Friday, January 24, 2020

See Paul Hannon's Halifax

The lauded artist shares a trove of works reflecting the city he loves.

Posted By on Fri, Jan 24, 2020 at 2:42 PM

"In a Dark Four Door", a 2019 work by Hannon that's an A-1 example of his "hand-hewn" style. - PAUL HANNON
  • "In a Dark Four Door", a 2019 work by Hannon that's an A-1 example of his "hand-hewn" style.
  • Paul Hannon
Since moving to Halifax in 1989, Paul Hannon has been primarily recognized for his paintings of urban and coastal scenes in Atlantic Canada. But in his new show at Chase Gallery, Selected Drawings & Watercolours (co-curated with Coast art critic Mollie Cronin), Hannon’s drawings take centre stage. Dating back to 1994, the show includes swimmers in Chocolate Lake, harlequins, hurricane aftermath and his own imagined ancestors. Hannon cites influences like Robert Crumb and Edward Hopper to make images he calls “hand-hewn.”

“I want the edge to be recognizable as being handmade,” Hannon says. “I’m using a style of drawing that I’ve developed myself based on using a pen and pencil and watercolour, and I kind of isolate the image as if it’s a print.”

Hannon’s images land somewhere between comics and lithography.

“The closer you look, the more handmade they look,” he explains. “And a little bit further away, they can actually start looking like a photograph.”

Hannon created sixteen new works for the show, including a watercolour of the dearly beloved (and recently departing) Newfoundland Grocery Store. He didn’t know the store was on the verge of closing when he decided to draw it.

“I’m like the death knell of buildings,” Hannon laughs, a little sadly. “I have this habit of picking buildings that are about to close and painting them.”

Hannon’s drawings of Hurricane Juan’s aftermath also document a fleeting, volatile moment in time. After the 2003 storm, Hannon drew many streetscapes of uprooted trees, fences and strewn debris—sights now made newly familiar after Hurricane Dorian. Juan was “one of the first times in Halifax we directly experienced climate change,” Hannon points out. Looking at Hannon’s drawings, it’s easy to see, as Hannon says, “this is part of a pattern now.”

Selected Drawings & Watercolours is free and open to the public every day except Sundays until January 30 at the Chase Gallery (6016 University Avenue).
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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Hannah Thomson celebrates a star Nova Scotian photographer

Posted By on Thu, Nov 14, 2019 at 12:19 PM

  • Hannah Thomson
Hannah Thomson shot her first Coast cover in 1995. She was fresh out of art school at Mount Allison University, back in her Halifax hometown and wondering what to do, exactly, with her photography education. But it was The Coast’s lucky break. Thomson brought a rare combination of talent, work ethic, artist’s eye and captivating personality to every assignment, through dozens of Coast covers to working with some of the biggest names in the world after she made the inevitable move to New York City.

In the part of her practice that involved photographing famous people (Beyoncé, Robert De Niro) in famous places (the Met Gala, the Oscars) for famous publications (Vogue, Vanity Fair) over 20 years, Hannah remained resolutely down to earth, treating her assistants with the same respect she showed the one percent. Blame her Nova Scotian roots for that capacity to not be star-struck.

Those same roots provided support when she was diagnosed with cancer nearly a decade ago, and she fought it while moving strongly forward with her career. It was a shock when she passed away this year in Nova Scotia at the end of August, just a couple weeks after BuzzFeed News published her photo essay about twins. She was only 48, and left behind beloved family, loyal friends and a photographic archive of at least a million images. Hannah Thomson brings a compelling sample of that work to the Anna Leonowens Gallery, a tribute to one of the finest photographers to ever come from here.

Hannah Thomson, Anna Leonowens Gallery, November 13-16
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Friday, November 8, 2019

The Bus Stop wins big at the Creative Nova Scotia Awards Gala

It's "one step closer to owning our space," the theatre co-op says.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 8, 2019 at 4:00 AM

The Bus Stop Theatre Co-operative's executive director, Sébastien Labelle, hopes the prize isn't "a send-off award." - IAN SELIG PHOTO
  • The Bus Stop Theatre Co-operative's executive director, Sébastien Labelle, hopes the prize isn't "a send-off award."
  • Ian Selig photo
This past Saturday (November 2), the bright, wide-open spaces of the Halifax Central Library took on a new level of glitz for the 14th annual Creative Nova Scotia Awards Gala.

Artists, creators and their supporters poured through the doors. Purple light washed over dynamic art installations as music streamed from the speakers.

The scene could have been something from an exclusive function, but the warmth of the gathering told a different story: This was a celebration of community.

For the Bus Stop Theatre, the winner of the inaugural Creative Community Impact Award, there couldn’t have been a more fitting crowd to celebrate with.

Sébastien Labelle, executive director of the Bus Stop Theatre Co-operative, took to the stage with other members of the co-op to accept the $10,000 purse.

Labelle called on the crowd to raise their hands if they had performed, worked, visited, volunteered, or supported the theatre over the years. Almost 300 hands shot up.

“Look around you! It is you that makes the Bus Stop what it is and this award is for all of us!” Labelle beamed. “The Bus Stop Theatre has always been and continues to be a community effort, born of the community and for the community.”

“There’s also, of course, an obvious bitter-sweetness to this award as we receive it in the midst of a campaign to save our space,” he added. “It would be a true shame if this were to be a send-off award.”

Lara Lewis, vice-chair of the Bus Stop’s board, echoed the importance of this win for the theatre’s ongoing campaign to buy 2203 Gottingen Street.

“Hopefully it can help in continuing the momentum of support that we’ve been getting through the year and bring us one step closer to owning our space,” said Lewis.

Each year, the gala, hosted by Arts Nova Scotia and the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council, recognizes the achievements of Nova Scotia’s artistic community with “the province’s top arts and culture prizes”. This year, a diverse group of talented creators—including poet Arielle Twist and multi-disciplinary artist Raven Davis—took home a total of $95,000's worth of awards.
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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Ursula Johnson rewrites the book

The lauded artist—along with translator Diane Mitchell and curator Robin Metcalfe—tells the story of her work in an ambitious, trilingual catalogue.

Posted By on Tue, Oct 22, 2019 at 7:25 PM

Johnson says the catalogue has “raised the bar” in how people engage with Indigenous languages. - RITA TAYLOR PHOTO
  • Johnson says the catalogue has “raised the bar” in how people engage with Indigenous languages.
Award-winning artist Ursula Johnson gathered with Diane Mitchell and Robin Metcalfe last Wednesday night under dimmed lights—laughing, teasing and talking like old friends.

They sat in front of a full audience at St. Mary’s University Art Gallery for the catalogue launch of Johnson’s ongoing exhibit Mi’kwite’tmn (Do You Remember).

The 160-page publication tells the story of the exhibit, weaving together Johnson’s voice with other contributors through essays and photos. “It’s a culmination of the project,” but also a project itself, Metcalfe, director and curator of the gallery, explained.

The catalogue contains translations in Mi’kmaw, French and English, presented in the order that the languages were first spoken in Mi’kma’ki.

Mitchell, a Mi’kmaw speaker, translator and self-described “guerilla linguist”, interpreted the entirety of the text, alongside Johnson, over about a 5-year period.

Mitchell talked about the complexity of the Mi’kmaw language and its differences from French and English: “Any sentence in Mi’kmaw, all of the words generally will indicate the relationship to each other in every way, in every conceivable way,” she explained.

“This is the first text to translate contemporary art discourse into Mi’kmaw,” Johnson, the first artist in Atlantic Canada to win the prestigious Sobey Art Award, said—an enormous task, considering that interpreting a text in Mi’kmaw takes about 30 times longer than translating from English to French, she added.

As for the legacy of Mi’kwite’tmn (Do You Remember), Johnson said the exhibit and catalogue have “raised the bar” in how people engage with Indigenous languages across the country.

“This project started prior to the TRC recommendations,” Johnson explained. “It marks time with regards to where we were historically in trying to engage with Indigenous peoples through art. And I think that carries a lot of weight with it.”

In the acknowledgements of the catalogue, Metcalfe wrote, “I think all of us who have worked on this project have been translated: moved in our understanding, not only of Indigeneity, but of ourselves.”

Seeing Johnson, Mitchell and Metcalfe together on Wednesday night, it was evident that Mi’kwite’tmn (Do You Remember?) will live on as an example of art re-imagining and re-building relationships of mutual understanding.
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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Plan your night moves with our Nocturne 2019 guide

The can't-miss projects to see on Saturday, Oct 19 are all here.

Posted By , , , , and on Thu, Oct 17, 2019 at 11:21 AM

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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Get ready to binge on Fringe

The indie theatre fest makes some suggestions of what additional plays to add to your schedule with its opening day awards.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 29, 2019 at 5:48 PM

Gillian English returns to Nova Scotia with a mash-up of Shakespeare and Y2K coming-of-age movies in 10 Things I Hate About Taming The Shrew, a Hot Ticket Award winner. - DAHLIA KATZ PHOTO
  • Gillian English returns to Nova Scotia with a mash-up of Shakespeare and Y2K coming-of-age movies in 10 Things I Hate About Taming The Shrew, a Hot Ticket Award winner.
  • Dahlia KAtz photo
Today marks the starting gun of the 29th annual Halifax Fringe Festival, with venues large and small all over town being taken over by indie theatre of all stripes. While you probably already have your plan of attack marked on your Fringe guide (see our listings if not), a case for different plays is made with the fest's opening-day awards: three acknowledgements slash points-of-interest surrounding different shows, selected by the fest itself.

Drumroll, please:

For this year's Slow Burn Award, Fringe highlights a set of hidden gems waiting to be discovered:
- Gifted Youth Cabaret at Neptune Theatre
-Building 17: A Conspiracy in One Act at The Bus Stop Theatre
-Lungs at 2202 Gottingen Street (which is the old Company House, FYI)
-Your Thoughts & Prayers at Neptune Theatre
-Midnight Storm Presents: An Improv Experience at Neptune Theatre
-Don't Tell Me What To Do, OG Fringe vet Bud Hunter's latest offering, at Neptune
-Worry Duck at Neptune
-Mike Malloy and the Mystery of the Missing Milk at Glitter Bean Cafe

For this year's Hot Ticket Award, Fringe share a list of shows that are selling out quick:
-Robotricks at Neptune Theatre
-10 Things I Hate About Taming of the Shrew at Neptune Theatre
-Giant Killer Shark: The Musical at The Bus Stop Theatre
-Monster at The Bus Stop Theatre
-Safe at 2202 Gottingen Street
-Great Kettle for the People at 2202 Gottingen Street
-Fish Tank at Neptune Theatre
-Some Guy From The Internet at Neptune Theatre
-Stick or Wizard? at Neptune Theatre
-Penny at Neptune Theatre
-Rogue: Contemporary Circus at the Halifax Music Co-op
-DIY Surgery at Sawmill Playhouse

For this year's Original Script Award, meanwhile, the winner is Lily Falk with her play Crypthand.

Whew! The most wonderful time of the year for theatre, indeed. Drop a comment below to tell us which shows you're most excited for.
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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

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

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Nocturne wants your project pitches

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


, 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
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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

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

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.

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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In Print This Week

Vol 27, No 38
February 13, 2020

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