Friday, August 16, 2019

Halifax artist Séamus Gallagher wins national 1st Art! competition

The recent NSCAD grad is the first to snag the provincial title a virtual reality-based work.

Posted By on Fri, Aug 16, 2019 at 3:21 PM

A still from haus of haraway, Gallagher's winning, virtual-reality based work. - SÉAMUS GALLAGHER
  • A still from haus of haraway, Gallagher's winning, virtual-reality based work.
  • Séamus Gallagher

With a practice that encompasses photography, performance and building virtual reality realms, Séamus Gallagher is on the experimental edge of art in both form and content. (Their work is informed by their generation's climate anxiety and the need to “create personal spaces” as a non-binary person).

Weeks after gracing the cover of The Coast for a celebration of the mini-wave of personal-and-political art being made in Halifax, Gallagher has been selected as the Nova Scotian winner of the 1st Art! competition, a 17-year-old award that sees one artist from each province and territory walk away with a prize of over $7,000.

Gallagher believes they are the first person to win with a virtual-reality based work, as 2019 was “the first time they accepted time-based media—like video or virtual reality. It’s interesting it’s taken them this long,” they state, speaking by phone.

“I knew I was nominated but my phone broke so I assumed I didn’t win and was like ‘It’s fine, I didn’t want it anyway,’” they say with a laugh. “But then they contact me and I’m over the moon! It’s one more push post-grad.”

Along with the cash prize—which Gallagher is debating using to pay down student debt or use to invest in a new camera or computer to further their practice—the win will see them showcasing their work in Toronto this November alongside the other 1st Art! winners.

Gallagher describes their winning piece, haus of haraway, as “an architectural space I created, a house which I made in an Oculus Rift.” As they told The Coast last month, “One of my professors used to say 'pay attention to what you pay attention to,' and I always thought that was really interesting. I've always been interested in digital culture and computer programs, and I've liked finding a way of threading my interests in that realm with my queer identity as well.”

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Elizabeth Gilbert is coming to Halifax

The Big Magic author is the headliner of a personal development weekend in town this October.

Posted By on Thu, May 30, 2019 at 5:15 PM

SCREENSHOT VIA INSTAGRAM.COM
  • Screenshot via instagram.com

A two-day event in October, Soul Tribe Live promises to be (according to its website) an "immersive program of workshops and seminars" that'll help you sort out your life and get closer to your dreams. Held at the Halifax Convention Centre Oct 11 and 12, the biggest draw is star speaker Elizabeth Gilbert, who'll be leading a Saturday workshop and giving a Friday evening keynote. Tickets are steep—starting at $65 and climbing to $490—but for the chance to see the Eat, Pray, Love author clear our skin, fix our credit and help us find our ultimate purpose we're considering breaking the ol' piggy bank. Get more details at soultribelive.ca.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Nocturne wants your project pitches

Posted By on Wed, May 29, 2019 at 2:13 PM

noctunre.jpg

Nocturne
, Halifax's annual nighttime art extravaganza, dropping a week earlier than usual this year on October 19, is looking for project pitches. The year's theme, as set by curator Tori Fleming, is SCAFFOLD, which aims to "explore how temporary structures can be used to make a larger commentary on the social, physical, and political structures that shape our lives. Who decides the purpose, form, and design of our physical spaces? Who dictates the rules of how we behave within those spaces?"

Artists and collectives with Beacon Project ideas have a June 9 deadline coming up fast. Community groups and galleries have until July 31. Apply via Nocturne's website.

(Disclosure: The Coast's events and promotions director, Lindsay Ann Cory, is Nocturne's executive director.)
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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

David Sedaris is coming back to Halifax in August

The bestselling humourist is on tour with his latest book, Calypso.

Posted By on Tue, Apr 30, 2019 at 2:52 PM

David Sedaris appears at the Rebecca Cohn on Audust 6. - INGRID CHRISTIE
  • David Sedaris appears at the Rebecca Cohn on Audust 6.
  • Ingrid Christie

On August 6, storyteller David Sedaris is returning to Halifax for a one-night reading event, "An Evening With David Sedaris."

With the release of his latest book Calypso—yet another Sedaris entry on the The New York Times Bestseller List—Sedaris is touring once again. Calypso is earning praise as Sedaris' most deeply personal and darkly hilarious book yet, following him as he talks about morality and middle age.

Sedaris was last in Halifax nearly a decade ago, doing a reading at the Darmouth Chapters in November, 2010. The crowd was so big, and so into Sedaris, that he signed books afterwards for five hours and 45 minutes.

This time around, the venue is the much larger Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, but it's still likely to sell out when tickets go on sale Friday, May 10, at noon. Prices range from $41.50 to $51.50, and will be available through the Cohn box office. For a taste of Calypso, here's an excerpt from the audiobook version:
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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Nominations for the 2019 Merritt Awards for theatre are out now

Posted By on Wed, Mar 6, 2019 at 4:45 PM

Merritt acting nominees Sebastién Labelle (supporting) and Stewart Legere (lead) in Tom at the Farm. - WORKSHIRT OPERA
  • Merritt acting nominees Sebastién Labelle (supporting) and Stewart Legere (lead) in Tom at the Farm.
  • Workshirt Opera

Eastern Front Theatre (Kamp and Half-Cracked: The Legend of Sugar Mary), Neptune Theatre (Mamma Mia and Cinderella) and Two Planks and a Passion (Animal Farm) are among the double-digit nominees for this year's Robert Merritt Awards, which celebrate excellence in Nova Scotia theatre. Also among the nods are Workshirt Opera's Tom at the Farm and HomeFirst Theatre's Some Blow Flutes. End the suspense by clicking here.

The awards gala—its two hosts are being kept secret until the show—is happening Monday, March 25 at the McInnes Room on Dalhousie campus. Get your tix here.
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Neptune Theatre launches 2019-20 season

Posted By on Wed, Mar 6, 2019 at 3:52 PM

Ian Sherwood leads the chorus in The Argyle Street Kitchen Party. - STOO METZ
  • Ian Sherwood leads the chorus in The Argyle Street Kitchen Party.
  • Stoo Metz

Neptune Theatre
announced its new season this afternoon, with artistic producer Jeremy Webb summing it up thusly: "This year we're celebrating more Atlantic Canadian works, talent and stories about female empowerment." Joining the previously announced Billy Eliot the Musical (April 14-June 7) as the season closer:

Argyle Street Kitchen Party (July 23-August 25): Last year's summertime singalong returns with new special guests.

The Last Wife (September 10-October 6): Kate Hennig's modern-day telling of the relationship between Catherine Parr and King Henry VIII is directed by Natasha MacLellan.

Pleasureville (October 1-20): The world premiere of Ellen Denny's play is billed as "half-sex toy gag, half-feminist debate."

Between Breaths (October 22-November 10): Based on the life of Newfoundland whale rescuer Jon Lien, this production features music composed by The Once.

Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story (October 30-November 17): 2b theatre's multiple Merritt-winning Jewish musical comes in from two years on the road.

Dickens' A Christmas Carol (November 27-December 28): The annual tradition returns with Rhys Bevan-John once again in all the parts.

Peter Pan (November 26-January 5): This year's holiday entry is written and directed by Webb.

The Last Five Years (January 21-February 9): The beloved musical follows two New Yorkers who fall in and out of love.

Controlled Damage (February 4-23): The world premiere of Andrea Scott's dramatization of the life of Viola Desmond.

Calendar Girls (March 3-29): Based on the 2003 film starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters about a group of women posing for an "alternative" fundraising calendar.

Ghost Light (March 17-April 5): New Brunswick's Shawn Wright performs this autobiographical show about his relationship with his mother.
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Monday, June 11, 2018

Here are your damn crossword answers

Posted By on Mon, Jun 11, 2018 at 8:00 AM

RYAN TURNER
  • Ryan Turner
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Friday, May 11, 2018

Your 2018 Atlantic Book Award winners

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2018 at 10:40 AM

unnamed.jpg
Thirteen awards were handed out last night at Paul O'Regan Hall to the authors, illustrators and publishers representing the best of the past year in Atlantic Canadian literary offerings. The winners:

Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction
Barrelling Forward by Eva Crocker (House of Anansi Press)

Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature
The Painting by Charis Cotter (Tundra Books)

Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association’s Best Atlantic-Published Book Award
Goose Lane Editions for Powered by Love: A Grandmothers’ Movement to End AIDS in Africa by Joanna Henry, Ilana Landberg-Lewis

Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing
The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest by Joan Baxter (Pottersfield Press)

The Robbie Robertson Dartmouth Book Award
(Non-Fiction)

The Sea Was In Their Blood: The Disappearance of the Miss Ally’s Five-Man Crew by Quentin Casey (Nimbus Publishing)

Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing
Nova Scotia at War, 1914-1919 by Brian Douglas Tennyson
(Nimbus Publishing)

Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award
The Long Way Home: A Personal History of Nova Scotia by
John DeMont (McClelland & Stewart)

Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award (Fiction)
Peninsula Sinking by David Huebert (Biblioasis)

J.M. Abraham Poetry Award
All the Names Between by Julia McCarthy (Brick Books)

Lillian Shepherd Award for Excellence in Illustration
Sydney Smith for Town is by the Sea, written by Joanne Schwartz
(Groundwood Books)

Margaret and John Savage First Book Award (Fiction)
All is Beauty Now by Sarah Faber (McClelland & Stewart)

Margaret and John Savage First Book Award (Non-Fiction)
Just Jen: Thriving Through Multiple Sclerosis by Jen Powley (Roseway Publishing)

Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award
Blood Fable by Oisin Curran (Book*hug)
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Monday, April 23, 2018

Afua Cooper is Halifax's new poet laureate

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 6:55 PM

Cooper is the seventh poet laureate for the municipality. - VIA DAL
  • Cooper is the seventh poet laureate for the municipality.
  • VIA DAL

The municipality's next poet laureate has no shortage of work experience.

Afua Cooper, best-selling author and one of the country's most celebrated voices of Black Canadian history, is now Halifax's poet-in-residence.

“Poetry brings people together,” Cooper writes in a press release announcing the news. “It is my honour to serve as the municipality’s poetry ambassador.”

She comes highly recommended. Chair and founder of the Black Canadian Studies Association, and former James R. Johnston chair in Black Canadian studies at Dalhousie University, Cooper is a lauded author and distinguished writer who's been a poet and spoken word artist for over 30 years.

Originally from Jamaica, Cooper moved to Toronto in the 1980s where she received her PhD in African-Canadian history. She's published five books of poetry, as well as other works of fiction, historical research and essays. She also co-created Black Halifax—a poetry and spoken word presentation chronicling the 300-year history of African Nova Scotians in this city.

Her book, The Hanging of Angelique: The Untold Story of Slavery in Canada and the Burning of Old Montreal, was a national bestseller, shortlisted for the Governor General Award and selected by CBC as one of the most important works published in Canada.

“We’re very pleased to appoint Dr. Cooper as our next poet laureate, a position which gives voice to the various groups that make up our community, through spoken and written words,” writes mayor Mike Savage.

Cooper becomes the seventh poet laureate for the Halifax Regional Municipality since the program's launch. She follows in the footsteps of Sue MacLeod, Lorri Neilson Glenn, Shauntay Grant, Tanya Davis, El Jones and most recently, Rebecca Thomas.

The municipality’s poet laureate serves as an ambassador for literacy and the arts, performing at civic events and composing original works of poetry for community causes.

Although ceremonial, the position has become a powerful voice of activism within HRM.

Jones used her time as poet laureate to routinely fight against racism and inequality across Halifax. Likewise, Thomas reignited a debate about Edward Cornwallis that culminated this past January with the city's problematic founder having his statue removed from the south end park that still bears his name.

For their efforts, poets receive a $4,000 honorarium from the city over the course of their two-year term.

Cooper's introduction to city council and first official performance will take place Tuesday morning during a meeting of HRM's Committee of the Whole.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sickboy seeks applicants for the Sickboy Wish Fund

Podcasters invite adults to make-a-wish.

Posted By on Wed, Dec 13, 2017 at 5:06 PM

SCOTT MUNN
  • Scott Munn
“The whole idea came from a running joke on the podcast that I had wasted my Children’s Wish,” says Jeremie Saunders.

In 2002, when Saunders was given the opportunity to make one wish, he chose a shopping spree. Many teens would do the same. Now he deeply regrets the decision, and that remorse has motivated him to start the Sickboy Wish Fund.

Saunders has Cystic Fibrosis. His illness and the stigmas around living with an illness inspired him to start the popular Sickboy podcast along with his friends Taylor Macgillivary and Brian Stever. It features people with all different forms of illness, from mental to terminal, openly discussing life.

Sixteen years have passed since the loathsome Halifax Shopping Centre spree and for his 30th birthday, Saunders wants to help one lucky adult to make a wish of their own.

Since we all make bad decisions when we’re young, the winner will get to make one well-devised wish. “Carte blanche,” says Saunders, as long as you’re a “sicko”, have never had a Children’s Wish and are 19 years or older.

You can nominate yourself or someone else by filling out an application or making a video.

“To raise the funds for this wish we are throwing a huge fundraiser called SickWish Gala. The theme of this party is Bucket List,” says Saunders. With the help of VR, "people can fulfil bucket list goals, like a fly in space or swim to the bottom of the ocean."

The gala will be held at the Museum of Natural History on January 13, partnering with its new and timely Bodyworlds exhibit.

 Applications will be closing in the early new year, you can find the form here.

Oh, and no shopping sprees allowed for wishes.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

City nails new Halifax Explosion memorial

Video tour: No boring plaques among Needham park 100th anniversary additions.

Posted By on Tue, Dec 5, 2017 at 5:14 PM

Designer John deWolf at Fort Needham Memorial Park. - NOAH WIDMEYER
  • Designer John deWolf at Fort Needham Memorial Park.
  • Noah Widmeyer
When Haligonians gather December 6 at Fort Needham Memorial Park to remember the blast that devastated the city 100 years ago, they will find some informative architecture has been added to the grounds around the old bell tower monument. The new commemorative elements don’t take the form of strenuous plaques droning on about the Imo, the Mont Blanc and the snow storm that exacerbated the damage, but instead feature brief, thoughtful designs. This is memorial as graceful public art.

Among the recent HX 100 installations are a staircase that reads “Richmond’—the name of the community the explosion destroyed—when you’re facing up it from the bottom, and Vince Coleman’s last Morse code message cut into corten steel (reminiscent of a ship’s hull). Details are intricately placed throughout the park, a nice alternative to a tribute bench. Although there are some new benches, complete with hidden facts related to the explosion itself.

The HRM invested $2.7 million to revitalize the site, hiring Ekistics Planning & Design to develop the look. John deWolf, a designer and Halifax native who has worked on signage projects for Disney, Chicago Park District, Yale University and Parks Canada, was part of the creative team. In this video he gives a guided tour of some of Needham’s changes.
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Thursday, October 19, 2017

In Memoriam: Dunsworth and Downie

Posted By on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 12:19 PM

John Dunsworth on the set of Nichols And Dimez. - CALEY MACLENNAN
  • John Dunsworth on the set of Nichols And Dimez.
  • Caley MacLennan

This has been a horrible week in Canadian culture. On Monday, local actor John Dunsworth passed away at 71, after a short and unexpected illness. Then 53-year-old Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip followed him, succumbing on Wednesday to a brain cancer that was widely discussed from the moment he announced its existence more than a year ago.

Dunsworth was an early believer in the idea of a Nova Scotia film industry, a passion that risked him earning the backhanded compliment of being “a man ahead of his time.” But through some combination of Dunsworth’s tenacity behind the scenes and the whims of cross-continental economics, he is better remembered as a founding father of the local film economy.

He was a large presence in front of the camera, too, both as an actor and, through his Filmworks Casting agency, as an advocate for actors. Of course he worked with Ellen Page and played Mr. Lahey on Trailer Park Boys, but he also committed to scores of smaller roles. Whether working of just being himself, he was a star, and he unselfishly shared that energy. At a Best of Halifax party, he sensed the room was a bit flat, so he did a headstand. Popped up right there on the floor of the AGNS, with no equipment or crowd-gathering preamble—although the crowd magically found him—and when he came down the party was better.

Like Dunsworth, Gord Downie had incredible charisma as a personality, while retaining humility as a person. The first time I met Downie, after he’d done a long day of interviews and rehearsals on the road before yet another giant Tragically Hip tour, we ended up hanging out in his hotel room, playing Scrabble. His opening play was the seven-letter “encages” for a Bingo, revealing the word nerd lurking beneath a rock-star exterior.

Dunsworth was apparently a voracious Scrabble player in him own right. So it’s comforting to imagine him and Downie meeting over a board somewhere in the great beyond, just a couple Canadian guys playing Scrabble, while the rest of us are trying to find the words.

Send me your Dunsworth and Downie memories at editor@thecoast.ca

LENNY MULLINS
  • Lenny Mullins

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Monday, October 16, 2017

A Nocturne 2017 round-up

Did you miss this year's event? Check out some of the highlights.

Posted By on Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 10:52 AM

Keeping with this year's "vanish" theme, the art from Saturday night has left the city streets. Thankfully, we have Instagram to keep the memories alive. Check out highlights from Nocturne's 10th anniversary below.

A post shared by Laura Selenzi (@lauraselenzi) on

A post shared by Emma Richter (@emmajrichter) on

A post shared by Rochelle Locke (@r_locke) on

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Review: Bodies in Translation: Age and Creativity at the MSVU Art Gallery

Posted By on Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 2:47 PM

George Steeves, Sublime Camoflage (2006) detail - Cecil Day, Winter Goldenrod (2017) detail - VIA MSVU ART GALLERY
  • George Steeves, Sublime Camoflage (2006) detailCecil Day, Winter Goldenrod (2017) detail
  • via MSVU Art Gallery


Bodies in Translation: Age and Creativity
Through November 12
Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery, 166 Bedford Highway


One of two current shows at MSVU Art Gallery, Bodies in Translation: Age and Creativity features work by eight senior artists who explore aging through art.

Several of the artists address the physicality of aging, as in M.J. Sakura’s "Vintage Plumbing and Wiring," where the artist explores “vintage sexuality” in the form of an informational video. Michael Fernandes tackles the mental effects–beginning to forget–while George Steeves' portraits seek to remember, to commemorate aged and departed friends.

“Has one grown old without growing up?” asks Onni Nordman in his piece "Scarecrow Amongst the Chancellors", a Terry Gilliam-esque scarecrow made of burrs against a wall of neon portraits. The artists in Bodies in Translation approach the delicate issue of mortality with humour. "Day by day life finds me less critical, more playful,” writes Fernandes, accompanying his salty audio and installation piece "Michael, Michael, Michael," featuring glittered sneakers placed to be worn on the wrong feet.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Review: Zachari Logan's Topiary at Anna Leonowens Gallery

Posted By on Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 11:15 AM

Zachari Logan - MOLLIE CRONIN
  • Zachari Logan
  • Mollie Cronin


Zachari Logan, Topiary
Anna Leonowens Gallery, Granville Square, 1891 Granville Street
To September 23


While the word “topiary” may conjure up images of shrubs in the shapes of elephants and swans, Zachari Logan’s latest exhibition by the same name delivers an entirely different articulation of this, but just as luxurious and with just the right amount of camp.

Topiary, now showing at the Anna Leonowens Gallery, is an exhibition of high-realism drawings ranging from large colour pastel botanicals on black paper, to life-size (if not larger) nude self-portraits, and miniature vanitas of human-plant hybrids done in architect’s soft blue pencil.

For Logan, “topiary” refers to “the human manipulation of plants into desired shapes for ornamentation;” an idea he explores in his intricately detailed drawings, with nods historical motifs and art forms, including paper cutting, wreaths, flower painting, wallpaper, and tapestries.

The human figures in these drawings interact with plant life in a way that blurs the line between the self and the landscape. In "Green Man" Logan composes a self-portrait out of plant matter, with green grass growing from his bowed back and halved cabbages forming buttocks, while in the "Eunuch Tapestries" series, male figures become tangled in, partially obscured by, and melt into walls of thick foliage. These plants, like the tall, phallic thistles caressing the naked legs and back of one of the figures, are plants commonly found in the ditches in Saskatchewan, some of the last untouched spaces in the cultivated farm-land of Logan’s home province. Logan identifies queer spaces as ditch-like: liminal and resilient, and through composition he positions the viewer alongside the figure in these ditches.

These Nocturnes (meaning night landscapes) are lit artificially from the bottom of the drawing, as though by car headlights or a flashlight. The result flattens the work, pulls all the detail close to the front, like a medieval tapestry or wallpaper. According to Logan curators and viewers often make a connection to gay cruising in these images–the sometimes semi-nude male figures seeming to hide in the bushes and illuminated by an unnatural light–but Logan says this connection was not intentional. He is, however, quite pleased that that unexpected element is found in these pieces–a queer history at work along with the histories of the decorative arts.
Logan’s use of history is far from stuffy, even though he heavily references some of the most traditional and historically gendered forms of visual and decorative art (both in the masculine and feminine sense): high realism, landscape, self-portraiture, textiles and flower painting. His drawings feel fresh; skillfully and meticulously rendered, rich and luxurious with detail and colour, with even the simple detail of black pastel on black paper creating luminosity.

Part of a generation of artists who value drawing as a medium unto itself (no longer simply a preliminary practice to later works), Logan’s drawings are wedded to their materials–the buttery pastels and tiny notches of graphite feel as tactile as the flowers and flesh that they render.

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In Print This Week

Vol 27, No 13
August 22, 2019

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