Friday, March 30, 2007

Pierre Théberge and Corno together!


A friend of mine pointed LeStudio1 magazine out to me. On one hand I am all for combining all types of art at all levels. On the other hand, I'm not all that comfortable being that close to something that commmercial.

Maybe I should ask M. Théberge if I can have an interview next time I am in Ottawa.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Christoph Büchel should learn from Jana Sterbak


There's way cool article in today's The Boston Globe about the fight between Mr. Büchel and MassMoCA. It sounds very similar to that which went down between Ms. Sterbak and the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal back in 2003. It is a fight that Mr. Büchel is very unlikely to win. He needs MassMoCA way more than they need him.

To answer Giovanni Carmine's question at the end of the article, it gets done frequently. Two weeks ago I saw the Julius Popp show at Oboro where half of the exhibition was busted. And if you want follow up on how much of prima dona contemporary artists can be, Geoff Edgers has a partial list of Mr. Büchel's demands. Go! Joseph C. Thompson! Go!!

Five more years (if they build a cafe...)


In theory I like this news that the Shawinigan art space is going to be around until 2012. I don't understand what has taken them so long to figure out that touring shows are better then stand alone shows. Personally, I'd suggest hooking up with Dia:Beacon, and/or MassMoca, and/or Site Santa Fe, and/or some of the KunstHalles in Germany and/or other places like that. I'd also suggest keeping it running all year, not just during the summer, and I also would suggest making admission free.

But then again, nobody has asked me.

Kelly Hill you gotta talk to the Quebec Government


Mr. Hill comes out with some more numbers that don't make any sense. If the Quebec Government researchers say that 529,750 people visited university galleries, municipal galleries and artist run centres in Quebec in 2005, what the heck are you smoking in order to write 'Exactly 7 million Canadians visited an art gallery in 2005.'?

Last I heard Quebec had about 23.5% of the population of Canada which would mean that about 2.5 million people went to university galleries, municipal galleries and artist run centres, if everyone in Canada went to see art at the same rate as the Quebecois did. So what galleries did the other 4.5 million people go visit? If Mr. Hill meant to say Museums instead of galleries, well according to the Quebec Government, 7.6 million people went to museums in Quebec in 2005. Does that mean that negative 600,000 people went to museums in the rest of Canada?

And how the heck can any statistician use census data and then write the word 'exactly?' Was there a specific question on the census questionnaire about going to galleries, and did Mr. Hill count each and every answer? And if it was a question on the census, why isn't Statistics Canada reporting the news? Somehow I would trust their statisticians just a little bit more than Mr. Hill.

More Big Brother news


Apparently this Common CV thing is big in the sciences. And now it is moving into the arts. Yuck is all I can say.

April 15, deadline for being recognized as an artist by the Quebec Government


Everyone and their mother thinks that it is fabulous and fantastic and amazing that 1% of the budget for any and all public buildings is dedicated to art - by law!

Well, if you want to be considered for any and all of the buildings currently going or those that will be built in the future you need to fill out this form.

Given that there are some mistakes in their list of galleries in Montreal (pdf alert) I can only guess at the other potential difficulties an artist would encounter in trying to become 'part of the scene.' Personally I much prefer, completely open calls and commissions. This set up smacks of government inbreeding that fosters bureaucratic art that nobody ends up paying any attention to after the press release has been issued.

Can you do Accounts Payable? Wanna work at a museum?


That's what this job is promising. And according to this map

There are only two museums "situated dowtown a few steps from Guy metro." The Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, and the Canadian Centre for Architecture. I won't get into which one is more prestigious than the other - but I do have an opinion.

The Shayne Gallery is hiring


Need a job? Want to work in a good gallery? The Shayne Gallery needs help. Follow the instructions in this advertisement.

Wanna work in Québec City?


Big news today, the number three museum in the province becomes the second museum in the province who needs a new director. John Porter, their director has resigned in order to concentrate on just getting the museum a new building.

I realize I need to identify the international prospects for the Musée des beaux-arts de Montreal, and now the prospects for downriver as well - hopefully over the weekend.

[Update March 30: The rest of the press piles on The Journal de Montreal, and La Presse, and it still has not hit the English press, yet.]

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pierre Theberge gets blogged about on Time magazine


Props and shout outs to M. Theberge and double doses to Richard Lacayo for noticing the National Gallery.

Martin Knelman should talk to the honorable Serge Joyal so that they can get their stories straight


Back in February the honorable Serge Joyal wrote an op-ed piece for La Presse, about how there wasn't enough money for culture here in Montreal. I took full advantage of the situation to laugh at how wrong he was. Now there's an article in today's Toronto Star by Mr. Knelman which has a headline that reads: Need cash for arts? Move to Montreal.

So who is right? Martin Knelman, and Montreal is where all the cash is for culture? Or the honorable Serge Joyal, and Toronto gives out the big bucks for the arts? Please take this one question survey and let me know what you think.

Stéphane Baillargeon makes some guesses


In today's paper M. Baillargeon guesses that Line Beauchamp or Michelle Courchesne will be the next Culture minister, and that Jean-François Roux, Maro Akoury, Richard Merlini or François Desrochers will be responsible for culture in the shadow cabinet. I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that he is wrong.

Want a gig in Burlington? Become their curator!


I'm not in the habit of posting job opportunities, but I quite liked this one as it goes into detail about what is involved in being a curator at a small gallery.

City of Burlington 131 Church Street, Burlington, VT 05401 Voice (802) 865-7145
Fax (802) 864-1777
TTY (802) 865-7142
Firehouse Gallery
Burlington City Arts

POSTING DATE: February 2, 2007
DEADLINE TO APPLY: April 6, 2007

RATE OF PAY: $17.17/ hour

This position is responsible for selection, installation, and interpretation of exhibitions and artwork displayed in the Firehouse gallery, and to act as a representative of the City’s commitment to the Visual Arts to the community.

Essential Job Functions:
Assess and select potential exhibitors including specific artwork for both in-house and outside exhibitions, studios, and functions.
Review and respond to submissions to the gallery in a timely manner, actively seek out submissions by interesting artists.
Determine themes for exhibition.
Arrange for transportation of artwork to gallery.
Plan, arrange, and install pieces throughout the gallery in preparation of the exhibition.
Coordinate with the Marketing Director on all public relations materials including collecting information for and reviewing press releases.
Plan, in conjunction with City Arts staff, opening reception(s) for the artist(s).
Greet and serve as host to artists and visitors of the gallery at all times.
Ensure that the Firehouse Gallery is opened in a proper and timely manner.
Hire, train, and supervise Gallery Manager / Curatorial Assistant(s).
Work with Gallery Manager / Curatorial Assistant to hire and manage revolving interns and volunteers.
Oversee gallery budget and financial reports
Maintain the gallery, including, but not limited to, minor painting, patching walls, cleaning walls as needed.
Administrate and develop Artist-in-Residence Programs.
Serve as a resource to gallery visitors, businesses, community members, and Vermont-based artists.
Represent Burlington City Arts at various statewide conventions, consortiums, and meetings.
Perform lectures, critiques, and give tours to special groups on behalf of the gallery.
Coordinate and attend outside functions that take place at the gallery as well as other events within the City.
Prepare closing packets for artists and sponsors that include copies of press, images, and a letter of thanks at the conclusion of every exhibition.
Work interdepartmentally with Education Director to seek opportunities for gallery education initiative, which may include developing gallery-based education classes and participating in the development of curriculum for gallery education.
Serve on various committees dealing with art issues and events.
Write grant narratives.
With gallery advisory committee, guide gallery vision and policy development.
Nurture relationships with gallery sponsors.

Qualifications/Basic Job Requirements:
A Bachelors degree in studio art, art history, or related field required as well as an additional year of experience, at minimum, in a museum or gallery required.
Ability to identify aesthetic characteristics and thematic concepts for all shows and exhibits with an eye towards artistic/conceptual merit, craft, contemporary relevance, salability, and potential intellectual enlightenment of the local audience.
Ability to discuss art and artists for all exhibits planned and present.
Ability to professionally represent the City of Burlington and the City Arts Department in all dealings with artists, members of the general public, local officials, City Arts Board members, etc.
Ability to complete installation of exhibited artwork, including, but not limited to lifting, use of a ladder, and use of a drill, other power and manual tools, etc.
Ability to interact with customers, artists, community members and leaders in a professional and courteous manner required.
Familiarity working in a Windows-type OS, including knowledge of spreadsheet and word processing software preferred.
Knowledge of art world and contemporary artists with a regional emphasis
Strong communication skills, both oral and written, required.
Experience with fundraising preferred.

The City of Burlington does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, or disability in employment or the provision of services. Submit City of Burlington Application, cover letter and resume by April 6th to: Human Resources Department, 131 Church Street, Burlington, Vermont 05401.

Available in alternative formats for persons with disabilities. For disability access information, or to request an application, contact Human Resources at (802) 865-7145 or (802) 865-7142 (TTY).

If you get the gig, please don't forget to put me on your mailing list, thanks and good luck.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Slideluck Potshow - Art - New York Times

The Canadian Government is getting out of the Art Exhibit Transportation Business


Val Ross has an article today about how the Canadian Conservation Institute is shutting down their Exhibit Transportation Services. There is the requisite hand wringing and boo-hooing by John Ryerson of the Varley Art Gallery. But what I found most interesting was after reading the article I went looking for Canadian Art Transportation companies. I previously knew about Pacart, but there is also Art Solution, Art Zone, and Trans Art and that's after 10 minutes of internet only research.

So if I can find four in ten minutes, I'd venture a guess that there are about ten to an even dozen art transport companies in Canada, with that many, even if the government gets out of the art transportation business, it ain't going 'mean an additional cost of as much as $18,000' in order to transport art throughout Canada.

And then if you're interested in the how's and why's of touring art exhibitions, try this guide in English, and this one in French.

McGill Art Stuff all over the place


The McGill Daily has a nice article by Fiona Wright about McGill University's art collection. PJ Vogt also has a nice article about non-sanctioned art (although there are some misconceptions in the article). Then Le Délit (the french student newspaper) has an entire issue (pdf alert) on public space, with major articles about public art (both sanctioned and non-sanctioned). And finally, the McGill Tribune has an article about The Art History Students Association's art gallery and first show.

Very Slow News Day - 2007 Windsor Biennial & Detroitarts


Or if you prefer to click on links... The Art Gallery of Windsor organized and launched the 2007 Windsor Biennial. Jessica Bradley (from Toronto), Aaron Timlin (from Detroit), and Theo Sims (Winnipeg) were the curators who chose the following Canadian artists:

Alana Bartol (Windsor);
Douglas Bedard (Windsor);
Jack Byng (Windsor);
Angela Desjardins (Windsor);
Andrew Lochhead and Andrea Slavik (Windsor);
Cyndra MacDowall (Windsor);
Zeke Moores (Windsor);
Troy Ouellette (Windsor).

Interesting that only 8 out of 22 artists chosen for the Windsor Biennial are from Canada. Especially as the City of Windsor, The Canada Council for the Arts, the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation are its funders - and not a single one is from the other side of the border.

So, I'm asking Detroitarts to fill in the blanks on the American artists participating in the 2007 Windsor Biennial, they are as follows:

Matthew Blake (Detroit);
Sara Blakeman (Detroit);
Steven Matthew Brown (Detroit);
Chido Johnson (Detroit);
Mark Schwing (Detroit).

Melanie Manos (Ann Arbor);
Dennis Michael Jones (Ann Arbor);
Toby Millman (Ann Arbor);
Margaret Parker (Ann Arbor),

Christopher Dean (Ferndale);
Janet Hamrick (Ferndale);

Nancy Patek (Grosse Pointe Woods);

Mike Richison (Oak Park);

Mira L. Burack (Bloomfield Hills);

Monday, March 26, 2007

Stuff Seen - Family Foto at Pinkespace


Family Foto, Pinkespace, 1399 Saint Jacques, (514) 935-9851, jeudi - dimanche 13h - 17h 11 fev au 8 avril, 2007


Pat Pink, the power behind and running through Pinkespace is phenomenal. She persistently puts on pretty much perfect presentations of art with paintings, sculptures and other paraphernalia.

PAUSE (ok, enough with the alliteration...)

Installation shot from the exhibit

Ms. Pink, as usual, sent out email invitation to friends, relatives, aquaintances and other assorted hangers-on for this show, asking them to do something 'family.' And as usual the result is very very good.

Da Family Funeral - horses, flowers, coffin, departed, music, eulogy, lighting - P. Pink

While you may think that this is not your standard issue art show, you, in fact would be very wrong. More and more art is going community in its focus, and while ArtForum, and the Wall Street Journal might focus on the lastest $100 million painting to have been sold, and how much of a profit the seller got, there are in fact, a gazillion and a half (quite a lot more than 100 million) other pieces of art made by artists who don't read ArtForum or the Wall Street Journal.

Each of the pieces presents a slightly different take on the idea of family (if you hadn't figured that out by now). And as with all families, each and everyone is completely and thoroughly different, and if you know anything about any of the artists it is immensely pleasurable to take this little bit of information and run as fast as you can with it.

Expressionistic Beings-clay masks & monsters, aquarelle sur papier - Shawn Mackinak

My particular favorite, was the sort of installation-like combination of watercolors and clay masks by Shawn Mackinak. Not only did it leave me with some pretty interesting thoughts about the make up for Mr. Mackinak's family, and Mr. Mackinak himself, but they made for a pretty gosh darn cool family in and of themselves. You know sort of like this is the daddy monster, and this is the mommy monster, and these are pictures of the daddy monster at work, etc. You get the idea.

Installation shot of Nieces and Nephews, digital pink smile face of signed backs of photos, Shelly Low and The Swiss Family Rey, oil on canvas x 4 paintings and text, Edith Rey

But that is not to say, that the other work was bad. Quite the contrary, I wouldn't have been able to give the show a B+ if there was only one good work. I quite enjoyed Edith Rey's pieces despite her being a very good friend, and I seem to have a false memory of having previously seen Shelly Low's work at the Centre d'art Contemporain du Québec à Montréal.

Fades to Black, Five acrylic stenciled ovals, Gregory Louden

Le Retour de la Bouteille du Vernissage, oils on board, Alain James Martin

DG-PG Delta Gamma Pretty Girl Sorority - framed sorority group photo, K. Zahn

At which point, I've procrastinated long wnough (I've been trying to write this for three days) so I instead of writing more about the show, let me strongly suggest that you go see the show. The details that you need are as follows:

Pink Espace
1399 Saint Jacques West
(514) 935-9851
Thursday to Sunday 1 pm to 5 pm

And the show has been extended until April 8!

Knowledge Exchange: promoting community engagement


In about two weeks there is this conference happening in San Francisco called Museums and the Web 2007. I would have like to have been there, but unfortunately can't. So I'm following it from a distance. One of the speakers is going to be Wendy Thomas from the Canadian Heritage Information Network. She will be giving a demonstration called, Knowledge Exchange: promoting community engagement. I would have loved to see what Ms. Thomas uses to as examples of CHIN's "quick and efficient access to collaborative on-line tools and services." One of my favorites is their Podcasting primer. 562 words that are two and a half years out of date that do nothing other than unnecessarily complicate something that is extremely simple.

Or this article about RSS, where Suhas Deshpande in describing the AGO's podcasts writes, "The result was an astounding 10,000 downloads over 10 weeks." When in fact 1,000 downloads/week is the same volume as the Zeke's Gallery's podcasts. She then attempts to describe what an RSS feed is and fails miserably.

I could go on and on, but I won't because I have work to do. However, in my opinion the Canadian Heritage Information Network is one of the major reasons why most museum websites in Canada are not good.

[update 7pm: I finished my work, and realized I had confused the entire Canadian Heritage Network, and the Knowledge Exchange. Pity as had I used examples from the Knowledge Exchange I would have eviscerated it even more. Their listings for Webcasts is pathetic. This is one of their 'expert' interviews. and while the First World War Blog by the Glenbow Museum is wicked cool, and deserves a link - I personally think that something like the Mendel Gallery's blog should've gotten one as well.]

Not dead yet!


David Joanisse, Jean-Pierre Grémy, Céline Poisson, and Chantal Pontbriand, collectively known as the Board of Directors for Parachute magazine, write an op-ed piece (more like an open letter) that attempts to explain what they are doing. For the blokes in the house, I'll try to translate and summarize:
  • réfléchir sur les orientations possibles en consultant divers interlocuteurs locaux et internationaux, là ou les perspectives nous y conduiront;
  • réfléchir sur l'ensemble des activités, de même que sur le support de la revue et réinvention de ce dernier s'il y a lieu;
  • réévaluer l'infrastructure financière et organisationnelle, en tenant compte des avancées technologiques et communicationnelles;
  • rechercher de nouveaux partenariats financiers tant publics que privés;
  • poursuivre des projets et activités en cours (participation au Documenta 12 Magazine Project, organisation du congrès de l'IKT à Montréal en 2008; publication d'une version anglaise de l'anthologie par la Pennsylvania State University Press et Tate Publishing et publication d'une version espagnole par le CENDEAC en Espagne);
  • poursuivre la recherche et le développement de partenariats d'édition et d'événements.

  • Think about possible new paths to follow.
  • Think about what we have accomplished, the support we've received, and if it can be used to make something new.
  • See if we can't figure out a new way to scrape up the cash needed and remember to use buzz words like 'new technology and communications.'
  • See if we can find some new supporters, both public and private.
  • Continue what we have already started (The Documenta 12 magazine project, the IKT conference here in Montreal in 2008, publication of an English and a Spanish version of the anthology).
  • Follow up with people on the development of a printing house and event management company.
I wish them the best of luck, and will continue to follow what they do (or don't do) closely.

Congratulations to Howie Shia

Sunday, March 25, 2007

June 7 strike date?


Last week I made fun of Pierre Theberge and the management at the National Gallery of Canada. This week it gets slightly more serious, as their blockbuster summer spectacular show is opening on June 8. The last time there was a strike at the National Gallery these were the shows affected:
  1. Ousmane Sow: June 24, 2001 - September 3, 2001
  2. Gustav Klimt - Modernism in the Making: June 15, 2001 - September 16, 2001
  3. With Kind Regards... Canadian Souvenir View Albums: May 9, 2001 - December 28, 2001
  4. Kiakshuk: Images by a Hunter-Artist: April 26, 2001 - January 6, 2002
  5. The Engraved Passion of Dürer: April 11, 2001 - July 15, 2001
  6. Théophile Hamel: Dominick Daly O’Meara: March 23, 2001 - September 3, 2001
  7. Italian Drawings from Canadian Collections: February 16, 2001 - May 27, 2001
They finally settled the strike in time to open this show (I would imagine that there were some fairly important politicians who wanted to see it).

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Yves Schaëffner doesn't do his reasearch


In this puff piece he starts off by writing 'On ne connaît pas son vrai nom, encore moins son visage, mais le graffiteur Banksy est aujourd'hui un des artistes les plus populaires d'Angleterre.' Or if you prefer in blokespeak - We don't know his reaql name, and even less about what he looks like, but today Banksy is one of the most popular artists in England. The only problem is that Banksy's real name is Robert Banks. And if he wanted to know what he looked like, he should've looked here and here. So does this mean that M. Schaëffner's statement about Banksy's popularity is also suspect?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Wanna work at the National Gallery?


It appears that they are now looking to find a replacement for Kitty Scott. Also, reading between the lines, given the two weeks to get your CV in, I would imagine that whatever Headhunter was hired has now done their job and gotten paid.

The Great Gallery Hunt 2007 by Mitchell F. Chan


A friend of mine (and great artist as well) Mitchell F. Chan has been trying to get gallery representation here in Montreal, as well as in Toronto and Chicago. He went about it rather systematically, and then graciously allowed me to put it up here. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

Dispatches from the front lines!!!

Here's the status of the Great Gallery Hunt 2007. I thought you'd be interested in which galleries were courteous in dealing with unsolicited submissions, and which ones were jerks. Of course, this process is far from scientific. I've sent inquiries/handed out portfolio to places in Montreal, Toronto, and Chicago. The criteria: I sent out stuff to galleries in Montreal and Toronto if I'd heard/experienced good things about them, and to Chicago if I'd either a) seen them advertising in Canadian Art Magazine or b) found out they participated in a major international art fair last year (Miami, Basel, Toronto, Armory Show, New York).

Oh, and also, I should point out that all my e-mails went out on a Monday, when a lot of galleries aren't open. So galleries that were open on Mondays get brownie points (I love it when places are open 7 days a week. Nothing sucks more than wanting to go for a Sunday gallery tour and finding nothing open.)

I actually think this is pretty good information for artists to have, so pass it along to anyone who's interested. If you'd like to post it on the blog, I stand by everything I've recorded here, and would be happy to see the nice guys getting the public praise and the jackasses getting roasted. I'm doing my best to judge these galleries not on the quality of the art they exhibit or on whether or not they like my stuff, just on how receptive they are to receiving an unestablished artist's submission.

Who's naughty and who's nice? We'll rank them, because ranking is fun.


Galerie de Bellefeuille, Montreal. I e-mailed them asking whom I should address a portfolio submission to. No jpegs attached. A gentleman named Tyler Benedict got back to me less than five hours later (after gallery hours, no less!) and kindly told me that Mr. and Mrs. Bellefeuille would be happy to review a portfolio addressed to them, that he had personally told them to expect a package from me, and that I should send jpegs in the interim. It's hard to begrudge them their success when they're this classy.

Art Mur, Montreal. Sent them pretty much the same e-mail, no jpegs, as I sent to Bellefeuille. They got back to me the next day telling me to address my porftolio to their co-owner and thanked me for my interest. Again, very classy.

Galerie Lausberg Contemporary, Toronto. A new, fairly expensive high-end gallery here in Toronto. I walked in on them while one of the directors (who I think was in town from Germany) and his staff were installing an exhibition, and he still took some time out to take my portfolio, examine the package, and thank me for my interest, promising me he'd take a look at it. People like this are a welcome addition to my neighborhood.

Engine Gallery, Toronto. A fine gallery here on Queen West. Co-director Chris Knights was eager to take my portfolio, complimented the package after looking it over thoroughly, and promised me he and his business partner Stephen Schwartz would take a look.

Walsh Gallery, Chicago. Another no attachment e-mail inquiry. They got back to me the next day telling me that they weren't accepting new artists, but a woman named Holly Congdon said I was welcome to go ahead and send some jpegs, and if they really blew the director away, they'd request a full portfolio. Of course, the director wasn't blown away, but that's not the point: they allowed that it was possible. Love it.

Galerie d'Esté, Montreal. Mark Leibner replied to my e-mail the next day, asking for more jpegs, and then actually called me on the phone to ask to see some work in person. Full disclosure: this wasn't the first time they'd seen my work, so I sent a jpeg with the first e-mail to jog their memory of me. I'm just saying this because it may skew the neutrality in the random-act-of-kindness value.

XEXE Gallery, Toronto. Gave them a portfolio, they told me they were doing reviews in June, but would be happy to hold onto my portfolio until then.


Leo Kamen Gallery, Toronto. Dropped off a portfolio in person there, and they gave told me pretty much the same thing as Walsh: they're not even close to looking for anybody, but if you don't mind never seeing this thing again, we'll at least keep it on file. They get bonus points because the woman working there, Eve, was very friendly, and at the very least looked through the whole portfolio while I was there.

Moore Gallery, and Diaz Contemporary, Toronto. Accepted my portfolio without event.

Edward Day Gallery, Toronto. Reluctantly took my portfolio after I twisted Director Mary Sue Rankin's arm, and after one of the male staff informed me that it would likely be going straight into the garbage bin. But still, Ms. Rankin did seem to have a soft spot for precocious young artists, and was ultimately quite respectful.

Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago. Again, I e-mailed asking whom I should address a portfolio to; no jpegs attached. Shane replied in 7 minutes telling me he wasn't accepting submissions. Here's my attitude: it's fine if someone isn't accepting submissions, as long as they take the time to acknowledge the people who are knocking on the door. It was nice to at least get an e-mail back. So they get points, and are spared my wrath.

BIG THUMBS DOWN: these places oughtta be ashamed of themselves,

Chicago: Zg Gallery, Perimeter Gallery,

Montreal: Sandra Goldie, Galerie Simon Blais

Toronto: Thrush Holmes Empire

These places didn't bother replying at all to e-mails asking about where to direct portfolios. Maybe they're busy, maybe it was a bad week, I don't know. But it surely can't be that hard to reply to an e-mail, and I'm going to pepper a little bit extra disdain on the galleries above who purport to be supporting emerging artists. Anyone who uses the term emerging in their mandate and can't even reply to applicant queries, well...

Overall, though, I was surprised by just how many galleries actually did take the time to reply to me—the response rate was very encouraging. I'm also coming away from this with the idea that galleries in Montreal are much friendlier than over here. I'm a little surprised by this considering a lot of the horror stories I'd heard about how competitive the quest for gallery space is here.

The Group of Seven +405.25%


ArtPrice.com just released their Art Market Trends 2006. In it the only mention of Canadian art is the following:
This is one of the rare Modern movements to post such a sharp price inflation. The artists of the group of seven distinguished themselves by their love of landscapes and colour Even if they worked together from 1912, it was not until 1920 that the painters formed the artistic movement that renewed Canadian painting for twelve years. Their market remains focused on Canadian galleries and auction houses. For example, 100% of Lawren Stewart Harris’s lots sold at auction were sold in Canada. Since 1999 the artist’s index has progressed 624%. Illustrative of this rapid inflation, Mount Lefroy, an oil on panel from 1929, offered at CAD 200,000 – 250,000 on 25 May 2006 at Heffel (Vancouver) finally sold for CAD 1.45 million ($ 1.29 million). Same speculative effect on Frederick Horsman Varley, whose price index shot up 256% during 2006: Lynn Valley, the Pipeline Road, estimated at CAD 35,000 – 45,000, sold for CAD 120,000 at the same sale.
What I want to know, is how large is their database that enables them to quantify things to two decimal places? Or are they just assuming that the more decimal places they write, the more impressive everyone will think their calculations are?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Charles Stankievech makes it into The Rest Is Noise


Props and shout outs Alex Ross has a great blog.

I'm Late to the party, but Dave Liss rocks my world


I only discovered this video today. Man! I'm kicking myself for having been out of the loop for four months. Darn! Drat!!

Hanne Mugaas: b. Art since 1960 (According to the Internet)

Sad News; Jean-Guy Arbique dies, and I think I'm going to need to get me a TV


Does anyone know where I can get my hands on copies of Guy the Painter's TV show? I had never heard of M. Arbique before he died (more here, and here) but now that I know about him, I'd love to see his show.

Marc Mayer gives good quote


Paul Gessell is on a tear. A second great article. Although I gotta find 'the Group of Seven or snow scenes in the Laurentians' that are part of the Musee d'art contemporain de Montreal's permanent collection that The Governor General did not choose for the exhibit in her home.

Stuff Seen - Enthusiasm by Neil Cummings & Marysia Lewandowska



OK, let me get this straight if I can. I go to an eastern European country, I visit some junk shops and estate sales there, and buy some old films. I bring them back to the west. I compile them into something that looks vaguely academic, and when asked spew multi-syllabic words that mean nothing about the films I bought. I then claim ownership and all creative rights over the films.

Sounds like colonialism to me.

In a nutshell, this condenses into one exhibit absolutely everything that is bad, wrong and horrible about the contemporary art world. After seeing a show like this, I find it difficult to feel sad that the Saidye Bronfman Centre is not going to be showing anymore visual art. Thankfully, not all the shows that have been there have been this bad. And if ain't even like this is train wreck bad. This is I-don't-want-to-be-the-one-responsible-for-telling-the-emperor-that-he-his-stark-naked,-so-I'm-just-going-to-pass-the-buck-on-this-one-and-wait-until-it-goes-away bad.

Basically, three spaces made dark by the use of theatre black, showing endless loops of 16 mm film from Poland in the 60's. How Mr. Cummings and Ms. Lewandowska can call themselves the artists is beyond my comprehension. Appropriation art it is not. Theft is more like it. The Montreal Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts and Conseil des Arts & Lettres du Quebec all gave money to put on this exhibit. I will personally eat every single word I write here, along with personally apologizing to Mr. Cummings and Ms. Lewandowska along with everyone involved in exhibiting art at the Saidye Bronfman Centre if they can show that any money, even one thin dime, made it to any of the film makers involved. People like M. Korus, J. Ridan, and A Stefarski. Or on the flip side, if Mr. Cummings and Ms. Lewandowska did not receive any money for this exhibit then I'll take it all back as well.

In the meantime if they think that by putting their names above those of the people who made the films makes them the artists, I think that they are dumb as dirt.

Then to continue with this horror show of an exhibit. As the films were made as films, I figure that for the most part they all have a beginning, a middle, and an end. So who gave Mr. Cummings and Ms. Lewandowska super user abilities to decide that any and all of these films would be better by forcing the viewer to start in the middle, watch the end, and then the beginning? If I recommend a book to you, you are not likely to enjoy it more if you start on page 125, right? Or if you're listening to a symphony, it ain't going to make much sense if you listen to the third movement first, and then continue through, right? So what's up with presenting these films in such a way so as to further distance the viewer? Especially since the filmmakers did not want it that way.

And finally, if you like this sort of thing. Can I recommend that you check out the Internet Archives. Not only do they have way more stuff than you could ever imagine, but they have this thing called the Prelinger Archives which does what Mr. Cummings and Ms. Lewandowska try to do, but way better.

Great article about Fernand Leduc


In yesterday's Ottawa Citizen, written by Paul Gessell. I think I'm going to start a betting pool or something like that as to who is potentially going to win a Governor General's award next year. It should be relatively simple to scan through the Prix Paul Emile Borduas, and cross reference it against the living recipients of the Order of Canada in Quebec to see who hasn't received enough love, yet.

In alphabetical order they are: Michel Dallaire, Maurice Savoie, and Claude Tousignant. At this early stage of the game I would make M. Tousignant the odds on favorite, followed by M. Savoie, and then M. Dallaire.

Free on April 12? Got an extra $1,000 lying around?


The Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal is holding something called a 'Collectors Symposium.' A cool one thousand bucks gets you in the door for this event, which is being called a benefit for the museum. As far as I can tell from this press release the museum is then going to subject a short list of contemporary art to a vote of the people in attendance in order to decide which one gets bought for the museum's collection. The details are a little sketchy, but as they say 'The choice will be ratified by majority vote.' I can only guess that it is going to be sort of like Survivor and some get voted out until there are only two left.

If my guess is correct as to how they are going to organize the evening, then I quite like the idea of them democratizing the whole art aquistion process - unfortunately by charging $1,000 for a ticket they are making things democratic for a small, very exclusive, and very elite few. And of the $1,000, how much is going to the caterer, the organizer of the event, and the entertainment? And how much is actually going to go towards purchasing art, and/or in the Museum's coffers?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Stuff Seen - Galerie Attakus



This summer Montreal is going to be comix central, or if you prefer ground zero for bande dessinée. Not only will there be this exhibit starting in May that will be a celebration and a memorial at the same time. But there is going to be this exhibit that I haven't seen yet that I think is likely to give Ms. Gilbert a run for her money. And then if you're really into the drawing, there's Galerie Attakus.

Back last year, I sort of got annoyed when Voir reviewed Galerie Attakus like it was a real art gallery, when it seemed to me like it was a store. But I sort of stewed silently and to myself instead of going public because I figured I'd have a way better time railing against Voir and their means towards getting as much cash as possible after going to see Galerie Attakus.

So at some point on a cold day in February I trundled over. For folk who are interested, it is not in the building that houses Galerie Clark, nor is it in the Building that houses Galerie Diagonale, or any of the other artist run centres around de Gaspe. The address in case you did not want to get lost is 5333 Casgrain, #603.

Anyhows, I was dutifully impressed when I walked in the door (after finding it) basically it is a showroom pretty much designed to sell 12 inch 3-D reproductions of various pop culture charachters. And like anyone who has seen stuff that Todd McFarlane makes they can be pretty darn impressive. Especially when they are on your desk.

But screw the tiny models of women wearing next to nothing. What's wicked cool are the drawings on the walls. I don't have enough of a background to know the ins and outs of which cartoon (or bande dessinée) the stuff came from, however, taking them out of context and throwing them into frames is a great thing. Making them larger (as originals usually are) than your standard issue comic book is fabulous - you can actually see the what and the how or stuff being made.

I don't know if they are going to continue doing specific exhibits or (as I guess they are likely to do) will after a while just resort to the simpler thing of being a showroom for some dolls built for geeks, but the stuff that they had on the walls rocked, and I hope that they continue to show stuff on the walls, and I am looking forward to comparing their walls to those of the Saidye Bronfman Centre's last exhibit and that of the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

Stuff Seen - Paradoxal at Projex Mtl


Paradoxal at Projex Mtl


Projex Mtl is one of the better kept secrets in the Montreal art world. I sort of learned about them organically. They occupy the same space that used to be occupied by Sylvianne Poirier. One of the artists that they exhibit used to be represented by Pierre Francois Ouellette Art Contemporain (Louis Joncas). Another of the artists that exhibit there is responsible for one of the more memorable shows I have ever seen in Montreal ( Michel Denée). And yet another is a good friend of my sweetie and therefore a friend of mine (Robert Walker). But enough of the secrets, I personally prefer things when they are out in the open.

Projex Mtl is located at 1000 Amherst, #103. The phone number there is (514) 570-9130, and they are open pretty much standard issue gallery hours. It is run by André Laroche, and if you go, tell him I say 'hi.'

Anyhows, back to the show I saw. it was a hodgepodge of cool stuff that according to André was not exactly 'straight.' As I was not as intimately familiar with the work of all of the artists, I did not instantaneously glom onto what made the art paradoxal (isn't the word paradoxical?) outside of Robert Walker's photograph of flowers (the stuff of his that I am familiar with is more of a landscape type of picture with really bright colors). I really like Mr. Walker's work, not only because he is a friend of my sweetie, but because he knows his way around a camera. The pictures of flowers while not anything like what I was expecting from him, seemed to be extremely appropriate especially given the vivid colors in them. But there was a bunch of really cool stuff that turned my crank, and some stuff that didn't turn my crank but still managed to make me realize that the folk making the stuff weren't wanking off.

Obviously Reuel Dechene's work is going to be stuff that I remember, and once you realize that he works with LEDs that flash in relatively quick patterns on hubcaps, you can probably sympathize as to how the images were almost burned onto the back of my eyelids. I can't say that he does the most original work, but it sure as shootin' is purty and sorta easy on the eyes.

On the flip side Jan Andriesse's work is stuff that I'm not entirely certain I can remember, even if I use the images on their blog. I'm endlessly fascinated by him, 'cuz apparently he is married (or is going out with, or something) to Marlene Dumas. This doesn't mean it is bad, just that it isn't memorable.

Then, in between the two is Louis Joncas' work. He makes highly detailed photographs of staged scenes. Back when I wrote about Jeff Wall, he asked me to stop an email service that he had signed up for that enabled him to receive this blog by email - as a consequence I'm not entirely certain I'm going to say that his work is phenomenal and amazing. On the other hand I am not going to stop going to see his work. Since I can't see Mr. Wall's stuff he is a close approximation, and at some point I figure if I see enough of them I can either figure out why everyone else is going gaga over these sorta photographs, or be able to see what makes me think that they aren't the best thing since sliced white bread.

And finally, Richard Lanctôt and Peter Schuyff make work that looks good on Projex Mtl's website, but they suffer from the Jan Andriesse syndrome without being somehow attached to a really really famous artist. Obviously I'm going to have to go back and check out their work some more.

Lindsay Perth, Canadian artist making it big in Houston

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Zeke's Gallery Book Review - The Intrepid Art Collector by Lisa Hunter



I just finished reading The Intrepid Art Collector by my friend and art blogger Lisa Hunter. She gave it to me back in January, and I was able to find enough time to read it when I was racked up with something that might have been dysentery. Now normally, as you might expect, I'm not a big fan of self-help and how-to books, and this one not only is a how-to book, but has the words 'Beginner's Guide...' emblazoned on its cover like a badge of honor.

The only time I'm going to admit that I'm a beginner at anything is once I'm an expert and I'm reminiscing to some whippersnapper about the 'old days.' Maybe that's why it took being racked up in bed and being under the covers before I could crack the spine, unconsciously I didn't even want my sweetie to know.

Ummm, can you say Mistake? Loser? Wrong? With a capital 'M,' a capital 'L,' and a capital 'W?' Now that I have finished the book, I am kicking myself at having been such a scaredy cat. It was a breeze to read (Ms. Hunter is a very good writer) and despite the irrefutable fact that I am a black belt master expert and always score at least 100% (if not more) on all exams in everything having to do with art, I actually learned some things myself. Then on top of it, it made me giggle out loud as well - always a good thing when I am reading.

Like anything I read (or do) I always look for the missing things, or the stuff that fell through the cracks, and The Intrepid Art Collector is no exception. But before I launch into that (and give you the wrong idea that I don't like the book) allow me to point out some of the things where I could find no fault, and where I quite enjoyed myself.

The book itself is organized into two sections (what to buy and how to buy it) and each chapter is subdivided into smaller bits that involve checklists, and Q+A's with a very impressive roster of art specialists, supporting an extremely readable and very solid text on how, along with who, what, when and where. I think this is where I first went wooooo (you know that long low whistle you make when you're impressed?) Ms. Hunter got to talk to a former director of the Whitney museum, a former Vice President at Sothebys and a whack of other people who not only care deeply about art, but also know how to explain why other people should care deeply about it too. Not only was I jealous, but I was very impressed as well.

Now that I've gotten the how great the book is, and you should go out and get a copy right now, out of the way, I can address some of the things that I hope will be in the second (and future) editions of the book: Personally, I would have ditched the chapter on oriental rugs, and replaced it with (or added if the rugs needed to stay) on sculpture and/or video art instead of lumping both of them into the contemporary art chapter.

Then, while I use it as a mantra, I try not to tell people too many times that loving art is the single most important reason to get art. I got the sensation that since each chapter was about a different type of art Ms. Hunter felt she needed to repeat it in each one in case someone only read one chapter.

And finally, I felt that there was a little bit too much of a reliance on auction houses and 'reputable' dealers for my liking, especially since auction houses and 'reputable' dealers have been caught ripping off individuals, and the public, both recently, and in the past. However, it occurred to me while I was taking my shower this morning, that at the beginning, relying on auction houses and 'reputable' dealers is a good thing. In the same way that walking into the shallow end is a good thing when you are learning to swim. Personally I normally dive into the deep end when I start to swim, but I can remember being three years old (or so) and while I probably wished I could've dived into the deep end at that time, I'm pretty happy that I didn't. Once someone has familiarized themselves with art, then they can discover how auction houses and 'reputable' dealers aren't all they are cracked up to be.

Beyond that, there ain't much I can add, other than I am looking forward to the second edition.

Montreal Attendance figures for 2006


Every year The Art Newspaper compiles a list of attendance figures. I'm not certain how much faith I have that they are as accurate as a weather forecast, but they are all we have.

According to them (and probably MBAM as well) Catherine the Great did 2,273 people/day here and 2,396 per day in Toronto. Right Under the Sun, did 1,867 people/day here.

New this year (it seems) is the Musee d'art contemporain, who in the past haven't reported attendance figures. Their Anselm Kiefer exhibit got 902 people/day here in Montreal. In comparison, it did 2,469/day in Washington DC. Which makes it the fourth most popular exhibit in DC, and the third most popular exhibit in Montreal (or if you prefer sixth in Canada. Carlos Garaicoa at the ROM did 1,276/day, and Andy Warhol at the AGO surprisingly only did 1,082/day).

Thankfully, the Power Plant did not try to puff itself up by giving out separate attendance figures for each of their shows when it only takes one ticket to get in and see all of them. And it will be interesting to see how the Ron Mueck show in Ottawa stacks up versus the version that was in Edinburgh last year and got 2,218/day. Also very telling is the lack of figures from Vancouver.

Can Kathy Halbreich speak French?


I seriously doubt that Ms. Halbreich resigned from the Walker Center in order to become director of the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal. But's it is nice to have dreams, isn't it?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Forecasting best sellers for 2007: what lies ahead for original work, giclees, sculpture and fine-art photography? Read what our experts had to say …

Props & Shout outs to Art Mûr


On the occasion of their 10th anniversary Réal Olivier Lanthier & François St-Jacques got interviewed by Marine Van Hoof of Vie des Arts. A couple of things, a) local museums for the most part are not showing group shows now. b) the mix of Artist Run Centre, Commercial Gallery and Museum is being done to death in this town, see Rene Blouin, Simon Blais, Parisian Laundry, and others. c) Audacieux? If François thinks that Art Mûr is audacious because they aren't in the Belgo building, then I'd love to hear how he defines the idea behind the Maisons de la Culture? and that's only from three questions.

Lousy News all around


[yes, this is a ten day old post, but I'm bumping this to the top for today because I came across new stuff]

There's this Quebec government organization that counts things, yesterday they released the numbers on how many people went to museums in Quebec in 2006. Yuck

2006: 7.30 Million
2005: 7.60 million
2004: 7.69 million
2003: 7.98 Million

They also count how many people show up at exhibition spaces, places like university galleries, municipal galleries and artist run centres. Not as bad as the big boxes, but still not good.

2006: 596,452
2005: 529,750
2004: 649,963
2003: 656,402

Who is the preson responsible? And why do they still have a job? 10% decreases in attendance ain't good no matter how you try to spin it.

And on top of it, if you compare Quebec statistics to Canadian statistics, there is something seriously wonky. According to Statistics Canada "In 2004, more than 35 million visitors passed through the turnstiles of the surveyed heritage institutions, compared with 31.6 million in 2002."

Intellectual, ambitious, moral, erudite, distinct, imaginative, deeply reflective, articulate, and intriguing


Woo-Hoo! Julia Dault is back at the National Post and writes a very nice article on Jeff Wall for everyone!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Joseph Wagenbach, Lester Hayes and Victor Pellerin


Looks like we might have a bona-fide movement on our hands. Or maybe a 'new' art form. Or something. David Lynch's creation should talk to Triple Candie's creation should talk to Sophie Deraspe's creation (who as far as I know was first).

PSAC and Pierre Theberge vs. Glenn Lowry and the MOMA Unions


18 days ago I was in Ottawa to see the wonderful Ron Mueck show that they have there. Upon leaving I was surprised to see what looked like a picket line blocking me from getting out. I asked the woman with the megaphone what was happening, and was told theat it wasn't a picket line, but more like a job action. Apparently management at the National Gallery has been dragging it's heels with regards to a negotiating a new contract. The union's side of the story is all here.

Now what makes this doubly interesting is that two weeks earlier, it had been front page news in New York that the guy who runs MOMA had had a super secret sweet side deal with regards to getting paid just so that the unions at MOMA wouldn't get super duper pissed off at the gazillions more he was earning versus what they were earning.

As M. Theberge has his hospitality and expense reports made very public in an extremely timely fashion, and the auditor general of Canada sticks their nose in every now and again, I'm not terribly convinced that there could be (or could have been) a super secret sweet side deal made with trustees of the National Gallery. However, at about the same time that Mr. Lowry was figuring out how to make things more difficult for the MOMA union, the federal government made a super secret sweet side deal with some companies here in Quebec that enabled some advertising executives to at first get rich, and then go to jail, and as I am not entirely certain that the auditor general looks at money being spent that is not the government's, it might be worthwhile for someone to spend an hour or two researching this, because if one member of the Groupe Bizot is doing somthing, I would bet you dollars to doughnuts that the other members know about it, too.

Oh, and for anyone interested, this is just one reason why super secret sweet side deals that bring ethics into question are so gosh darn important. I should not be able to even fantasize in my wildest dreams about M. Theberge doing something 'not kosher' in order to shaft the union. Unfortunately, due to Mr. Lowry's behavior, I can. This is not a good thing. Or in plainer terms, if you hang out with the Hell's Angel's it is quite likely that some people will think you are a member, even if you are not.

[addition Monday AM: I almost forgot how last July, another member of the Groupe Bizot got caught doing something wrong.]

Simon Gallus meet Alain Paiement


Simon Gallus can I introduce you to Alain Paiement?

The Stranger Podcasts Bruce Nauman


More on the Bruce Nauman show coming here in May.

Vancouver & Tokyo, closer than I thought


A report of Tokyo Contemporary Art Auctions vs. Vancouver. Who would've thunk?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Arts médiatiques - Incubateur de talents

Arts visuels - Le Musée McCord, un créneau bien à lui

Conseil d'administration - Une affaire de passion

Conseillers culturels - Des objectifs communs

Conseil d'administration - Les artistes au pouvoir

Une nouvelle présidence en cette 51e année

Friday, March 16, 2007

A simple & easy comment policy


Recently I got comments on two posts that I wrote:
  1. Did the Vancouver sculpture biennale auction really raise $3 million?
  2. Genevieve Cadieux takes the money and runs...
Unfortunately I could not allow them to be published as they were anonymous.

I have a fairly simple and easy comment policy, it is called signing your comment. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty, I don't care if it is a fake name, a made up name (although I would much prefer if you felt strong enough about your comments to use your real name) Any name will work. In the box that is given by blogger, or at the bottom of your comment and typed by yourself.

And if either of the people who wrote the comments about the Vancouver Biennale or the Femmeuses Prize think I didin't print their comments because they were against my point of view, please read this.

Sophie Jodoin goes across the country for a show


According to her website;
Sophie Jodoin is a contemporary Canadian artist from Montreal. She has had exhibitions in Ste-Thérèse (1993), at the Galerie d’Art d’Outremont and Observatoire 4 in Montreal (1995), Aylmer (1996), Sorel (1997), with Galerie de Bellefeuille in Montreal (2000, 2002), Edward Day Gallery in Toronto (2003,2004) and Newzones Gallery of Contemporary Art in Calgary (2005). She has participated in group shows across Quebec and Canada, in the United States and in Europe. Her works can be found in private and public collections both in North Amercan [sic] and in Europe. She lives and works in Montreal.
Surprisingly, I have never written about her work. I do not know if that means that I have never seen it, or that I have seen it and not wanted to write about it as I have no memory of what she does.

Anyhow, she has a new show with her sweetie out at the Nanaimo Art Gallery, it got mentioned in yesterday's Nanaimo News Bulletin, if you're over on the left coast and you go, please let me know what you think.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Roadsworth + Michel Goulet =?


Roadsworth plus Michel Goulet appears to equal Michael Hosaluk.

More on Nauman


Jen Graves of the Stranger in Seattle, writes a very nice review of the Bruce Nauman exhibit coming to Montreal in May.

And Canadians Artists are taking over New York


Karen Azoulay has got a show at the CUE Art Foundation.

Sorry I'm late to the party - but...


It appears that I am not on PS1 Art Center's press list. Mark Lewis, yes this Mark Lewis has some work up at PS1 in New York.

Adam Brandejs getting good press in Boston


It is a pity that the show itself wasn't better - perhaps more pointedly that Ken Johnson didn't like the show more. Jennifer Willet and Shawn Bailey (even more local than Mr. Brandejs) get short shrift. If I had a chance, I'd ask Mr. Johnson what bioart he has seen that has knocked his socks off. Eduardo Kac?

Genevieve Cadieux takes the money and runs...


On tuesday Genevieve Cadieux scored $5,000 from Pratt & Whitney.

Louise Roy, Chair of the Conseil des arts de Montréal , is shown with Geneviève Cadieux, winner of the Les Femmeuses Pratt & Whitney Canada Prize and Annick Laberge, Manager, Public Affairs, Pratt & Whitney Canada. (CCNMatthews Photo/Pratt & Whitney Canada)

All fine and dandy, until you relize that it was in fact a cost cutting measure by Pratt & Whitney. Last year (actually 10 months ago) they were touting loudly how they had succeded in raising, on average, $50,000 for women's shelters each and every year for the past 20 years. Actually going back over my notes, it looks like they were doing WAY better than that, recently. They rasied $160,000 last year, $150,000 in 2005, and $175,000 in 2004.

And on top of it enabled women artists a venue to sell their work, network, and was the closest thing we had to a 'real' art fair, and on top of it was one of the few art things that happened on the south shore. SO what do they do? Toss $10,000 each to seven women's shelters this year, and $5,000 to Ms. Cadieux and call it a day.

Personally if it had been me, I would have taken the opportunity to politely decline their award.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hanne Mugaas: b. Art since 1960 (According to the Internet)

Critical Mess | Features | The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper

White Walls, Glass Ceiling - artnet Magazine

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Saskatoon, Floyd Wanner, Hans Holtkamp and Douglas Bentham, BF4E


I don't know if the deal was approved, or not (somehow I think it was). But according to the agenda for last night's Saskatoon city council meeting, Douglas Bentham is $150,000 richer, Hans Holtkamp is $90,000 richer and Floyd Wanner is $28,760 richer. Congrats to them all.

What I don't quite understand is the sculptures by Mr. Bentham and Mr. Wanner were appraised at $212,500 and $30,000 respectively, yet the city of Saskatoon only paid $150,000 and $28,760 respectively. If I were the Saskatoon city council, I wouldn't hire that appraiser anymore. Then, according to the agenda the two sculptures had been leased, wouldn't the price the city paid reflect the leasing arangement? Last I heard, rental (or leasing) of art was somewhere around 3%/month of the value of the art. Mr. Bentham's piece had been leased for 24 months, and Mr. Wanner's for 96 months. Weird, eh?

And then if I furrow my brow slightly more, it does seem to me that the city of Saskatoon is getting the Cultural Cities program to pay for art that they already have. Now I do not know if this is allowed within the framework of the Cultural Cities program, but every gosh darn grant application that I've seen has made it explicitly clear that you can not apply retroactively for art already created.

If you are interested in reading the bureaucratic paperwork, pages 67 and 117 are where things start in the minutes.

One Step forward, two steps back


It is all fine and dandy that Noel Harding and Rod Strickland decided to organize the Artist Urban Plans: An International Symposium as part of their Green Corridor grant proposal, nothing like combining art and science to get the big bucks from government.

But what I want to know is how Oliver Kellhammer, Vito Acconci, and Buster Simpson travelled to Windsor. According to British Airways, one person flying from Seattle to Detroit is directly contributing 700 kg (or more than 1,500 pounds) of CO2 to the atmosphere. Vancouver to Detroit is 710 kg, and New York is 180 kg.

While I don't think they all needed to ride bikes to get there, train or bus travel would have been much better, don't you think?

[Update five hours later: The Toronto Star's inestimable Peter Goddard writes a much more PC article about the event.]

David Leroux Defensive Artist


From here to here, via this article. I like it when sports and art mix it up.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Artist page: Betty Goodwin

How does Cleveland get the big shows?

Three or 18 days left for Sobey Art Award Nominations


Know an artist under the age of 39 who makes stuff that rocks like nobody's business? Click here to nominate them for the Sobey Art Award. The odds are thousands of times better than the 6/49, and basically all you need are 30 digital images, and something similar to an artist statement. The grand prize is $50,000.

The deadline is either March 30 or March 15.

Musée de la Personne may I introduce you to Archive.org?


They are having this conference at the Centre d’histoire de Montréal on Friday. How much does is the conference costing the city? $1,000? $10,000? $100? It doesn't matter, because even if it were 1¢ it would be a complete and utter waste of money.

Why? Becuase introducing people to Archive.org, and the waybackmachine (aka the internet archive) shouldn't be more expensive than sending out an email, and email is significantly cheaper than 1¢.

Interesting Job Offer from the Canadian Art Museum Directors' Organization


Apparently the the Canadian Art Museum Directors' Organization is looking for a new director. I wonder how much it pays, where they get their funding. And no I had never heard of the Canadian Art Museum Directors' Organization either.

How many art schools are there in Canada?


Even if you assume only one per province, if you then make the comparison to this sentence from yesterday's New York Times
...the team estimates that 20 to 30 art schools operate in China; that about 10,000 students will graduate from such schools this year; and that some 14,000 artists in China are represented by galleries.
it means something like 3,000 Canadian students will graduate from art school this year. Then I would not even venture a wild guess as to how many Canadian artists are represented by galleries - other than to say that even if you were to account for the difference in population between China and Canada it wouldn't be close.

Again, to flog this horse until it is completely dead - China and Russia have interesting art markets right now. I do believe that the Chinese government and the Russian government do not do any serious supporting of the arts (if anyone out there has better information, please let me know). Canada has no art market, the various levels of government here in Canada seriously support the arts.

And while I'm on the topic of yesterday's New York Times, there's also this quote from Charles Saatchi; "My aim," Mr. Saatchi said, "is to do everything I can to maximize the site’s exposure."

L'entrevue - L'année du loup-garou

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Simon Blais makes it into Le Devoir


Simon Blais, the owner/operator of Galerie Simon Blais got himself 1,100 words in yesterday's Le Devoir. Congrats! As the article is moneywalled, I figure I can translate it, and comment about it, so y'all can read it - after all it isn't everyday that some guy who runs an art gallery gets an article written about him in Le Devoir.

Marché de l'art - Simon Blais : portrait d'un galeriste

The Art Market - Simon Blais: Portrait of a dealer

René Viau
Édition du samedi 10 et du dimanche 11 mars 2007

Marchand, galeriste, amateur d'oeuvres sur papier, dénicheur de talents, Simon Blais (50 ans) n'est jamais demeuré statique. Autodidacte, faisant jeune ses classes en vendant des reproductions de maîtres, encadreur, puis, après avoir appris les 1000 facettes du sujet, longtemps expert en estampes et en livres d'artistes auprès de l'Hôtel des encans, il fait le grand saut. Avec Sylvie Cataford, sa femme, comme associée, Simon Blais ouvre sa galerie en 1989. Presque 20 ans plus tard, il reste toujours aussi enthousiaste envers ses chères oeuvres sur papier, «surtout abstraites», insiste-t-il, issues de la modernité québécoise, de 1945 à aujourd'hui. Son flair et son expérience lui ont aussi ouvert les yeux sur des artistes plus jeunes.

Salesman, dealer, collector of works on paper, talent scout, Simon Blais (50 years-old) has never stood still. Self-taught, he learned at an early age how to sell reproductions of the masters, framer, and after learning the 1,000 different sides to the subject, longtime print and artist books expert at the Auction house, he made the big jump. With his wife Sylvie Cataford as partner, Simon Blais opened his gallery in 1989. Almost 20 years later, he remains enthusiastic about his treasured works on paper, 'especially abstract' he insists, coming from the modern Quebec of 1945 to today. His flair and experience have also focused other people's eyes on young artists.

I quite like the idea that he is self-taught. At some point I'm going to have to ask around as to the education of other folks who run galleries. I would imagine that there are other (a lot of other) self taught dealers.

«Nous avions deux enfants et peu de moyens, dit-il en évoquant ses débuts. J'ai vendu mes fonds de retraite, refinancé ma maison, pour lancer ma galerie dans un local excentré, rue Clark.» Il mise au départ sur l'estampe, qu'il connaît bien et pour laquelle il avait déjà développé une clientèle. À peine sa galerie ouverte, l'euphorie des années 80 est paralysée par la récession des années 90. Avec le reste des ventes, le domaine de l'estampe traditionnelle, première entrée de gamme vers l'art contemporain, s'effondre. Pour tenir, il lui faut s'adapter et faire aussi de l'encadrement. Il pense alors à retenir des artistes à peu près inconnus pour se diriger vers les originaux sur papier. Ce faisant, il hausse d'un cran la qualité des pièces qu'il expose. «Le collectionneur Maurice Forget nous a acheté une très belle encre de Jean McEwen, aujourd'hui conservée au Musée de Joliette. Cette vente a été un déclencheur. J'ai ensuite monté une exposition en 1995 intitulée Autour de Jean McEwen, 40 ans d'oeuvres sur papier. Cela a été ma première exposition à caractère historique accompagnée d'un catalogue.» Les premiers tâtonnements passés, la galerie bascule vers le succès.

'We had two kids and not much money' he says in discussing the beginnings of the gallery. 'I sold my RRSP and mortgaged my house to start the gallery in a storefront on Clark street.' He concentrated on prints at the beginning, which he knew well, and had already developed a client base. At the same time that his gallery opened, the euphoria of the 80s was paralyzed by the recession of the 90s. Sales bottomed out in prints, usually the entry point into collecting contemporary art in tandem with the rest of the market. To hold on he had to adapt and also decided to do framing. He thought that in order to keep his artists, who weren't terribly well known, that they should do original work on paper. 'The collector Maurice Forget bought a very nice ink piece by Jean McEwen that is now in the Joliette Museum. That sale opened things up. I had an exhibition in 1995 called "Around Jean McEwen, 40 years of paperwork. That was my first historical exhibit that had a catalog.' The first shaky steps taken, the gallery moved towards success.

Props and shout outs to M. Blais for slogging through those first six years, they sound like they were pretty darn tough. More props and shout outs to Maurice Forget for nudging M. Blais in the new direction. There are scads of framing shops that also do art exhibits, but there are not all that many art galleries that publish catalogs (I can think of about a dozen off the top of my head).

Des oeuvres rares et fortes

Puisant dans «les trésors de l'inventaire québécois», la présentation annuelle d'oeuvres historiques et souvent à caractère rétrospectif devient chez Simon Blais une tradition, avec ensuite Rita Letendre ou Gaucher. Déterminante également, sa rencontre avec Yseult Riopelle. L'exposition d'oeuvres sur papier qu'il consacre à Riopelle, Tigre de papier en 1997, est une première. Le catalogue demeure une référence.

Strong and rare work

Pushing in the direction of 'the treasures of the Quebecois inventory,' the annual presentation of historic works, frequently characterized as retrospectives has become a Simon Blais tradition, with Rita Letendre and Gaucher coming soon. Significant as well, was his meeting with Yseult Riopelle. The exhibit of works on paper by Riopelle, Paper Tiger in 1997 was a first. The catalog remains a reference.

I've got nothing much to add or say here, exhibiting historical work is extremely safe and conservative (probably a significant reason why he switched in that direction). And last I heard, all catalogs were references, although I would venture a guess that the one Ms. Riopelle did was more of a reference than M. Blais'.

Ouvert, avide d'apprendre et de faire partager ce qu'il sait, porté par son goût des contacts et par un sens commercial judicieux -- il offre parfois en prime des exemplaires d'une édition de tête à ses clients --, Simon Blais a su communiquer ses élans. Il est désormais réputé pour les oeuvres souvent rares et fortes qu'il découvre. En 2002, il rejoint un nouveau quartier plus propice aux affaires. Dans ce nouveau local, la galerie Simon Blais prend alors sa vitesse de croisière. Aux côtés de ses peintres «historiques» qu'il aime, le déménagement fait affluer du «sang neuf» et «un changement radical» par rapport à ses goûts de départ: des jeunes artistes plus figuratifs (Stéphanie Béliveau, Julie Ouellet, Marc Séguin).

Open, eager learner and sharer of what he already knows, carries his contacts and commercial sense judiciously - sometimes he offers discounted collectors editions to his clients - Simon Blais knows how to communicate his style. He is famous for his reputation of discovering rare and strong talents. In 2002 he moved into a new neighborhood, more befitting his style of business. In this new space, the Simon Blais gallery quickly hit cruising speed. On the sides the 'historical' painters which he loves, however, they move over to allow the flow of 'new blood' and 'radical change' in comparison to his originla tastes: The young figurative artists (Stéphanie Béliveau, Julie Ouellet, Marc Séguin).

Unfortunate choice of artists by Rene Viau in this paragraph. While I am wholely convinced that M. Blais has discovered lots of artists, none of the three mentioned would qualify as his discovery. Stéphanie Béliveau, and Marc Séguin both had exhibits at Galerie Trois Points long before M. Blais' gallery, and Ms. Ouellet was in a show that M. Séguin organized before being in a show at M. Blais' space.

Le travail en équipe. Des publications documentées. Des services comme la livraison. L'accrochage touffu et généreux, voilà quelques-unes de ses signatures. Et surtout, ici, pas question de snober les visiteurs. «Nous avons 1000 tableaux en réserve et notre personnel a pour mot d'ordre de les faire voir en guidant les amateurs avec amabilité. Et ce, sans compter les cabinets d'estampe.» Du côté des jeunes artistes, Max Wise vient de se joindre à sa galerie. Boulimique, Simon Blais a acheté ses deux expositions actuelles d'un coup. Pour 2007, Simon Blais vient de recruter François-Xavier Marange et ces ténors que sont Michel Goulet et Jacques Hurtubise. Françoise Sullivan fait aussi désormais partie de la galerie. Son oeuvre est une traversée depuis un demi-siècle des mouvements artistiques québécois. Elle expose actuellement des estampes jusqu'au 17 mars.

Teamwork. Documented publications. Delivery. Large and sturdy hooks for hanging, these are some of his signatures. And on top of it all no question of behaving like snobs to visitors. 'We have 1,000 in stock and the staff only has to be asked if someone wants to see them. And that's not even including the flat files. As far as young artists go, Max Wise [sic] has just joined the gallery. Bulimic Simon Blais bought both of his exhibits in one fell swoop. For 2007 Simon Blais has recruited François-Xavier Marange and his serious stuff is Michel Goulet and Jacques Hurtubise. Françoise Sullivan has also become part of the gallery. Her work has traversed the various quebecois artistic movements for more than half a century. There are prints of hers being exhibited until march 17.

I'm not quite certain what to make of the various things that are 'signatures' of M. Blais. Unless of course M. Viau is obliquely trying to make a point that M. Blais is a forger. Any gallery worth its salt (including Zeke's Gallery) requires teamwork, documents everything, and makes sure that when things are hung they stay hung. How this makes M. Blais unique doesn't make sense to me. I also don't quite understand what he means by 'Bulimic' unless of course M. Blais has a weight problem (which did not appear to be the case last time I saw him). But what really pisses me off about M. Viau is that back on August 19, 2006 he spelled Max Wyse's name correctly, and again on January 20, 2007 he spelled Max Wyse's name correctly, and on February 3, 2007 Michel Hellman spelled Max Wyse's name correctly in Le Devoir. So how or why did M. Viau screw it up this time? And also, if Ms. Sullivan's prints are on exhibit until the 17th, why isn't there (or wasn't there) a review of the show by M. Viau? Or is there an embargo on printing her name too much because she was front page news on March 1?

Dynamiser le marché ?

Reste, même si Simon Blais a su bien tirer son épingle du jeu, la situation préoccupante du marché montréalais, qui ne décolle pas vraiment. Peut-on vraisemblablement penser que la scène artistique locale pourrait connaître l'engouement qui frappe en ce moment les grands centres? «Nous n'avons pas de grosses vedettes, de locomotives avec des prix d'appel de 200 000-300 000 $ qui pourraient entraîner les autres à leur suite, se désole Simon Blais. La seule façon d'arriver à quelque chose serait de propulser nos jeunes artistes sur les grands marchés internationaux, donc de les perdre! Il faut pousser nos meilleurs jeunes artistes. Si quelques-uns d'entre eux voient leur étoile briller dans les grandes capitales, alors Londres ou New York s'intéresseront enfin à ce qui se passe à Montréal.»

Making the market dynamic

Even if Simon Blais has has played the game well, what preoccupies the Montreal market is that it hasn't really become unstuck. Can we really think that the local artistic scene will experience the massive increases in price that have hit the major centers? 'We don't have the large stars, the locomotives with prices in the $200,000 to $300,000 range who can pull everyone else up with them' This makes Simon Blais sad. The only method to arrive at something is to send our young artists to the large international markets, in effect to lose them! We need to push our best young artists. If on of them shines bright in the firmament of London or New York, interest will be shown finally in Montreal.'

Sorry M. Blais. I respectfully disagree with you. 100%. David Altmejd is a young Montreal artist in New York and London, he hasn't done diddly for the market. I can (if pushed) name about another half dozen as well. And shame on you M. Viau for printing the quote, like it was true. In my estimation, M. Blais as the dealer is one of the reasons why the Montreal (and by extension Quebecois) art market is so horrible. One of a dealer's responsiblities is to set prices for the art. Another of a dealer's responsibilities is to represent artists. Why is it that Françoise Sullivan and Jacques Hurtubise did not have local gallery representation until now? And instead of sending artists abroad, it is possible for dealers to send the art abroad by participating in art fairs (much like Landau Fine Art does). Going to where the buyers are, if there is nobody local who can afford the work.

Avant de s'insérer dans ce marché de l'art contemporain de plus en plus mondialisé, dont les acteurs sont happés dans un vaste et coûteux mouvement qui les emporte, de biennale en foire, aux quatre coins de la planète, les jeunes artistes au fort potentiel doivent aussi être valorisés sur place. Aidé de l'État en tant que prescripteur mais aussi d'un mécénat qu'il faut savoir diriger vers ce domaine, les musées «qui investissent au compte-gouttes dans des jeunes artistes prometteurs» doivent faire plus. Au Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, notamment, Simon Blais souhaite que le futur directeur qui sera nommé à l'automne prochain s'intéresse davantage à l'art canadien. Présenter ici en galerie quelques-uns de ces artistes hyper-médiatisés à travers le monde n'est pas, selon lui, la solution, car les collectionneurs locaux qui en ont les moyens peuvent les acquérir dans les grands centres. Pour élargir «ce petit marché», des jeunes artistes québécois à fort potentiel doivent accéder à ces «ligues majeures» dont ils sont absents. Les jeunes artistes de talent doivent se démarquer sur deux fronts, tout aussi bien à Montréal qu'à New York, Zurich, Berlin ou Londres. «La représentation et la défense d'artistes québécois par des musées de l'importance du Musée des beaux-arts, du Musée d'art contemporain, du Musée national des beaux-arts de Québec ajoutent tellement au prestige d'une carrière. C'est le point de départ. Imaginez le Musée des beaux-arts, le Musée d'art contemporain et l'A.G.O. appuyant massivement un artiste comme Marc Séguin, qui a tout pour réussir internationalement! Afin de se faire connaître à l'étranger, il faut d'abord que de tels artistes soient soutenus par leur propre communauté et leurs musées. Pour faire le poids, cela prend des artistes qui ont déjà du poids. Nos institutions doivent faire l'effort financier de soutenir ces artistes émergents.»

Before getting involved in the more and more internationalized art world, where the players are but mere pawns in much larger and much more expensive force going from biennial to art fair flying all over the four corners of the earth, young artists must also be validated at home. With the help of the state not only as a mentor, but also as a patron and supporter things must be directed much more towards the visual arts, the museums 'which invest baby tears in promoting young artists' need to do much more. Specifically at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Simon Blais hopes that the new director who will be named in the upcoming fall takes an interest in Canadian Art. To present some excessively multi-media artist you jetsets around the world is not a solution, because the local collectors who do not have the means to spend as much as those in the major markets. To enlarge this 'small market' young Quebecois artists need to graduate to the 'major leagues' which they aren't in right now. The young good artists need to work on two fronts, not only Montreal, but Zürich, Berlin or London as well. 'The representation and defense of Quebecois artists by important museums like the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Quebec adds an awful lot of prestige to a career. We're at the take off point. Imagine the MMFA, the MAC, the AGO pushing hard for an artist like Marc Séguin, who has everything necessary to succeed internationally! In order to get known internationally, artists first have to be supported by their own community and their own museums. To make this impression, it takes artists who have already have made an impression. Our institutions must make the financial effort support these emerging artists.'

All I have to say to that is this:
Communicating Vessels, September 20 to December 2, 2007 at the MBAM. (Philip Beesley, Luc Courchesne, Jessica Field, Georges Legrady, Rafaël Lozano-Hemmer, and David Rokeby.
Once upon a Time Walt Disney, March 8 to June 24, 2007 at the MBAM (Trevor Gould)
Sound and Vision, July 11 to October 22, 2006 at the MBAM (Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, Michael Snow, Geneviève Cadieux and Lynne Cohen, Ken Lum, Stan Douglas, Tim Lee, Stephen Shearer, Mark Lewis, Nicolas Baier and Pascal Grandmaison)
Nicolas Baier — Hunting Gallery, March 22 to May 28, 2006 at the MBAM
John Oswald instandstillnessence, From April 7 to August 14, 2005 at the MBAM
High Points, June 10 to October 3, 2004 at the MBAM (too many for them to mention)
Françoise Sullivan, June 18 to October 5, 2003 at the MBAM

And many, many more at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. As it has taken me two days to do this post, I unfortunately don't have the time to go through the archives of the Musee d'art contemporain, the AGO, and the MNBAQ, but I think it was pretty darn shoddy of Le Devoir to let that last paragraph through, and if no one else has responded on Monday, I'll send them something for their op-ed page.