Friday, July 29, 2005

Last Night's Reading aka The Zeke's gets proud Pride Reading Spectacular! Part 5


The evening finished up in a fabulous form with RM Vaughan reading selections from his latest book, Ruined Stars. Not only is it a kick-ass book, but he's a kick-ass reader. If you'd like to hear how kick-ass, click here. [21:05 minutes, 19.3 MB]

The one, the only, RM Vaughan, looking dapper and literary, as usual.

Last Night's Reading aka The Zeke's gets proud Pride Reading Spectacular! Part 4


We started the second set off with the one and only Miss Gina. She read a couple of her poems (I'm going to have to remember next time to actually get some titles). If you'd like to hear it, click here. [15:00 minutes, 13.7 MB]

Miss Gina looking good.

Last Night's Reading aka The Zeke's gets proud Pride Reading Spectacular! Part 3


Then Catherine Paquette read a bunch of her poems. If you'd like to hear them, click here. [7:37 minutes, 6.98 MB]

Catherine Paquette getting into it...

Last Night's Reading aka The Zeke's gets proud Pride Reading Spectacular! Part 2


Next up was Mark Harris. He read two pieces. Once called 13 sentences about my childhood, and a second one who's name escaped me but had something to do with Diamanda Galas.

If you'd like to hear them, click here. [21:31 minutes, 19.7 MB]

Mark Harris looking all goth-like.

Last Night's Reading aka The Zeke's gets proud Pride Reading Spectacular! Part 1


Last night we had an absolutely wonderful set of readings by some seriously wonderful and kick-ass folk. It was hosted by the lovely and talented Richard Burnett, and the first reader of the evening was R John Woolfrey. If you would like to hear what he performed click here. [12:51 minutes, 11.7 MB]

Richard Burnett introducing R John Woolfrey (the only thing that screwed up was me, I didn't get a useable picture of Mr. Woolfrey, apologies and mea culpa).

Thursday, July 28, 2005

I'm shocked! There's vandalism going on in Ontario, too!


Thanks to James Adams who writes in today's Globe & Mail, I found out that the Lambton College of Applied Arts and Technology just destroyed a sculpture by Haydn Davies. Basically I have two points - like all other news about senseless destruction, or stupidity on the parts of arts administrators (although this one definitely seems to senseless destruction) I'm way late to the party. The news broke at the beginning of July, here and here. Then, I found it very interesting that Lambton College states this on their website:
We are commited to open effective communication.
We foster respect for individual perspectives and diversity.
Can you say their value statement isn't worth the paper it is printed on? (and for the record, the typo is theirs too. Good stuff from a school, eh?)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

"Watching bored gallery sitter surf the web, as I sit bored in my gallery and surf the web"


I think this would be called watching Janet watching me watching Janet watching people. Or did I miss a step? Or did I go too far?


[Update: July 28, 12:22 - At the request of the second commenter I have re-titled this post. Initially it was "Lotsa watching going on." Also in the time since I posted it this showed up in my stats.

As you can see someone who has access to the stats for the Eyes of Laura website is watching this here blog. Hmmm, so how many watchings are there again?

Stuff happening here in Montreal


On Saturday, Alexandre, over at Mnemosyne wrote about the project by Felix Huber et Florian Wüst, sponsored by Oboro in Square Saint Louis got vandalized.

Then, yesterday I came across Mike Patten's post from last Wednesday about Alvéole by Marc Dulude was destroyed while it was at Place des Arts.

I'm of two minds about these events. Both are completely contradictory to each other. And for what it is worth, I was not able to see either one.

Number One: I am completely shocked and aghast that the public here in Montreal could be so brainless and unthinking as to vandalize something as benign as a piece of art.

Number Two: I am completely shocked and aghast that the organizers of art that was to be displayed in public could be so brainless and unthinking as to think that art in the public domain would be left pristine.

Then a third point (and sorta off topic) I am completely shocked and aghast at myself, for missing this - after all it was written about in the freakin' weeklies a month ago. Good thing I'm not omniscient, eh?

I particularly like the dialogue that transpired between the vandals and the vandalized in Square Saint Louis, which is pretty clearly explained by Christine Redfern in the Mirror. The notes passed between them (transcribed on Alexandre's blog) are hilarious.

What I like about Alvéole by Marc Dulude, is that they didn't let the vandalism get 'em down. After it was busted, he just went and made another, very cool response.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

More and More Songs about Art


First there was this post.
Then there was this post.
Which then begat this thing-y.
And because I am procrastinating, I figured I would add to the list.
The Stephen Sondheim musical, Sunday in the Park with George.
Venus in Blue Jeans by Jimmy Clanton.
The Impressionists' Two-Step By Pop Wagner. Don't miss the video, click here.
Pictures of Matchstick Men by Status Quo.

The Next Big Thing?


Back when I wrote this post about Shep, I then posted it to Stillepost.ca (for the unitiated, the bulletin board for all things indie music in Canada). As part of the discussion, somebody who chose the name bbqbunny posted this, drawing my attention to chalk art. And then whaddya know? Four days later The Globe and Mail publishes an article on the same darn thing.

Coincidence? Hmmmm...

Fair and Balanced Coverage


Since I slammed the New York Times yesterday, it would only be fair (and balanced) to point out that their regular and full-time Art Reviewers do a superlative job, as I would hope that they would. About two weeks ago, Holland Cotter wrote a very nice piece about an exhibit that is not on the beaten path.

From what I read, Cinders Gallery seems to be not too far removed from what's happening here. But then again, being 380 miles removed from the scene, I could have it all wrong, too.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Questions, questions, questions


Sarah Milroy of The Globe and Mail reviews L'Envers des apparences, the current show up at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal. From it, I am led to believe that her taste in art and mine are widely different.

You gotta click on the link quickly, because the Globe and Mail shuts off access to their articles rather fast.

The article itself gets a B.

But my questions are:
1. Why is it being published on a Monday, instead of a Saturday? Especially since she gives it a hearty thumbs up?

2. The show opened on May 27, 2005. It is now, July 25, 2005. Why the two month delay to publish?

3. If, as she puts it "Many of the English-Canadian works in this show have been widely seen in other non-Quebec Canadian venues over the past few years -- there were few fresh hits here for the well-travelled gallerygoer." Why did she spend the bulk of the article writing about Tim Lee, Euan Macdonald, Kelly Mark, and Damian Moppett?

4. If, as she puts it "many of the Quebec artists were new to me, a more frequent traveller in English-Canadian circles." Why did she choose to gloss over the very same artists who her readers would be unfamiliar with, by writing "The show is strong overall, but several of the works by Quebec artists in the exhibition came across as overly light, even gimmicky, such as Jérôme Fortin's abstractions made from cut-up plastic bottles, folded paper and other recyclables; Annie Baillargeon's visually complex decorative photo-works (using her own likeness, repeated in mad profusion and variety); or Jean-Marc Mathieu-Lajoie's jigsaw puzzle works that reprise great moments from the history of art. Instead of intriguing us, these works feel like sight gags."

To focus on these last two questions, Ms. Milroy spends two paragraphs on Tim Lee, two paragraphs on Euan Macdonald, one paragraph on Kelly Mark, and three on Damian Moppett. She then slips Jérôme Fortin, Annie Baillargeon, Jean-Marc Mathieu-Lajoie into one sentence! And then isn't mentioning all the artists involved the Canadian thing to do? If so, where are the obligatory references to Germaine Koh, Taras Polataiko, and Yannick Pouliot?

Then (and finally) she writes "Spending time in this show made me think about how minimal the opportunities for contact are between French- and English-Canadian artists, curators and critics." Could I suggest, kindly and politely that next time, instead of "jet-setting" in for the press froo-ha-ha that accompanies any museum exhibit, that she actually take a week or so, set up some studio visits, go see some galleries, have dinner with some curators (heck I'm certain that Gilles Godmer would be delighted to translate and synopsize his catalogue essay for Ms. Milroy, in English, over dinner , he is bilingual after all). If she needs help in setting it up, I'd be more than happy to volunteer my time and energy to play tour guide - and just so everything was on the up and up I would make her promise that we would never set foot in Zeke's, so she wouldn't think I was hustling her for a review or something.

Hey Sarah! If you're reading, give me a call - (514) 288-2233 we can set something up.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Holding the the Times to the same standards


Initially, I thought that this article by Philip Gefter would make for a nice lead in to the current show at Pierre-François Ouellette, and the reviews about it by Jerome Delgado and Bernard Lamarche. You know, using the public (and my private) perception of the New York Times to make quick and easy jokes, snarky comments and all around sophomoric humor about the local yokels. Sorta like shooting fish in a barrel.

Ooops! Boy was I wrong. I don't know who Mr. Gefter knows, or how he got a gig at the Times that enabled him to write 19 articles, or who his editor is and how they spaced. But boy, oh boy! Did somebody make a mistake by omission.

Basically, there's this guy, Chris Jordan, who photographs refuse. He's from Seattle, and had flown to Atlanta to be interviewed by Mr. Gefter (maybe Mr. Gefter has family in Georgia, I dunno). Because the article was called "A Great Big Beautiful Pile of Junk" and PFOAC's show is called Trashformations I initially thought there would be something there to tie the two together. But I digress. After reading the article, and then looking at the pictures, my jaw hit the floor over this line that Mr. Gefter wrote: "Mr. Jordan said he had been greatly influenced by Andreas Gursky, whose eye-zapping images depict, among other things, our commodity-patterned world." And that is the total of references to other artists in the entire article. And, by the by, Mr. Jordan has a solo exhibition coming up at the Yossi Milo Gallery. No, I had never heard of it either.

I have two words for Mr. Gefter: "Edward Burtynsky." Who's show at the Brooklyn Museum is happening in October. If I (a person who regularly states that I know diddly-squat about Art History) can make the connection between Chris Jordan and Edward Burtynsky, than sure as shootin' I would assume that some hot shot art critic for the New York Times could as well.

For the uninitiated who don't know Mr. Jordan or Mr. Burtynsky, Compare and contrast. Extra points if you can find more examples, as I really do have to get some work done here.

"Cellphones No. 2, Atlanta 2005." By Chris Jordan, courtesy the Yossi Milo Gallery via the New York Times.

"Densified Oil Filters No. 1, Hamilton, Ontario 1997" by Edward Burtynsky, via his website.

"Container Yard No. 1, Seattle 2003," by Chris Jordan. Courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, New York via the New York Times.

"Container Ports No. 8, Racine Port, Montréal, Québec 2001" by Edward Burtynsky, via his website.

So we got here pretty much the same darn photographs (in approximately the same darn sizes) by two gentlemen, however one of them took his photographs considerably earlier (so in fact the second guy could be said to be copying). Then on top of it both of these gentlemen are having exhibitions in New York City in the fall. One of them in some storefront gallery that's been around for less than five years, and the other in 56,000 square foot museum that is top 10 in the country. Oh and did I mention that the exhibit going to the museum has been touring the world. So which one would you think is worthy of an article in the New York Times?

Or if one of the higher ups at the New York Times decided on that there would be a story on Mr. Jordan, (although for the life of me, I can't figure out why) don't you think it would be responsible journalism for Mr. Gefter to at least make passing reference to an artist who does the same darn thing?

Or, maybe, just maybe, Mr. Burtynsky has finally become so thoroughly annoyed with the utter and complete lack of respect and recognition that Canadian artists get outside of Canada, that he changed his name to Chris Jordan, moved to Seattle, and decided to start over again as an American artist, 'cuz that's where the big bucks are.

I'll get around to Trashformations, M. Delgado and M. Lamarche, later. For the record, Mr. Gefter gets an F for his article.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The compiling of things, Toronto Star edition


I've said it before, and I'll say it again. The Toronto Star has the best visual arts coverage of any daily newspaper in this country (OK, I haven't quite gotten around to reading the Edmonton Journal on a regular basis, but I digress). Yes, an awful lot of it is about art in Toronto, so I read it and don't comment. But every now and again, I come across something rather wonderful that I think should be duly noted. Over the past three weeks or so, these are the ones that have struck my fancy.

June 30 - More thought than shock. Peter Goddard on Glenn Ligon. B. Some nice lines ("With Glenn Ligon, funk is spelled with "ph," as in PhD." And "'But when I showed my paintings alongside the kids' drawings that my paintings were based on, the kids' drawings were much better than my paintings.'") An attempt at a quick historical overview, which for the most part works. A small sentence on the inner workings of the Power Plant. Basically standard issue solid stuff from Star's senior Art Critic. It ain't exactly gonna get me down to Toronto to see the show, but I'm happy I read it.

July 2 - Airport art no more. Murray Whyte on the Sissons/Morrow collection. A. Now this actually might get my butt down to Toronto (or at least procuring a copy of the catalogue). In a nutshell (but Mr. Whyte, tells it much much better) a collection of Inuit art that was commissioned and collected by judges who wanted sculptures dealing with court cases. My only complaints (and the reasons for the missing "+" are that Mr. Whyte doesn't bring up the point that these are pieces of Inuit Art, named after two white men. And that he couldn't get a decent quote from the curator (but that might not be his fault, she just might not give good quote). And the headline is extremely misleading - again not his fault.

July 23 - The ghost in the gallery. Peter Goddard on the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. B-. Well, the Beaverbrook wanted headlines, and it got 'em. I personally think that this particular article should have been written by the Star's law reporter rather than the art critic. But if Mr. Goddard wants a trip to Fredericton, I'm not going to fault him for it. The article goes into more details about the dispute than I have ever read before (here and here for that). But doesn't go into too much detail about the actual show. I gotta toss out props for scoring an interview with the current Lord beaverbrook (who sounds like a whiny kid, to me). But overall still a solid article.

July 23 - Every breath you take, she'll be watching you. Peter Goddard on Janet Cardiff. C+. I'll leave it at that, as I have already written too much about Ms. Cardiff, and am probably too biased to give a true grade to Mr. Goddard.

Will she make it in the next 10 years?


I sorta promised that there would be no more bashing of Ms. Cardiff, but... I lied. The New York Times's Sarah Boxer wrote a piece about what the 40 web based art works that Rhizome chose as what I would assume are considered best of show.

So, will Ms. Cardiff be there in 10 years?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Interesting definitions


Came across Urban Dictionary, the first thing I did was look up "Zeke."

I also quite liked some of the other definitions, including this one.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Toy Box Orchestra Live at Zeke's Gallery, July 20, 2005. First set


Last night, we had an amazing performance by the Toy Box Orchestra. If you'd like to hear it, click here. [35:39 minutes, 32.6 MB]

The Toy Box Orchestra is comprised of

Pierre Yves Martel, Viola da Gamba and Toy Piano

Linsey Wellman, Saxophones and Flutes

Ken Easton, Cora, Kalimbas, Melodica and Percussion

Mike Essoudry, Drums and Percussion

Toy Box Orchestra Live at Zeke's Gallery, July 20, 2005 Second set


And if you'd like to hear the second set, click here. [64:09 minutes and 58.7 MB]

Toy Box Orchestra second set

Pierre Yves Martel a second time

Linsey Wellman again

Ken Easton a second time

Mike Essoudry

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Cool Blog Alert!


bronx mus[eum]ings. By the one the only, Ron Kavanaugh who just so happens to work at The Bronx Museum of the Arts.

And then for all you list junkies out there, these are the other museums that I could find who have blogs.
The Katzen Arts Center, by the director.
The DuPage Children's Museum, I don't know who writes it.
The North Carolina Museum of Art, group blog with the Associate Director of Education, Assistant Curator, and the Curator of Contemporary Art making entries.
Port Moody Station Museum, I don't know who writes it.
Goldwell Open Air Museum, I don't know who writes it.
Then there's the grand-daddy of them all, The Walker Center's blogs.

Does anybody know of any others?

Cool Article #3


And then this one is from the LA Times. The 'shot' heard 'round UCLA. By Mike Boehm. All about Joseph Deutch, Ron Athey, Chris Burden and Nancy Rubins and a gun. Cool!

Cool Article #2


This one is from the New York Times. Own Original Chinese Copies of Real Western Art!, by Keith Bradsher.

All about who is making copies and how they're getting sold these days.

Cool Article #1


From The Art Newspaper, The Selling of Jeff Koons by Kelly Devine Thomas.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Picking up the slack, the Le Devoir version


Le Devoir (arguably the most influential newspaper here in town) does a fabulous job of covering the visual arts. They have two visual art critics, and do have frequent freelancers, who actually know what they are doing write additional stuff.

Unfortunately, a large majority of those articles are under lock and key. I've written to Benoît Munger (the webmaster) asking if he could unlock slightly more visual arts articles, but he never responded. Pity.

Of the 30 articles Bernard Lamarche has written about visual art since the beginning of March, exactly eight are available to everyone via the internet. And that includes something he wrote about a TV show about Camille Claudel, and an article about the expansion plans for MoMA and the Hermitage, or in other words, not exactly the meatiest of topics.

It is pretty much the same ratio for their other critic, Michel Hellman, except that he mostly writes only reviews, but with far less frequency than M. Lamarche. However, hope still springs eternal, as this past weekend there were a whopping two articles about visual art that were up and readable by anybody. I got so excited that I sorta figured that it was ok to read them, despite them not having a gosh darn thing to do with art here in Montreal.

1. René Viau wrote about the Symposium international d'art in Val David.
2. Jean-Philippe Uzel wrote about the Venice Biennale.

And then, since I'm going through stuff, there's also this article by the aforementioned M. Hellman from the end of June that I'd been wanting to comment on for a while.

In reverse order: M. Hellman's article was about the show that was up at the Lina and Beonard Ellen Gallery. The reason I wanted to write about it was because the words "White Cube" were in the title. He basically does a very professional job with the review. I'd give him a B+ for it. The only reason what I wouldn't give him an A, is because he doesn't stay too far from the norm, and doesn't take any chances. Given that he's reviewing work by Claude Tousignant, I can sort of comprehend why, but to me pushing things is always a good thing.

I'd also give the show itself and A+ because I was quite pleasantly surprised when I went to see it, that the gallery attendant actually engaged me in conversation, pointed out relevant material, and in general was the complete opposite of what I had come to expect from Lina and Beonard Ellen (hence the reversal of the letters, tee hee). Oh, and the art rocked, too! Go Claude!

M. Viau's article is more of a travelogue or ad for the Symposium international d'art in Val-David. I particularly liked how he fit all 16 artists taking part in the symposium into one paragraph. C+ I'm surprised that he didn't make mention of the 17th edition of 1001 Pots that's happening in Val David at the same time. heck from the pictures, it looks like the pots are in situ, too.

And then finally, M. Uzel gets to write off his recent trip to Italy. He writes about the Biennale and I gotta hand it to him, he does good. A nice solid B. I got a giggle when he starts off by implying that things would have been better had Canada not been represented by artists from the west coast. I would have given him a higher grade if he had done more than just describe Rebecca Belmore's and Stan Douglas' pieces. Given that he seemed on the verge of a really nice rip, if I had been his editor I would have let him go. Thankfully Bernard Frize was thought to be sufficiently steeled so that M. Uzel could rip into him. Although, from what I have read about the Biennale, there is some good stuff there, I wonder why he chose to ignore it.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Art Podcasts


[update January 13, 2006: The complete list of all the Zeke's Gallery's Art Podcasts is here. And since this was originally written there have been a bunch of other art podcasts that have come on line, if you'd like a list, I have added them at the bottom. ]

I got a bunch, and I got some opinions on them, too.

The granddaddy of them all. Art Mobs. Doesn't have any regular release schedule. However, the discussion about Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon is just about the best thing I have ever heard. Made for a great inspiration, too.

Edward Goldman's Art Talk (from KCRW). Old style radio gussied up in nice new threads, thanks to iTunes 4.9. Highly recommended, highly entertaining. Now if he would only go to a 15 minute or 30 minute format, life would be very good.

KCRW also has two other shows that they are podcasting. The Politics of Culture, and Studio 360 (which is actually from WNYC) both of which deal with the visual arts occasionally.

The Speakeasy with Dorian, from WFMU is similar to Studio 360, in that the visual arts are not the main focus. But the conversations are tasty.

Then we get to what I would call the real podcasts. In other words stuff made by people who have a microphone, a computer, and a desire, instead of professional broadcasters or schools.

Art a GoGo. Nice idea, but needs better execution. Too many "ums," "ahhs," and it really isn't that focused. I'm certain that over time it will get better. Practice always helps.

Art Dirt Redux. Suffers from the same things that the Art a GoGo guys have. Namely, no script. Given the professional broadcasters out there doing visual art, I think my expectations are probably a little bit too high. But speaking clearly, and on topic isn't exactly rocket science.

The Academic Aesthetic. I've only heard one show so far. And haven't quite discovered any art content there, yet. But he is focused, and he speaks clearly. Good things in my book.

And finally there's The Museum of Modern Art's attempt to steamroll over everything in their way.

WPS1.org. They've got a humongous marketing budget, and even larger travel budget - so everybody's gonna think they're great right? Wrong-O! Boy-O. I listened briefly, while grimacing when they first went live, and if my teeth hadn't been clenched in a grimace, I probably would have lost my cookies. At that time it was a combination of amateur announcers not knowing how to control the board, combined with ultra-hip, and super cooler than you DJ's doing everything in their power to trumpet loudly how sleazy they wanted to be. Since then Greg Allen pointed them out to me again, and as he put it; "the curator/writer conversation encapsulates exactly the kind of hermetic, bitchy Venetian oneupsmanship that shouldn't be recorded, much less broadcast." But then he put an ironic spin on it, which is why I actually downloaded it. Man sometimes I wish I could understand when someone was being ironic in advance - it would make my life way easier. So in a nutshell, I haven't heard anything from PS1.org that would lead me to believe that they've gotten any better.

And then it seems that MoMA has put all of their audio up on the web. There's lots. They are the establishment. They know what they're talking about. It's professional. People speak clearly. If I wore a suit, or had a tattoo, I'd be creaming in my jeans. As it is, I'll probably end up listening to all of it, and then regretting the time wasted.

And then finally, I've been posting some audio up of things that have happened here. Such as the following concerts:
Skamoto Hiromiti on June 19
Slippery Peat on June 22
Kirsten Jones & Kristin McCaig on June 23
Diagram on July 4

Along with the reading by Joe Meno, Sean Carswell and Mickey Hess that took place on June 11.

I've been thinking of going back over the interviews that I've done, and adding the audio files to them, but they aren't exactly the best quality audio (initially they weren't intended for anybody's ears but my own) so I'm not entirely certain if I will. If there are any interviews that you would like to hear (as well as read) let me know.

Toly Kouroumalis
Michel Helman
Chris Dyer
Eduardo Kac
Dominique Blain
Marc Mayer
Jean-François Lacombe
Philip Bottenberg

New Art Podcasts: The AGO, ArtBasel, The John Hansard Gallery, Christies, the Contemporary Art Museum in Saint Louis, the de Young museum, the Hirshhorn Museum, Duane Kaiser, Santa Barbera Museum of Art, the Art Gallery of Knoxville, The Feather Gallery, The Metropolitan, the Victoria and Albert, and the Walker Center.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

I get mail


I got this email from Micah Lexier, about a previous post that I had made. I asked if I could put it up here, and he said yes. So here it is:

-----Original Message-----
From: Micah Lexier
Sent: Sunday, July 17, 2005 7:15 PM
To: info@zeke.com
Subject: In defense of Alison Gillmor

Hey Zeke,

Micah Lexier here. I just came across your blog with mention of Alison Gillmor's article on my David Then & Now project. I wanted to write in defense of her article. I thought she did a particularly good job describing and illuminating my project. I agree with your criticism that it was disappointing that she talked about a few of the images that were not reproduced, but I think that is probably not her fault but that of the photo editor or whoever lays out the articles. As for the comment that her doing a field report about the arts in New York, that is incorrect. The project took place in 50 bus shelters this summer in Winnipeg where Alison lives (and I lived for the first 21 years of my life). She saw the work with her own eyes and we even met face to fact to discuss the project.

Anyway, that's my two-cents worth. Normally I would not get involved, it is just that I was particularly pleased with her article and therefore I felt that I should come to her defense. Thanks for writing about the project and bringing it to people's attention. I appreciate that. I hope the rest of your summer goes well.


Late to the party, once again


Other's have written about Edward Winkleman's Blog, but I figure that I should pile on the bandwagon, too. It is always nice to see someone else blog about Art.

Juxtapostioning Museums


Today Michael Kimmelman writes about ethics and conflicts of interest in American Museums. Back on October 15, 2004, there was a panel talk about The Future Museum.

Two very different views on the same subject.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Artivistic is a go (or calling all Art Bloggers!)


Back in May, I tossed out the idea of getting an Art Bloggers conference happening within the Artivistic conference happening here in Montreal in September.

Well, one of my proposals has been accepted. So now I gotta come up with some people (actual real live and breathing) who can sit around a round table and discuss art blogging.

Someplace buried here, I have the original emails I sent and received. I will be contacting you once I go looking through my archives to see if you are still interested. If I miss you, or can't find my archives, or you're someone who is interested now, but wasn't then, please a) accept my apologies, and b) Feel free to get in touch with me, now.

As far as I can tell, the more the merrier. I don't know if Artivistic is paying honorariums (but somehow I don't think so). I have sleeping space for about 10, if you need a place to crash (couches, not beds).

So what say y'all to meeting in Montreal at the end of September to talk about what you're doing?

Getting rid of the backlog (again) The Radio Canada version


In comparison try this:
Annie Baillargeon on Porte Ouverte, June 7.
Alain Lacoursière on Porte Ouverte, June 8.
Nathalie De Blois on Porte Ouverte, June 9.
Nicolas Mavrikakis talking about Venice, June 9.
Gérard Dubois on Porte Ouverte, June 15.
Léon Bouchard on Porte Ouverte, June 22.
A whole show on visual arts on June 24.

OK, I wouldn't listen to Mr. Mavrikakis if you paid me. But, notice, that is one radio show, not the entire network. And it is all available on the internet. Raymond Cloutier rocks my world. If when they come back in September they could start doing podcasts, I'd be in seventh heaven.

Getting rid of the backlog (again) The CBC version


It looked like the end of June was a good month for the Visual Arts on the CBC's website:
June 16 - an article on Jean Paul Lemieux by Alec Scott.
June 22 - an article on Micah Lexier by Alison Gillmor.
June 22 - an article on drawing by Sascha Hastings.
July 7 - the previously discussed article on Sam Borenstein by Matthew Hays.

But since then, nada, nothing, zilch.

While we're here and talking about them Ms. Hastings gets an A+ for his article. Meaty, beaty, big and bouncy, it is absolutely everything I think an article about art in the mainstream media should be. Serious shout-outs and props. If their is anybody out there looking for an arts writer, I recommend her highly.

Ms. Gillmor gets a C+, for everything great that Mr. Hastings got right, Ms. Gillmor gets wrong. Her lines like
The Davids thus became an oblique kind of self-portrait, part of Lexier's compulsion to explore time, memory, measurement and mortality, and the way these issues are bound up together in the aging process
and the fact that she reference two images that aren't reproduced (and three that are not referenced are reproduced) makes me wince in pain and wish that whoever is her friend at CBC would stop asking her to do field reports about the arts in New York City.

Mr. Scott's article falls between the two, getting a B. More like an Canadian Art History chapter than a review of a show. He avoids the artspeak that I hate, which is a good thing. However, doesn't voice his personal opinion, which is a bad thing.

Since I forgot to give Mr. Hays a grade when I first wrote about his article, I'll mend that now. C+ losing points for a lack of opinion, relying on the artist's daughter to explain the significance of a painting (sorta like asking Maria Shriver to explain the significance and importance of the films of Arnold Schwarzenegger.) He would have been better off reviewing Ms. Borenstein's film as a film.

[update: August 11, 2005: I waqs told in no uncertain terms that Ms. Hastings, is in fact a she, much to my chagrin. It has been corrected, and apologies made.]

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Anna L. Conti does it again!


I seem to be getting in a rut. In between posts complaining about Janet Cardiff, I write things praising the Web Journal of Anna L. Conti, San Francisco Artist. Today she's got a silly, but wonderful thing called "A Blogospheric Grid." For the voyeur in you.

The thing that surprises me most - is that of the 36 pictures, 22 are of people with Y-chromosomes (61%). I always thought it was 16 year old girls who blogged. Not a bunch of middle aged testosterone collectors.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Canadian Art still has a long way to go


Again, back in June (will the backlog ever go away?) Presse Canadienne reported that the company CAE, who make flight simulators, sold a bunch of their paintings. On the surface, all is fine and dandy, until you look at the fine print and realize that they sold "about twenty." Nine of those were sold at auction for a total of $160,000. One was a large painting by Marc Aurele Fortin for $120,000, a second was a smaller Fortin for $29,000. Which means that the remaining seven went for a total of $11,000, or about $1,500 each. They also mention that CAE sold a painting by Stanley Cosgrove for $3,000.

Ummm, can you say bargain?

Jerome Delgado gets it


Back in June, M. Delgado wrote a very favorable and effusive little bit about the Claude Tousignant show at Concordia. Believe it or not, I actually agree with him! And if I can add one other thing, when I went there, the gallery attendant actually engaged me in conversation, too! Holy Smokes! What is the world coming to?

Last one on Janet Cardiff for a while


It seems like the last four weeks have been beat up on Janet Cardiff month (and here, too). But it seems like I am not alone. Yesterday, Sarah Boxer, writing in the New York Times, reviewed the Eyes of Laura Website, and while she goes a long way towards explaining it, she also suggests that real life is better. I like it when the New York Times agrees with me.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Letters from New Orleans, by Rob Walker the review


Introduction: A while back I got an email from Rob Walker, asking me if I would review his book. He explained that because I had a link to his sight, he thought I might get a kick out of it. I said "yeah," and we were off to the races. For those of you not aware of Mr. Walker, he currently writes the Consumed column for the New York Times magazine, and has been a professional writer for a while. Other than that, I don't know diddly about Mr. Walker - although I would guess that from his writing he is a nice guy.

I decided that since his book was letters he had written to people while he was living in New Orleans, that my review should also be in the form of a letter. So here goes...

Dear Rob

I just finished reading Letters from New Orleans, and was quite struck by it for a number of reasons. The first thing that struck me was the obvious similarities between New Orleans and Montreal. The second thing that struck me was the lyrical style of your writing. And the third thing that struck me was the apparent ease with which you wrote the letters. Obviously there is something to being a professional writer. The book made me remember times when I would sit down in front of a typewriter and bang out five or six page letters to friends about what was happening in my life. Now with the advent of email, I find myself in a position of missing that. I rarely get the time, and the means to sit back and reflect upon the things that are happening to and around me.

To get down to the nitty-gritty; your description of Ernie K-Doe and his bar, not only lived up to what little I knew about Mr. Kador, but also served as a reminder of some of the larger than life personalities here in Montreal. People like the Great Antonio, Jean Drapeau, Maurice Richard, and others. Your descriptions of the talking K-Doe statue, his mother in law, and his funeral could easily be traded, over drinks, of course, for anecdotes of a French-Canadian nature. However, as I am not the professional writer, mine would merely be just that, anecdotes. Your stories, while rooted in specifics, are much more than just anecdotes.

As I mentioned earlier, your writing has a certain lyrical feeling to it. Since I have only read some of your columns in the New York Times, I can only assume that this lyric nature either came from your time in New Orleans or from spending so much time analyzing the song Saint James Infirmary. And while I can understand how obsessed you are with the song, and somewhat appreciate why it is in the book - to be brutally honest - it seemed to me to be the least successful part. I don't know if this was because it was one of the longer chapters, and I sorta dug the three to five page length of the stories. Or if it was because it only indirectly dealt with things N'awlins. Taking your research and turning it into something like The Annotated Saint James Infirmary (complete with DVD) sorta like those Martin Gardner books from the 60s would be very cool.

But, to be honest, that's the only thing I could find even vaguely wrong with your book. It made me want to get my butt down to New Orleans even more than I already want to, and reminded me of the need to stay off the beaten track. Your chapter about the Desire Line made me think about Pointe Saint Charles, here in Montreal. How both of them are, despite being piss-poor neighborhoods, very interesting places with a serious amount of history behind them that deserves to be heard more than it is. Similarly, while there is no specific place in Montreal that corresponds to Under the Freeway, when you write
We all know how a place can have a hold on us, how a patch of earth, a strip of land, a corner, a building, or the most arbitrarily bordered swath of territory you can imagine, can have a symbolic meaning. But surely even that meaning has its outer limits, right? If someone knocks down the building, or paves over the land, how can the significance of the place where something used to be hold on to its significance?

Often, I think, the answer is: It doesn't. But sometimes it does. This is not because Symbolic Importance comes bubbling up out of the ground like a hot a hot spring. In fact the meaning doesn't flow from places to people at all; it's actually the other way around. That's the only way the specialness of a place survives the most violent changes in its physical aspect. You can't impose this, but you can't thwart it, either. All you can do is admire it. And you should.
You nailed why I still hold cherished memories of and about the corner of rue de Lorimier and avenue Ontario even though it has been transformed about seventeen times from nowhere into something so foreign to my memories that most people look at me like I'm crazy or something when I try to explain why I think it is one of the best corners in the entire city.


Like any good letter, this one is being done in more than one part. It occurred to me that I had not written anything to you about your book for a couple of days. Sorry – there were some other pressing things that required my attention.

But, I’m listening to one of Harry Shearer's show (you remember him? One of the early writers at Saturday Night Live – seems to have landed on his feet and is doing good on some public radio station in your country.) And he's doing something about New Orleans. Which obviously reminded me that I still needed to write some more stuff to you about your book – but as he is playing some music, I remembered that I had recently had a conversation (via email – aren’t all conversations by email these days?) with John from the Fat Tuesday Brass Band who refer to themselves as "Canada's only New Orleans style Brass Funk Band."

So if you hadn’t gotten it the first time around there are tons of parallels between the Crescent City and Montreal, and your book made me think about them in all sorts of ways that I hadn’t before.

If you ever make it up here, some of the things that you’d want to check out would be the similarities and dissimilarities between the neighborhoods of Westmount and Outremont. (The west side of the mountain and the other side of the mountain, respectively), and I would also highly recommend that you dive into this thing called Quebecois Nationalism and the wonderful holiday that it produces called La Fete Saint Jean. And as you are a veteran of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival the whole culture of festivals that engrosses Montreal would be a very worthy topic for you to write about.

But I could go on and on, and on, but like pretty much every darn thing out there, this needs to come to a close. I really liked your book and I wish you well with it. While I recognize that it isn’t likely to go burning up the New York Times charts (or those of Amazon's either) I hope that your publisher keeps it in print for at least the next 15 years, and hooks up with the New Orleans tourist bureau so that it gets read by scads upon scads of people coming to N’awlins. (Man, I love to write that!)

It provides a view into the city that I don’t imagine is seen all that often, and what you’ve written deserves to be read by way more people. I hope I’ve done my bit, and if there is suddenly a bunch of Montrealers ordering it, then I expect to see you here at the gallery within the week.

Take care,

If you'd like to read other reviews/articles about the book, try Like It Matters, Gambit Weekly, and Quiet Bubble.

If you want details, try this:
Letters From New Orleans by Rob Walker
Published by Garrett County Press. $12.95 list,
ISBN: 1891053019, Nonfiction, 204 pages.

And if you want to purchase the book (something I think would be a really good idea) click here for the way to do it through Mr. Walker's website. Or click here, to do it through Garrett County Press' website, the publisher. Or if you prefer going the corporate route, click here to buy it from Amazon.com.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Sam Borenstein - getting the glory


At some point I gotta talk to Joyce Borenstein. She's getting a serious amount of press for the exhibit of her father's paintings at the Musée des Beaux Arts. While I like in theory what the CBC has done. There is much that they could do to make it better. They sent Matthew Hays to interview Ms. Borenstein, and then put a bunch of pictures of the paintings in a fancy package.

My favorite line: "If you look closely, you can see a bunch of people painted in the snow."

My suggestions on how to do better the next time:
Interview someone who is at least an arm's length from the paintings about the paintings.
If it's an interview - post the audio.
And it probably would help to publish pictures that haven't been so widely circulated. (Look here and here)

There are certain difficulties I have with the Borenstein show itself, but I need to do more research before I write about that. However, I hope that the CBC does more things like this in the future, they can only get better.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Group of n, no more.


Just after my computer crashed (hence the lack of posts) I took advantage of the calm to walk across the street to see the last ever exhibit by the Group of n. Murad and Rob were kind enough to let me take photos - although I gotta warn you, I am a horrible photographer, and worse at attempting to do color correction. So these images you see here, are only close approximations of the work that was up on the walls of Blizzarts.

Now, the Group of n, was a group of loosely affiliated artists, very loosely. I had no idea who some of them were/are, and was pleasantly surprised to see some artists that I knew who in fact did belong to the Group of n.

I got introduced to them through Maclean (who some of you might know had two shows here). And while I got the concept behind the group, some of the gazillion shows that they did worked better than others.

This struck me as a show that was designed to have stronger individual parts than work on the strength in numbers concept. No matter how hard I squinted, I couldn't figure out any rhyme or reason for the choice of pieces. And then with a pretty much complete lack of information about the stuff (except for names) I pretty much threw up hands in frustration at trying to discover any common thread going through all the pieces.

For those of you who have been to Blizzarts, this is what you saw upon walking around the corner, after walking in the door.

But down at the other end of the bar I was able to get a way better shot of the long wall.

And this is the wall that made me think that the individuals were stronger than the group thing (which to be honest is very surprising considering what I know about the Group of n). Maclean's piece getting (heck hogging) all the light, and David Atwood and Steve Topping having to be content to bask in the reflected glow from Maclean's piece. Also I unfortunately don't have any pictures of Steve Tpping's piece, and am missing two of the three watercolors by Mr. Atwoood, because the light wasn't so good, and I'm a horrible photographer who wouldn't know a flash from a flush.

But once I go away from that wall, things got brighter. This is called Off to the Races and it is by Jesse Purcell. Cool, eh?

Since I made it a point to try and get pictures of everybody's work (somehow I don't think that documenting was a major priority for the Group of n) I'm going to be flitting around all over the place as we take a look-see around. This is one of the untitled watercolors by David Atwood.

Now you can see why I should never be a photographer. This is Tears Beers Frown Drown, by Jo-Anne Balcaen. A wicked cool piece, made to look horrific by yours truly. The reason why this is flitting around all over the place is after the installation shots, I figured the most fun way to organize the images would be inversely to how well I know the artist, and then following up the end with the founders of the Group of n. So I think, I met Ms. Balcaen, once. Maybe twice.

Vanessa Yanow, on the other hand I met only once, but it was like two weeks ago or something when on the Friday Gallery Tour, we went to the Long Hall. I was pleasantly surprised by this piece called Blinded by Bubbles, as when we were at the Long Hall, she described herself as a glass artist. (That yellow doo-hickey in the lower left is some sort of reflection.)

Barry Allikas' piece had previously been exhibited at Sylviane Poirier's gallery. It still looked as good at Blizzarts as it did here.

Then we trundle over to Rupert Bottenberg's piece. I always think of him as a writer, but it is obvious that he is a man of many talents. I gotta try and convince him to let me see a bunch of his stuff all together, 'cuz this piecemeal business is making it extremely hard on me to figure out exactly where he's coming from or what he's trying to do. (This is also why some info on the tags would have been helpful.)

Now, what is there not to absolutely adore about Billy Mavreas' piece. Not only is he a superlative cartoonist. But as his store (yeah, I think that all the members of the Group of n have day jobs) is a wonderful collection of surprises at every turn, another thing he does is take found paintings and improve them. My picture doesn't do what he did to this beauty justice.

Now we venture into the territory of giants. The founding members of the Group of n. Someplace around here I have an interview (recorded, not transcribed) with Maclean (who also is responsible for the piece here) that sort of goes into detail about the beginnings of the group. Nonetheless, to give my mandatory one liner about the piece, it combines two of Maclean's older styles (quite well, don't you think?) but as the last conversation I had with Maclean about his art, was about how he found the older stuff he did quite restraining, I am fascinated to see that he has returned, and returned with a vengeance, to stuff that he told me he didn't want to do anymore. If you continue scrolling down, you can see the "original" version of the painting.

Danger Zones by Maclean

And then I gotta apologize to Colin

And to Flo. I've spent way too much time on this post, and have to get back to work. So I'm gonna wrap this up with a promise to do a longer post about Flo and Colin at a later date, and express my sorrow at the Group of n disbanding,

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Diagram at Zeke's Gallery, July 4, 2005


If you prefer your downloads/podcasts as "right click and save as" then you might prefer these:
Diagram Live at Zeke's Gallery, July 4, 2005, set 1. 33:25 minutes, 30.6 MB.

Diagram Live at Zeke's Gallery, July 4, 2005, Set 2. 41:54 minutes, 38.3 MB.

If not continue reading on...

Last night, there were these super nice, super noisy guys from Philadelphia who played here at Zeke's. The name of their band was (and continues to be) Diagram.

This is what the place looked like before they hit the stage.

And this is what it looked like afterwards. Set One

Zeke's Gallery Podcast

Thoroughly enjoyable throughout. Set two

Zeke's Gallery Podcast

The Zeke's Gallery Odeo Channel

Diagram at Zeke's Gallery, July 4, 2005 - set 2


Diagram Live at Zeke's Gallery, July 4, 2005, set 2. 41:54 minutes, 38.3 MB.

If you came here through some weird click and want to hear set 1, click here

My Odeo Channel

Monday, July 04, 2005

Jeff Wall Alert


And finally, I came across this interview with Jeff Wall in the Tate's magazine, because he is having an exhibition there. Nicely done, not a fluff piece by any stretch of the imagination. My favorite line? "Would you characterise such a traditional allegorical motif, perhaps a riff on the Platonic cave-view, as being on equal terms as its use as a pictorial device?"

Janet Cardiff Alert


If you've been reading what I write for a while, you realize that I'm not all ga-ga over the work of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. (If you haven't try here first, then here). Megan Heuer writes in NYFA Interactive a nice fluff piece about the most recent work of Ms. Cardiff. My favorite line?
An abstract soundscape created by motorized drumsticks, bass drum pedals, and other beaters installed to strike the empty bed frames, light fixtures, and toilet bowls of the crumbling chambers of cellblock seven, Pandemonium begins with slow, hollow metallic clanking. Short taps bounce from one end of the long corridor to the other, zigzagging from the floor to the light-filled, vaulted ceiling, building an ecstatic frenzy of rhythm and noise.
Electro-Acoustic art, anyone?

More on how dangerous art is


If you think that the whole Steve Kurtz incident is not worth your time, you might have second thoughts after reading this.

In a nutshell, this guy, Jeremy Lassen, went to go see an art exhibit, posted his thoughts about the exhibit on line, and as a consequence was questioned by the Secret Service (along with his boss, wife and anybody else who knew him).

Appropriate for the 4th of July, don't you think?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Wicked Cool Article


In today's New York Times about Steve Kurtz, the Critical Art Ensemble, and the various shades of gray in bioart.

What I read about the 2005 Venice Biennale


Ok, most of the hype has died down, and I have finally found time to read the 30 articles that I bookmarked about the 2005 Venice Biennale.

  1. New York Times: Questions for Ed Ruscha.
  2. New York Times: Subdued Biennale Forgoes Shock Factor.
  3. New York Times: Global Village Whose Bricks Are Art.
  4. Contessanally: Blogging Venice.
  5. Le Monde: French Artist don't export well.
  6. Le Monde: Feminising Creation.
  7. Toronto Star: In all directions.
  8. Toronto Star: T.O. artists crashing Venice's party.
  9. Toronto Star: The fountain of truth.
  10. Slate: Word on the Canal.
  11. Artnet.com: Festive Venice.
  12. Artnet.com: Top Ten Reasons to Love the Venice Biennale.
  13. Artforum: Critics Weigh in on The Biennale.
  14. Los Angeles Times: Art ambassador.
  15. Los Angeles Times: Fueled by politics.
  16. The Telegraph: Ten hot Biennale artists.
  17. CBC.ca: Renaissance Women.
  18. CBC.ca: Painting the Town Red.
  19. Wasington Post: Fading Glory.
  20. Washington Post: Some Disassembly Required.
  21. Washington Post: From Colombia to Venice, a Haunting Refrain.
  22. Washington Post: A Cell With the Power to Transform.
  23. Washington Post: In Venice, Nothing Hidden Under These Rugs.
  24. Washington Post: At the Biennale, Women Who Rock the Gondola.
  25. Artinfo.com: Notes from the Biennale 1.
  26. Artinfo.com: Notes from the Biennale 2.
  27. The Guardian: 'It's appalling!'
  28. The Guardian: Dearth in Venice.
  29. The Georgia Straight: Fountain of Truth.
  30. Canadian Art Magazine: The Waters of Venice: Rebecca Belmore at the 51st Biennale.

Now that I've read 'em, I'm too tired to write about 'em. Go read 'em yourself and drawn your own conclusions.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Old Stuff #1


I'm late to the party on this one. But I really like it when Canoë (aka the Journal de Montreal covers art. So I couldn't let it slip by.

Basically, my favorite signatory of the Refus Global, Françoise Sullivan, is having an exhibition, right now, in Saint-Raymond.

But this is what I like best, I discovered a clip of Ms. Sullivan from 1978. In it she doesn't look a day over 30.