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John Devlin’s dreams have come true. The Halifax artist’s sketches will be displayed at la Galerie Christian Berst in Paris, France until May 25th.
Devlin’s collection, titled Nova Cantabrigiensis, consists of some 300 sketches of his ideal utopian city. He says that if you spliced all the best parts of Nova Scotia and Cambridge University, the result would be Nova Cantabrigiensis.
Devlin went to Cambridge in 1979 to study theology and become a priest because he felt he had a calling. He had studied theology and architecture at T.U.N.S., arts and social sciences at Dalhousie and worked as a stock broker for two years but felt he was flailing in different directions. This was when he became interested in Christianity. He changed his religion to Catholicism and “flew off to Cambridge.”
While at Cambridge, Devlin immersed himself in his studies. Many of his days were spent reading books and essays in his room or at the library. He believes working too hard is what let him to have a nervous breakdown in the spring of 1980.
“I kinda snapped and flipped out I guess,” says Devlin. “I didn’t realize that was the end, the kibosh of my career as a student at Cambridge.” Devlin returned home to Halifax and spent time in and out of psychiatric hospitals until he was discharged in 1982. Later that year he began to write stories and eventually, he began to sketch.
Devlin sketched Nova Cantabrigiensis as a way to have Cambridge in his own backyard. All the best things about Cambridge without the pressure and the stress, he says.
Nova Cantabrigiensis is located in the middle of the Minas Basin not far from his parent’s summer home in Walton, on the Hants shore.
“I love it out there, but it’s so desolate, so lonely in a way, but it’s beautiful,” says Devlin.
Part of Devlin’s psychosis involved trying to find the essence of Cambridge. Though his search died a natural death as he gradually got better, the images that are currently being showcased at la Galerie Christian Berst in Paris are what have been left behind. Devlin says he feels his life can move forward in a more productive and happy way knowing that his art is being showcased.
La Galerie Christian Berst specializes exclusively in Art Brut, a form of art created by people who have suffered from mental illness and through art therapy found their way back to health. Devlin hopes his display in Paris can show people the silver lining behind mental illness.
“Just putting pen to paper and exorcising those demons, that sounds like an extreme way of putting it, but it helps immeasurably in calming the psyche,” says Devlin. He says art along with proper medication, exercise and diet is great therapy.
“By no stretch of the imagination is it a dead end to be mentally ill in Nova Scotia because there are great resources, great doctors and great people to help you get better, stay better, realize your potential and contribute to society,” says Devlin. He believes in the mental health care system in Nova Scotia.
"License and registration please."
A mountie with a hard beer gut is sauntering towards our car, pen and ticket book in hand. I can tell by the height of his fur beaver hat and purposeful stride that arguing this one is useless—I didn't even know they gave speeding tickets for $400. That's like... rent. This wasn't how we imagined starting our trip from Halifax to Massachusetts to catch MASS MoCA's largest exhibition of contemporary art, Oh, Canada (May 26-April 8). We haven't even left Halifax and group divisions are starting to rear their heads.
"Ah, it sucks we got a ticket," I tell our unhappy driver.
"Yeah, it sucks you got a ticket," echo other voices from the back seat, with the emphasis on the "you."
"It could have happened to anyone," I say—by which I mean it could have happened to me and I'll probably be next. "Don't worry—we'll all chip in."
"It couldn't have happened to anyone," mutters my little sister Sally, a fine arts student at Mount Allision University in New Brunswick, who religiously stays within 9% of the speed limit. I've just abducted my sister to come on this trip—her class just happened to be on a field trip to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and I pressured her into squeezing into a tiny little Ford Fiesta with us for the next 10 or so hours. Our group includes myself, exhibiting artist Mitchell Wiebe, local artist Aaron Weldon and the notorious dot com entrepreneur Anton E. Self who surprised us by jumping in at the last minute.
"You need to get out of Sackville. See some of these artists you're studying in school," I had said to Sally patronizingly. Perhaps I was projecting a bit—I needed to get out of Halifax and to see art by Canadian artists who I'd read about on the Internet, but whose work I haven't actually had the opportunity to lay eyes in real life. The fact that I have to travel to the US to see Canadian art is kind of weird, but a welcome change of scenery. And gauging by our outfits, it looks like we all need a vacation. Despite the fact that Massachusetts is not exactly warm in the spring, we're all dressed for California—we've got bare legs, sunglasses and gross pale Halifax toes peeking hopefully out of open-toed shoes.
Several hours and utterances of the word "recalculating" by Self's GPS robot—a British female voice we've deliriously started calling Fiona—later, we arrive at our destination, North Adams, Massachusetts, a former American mill town named, like the famous American beer, after the patriot Samuel Adams. Like many small American towns with a population of less than 14,000, North Adams was economically hit hard when abandoned by its industries in the 20th century, but unlike many small towns, an art gallery swept in to revitalize the economy. And in that part of the US, where the rich live like eccentric recluses in faux castles along the Hudson river, those words are not oxymorons.
MASS MoCA moved into the former site of an electrical research company in 1986, Sprague Electric, and since then, a smattering of restaurants and local businesses followed suit to feed tourists and art lovers from the nearby Williams College scene. It's hard to separate the Oh, Canada experience from the MASS MoCA experience itself. Situated on a sprawling complex of factory buildings and surrounded by a river that feels more like a castle moat, the gallery has transformed the eerily quiet town into a Neverland of sorts for artists.
The kind of Neverland where you find yourself sitting in a hotel hot tub with New Brunswick artist Graeme Patterson, Mitchell Wiebe and Aaron Weldon, as they make kooky noises into a tape recorder to prepare in a freestyle manner for the newest musical project that they'll perform at Toronto's Luminato Festival. The kind of Neverland that on the surface could resemble the Jersey shore—drunk girls in their undies drape themselves over broad chested men in the hot tub while shrieking. But instead of demanding pickles and other unmentionable things, the shrieking girl is shouting "The old masters! I fucking LOVE the old masters—I mean GOYA! Goya! How can you not love Goya?" And all the drunks are either art collectors or important curators.
And it was the kind of Neverland where you get kudos for being from the east coast. A man from "Upper Canada" in a suit comes up to you—as the east coast artists with you are engaged in an almost horizontal, thigh-destroying dance-off on the floor, while King Khan shouts that he doesn't know half the songs the crowd's requesting, as he gets mauled by little children with insistent musical requests whose parents are hippies who encourage that sort of thing in their five year old—and asks "You guys are from Atlantic Canada?" When you ask him how he knows, he says simply, "You guys always bring the party." A cliche statement of course, but in the moment it makes you feel incredibly proud to be Atlantic Canadian.
If you could say one thing of Oh Canada, the spirit of collaboration was in the air—the exhibition enabled creative connections to take shape in a haphazard organic way. These creative conversations weren't always intentional. In Daniel Barrow's dreamy exhibition, The Thief of Mirrors, while you pore over Barrow's surreal projections that tell the story of a bandit who steals from the rich, you can hear the strange mingling of pan flutes from Winnipeg artist Noam Gonick's nearby installation and heavy metal from Canadian expats Hadley + Maxwell's neighbouring video piece. Some have muttered that the show was too crowded, but as a viewer, I found the proximity of the works to one another dizzying and exhilarating.
Whether I was staring through holes in the walls at the fluorescent animal-human hybrids that leapt off of my friend Mitchell Wiebe's canvases or peering into the dollhouse-sized world Graeme Patterson created in his exhibition, The Mountain, entering the exhibition felt like stumbling through the looking glass; new worlds unfolded around ever turn, without chance for a breath or palate cleanse in between, leaving me feeling saturated in the best possible way.
As the party drew to a close, many were whispering in the hot tub about the fact that galleries across Canada are tentatively considering whether or not they're able and willing to cough up the funds to host this massive exhibition next year. As I find myself reminiscing about running through abandoned buildings with gallery interns and sitting on the porch of the artists' housing watching locals yell at their dogs as a gentle breeze rustles my notes, I get nostalgic pangs—I really hope the works do cross back into our borders. Canadians ought to have a chance to see the exhibition on their own soil, and to have the Oh, Canada experience, but of course a new exhibition would have to take on a drastically different character. Unless of course the local bartenders want to start free pouring, hotels want to turn a blind eye to drunk artists and journalists crashing over their fences into their pools and local restaurants want to start selling taco platters and pitchers of margaritas, which is of course all completely fine by me.
As Laura Baker-Roberts prepares to hang her artwork for her show monotypes in Lost & Found (2383 Agricola Street), her shadowy, delicately beautiful prints are scattered on the floor of the vintage clothing store. Baker-Roberts explains these monotypes—made through a form of printmaking which uses only one sheet—are actually full of spiritual and cultural significance.
While Baker-Roberts begins to set up for the exhibit, she mentions multiple times that she is prone to get tongue-tied. “Don’t leave me,” she says to Kate Walchuk, the show curator, as Walchuk walks back to the counter.
After a careful explanation about the work though, the monotypes speak for her.
The collection of thirty prints, which Baker-Roberts’ created for a final project at NSCAD University, are meant as a starting point to get her audience thinking about issues like Canadian cultural identity, spiritual identity and colonization, something Baker-Roberts feels more comfortable articulating through her artwork.
Her influences combine of her upbringing practicing Hinduism as well as her family’s loyalist Fredericton, NB history. Baker-Roberts achieves this combination through her use of photographs of Fredericton residents in the 1990s as the foundation for her prints and using gold spraypaint in a few of the prints specifically to pay homage to “Indian spiritual deities”. “I cut up and used vintage doilies that I found. I felt weird using them because they’re overused but I also used seaweed and other found objects,” says Baker-Roberts, as she sits on the floor with the prints, spreading them out. She also uses clashing colour palettes and textures, to bring out specifics of her religious and cultural background.
Despite her embarrassment at using doilies, any uptight feeling you would associate with a doily is played down by her use of striking gold paint. In one monotype specifically they work together to symbolize a Hindu god. “I wanted to approach colonialism from a spiritual point of view,” says Baker-Roberts. Even though the monotypes began as a school project, she says it grew into something else.
By bringing together the imagery of her colonial New Brunswick heritage with the imagery of her eastern religious upbringing, Baker-Roberts attempts to challenge ideas of what defines Canadian cultural identity. She shows how specifically for her, both her heritage and her religion work in conjunction to define her own identity, which she then actively expresses through her artwork.
She says it’s a debate that she always has with her friends, and Baker-Roberts seems to be seeking an answer for these issues not only through her art, but through interacting with her audience.
monotypes runs to June 5.
Steve Moore’s show If These Walls Could Talk is so personal to Moore, the audience doesn’t even need him there to explain his artwork. A series of postcard-sized quick sketches line the wall portraying different faces and bodies, all taken from Moore’s own experiences.
The cozy space of Parentheses Gallery (2180 Gottingen Street), where the exhibit is displayed, fits in perfectly with the intimate feeling of Moore’s work. The feeling is very autobiographical and the sketches act as a visual version of a diary.
The most striking painting, in the middle of the gallery, is the massive family portrait called “Collection of the Artist”. Moore depicts members of his family at different points in time (he is a small boy in the portrait himself and his mother is even younger then him), contrasts black and white figures with people depicted in colour.
Moore’s focus is on people and his sketches are imperfect—in a realistic way. He leaves faces unfinished and excessively shades to bring attention to specific features. Moore's paintings tend to jump out more than his sketches. Specifically, “Donkey” and “Doo”, as these more vibrant paintings balance out the series of sketches.
It's that time of year again: piles of free stuff on the sidewalks; premature flip flops; throngs and throngs of newly graduated students flooding stoops and patios everywhere. Among them are this year's NSCAD graduates, who also invite you to take in their year of work at the NSCAD Graduation Exhibition 2013.
Curated by Natalie McDonald, Anna Leonowens Galleries 1, 2 & 3 (1891 Granville Street), Port Loggia Gallery (1107 Marginal Road) and Seeds Gallery (1099 Marginal Road) will be filled with over 100 works from NSCAD grads. The opening reception is Monday, May 6 at 5:30pm with the show running until May 19.
Before that though, the Starfish Student Art Awards Exhibition Gala (Thursday, May 2, 7-9pm, NSCAD Port Campus, 1107 Marginal Road) is a perfect chance to see talented young artists celebrated.
Property developer and art collector Louis Reznick in partnership with NSCAD University established the award, now in its fourth year, to recognize and promote exceptional students spanning ten visual arts disciplines at the university. This years shortlist, as selected by jurors Peter Dykhuis (director/curator, Dalhousie Art Gallery), Jamie MacLellan (Cultural Affairs HRM) and Eleanor King (director, Anna Leonowens Gallery) are as follows:
Torrance Beamish (ceramics) UPDATE: Torrance Beamish won the $5000 grand prize
Teto Elsiddique (painting)
Duncan Ferguson (sculpture)
Dylan Fish (intermedia)
Tori Fleming (film)
Carrie Allison-Goodfellow (drawing)
Merle Harley (printmaking)
DM Nowlan (jewellery and metalsmithing)
Mary Ellen Oxby (photography)
Stacy teBogt (textiles)
The winning artist receives a $5000 purchase prize, with the piece added to a special section of the permanent President’s Collection at NSCAD University known as “The Reznick Family Art Bank.” Nine finalists receive $1000 each.
Tickets are $75, click for more info.
With a theme like space and time, there is no doubt Nocturne 2013 is going to be out of this world. Curator Eleanor King chose the theme in hopes of creating a cohesive flow for the nighttime festival. Being the first ever curator, King got the position after being approached by the Nocturne board. Guilty of vocalizing her opinion towards Nocturne’s minimal past, King says, “I’ve experienced Toronto’s Nuit Blanche as an artist and as an audience member and I just feel the organizational structure was sort of something I wanted Nocturne to be closer to.” As one of the jury members who reviews submissions, King says installation proposals will be chosen based on artistic excellence, innovative ideas and practicality. “I want to give opportunities to emerging artists but also want to work with artists who are capable of creating a large scale project.” As for the theme, King hopes artists will consider the site (or space) in which their work will be showcased, as well as whom their audience is. She uses Quebec artist Isabelle Hayeur as an example, “She has a series of projects that are site specific, where she does her research on the site, takes footage from the space that the piece is going to be projected in.” Hayeur’s work is in the form of film and video animation, which she puts on an infinite loop to represent extended time.
The purpose of this year's theme is so installations can be placed thematically and in relation to one another, creating an easy flow for the audience to follow. “I want people’s experience of contemporary art to be positive,” King says.
While bringing in a curator is news in itself, Nocturne 2013 has undergone another change. Lorraine Plourde has recently become the new board chair, after Rose Zack respectfully stepped down from the position. After dealing with the boredom of unemployment, Plourde joined the team last February to get involved in the arts community. “I had received EI twice already and the first time around was a lonely and sad period," Plourde says. "Joining Nocturne was probably the best decision I made personally and professionally." The Quebec native has worked on projects like the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, proving her experience in the field. As part of her new role, Plourde hopes to move Nocturne forward by introducing events such as a kick-off night, where people in the arts community can share their experiences before the festival begins.
An information session for hopeful Nocturne participants will be held tonight, Thursday, April 25 at The Hub (1673 Barrington). Once proposals are submitted, the jury will decide who is eligible for the showcase. The event is run on a volunteer basis and installations are funded by an HRM grant. Sound appealing? Just wait until October when the nighttime art madness finally begins.
Wildlife rules this week in local art news. But just like in the wild, it's a dog eat dog world—a brutal struggle of survival of the fittest when it comes to the art world. Winner take all!
Do you choose Nancy Rose's (adorable) squirrel buddies who unwittingly become photographic subjects? (globalnews.ca) or Bonita Hatcher's "controversial" beaver installation on Barrington (The Globe & Mail).
For the record we posted a photo of the beaver in question to The Coast's Instagram before this great video made the rounds and there was nary a peep. My guess is that everyone was too busy clutching their pearls to type "OMG GROSS SIMULATED LADY PARTS".
These lovely longlisters luxuriate with laurels when the 2013 Sobey Art Award—the pre-eminent award for contemporary Canadian art—announced the 25 artists on their long list.
Each year the Sobey Art Award is awarded to an artist age 40 and under, chosen by a curatorial panel, who has exhibited in a public or commercial art gallery within 18 months of being nominated.
West Coast and the Yukon:
Prairies and the North:
David R. Harper
The 2013 shortlist of the Sobey Art Award will be announced in late June. Work by the shortlisted artists will be shown in an exhibition at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax opening on September 13, 2013 and the 2013 winner's announcement will take place at a Gala event at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia on October 9, 2013.
For more detailed biographical information on the 25 long listed artists and members of the Curatorial Panel please go to: www.sobeyartaward.ca
It’s going to be a sad day at the Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen Street), come April 20 when Halifax artists and art enthusiasts must bid their beloved Pigeon Gallery adieu (Saturday, April 20, 6-11pm, $5).
Since October 2012 The Pigeon Galley has been bringing together members of the Halifax arts community through entertaining evenings featuring unique art displays, bands from all genres of music and a little comedy thrown in there too.
The idea for The Pigeon Gallery was conjured up by its creator and director, Halloway Jones. As someone who went to NSCAD, has been in multiple bands over the years and has even done a bit of comedy, Jones has connections in a variety of art and entertainment circles.
“I just wished there was more fluidity between the people that make art and the people that make music and the people that make comedy. You know, we’re all the same, we all have the same general ethos of creativity and a little subversiveness and I was like, I’m sure we’d all get along great if we just were all in the same room for a little bit longer,” she says.
And thus the idea for The Pigeon Gallery was born. “I think I just wanted to make a big happy arts community—somewhere where people could go no matter what they were interested in,” Jones says. And that's exactly what The Pigeon Gallery provided—a unique experience where people could step out of their comfort zones and enjoy a wide variety of art in different forms.
Now, it’s on to other things for Jones, and so The Pigeon Gallery must come to an end. In order to say a proper farewell, Jones has an evening planned that’s sure to send the gallery off with a bang.
The final show, aptly titled Death to the Pigeon Gallery, will take place on Saturday, April 20 at 6pm—according to the event’s Facebook page, funeral attire is welcome.
The evening will feature DJ FEEL REAL, performances by Scribbler, Merrick Slip, Adverteyes, Jones' own Baby Cages (also releasing i'm so sorry on cassette that night), as well as 53-minute video art compilation titled Cassettestavision, curated by Brian Shirk featuring artists from Guelph.
And that’s not all—Halifax artist Benjamin Woodyard will be showcasing an especially captivating display of ceramic art pieces including decorative molds of his own penis, displayed jokingly as the penises of various celebrities—told you The Pigeon Galley planned to go out with a bang.
There’s rowdy behavior on Halifax’s waterfront boardwalk, but it’s not the usual culprits. Artists Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg have installed three disorderly, personified streetlamps on South Battery Pier, near Bishop’s Landing.
The installations—"Fountain" and the diptych "Got Drunk, Fell Down"—are part of a series entitled The Way Things Are. They are nakedly honest portraits of unseemly behaviours that are often playing out on our own streets after dark, but it is easier to stomach a streetlamp—rather than a person—urinating off the pier.
In the diptych, one of the poles looks with the lamppost-equivalent of concern, at another post passed out limply at tripping level across the boardwalk. Lets just hope any locals on a waterfront bender watch where they’re walking. The city doesn’t want to install a safety fence, though.
“With some public art pieces […], it is impossible to keep people from climbing on them,” admitted Kelly Rose, marketing and communications manager for Waterfront Development.
All Haligonians are familiar with The Wave, Donna Hiebert’s Sackville Landing sculpture that was, until last year, surrounded by a fence to—unsuccessfully—discourage climbers. The fence was removed and a rubberized mat installed last spring, as the city admitted defeat.
Instead of attempting the barrier route this time, Waterfront Development has taken other precautions to ensure the safety of the pieces and the public.
“The project is installed on an area of the waterfront that provides a lot of space to move around and the pieces are spread out,” says Rose. “Our waterfront security includes this area as part of their regular patrol and would address any situations if they arise.”
The light covers are also made from shatterproof Lexan.
The artists are comfortable with people engaging with the sculptures; in fact, they prefer it.
When the pieces were showcased at Toronto’s Nuit Blanche last year, viewers were barred by caution tape because artists couldn’t have any objects blocking the sidewalk. “A security guard told us we either had to take it down or tape it off,” says Sonnenberg.
The artists say they want people to be able to interact with their pieces, so the lampposts’ current location is an ideal situation. “There’s already a narrative within the work, and interaction just allows the viewer to be part of that narrative,” says Sonnenberg.
“We’re hoping there will be a certain amount of respect for the art.”
The Dali-esque fixtures are only scheduled to illuminate South Battery Pier for a year, but such large pieces are difficult to transport and Sonnenberg says she would love to find a permanent home for them somewhere in Halifax. Hanson and Sonnenberg, now Brooklyn residents, started collaborating after they met while studying at NSCAD in 1982, so a Halifax home makes sense.
The waterfront sculptures compliment a 25-year retrospective exhibit of the pair’s work, also titled The Way Things Are.
The gallery is not a very large space, and lots had to be left out. “I think we can still get at the kernel of what they’re all about because there’s similar themes throughout the work,” says Hanson. “We use the vocabulary of street objects and mundane everyday objects.”
The exhibit will run from June 22 to September 21 at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
Kate Walchuk is in pretty good shape. After graduating NSCAD in 2011, the young artist spent a year as a self-proclaimed roadie, travelling around with friends whose bands were touring. Amidst the parties and performances, Walchuk fell in love with something most people consider to be a scam: souvenirs. With that came the inspiration for her upcoming show, Good Shape, opening at Seeds Gallery (1099 Marginal Road) Wednesday, April 18, 5:30pm and running to May 19. The double-entendre comes from Walchuk’s work, which is mainly done on shaped surfaces, as well as her state of mind. “The idea of being in good shape,” says Walchuk. “Like I’m doing okay.” The focus of her exhibit, which will be her first solo-show at the NSCAD alumni gallery, is herself; “I’m acknowledging things in my own life are good enough to make art about,” she says of her experience-inspired creations. Using acrylics, Walchuk has painted scenes from her travels onto seashells—some of which were found, others bought from garage sales. There’s one reminiscent of the time she got pink-eye in Texas and another of the time she saw a fake rock at a McDonalds in Little Rock.
As a student, Walchuk never considered making art from her own life. Now, she says even though it’s “incredibly self-indulgent, it’s just like writing what you know.” Seeds Gallery manager Krista Hull approached Walchuck to do the show six months ago. Walchuk, whose biggest expectation at the end of this is “a fun party with all my pals,” says she isn’t feeling too stressed about her return to NSCAD. Instead, she’s happy to be returning to her artistic roots. The university, home to some of the city’s greatest artists, has recently been in the market for financial and provincial support, which is why Walchuk is eager to get involved. “I’m excited to be showing at NSCAD,” says Walchuk. “It’s an important time for NSCAD alumni to get involved.”
Walchuk works at Lost & Found (2383 Agricola), organizing art shows and assisting other artists. Like most artists, she knows all about the difficulty of making a profit off painting. Walchuk considers herself an amateur artist in the truest sense of the word. “‘Amateur’ comes from the root word ‘amour’, and I’m doing art for the love of it.” Aren’t we all.
We're happy to bring you wonderful news from OBEY Convention VI headquarters—especially those who love boundary-pushing music and art. From June 6-9, OBEY comes back for its sixth year, bringing a varied selection of musicians and artists to artist-run and alternative spaces in the city for a thoughtfully curated festival.
OBEY has always been a great opportunity to discover new music and take advantage of the fact the festival brings a lot of artists to town who wouldn't normally make the trip without OBEY organizer Darcy Spidle's coaxing. Expect pop, hardcore, experimental, free-jazz, psych, garage music to flood the city, punctuated by art (both local and from away) that challenges and excites. A resonating building (Spidle says historic buildings will be turned into amplifiers)? A concert for plants? Pissed Jeans? Yes on all counts. Let's get weird.
Weekend passes are on sale now, individual tickets for select shows will be available when the full line-up and schedule is launched on April 18
Visit obeyconvention.com for more detail (new website launches today)
"The OBEY Convention, Eastern Canada’s only music and arts festival dedicated to the cultural outsider, is thrilled to return with an uncompromising sixth season. Some of the acts scheduled to perform include bizarre pop darling Mac DeMarco (Montreal), Sub Pop’s hardcore punks Pissed Jeans (Philadelphia, PA ), the world’s most supple free-jazz-punk drummer Chris Corsano (Boston, MA), power noise punisher Pete Swanson (New York, NY), ghost and song conjurer Grouper (Astoria, OR), psychedelic dream brothers Tonstartssbandht (New York, NY/Montreal, QC), neo-classical drone composer Kyle Bobby Dunn (Toronto, ON), deep-lunged jammers PC Worship (Brooklyn, NY), indie progers Each Other (Montreal, QC), classic rawk weirdoes Babysitter (Victoria, BC), cartoon psych outfit The Ketamines (Toronto, ON), and Halifax’s very own road warrior party duo Cousins.
Besides music, look forward to parasitic art installations by James Gauvreau at the main events, an outdoor “Music for Plants” experience by Lindsay Dobbin and friends, experimental video screenings at the library, an art opening by Mitchell Wiebe, a resonating building, and plenty more."
Here's a list, it's not comprehensive, but we'll be updating:
Kyle Bobby Dunn
High Rise II
Heaven for Real
Party In My Head
Elise Boudreau Graham's graduate exhibition, Or Best Offer (We'll Take What We Can Get) opened yesterday at Anna Leonowens Gallery (running to March 16) in the thick atmosphere of tension surrounding the fiscal and political situation that NSCAD University has battled since last year. A narrowly missed strike last week nearly dovetailed with Boudreau Graham's installation, appropriately themed to reflect some of the turmoil she saw during her graduate year.
Black scaffolding adorned with black pennants give off the feel of a used car lot, the windows are covered in black fabric and there is a short video on a loop of when NSCAD students stormed the Board of Governors’ meeting January 24.
“It’s about dressing up situation that isn't so great and selling it,” Boudreau Graham says. “Someone mentioned (the show) looked like a funeral... maybe it's a celebration of no strike.”
Boudreau Graham describes her show as “the art of negotiation in 30x20x9 feet. It is about give and take. It is about fighting the good fight even when you do not think the fight is any good.”
It’s something that NSCAD students and faculty are all too familiar with, but the theme of the piece goes far beyond the institution.
"I want the discussion of the show to not only be about NSCAD's specific situation but also ideas of ‘the creative economy’ and the negotiation of sustaining something monetarily impractical within capitalism,” explains Boudreau Graham. “And not wanting to be practical within capitalism."
Impracticality (especially financial impracticality) is, unfortunately for some, a fact of life when pursuing fine art. Culture is seen as a luxury, and while a thriving arts and cultural sector is fundamentally integral to a healthy economy (according to Statistics Canada Study on Nova Scotia's Culture Sector from December 2003: “the direct and indirect impact of the culture sector in Nova Scotia, as measured by the contribution to the GDP, was estimated at almost $1.2 billion in 2001, with some 28,000 direct and indirect jobs depending on culture activities”), that point often gets lost when faced with debt.
In Boudreau Graham’s opinion, the financial benefits of art shouldn’t be anywhere near the top of a student’s concerns, let alone the concern of NSCAD’s administration. “I want people to understand that if you're talking about practicality—meaning art making money—then art isn’t practical. And that isn’t what we should be trying to do as a school,” says Boudreau Graham. “Our administration is not representing students by begging for scraps from the government.”
The idea of accepting any form of financial aid implies a mutual agreement, and for some students, it’s a deal they aren’t willing to make.
“I think we shouldn't necessarily be arguing about the value of art as benefitting society, because as it stands currently, society isn't something I want to benefit,” says Boudreau Graham. “What is radical about making art is a kind of negative productivity. We shouldn't be focusing on putting attention on the way art can work within capitalism, we should be recognizing that can be radical.”
The title of Or Best Offer (We’ll Take What We Can Get) implies settling, but aims to provoke the opposite reaction in the viewer. “The administration and Board of Governors at NSCAD can say that we (the students) are being foolish and unreasonable,” says Boudreau Graham. “But I think that we are practicing prefigurative politics; Demanding and acting out what we want for our school and our collective futures.”
Making art is hard. Artists often work in solitude, trying to create something meaningful, second guessing themselves like it’s their job. Imagine trying to do that in a new country, where language barriers and isolation can seem like insurmountable hurdles.
Huwaida Medani, Sohelia Hashemi and Youmei Chen who work for Immigrant Services for the Halifax Public Libraries, understand this struggle and are trying to do something about it. Together they came up with The Art of Belonging: An Art Exhibition by Immigrant Women of Halifax. Opening March 1 at 3:30pm at the Keshen Goodman Library and running until March 25, the event is in commemoration of International Women’s Day and is inspired by themes of community, friendship and inclusiveness. Local female artists from immigrant communities have been encouraged to share their artwork, creating a group show that is inspiring and fresh.
New and established artists have come together in this show, which features glasswork, beadwork, painting, photographs and needlecraft from artists Tae Hea Kim, Golumba Kim, Fatima Eisa, Mitra Sharifi, Inae KIm, Asna Adhami, Achan Niyago, Yurianna Lee and Mahnaz Subhani (with more artists TBA).
“There is a large number of immigrant women in Halifax, but they often aren’t connected to the greater community,” says Medani. “We thought this was a great opportunity, we wanted them to have a sense of ownership, to feel like this is our community, we belong here and this is our art.”
Though the artists have emigrated from China, Korea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Iran or Egypt, Medani says most of the work is made in Nova Scotia, about Nova Scotia, noting that for some of the artists involved this is their first time showing their work. “Some of the artists are shy about their work or they don’t think it is important,” says Medani. “We want to acknowledge them as artists, most of their English is limited, but we want people to recognize that they highly talented no matter what their religion, background or language.”
There will be a rotating display throughout the month featuring different artists, and the opening will feature live harp music, a poetry reading by Asna Adhami, and immigrant women artists' speech given by Mahnaz Subhani. For the exhibit closing event, Medani says that other established artists from the community have expressed interest in participating. “The artists themselves are very enthusiastic about this opportunity,” says Medhani. “They’re very happy to show their work here, most of them live in this area, which is a very multicultural area.
“It’s all very inspiring and beautiful work.”
Hey, Macklemore! Can we go thrift shopping at the Sally-Eye Thrift Shop?
For three weeks in March, Eyelevel Gallery (2159 Gottingen) will have a mega blowout sale at Halifax’s newest and hottest thrift store (opening March 2, 11am-6pm). They will have everything to suit your thrift shopping needs; from furniture, $5 bags of clothing, vinyl and everything else in between.
Eyelevel Gallery is the oldest artist-run gallery in Atlantic Canada. Director Michael McCormack likes to have fundraisers that offer a service to the community, he says. “It’s inspired by the idea of thrift stores being a community resource and having affordable interesting things [available] to the public while having a fundraiser for the gallery.”
Besides the Sally-Eye Thrift Shop, throughout the month there also will be film nights, a games day, a live auction, karaoke, flea market and a lecture series. And if you have a burning desire to share an embarrassing, funny or awkward diary entry, check out the March 15 Dear Diary event at Fred. Special guests will read aloud from their private journals and McCormack says there’s an open mic portion of the night where the floor will be open to others who want to share their secret entries.
The Eyelevel Gallery is a contemporary art gallery that has been in Halifax for 38 years. “We offer a platform for the discussion of contemporary art and artists in the community,” says McCormack. Like other businesses and gallery in Halifax, Eyelevel Gallery has faced a rent increase. “We’re coming at the end of our fiscal year and we are just crawling by as a non-for-profit organization,” he says. All the money that will come from March Madness will go towards the operational costs and maintaining of Eyelevel “At the end we will be donating any extra stuff to the Salvation Army,” says McCormack. For full details on the events in March Madness, stop by the gallery at 2159 Gottingen or check out Eyelevel’s website.
McCormack has been the director of the Eyelevel Gallery since the spring of 2009 and has been a volunteer and board member for nearly a decade. “I also grew up in Halifax alongside Eyelevel for 16 years before I knew it even existed,” says McCormack. “So it feels like a long lost older sibling to me.” Supported by the “most multi-talented and hard working board of directors,” McCormack says, “I feel extremely fortunate to be in this position.”
If you’re an emerging artist who would also like to get involved in the gallery, the Eyelevel’s annual Y-Level Exhibition is seeking participants in their annual group exhibition. The show centres around the concept of isolation within domestic and social spaces. Deadline for submissions is March 8. See http://eyelevelgallery.ca/submissions for more information.
a proactive Acting for Film & Television Program would help the local talent pool and…
The website is now MrGerryFarr.ca
Don't know why it is called a Jazz Festival.
Reggae and hip-hop ain't jazz.