Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Architect's Newspaper writes about Phyllis Lambert because she is 80


I have some very specific difficulties with Ms. Lambert, but The Architect's Newspaper publishes 3,684 words about her life (48.3 words/year). Orignially copped from The Art History Newsletter, thanks!

Artnet News - artnet Magazine

Review of the Bruce Nauman show coming in May


In Friday's Seattle Times, Sheila Farr calls it "a smart, hard-hitting exhibition.' Originally posted by Betsey of the Hankblog where the show is currently.

Cat fight alert


Apparently I've stepped on some toes. And while In Cold Bloodis an amazing book, I'd much rather be compared to Jack Kerouacover Mr. Capote any day of the week.

Thank you very much Mr. Bradshaw.

The National Gallery of Canada's insurance premiums have just skyrocketed.


I'm still trying to get to the Shawinigan Space at La Cité de l’Énergie. But not having a car makes things a tad difficult.

However, this coming summer they will be presenting a show by Carsten Holler. My guess is that it will sort of be like his show that is at the Tate Modern. Although, now, maybe not. The Tate is being sued by Kate Phillips of the Active Learning Centre in Glasgow. She apparently broke her hand, needed seven stiches, and isn't too happy that it took two months for it to heal. Although I wish the British press would give some details, like how much she is suing the Tate for.

Christine Redfern rocks my world!


Christine Redfern is a wonderful local artist (who also happens to be a friend and a very good writer as well) who has a show at Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects in Toronto.

Well besides that she has also uploaded a video in the exhibit to YouTube. Woo-Hoo! Now, those of us who are geographically challenged can at least see some of her latest work. Apparently for the internet, she added sound. At the gallery it is silent. It is also 15 seconds shorter.

Who Knows by Christine Redfern

If you'd like to watch the silent version of Who Knows by Christine Redfern, click on this.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Stuff Seen - Kevin Ledo



Back in January (I promise, I'm trying to catch up as fast as I can...) I ended up at Le Kop Shop for the vernissage of Kevin Ledo's exhibit called The Guiding Light. Mr. Ledo, tried real hard to get my butt over there. If I remember correctly I got one invitation in the mail, and another one by email, but it was actually a lot of chance involved in getting me in there. Thankfully, he didn't call me, although stoipping by here personally probably would have increased the chances exponentially.

If I remember correctly, there were four paintings, with space for a fifth that hadn't been finished in time for the vernissage. Basically, lots of gold paint used to recreate fashion ads from Vogue or some other type of fashion magazine. In theory it worked better than I thought it did in practice, as I told Mr. Ledo, I liked it when it appeared that he had messed around with orginal picture by cropping heads and other body parts instead of doing straight reproductions of the advertisements. The gold and the halo was not sufficient for me to believe he had transformed the ads into something different.

Beyond that, I gotta remember next time I go to Le Kop Shop that I gotta bring some beer - they were extremely generous and very welcoming and as a consequence I feel extremely lucky that I can actually remember anything from that night.

And if you want to make up your own mind, can I suggest that you check out Mr. Ledo's website your self

I like Peter Schjeldahl even more now


He writes a review in The New Yorker on the Jef Wall show at MoMA. Some highlights for me:
  • It suggests less a career than a case history
  • it is regularly beset by mixed, toilsome aims
  • A lot of preachily condescending work resulted, and Wall was not exempt.
  • quotation marks set in quotation marks, and, if we detect the odd quotation from a quotational painting by Manet, we may go straight to the head of the class. If you like this type of heady gaming, good luck. It exasperates me.
  • It is a fine photograph.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Landau Fine Art getting good press


They made it into the Wall Street Journal, although as it is money walled, you'll need to click on this link in order to read how Margaret Studer thinks that they have "one of the most interesting stands."

(Everytime I read about them, I am reminded of Alice Landau's opinion on local press).

Toronto, ON to Terre Haute, IN


Petra Nyendick did it this way, if you want to do it, you can do it this way.

Rechercher Victor Pellerin makes it big in Providence, RI


Now that I think about it, there's got to be a fairly sizeable French Film Festival circuit down south. Pity I don't know anyone down there.

Galerie Concorde is now a 'fast paced art brokerage firm.'


It appears that the promise of a $75,000 salary didn't quite do the job, so Mattie and the gang are back at it, looking to hire anyone out there.

Arthur Lubow does Jeff Wall in the New York Times Magazine


In case you missed it Mr. Lubow writes more than 8,000 words in celebration of Mr. Wall's exhibit ay MoMA. On one hand I should be chuffed with pride, and going boogedy, boogedy, boogedy all over the place. After all a Canadian Artist at MoMA it doesn't get better than that, does it?

But all I can really say is about 2,000 words in to the article, the subject no longer interested me, and that Andreas Gursky is nine years younger and had his show at MoMA "(traveling later to the Art Institute of Chicago and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art)" five years ago which (if my math is right) means that he is 14 years ahead of Mr. Wall. And personally, as far as large staged photographs, I prefer Gregory Crewsdon or if you want local, the Sanchez brothers.

And talk about catching the tail end of the wave... Mr. Wall also makes it into that notoriously cutting edge magazine called Time.

[Update 6:30 pm: Having forced myself to read the article Mr. Wall seems to embody absolutely everything I find atrocious in the contemporary art world. Lines such as 'Wall has, in his landscapes, zeroed in on an equipoise between the natural and the man-made.' And '(“People’s metabolism is different at night, their coloring is different,” he explains.)' And 'the physical animal energy that is present on the street and waiting to be disposed of.' And 'There is a kind of Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk quality.' where they misuse the term Gesamtkunstwerk. Give me a break! Call a spade a spade, and I think Mr. Wall would be much better served copying the Hollywood he seems to love so much, by making mass reproductions of his snapshots and selling them at the mall. I don't know what his actual margin on each picture is, but I'd bet dollars to doughnuts he'd make more money.]

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The New York Times' Art section is becoming Canadian


I've heard things to the effect that there are a fair number of art shows in New York this weekend. So I figure it is as good as any time for Jeff Wall to get a review in today's New York Times. While Stan Douglas gets mentioned in passing, Mr. Wall's review is much more postive than the one that Mr. Douglas received.

CBC.ca Arts - MoMa retrospective celebrates Canadian photo artist Jeff Wall

Edmonton joins the rest of the world (wish I could be there)


Massive props and shout outs to whomever came up with the idea of Free for All as the final exhibit at the Edmonton Art Gallery before it gets destroyed and transformed into the Art Gallery of Alberta. And if there's anyone who can score me a copy of the catalogue, I'll be your best friend for life.

For those as excited as I am by it, please take note of the following annual-ish exhibits.
Art-O-Matic in Washington DC
The Chicago Art Open
Artomatic 419 in Toledo, Ohio

Compare This! The Honorable Serge Joyal...


Quebec City is getting a $90 million expansion for Le Musée national des beaux-arts. OK, so it isn't in Montreal. But last I heard Ottawa couldn't figure out how to convert an old unused embassy into a Portrait Gallery. And in the kerfuffle I think I might have forgotten to mention the $40 million repurposing of the Erskine & American church that you somehow managed to overlook.

Sad News (with Valet Parking)


It seems like Wednesdays aren't good days for Quebec artists. Early last Wednesday morning Léon Bellefleur died. The Montreal Gazette paid announcement notes that parking will be easy. And the La Presse obituary (althgough I gotta admit, despite the parking being as important as Yves Bellefleur's wife in the Gaztte obit, their picture is tons better than that in La Presse).

[Update Sunday: The full Montreal Gazette Obituary written with flair (as usual) by Alan Hustak is here.]

Friday, February 23, 2007

Interesting tidbits from the Permanent Collection of the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal


I was there today to do some research, and while looking through their permanent collection discovered that they own some art by Lise Bissonette, and Louise LeCavalier. I never knew that either one of them was an artist (click on the links to see what each does as a day job in order to support themselves and their art). Then I tried to wrap my brain around why the museum would have some art by Ozias Leduc, and William Notman, both of whom worked way before the museum's 1939 cutoff date for contemporary art.

Does anyone know if the museum is allowed to deaccession art?

And if you're keeping score, today is the 23rd day which the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal won't accept my email.

How much money did you make?


Busy next Thursday at 11 AM? If not, listen in as Bill Ruprecht, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sotheby's explains just how much money the second largest auction house in the world made this year.

I'm pretty certain it is going to be a doozy!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Visual and Media Arts | Quebec Scene

Bernie Perusse is obviously more important than I am


For the second year in a row, I won't be be writing anything about the Festival of Films on Art. Last year I requested Press Accreditation, and they turned me down. How's that sentence go? Once bitten, twice shy? Or do you prefer Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Thankfully Bernie Perusse got invited to the press conference.

More memories of Marc-Aurèle Fortin by Bernie Mendelman

Real Yucky News


I just found out that Articule got robbed. I find it interesting that there is no mention of it on the RCAAQ website, nor Akimbo. In this time of 24/7 news how come it takes 10 days for something like this to make it down the street to here?

Neither Elizabeth Renzetti, nor Tim Gardner know their art history


The Globe & Mail finally gets around to publishing an article about Tim Gardner's exhibition at the National Gallery in London. At the end, Ms. Renzetti asks Mr. Gardner "Doesn't he think it a bit strange that he's more famous abroad than in his native land?" and Mr. Gardner responds "It's the story of Canadian art for my generation. You have to go away to get recognition..."

For future reference Ms. Renzetti and Mr. Gardner:
Pablo Picasso, born in Málaga, Spain, didn't get famous until he moved to Paris. More than 1,800 km.
Jackson Pollock, born in Cody, Wyoming didn't get famous until he moved to New York (and died). More than 2,000 miles
Jasper Johns, born in Augusta, Georgia, didn't get famous until he moved to New York. More than 750 miles.
Vincent van Gogh, born in Zundert Holland, didn't get famous until he moved to Paris (and died). Almost 400 km.
Peter Paul Rubens born in Siegen Germany, didn't get famous until he moved to Venice Italy. Almost 700 km.

Just about everybody has to go away in the art world in order to get recognition, not just young Canadian artists.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Congatulations to Avrum Morrow


He just got named to the order of Canada. If you don't know who he is, read this, please, and then call (514) 282-3301 to set up an apointment to go see the paintings.

[Update Feb 25: More details on why he got the award, here.]

Maurice Denis may I introduce you to Ozias Leduc?


Yesterday I went to the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal to get an advance preview of the Maurice Denis exhibit. And afterwards I realized that Ozias Leduc lived at just about the same exact time. And what I like even better is that my impressions of M. Denis' work is just about the same as my impressions on M. Leduc's work.

However, assuming that your impressions of M. Denis' work are not the same as mine, and you go to see the show - please do not miss the Alfred Pellan prints exhibit right next to the Maurice Denis exhibit. Right now, seeing the complete collection of Pellan prints just makes me want to go around and say 'Boogedy, Boogedy, Boogedy' all day long.

10,590 here we come!!!


As some of you might know, I quite like the Alexa statistics. Earlier this week they made some changes, and they now do traffic rankings by country. This here blog is currently the 10,591st most popular website in Canada. Somehow I figure that there are slightly more than 10,600 websites in this country.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Talk about keeping things secret...


It seems that about every six months or so, some organization outside of Quebec sends me some press release about what Yannick Picard is doing for them (see: Winnipeg, Atlanta). So how is it that I only hear about his show in St-Jérôme, now? Five days before it closes?

The Musée d'art Contemporain des Laurentides looks like they desperately need some help.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Juozas (Joseph) Cernius seems not to know what the truth is


Last week, over on Edward Winkleman's blog, he discussed Richard Prince pretending that his past never existed (One & Two). Then someone tried to make an anonymous comment on one of my old posts about lying on CV's. Which then caused me to check up on Juozas Cernius' website.

Two years ago, I caught him fabricating things on his CV, so he switched the link, and tried to wiggle away. Two years later, I discover that there are even more made up things on his CV. You'd figure that he would have figured out by now that making things up on a CV isn't such a great idea. As of now these are the lines on Juozas (Joseph) Cernius' CV that are fake, wrong, not true, or didn't happen:
  • Lorrie Blair, May 12, 1998: “Blueprints and Pink Slips” Mirror weekly magazine, Montreal
  • Alexandra McIntosh, 2001: Significant detours" Gallery 1320 catalogue, Montreal
  • Matt Killen, 2001: "Painting or just using its language?" Gallery 1320 catalogue, Montreal

Keep an eye out of some stolen art, OK?


Every now and again, I get an email from Alain Lacoursière, Sergent Détective enquêteur en oeuvres d'art (ain't that a cool title?) when some art is stolen here in Quebec.

Marc André Fortier Riding on a Dream

Marc André Fortier Riding on a Dream

Both pieces are by Marc André Fortier and are called Riding on a Dream. They are both approximately 30" x 20" x 12"

I first discovered, M. Fortier's work when I went to the Galerie Clarence Gagnon. However, recently I had seen his work in the window of Studio 261. And judging from their website, I would guess that someone smashed their window and took the small, easily carried, and expensive looking sculptures.

Also, it seems that this is not the first time M. Fortier has had to deal with the law. And finally, while I realize that there are significant differences, I always seem to get M. Fortier confused with Marc-Aurèle Fortin.

If you have any information on the theft, please email Sergent Détective Lacoursière or call him at (514) 598-4122. If you know how large the edition was (I imagine they were made as multiples) and or what number in the edition each piece was, along with what they were made out of, let me know and I can post more details here.

[Update March 28: Apparently I got M. Fortier's name wrong. His name is Marc A.J. Fortier, and he signs his work MAJ Fortier.]

Cool Stuff!


While not related to Canadian Art, or anything even vaguely close, this article about the Frame Restoration for the painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware at the Metropolitan Museum is wicked cool.

OK, the folk who do PR for the National GAllery are good.


Consider me impressed, an article in Newsweek about the Renoir show is pretty cool.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

OK, so we're no longer cutting edge...


Pity, that the New York Times didn't consider mentioning Parisian Laundry.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Once again, MoMA copies the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec


While it has been postponed until the 21st of February (instead of last Wednesday) Raôul Duguay singing Ropelle sounds suspiciously similar to Ted Nash's Portrait in Seven Shades. I strongly suspect that in both Quebec City and New York, M. Duguay would outdrawn Mr. Nash.

Marc Mayer Unstoppable!


Despite the misspelling of Mr. Mayer's name, and the fact that the IT department of the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal still thinks that the email I send to them is spam, Mr. Mayer gives a very good interview to the McGill Daily as part of their art issue.

Some of the key lines:
  • 'Montreal is a city with a future and Toronto is a city with a past.'
  • 'I’m trying to figure out how we can be more useful not only to the art scene here, but to the very intelligent “new-economy people” who realize that the more you know about contemporary art the better it is for you as an engineer, as a lawyer, as a doctor, because of the different paradigm of thinking that goes on in the art world...'
  • 'I think artists are much freer – and in many cases more honest – but definitely much freer than network news or even public television, or blogs for that matter.'

Lousy Valentine's Day in Montreal


First it was Artie Gold and then it was Ryan Larkin.

Friday, February 16, 2007

8 Bit - Getting good press


If you remember, about this time 7 days ago, I told Heather, that I would 'pimp the film' and I am holding up my end of the bargain. Apparently there are some more focused writers here in town who don't automatically think that anything having to do with 30 year old coputer games is related. Meg Hewings of Hour writes a very nice preview of the film. And Erik Leijon over at the Mirror does the same, albeit with many fewer words.

As i said previously, I am looking forward to the film immensely, and if everything goes according to plan should be able to get an interview with Marcin and Justin. If you don't want to click on anything the film, 8 bit will be playing at At SAT (1195 St-Laurent), tomorrow at 7 pm. It costs $10 at door or $8 in advance. See you there.

Galerie Concorde seems to be getting desperate


I first noticed that Galerie Concorde was hiring telemarketers back in May of last year. Now they seem to have stepped up the pressure. Promising $75,000+ for a job selling art over the telephone and by email. While selling art by email was recently featured in the New York Times, I still believe it is much closer to this than anything else.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Zeke's Gallery Coffee Cup


OK, it is expensive, but it has the Zeke's Gallery Logo

If you buy one, Zeke's Gallery will get $2 (US) Woo-Hoo. There are also a bunch of other things in there as well.

Stuff Seen - Rodney Graham (and I finally listen to Bad at Sports)



[2nd draft]

In honor of Mr. Graham appearing on the Bad at Sports podcast I figured I should type out my thoughts on his recent show here. In a nutshell, I'm conflicted. I really really really really wanted to like the show, the exhibit, the artist, the man, and unfortunately absolutely everything conspired to make it impossible. For those with memories worse than mine, or folk from out of town, from October of last year to January of this year, Mr. Graham had an exhibit here at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal.

Last summer I had been lucky enough to see my first piece of art by Mr. Graham, it was Rheinmetal something or other at the Musee des beaux arts as part of their Sound + Vision show. Amazingly gorgeous, and pretty gosh darn cool as well. So, as I said, I was looking forward to seeing more.

Then things started falling apart.

I made it to the press meet and greet, early. Saw the pieces, and said to myself 'Wow!' after the speeches, I had been told by folk at the museum that I should arrange an interview with Mr. Graham myself. So I did. Then the following day he canceled on me. No reason given.

Fine enough, but then hearing the Bad at Sports podcast with him, I'm starting to wonder was it me? I'm pretty sure that I showered that morning. I had even called Mr. Graham up and left a message, but he never even bothered to return the call.

I then returned back to the museum the following day (before he canceled the interview) so as to try to not sound as stupid as I'm feeling, and two of the pieces are already broken!

Then, since Mr. Graham had decided to play a music gig, not only at the Museum but (to use the fancy terminology) Extra-Muros at this place called Fractal as part of the Pop Montreal festival

Not only was it a horrible concert, one of the worst I have ever seen in my life, but because Mr. Graham was so bad I missed my only opportunity to see the band Daddy's Hands because just after that Dave Wenger, the lead singer for Daddy's Hands died. I missed my opportunity because Mr. Graham was so bad on stage that we had to walk out after four songs. And now that I have heard Daddy's Hands' album, I'm sorta pissed off.

Why Mr. Graham, who sounds to me like a second rate sensitive new age guy (read: singer/songwriter who hasn't quite figured out how to write good songs) would want to be on a bill with what I imagine was an over the top punk band is beyond me. If you'd like to see how sensitive Mr. Graham is try this:

[note to self: Posted in September and only seen 346 times, so far]

And then to put the last nail in the coffin, while I've heard of artists making pieces of art that are multiples, I've never heard of artists having shows that were multiples (or if you're in the business world - franchising their exhibits). At the same time that there was the Rodney Graham exhibit here in Montreal, there was a Rodney Graham show in Zürich that was the same, and there was a Rodney Graham show in Chicago that was the same (that's how they got the Bad at Sports podcast). I really don't like it when exhibits are treated like McDonalds.

The more I think about it, the more I really dislike it. The way the art world is run, museum's are supposed to be at the top of the heap. The Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal is fond of calling itself the only contemporary art museum in Canada, and seems to want to consider itself significant on an international scale. Well, as the same pieces of art were exhibited at a commercial gallery in Chicago and at a commercial gallery in Zürich as were exhibited here in Montreal, it would be a safe bet to say that Donald Young, Hauser and Wirth and the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal are all equivalent. Sort of like a Big Mac in Chicago is the same as a Big Mac in Zürich is the same as a Big Mac in Montreal. I just hope that the foreigners helped pay for the production of the catalog instead of attaching themselves like leeches and using it as a marketing tool to sell even more of Mr. Graham's art to the museum.

So, I wasn't thinking too fondly about his show after all that. Hence my tardiness in writing this review. After reciting all of that, I'm sorta thinking that a C+ is too kind, but I won't revise something downward after putting it down on paper.

But now to get down to brass tacks. it is a good thing Mr. Graham makes his living as an artist, he can't throw to save his life. According to the press folderol accompanying the show, his piece 'lobbing potatoes at a gong' was one of the highlights. Well, he threw 53 potatoes, hit the gong 18 times. A 34% success rate. The gong seemed large enough, he couldn't have been more than 15 feet away. You've heard the expression 'couldn't hit the broad side of a barn door?' That's Mr. Graham right there. Even if I were to be generous and add in the eight times he hit the edge of the gong (and sorta made a 'thud' sound) he still isn't doing better than 50%.

In the catalog there's some blurb about something called Copper Kettle, but it apparently never made it to the museum. In the catalog he tells Josee Belisle that he made a bottle of Vodka from the potatoes that hit the gong. One small problem, 18 potatoes are going to make about one shot of Vodka. And then to make matters completely worse - he can't even get the back story right. he says some nonsense about 'the drummer from Pink Floyd' throwing potatoes at a gong at a concert in 1969.

On 12 May 1967 the band [Pink Floyd] played the 'Games for May' concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. [Syd] Barrett wrote an early version of 'See Emily Play' for the event, which was essentially a normal concert bookended by some pretentious bits. The Floyd introduced a rudimentary quad sound-system, played taped noises from nature and had a liquid red light show. [Nick] Mason [the drummer] was amplified sawing a log. [Roger] Waters threw potatoes at a gong. The roadies pumped out thousands of soap bubbles and one of them, dressed as an admiral, threw daffodils into the stalls. The mess earnt the Floyd a ban from the hall and a favourable review from The Financial Times - source
A big fuss was also made over the screen door that the museum had purchased for a cool $300,000. Apparently it was a faithful recreation of the screen door from Graceland done in sterling silver. Actually, it is a fairly common screen door, that can be seen pretty much anyplace.

Given what I know about Graceland, without some sort of picture or other proof, I'd seriously question the back story. My preference of a back story over the idea of it being from Graceland is that if you are at this bar in Ottawa called Chez Lucien which is spitting distance from the National Gallery and you go to the back part of the bar, you can see out the window, a screen door on the second floor of a building (complete with an address - 143) that has no stairs leading up or down from it. A door to nowhere, a door in space, a potentially deadly door (if you open it and walk out) a useless door, and any number of other ideas that you can think of with regards to a door that got forgotten when someone did renovations. And how do they sound when trying to wrap your head around a sterling silver screen door? To me, they sound much better.

It is Mr. Graham's fairly consistent ignorance of fairly easy to source facts (if I can find 'em anybody including Mr. Graham should be able to find them) that adds to my annoyance with his work. His piece called 'Three Musicians...' is a another example in a long list. He attributes part of the back story to the David Munrow Consort. However, there never was a band called the David Munrow Consort. There was an early music group called Early Music Consort of London which was directed by David Munrow, and the album to which he 'attributes' the snapshot that he had taken of himself is called was done by them and is called 'The Late 14th Century Avant Garde,' but it appears that Mr. Graham got the name of the song wrong as well.

The original Chris Waters' photo of Black Sabbath. it does however, appear that Mr. Graham did get it right with his his copy. Personally though I like the other promo picture taken by Chris Walters of the band that was taken at the same time.

But he's back to his old sloppy ways with Paradoxical Western Scene. In the Bad at Sports podcast Mr. Graham mentions how it was based on this album cover.

He once again gets the title of the album wrong, and what really annoys me is that a) he fails to realize that in the 1950's follow up albums very frequently used the term 'more' as a marketing method to try boosting sales after a very popular album. And b) that Marty Robbins was himself imitating William S. Hart on the cover of More Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs. Visually repeating images is something that was not invented by Marty Robbins, but Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs (not More...) was an incredibly influential album, and William S. Hart was an incredibly famous actor. Ignoring them is just plain dumb.

As for the other pieces Torqued Chandelier Release was quite pretty (and quite similar to the Rheinmetal piece that I had seen previously). But there wasn't anything else that stuck with me in a positive way. Personally, I think Mr. Graham should stick to silent 35mm film loops, they seem to be the work that he does best. I am definitely never going to see him in concert again, and the other music related art that he makes is sketchy at best. And don't even get me started about his paintings...

[Note to Duncan of Bad at Sports: if you're interested in seeing early music videos, go see the TAMI Show as soon as possible. Meg also asked some very good questions. She should be featured more. And you guys still need to do an All-Canadian or All-Montreal show.]

Jason Lewis may I introduce you to SimulScribe & SpinVox?


The Intralocutor should take advantage of SpinVox's one year free trial offer or perhaps at least try to partner with SimulScribe. It would be one way to bring down the costs.

Photo by and coutesy of Edith Dora Rey.

And while I'm at it, one of the microphones is broken, too.

Translation costs must be really expensive


Because of prior engagements, I was unable to attend the press conference about the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal plans for the Erskin & American church. However, The article about it in French says it is going to cost $40 million, and the article about it in English says $26 million at 10¢/word that $14 million will get you an awful lot of words translated from English to French.

A fake Norval Morrisseau, cool!


Thanks to Val Ross' detective work, I was able to find this painting, which according to everyone is a forgery.

Summer 2007 Montreal - The comix and 'zine smackdown


This summer we're in for a treat. Not only will there be a comic exhibit at the Saidye Bronfman Centre (and the last exhibit ever there) but next Tuesday there's a Quebecois comic exhibit at the Bibliotheque Nationale, as well.

Image the possibilities for comparing and contrasting.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hey! The Honorable Serge Joyal, want a comparison? Try This!


Luminato versus Festival Transamerique. Ours is May 23, their's is June 1. Their's has a drumming program, Montreal has the Tam-Tams every darn weekend (we don't need no stinkin' festival in order to bang on things).

Monday, February 12, 2007



Hey folks, is there any chance we could get something going with a Montrealgraphy page at Wikipedia? There's one for Chicagraphy, thanks to Alec Soth for bringing it to my attention.

Advance preview of the Renoir show in Ottawa


And it seems to get a nice review in today's Guardian.

Details on the Canadian art family trees


Mother and daughter. If you can't (or don't want to follow my tangential references, it is more explicitly explained in the 17th paragraph here.

I wish I could make it up to Quebec City


It appears that one of my favorite singers, Raôul Duguay, is going to sing Riopelle's Hommage à Rosa Luxemburg

Hommage à Rosa Luxemburg by Jean Paul Riopelle

Unfortunately, I already have plans for this Wednesday.

Congratulations to Donald Watt, Michael Lane, and Gisli Balzer


They just got back from Sapporo, Japan where they came in fourth in the snow carving competition.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sad news


I've been waiting for an obituary, or some other freely accesible notice, but will have to settle for a 30 word mention in passing as a way to note that Louise Scott died last Wednesday. Alan Hustak wrote a very nice piece about her in Friday's Gazette
Talented, troubled artist
Battled alcoholism. Montrealer constantly undervalued her work
by ALAN HUSTAK, The Gazette
Published: Friday, February 09, 2007

Louise Scott, the sardonic Montreal artist and illustrator known for her paintings of saucer-eyed, moon-faced figures, died Wednesday at home in Notre Dame de Grace. She was 70. "She was an absolutely amazing but self-destructive artist, her own worst enemy," said Florence Millman, the director of the West End Gallery, which represented her for almost 40 years. "She was terrified of opening up and saying anything good about her own work. If she hadn't been an alcoholic, she would have been much more famous than she is."

Louise Scott was born in New York to Canadian parents on Nov. 28, 1936. Her father was an engineer, and she grew up in Ottawa and in Lockport, N.S. Her mother died when Louise was 18 and Scott never really recovered from the loss. Impressed by Betty Sutherland, a cousin who was a painter and married to poet Irving Layton, Scott moved to Montreal in 1956 and enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Montreal. To support herself, she worked as an artist's model and as an apartment building janitor. Encouraged by Layton, she went to Austria in 1958 to study in Salzburg with expressionist painter Oskar Kokoshka. Scott's first solo exhibition was in 1965 at the Gallery Libre on Crescent St. At the time, art critic Michael Ballantyne described her work as "more than real and less than surreal.

"I have met these dark-eyed watchers somewhere before, Ballantyne wrote. "They are unnervingly composed in a sleek, scrupulously finished manner reminiscent of the early primitives ... so joyfully awkward and, thus, so endearing." Some critics see unconscious self-portraits in her works. Although her paintings hang in the National Gallery, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Musee des Arts Contemporain, Scott was self-deprecating and constantly undervalued her worth as an artist. She rarely displayed any of her own paintings in her house. "I think success is so unimportant - success by other people's standards," she said in a 1977 interview. "We want everything and so tragically we get it. And then we realized that what it is we wanted wasn't very much at all." She stopped painting about five years ago.

"She was an incredible wit. She was an avid reader and had a wonderful use of words. She also had very little patience with pseudo-artists," longtime friend Amelia Casey said. "She certainly recognized which of her paintings were good, but I think she thought herself unworthy of praise. It was something very subtle in her character."

Scott was twice married and divorced. She is survived by her son, Frank, from her first marriage to Frank Hannibal. She also leaves a daughter, Hanna-Moria, from her relationship with Frank Riordan, and another son, John, whose father is the actor, Donald Sutherland. Funeral arrangements are pending.

More on Peter Doig


And a wonderful description of the auctions last week.

Also, notice how the Guardian doesn't refer to Mr. Doig as a Canadian artist...

For future reference...


I saw this review and it reminded me that the honorable Serge Joyal considered this exhibit and this exhibit sort of similar.

Then I saw this article and was shocked and amazed that contrary to what the honorable Serge Joyal wrote, Telus is actually paying good cash money to build a cultural centre in Quebec. Who would've thunk?

Remind me at some point to go look at what cultural stuff is available in Thunder Bay, ok?

...and get your art supplies at a discount.


Or at least that is what I assume is the perk of this job. 'Cuz I can't imagine that it pays all that much.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Allan Stone - Documentary - New York Times

Win some, loose some - Terence Koh, Peter Doig and Canadian art


On first glance, my pulse went racing when I saw that Terence Koh had been reviewed in today's New York Times. After last week's Stan Douglas review I was beginning to think that Canadian art had started to move or something.

Maybe not. Michael Kimmelman appears to have the same opinion on Mr. Koh's art as I do. Thankfully, he is much more eloquent than I am.

And then, as Mr. Kimmelman describes Mr. Koh as being "Beijing-born, raised in Canada, now in New York..." I figure it is as good a time as any to expalain what I consider Canadian art. or why I consider Peter Doig as much a Canadian artist as your standard issue bald eagle. For future reference, in order for me to consider someone a Canadian artist, they need to have either been born in Canada, be currently living in Canada, or be buried in Canada. No exceptions. So Mr. Koh is as much a Canadian artist as Mr. Doig, and that eagle.

Does anybody out there read Japanese?


Apparently these guys: 世界文藝社 ウェブサイト are coming to Montreal. Something called Art from Japan in Quebec, from the 20th to the 23rd of April at the Palais du Congres. The title is sufficiently intriguing, that I'd like to know more - unfortunately I can't read Japanese. Can anyone help, please?

Gerald Ferguson may I introduce you to Chris Lloyd?


In today's Globe & Mail, Gary Michael Dault goes completely over the top in his rave review of not only Gerald Ferguson's new exhibit, but just about every gosh darn thing Mr. Ferguson has done. But what caught my eye in the middle of all the wonderfulness, were these two lines: 1. 'undisputed dean of Canadian conceptual painters.' and 2. 'The current exhibition is made up of a series called Drain Cover Paintings.' And then there's also the fact that he is from Halifax.

Gerald Ferguson, One Drain Covers, 2006, enamel on canvas, 18 x 18, courtesy Wynick/Tuck Gallery
Gerald Ferguson, One Drain Covers
2006, enamel on canvas, 18 x 18, courtesy Wynick/Tuck Gallery

The reason those lines caught my eye was because back in March 2005 I did an interview with a Halifax based conceptual artist who also drew and painted. Of the many different types of art that Chris Lloyd had made, one of the prettier types were rubbings of manhole covers.

One example of the rubbings by Chris Lloyd from 2002 or 2003 or earlier, I'm not sure. Makes you think, huh?

Montreal en lumiere - Nuit Blanche #55


Guess what's happening here on the night of March 3? If you would like to show up before 9pm, that would be alright as well. I have a sneaking suspicion that there's going to be a vernissage happening that night as well.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Two days behind, but...


Better late than never.

On Wednesday Senator Serge Joyal wrote an opinion piece in La Presse that basically listed off the gazillion and a half ways that Toronto has, in his eyes, passed Montreal as the cultural center of Canada.

Absolutely every one of them is based on amounts of money. Large amounts of money.

Allow me to point out a couple of other things as well.

1. Comparing the Royal Ontario Museum to the Musée des beaux arts de Montréal is like comparing a cantelope and a head of lettuce (aren't all fruits and vegetables good for you?). Comparing the Art Gallery of Ontario to the Musée d’Art Contemporain is like comparing a Ford Crown Victoria to a Smart Car (four wheels, right?). Comparing the Canadian Centre for Architecture to the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art is like comparing a building to a teapot. If you're going to make comparisons make valid comparisons, please.

2. The other comparisons in his 'chart' are equally bad. How about something easy, like the Orchestre Symphonique du Montreal to the Toronto Syphony Orchestra?

3. Back in the article, he gets is knickers in a knot over the $565 million spent building new buildings and additions for cultural institutions in Toronto. The honorable M. Joyal some how forgets the 'new' library we have here, the new arts building at Concordia, the 'new' ex-centris complex that got built down the street from here, and probably a couple of other buildings that I forgot about.

4. Using Telus & Bell is like shooting fish in a barrel. What about the Cirque du Soleil and Stephen Jarislowsky? Also if every company is supposed to give the same amount of money to all cultural institutions aren't we veering very close to the dreaded 'socialist model?'

5. Skipping down a little bit, the Opera de Montreal is horrible. I'd much rather see them go out of business than throw money at them.

I could go on, but I won't 'cuz it is late. However, instead of whining about the supposed injustice of Toronto sucking up all the cash for culture, I'd strongly recommend that the honorable M. Joyal come up with some suggestions on how to fix what he thinks is the problem. Personally, if government got out of the culture business (as it has in Ontario) then private money would (and I GUARANTEE it would) rush in, faster than he could blink. Right now, everyone is complaining that the Spectrum is closing. The guys who run it first went to the government looking for a handout, that tells you all you need to know about culture in Montreal.

The Career Path of an Art Historian


Like most new hires Sherry Farrell Racette gets an article in the Concordia Journal.

More Cops and Art stories


Now this looks wicked cool. An ex-cop turned Drug/Art Dealer and an artist who specializes in paintings of animals. Apparently because the statute of limitations has run out on the theft of her paintings by the ex-cop turned Drug/Art Dealer, her paintings will be sold at auction to pay his debts to the government.

Huit Morsis, le film (8 bit, the film)


Not exactly the best translation, but I wasn't trying for a good one, as I don't believe that the film will have been dubbed when it comes to town to play. If you don't quite understand what the heck I am talking about, allow me to rewind a little.

Back in April, 2005 a gallery in Los Angeles, called 1988 had an exhibit called 'I am 8-bit.' I was my usual crabby self when writing about it. If you want to to relive the past here are some pictures from the show. Basically from what I understand, some art based around a vague retro theme of 8-bit computer gaming.

Fast forward a couple of months, the catalog gets published. Fast forward a couple more months and the film gets released. Fast forward to next Saturday and the film plays here in Montreal.

I was asked by my friend Heather if, as she put it, I would 'pimp the film.' The reason she asked, is because I had emailed the folks with the film to ask about screening it here at the gallery, and was told that someone else (namely Heather and her pals) had already beat me to the punch. When I discovered it indeed was Heather and her pals, I emailed her to tell her how pleased I was. She followed up with her request, and I am attempting to fulfill my side of the bargain.

Beyond the film, I'm hoping that the come across the border with catalogues, and at some point I hope that they log into their MySpace account so we can be friends.

Oh, and I know 'morsure' is not a verb...

[Update noon: I've just been informed that 8 Bit, the film and I am 8 bit, the exhibit are not related at all, my bad. Two four letter titles, both dealing with computer games and art. I still am looking forward to seeing the film. Immensely.]

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Finally an arts reporter who thinks!


Yesterday Roger Collier of the Ottawa Citizen did some standard issue investigative reporting which, if I can say so, I thought was a mighty fine thing to do. The topic of his investigation was Cesar Saez's fruit shaped balloon that Mr. Saez insists on calling a Geostationary Banana.

Article number one, where Mr. Saez now tells everyone that he has $500,000 of the $1 million he needs. Last month he only had $125,000 or $200,000 depending on which newspaper you chose to read.

Article number two, where Mr. Collier verifies with people more learned than me, that in fact the fruit balloon won't be geostationary.

And finally, in one of his throw away lines from the first article, Mr. Saez is quoted as saying 'It's the first time anyone's done visual artwork in space.' While I do not have the means right now to verify the veracity of that line (I've emailed NASA and they say to wait 15 days for a response), as NASA has had an art program since 1962, and also has a pretty gosh darn impressive art collection, I have a suspicion that Mr. Saez might be wrong on that count as well.

Le Devoir met Steve and tells all


Frédérique Doyon writes an article on Steve, who is related in a fashion to Aaron and since I first wrote about Steve and Aaron, I've since discovered the Google Image Labeler.

All trying to get a grip on how better to find information. Go guys go!!

Hey Montreal Politicians, this is a good idea


The population of Langley, BC is about 80,000 or so. The Plateau (aka my neighborhood) has a population of about 90,000. This is what Langley has decided to do, maybe we should try it here as well.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Un partenariat au service des arts visuels à Rivière-du-Loup - La Vitrine du Bas-Saint-Laurent, Bas-St-Laurent, Québec

Live Art Symposium Saturday at Quebec's Le Massif Ski Area :: First Tracks!! Online Ski Magazine :: The ski and snowboard world at your keyboard

Revisiting Antwerp, Intertidal, Roy Arden, and Christopher Brayshaw


Back in July Canadian Art magazine published a review by RM Vaughan on some show in Antwerp by a bunch of Vancouver artists called Intertidal. Afterward he and hte magazine got trashed from here to Timbuktu (and some more here, and here, and here, I think)

Well it's now online and it is hilarious! Contrary to what appears to be a bunch of vocal people, I think RM Vaughan is the best arts writer here in Canada. I have to remember to use the line 'that’s why the Canadian co-curator, the UBC professor and Vancouver art baronet.. didn’t respond to my phone calls and e-mails. He’s probably just on sabbatical, or on holiday with his beloved coterie of...' Next time it happens to me. However, someone should take Mr. Vaughan aside and teach him how to read a map, it could have saved him two days of wandering around Antwerp.

I also wish that Canadian Art magazine had an RSS feed and put stuff online immediately instead of six months after the fact.

Fun without the frustration courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada


Just after the press conference at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal I had to hightail it (read: move relatively fast) up to the swanky part of Laurier ave in order to get fed by the National Gallery of Canada while they informed me (and the other 40 or so journalists in the room) about their upcoming exhibits.

In comparison to the one at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal it was a pretty gosh darn swanky do (read: fancy affair). Besides lunch (and the National Gallery graciously allowed volunteers from the gallery to come along) there was wine, and what I needed (and despite what everyone thinks) and enjoyed most was the art history lesson offered by Dr. Colin B. Bailey about Renoir and the paintings that will be exhibited.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Skiff (La Yole), 1875, oil on canvas, The National Gallery, London
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Skiff (La Yole), 1875, oil on canvas, The National Gallery, London

As my knowledge about art pretty much starts in 1998, and doesn't stray too far beyond the borders of this country, any chance I can get to easily learn about art from before 1998, or outside of Canada is welcomed. Apparently Dr. Bailey has decided that one of the paintings in the show is actually five years older than previously thought, and while I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, I'd still like to read what caused him to come to this conclusion (ie, it looks like I'm going to have to get me the catalogue). He also views the landscapes by Renoir as 'experiments,' which on first blush sounds like a pretty cool concept. They also have developed a website to go along with the exhibit, although I haven't quite had a chance yet to check it out, yet.

They then turned on a snazzy video, which went systematically through all the other upcoming shows. Personally, the Ron Mueck exhibit is the one that has me all giddy. And will be the cause of me being in Ottawa twice in one month.

As for the video, I told anyone who wanted to listen that it should be up on YouTube, I liked how they handled the Pascal Grandmaison show which will be going to the Museum of Photography, and Mitchell Frank's commentary almost made me laugh out loud.

Beyond that, I think everyone had a grand ole time, but I had to skidaddle back here to the gallery, because that is the one unfortunate result of going to all these swanky do's is that I'm out of the gallery and end up having to play catch up for at least a couple of hours.

Fun & Frustration at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal


If you've been reading closely (or conversely have way too much time on your hands) you'll remember I've been extremely frustrated with the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal recently. In a nutshell, they won't accept email from me, and they are the only museum within 150 miles that won't let volunteers from Zeke's Gallery come to press conferences.

But that's not going to cloud my judgment of the art that they exhibit - it sucks! No, just kidding, I was there this morning for the press conference on the three new exhibits that are opening there on Friday (hence the long preamble) and was reminded that I should probably explain in detail when I use sarcasm, and if I am expressing disappointment go even further to explain who, what and why I am disappointed with. Because when I went up to Jean-Pierre Gauthier to ask him to autograph my catalog, he told me that he didn't like what I had written about him on this here blog. I tried (and hope that I succeeded) in explaining that my line was expressing disappointment with the people who organize the Sobey Art Award, and not him personally. I think he might have believed me, as he did very graciously sign my catalog, but I'm not entirely certain.

That all being said, it looks like a fairly killer set of shows at the museum this winter (in case you are unclear with the meaning of the word 'killer' - it is a very positive adjective). I got there sort of early in order to take advantage of the fact that no one here in Montreal really wakes up early, I was able to take in part, but not all of M. Gauthier's exhibit without anyone else treading underfoot. But I was able to take in all of Jérôme Fortin's glorious exhibit without anyone getting in my peripheral vision.

In both cases, longer reviews are in a 'soon come' situation (in case you are unclear with the expression 'soon come' - it is Jamaican slang (patois) for 'in the near future.')

Picking stuff from my notes, I was told that one of the technicians (aka Art Handlers) thinks that M. Fortin's work is all about resignation, personally I think it is the sign of a certain amount of stubbornness. M. Fortin, in his 'thank you speech' talked about it being based on film and some Japanese person who's name I wasn't able to catch. I respectfully disagree with him and think that it reminds me much more of the snow you get on your television when you are on a channel that has nothing transmitted.

Écran no 17 (détail) par Jérôme Fortin
Écran no 17 (détail), 2006, Jérôme Fortin,
Collage (cartes routières Canada, États-Unis, Mexique), 304,8 x 548,6 cm, Collection de l’artiste, Avec l’aimable permission de Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain, Montréal, Photo : Richard-Max Tremblay

You be the judge...

I counted about 100 people in attendance, although as Marc Mayer pointed out there were lots of artists and museum staff in attendance (although he got it wrong there are actually seven exhibits at the museum, not six - Fortin, Gauthier, Ben-Nur, Recent Aquisitions, Gubash, Women with Kitchen Appliances, and Place à la magie!.

Continuing on from my notes - I made a major faux-pas when I called Milutin Gubash, 'Martin' and then continued to munch on my foot by thinking he was not living in Canada and some sort of cool eastern European artist who had just flown in to Montreal just for the conference (the brioches and croissants provided by the museum were obviously not enough to sate my appetite).

Had I known that he was living here in Montreal, I would not have written "Are all Quebecois artists short?" in my notes, as Mr. Gubash looks like he could play a mean game of basketball or volleyball if he so chose.

Props and shout outs to Marc Lanctôt for losing the 'substitut' (or interim) part of his title.

Then, I hope that there is someone at the museum who is savvy enough to have thought of taking one picture every day of each of the pieces by M. Gauthier that make marks on the walls and mirrors. I think it would be fascinating to see the progression over the course of time.

And finally, it looks like it was fortuitous timing on Claude Gosselin's part Monday, as M. Mayer mentioned something about a Montreal Triennale in 2008. I will obviously have to follow up on that a little later.

Chicago Region Arts Scan | Chicago Artists Resource

Montreal, better than Berlin, not as good as Chicago


Yesterday the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation released a report called the 'Chicago Region Arts Scan' [pdf alert]. I've only had time to read the executive summary [pdf alert], but they state, rather categorically, that there are 147 non-profit visual arts organizations in the Chicago area.

A couple of weeks ago, I pointed out how Montreal quite likely had more art galleries than Berlin. Using the same back of the envelope calculations, I can't imagine more than 120 non-profit arts organizations here in Montreal (62 members of the SMQ, 21 RCAAQ, and 11 university organizations comes out to 94, even if I missed 20% someplace - as Zeke's Gallery would not show up in any of those either we're still at 113) - or in other words. Not Good.

And more Stan Douglas


Walter Robinson of Artnet Magazine pipes in with his 2¢.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Just what we need - another $50,000 art prize


If you remember, on the 19th of January the first Hnatyshyn Foundation Visual Arts Award was awarded. If I look closely, it got written about in two newspapers. Well now the Art Gallery of Ontario was able to convince Aeroplan that there should be another $50,000 award. On top of it, it ain't even a Canadian award, their line is 'five Canadian and international artists each year.'

From what I've heard, it costs about $200,000 to give away $50,000. And even then that doesn't guarantee that the prize gets noticed. This explosion in prizes ain't going to do a darn thing for 'art in Canada,' although I betcha dollars to doughnuts that the jury and the winner make out like bandits this spring.

Want to work at the McCord Museum?


Their store is hiring a buyer.

Woo-Hoo! Doing Good! Props & Shout Outs to Claude Gosselin, Walter Ostrom, David Silcox, and Ed Burtynsky

Monday, February 05, 2007

TATE ETC. Issues

frieze reads press releases and does no research


While I normally like it when a Canadian gallery gets mentioned in Frieze magazine. In this case, I wish Frieze magazine had not just acquiesced and reprinted what looks like a press release. Or even better, I wish I had caught it back when it was up and being mentioned in places like the HankBlog.

Then I could've pointed out that the 'rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb' that Jonathan Middleton decided to attribute to the Goon Show in fact had been used since the 1920's, and if he had done any research beyond the interior of his cranium he would have realized that either of the film versions, or going back to the original would have been way better to cite.

From my cursory research, the only time I can find where the term 'the rhubarb society' was used in a Goon Show was the episode broadcast on the 13th December 1956 called 'The Telephone.'

Eva Van den Bulcke meet Sefi Amir in Mile End


Now imagine if Ms. Amir's images were printed on pillowcases instead of the images by Ms. Van den Bulcke. The trip from Pharmacie Esperanza to Les Commissaires isn't that long, and I betcha they would sell way quicker...

SLART: a critical review & journal of the arts in Second Life


This is wicked cool! - [via]

[Update 7:30 pm: And here is a list of museums and galleries in Second Life]

[Update Tuesday: And slightly on a tangent, in case you are interested, here is my list of art museums on MySpace and art museums on Facebook, and art museums on Flickr]

First the V&A, now (sorta) the Metropolitan


Now watch everyone jump on the free reproduction bandwagon. details about it here.

anti-inhumanity or baroque?

Marco Fortin & Mme. L. Goyette (wid)


Bernie Mendelman brought a column of his from August to my attention. Personal memories about Marc-Aurèle Fortin when he lived at 5039 Saint Urbain [pdf alert].

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Only because I think everybody expects me to


I'd prefer not to post abuot this article from Saturday's Globe & Mail, but my assumptions about peer pressure got the better of me. All I have really is one question. How did Mr. Houpt come to the conclusion that Terence Koh is 'one of the fastest-rising artists on the New York scene?'

What about David Altmejd? Younger than Mr. Koh, and already going to the Venice Biennale (better than telling someone you want to go to the Venice Biennale).

Sarah Anne Johnson? Much younger than Mr. Koh, and in the collection of the Guggenheim museum (better than a performance in the lobby of the Whitney museum).

Stan Douglas? Older than Mr. Koh, but getting reviewed in the New York Times (better than a fluff profile in the Globe & Mail).

Nice little article on how they do it in Toronto


Murray Whyte writes in today's Toronto Star about the Spoke Club. Personally no matter how much arts networking can be done there, I think $800/year for a place that only serves non Canadian beer is a tad ridiculous.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Stan Douglas makes it to the New York Times


It still doesn't sound like I'm going to like his art, but props and shout outs to Mr. Douglas for getting a review in today's New York Times. Does anybody know who Bridget L. Goodbody is, and why one of the three regular art critics employed by the New York Times didn't cover the shows?

Traffic has come to a complete stop at the underpass on Hwy 13 near Hwy 20 (Montréal, Québec)

Le Devoir - 38 days behind the New York Times


An from today's edition of Le Devoir and an article from the December 26th edition of the New York Times. And yes, I do think Frédéric Martel is a very cool guy - hopefully he can make to Quebec next time he is on this side of the Atlantic.

I would like to know what is happening to the building...


Earlier this week I was asked about this donation to the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal. I posted about it, in order to see if I couldn't shake loose some information. I couldn't.

But from the article, it is interesting to discover that it cost $300,000/year to run the Musée Marc-Aurèle Fortin. Three employees, at least one full-time volunteer and a board of directors. I'm not certain, but that strikes me as an awful lot of money.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Stuff Seen - Robert Davidson


Killer Whale, 2000, acrylic on canvas, 76.2 x 101.6 cm, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Elvis Costello, © Robert Davidson, Photo: Kenji Nagai


It was about almost exactly one year ago that I made the trip to Ottawa, and was not particularly happy with what I saw at the National Gallery. Well, what a difference 365 days make. I'm actually planning on going back at the end of the month. I don't know who was responsible (although I would guess that it was Kitty Scott) for booking Mr. Davidson's exhibit called The Abstract Edge. But Good on ya!

I originally had seen the exhibit here in town at the McCord Museum, and been left completely and utterly slack jawed about it. So slack jawed in fact that I was unable to form any sort of coherent sentences other than "It's amazing!" So I did not write anything about it. But, now after seeing it again (and again, and again, and again) I'm still giddy as a 16 year-old school girl and still thoroughly in awe of what Mr. Davidson does.

Then to get all the rest of the silly stuff out of the way - I was quite surprised to discover that Diana Krall and Elvis Costello not only owned a painting by Mr. Davidson, but that they had loaned it out for the duration of the show. More so because I never really thought of either one of them as being art collectors, and that they would want to get the extra added media attention by having their names on the wall tag. Although I think it should have read just 'Diana Krall' as I assume that it was she who in fact bought it, and not him or them. Now if there could only be more indie hipsters who would follow their lead and buy art...

And then finally, just to completely show my utter lack of journalistic objectivity about Mr. Davidson's work - was able to get him to autograph my catalog, oh happy day!

Well, anyhows, my background on North West Coast art, Haida art or pretty much any type of aboriginal art from North America is nil, nada, nothing, or if you prefer, a big fat zero. However, I do have some awareness of Oceanic and African aboriginal art, and due to some confusion on my part, some of my preconceptions about the primitive stuff from a couple of hundred years ago leaks into my understanding and awareness of the civilized and contemporary stuff from from the geographic edges of Canada.

I keep coming at it thinking it is one large unified mass based on a shared geography and set of beliefs. Unfortunately I am just about 100% wrong. And in the same way that I wish that the fancy poster store in Old Montreal would not confuse things by incorporating the word Art into their name, I would also prefer the work that Mr. Davidson does didn't come within 50 miles of the word 'aboriginal.' In the same way that while David Altmejd's work is in fact Jewish Art, but he is not classified and categorized as a 'Jewish Artist.' I think I'd have a way easier time wrapping my head about and getting to understand Mr. Davidson's work if I was able to deal with it first as Contemporary Art, and then afterwards and only afterwards start bringing in the outside influences, sources and pedagogic material.

Diving in head first, the colors, and the lines are what attracted me first, and rivetted my attention throughout. Very swoopy stylized stuff, I prefer it when he works with a very restricted palate. I can understand the use of more than two colors, and also the need to work with more than two colors, but Mr. Davidson is a master PhD in black and red.

It doesn't matter what he makes, sculpture, painting, or what he makes it on, wood, aluminium, or deerskin the stuff rocks like nobody's business when there are only two colors. Check this:

Ravenous, 2003, red cedar and acrylic, 68.6 x 52.7 x 10.2 cm, Private Collection, Goderich, Ontario, © Robert Davidson, Photo: Kenji Nagai

check this:

Eagle Looking at Eagle, 1990, Collection of Robert Davidson, © Robert Davidson, Photo: Kenji Nagai

That all being said, during the vernissage, everyone, Mr. Davidson included was extremely gracious in answering my inane and very childish questions. He told me that the aluminum sculpture Meeting at the Centre had been first designed on paper, then cut out, and then constructed. And in judging from the video that accompanies the show, and some extra stuff in the catalogue, I would venture a guess that most of his work is fairly rigorously thought out in advance.

I didn't quite get to dish the dirt with either Mr. Davidson or Karen Duffek (the curator of the show) but I came close, when I pointed out that the way that the show had been hung in Ottawa was 6527% better than the way I had seen it displayed here in Montreal. Brighter walls, and more mixing up of pieces, instead of placing all the drums together, and all the paintings together in chronological order. It makes quite a difference in how you view objects if you are viewing them in an Art Museum, a history museum (or from whence they came first) an anthropology museum. It seems to me that the non-art museums tend to like to focus on the pieces as objects, attempting to highlight functionality without really wanting you to look at two pieces at the same time and say 'Hey! That swoopy-thing in the corner of this painting, reappears on that sculpture over there!' And finally, I gotta find me some time to do more digging I'd like to know if there is a similar figure in North West Coast art as there is to James Houston with respect to Inuit art.

Robert Davidson's website is here. And if you go see the exhibition, tell them at the museum that I say 'hi.'

Robert Davidson: The Abstract Edge.
2 February – 6 May 2007
National Gallery of Canada
380 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm, Thursday to 8 pm.