Monday, February 28, 2005

Lawsuits. lawsuits


First take from artnet.com, second take from New York Magazine.

Catching up #1


Last week Anna Conti did a really nice job with her interview with Stevan Shapona.

Steve Kurtz redux


The story goes international. Professor faces jail in bio-terror scare is the headline in yesterday's London Observer. Thanks to Onajídé, for pointing it out to me. And for follow up, try this: Critical Art Ensemble Defense Fund and this: Critical Art Ensemble.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Silly Stuff


In today's New York Times... They almost complete a game of 20 questions with Damien Hirst. In fact it is an edited version of cocktail repartee where Deborah Solomon asks eleven questions and gets in a total of sixteen zingers. Mr. Hirst's responses at the end of it are rather droll.
Solomon: Nicely put. I see you are beginning to acquire the wisdom that comes with age.
Hirst: I'm 39, and I will be turning 40 on June 7. No more enfant terrible!
Solomon: Yes, and I guess we can no longer call you a Y.B.A., for Young British Artist.
Hirst: I won't miss it. They will have to change it to O.B.A., for Old British Artist.
Solomon: That doesn't sound very lyrical.
Hirst: No. But it's better than being a D.B.A. -- a Dead British Artist.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Getting out and seeing other people's art


Yesterday we went to (in no particular order) Artus, Graff, Art Mur, Diagonale, Atelier Circulaire, Clark, and the Galerie d'Art d'Outremont.

At Artus we saw Telo with works by ten artists, the only ones worth remembering are Pierre Dupras and Xavier Landry. Overall the exhibit gets a C. Basically the show seemed a hodgepodge of stuff that I couldn't be bothered to determine if there was anything tying them all together. The place itself is well situated (across the street from Graff) so even if the stuff in the window sucks (in this case it didn't, but was much more "handicraft" than art) I always feel it can't hurt to poke my nose in. I was quite taken with the pieces by Mr. Dupras and Mr. Landry, in a silly sort of way, but my friend wasn't. Thankfully the exhibit is over as of today. 988 rue Rachel Est, Wed - Sun 12 to 6pm.

At Graff we saw Volumes with pieces by Catherine Bechard & Sabin Hudon, Patric Lacasse and Laurent Lamarche. Overall the exhibit gets a B. In retrospect the highlight of the day. Sorta sound installations, sorta kinetic sculptures, sorta really cool stuff. With one major glaring exception. Bad news first - M. Lacasse's piece (in a nutshell, two headphones, a tiny video screen imbeded in a wall, a floor lamp and a settee is without a doubt just flat out bad. Thankfully, it is sandwiched in between two other rooms that are really good (the first) and spectacular (the last).

Mme. Bechard and Mme. Hudon used what appears to be (metaphor alert) spit and chewing gum, to construct these rather large things that make sound as they scrape other things. While the sounds that each thing made weren't all that distinct from each other, watching them move and make the sounds was pretty darn cool. One uses big brooms and paper, and if I was so inclined, I could probably riff off for about 2,000 words on garbage, cleaning, time (the brooms move like pendulums) and the scraping sound. The second was a cat's cradle-like (or guitar-like, take your pick) tin can telephone using buckets with some crawling object, again pretty darn sweet, except that when I tried to talk to my friend using the tin can telephone, it didn't quite work. My eyes almost popped out of my head though, when I saw the price list - the brooms (called La Voix des Choses) was going for a cool $20K, and the tin can telephone (Au Bout du Fil) for only $10K. For that sort of money, I'd go out and buy one of the fancy as video conferencing telephones, or hire myself a cleaning company.

However, M. Lamarche's piece, called Epicentre is worth every penny of the $3,500 he wants (I wonder what sort of commission an Artist Run Center gets?) It fooled both of us numerous times with how it worked, in the process of trying to figure out how it worked and have it make noise for us I almost broke it, and on top of it the noise it made was pretty darn cool (which is better than pretty darn sweet). I'm not going to give y'all much detail, but suggest that you hightail it over to Graff, and then walk through the two doors to check it out. The shows goes until March 12th. 963, rue Rachel Est, open standard issue gallery hours: Wed - Fri 11 am to 6 pm, Sat 12 to 5.

At Art Mur we saw Langage Plastique, with art by seven artists, Marsupial Traces by Aleks Bartosik. The only ones worth remembering from Langage Plastique are Francois Chartier, and Denis Rousseau. Overall the exhibits get a B-. M. Chartier paints on four foot by four foot canvas using an airbrush. Simple enough, eh? Well what he chooses to paint is what makes 'em wicked cool. Remember back when you were four-years old and had a hankering for a Happy Meal? Because it had a cool toy inside? Imagine collecting all of them and ever darn knock-off, imitation, and thing that is sorta similar, and then painting them in such a way that they are, I guess 1,000 times larger than they are in real life. The Colors! The Details! The Glory! Holy Smokes, it is akin to diving in head first into American Consumer Culture because the water in the pool looks glorious. While you could take an ironic stance to his paintings, why would you want to?

Then, if you turn around 180 degrees, and move about seven steps to your right, and then wait three minutes you can jump out of your skin when Mr. Rousseau's kinetic sculptures (or mechanical guards against imaginary monsters) come roaring to life. With a flip flip here, and a tweet tweet there, there ain't no way you would want to live on Old Rousseau's farm, but while hanging out at Art Mur they sure as shooting are cool to watch. The other stuff there, while not as bad or horrific as what I would see later in the day just suffered by comparison. Small paintings, tiny objects pinned to the wall, and other stuff like that just couldn't really compete with big, brash, bold and boisterous. The show hadn't officially opened when we poked our noses in the door, but it is as of now and will continue until April 2.

The less I write about Ms. Bartosik, the more I can write about other stuff. I'm certain that there was something serious going on, worthy of someone's full, complete and uninterrupted attention. It just wasn't me. All of 'em are at 5826, St-Hubert, better than standard gallery hours: Tues & Wed 10 am - 6 pm, Thurs & Fri 12 to 8 pm, Sat 12 to 5 pm.

At Clark, we saw Manon Labreque's Plaintes, Justin Stephens' Update on Hippies, Mario Duchesneau's Walk-in Progress, and I listened to Bernard Falaise and A_dontigny. Overall the exhibits get a B-. Ms. Labreque is the artist that made this visit worthwhile, unfortunately, she suffers in comparison to the art that we had previously seen created by Mme. Bechard and Mme. Hudon at Graff. Pretty much squeez box art, not quite up to the quality of music created by Guy Klucevsek, but way more original than Lawrence Welk. Two of 'em go out, one goes up and down. The third one seemed to have some visual references to the piece by Pierre Dupras at Artus. I was quite impressed and then it was made even more fun by the obvious aural similarities with the whole exhibition at Graff.

Unfortunately, the rest of the stuff at Clark wasn't so hot. Justin Stephens made the art at Artus look good, and Mario Duchesneau would be better served by discussing his work with the kind and generous people at Diagonale (although at the time I saw it, I didn't realize it, 'cuz we hadn't gotten to Diagonale, yet). Fortunately or unfortunately as the case might be you can't see any of it anymore as the show ends today. For future reference, 5455 de Gaspé, local 114. standard gallery hours Tue - Sat 12 to 5 pm.

At La Galerie Circulaire we saw Judith Klugerman's Synchronism. Overall the exhibit gets a C. I really like Atelier Circulaire. They take their things very seriously, they some kick-ass equipment, it is open to the public (although it ain't easy finding the place) and everybody there is very friendly, unlike some other artist run centers. Unfortunately, yesterday when we stepped in the door, Ms. Klugerman's work wasn't exactly knocking my socks off. They might have fallen an inch or so, but that might have also been due to just plain walking. 5445 De Gaspé, #503 - I assume better than standard gallery hours, because they are open 24/7 for members, but it might help to call first (514) 272-8874.

At Diagonale we saw Giorgia Volpe's Canada/habitation. Overall the exhibit gets a C. Bundled rags. Hmmm. I assume, like with Ms. Bartosik that there was something happening, but it was tough for me to discover it. Thankfully the folk at the gallery came out and asked me all sorts of questions, which made for a very entertaining time while I was there without me having to look at the art for too long. 5455, de Gaspé, #203. I assume that they are open regular gallery hours because there ain't no info anywhere about being open or closed.

Then finally, at the Galerie d'Art d'Outremont we saw Ariane Dubois' Marais et paysages intimistes. Overall the exhibit gets a D-. Let's just say that this one flat out sucked. No redeeming qualities in any way shape or form. Laurent Bouchard (the coordinator of the gallery) really needs to learn how to say "no." I'm not going to give you the address, if you really want to find it, you're going to have to find it for yourself.

And I almost forget!


It seems like so long ago, but on Thursday I got a chance to see Nightland - Domaine nocturne by Dana Velan at the Maison de la Culture Frontenac. The show gets an A. Easily the best thing I've seen this week. Big Drawings, really big drawings. Perfect lighting. Absolutely wonderful. The only thing I can find to complain about is that it is further away from here than I would like, and there were only 9 drawings. (I told you they were really big).

2550 Ontario, better than gallery hours, Tuesday to Thursday 1 to 7 pm, Fri to Sun 1 to 5 pm. Metro Frontenac. (514) 872-7882.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Nicolas Mavrikakis does Maclean


This is the 23rd exhibit at Galerie Roger Bellemare since since June 2001. If I were John Heward or Jocelyne Alloucherie, I'd be asking some serious questions. Maclean - who y'all know had two shows here ("New Landscape Theories" in 2001 and "Sportsmanlike Driving" in 2002), gets yet another review for his absolutely wonderful (am I biased?) exhibit. That tallies up a total of three local reviews, so far. Mr. Heward and Ms. Alloucherie have had numerous shows at M. Bellemare's gallery and haven't been able to crack one review between them.

Nicolas Mavrikakis writes 588 words with a minimum of name dropping (only Tony Smith), and no major errors (Maclean as a franco? I never knew!), so I figure we're off to a good start. While I like the line "de panneaux dont les pictogrammes auraient été revus par un ministère du Tourisme ou du Transport totalement post-moderne ou encore par un ministre converti au surréalisme" (or in blokespeak: the signs with pictograms made up by a post modern or surrealist Ministry of Transport or Tourism). I don't exactly think that Maclean's work is Post-Modern or Surrealist. You could make a case for it being dada-esque, conceptual, textual or using name drop method of description, Jenny Holzer on a road trip.

M. Mavrikakis makes a slight dig at M. Bellemare's choice of works in the exhibition, by suggesting that viewers wander into the office part of the gallery where there are "even stronger" works on display. Which then leads to the question of why are they in the ofice? I'd give the review a B.

Then, as of the time I'm writing this, there had only been one comment made by a reader of Voir. Marion Gerbier writes 366 words on the exhibit as well. She starts off nicely, responding to what I would imagine was the conversation she had with Peuline [Pauline?] 'cuz it is addressed to them. But it took me a little bit time to understand that what she was writing was one side of a conversation that I had not heard - probably because of the language (sorry, I gotta concentrate more when it is in French). Ms. Gerbier's prose is way more flowery and personal than that of Mr. Mavrikakis' bordering on the poetic. It makes for an interesting take on Maclean's work, which I don't view as being anywhere near to poetry or even flowery statements. I'd give her an A- just because she made me pause to consider a different way of viewing the works.

However, the thing you gotta remember, is despite whatever I say, Mr. Mavrikakis says, Ms. Grebier says, Mr. Lamarche says, or Mr. Delgado says, or anybody else for that matter, go see it for yourself. Then let me know what you think, ok?

It's up for another week, 372 Sainte Catherine W, #502, (514) 871-0319.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The New York Times effect


Robin Pogrebin writes a nice article about Gregory Colbert's Ashes and Snow exhibit, that I mentioned yesterday (scroll down). While full and complete props are still due to Peter Goddard at the Toronto Star for being first, now that the New York Times has picked up on it, I would expect that the CBC, CanWest Global, and Bell GlobeMedia to follow.

And, as an aside, in linking to these "National" news organizations, I'd also add in Quebecor and Radio-Canada, which would give a total of five, which for a country of about 30 million, ain't so bad. The Torstar organization and La Presse are more of a regional type of news organization (I'd imagine that there's one in or around BC, too, but they're too far away for me to follow that closely - I'd much prefer to read Le Monde).

While I'm no big fan of Big Media, for comparison purposes, can you discover, name, find or otherwise identify thirty American National News Media Organizations? (Did I miss any?)

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Another Canadian in NYC


Last week I discovered that Sarah Anne Johnson (a Canadian) was going over big in NYC. This week I discovered that there is a Canadian alternative to the show that cannot be named. Apparently Gregory Colbert is having an even bigger show than Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Peter Goddard calls his show An elephant among men. While I'm not certain if it would be anything that would actually turn my crank. I'm always happy when a northerner can make some sort of noise down there.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The CBC's arts coverage on line


I've railed about the CBC's coverage of the arts before, but it was always in reference to one specific story. Back at the beginning of the month they announced with some amount of kafuffle that they were changing the Arts website. I had hope that it meant that they would get better. No such luck.

On the website, they ostensibly have headings for the various types of "arts." In order they are Music, Film, TV, Books, Media, Advertising, and Art & Design. Hmmm, what happened to dance, and theater? Could somebody explain to me how Advertising is art? And then what the heck is "Media?"

Then if we go a little closer you can see that since the beginning of the year (they obviously started before the kafuffle) they have published 60 stories, not bad eh? Well 22 of them (or more than a third) are on Film. Music gets 11, Books gets 10, TV gets 8, Stage (a secret header obviously) gets 3, as does Art & Design. Media (whatever that is) gets 2, and Advertising (thankfully) gets 1.

By my count, (very rough) 40 of the 60 articles have nothing to do with anything Canadian, except the top-level domain of the URL, and the residence of the writer. It's nice to know that the good folk at the CBC know what the first "C" stands for.

Then, finally, when they sent out the memo about the launch the also suggested that I subscribe to their email newsletter about the arts. I now get it every day, and delete it every day. Why? Well, this past week I didn't delete them - here are the stats for the email newsletter.

Feb 14: 10 Stories, 3 Canadian. Example useless story: "Cheech and I didn't inhale: Chong."
Feb 15: 5 Stories, 1 Canadian. Example useless story: "Reality show to find the next Janis Joplin."
Feb 16: 7 Stories, 0 Canadian. Example Useless Story: "Keanu Reeves film banned in Brunei."
Feb 17: 7 Stories, 3 Canadian Example Useless Story: "Wife Swap producers follow Royal Family for doc."
Feb 18: 9 Stories, 4 Canadian Example Useless Story: "From Tunes to Loons: Bugs & Co. get new look."

Is there anybody there in charge? Is there anybody there who knows what is Art? Is there anybody there who thinks it might be appropriate for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to cover Canadian stories?

Monday, February 21, 2005

Almost everybody piles on William Kentridge


I'm certain that there are more reviews out there, but I'm busy right now, so I'm not gonna track down each and every one. However, let's dive in with what little time I have.

Voir - Nicolas Mavrikakis, 661 words. Getting the easy stuff out of the way first, M. Mavrikakis limits his name dropping, to an relatively small number, four. The intriguing thing is, that it seems that he thinks absolutely everybody who reads his column will know German Expressionism sufficiently well, that Beckman and Grosz, don't require their first names (Max and George, respectively) with Norman McLaren (id'd as Canadian) and Georges Méliès (id'd as French) do. Or is it that M. Mavrikakis thinks that because McLaren and Méliès are filmmakers while Beckman and Grosz are artists, his readers would need the extra help. The other funny/silly/choose your own adjective is how "Stone Age filmmaking," used in the press release from the museum, translates into "Stone Gar filmmaking" in his article. Maybe it has something to do with that funny South African accent. Beyond that, it is an alright review. - B-

Voir - Readers, 1,307 words. Félix Faucher, Céline Lenoir and Paul Daoust go into way more detail both on a descriptive level and on a theoretical level - A

La Presse - Jérôme Delgado, 657 words. Scratch your chin thoughtfully, would'ya? Who would've thunk? M. Delgado tosses up something interesting. He writes "MAC nous offre probablement un de ses meilleurs coups des dernières années. Incontournable. Mais- parce qu'il y a toujours un mais-, ce n'est pas une expo maison." Which translate into blokespeak as: The Contemporary, offers us one of the best hits in the past couple of years. Amazing but true. But, because there's always a but, it isn't an exhibit they organized themselves.

Now there are two ways to look at this. First, as it was agreed to long ago by Marcel Brisebois (the ex- head honcho at MACM) M. Delgado feels that sufficient time has passed so that he can safely slag M. Brisebois without fear of retaliation. Or (and I think this is more likely) He (or his editors) had been questioned about the lack of reviews of MACM in La Presse, and he decided to publicly explain why there weren't that many - as it is standard issue to not review a show here, if the reviewer doesn't like it. Given my recent discussion with M. Delgado, maybe he thinks that MACM is "marginal, méconnu, [et] hors-circuit."

The other thing that I found interesting about his review is that he wrote "Mais c'est en fin d'expo que l'aventure Kentridge prend toute sa magnitude." Where, to me the important part is [my blokespeak translation] "But, at the end of the exhibit..." [my emphasis]. Yes, exhibitions are hung in a specific order, and there is a certain linear nature to looking at one (first I look at this, then I look at that...) After having seen the darn show, I would strongly disagree with M. Delgado about it having a beginning and an end. In the first, large gallery there's gotta be something like a gazillion and half things all willy-nilly on the walls, then if you turn your head ninety degrees you see this humongous video making noises at you, but if you go to look at that, you're gonna miss the two other, slightly quieter videos on either side of the passageway to the big video. then the rest of the videos and drawings are scattered, while not exactly willy-nilly (also called "salon-style" for those of you with degrees) aren't exactly one after the other after the other.

Obviously, M. Delgado placed great faith in the presser, where I imagine Sandra Grant Marchand lead the cadres of the fourth estate through the show with great pomp and circumstance. - B-

The Mirror - Christine Redfern, 166 words. B+ for content, D for length.

Now, as I've mentioned, I saw the exhibit and I think it rocks like nobody's business, especially what I called the "wonky room" which has seven videos playing all at the same time! I only have two things that I want to point out, and one small criticism. I'd give it an A-

The two points:

A) In the press release, somebody decided to lead off with the words "In a North American first..." I'm fairly certain that they are referring to this specific exhibition, but it is left rather vague as to what exactly is "the first." And as Mr. Kentridge has had solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, it sounds to me like they are touting something that isn't exactly right. Maybe it should've read "a North American exclusive..."? Especially as most of the people covering the exhibit are lapping it up unquestioningly.

B) Everybody and their mother is shouting at the top of their lungs that Mr. Kentridge is an "artist." Hence a museum retrospective, right? Why is Norman McLaren only considered a "filmmaker?" Kentridge is doing pretty much the same darn thing as McLaren. I guess it all has to do with presentation.

The small criticism:

The sounds is too loud in most of the videos, and as a consequence when you're watching one, you hear the noises from an entirely different one. This might be intentional, as in the "wonky room" six of the videos are silent, but they all have the same soundtrack from the one video that does have sound. Even if it was intentional, I don't like it. But that complaint is on the same exact level as if I were to complain about the bus being late. It ain't gonna stop me from taking it.

If you're lazy and don't want to make it down to the museum 'cuz of the weather or some such other nonsense. You can get a vague idea of what you'd be missing by checking these out [click on the "view excerpt" in the upper right corner]:
An Artist/Une artiste by François Beauchemin and Séraphin Bouchard.
Ex-Child/Ex-enfant by Jacques Drouin.
Geometry on the Move the part on line is by Norman McLaren and René Jodoin.
Notes on a Triangle by René Jodoin.
A Sufi Tale by Gayle Thomas.
Universe by Denis Gillson and Wolf Koenig.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Fun Stuff


Jennifer McMackon over at Simpleposie has been asking fabulous questions for years, and now she's allowing other folk to ask questions. As she puts it:
The following ten question questionnaire was authored by Timothy Comeau, the tireless individual who brings us Good Reads. Mr. Comeau is not one to shy away from taking a stand so please answer with the complete courage of your convictions and even, yes, your very best gusto you have.
They rock, click over and go wild with your answers.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Getting back in the saddle


Well, it appears that Hour is back on track. Isa Tousignant edits one article about Visual Art (the one that can't be named...) and writes a second one, 690words long about the Marc Audette exhibit at Pierre-Francois Ouellette. She's obviously picked up some serious chops during the hiatus. Lines like "If there is any lesson at all to be drawn from the Cirque du Soleil (other than Make Your Own Fortune 101), it is that humility is a virtue when art is your ambition." And "there is pleasure to be had in the elementary experience of walking into a dimmed gallery where a few sparse works shine like glossy pebbles at the bottom of a pond. The serenity of this environment heightens the privileged bond between the spectator and the object," are mighty nice. But she saves the best for last when she neatly and precisely braids together the riff on the Cirque, chaos theory, and a pomo rant into something kick-ass.

Kick-Ass interview with Julia Dault


I've made fun of her time and time again, and I imagine hope that Ms. Dault doesn't take what I've written too seriously. However in my search for more information about the Toronto Art Awards thin-a-ma-bob, I came across an Interview with Julia Dault, Art Critic on the Torontoist blog.

Written by Ron Nurwisah, and clocking in at a tasty 1,554 words, some of the highlights for me were reading the answers to the following questions: "Did you get advantages from people because of who your father was?" and "Who do you think is going to win?" [in reference to the UAA, and she nails it, although she did give two choices, which might disqualify her in certain circles.]

But the bestest, was her answer to the question "Contemporary art gets this bad rap as being obscure, difficult and sometime even indulgent. What are your thoughts about this?" Where if I'm reading her right, she accepts the premise, gives lip service to how it sucks, and then explains how she is going along for the ride.

In order:
Accepting the premise:
Well there is a culture of insecurity around art viewing. People never trust their own reactions to what they see. Even people reading my pieces, they’ll think I think that was well written but I don’t really understand art.
The lip service:
People judge art mostly... in two ways. There's use value. ... Then there’s this judging based on whether you could do it.
Going along for the ride:
I try to talk about the art and give context. I don’t know if I succeed all the time, but I try to make art more accessible all the time.
I find the insight extremely helpful in understanding how Ms. Dault thinks before she writes. However, when one is limited to less than 500 words per article, aiming for context should be the last thing squeezed in, if there's still space. If I had the gig, I'd be banging people over the head with the largest typewriter I could find. Context be darned, trying to sell newspapers while accepting the insecurity around Contemporary art, and then feeding into that insecurity by attempting to give it context? In under 500 words? If Ms. Dault had been the daughter of Hemingway, perhaps. But it strikes me as an impossible task.

Either, complain, groan, whine and harangue your editors until they give you at least 1,500 words three times a week, and then do the insecurity/context gig. Or accept that the powers that be ain't gonna give you space that is going to the death of hockey (is it dead yet?) and in 500 words or less write the most provocative and enticing report/article (not review) you can on an exhibit.

That all being said, I love the interview, and whole-heartedly cast my vote for more.

The winners


Strange what a tiny bit of searching will do. I just found a list of the winners of the Untitled Art Awards (via Torontoist).

Congrats to all the winners. Better luck next time for everybody else.

Who won the Untitled Art Awards?


Once again, I'm late to the party. I just found out that last Wednesday they had the Untitled Art Awards. Unforunately, they don't list the winners. Inquiring minds want to know!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Julia Dault gets all misty-eyed


Since it seems that Ms. Dault is catalyst for me burning a bridge or two. I figured it would be worthwhile to revist another article she wrote before it disapears from the National Post website. She wrote a 424 word article about the current show at the Saidye Bronfman Center. Nice enough, and it mentions (I think) everybody. I gotta pick a fight with her editors, 424 words isn't enough space to say anything, especially when the place where the exhibit is happening is called the Laine and Danny Taran Gallery at the Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts - heck that's 3% of her space!

New Blog Roll Additions (this could become ridiculous)


New to me, in no particular order:

The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. I didn't know that it existed, now I do, and their current exhibit of "Now Then!" looks super smooth.
James Leonard - Contemporary Artist. I picked Mr. Leonard up through Simpleposie. If Jennifer turns his crank then he's obviously good enough for me.
Megan and Murray McMillan. While they look mighty happy in the photo, if they've discovered a Boy and his Dog, they're alright.
Eva Lake's Diary. I think Ms. Lake rocks. She does a radio show on Contemporary Visual Art in Portland, Oregon. She's going to be interviewing Carolyn Zick. What more could I ask for?
Rhinestones. Julien doesn't seem to given to posting every day, but...
ZeDBloggers. Ummm, while there are tons of things I think are really bad about the CBC, and some things that I think are completely ridiculous, Zed ain't one of them. Quite contrary, they rock like nobody's business. Thanks Kerry, again.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Isn't that why there are borders?


I'm not really big on mending walls, or even a mending wall. However as I'm stuck up here in the frost, I can't stop myself from pointing out how absolutely horrific the CBC's art coverage has become. Case in point, number seventy-five: Some bright wag there (probably Greig Dymond) decided that my tax dollars would be well spent paying Miranda Purves for her thoughts on The Gates. It ended up becoming a 995 word article called "Gated Community, Inside Central Park for the launch of The Gates."

Why, Mr. Dymond thought that it was relevant content for the CBC's Arts website, I don't know. Why Mr. Dymond thought that Ms. Purves would write about the project better than your generic Arts journalist, or better than your generic Visual Arts journalist, or better than your professional Visual Arts journalist, or better than your professional and academic Visual Arts journalist, or better than your professional gossip columnist, I don't know.

I figured I was up here on the other side of the border, I wasn't going down to see the Gates, so there was a distinct possibility that I could actually limit the amount of Gates coverage that I consumed - y'know sorta like Bob wrote... But, no, Mr. Dymond decided that what I needed was insightful commentary I couldn't get elsewhere. Maybe next time, he'll stick to the Canadian side of the border and publish a review of the Christo and Jeanne-Claude exhibit happening 1.8 miles from him, at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Rant-off, and I now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Vince Aletti on Sarah Anne Johnson


It is always nice when Canadian's get coverage out of town, although judging from the facts in the story, Ms. Johnson has been out of town for a while. In this week's Village Voice Mr. Aletti write 767 very nice words about Ms. Johnson's photographs. If you want to see some of the photos, but can't make it to NYC, try the Julie Saul Gallery's website.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Woo-Hoo! Maclean in La Presse


Yesterday, La Presse published a 592 word review of Maclean's exhibit at Roger Bellemare. Overall Jerome Delgado heaps a ton of praise on Maclean. However, there is one absolute and complete mistake. And after my correspondence with Mr. Murray Whyte, I hope that La Presse deals with errors like Mr. Whyte says that the Toronto Star does. M. Delgado writes "Comme le révèle son premier solo, tenu à la galerie Roger Bellemare, une des mieux cotées en ville." Which I roughly translate as: "As revealed in his first solo exhibition, held at Roger Bellemare's gallery, which is one of the biggest and best downtown." Sorry M. Delgado, but Maclean has had previous solo exhibitions, here.

I've written to the editors, we'll see if there is any response.

[Update 5:00 pm: There has been a response, click here to read it.]

Responses from Jerome Delgado


I just had a very interesting discussion with Jerome Delgado, the author of this article. My translations are in italics.

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Sent: Monday, February 14, 2005 10.57
To: nouvelles@lapresse.ca
Cc: commentaires@lapresse.ca; redaction@lapresse.ca
Subject: Correction


In yesterday's paper, Jerome Delgado wrote that the exhibit by Maclean was his "first solo show." In fact it is not. Maclean had exhibitions here at Zeke's Gallery in 2001 and 2002.

Thank You Very Much
Chris Hand

Zeke's Gallery
3955 Saint Laurent
Montreal, Quebec H2W 1Y4
(514) 288-2233

-----Original Message-----
From: Delgado, Jérôme [mailto:JDELGADO@LaPresse.ca]
Sent: Monday, February 14, 2005 13.06
To: Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Subject: maclean

Je sais que Maclean avait déjà exposé chez vous. Ce que je voulais dire (il y a peut-être eu corrections à l'édition du texte, je ne sais pas, je ne l'ai pas relu une fois publié), c'est que c'était sa première expo solo dans une galerie d'« envergure ». Vous noterez que je n'ai pas utilisé ces termes, par respect pour votre travail.

I know that Maclean exhibited at your gallery. What I wanted to say (and it is quite possible that my text was edited, I don't know, as I did not read it again once it was published) was that it was his first exhibit in a big ass fancy white cube and snotty gallery [my personal French-English dictionary… aka it is a joke for anybody who doesn't understand sarcasm]. Please note I did not use those terms out of respect for your work.

Merci de votre compréhension,
j. d.

-----Message d'origine-----
De : Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Envoyé : 14 février 2005 13:27
À : Delgado, Jérôme
Objet : RE: maclean


A) Premierement c'est quoi un galerie d'« envergure »? Mon dictionaire donne un idee des grandeur des ailes d'une oiseau.
et B) est ce que je peu mettre votre response sur mon blogue?

A) First, what is a gallery with a large wingspan [literal translation from a different French-English dictionary]? My dictionary gives an idea of the length of a bird's wings.
And B) Can I publish this on my blog?

Merci beaucoup pour le response.

Baseball Sucks

-----Original Message-----
From: Delgado, Jérôme [mailto:JDELGADO@LaPresse.ca]
Sent: Monday, February 14, 2005 13.58
To: Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Subject: RE : maclean

Vous faites bien ce que vous voulez sur votre blogue. Je parlais d'envergure par rapport à marginal, méconnu, hors-circuit, appele-le comme vous voulez. Maissachez que je ne voulais pas vous blesser.

You can do what you want on your blog. I was speaking about a marginal, unknown, out of the way, call it what you will. But don't forget I did not want to hurt you.

-----Message d'origine-----
De : Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Envoyé : 14 février 2005 14:17
À : Delgado, Jérôme
Objet : RE: RE : maclean


Je ne prends pas comme un blesure. J'essayer de comprendre. Et maintenant je vous demande pourquoi tu pense que mon galerie est marginal et meconnu? Vous avez venu seulement un fois, je sais que le galerie est "hors-circuit" mais Stewart Hall et Plein Sud sont aussi hors circuit, je ne comprendre pour quoi la placement relative d'une autre galerie a aucun rapport sur l'art qui est expose la.

I'm not hurt. I'm just trying to understand. And now I ask why you think my gallery is marginal and unknown? You've only been here once, and I know that you consider the gallery is out of the way, but Stewart Hall and Plein Sud are also out of the way, and I don't understand how the location of a gallery relative to other galleries has any bearing on the art that is exhibited there.

Sur Google, "Galerie Roger Bellemare" recoit 979 "hits." "Zeke's Gallery" recoit un peu plus. Selon mes etudes une galerie dans le Belgo peut-etre recevoir 4,000 personnes par anne, En 2004 Zeke's Gallery a recu 5,700. Combien des catalogues a M. Bellemare publie? Zeke's Gallery a publier 12, Est ce que M. Bellemare a eu un critique dans un publication dehors du Quebec? Zeke's Gallery a eu plusiers.

On Google, "Galerie Roger Bellemare" gets 979 hits, "Zeke's Gallery gets a couple more. From my studies, a gallery in the Belgo building will get about 4,000 visitors a year. In 2004, Zeke's Gallery received 5,700. How many catalogues has Mr. Bellemare published? Zeke's has published 12. Has Mr. Bellemare been reviewed in a publication outside of Quebec? Zeke's has a couple of times.

Je m'excuse pour la qualite de mon francais ecrit, et j'espere que tous est comprehensible.

Sorry about the quality of my written French, I hope everything is understandable.

Baseball Sucks

-----Original Message-----
From: Delgado, Jérôme [mailto:JDELGADO@LaPresse.ca]
Sent: Monday, February 14, 2005 14.42
To: Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Subject: RE : RE : maclean

Oui, tout est compréhensible, mais justement, c'est un des aspects qui « marginalisent » Zeke's. Plein Sud ou Stewart Hall, pour revenir aux mêmes, produisent des documents clairs et nous « harcèlent » de façon disons plus classique. Mais attention, je ne m'en offusque pas, je dis seulement que c'est un des points, parmi beaucoup, qui nous font « oublier » un peu votre galerie. Mais en passant, je ne suis pas allé seulement qu'une fois. Au mons deux fois, j'y étais de façon anonyme et plusieurs autres, je me suis retrouvé devant une porte fermée. Bellemare ne publie peut-être pas de catalogues, mais connaissez-vous vraiment son parcours?

Yes, everything is understandable, but it is one of the things that marginalizes Zeke's. Plein Sud and Stewart Hall to return to the subject produce easy to read documents, and hassle us in a more classical manner. But I don't want to get off the track, it is just one of many points that makes us forget your gallery sometimes. But in passing, I've been there more than once, at least twice, anonymously, and other times the door was shut. Bellemare doesn't publish catalogues, but do you really understand what he is trying to do?

-----Message d'origine-----
De : Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Envoyé : 14 février 2005 15:07
À : Delgado, Jérôme
Objet : RE: RE : RE : maclean


Vous etes correcte, Zeke's est completment au contraire des facons "classiques" pour faire le promouvoir et connaisance des art visuels dans la grand publique. Alors que je suis le seul presonne ici, je m'excuse pour les temps que vous avez venu et la porte etait fermer. Il y a des temps quand j'ai des visites de studio ou des autres choses a faire. D'habitude je dis a tous le monde, "si vous viens de loin, donne moi un coup de fil (514) 288-2233, et j'y vais coller mes fesse a mon chaise. Si vous etes dans le coin et la porte est ouvert vous etes toujours bienvenue" - mes heures officielles sont de 10h a 20h 7 jours par semaine, plus tard quand il y a un evenment ici.

You're right, Zeke's is completely and thoroughly against the "classical" way of promoting and understanding of visual art to the general public. Because I am the only person here, I apologize for the times you visited and the door was shut. There are times when I have studio visits or other things to do. Usually I tell people, "if you're coming from a distance, give me a shout (514) 288-2233 and I'll glue my butt to the chair. If you're in the neighborhood and the door is open you're always welcome. My official hours are from 10 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week, later when there is something happening here.

Selon le parcours de M. Bellemare, alors que je faire un viste chez lui au minimum trois fois par anne, oui j'ai un idee.

As far as what Mr. Bellemare does, because I visit his gallery at least three times a year, I would think that I am aware of what he is doing.

Aussi, alors que vous avez pas lu l'article apres qu'il etiat publie, le ligne est: "Comme le révèle son premier solo, tenu à la galerie Roger Bellemare, une des mieux cotées en ville."

Also, since you didn't read the article published the line is: "As revealed in his first solo show, held at galerie Roger Bellemare, one of the best in the city.

Si ils etait quelque choses comme "Comme le revele son premier exposition a la galerie Roger Bellemare..." tous est bonnes. C'est seulement un question d'une vergule, qui donne l'idee que M. Bellemare a trouver Maclean juste comme ca, et Maclean n'a pas un histoire avant l'expo. Il a eu un tres grande histoire avec plusiers des expositions solo (meme dans le Belgo) avant que M. Bellemare a lui trouver.

If it was something like "As revealed in his first solo exhibition at Roger Bellemare…" everything would have been ok. It's just a question of a comma, which leads the reader to believe that Mr. Bellemare found Maclean just like that, and that Maclean had no history before this exhibition. In fact Maclean had a very long history with many solo shows (some even in the Belgo building) before Mr. Bellemare discovered him.

Baseball Sucks

-----Original Message-----
From: Delgado, Jérôme [mailto:JDELGADO@LaPresse.ca]
Sent: Monday, February 14, 2005 15.36
To: Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Subject: RE : RE : RE : maclean

OK, j'aurai du écrire « son premier solo dans une galerie (bien) cotée »

OK, I should've written "his first solo exhibition in a respectable gallery."

-----Message d'origine-----
De : Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Envoyé : 14 février 2005 15:41
À : Delgado, Jérôme
Objet : RE: RE : RE : RE : maclean


Est ce que ca sera possible d'avoir un correction ou clarification publier dans La Presse, svp?

Would it be possible to get a correction or clarification published in La Presse, please?

Baseball Sucks

-----Original Message-----
From: Delgado, Jérôme [mailto:JDELGADO@LaPresse.ca]
Sent: Monday, February 14, 2005 15.46
To: Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Subject: RE : RE : RE : RE : maclean

Je ne sais pas.

I don't know.

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris from Zeke's Gallery
Sent: Monday, February 14, 2005 15.52
To: Delgado, Jérôme
Subject: RE: RE : RE : RE : RE : maclean


J'espere si vous demander aux redacteurs de publier un clarification, ils vont vous suivre. Je ne savoir aucune journal qui vont laisser un fait incorrecte passer sans correction.

I hope that if you were to ask the editors to publish one that they would follow your lead. I don't know of any newspaper who would knowingly leave an incorrect fact uncorrected.

Baseball Sucks


Now that you've read all the way down, I find it interersting that M. Delgado doesn't read what is published under his name in La Presse, there are a couple of other things that I find interesting, but I'll keep my mouth closed for the time being.

New Landscape Theories by Maclean ran here from June 9, 2001 until July 28, 2001.

Sportsmanlike Driving by Maclean was up on the walls here from October 25, 2002 until November 14, 2002.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Talking about money, money, money, money, money


And finally, Peter Goddard at the Toronto Star, wrote a nice review of a show by Dominique Toutant called "The Boutique" at Gallery 1313 in Toronto. According to Mr. Goddard, because of the show, "we can really feel good about the art of shopping." How this exhibit is different than the annex to the Joyce Yahouda Gallery called the Store, I'm not entirely certain. (OK, one of them everything is made by one person, and in the other there are a variety of objects made by a variety of people.) And do either of them really comment, satirize, or challenge "the increasing prominence of the gift shop in any art institution's business practice." Or are they just trying to cash in on people's fascination with dust gathering objects that are "pretty" or "interesting?" And most importantly, as Ms. Yahouda takes a 50% commision on everything sold at the store, what is Gallery 1313's take?

Talking about money, money, money, money


Then, over at the Telegraph (those guys in England sure know what to write about, eh?) as they put it "Colin Gleadell examines the market for Asian art." Which in a nutshell states, Indian art is the next big thing. Hmmm, maybe I'll jump on the bandwagon.

Talking about money, money, money


Over at the NYTimes, they published an article subititled "the Art of Donation." All I can say about this is you should check out Todd Gibson's interview with Petra Arends (Corporate Executive of the UBS Art Collection) Part One, Part Two, and Part Three. Before you jump to any conclusions. And if you're going to see the Gates, this might give you something else to do, once you've been Central Parked out.

Talking about Money, money


But then again, the Times of London warned readers about a scam by a company called Holland and Kobeck. While in the body of the article they write lines like the following:

Charles Saatchi, the art investor, recently sold Damien Hirst’s famous pickled shark — entitled The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living — for £6.25m. It was bought for £50,000 in 1991 — an average annual return of 45%.

However, returns from the art market in general have been less spectacular. Over the past 50 years, the Mei Moses Fine Art index has posted an average annual return of 12.6%, marginally beating the S&P 500’s gain of 11.7%. Over 25 years, the US stock market comes out on top with a return of 13.8% a year, compared with 11% for the Mei Moses index.
The British Rail Pension Fund invested £40m, or 3% of its assets, in fine art in 1974 to hedge against the risks of equities. By 1999, when it had sold the bulk of its holdings, its art portfolio had earned an average return of 11.3%
So what is it? Huh?

Also, if you're interested there's the Artfacts Top 100 chart, Kunstkompass, Joy Senack's PhD thesis defense, or if you are so inclined there are tons more.

Talking about Money


I came across this article in the Guardian about how European "art lovers and investors" are playing the market. I like it very much when the writer makes no bones about using common knowledge to identify bargains.

Here's to hoping that the Canadian dollar continues its continued rise in value.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Juxtaposing two things


I was reading the Hour's Visual arts section, and it occurred to me that back in December Isa Tousignant wrote this:

And then I looked to the left and saw this:

Three reviews of contemporary art in eleven weeks, four reviews if you count the Egypt show at the Musee des Beaux Arts. Hmmm...

Blog Roll Additions


baillairge - Local and art related. Cool!
Lisa's Art Blog - I don't know if I am flogging a dead horse here or what, as she has not written anything since the end of January, but what the hey! How often do you come across an Israeli Art Blog?
Indian Temples and Iconography - Unlike Lisa, Kavitha has been posting regularly, like Lisa I couldn't resist an Indian Art Blog.
the art life - Seems to come from Australia, and seems to be good, too.
Art In Liverpool Weblog - Pretty much self-explanatory.
Artzen - wicked cool, but updated about once a month.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Karen Trask, Neige Noir


Earlier in the week I had an opportunity to interview Karen Trask both about her exhibit and on a whack of other things, too. As the interview is now in line for being transcribed, and might take a while, I figured that I should put some words to screen about the show.

Ms. Poirier used to have two rooms in the Belgo building, but moved over the summer to be within spitting distance of the Maison Radio-Canada. All I can say about the location is that I hope that the good folk at the CBC collect scads of art, because as the CBC itself is a hassle to get to, Ms. Poirier's space ain't the most convenient spot.

That all being said, the one thing I liked was that for the vernissage, I was able to check out the Galerie Dentaire, which for you folks from out of town, is a combo Dentist's office/Art Gallery. Cool concept, but if the art that was on the walls at the time of my visit is any indication of the quality of their root canal or tooth cleaning capabilities, then I strongly suggest that you brush your teeth at minimum three times a day AND floss regularly.

But back to Ms. Trask. Neige Noir is a collection of highly conceptual art, that after discussing things (in detail) with her became absolutely wicked cool. Basically she riffed off of the concept of snow on the TV into the space in between into dirty snow in the city. Or at least that's what I think, now. I'm quite capable of changing my mind tomorrow.

There are eleven pieces in all. One little man, six prints, two videos, a sculptural sorta thing, and set of prints, that while they can be purchased individually really and truly are one large piece called 63° latitude, 0' 49" / 21° longitude, 38' 36" 14hr34min 07 janvier 2001 [sic]. If you wanted to translate it into decimal you'd get latitude: 63.0136 and longitude: 21.6433. If you wanted to see exactly where it is/was, look here:

One way of seeing latitude: 63.0136 longitude: 21.6433

Another way of seeing latitude: 63.0136 longitude: 21.6433

Yet another way of seeing latitude: 63.0136 longitude: 21.6433

And still another way of seeing latitude: 63.0136 longitude: 21.6433

Apparently Ms. Trask was in the wilds of Finland in January of 2001. Cool, eh? And while she was there, I would imagine that her thinking lead her to this:

The way Ms. Trask saw latitude: 63.0136 longitude: 21.6433 also know as 63° latitude, 0' 49" / 21° longitude, 38' 36" 14hr34min 07 janvier 2001, 24 lithographs on hand made paper, 70" x 135"

Now it's all about the spaces in between. This piece itself is sandwiched between Lecture de neige (of which you're only seeing half, 'cuz a) you gotta get yourself down there to see it for yourself, and b) it is pretty freakin' cool!)

Installation view of Lecture de neige, TV, Metal, Plaster and wood. Variable dimensions

The missing piece is a TV screen also on a stool which is showing your standard issue snowy screen. The face watching the TV is in fact a mold for a sculpture of a face, so while you think you're actually seeing a face, in fact you're seeing a face that is in fact missing. Which again wraps in nicely to the whole concept of the space in between.

Now I know that in the interview Ms. Trask somehow made the connection between the space in between to words, which if I remember correctly is sorta maybe vaguely based on the concept that ideas are, are, are - never mind, I'll go back and listen to the interview again. Or maybe it has to do with the concept of TV transmitting ideas directly into one's head, which she then realized could be represented this way:

Serie Neige Noir VI (I think) Lithograph and collage on handmade paper 12" x 8"

But in the same way that I am getting all confused about which way is up and which way is down, she continues on the very same track which leads to this:

Serie Neige Noir VII (I think) Lithograph and collage on handmade paper 12" x 15"

Then once you get into the other video and the little man, man I was so twisted I didn't know which way was up.

There is a whole bunch of stuff that I could riff off of or on to with regards to this show, from anything I've previously written to how technology and progress has forever changed things for the worse (after all, when snow falls, it is white). But I've already foamed at the mouth for what some would consider too long (744 words to be precise).

But the main thing to me, is that for the most part when I see conceptual art (ie stuff that is supposed to make you think big thoughts, or more commonly known as a large preponderance of what Canadian Artists make nowadays) is that unless there is someway into it, I don't spend the time doing the big thoughts. Because Ms. Trask graciously agreed to be interviewed, I was able to have my socks blown off, because I could follow her thought process and then make my own progression of ideas down a slightly different path. And being able to think about all the twisty bits in Ms. Trask's art is wicked cool.

Oh yeah, the show goes on until the 13th of February, and Sylviane Poirer's gallery is located at 1000 Amherst, #103 to be precise, they're open slightly better than standard gallery hours (Wednesday - Sunday, noon to 5:30 or 6 pm).

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Mmmm Crow tastes delicious!


Last night and this morning I had a very interesting discussion with Murray Whyte, of the Toronto Star about a post I made in January. This is it in its entirety. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

-----Original Message-----
From: Murray Whyte
Sent: Tuesday, February 08, 2005 14.33
To: info@zeke.com
Subject: your blog

Hi there. I'm Murray Whyte. You said this about me:

"Murray Whyte at the Toronto Star writes 1,297 words about Istvan Kantor's upcoming show at the Art Gallery of York University. Ummm, maybe I should take it back, what I said about articles of more than 1,000 words. First Whyte screws up who the artist was in the most recent blodd throwing incident, and then, second, he just doesn't get it. Cinque Hicks, over at Bare and Bitter Sleep, put it best, "when you've built your whole identity on being against something, only to have that something turn around and suddenly admire you without transforming itself in any way, it means that you've failed..." "

First of all, how did I 'screw up,' and then 'not get it?' It's one thing to offer criticism with context, and another to simply spew baseless, undefended vitriol. Shall we discuss?

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris from Zeke's Gallery [mailto:zeke@zeke.com]
Sent: Tuesday, February 08, 2005 19.52
To: Murray Whyte
Subject: RE: your blog


Yes, please. I like discussion.

My blog is dedicated to writing about Contemporary Canadian Art. As I would imagine that you're just jumping into it, I have in the past professed an unabashed love of articles about contemporary art in daily newspapers that are over 1,000 words. Yours was over 1,000 words but it made me cringe. The reason I stated that you got it wrong is that the piece that Mr. Kantor threw blood on was by Jeff Koons not Paul McCarthy. In any other part of the newspaper this would have been picked up and corrected by a number of people, having it get all the way into print just makes you and the Star look very shoddy. It is the same as if you had written that Trudeau's middle name was Emerson. Just flat out wrong on such a basic level, that it then forces a questioning of absolutely everything else in the article.

And then, as I was quite impressed by Mr. Hick's assessment of Mr. Kantor which is in direct contradiction with yours, I figured I lay it on think and heavy. From my perspective, Mr. Kantor has been co-opted by the art establishment here in Canada, he has not transformed it in any way. Apologies if you took it personally, it was not intended as such, despite the use of your name.

If there is anything you'd like me to change, correct, delete or anything else, please let me know.

Baseball Sucks

Zeke's Gallery

-----Original Message-----
From: Murray Whyte
Sent: Wednesday, February 09, 2005 07.58
To: zeke@zeke.com
Subject: RE: your blog

Hiya --

Discussion's fine. But firstly, the piece was NOT Koons' Jackson/Bubbles piece, but rather an exaggerated, caricaturized homage to that very piece by Paul McCarthy. You can find the study for the piece here:

this is the link

The finished piece, cast in gold, was the one in Berlin. So, I'm afraid you're wrong, which really should be your motivation for correcting your statements, not to appease me. It is a little disturbing, however, to be berated for an error that is, in fact, not an error at all; your tone of outrage at something that is in fact correct is sort of embarrassing. Also, Kantor did not 'throw blood on' the piece, as he made clear in the story; he never has, in any of his actions. The blood, and the spectacle it creates, IS the piece. What was Trudeau's middle name, anyway?

I don't take any of this personally; however, I would like to draw a distinction between a profile and a critical review. Quite against expectation -- or maybe not? -- Kantor has become a figure in the Canadian art establishment. That being the case, I decided not to add to the tiresome debate of his worthiness, but speak to the man himself, and try to draw out some of the motivations and ideas that inform what has been his life's work. He is, there can be no question, a controversial figure; he is not, however, one that has been given a great deal of opportunity to speak for himself in a mass public medium. There are those that will criticize the very choice to even acknowledge his existence in the mainstream press, but I am not one of them; the fact that he has achieved notoreity -- of any sort -- in the public realm makes him newsworthy, and a justifiable realm of inquiry for a mass medium's cultural discourse.

Let me reiterate: I told a story. I did not offer an interpretation, critical or otherwise, of the man's artistic merit. That in mind, I am perplexed at what you might mean by me 'not getting it,' when in fact what I did was give voice to a narrative, not offer my own idea of what it might mean. If you disagree with what was said in the story, then you disagree with Kantor, not with me.

In any case, please do correct the 'screwed up' accusation; the error was yours, not mine. I'd appreciate that. And believe me, absolutely every error in the Star is corrected, whether it's about Chretien, or Valentine's pastries. It is a strict and immutable policy that we adhere to without exception. And if you'd like to discuss this further, I'm available.

Thanks, MW

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris from Zeke's Gallery [mailto:zeke@zeke.com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 09, 2005 14.56
To: Murray Whyte
Subject: RE: your blog


Thanks for your reply. I apologize, and will be making a correction. Also would you mind if I posted your email and/or our email conversation on my blog?

Then, I do understand the difference between a profile and a critical review, and don't like it when the line gets blurred when it is in a daily. Too often reporters for dailies (or weeklies) try to do a critical and academic analysis of a visual art exhibit in under 700 words. Because of my blinders (due to my mistake) I only gave your article a quick scan. Then knocked off something that I thought would be pithy. Which is not excuse me, merely explain.

Within the context of my entire post and the blog itself, what you hear as "the tone of my outrage" is intended (and for the most part understood) as one offs that are meant to entertain and draw focus on Canadian visual arts. All the other visual art stories in that post, including yours, got a "grade." I thought that would be sufficient to make readers realize I wasn't being terribly serious.

And finally, your choice of quotes in your article, specifically ""Never, ever would I have thought myself as being within the establishment," he said..." without any countering comment from you or him, does lead me to think that both you and he recognize that as of now he is part of the establishment, which within the context of this discussion puts us on opposite sides, both you and me, as well as me and Mr. Kantor. If I misread that line, then once again I'm guilty as charged :-)

I hope all is well with you

Zeke's Gallery

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris from Zeke's Gallery [mailto:zeke@zeke.com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 09, 2005 15.14
To: Murray Whyte
Subject: My corrections


The offending posts with the corrections.

Link number 1
Link number 2

I still hope all is well with you

Zeke's Gallery

-----Original Message-----
From: Murray Whyte
Sent: Wednesday, February 09, 2005 10.11
To: zeke@zeke.com
Subject: RE: your blog

I don't mind that email being printed in the blog, if you like. Does my grade change? I think it's important to understand that Kantor's quote that you mention, "Never, ever would I have thought myself as being within the establishment," is exactly that: his quote. Am I somehow complicit in believing the same thing simply for presenting it? I think that's a matter for debate -- by which I mean that I would neither feign complete innocence or suggest myself as an absolver or apologist.

However, I do think that part of Kantor's shtick -- indeed, an essential part of his artistic practice -- is, in fact, to inspire outrage, condemnation, and criticism in the mass media sphere. By taking a step back and NOT responding in that way -- but, rather, offering what I thought was a fairly detached report, full og background and facts from the man himself -- I was not only opting out of his game, but giving readers the opportunity to respond to Kantor, and his work, themselves.

Critics perform a vital role in the public's interactions with cultural product, but it's important we remember that there is no absolute, no correct, no right, no wrong. An artist has intent that he or she executes formally; the response to it, however, is personal and individual. A critic can help to evaluate the execution, but at the last, we are all human beings with thought, feelings and reactions. I wanted to give readers an opportunity to judge this oeuvre for themselves, and build their own reaction based on the information presented -- somethign that hasn't been done with Kantor, by and large, which, in fact, has played into the intent of his project. It's curiously reflexive, and intentional. I wonder what a critic might say about that.

Cheers, MW

-----Original Message-----
From: Murray Whyte
Sent: Wednesday, February 09, 2005 10.20
To: zeke@zeke.com
Subject: Re: My corrections


In future, I would only ask that you actually read pieces in their entirety before offering judgments of them -- scathing, praising or otherwise. If you don't, it's sort of like reviewing an art show you haven't seen, isn't it? And that's not fair to anyone -- neither the author, the readers for whom you are trying to provide a service, or, ultimately, yourself.

Cheers, MW

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Just in case you thought it was all milk and honey


Not visual arts related but hilarious none the less. Last Thursday the New York Times ran a review of a musical called Good Vibrations. For anybody who thinks I'm harsh on the art reviewers here in town, check out these lines:
Even those who believe everything on this planet is here for a purpose may at first have trouble justifying the existence of "Good Vibrations," the singing headache that opened last night at the Eugene O'Neill Theater.

But audience members strong enough to sit through this rickety jukebox of a show, which manages to purge all catchiness from the surpassingly catchy hits of the Beach Boys, will discover that the production does have a reason to be, and a noble one: "Good Vibrations" sacrifices itself, night after night and with considerable anguish, to make all other musicals on Broadway look good.


But it isn't just songs that have been borrowed (and mutilated) for this production, which features a blockheaded comic strip of a book by Richard Dresser, a respectable playwright who should know better. Every element in the show appears to have been cribbed in haste, as if on the morning of a final exam, from other, more agreeable musicals of the jukebox/pop pastiche genre, which is gradually devouring all of Broadway.


But while "Good Vibrations" dutifully culls from its hot-ticket predecessors, the sum effect is of a lumbering, brainless Frankenstein's monster, stitched together from stolen body parts and stuffed into a wild bikini. From its cutely clichéd script (which begins, "Once upon a time there was a far-off land called California") to its haphazard choreography, the show feels as if it simply gave up on trying to figure out the balance of nostalgia and satire that can make this kind of show-biz exercise profitable.
I don't know if I should try and emulate Ben Brantley more or less, but he does write really well.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Getting things right in interviews (or thanks Kevin Temple!)


There's an interesting comment in my most recent post about the proposed changes to the way the Canada Council funds visual artists. Basically the thing that caught my eye was the "Your normative claim that artists who don't receive grant money under the current program are all for the proposed changes is bullshit."

Now I'm all for differences of opinion, and free-speech and all that, but I found it very strange, as I clearly stated that the "the absolute bestest one was from Moncton." I was referring to the report from Moncton, and pulled out a paragraph from that report that I liked to illustrate why I liked it. How Kevin Temple, who seems to write reviews for Now magazine, decided what I wrote was a "normative claim," I have no idea. Nor do I understand why he would even use such a term here. Sorta like railing against the movie called Boogeyman, because the depth of emotion as portrayed by the actors is not sufficient realistic.

The reason I bring this up, is because I was talking with a friend over the weekend about being quoted, and as I've been doing scads of interviews recently, I'm interested in getting them right. In a recent issue of the McGill Daily, there was an article about l'Affaire Roadsworth, and I was quoted like this:
Hand vehemently disagrees with the claim that Gibson’s work is unsafe, pointing to London as an example of an equally safe city for drivers, with heavily graffitied streets.
Unfortunately, the streets of London are not heavily graffitied. The British, however use road markings that look an awful lot like some of Roadsworth's work. So I end up looking like I don't know what I'm talking about to the readers of the article. Do I worry, no. I figure that if anybody takes offense at what I said they can talk to me directly, I'm not hard to find. But the author's perception of what I said is what she wrote, is not close to what I actually said.

Mr. Temple similarly takes his perception of what I wrote and then comments on that. Which is a darn shame, because as the Canada Council showed there are some mighty fine discussions that can be had about how to make what they do better. It's just a pity that more artists across the country didn't turn out for the discussions.

All of this is actually a long-winded way for me to state how I handle the interviews that I've done. For anybody that has missed 'em, I'm quite pleased with them. Initially I started out interviewing the artists who exhibited here.
My interview with Toly Kouroumalis from August 16, 2004.
My interview with Chris Dyer from September 23, 2004.

But then I realized I did not need to limit myself to just the artists here. So I started branching out.
My interview with Dominique Blain, from December 6, 2004.
My interview with Marc Mayer, from December 20, 2004.
My interview with Michel Hellman, from August 6, 2004.
My interview with Eduardo Kac, from October 26, 2004.

And I still have Philip Bottenberg, Karen Trask, Chris Lloyd, and Roadsworth in the can waiting to be transcribed, along with a couple more scheduled to happen.

I do 'em in order to make more people aware of the staggering amount of art that is coming from Montreal. Spin magazine and the New York Times might think that Montreal is the "next big thing" in pop music, but Montreal is in fact the new black in the art world.

In each and every one, I record the entire conversation, get it transcribed, then email the interviewee asking them if everything is good - or in other words do they still agree with everything that they previously said, and only then do I post an interview. Just to avoid these disputes between perception and what was actually said. Now that I got that off my chest I feel much better. Thanks Kevin Temple.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Getting out of here to see other people's art - #2


Yesterday afternoon I went downtown to check out the following:

Untitled group show at Galerie Bernard DesRoches - B+
Same old, same old at Les Modernes - C+
Scott Addis at Galerie 2050 - C+
La Hierarchie des Besoins, Juliana Pivato& Pierre Julien at the VAV Gallery - B+
3x3, Flavin, Andre, Judd at The Leonard and Bina Ellen - C
Les lois de l'indifference, Romeo Gongora at UQAM - A
Glissements. Art et ecriture at UQAM - B+

I think I scored paperwork from all the galleries that we were at. But then again, I might not have.

If the show at Concordia is called 3x3, why are there only two pieces by Dan Flavin?

What I assume is the work by Juliana Pivatois very nice, reminiscent of both Godley & Creme and Janet Cardiff. As she is still in the very early stages of her career, this is ok. If she was say, thirty years older, this would not be a good thing. If in fact it is by Pierre Julien the same thoughts apply.

If you haven't been to Les Modernes, it is worth at least one visit, but only one. And the two shows at UQAM rock like nobody's business, pretty darn wonderful stuff - and there's even a lot of video work, and I normally can't stand video.

Friday, February 04, 2005

National Consultations with Visual Artists - updated


I just got this nice little email from the Canada Council for the Arts saying that they had figured something out. For those of you with memories worse than mine, The Canada Council announced way back when that they needed to change the way in which they gave away cash to visual artists for a number of reasons.

I was all in favor of the proposed changes, and I wrote about them here, here and here, and in other places as well.

I got the distinct impression that I was in the minority.

Well, they have published what they call the Secretary Reports from Consultations, and while I haven't had a chance but to scan them, they look pretty darn cool.

One thing that jumped out at me was the following. These are the attendance figure from their various consultations with artists across the country:

Vancouver - 25
Edmonton - 3
Calgary - 20
Saskatoon - N/A
Regina - N/A
Winnipeg - 20
Toronto - 15
Ottawa - 22
Montreal - 115
Quebec City - 70
Halifax - 30
Moncton - 20
St John’s - 25

Once again, I point out for your enjoyment, Quebec is different, very different. Go read the reports for yourself, ok?

Late Addition: I just finished reading all 13 reports. And the absolute bestest one was from Moncton
A group of 20 mostly mid-career and established artists seemed unconvinced by the consultation process and raised many concerns about changes to the program. A number of younger artists (met after the formal session) expressed agreement in principle with the proposed changes.
Or to spell it out for the dense folk, the people already recieving cold hard cash from the council don't want changes, 'cuz it might make it more difficult for them to make their score. The people who haven't been able to access the cash like the proposed changes, 'cuz it means that they might be able to ride that governement gravy train.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Pushing stuff out #4


Still on stuff published January 20th, Nicolas Mavrikakis writes 560 words on the 3x3 Flavin, Andre and Judd exhibit currently up at Concordia. In such a tiny space, he manages to fit in the following names (in order of appearance): Duchamp, Warhol, Jeff Koons, Lisa Yuskavage, Carl Andre and Donald Judd. Somehow he manages to completely avoid/miss/ignore or otherwise not make mention of Dan Flavin. Hmmm, a group show about three artists, and only two of them are mentioned? What gives? It is especially strange given that the accompanying picture is of a piece by Mr. Flavin. Weird. C+

The readers of the Voir website pile on with 1,908 words. As they actually engage themselves in something approaching a discussion about minimalist art, I'd give them, collectively a B-. But still nobody mentioned Flavin, weirder and weirder.

Pushing stuff out #3


In the very same January 20 issue of the Mirror, Christine Redfern also put fingers to keyboard to write a 732 word "Winter Arts Preview." I can't stand any article that purports to be a "preview." Especially in an alternative weekly where there is no time to actually do anything other than re-write the darn press release. Who in their right mind is going to remember something they read 60 days after the fact? (Published on January 20, one of the events she touts in the Winter Arts Preview actually starts on March 21 you do the math - also if my memory is good (and most of the time it ain't) is actually Spring!) Most of the grade should go to whoever decided that there should be such a thing as a "Preview." D-

Pushing stuff out #2


Back on January 20th, jeez that seems like eons ago. Matthew Woodley put fingers to keyboard and came up with a 1,028 word interview/profile of Other. Very nicely done, made even better as the Mirror actually used visual art on their cover. The only problem (there's always one, right) is that if you read this week's Mirror, they screwed up on the address for the SubV Gallery. Despite the error, I still give him an A+

Pushing stuff out #1


I've got way too many things hanging out here for way too long. So I'm going to try and push 'em out, fairly fast. A) Jerome Delgado's 768 word review of Canada/Habitation by Giorgia Volpe, at Diagonale. Yes it is from the 16th of January, I told you I was backlogged. Nice chatty, I especially like how he seems to be adding direct quotes from the artist into his reviews down at the bottom. In this case I don't like how he tacked on two paragraphs (like that's enough) about Walk-in-Progress by Mario Duschesneau at Clark. Either split the darn review in half, or give each exhibit its own. B

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Erik's Super Easy Guide to Buying Art - Annotated for newbies


The View from the Edge of the Universe has this hilarious and dead-on-balls-accurate "Super-Easy Guide to Buying Art." It also got picked up by Todd at From the Floor, who treated it sorta straight (given the guy he is I wouldn't want it any other way).

[800 KB Adobe Acrobat file]

The one problem is, that despite its accuracy, if you didn't take artspeak 101 back when you were in (or at least attempting to do) university, then you could be lead astray just because you lack the necessary vocabulary to understand certain things.

So I figured, without Erik's permission, by the way, that like Martin Gardner I could annotate his guide to buying art. That way everybody could get in on the fun, and it wouldn't be so darn exclusive.

First off, there's this phrase "fallen in love with a piece of art." Don'tcha forget it. If you've been married more than twice, or you're estranged from your mother, you are not allowed to purchase any art. You obviously don't know jack about your emotions. When the man says "love" he means "LOVE." And despite what you might know about Robert Indiana, that ain't it.

Second there is the dicey question of what exactly is a "Major Museum?" In a nutshell, it is a museum that has been in existence for more than 50 years. (Sorry Getty). It needs to have more money than you can imagine, or in other words scads of cash (Sorry Whitney). It needs to be in a city that has a population of more than 10 million (Sorry Chicago). There are other factors at work here, too. If anybody else in the artblogosphere wants we probably could knock together a list of Major Museums, I'd be most interested in seeing the list, but there ain't but a dozen of them in the world.

Third, "key figure in art history." Umm, not to belabor the obvious, but an easy rule of thumb is if your mom has heard of the name of the artist, they are a key figure. If you get a quizzical look, or she scrunches up her face, they aren't.

Fourth, we come to the phrase "top NY or London gallery." Now just because a gallery is in New York or London doesn't mean that it is the top. Personally, I'd also add in Paris, Milan, Tokyo, and a couple of other international cities. But as Erik is stuck in Atlanta he's thinking in English. Being able to speak more than one language is infinitely helpful in navigating the art world. You also should be aware that no "top NY or London gallery" is going to refer to itself as "The Top." All of 'em still think that exclusion and exclusivity are key principles to follow in art. Don't be fooled by the presence of a 22 year-old receptionist in the micro-mini skirt.

Fifth, there's the phrase, "extensive auction history." I think Erik is referring to Christies and Sotheby's here. But it is possible with a little bit of work to track down information on auctions that happened elsewhere. I interpret this to mean more than 10 years worth of sales, or more than three auctions where similar work was available. But if you return to the original phrase "in love with the work." You can cut down on the time spent on research by counting how much money is in your wallet. If the price at auction is more, don't buy, and don't worry.

Sixth, what is a "decent museum?" These are the museums that want to be a major museum, but due to circumstances beyond their control, aren't. It also could be a museum with which you have developed a nice relationship. Here in Montreal, the Musee d'Art Contemporain would be a decent museum to me. If you're reading this in Houston, it ain't - although given the changes in the air, it might become one to Texans everywhere.

Seventh, by "several museums" Erik obviously means more than three. You know, something like four, five or six. If you read down to the entry for "potential star" they gotta hit three.

Eighth, art center group shows. There is a certain sub-sect of the art world where the artists themselves organize and exhibit their art and the art of other artists. These are called Art Centers, or Artist Run Centers, or Parallel galleries. Most universities have one, most cities have a couple, and there are quite a few way out in the boonies - because there are scads of artists who aren't entirely enamored of living in a big city. The better ones will have catalogues of their shows, the really really good ones will have absolutely amazing vernissages (openings for you foreigners), Most artists like a good party.

Ninth, "decent NY or London gallery or by a top gallery in another city." Again, avoid the micro-mini skirts like the plague. You're looking for personnel who know about the art that they are exhibiting, and can explain it to you. Some of them will publish catalogues (this is why museums are key, they almost always publish catalogues). If there is no catalogue, it ain't so bad, but those three page, four color, glossy fold out things that look like they could be used for selling faucets are a very bad sign. The gallery probably would be better off selling faucets.

Tenth, "Reviews or articles in several national art magazines or inclusion in survey books." Being from Atlanta, Erik is thinking ArtForum and Art in America. You can also include Modern Painter, Freize, and a couple of others, but then you'd be skewing yourself towards "international magazines" which are even better than national magazines. Here in Canada, Canadian Art Magazine is national, but because it's Canada it doesn't really cut it. Don't be fooled by magazines that have a circulation of under 10,000, even if they trumpet all over the place that they are distributed everywhere.

Eleventh, "developing secondary market." Code for being able to resell the art easily. Usually done at auctions, but it also can be through private sales or other means. One way to recognize that it is developing is simply by noticing the artist's name appearing in more and more places. If your best friend mentions to you that they heard something about the artist recently, that's a good sign.

One thing to realize in reading the "Super-Easy Guide to Buying Art" is that it is skewed towards viewing art as an investment. While this is all fine and dandy, and can make you extremely happy (and rich) you always gotta come back to the love. If you love the piece, and have enough cash that is good enough.

An easy way to tell if an artist is in the "earlier half of his or her career" or if they are in "the later half of his or her career" is to determine if the artist is over or under 40. Sometimes this doesn't quite work. Another way is if there are four or five or more digits in the price. Again this isn't a prefect way. The absolute most precise means is to determine at what age the artists started their career, then compare their age against the most recent actuarial tables and calculate if they are likely to live longer than they have already been creating or less.

Then, almost finally, there's that pesky question of "multiples." Basically if there is more than one copy of the artwork (like a photograph or a print) it's a multiple. However with recent advances in technology it has become possible to make Art that comes in many different sizes and mediums. Or in other words you might have a choice of something that is 24" x 36" or the very same thing at 48" x 72", or the very same thing as a poster, or on a collectible plate. Yes, those technically are multiples, but again if you don't love it, don't buy it.

Finally, don't forget to thank Erik for making the art world that much easier to navigate.