes about it


Over the weekend Artnet.com published an article by Ms. Wood about being a guard in a museum. Nothing terribly earthshattering, but nicely written. The thing that caught my eye was the fact that there are a whole whack of jobs associated with art that never get the limelight. After you're through curator, museum director, and artist. There is precious little written about all the other people who make museums and galleries run. It's nice to hear from them, too.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Another Art Theft!


If you haven't noticed, school's back in session. So I am going to attempt to add The Paper Cut (Marianopolis College), The Concordian (Concordia University), The Link (Concordia University), and Quartier Libre (Universite de Montreal), Montréal Campus (Universite de Quebec a Montreal), Le Delit (McGill University), McGill Daily (McGill University), and the McGill Tribune (McGill University) to my regular reading list. If anybody knows of other student newspapers out there, please let me know, and for you out-of-towners, does eight school newspapers in one town seem like a lot, or a little?

First out of the block is the Link, which has an article about the theft over the summer, of two of Thomas Shortliffe's paintings. While not exactly on par with the other art theft this summer, it is very worrisome. On one hand, when discussing security concerns here at Zeke's, one of the things that I tell artists, is that in the unlikely event that something gets boosted, they should consider it in a positive light - as art from an unknown artist is even more difficult to sell than art from a known artist - so the only reason somebody's gonna boost it is 'cuz they love it, and they don't think that they can afford it. As an unknown artist, knowing that there is somebody out there who loves your work, is some comfort.

On the other hand, losing something sucks.

If you're in the neighborhood of Montreal, and you see this painting, you probably should drop Mr. Shortliffe a note or call the cops.

Then while we're at it, I came across these cool posters at the Interpol website. Pretty much a Top Six of The Most Wanted Works of Art. A new poster released every six months.

Nicolas Mavrikakis on René Donais


If Communications Voir Inc. (the big company that runs Voir and other local weeklies here) is looking for some cost cutting measures, I could suggest paying Mr. Mavrikakis by the word, instead of some salary. His columns are like Lily Tomlin in the Incredible Shrinking Woman. This week's article is only 292 words. After listing off some of M. Donais' previous exhibitions we're left with "sometimes science is stranger than fiction."

Nicolas Mavrikakis on Manon De Pauw


If Mr. Mavrikakis continues to write articles that are under 300 words, what's the point in commenting about them? As his second article this past week he writes two extra words on Ms. De Pauw, for a total of 294 words. I'd much rather see the space that Mr. Mavrikakis uses get used to make the visual arts listings complete.

Saturday, September 04, 2004



Back in May, I got solicited by the Toronto Alternative Art Fair International, I wrote about what I thought here. If you're too lazy to click, it was called "Getting Grumpy" and basically my reasons for being a sour puss were that it did not look "alternative" to anything.

Well, today in my inbox, I got an email from Akimbo announcing the line-up for TAAFI.

Of the ten galleries that they have exhibiting, four are also exhibiting at the Toronto International Art Fair. Christopher Cutts Gallery, Tatar Gallery, Robert Birch Gallery and Paul Petro Contemporary Art, or in other words forty percent. Then, C-Magazine is also taking a booth at both fairs. And, both fairs are at the same time. I don't see how TAAFI by charging $4,200 less, can be considered alternative.

On a positive note, I am very glad and happy to see that they comped some people. Instant Coffee, Allyson Mitchell, Satchel Gallery, are the lucky folk who didn't have to pay. I hope that TAAFI does succeed because there ain't nothing wrong with getting people to see art, but I do think that they should change their name.

Le Musée Juste pour rire seems sad


On Thursday Le Devoir reported that Le Musée Juste pour rire can't find something worthy of an exhibition, so they're going to close their doors for a while.

While I will keep my personal opinion of Le Musée Juste pour rire out of this post, I can't help but wonder why the director of group ticket sales was designated as spokesperson.

Paul Gessell gossips in the National Post


Can anybody explain why the National Post decided to run this story?

Mr. Gesssell fawns all over Diana Nemiroff and Barry Joule, to such an extent that I gotta believe that on Thursday there was nothing else happening. He writes: "Indeed, Joule is far more fascinating than the objects he donated." Doesn't the Ottawa Citizen (the original place of publication) have a gossip columnist?

Friday, September 03, 2004

Julia Dault on Joseph Beuys


It looks like today is my day to pick on Toronto writers in "National" newspapers. Yesterday, Ms. Dault wrote 775 words about a show at Artcore Gallery. Unfortunately, she (or her editors) don't mention anywhere in the article where Artcore Gallery is located. If I remember Journalism 101, isn't "where" one of the five "W's?" Hmmm...

Second off, in her attempt to prove herself competent in Beuys-ology, she spends almost 90% of her space writing about Beuys' life. I'd love to see the press kit and/or catalogue that accompanied the exhibit to see how much was cribbed. It took me three readings of the article to find out what the heck was in this exhibition. For the record: "more than 100 photographs of his work on the land and the project's events staged over the last 15 years of his life. Also included are 12 large-format colour images..."

I really like it when newspapers like the Journal de Montreal and the National Post cover art, but c'mon guys you can do better.

Russell Smith has taken Psych 101


Yesterday Mr. Smith decided to pipe in with some very "interesting" analysis about the theft of "The Scream." He wrote 950 words which start "It has become clear by now that the reasons behind the brazen theft of two Edvard Munch paintings from the Munch Museum in Oslo were probably psychological rather than commercial."

Gimme a break, has he spoken to the thieves? Maybe he was one of the thieves, and that is why he knows so much. He then goes on to tenuously link the psychological aspects of the theft with what he calls "Economics 101 stuff."

...the market for artistic objects, which also functions almost completely independently from considerations of aesthetic or philosophical value. This fact is dramatically illustrated in the Canadian market, in which the most valuable paintings -- the childish and dull -- are the least interesting.
Umm, not to bludgeon him with a wet noodle, but take the words "paintings," "Lawren," and "Harrises" out of the above quote and replace them with "songs," "Celine," and "Dions."

The market for "artistic objects" functions pretty much as any other market in this world. If it didn't it would've been the focus of innumerable studies in a humongous amount of universities economics' departments. Nothing like a weirdo to attract people.

To me, it can be summed up pretty simply, "make art, market it, sell it." That's why it's called a "market," right? The key is in how you market it?

J. Sébastien Chicoine on Martin Budny


I always like it when the web version of the Journal de Montreal covers art. In this case, M. Chicoine writes 147 words on Mr. Budny's exhibit at O Patro Vys. Anything in a newspaper that is that size pretty much classifies as re-writing a press release, but as these are the very same people who do publish Le Journal, I feel a bit strange hassling them about it. Maybe if they continue this (writing about art) then I will complain in a couple of months.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Jérôme Delgado on l'Écomusée du fier monde (just under the wire)


On Monday, Mr. Delgado got around to reviewing a neglegted part of the art world here in Montreal, giving his readers a full six days to see Partie profonde at the Écomusée du fier monde. Good thing it had been around since the 22nd of June, if it had started in say, July, he might have missed it. He writes 623 words that are extremely favorable to the group Farine orpheline who look like they might be giving ATSA a run for their money.

Does anybody else know if their are groups like FO and ATSA eslewhere? I'm stuck in a bubble here, and I can't get out.

R. M. Vaughan on Nikolai Syadristy


Apparently the Globe and Mail is showing signs of a double personality. Mr. Vaughan writes 830 word on Mr. Syadristy's "carvings." While some people would think that the place (the CNE Exhibition) and the content (carvings on grains of rice, hairs, grain of sugar, etc) don't deserve the ink that they are given, coming forth from Mr. Vaughan's keyboard, he makes them sound like some wicked cool things that I would like to see.

Repeat after me, Bryan Adams is not an artist


Unfortunately, the Globe and Mail doesn't agree with me. They published a 106 word something or other, which didn't even get a byline, about Mr. Adams having an exhibit of his photographs at the Royal Ontario Museum.

As more evidence that this is in fact a "cash grab" somehow Flare magazine got themselves in the act because they are 25 years old.


Nice Letter


On Monday Le Devoir published a very nice letter from Pierre-Paul Rioux about the death of Jean-Paul Jérôme.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

inspiré des toiles de Toly Kouromalis


Back in July Pouèt-cafëe launched issue 8 here at the gallery. During the proceedings they managed to write a collective poem that was based on the art work up on the walls here by Toly Kouroumalis. If you are interested in reading it click here.

Be forewarned it is a French Poem, for those of you who are square-heads, I will get the blokespeak (read, computer translation only suitable for belly laughs) translation from Babelfish:

Sensual and marvellous gallery
the tables inspire an extraordinary basket to us d imagination. Let you go by l'imaginaire of l'au-beyond!

* * *

surrealist Rob Zombie was present
it will remember this fellatio
Christ gave her rod
a feeling to however demolish bonds
blood invites us to this ball of the waked up bodies...

* * *

Blood vibrates with the sound of the pain.
Moments of be delirious colors,
which howl:
"C'est long, now!
C'est when, death?
C'est when, calms it?... "

* * *

These macabre faces
with the hot colors
look us with
these eyes malefic
which see us, see, see!

* * *

Death howls its desire with the life -
Its desire of dance, of music
of poetry, d'amitié. (JKB)

* * *

Red blood, demonic faces
Here is, the black which circumvents
Our beings and l'étourdissant
In a bursting, a howl
One sees strange
Nuit blackness
Veiling my saddened face. (Cathou)

* * *

Suffering electric and sarcastic
Reddish, scarlet, and almost
Nothing, looks at there! the suffering
Look at the evil censured dirtiness,
listen to scarlet misfortune by-there for black. (Roger)

* * *

your narrow centres
pour red équimauves on the
children of Satan your crack succumb to sweats
of craters.

* * *

hard to find
its own color
in the cacophony of the refusal

* * *

Contrasts s'épousent
on a Prismacolor furnace bridge

* * *

But my torpor excels in
ambiguities which puent blood and
j'y am even accustomed

* * *

I m'habille then of my favorite skin and, always hesitant in front of l'acte, launches me against the likings of the wind.

* * *

Windows which relate to the effect penetrating

* * *

Overpowered human weakness; bestiale!

* * *

The human bestiality,
That which counts so much, which m'empêche to live
to breathe, dirtiness...
Without defense
Vis-a-vis with human bestiality.

* * *

Do art is life is art
poetry coil truth
speaking of truth
my life is youth & air
what's to fair?
Only poetry. (Ci)

* * *

L'espoir, hope... is underestimated.

* * *

The group we call
the architects
sits down in the corner counts
of the smoking section,
the senior architect
with his grey to hair, length,
and glasses,
penguinlike in his formality,
his rumpled grey follows.
They flourish unthinking mechanical pencils,
At the waitresses who live gold die
by to their singular precious pens,
without which food will not arrives,
half-liters of wine
being uneasy treasures
when solely entrusted to memory.

* * *

half pitch of fucks
itches the world broad At
small flightless birds
dressed in tuxedos
serf half-baked pumpkin black and white
and glitter with chilly mirth

Jérôme Delgado on the moves


Mr. Delgado writes a straight news story on the variety of moves being done by some of the galleries in town. It is a 828 word piece, that if my memory serves, means that absolutely every media outlet in Montreal will have covered this story. Hmmm, does this mean that it is easier to write straight news than it is to write good criticism?

He gets some good quotes, does a nice overview, and only misses one thing. Contrary to what he writes the new space being occupied by Sylviane Poirier on Amherst street is not the only, nor is it the first Art Gallery on Amherst. Back in November of 2003 Galerie Dentaire opened up at 1239 Amherst.

Ain't nothing like shoddy research from a professional to get my dander up.