Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sounds Like Canada does Ed Burtynsky


I can't quite figure if I like it or not, but today Canada's answer to Renee Montagne, chatted up a rising Canadian photographer. I like it, because it is always nice when mainstream media pays attention to the visual arts, but on the flip side I definitely can't stand Ms. Rogers interview style. Way too perky, friendly and trying too hard to sound like your next door neighbor, assuming that you live in Mississauga. Thankfully, for the most part, she lets Mr. Burtynsky do most of the speaking - unfortunately he doesn't do all of it.

Then, since an awful lot of people are expressing difficulties understanding my prose: The use of "rising" above, is entirely ironic, everything else is serious.

The less than 5% solution


I keep muttering to myself; "context, context, context." The artists selected for the Whitney museum's 2006 Biennale were announced today. Of the 102 artists, 5 are Canadian. (Actually 4, but as Rodney Graham is listed twice, I counted him twice - plus 5 out of 102 is better than 4 out of 101).

Beyond Mr. Graham, there is Michael Snow, Christina Battle, and Louise Bourque. Congrats and shout outs to all of them.

Not good news


I just learned that Ghitta Caiserman died last week. If you would like to know more about her life, try this. If you would like to see examples of her work, try this. Yuck.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Congrats and Shout outs!


Sarah Anne Johnson has sold some photographs to the Guggenheim Museum and the CBC is besides itself with joy. What I find most telling is that in the CBC article, they prominently mention the Stephen Bulger Gallery. In her bio on the Julie Saul Gallery website, the exhibition in Toronto is nowhere to be found. I assume that it was the good folk at Julie Saul who brokered the sale, and not Mr. Bulger. And while it is always good to sell something to a museum, personally, if I were to choose between museums in Manhattan, the Guggenheim would be last on my list. Nonetheless, it is a start. As a friend of mine would say "Good on ya."

Interesting choice by the Globe & Mail


The front page of today's review section, is filled with reproductions of Richard Rhodes' paintings.

Sarah Milroy describes them this way:
The most surprising things in the show may well be the series of small sky paintings by Richard Rhodes, editor of Canadian Art magazine. Rhodes also works as a freelance curator, and has taught photography at Ryerson University for several years.

This exhibition, however, marks his unveiling as a painter of great ability. Exhibited in clusters, the paintings record his experience of the skies above Toronto from the vantage point of his home in the city's semi-industrial west end.

Rhodes has christened the paintings with titles like Available Skies (Galleria Mall, 2005) or Available Sky (Winter Dawn, St. Clarens, 2005), but only the titles hint at the bleaker ground-level urban landscape evaded through his upward gazing. Instead, he lifts our attention into the blue (or the peach, or the grey, or the mauve) in paintings that are both serene and yet scrupulously observed. Finding epiphany is all about what you choose to look at.
On the Oakville Galleries website, they only use one image to represent the show (a photograph by Seifollah Samadian) and going over to the Ottawa Art Gallery's website (where the exhibit started) they choose five images, again, none by Mr. Rhodes.

While I respect Ms. Milroy's opinion, and recognize that mine and hers do not always align up like the stars, when the gallery's exhibiting the art choose to highlight something different on their websites, I gotta ask "why?" As Mr. Rhodes is a rather influential person on the Canadian Art scene, the responses that come to mind are all based around that influence. As Ms. Milroy puts it "finding epiphany is all about what you choose to look at." I'd give my eye teeth to get more details about her epiphany. Especially since I didn't have a choice of what to look at in the Globe and Mail.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Marc Lanctot should read a little


Last week I discovered that AGAC had a brand spanking new website, I said "cool!" And then I noticed that they had posted their rules and regulations on the website, too. I said "wicked cool!"

So I went and read 'em. For those of you new to this, there is a rather long history between myself and Marc Lanctot. It started here, when he wrote a letter to the Montreal Mirror stating that Zeke's Gallery was not an art gallery.

The latest incarnation of his elitist and snobbish ideas can be heard here [fast forward to 29:38 or -19:21] where he tries to make the point that artists should not exhibit in "non-gallery" spaces. And if they do, then they should erase the exhibit off of their CV as quickly as possible.

If you read the rules and regulations of the Association des Galeries d'Art Contemporain (Montreal), it clearly states "Au sens des règlements de l’Association, une galerie est toute personne physique ou morale qui exerce les responsabilités morales et financières de promotion sous toutes ses formes et de vente de l’art contemporain et en assure la diffusion et qui a acquitté sa cotisation annuelle. Une galerie d’art contemporain doit avoir un local commercial permanent ou temporaire, doit être ouverte au public, doit représenter des artistes et exposer leurs oeuvres dans le but de les vendre." [Or if you would like it in my attempt at plain language - A gallery is a company which promotes, markets and finances the sales, and assures the exhibition of contemporary art in all its forms annually. An art gallery can be in a permanent location or a temporary location and it needs to represent artists while exhibiting their work towards a stated goal of selling the art. - yeah I'm not happy with the translation either, but they haven't quite figured out how to get an English version on their website, yet.] A little bit later on, they state that a gallery needs to have been in existence for two years and do at least five shows per year.

A) Does it say which person has to cough up the cash in order to promote, market, finance and assure the exhibition?
B) Does it say anything about what type of art should be exhibited?
C) Does it say anything about no food allowed?

Didn't think so. But then the thing that I found very interesting was in looking through Gerhard Richter's CV/Bio that his first exhibitions was in a "Rented storefront." I'm certain that M. Lanctot would be shocked to discover that Gerhard Richter, gasp, paid good cash money out of his own pocket in order to exhibit his art, and I am further convinced that M. Lanctot would think that Herr Richter's art would not be worthy of being exhibited in a "real" art gallery because of this.

The Toronto Star catches on to a new edge.


While I generally like what Peter Goddard writes, all I can say about this article, is he is about 4½ years late. Good thing I didn't invite him for dinner. A nice article about Dave Liss and MOCCA. I just can't help but thinking why didn't he write this article before?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Stuff Seen - Pierre Gauvreau



Now this was a very pleasant surprise. For those of you who know me, you know how I feel about government sponsored art. And Loto Quebec's "Espace Creation" is like the mostest in government sponsored art. It was 5 o'clock on a Friday night and we didn't have high hopes for the building being open, nor did we think we'd be able to find parking. But lo and behold, the building was open (EC keeps regular gallery hours) and parking was right there in front. So we walked in.

Now the art itself wasn't anything mind blowing (we didn't get to blow our minds at all last week). But what made the exhibit so wonderful was that besides the de-rigeur paintings by the aforementioned M. Gauvreau, they had also installed a whack of ephemera about his life (some of the TV shows he made, his typewriter, his copy of the Refus Global, etc). OK, so this is what you come to expect with a historical/sociological retrospective. Still it is nice to see in a place that is not on the "A" list. The what made it super spectacular, and took it to the next level (I don't give out A+'s willy-nilly) was that in the back room, right beside some paintings by M. Gauvreau were pieces that he owned, or had been made by his wife or kids. Now, that gave me a big smile.

And then on top of it, in the handy dandy flyer that goes along with the exhibit, there ain't but one tiny, itty-bitty mention of who the curator of the show is. The whole taken together, it just made my day. Posted by Picasa

Stuff Seen - Heidi Barkun



After seeing Ms. Barkun's exhibit, I went "hmmmm." This show was held at this place called "The Nest," a for rent gallery on Saint Dominique. However in the booklet that went along with the show, I discovered that Ms. Barkun had in fact previously had a solo exhibition at Simon Blais. Now, normally I thought the line of an artist's career is supposed to start at a for rent gallery and then eventually go to one of those hoity-toity white cube galleries, not the other way 'round.

But while my friend wasn't terribly impressed with Ms. Barkun's work, due to it being sorta kinda similar to someone who she knows really well. I don't have that sort of relationship with her friend so I thought Ms. Barkun's work was quite nice. I wasn't expecting anything mind-blowing, and it didn't blow my mind. But it was a very solid body of work. I don't expect my mom to cook me "Lamb’s lettuce paired with porcini and dressed with truffle vinaigrette" but her noodle pudding is absolutely delicious. Heidi Barkun's work is like my mom's noodle pudding. Nourishing, comfortable, warm and good.

Stuff Seen - L'echo des limbes



The David Altmejd was pretty cool, some sort of decomposed (or moth-eaten) sasquatch type of thing pierced by a bunch of mirrors looking like those Atlantis-Alliance crystals. The Eve K. Tremblay photographs were nice in a zen-like way. The Patrice Duhamel video was a kinda goofy take on how difficult it is to get your art into the Musée des Beaux Arts. And the Michael A. Robinson thing kept a friend of mine entertained because of the mechanical bird, and I tried to follow the path of the cables, but was ultimately frustrated. Frustration was pretty much how I felt about the entire show. Despite big meaningful words about "issues of representation and of strangeness, and the notion of the real" in the badly designed flyer, it seemed to me to be just something that issued a real strange notion of representation. Or without trying to beat my prose into a forced pun, each of the artists, by themselves is probably capable of doing some kick-ass stuff, but grouping them together did not work in any way shape or form, and just made all of them look like they would prefer to be anyplace else but the Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery at Concordia. Posted by Picasa

Stuff Seen - Landau Fine Art


Unfortunately there is no image, but that doesn't stop me from giving them a B+. Alice Landau was quite gracious and extremely helpful when she took us through all three floors of their gallery. There wasn't exactly any specific exhibit, but tons of art from Heinz Rabbow, Tony Scherman, Riopelle, and Fritz Hundertwasser.

Proof that a bad website, and not much Google juice, doesn't stop them from being the only Montreal art gallery at Art Basel Miami. However, I got a giggle when Ms. Landau shared an anecdote about how difficult it is to get local press to cover art.

Friday, November 25, 2005

A useless waste of $90,000


Each year for the past 10 years, AGAC awards the Prix Pierre-Ayot and the Prix Louis-Comtois. This year the winners were Emmanuelle Léonard, and Claire Savoie. [clarification: Just so everybody doesn't get hot under the collar, I am not making any judgments about the work of either Ms. Léonard or Ms. Savoie.] Congrats to them both.

You'd figure, since it was the 10th anniversary, there'd be some heavy duty publicity going on. Nope. AGAC hasn't even figured out how to update their site so as to reflect the new winners. You'd figure that there would be some heavy duty big bash designed to celebrate the winners and console the losers. Nope. You'd figure that after ten years they'd maybe perhaps organize a small exhibit of the winners. Okay, they did do that, unfortunately it only toured around Montréal, and it was done after nine years of prizes, and it ain't touring anymore.

If I was spending $9,000/year to "promouvoir l'excellence de la nouvelle création en arts visuels à Montréal et favoriser la diffusion des oeuvres de jeunes artistes dans les galeries et centres d'artistes montréalais" [promote the excellence of new visual arts creations in Montreal and make it easier to circulate the works of young artists in the galleries and artist run centers of Montreal]. Or to "promouvoir la reconnaissance d'un artiste qui s'est distingué dans le domaine de l'art contemporain à Montréal" [promote the knowledge of a distinguished contemporary Montreal artist]. Then I sure as shootin' would not be satisfied with the job that has been done so far.

Conveniently Marc Seguin, who won the Pierre Ayot (for best young artist) in 1998 has an up to date CV on his website Does that look like the CV of someone about to turn the art world on its head? Or looking for Google juice, the winners over the past five years get this:

Pierre Ayot Prize
Nathalie Grimard (2001) - 328
Michel De Broin (2002) - 799
Pascal Grandmaison (2003) - 630
Jérôme Fortin (2004) - 646
Emmanuelle Léonard (2005) - 594

Louis Comtois Prize
Roberto Pellegrinuzzi (2001) - 652
Alain Paiement (2002) - 710
Richard Max Tremblay (2003) - 766
Stephen Schofield (2004) - 679
Claire Savoie (2005) - 517

While I'm never one to sneeze at free cash, I would strongly recommend that next year's winners refuse the awards, because it sure as shooting looks like winning them means the kiss of death to an artist's career.

Three different views


As the highest priced painting in the Heffel Fine Art auction last night, "The Bird Shop, St. Lawrence Street, an oil completed around 1920 by Quebec master Maurice Galbraith Cullen" caught my eye.

Shamelessly lifted from the Globe & Mail.

I said to myself, "I've seen that before in black and white."

And then in looking for the original, I came across this one.

The Power Plant's revolving door


The Globe and Mail has a small tiny bit about Reid Shier leaving his job at the Power Plant, after having held it for less than two years. Since I would assume that their programming is decided about two years in advance, I'm left wondering exactly what Mr. Shier accomplished at the Power Plant.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I'd guess it isn't as much of a blockbuster as they hoped


Interesting stuff today in the Montreal Gazette. Habitually, Wednesday is food day. A bunch of recipes, some restaurant reviews, and a spotlight on something delicious. Fine, no problem there, I'm certain that there are people who enjoy it, and I am certain that Julian Armstrong (the food editor of the Gazette) is a very nice person. But I can't believe that the Musée des Beaux Arts stooped so low as to finagle an article in the newspaper about the food of Provence as a way to get more press (thereby, the belief goes, get more people in the door).

What's next? John Griffin on the movies made in Provence? Eva Friede on the fashions in Provence? Arthur Kaptainis on opera in Provence? I got the best one... Josey Vogels on getting a date in Provence!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Terry Dawes is obviously a creative person...


Because he doesn't understand statistics, and runs away from math as fast as possible. yesterday, I came across this piece of expository prose by Mr. Dawes. Which if I am to understand things, references this piece of qualitative & quantitative research by some guy named Kelly Hill.

Basically, Mr. Dawes slams J. Kelly Nestruck for being assigned to write a fluff article in the National Post. I think Mr. Dawes should be directing his anger at Mr. Hill, and not the messenger, since Mr. Hill is the person who was the "statistic monger[s] at some Zogby-esque ...agency." Using statistics published by StatsCan, and then paid for his research by the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Department of Canadian Heritage. Mr. Hill, seems to have made a nice little business for himself living off of government funding.

I thoroughly disagree with Mr. Dawes that "there's a point to making a creative map of the country." But instead of complaining about the person who informed me about it, I'd rather use this here soapbox to rail against the people who decided that it was a worthwhile project.

And in the interest of full-disclosure, I was also called by Mr. Nestruck, and then quoted in the article. And as absolutely every other article published about "creative postal codes in Canada" only copy/pasted from the press release, and Mr. Nestruck actually did some legwork to make his article different and interesting, I'd give him some large props for taking his job seriously.

Mr. Hill on the other hand would be better served by closing his firm so that the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Department of Canadian Heritage could actually use the money to fund artists instead of statisticians.

Can you say "ridiculous?"


As part of Art Basel Miami, some company called Precept 7 is offering something called the Contemporary Arts Experience. One of the things featured in the Contemporary Arts Experience is a mid-morning break, which includes a hot-towel service. I realize that it is important to have clean hands when handling art (any art) - but if I were hyping some event designed to separate folk from their cash by offering introductions to "select gallery directors," I'd lay low on the description of personal hygienics.

Ritchies auction results


Despite what the James Adams writes, the auction of Important Canadian Art at Ritchies yesterday seems to have done rather well. In total they collected $8,372,250 on 225 lots. A minimum of $1,255,837 in commissions for the auction houses (not bad work for one day, eh?)

Despite the best efforts of what I assume was Rosamond Ivey, the David Milne painting's which I had been following seem to not have done as well as I thought they would.
Lot #1, Entrance to the Zoo went for 68% more than its high estimate.
Lot #20, Fools Caps, (a watercolor) went for $21,600, in between the low and the high estimate.
Lot #21, Dead Cedar went for 20% more than its high estimate.
Lot #86, Bare Patches on the Hill did not sell.
Lot #120, White Islet (Islands III) did not sell.
Lot #127, Elm Tree did not sell.
Lot #184, High Island I went for $28,800, in between the low and the high estimate.

Some other things that I noted while going through the results - Armand Vaillancourt's sculpture more than doubled it's high estimate (woo-hoo!). Goodridge Roberts seems to be doing well, four lots, three went for more than the high estimate. And having an exhibit at the Musée des Beaux arts de Montreal does not hurt in the least - The one Edwin Holgate engraving went for 2½ times the high estimate, and the one Sam Borenstein went for twice the high estimate. As for contemporary Canadian art, despite M. Vaillancourt's fine showing, it still has a long way to go.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Matthew Fox reading at Zeke's Gallery


Click here, to listen (stream it) [15:52 minutes, 14.5 MB]

The evening finished in grand style with Matthew Fox (keep your fingers crossed for him on Wednesday) I'd also like to thank Richard Burnett for hosting the evening, and everybody who came out to hear Mr. Fox, Mr. Woolfrey and Mr. Schaus.

R. John Woolfrey reading at Zeke's Gallery


Click here to listen (stream it) [14:26 minutes, 13.2 MB]

The evening continued with R. John Woolfrey.

Brent Schaus reading at Zeke's Gallery


Click here, if you'd like to listen to it. (stream it) [17:23 minutes, 15.9 MB]

Last Thursday, the second Zeke's gets proud reading shin-dig was held. A good time was had by all.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Stuff Seen - Tshi



Despite there only being 16 portraits, it was a kick-ass party, and a great show. Next time though, chat tags would be helpful. See if you can find the only person not looking at the camera. Posted by Picasa

Stuff Seen - Heidi Taillefer



I really like Ms. Taillefer's older stuff, but this looks like a cash grab to me. Pictures taken by Nicolas Ruel, which are then painted on by Ms. Taillefer with a very definite sex sells idea. Thankfully there was a bunch of her older stuff on the right hand wall. Posted by Picasa

Stuff Seen - Michel Legendre



Two of the photographs were kick-ass, nu, and 3 nus, unfortunately there were almost 30 of them in total. Also he loses marks for offering them in six different sizes and unlimited editions. Posted by Picasa

Stuff Seen - Raymond Lavoie



Uninteresting, and boring. From a certain angle the walls of Graff looked like they could've been one of Lavoie's paintings. The stuff in the back could've been fun - but nothing was happening when we were there. Posted by Picasa

Stuff Seen - Jeremy Gordaneer



As the invite says, bikes, and more bikes. More like pieces of bikes, and more pieces of bikes. Pleasantly surprising, not anything like Greg Curnoe, and upon checking his website, amazingly prolific, too! Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 18, 2005

All eyes are not on Lawren Harris for Ritchies Auction of Important Canadian Art


The CBC is all Group of Seven all the Time! Unfortunately, they don't know their auction from their elbow. Although, David Silcox has a complete understanding on who he is talking to. Note to the CBC, if the auction is "Sotheby's in Association with Ritchies" and it is being held at Ritchies (288 King Street East), then it probably is a good bet, that the folk at Ritchies know their stuff. Talking to the president of Sotheby's Canada, is like me talking to some person at Radio-Canada about CBC TV. Head's up to the CBC, if there is a David Milne painting on the cover of the catalogue, it's fairly certain that a David Milne painting is what Ritchies is trying to push.

Waste of my money


I will refrain from making any snarky jokes about Liza Frulla, the Minister responsible for Status of Women giving $275,988 to the Bata Shoe Museum so that they can buy themselves a digital camera. If you want to see what they are going to be doing, click here. Ooh! I am so thrilled that I can get a close up on those fabulous red shoes!!!

But they gotta be kidding that $1.5 million in funding to develop digital cultural content is a good use of taxpayers money. I run Zeke's Gallery on a shoestring budget, with some beer thrown in for good measure, and here is the list of "digital cultural content" that I've been able to develop without $1.5 million in government funding.

Interviews with Canadian Artists and people in the Arts:
  1. Dominique Blain
  2. Marc Mayer
  3. Toly Kouroumalis
  4. Michel Hellman
  5. Eduardo Kac
  6. Jean-François Lacombe
  7. Philip Bottenberg
  8. Zev Tiefenbach, part one, and part two (with audio)
  9. Wil Murray, part one, part two, and part three (with audio)
  10. Eric Waugh, part one, part two (with audio)
  11. Face-Off, the public debate between myself and Marc Mayer, part one, and part two.
  12. Mise au jeu, the public debate in French between myself and Marc Mayer, part one, part two.
  13. Chris Dyer

The Literature Readings that are available:
  1. Harry Thurston
  2. Geoffrey Cook
  3. Matthea Harvey
  4. Christian Hawkey
  5. Fiona Foster
  6. RM Vaughan
  7. Miss Gina
  8. Catherine Paquette
  9. Mark Harris
  10. R John Woolfrey
  11. Joe Meno
  12. Mickey Hess
  13. Sean Carswell
  14. Jason Camlot
  15. Zac Schnier
  16. Johanna Skibsrud

The bands that have played here:
  1. Steve Raegele & Isaiah Ceccarelli. Set One, Set Two.
  2. Lisa Hoffman
  3. Erica Ruth Kelly
  4. Richard Laviolette
  5. Chris Yang
  6. Alysse Rich
  7. The Dust Jackets
  8. Nikita U, set one, set two
  9. The Isaiah Ceccarelli Quntet, Set One, Set Two.
  10. The Dust Jackets.
  11. Carlo Spidla & Nino Menard: Set One, Set Two
  12. Sarah Gregg-Granger
  13. Victoria Stanton
  14. Beneath These Idle Tides
  15. No Birds
  16. Zoe Keating: Set One, Set Two
  17. Shawn Sage
  18. Sean Peever
  19. The Refined: Set One, Set Two
  20. Basia Bulat and the Poche Orchestra
  21. The Toy Box Orchestra: Set one, Set two
  22. Diagram Set one, Set two
  23. Kirsten Jones
  24. Kristin McCaig
  25. Ben Hammond
  26. Hungaratron
  27. Slippery Peat
  28. Sakamoto Hiromiti Set one, Set two
  29. Lonesome Pine Special
  30. Revised Edition, set one, set two.
  31. The Saxophone Quartet
  32. The Double Bass Quartet
  33. Dirty Ol' Band Set one, Set two

And that's just the stuff that is on line, now...

Andisheh Nouraee needs to walk the walk


Responding to a call from the internet, I present an example of someone who just doesn't get it.

Creative Loafing Atlanta, is sorta, kinda like Hour Magazine or the Montreal Mirror up here. Just not as good judging by their "arts" writer, although I gotta admit they have a slick website.

How Mr. (or Ms., does anybody know if Andisheh is a guy's name or a girl's name?) Nouraee got their job, I dunno. Their column is a collage of badly formed thoughts that are fairly childish attempts at humor which wouldn't even make a 12 year old crack a smile. Flitting from one topic to another, Mr. or Ms. Nouraee always relies on someone, or something else's opinion to make his or her snarky comment; "According to a blurb printed on the wall, the wing "creates a harmonious environment for viewing art." ...I viewed them harmoniously."

If Mr. or Ms. Nouraee is going to write about A&E's two-hour biography of the Bee Gees, and Googling for escort services in Atlanta why would he or she also write about Vik Muniz, Thomas Friedman, Gruppe Freie Elektronische, Charles Nelson and Wardell Milan in the very same same column? Unless of course Mr. or Ms. Nouraee thinks that A&E's two-hour biography of the Bee Gees, and Googling for escort services in Atlanta is a better use of their time.

I will attempt to refrain from making any conclusions about the folk who live in Atlanta based on Mr. or Ms. Nouraee's writing but it sure as shootin' is gonna be tough. But one conclusion I can make. Despite the headline, Mr. or Ms. Nouraee doesn't like art, but needs the gig at Creative Loafing Atlanta in order to make rent, pity there weren't any openings for a pizza delivery person in Georgia.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Eric Waugh, the interview (part one).


If you'd like to listen while you read, click here. (stream it) [41:39 minutes, 40.0 MB] (Be forewarned, the windows were open while we spoke, and as a consequence there is an awful lot of background noise, sorry).

Back on February 23, 2005 I had the opportunity and pleasure of being able to interview Eric Waugh. He is from Montréal, and could be the best selling artist of all-time, as he has sold more than 27,000 paintings. The thing that he has done, that can't be argued about is having painted the largest painting ever - 40,000 square feet. The painting was called "Hero" and after it was done, pieces of it were sold to benefit Camp Heartland, a camp for children with HIV/AIDS, he has also done humongous amounts of work for the Starlight Children's Foundation and The Multiple Sclerosis Society, just to name a few. He also created the best selling Kleenex box of all time. However, like Jack Vettriano, he doesn't get an awful lot of acknowledgment from your standard issue contemporary art people - hence my desire to sit down and talk to him. What you have below is a transcript of out conversation.

I'd like to thank Hiroyuki Sasaki and Jacquline Mabey especially, for their amazing help in getting the interview transcribed, and Marie Malboeuf for her wonderful job of editing the transcript. If you like the interview, please consider making a donation to the gallery, thanks.

Chris Hand: First of all, thank you very much. One thing that I definitely want you to know is that I have no background in art history, in art, or in anything art related.

Eric Waugh: Neither do I [laughs]

Chris Hand: However, since I started Zeke's Gallery I've realized that there are something like 75 different types of art worlds. Everybody has their niche, and nobody talks to each other.

Eric Waugh: The art world is funny. I think its just the nature of being an artist. An artist just wants to be by themselves, locked up in a studio and not let anybody know what is going on until they are done. There are so many different worlds. 17 years ago when I was introduced to art, by my art, I didn't know about any other world. But once I realized that there were artists that were actually selling their art. I took a trip down to New York to the Art Expo and… Have you been there?

Chris Hand: No, unfortunately, I haven't.

Eric Waugh: You got to go. It has changed a lot over seventeen years. To me the heyday was about 12 years ago, there were just several hundreds of booths. And when I'm talking booths, I'm talking booths! They would put together these enormous exhibitions and displays for people who came from all over the world. I was just blown away. It's like I didn't understand. I didn't think you were supposed to do that with art. While I was going to school, the words “art” and "starving" would always go together. "Art not a business;" "you cannot make money from it." I was actually taken aback when I discovered that this could be a career, where I can make a living. I really enjoy what I am doing. So yeah, there are so many different types of art worlds, I don't know them all. I know a few. I am sure you know some others.

City Rock

Chris Hand: Yeah, I am trying to learn about as many as I can track down. And why I asked if I could interview you. To put it bluntly there is a view of "art as product" and what you do from the outside seems to fall into that world. When you're painting, do you view it as a product? Or do you view it as something else?

Eric Waugh: Its neither one nor the other. I do have a family, I do have a business and things that have to be run. I can't go and take 5 weeks off and do nothing, because I have other people who depend on what I am doing. However, I see it in as a slightly bigger picture, it isn't just doing one painting and then finishing that one painting and then selling that one painting. It's really sort of creating something bigger. I don't know what it is exactly, but when I learned that I can do good with my art. That I can start giving back to the community. That's when I really thought that there is a bigger plan for what I am doing. I think whatever I do from day to day, I think it has been building up to this. I thought that the worlds largest painting, would be it. But now I think that was just like a stepping stone to get me to another level, so people will start to take me seriously, so the next time I come up with one of those crazy ass projects, that they are going to say: "Yeah. That guy pulled that one off. I think he'll be able to do this one."

Chris Hand: One of my favorite sayings is: "I'm never satisfied." Cause the instant I sit back and enjoy the glory. "Pffft! It's all gone. You always got to keep going further and further

Eric Waugh: Absolutely. I don't horde my work. I don't hang it in my house. I have just one painting in my house that I did. It's of my three boys, very primitive looking with stick figure forms, holding hands. I don't paint for me. I paint for other people. I paint to make them happy. I get these e-mails from people that you wouldn't believe. They have never collected art before, they know nothing about art, they know nothing about abstract art. They would rather buy a nice scene with trees, rivers, birdies, and things like that that they can relate to. And then they come across my work, and they just, I don't know what it is about it, but they are drawn into it, they have to have it, and they get it, and they write me these letters saying: “This is first piece of real art that I purchased and you have really inspired me and you turned me on to art.” And that's kind of a good feeling.

Reclining Diva

Chris Hand: One of the things that I find interesting is you say that you don't paint for yourself, you paint for other people. An awful lot of the artists that I know are very reticent about letting anybody else see the stuff that they're making. It strikes me as if they are creating for themselves. When I'm selling art, the first law is, you've got to love it. You've got to make sure you cannot live without it. It's an interesting concept that I had never thought of before. The realization that if you are painting for other people, then your perception of the painting is going to be different from if you are painting for yourself.

Eric Waugh: I think if I was painting for myself, I would probably never be satisfied. Sometimes I think I still do go overboard on the work that I put in to a painting. I find people, like a sort of a rawness in the art. Then sometimes my kids will come in. So I give them a brush and stuff and they will start painting. And then I'll pull it away from them, and they are like: "What are you doing?" And I'll say "It's done. Don't beat it up. It's finished, that's it. You got your emotions into it. Now move on to another one." And that's kind of what I am doing. That's is why I like to work quickly. Put a lot of energy, spontaneity into the work, Do it quickly. Do Do Do Get it out. Let someone else enjoy it. Move on to the next. There are lots of people standing in line for my art so I want to get it out there so that they can enjoy it. But I find that over these past 17 years, I've seen other artists and I've seen different things going on with them and with their work. But I find many artists saying that they are painting for themselves. I think if they just get it out there. If they could see people enjoying it and get that feedback that I get - I get a lot of feedback - cause I do a lot of pieces, If they got that, I think they would turn around too. They are saying they are painting for themselves because they don't feel confident. They don't want to get it out there. So they end up keeping it to themselves and hording it.

Chris Hand: Exactly It's like last night, I had a band here, I had a friend who was watching, and she started to tell me "I love the band!" And I told her "tell him, don't tell me. He's the one who's going to enjoy your feedback way more than I will." But before we start agreeing with each other on everything, how do you decide what is going to stay unique and what is going to go out as multiples?

Eric Waugh: With posters, I've seen other artists come and go, because they saturate the market. So that's one thing that I didn't want to do right at the very beginning. limit myself only to a couple of images a year, and for past the 12 years or so, I have been limiting it to only completely abstract work. But, I think the key to it is limiting the amount of images that are out there in the poster market, and because they are only abstracts, whatever I publish as a poster doesn't really compete with the other stuff that I am doing. You're selling posters for $40 and canvases for $4,000. It is two totally different markets. But the great thing about that is, people who can't afford a $4,000 piece, can enjoy the posters.

Chris Hand: Do you decide before you start a painting, or after you've done it?

Eric Waugh: Before. I sit down and do a specific collection of work just for that. Because it is a bit of a different look, you know, maybe more decorative. I pay attention to the colors that are hot or going to be hot. There was the time, you know, when they the market didn't want any color, all beiges and browns and ochres, with just little tiny spots of color here and there. And last year was very colorful. Reds and teals and burgundies, purples... This year, I hear that things are sort of rich and dark. With some color popping, textures, things like that. And I just sort of blend it all together into my little artistic tapestry and then move on. As far as the posters go, you really need to limit yourself. But at the same time its great that I have sold over half million posters around the world, so that's a half million of people that I would not normally be able to reach.

Chris Hand: Beside posters and painting, do you do other multiples, like giclées or anything like that?

Eric Waugh: I don't do giclée. I have my saying "no way to giclée," I don't really get that whole thing. It's just a print, and an artist signs it, that's it. Although it's a very well produced piece, there's not much to it. Just printing. However, Princess cruise lines came to me and said “we'd really love to have your art on our ships.” Do you know anything about whole art market on cruise ships?

Chris Hand: No, tell me please.

Eric Waugh: It's been going on for a long time and it's a huge thing for the ships. Actually I heard that they make more money through their art auctions than they do through their casinos. You know, I've been on a couple of ships lately in the past year, and the great thing about the art auctions is... you know people are on their honeymoon, they're on vacation, they have been saving up for years, its an anniversary, its a special time so they come on the ship. They hear and they see art auction today at 2 o'clock come down and check things out. So they come, they see, they look, "oh you know, there's some really nice stuff here" and they sit down and they have some champagne. Auctioneer loosens everybody up tells a few jokes and things its very casual. The auctioneer's in shorts and a T-shirt and a straw hat. And they just get into it. And then they say: "wait a minute here, I can get this Picasso, etching, you know, in the gallery, its $60,000. And I can get for $30,000? That's a no brainer. I'll take two." So you get these big spenders and some of these people spend thousands of dollars while on their cruise. It's a special thing. They are actually bringing something home instead of pumping down money in the casino and ending up with empty pockets. These are people putting money down and they're actually bringing something home. So Princess Cruise Lines asks me if I can come up with something exclusively for the ships that you can't get anywhere else. I have been dabbling with this technique for the past couple of years that I call [it] mono brossé, it's where you are basically printing an outline. high resolution like a giclée. Then the rest, the brushwork, is all done by hand. So its 99 percent done by hand. This way from one to the next, there are differences between color and texture and things like that. So I started doing something with them, I did a collection with six pieces, 195 mono brossés of each, and within three months we have sold half of the editions. Now we're talking about doing a second series. You can't beat the exposure. There are literally millions of people going through their ships. The great thing is that because of what I do; painting live to music, they invite me on the boat for painting performances. How can you beat that? I have to go to the Mediterranean to paint in between Italy and Greece. It's a hard job but somebody's got to do it.

Cello Bella

Chris Hand: Speaking of the painting performances, but do you know all about the artists collective called HVW8?

Eric Waugh: No.

Chris Hand: They do same exact thing as you - painting to music. But they're coming at it from a graffiti style, doing it at rap shows and discothèques. They're from Montréal, which is why I made the connection. And I don't know if there are that many people out there who actually do live painting to music or if it is just solely Montreal thing. But yeah, they paint in discothèques for people who can barely afford a 5 buck entry fee.

Eric Waugh: I'd love to be painting at discos and hip hop clubs, because that's really where the energy is, it doesn't matter if they can't afford it, because that's really where the energy is.

Chris Hand: Then, as opposed to looking for a payoff on the painting, what about a straight performance fee, at which point the painting goes with the fee?

Eric Waugh: That's something that I did couple of weeks ago. I was asked to do a performance with the Doobie Brothers in California. It was; "come down. How much for the painting? For you to come down, your time, expenses and things like that?" So that was pretty much the first time that I had done it that way. Where someone just said "come and perform." That's something that I might do more, there are a lot of event planning companies. I didn't realize it, but this is done all the time in the arts. There is this whole circuit going on, different artists doing all these different things. But I love the music thing, the cool thing about it is, you never know what's gonna happen. Spontaneity. You have no idea. You don't know if they are gonna do encore or not. I try to pace myself where I have maybe 5 more minutes left to go. I don't put in some of the details, don't color in certain areas of the painting because I know I'm gonna have 5 more minutes. But there was a time where, Nelly Furtado didn't do an encore. And I'm out of there and I'm like left and I hadn't even signed the painting yet. So you never know. That's the exciting element of it. Like at the Atlanta Jazz festival. I'm up on stage and I got a camera behind me, I'm on this big screen I got 40,000 people behind me, watching me. I don't know what's gonna happen. I can fall over, I can trip on the stage. You never know what's gonna happen. You don't know about the paintings. I have no idea what the painting is gonna look like a second before I do it.

Chris Hand: Have you ever discussed with musicians what songs? You know, a sort of background or...

Eric Waugh: Not really. With the Rippingtons it was kind of cool in a sense that on the first night, I had no idea what they were gonna do. The tone, the tempo, the length, and all kind of that stuff. I was doing two shows a night, for five nights. So, the second show they played exactly the same set. I was like "wait a minute here! I know what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna do the drawing the first set, I'm gonna put down the texture the second song." By the time fifth night rolled around, it was a totally choreographed show. I knew exactly. Exactly, exactly. But it kind of took the fun out of it. Because it was so planned and I knew the songs and I knew the beat, when they were gonna stop, I knew they would come back for an encore whether they wanted it or not.

Chris Hand: I could imagine that it could drive you mad.

Eric Waugh: Yeah, exactly, night after night, show after show. One of the best times I ever had was, I was in western Florida doing an arts festival. I'm looking across the street and I see this club called "Swig." There's a bunch of jazz stuff going on there, and I peek in, and I'm "this would be a really cool place to paint." The next day, I'm at the festival, doing my stuff, and I'm looking over there at Swig and it's like you know what? I'm gonna go over and speak to manager and see if I can just pop in with my paints and easel just like that. So I walked in and I showed them my stuff and they said "oh sure man, no problem." And literally I finished a painting, took the easel, walked it in, took a blank canvas, my paints and started painting. It was the most fun I have ever had, because it wasn't planned, it was totally spontaneous, I had no idea who the band was, I just had so much fun. And the crowd loved it. The band thought it was amazing. It's just that spontaneity about it that makes it exciting.

Chris Hand: where did you first come up with the idea to paint live to music?

Eric Waugh: I was actually approached by the Toronto Mendelssohn Symphony Choir. They asked if I would come and do this huge painting, a painting to a symphony, with a choir. I had never painted live before but I knew I definitely could do it. I was gonna do a little practicing beforehand. They sent me the music that the orchestra was going to be doing with the choir. It was very dark. I realized that it just isn't what I wanted to do. I didn't think it was a good mix, so I was very honest with them and said "listen, I think it you'd probably be better off with a different type of artist rather than myself. I just don't think I can really relate to it." But that kind of got me thinking, well this is kind of cool, you know I'd like to do it, but how do you do it? Then I was doing one of your typical art shows in Atlanta at a gallery. And this couple came up to me and said: "Eric, we love your art, we own one of your pieces, we represent this artist called Martin Posey, and this is what we do for him. We bring him into upscale jazz clubs, nightclubs, and hotels and different venues where there is music. This artist Martin Posey, he paints live to music. Do you think you'd be into that sort of thing?" I said: "Well, I have actually been thinking about it a little bit, and sounds pretty cool." You know, it would get me out of the studio. So I told them, let me think about it for a couple of months and I will let you know when I have some time. Then they just kept in touch with me, after a while I said "okay fine, Lets give it a shot. Find me a little club somewhere, low key someplace that I can get some practice at". They suggested a little place called "Mama May's Louisiana Kitchen." It's like this southern place, they had brought in this jazz band, a really bad jazz band. I set up my paints and my easel, and off I went. But, it turned out pretty good. I think there were two nights. The first night was pretty good, actually I did two paintings on first night, and two paintings on second night. It was kind a cool. The music wasn't exactly what I was looking for. But it was a good start. It let me get my feet wet, and then they started to look for different venues. They came up with a place that was kind of cool, it was the Swiss Hotel in Buckhead Atlanta, a funky contemporary hotel. It has a really cool lobby, and every Friday and Saturday, they have a pianist or they get a little jazz duo, and at the time they were having art exhibits of local artists in there as well. So different artists every week would come and hang their art. So I came in and did my thing and people really loved it. The hotel loved it. It was kind a cool. It became a sort of regular gig. Coincidently, the first time I checked into the hotel, I'm going up to my room, and the elevator doors open up, and there is my art. Actually this Swiss Hotel has the second largest art collection in Georgia, after the Georgia National Gallery of Art. On every floor there's art, there are like 24 floors in the hotel, as you get off the elevator on the 24th floor, there are two pieces of mine on either side of the wall. So my art was in the hotel coincidently. The manager didn't realize, and I didn't realize. Jim Carter, the guy who had booked me into the hotel didn't realize...

Dance City

Chris Hand: Have you ever tried any hotels or clubs here in town?

Eric Waugh: No, other than Tony Bennett. I painted with Tony Bennett here in Montreal. Jim Carter is from Atlanta so everything is there.

Chris Hand: That Atlanta and Montreal connection...

Eric Waugh: Yeah, he's there, so it's easy for him book stuff there. But I want to do more in Canada, travel more, do more shows. Princess Cruise Lines wants me to be on their ships. Jim can set up those shows. So you know what? I see it as having an opportunity, all the jazz festivals, the art festivals. But I also have my family, and all that kind of stuff to balance. What I want to do, I want to find a nice club here, in Montreal, where possibly once a month I can come and be some sort of regular. Not for money, not for anything, just come and hang and get the feel and the vibe and sort of stuff. I don't have to set up the whole show. I'd rather take the painting and give it to the Starlight Children's Foundation or something like that.

Chris Hand: Off the top of my head, the one's that I've been thinking, down in Old Montreal, there is this placed called Java U And then, there is also any of the boutique hotels down there.

Eric Waugh: What about the jazz clubs.

Chris Hand: The Jazz Festival killed pretty much all the jazz clubs. There is Upstairs. Upstairs is the only true jazz club in town.

Eric Waugh: It's kind a small, isn't it?

Chris Hand: Yeah. Smaller than this place. There is this place on Mont Royal called Bily Kun. there they have background music as opposed to it being really people coming to hear jazz..

Eric Waugh: I'm interested in finding some sort of place that I can sort of… call home. Montreal is a big city but its also a small town. So I don't think I can go from place to place to place. Its really sort of finding a place that would work well. But I don't know any of these places. I am suburban guy. I know nothing about downtown.

Chris Hand: I'll see what I can come up with. Then, again, to switch topics, I noticed in going through your websites, you list off a large number of private collections, but there are no museums. Is that by your choice, circumstance or something else?

Eric Waugh: Museums are for when you're dead.

Chris Hand: No! No! Not at all! There's the Musée d'Art Contemporain, Loto Quebec, they both regularly buy living contemporary artists. And even the Musée des Beaux Arts as well.

Eric Waugh: Well, the first thing you said when we sat down, was that there are so many different art worlds, that is one art world. Then there is the whole government thing to help artists out with grants and bursaries. Those are the types of the things I find where they help the you when you're doing the art for yourself. Being in the National Gallery is not important to me. I'd rather create art that people can actually hang in their homes. Instead of having to get into the car and driving down to a museum.

Chris Hand: On the flip side, at home, only a couple of people will see it, but in museum, way many more people will see it.

Eric Waugh: I want people to see my art for more than just a few minutes. I want people to live with it. So that its actually part of their lives. I've been talking about feedback and letters, you know, I get letters 8 years after the fact. "Dear Mr. Waugh. Still enjoying your painting. 8 years later. We have actually started a small collection, and now we have 12 in our home." You know, that type of thing. One way for artists to get exposure is to get into a museum. But, that isn't something that I have even been thinking about. A lot of artists think that that's where they have to be in order to get to a certain level. I am doing it in other ways. I am doing it in being prolific, doing live paintings, doing it by getting my name out there. But, up until the world's largest painting, people didn't even know who I was. I just stayed in my studio and did my paintings and then sent them out to the world for them to enjoy. I want people to appreciate the art for the art's sake not because the name of the artist is Eric Waugh. And you know, I have already created 27,000 paintings without anyone even knowing my name. So if I were to try and do museum's I don't even think I could keep up with the demand.

Bongo Boy

Chris Hand: From my perspective getting your stuff into a museum can be handled pretty much in the same way that somebody else handles the distribution and actual sales of your paintings, now. In other words if you were to decide that it was something important, you can find another person to handle getting it into museums.

Eric Waugh: Well, I am not in a rush to do that. I think down on the road that it would be very nice to be in museums. But it's not a high priority for me now. Are you an artist?

Chris Hand: Nope, not at all.

Eric Waugh: It's hard to, explain. Because I am so close to it, you know when you do a painting, you're never necessarily satisfied. So you never think its good enough for certain things or certain people or certain... I don't know... So after 27,000 paintings, I still don't think that I'm ready for that. There is a bit of a change coming, taking my painting to a different level.

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Eric Waugh, the interview (part two).


If you'd like to listen while you read, click here. (stream it) [40:26 minutes, 38.8 MB] (Be forewarned, the windows were open while we spoke, and as a consequence there is an awful lot of background noise, sorry).

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Eric Waugh: I'd like to produce less work, but, bigger work, hopefully, more important work. So there is some change in the air, I'd say maybe in ten years. But I think I'm still young. I'm 41 but I feel like I just started painting, like I'm in my early 20s.

Chris Hand: That's one thing I've realized, being in art does keep you feeling young.

Eric Waugh: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. You know, I've got three young boys, trying to keep up with them, with all the music, and that kind of stuff. I think there is plenty of time for me to go that route, but I really want to get my art to a certain technical level first. I don't think people know who I am, but I'll actually be in an airport, and somebody will come up to me, "Are you Mr. Waugh?"

Chris Hand: That's one thing I was thinking, given how you've positioned yourself, you've got Celine Dion and the Cirque de Soeil that come from Québec, and within their fields, they're the large heavyweights, top sellers, and you, to me, should be as well known as they are. Which is not a slight at you aren't, but they are at a different level, and it must be extremely frustrating seeing stuff like that, then realizing, "Ugh!"

Eric Waugh: But again, it's all timing. For a good 12 years even though my work was selling all over the place- I didn't feel that I was just ready to come out, per se. But, after the World's Largest Painting, I said, "You know what? It's only going to help what I want to do in my bigger picture." People know who I am and I get more publicity, and my name gets bigger and I can sell my paintings for a little more, therefore I can give more money away when I do art auctions for charity, instead of raising $30,000 I can raise $60,000 because my prices are double. You know, I can do so much better for the big picture if I can get my name out, get some publicity, and get up to that Celine Dion level. That's in the works. For the first 12 years or so it wasn't a conscious effort. "OK, I have to do website and marketing, and here and there, and interviews and TV." You know, it wasn't planned. It was just, I'm gonna do my thing and see where it takes me. But now, there's a little more planning going on. There's a lot more things- you know, I have my distributor for my art, I have my live performance thing, I have Princess Cruises...I've been doing a little licensing by myself over the past few years: posters, the Kleenex box...the number one selling Kleenex box in the history of Kimberly Clarke, my design.

Chris Hand: Very nice.

Eric Waugh: It was running for close to ten years, and I think it stopped about a year and a half ago or so. But I've done a few journals, and stationary, and gift wrap, and things like that. So now I have a licensing agency out of New York that handles that stuff. They're looking for companies that could fit well with my art, do some tasteful connections there. What I really want to do is work with a specific company. I don't wanna just create X amount of images and say, "OK, put these out on coffee mugs." I want to create something specifically for that company, really sort of tailor make this image for them, for a little more of a connection. So that's happening. There is gonna be a lot of things happening. Which I'm very excited about...I'm finally at a very comfortable point in my life, you know, my family is great, we're well established, kids are in school... I no longer have to live paycheck to paycheck. Even though people think I'm this top selling artist, I've got money coming out of my sock. I'm running a 5,000 sq. ft. studio with people, I have expenses, I have camps, and schools and things so...it's hard. But I'm at a point now where I'm more comfortable, I'm more comfortable traveling. I didn't want to travel before, now I enjoy the travel, I enjoy the meeting people, I really love doing these festivals, art festivals, because you're getting 25, 30, 50,000 people coming through. It's almost like the gallery effect, or a museum effect, but where I'm actually getting to meet these people. They come, "Oh, Mr. Waugh, I really like your work, I collect it" or "I wanna collect it" or "This is the first time I'm seeing it" and they purchase it. That's a great thing. And to actually get out of the studio, and meet people who are buying your work. 'Cause for the longest time I sold to one guy, the distributor. I didn't even know where it went, I didn't even know at what galleries it was showing. I would get these emails: "Where can I find your work in Wisconsin?" "I don't know, contact these guys." And they're so amazed, they think I'm selling directly to the gallery, or something like that. So it's just great to get out, meet people, get feedback, you know, right away if I'm doing a painting, I finish the painting, people clap, right away. Most artists don't get that. So it's kinda cool. I think I have a pretty cool life.

Premiere II

Chris Hand: I keep wanting to do more and newer things, but when I sit back and think about it, I say to myself "Hold on, I already do tons of stuff!" Which helps to keep me focused.

Eric Waugh: I know, and there's only so many things you can do. But, it's kinda cool how things are coming together, it's not so here nor there. A schedule is actually made, and things can be planned, and it's not so flying by the seat of your pants. It's kinda neat that way.

Chris Hand: OK. I have one last question, a no brainer, given that your record is about to be broken or just has-

Eric Waugh: -he's working on it. Last week I got an email from my sister that was forwarded from my sister's father-in-law in Vancouver. And she says, "Take a look at this and then call me back." And for some reason I couldn't open up the attachment, I didn't know what is was and I didn't call her. And I guess Marie was talking to you, and you said you wanna ask him this question, "If you record is ever broken are you going to try to break it again?" And I thought, "That's a weird question," and then my mom calls me that night, and she says, "Did you know you're in the paper today in Vancouver?" I said, "What?" She said, "Yeah, someone is trying to break your record." And I thought she said when she read it 40,000 sq. meters. And I go, "This is ten times the size of what I did! Good luck to the guy." And then she sent me the actual clipping, and I'm looking at it and it's 4,000 sq. meters, and that's 120 more than I did, so I said "ok, he's going to be able to do this." so all the best. Marie's gonna get some information about this guy, I'll send him a "Good Luck" thing, and I wanna send him a piece of the world's largest painting, and maybe we can trade. Good luck to him, you know...that was a part of my life that was just incredible, such incredible highs and incredible lows. It was unbelievable. I was just so...you know, passionate about what I was doing I would have gone to any lengths to make it work. When I first started it I was going to do an 80,000 sq. ft. painting. It was going to be the "Hero" image, a replica of the "Hero" poster, I was going to incorporate everything in the poster, including the big green border and the writing along the bottom, everything. It was gonna be 80,000 sq. ft. So I set out to do my 80,00 sq. ft. painting, and a friend of mine calls up and says, "Eric have you seen the latest edition of Guinness Book?" "No." "Well, there's a 110,000 sq. ft. painting in it. Somebody beat you to it." And I'm like, "Argh! Oh man!" I got to this studio space that I was renting and I had built a 4,000 sq. ft. easel out of steel studs. And I ripped it all down. It was in a big pile. I didn't do anything to the painting, I came very close to just ripping it up or something. But I just took that easel and just ripped it off the wall. I was just so depressed, like, "What am I gonna do?" And then, it must have been like 24 hours and then it hit me, "Wait a minute here. Hundreds of people worked on that painting. What if I do it by myself?" I had stared this painting by myself. I was going to come up with a formula- you know, hire different artists, assistants, whatever. I was gonna get regular people as well. So I was like, "What if I do it by myself? There's no record for that." So I call Guinness Book people, and it's like, "Well, we'll have to have an official meeting on that and let you know." And a couple weeks went by and I got the official fax, it came through saying, "No problem, if you can do it by yourself, good luck to you." You know, five years later, painting it by myself in my spare time, trying to find money to pay for the canvas, I put in $40,000 of my own money to buy the canvas. ACE hardware donated paint, and this and that; I tried to get some big sponsors. FedEx to truck it down, which fell through at the last minute. But some great sponsors came in at the very end and pulled it off, we just pulled it off by the seat of our pants, more or less. I was literally...as I was painting the last few panels, the truck was being loaded, because it had to get there for November 29th, so it could be warehoused, and then get ready to be trucked to the Museum of Fine Arts of North Carolina. It was really just right down to the wire, and when we laid down the last panel, I had my family lay down the last panel, "Yay! Yay! Yay!" Everybody's clapping and the Guinness guy gives me the record and I'm like, "Fine, fine." And NBC is right into my face with this big camera, "How do you feel?" And then I just started bawling, because I thought about five years, and what I had to go through, the money, the sacrifice, the time from my family. I was just a mess.

Chris Hand: So then I take you're not trying to re-break it and come up with something else?

Eric Waugh: No, no. I have some other things in mind more in line with the live performances. But that was that. It was great, I have it documented, I have reels of footage, and that's that. It was a great time in my life and good luck to this guy, it's gonna be very exciting for him too. I'd actually like to go there when he unveils this thing. We're gonna try and get in touch with him and see what we can do. I've never been to Sweden so...

Chris Hand: Yeah, I just heard about it briefly on Monday, on the news or something, at which point was like, "Ah!" And at which point made sure that they mentioned you, and said OK, now I can relax.

Eric Waugh: It was on the news?

Chris Hand: Yeah, on CBC Radio Two.

Eric Waugh: And they mentioned my name?

Chris Hand: Yeah, he said something like, "Believe it or not, the current record holder is Canadian."

Eric Waugh: Cool, cool. Good luck to him. One of the major things that I get from live performances is that people actually get to see something created from beginning to end. They're just blown away by that. There's been a number of times when people will buy the blank canvas, even before it's painted, not knowing what they're going to get. But just the experience, just to be there, to be able to watch something like that is just amazing.

Chris Hand: That's one of the things that makes me realize I'm very lucky. For me, to do studio visits is a no brainer: that's a part of the job, it's what I do. Other people, they say, "You get to see stuff in the studio? Never thought of that. That sounds so cool." I say, "Come along! It is fun." But yeah, very few people see the any part of creation. I've seen HVW8, I haven't seen you. But I recognize that live creation isn't as much of an allure to me as getting to see the stuff no one else gets to see in the studio visits.

Eric Waugh: Exactly. I just think it's cool that so many people have the chance to see something created live, and when it's for charity... Right now, we're trying to work something out with Jazz at Lincon Center in New York, they're interested in having me, possibly with Wynton Marsalis, an event or something. There's a lot of things going on, but it's just tying them all together, timing, stuff like that...the "cool" factor. There is so many things people want me to do, but I've really got to make good use of my time...I met this hip hop/rap manager a few years ago in Atlanta. I'm telling him about all this charity stuff that I do. He's like, "Man, you're crazy to give so much of it away!" It's like, "Well, that's what I enjoy doing." He said, "Man, not makin' dollars, not makin' sense!" I said, "Well, you know, I'm making a bit of both, and that's good for me." Whatever we do, we try to really balance the charity with the making money thing.

Chris Hand: Yeah, it depends on priorities. It's like, yeah, I have a gallery and it supplies my beer habit, at which point I'm happy. I don't need to live on a mansion on the hill.

Eric Waugh: There's a lot of times where I just go for the charity event, and come back and I'm not making a nickel, I'm putting money out. That's fine because it all works out in the end. I think doing good is a good thing.

Chris Hand: Definitely.

Eric Waugh: People notice...it doesn't matter how you're doing good, you don't have to have to give money, you can give your time, you can give your knowledge, you can give a product. If you give it all comes back.

Chris Hand: Yeah it comes back, even larger and better. Now my last question. Is there anything I haven't asked that you would like me to ask?

Eric Waugh: Why did you want to interview me?.

Chris Hand: To get word even more out about you - that, to me, would be the best thing possible.


Eric Waugh: Well, if you're willing to help! [laughs]

Chris Hand: I'm doing my best! I'm really surprised with the blog, how many people would read it every day, and one of my main things is sort of just getting visual art as mainstream as music, as books and so on.

Eric Waugh: Hello, why not?

Chris Hand: It's trying to change people's perception.

Eric Waugh: That's probably one of the reasons why I didn't want for people to know who I am. I want to do my paintings. There's like this perception that if you make some money as an artist, that's a bad, bad thing.

Chris Hand: No it isn't! Not at all!

Eric Waugh: But this is the feeling that you get, you can't do commercial, you can't do posters, you can't do this, you can't do that.

Chris Hand: Yes you can!

Eric Waugh: I know you can. When they speak of Celine Dion or someone like that, they're artists. Actors, they're artists. But they are all judged by record sales, by box office, by this, by that; it all has to do with money. But when it comes to a visual artist, they're not judged by how many paintings they made, how many posters they sold. There isn't an equivalent of a Grammys for art, for poster sales, for painting sales, for performances.

Chris Hand: You're right on that. What was you favorite performance?

Eric Waugh: I'd probably have to say Tony Bennett. The Rippingtons were kinda cool, too. It was a really nice beat and vibe going, the musicianship was outstanding...

Chris Hand: And who would you want to, if you could pick any musician, or musicians...?

Eric Waugh: That's hard. I did a performance at a techno club in Atlanta. It was just to a DJ, and I had the absolute best time, because of the beat, the vibe, the lighting and the smoke. It was crazy, and I was like, "What am I doing here?" But it was just really cool. So it's really not necessarily who it is, it's the feel of it, the beat and the sound, all that kind of stuff. Jazz at Lincoln Center, that interests me a lot because that's a very beautiful venue, and they have four different venues within the complex, so I know, the sound, the lighting, the stage, the people, the ambiance, everything is gonna be in place. I'm a little nervous about that, but I think it's gonna be great. But we'll probably start off doing some sort of fundraising event, which would be amazing, and then from that - you know, I don't want to be this performing artist, I want to be invited to some things...the Doobie Brothers was amazing. I got a call on a Thursday, saying, "Can you be in California on a Monday?" It's like, "Well, I have to be in Toronto for a show." And they said, "Well, let me tell you what's going on: you're gonna paint live to the Doobie Brothers." So I said, "Let me make a few calls, see if I can work it out." Just spur of the moment, spontaneous, that was kind of neat. I always like the Doobie Brothers, they've got a great sound. So, I don't necessarily want to be on the road with this choreographed thing. I just want it to take me where it takes me. I love painting to everything, from hip hop to jazz and blues and rock. I can't even name one artist that it's like, "Oh God, I'd love to paint with."

Chris Hand: OK, anyone you wouldn't want to paint with?

Eric Waugh: Yeah, that first band I painted with back at Mama May's [they laugh]. I even painted live to a belly dancer, believe it or not, with this Eastern/Indian music going on, that was kinda cool. I did a kinda different piece, a spicier piece than I would usually do. I love challenges. You know, I've done a lot of paintings...as an artist you want to be challenged in different ways, and that's one of the ways I like to be challenged: not knowing what I'm getting into, not knowing what the band will play, not knowing the music or beat. At the last minute, "Eric you're painting to a belly dancer." It's like, "What are you talking about?" Most artists would be like, "Forget it. I'm not painting to this." I'm very open to all kinds to things. I don't let anything...here's a hip hop, sort of piece, a little graffiti going on in the background, and this was very impromptu...there was sort of a hip hop/MTV sort of a thing happening in Atlanta, this was at the Swiss Hotel, they were coming to interview some band, I don't know who it is. And they saw what I was doing and they were very interested, and I had this blank canvas there. So they were like, "Can you do us a painting?" "Yeah." "Well, we'll get you on tonight at six." They had a hip-hop CD, they stuck it in the player, and I did my piece...Freddy Cole. That was cool, I had four canvases suspended from the ceiling, and see, I'm up here on the risers, up and down and up and down, a little bit of a performance thing. You know we auctioned it off for $14,000, all the money went to the Atlanta Children's Center, that's not bad for an hours work. I've gone through a few different styles along the way.

Strummin' & Drummin'

Chris Hand: Yeah, do the Carters represent other artists as well?

Eric Waugh: They were working with other artists, but now, they sort of committed themselves solely to me.

Chris Hand: The only reason I ask that is, have you ever thought of for a performance combining, and have somebody else, almost like a duet as opposed to you being solo on a painting?

Eric Waugh: You're saying couple people on a painting? Is that what you're saying?

Chris Hand: Yeah.

Eric Waugh: Never really thought of that.

Chris Hand: Because there, I've started doing a little bit of research on this as far as live performance painting, whether it's painting with music or without music. Like, HVW8 is a collective, and they have three people, and it is the sort of thing where each person has their own specific sort of role, and so somebody is doing background, and they start left to right. And then at some point somebody comes in and tosses in the faces-

Eric Waugh: How big are these paintings?

Chris Hand: About, five by five.

Eric Waugh: They're on canvas?

Chris Hand: Yep, on canvas.

Eric Waugh: Interesting. Do you know of something that's coming up?

Chris Hand: I can find out. Yeah, their studio is up on Mount Royal...I can definitely get you some information. Their style is very different from yours, their style is a lot more graffiti type stuff, with a lot of spray paint, and spray can effects.

Eric Waugh: Well let me know, I'd love to see them.

Chris Hand: I was just thinking in terms of if the Carters have other painters doing the same kind of stuff, send two of you out for one event.

Eric Waugh: Yeah, not really...the first artist they had, Martin Posey, he was amazing. He was this large, muscular black guy, he was 39, he actually died of a heart attack, after a live painting performance at the Hard Rock Cafe in Atlanta. He was pumping up with steroids and stuff like this before the show.

Chris Hand: You don't need steroids to do painting!

Eric Waugh: Oh, but he thought that's what he needed to get pumped up...he would be just dripping in sweat. He was working in oils, and doing this thing with rags and dancing. I'm not gonna do spins and stuff. He was really, you know, getting into it, and just because his build, he was just dripping. So the combination of the drugs and the high that you're on and the low when you finish, and the sweating, he was just blowing up his heart with paintings...

Piano Pleasure

Chris Hand: Do you know of anyone else out there doing similar...?

Eric Waugh: There are a few people, you know, I hear little bits here and there, you know, nobody on a large scale gets noticed,

Chris Hand: Here in Montreal, there is this thing called Peinture-en-direct. It sort of goes up and down, it was big four years ago, it was big ten years ago. The sort of thing where artists go into a bar and painting, and then auction it all off at the end, two hours of stuff like that. Pretty much Montreal artists painting for beer.

Eric Waugh: That's the hardest thing for me, I wish I could grab all these artists, and sit down with them and tell them the reality of the art world. There's so much more than trying to get it into one gallery on consignment. There's so much other things you could do with your art if you want to. You know if you don't want to, that's fine, but…I hope I answered all your questions.

Chris Hand: Yes, thank you very much, it has been a pleasure talking to you.

Eric Waugh: You're welcome

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