Saturday, November 24, 2012

Art Awards story in the Star

Man, there are more and more art prizes in Canada. I wanted to find out (as much as a brief journalistic treatment might allow) just why that is. So I spoke to a bunch of people—all of whom had really interesting things to say, though I wasn't able to fit them all into the story—and wrote up a brief item on this in today's Toronto Star. Here's an excerpt:

At the Sobey Art Award’s 10th-anniversary bash at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art last week, organizers faced a problem: a stage so small that artists, donors and administrators had to take to it in shifts, shoulder to shoulder.

That scene mirrors the way an abundance of art prizes have come to jostle for attention on Canada’s national stage over the past decade.

In the 1990s, we had few national art prizes. Then B.C. artist Takao Tanabe campaigned for the Governor General’s Awards to be extended into the visual arts and the first such awards were distributed in 2000.

Since then, corporations and private foundations have tripled the number of national art prizes, boosting the pot to more than $700,000 in some years (see sidebar.) Several regional awards — like B.C.’s Audain Prize, the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts Award and the Prix de Montreal — also emerged during that time.

Many Toronto-connected artists have benefited from this recent prize proliferation.

In May, 86-year-old artist Arnaud Maggs (who died Nov. 17) won the $50,000 Scotiabank Photography Award, begun in 2011. In October, Meryl McMaster, a 24-year-old graduate of OCAD University, won our newest national accolade, the $5,000 Charles Pachter Prize for Emerging Canadian Artists.

Next week, the winner of the RBC Canadian Painting Competition will be announced at the Power Plant. Many involved already feel like winners: Queen West dealer Erin Stump says she’s received emails from new contacts nationwide about local finalist Vanessa Maltese, whom she represents.

But others express caution about the increasing popularity of art prizes.

Read on for the rest at the Toronto Star. I also want to note the following corrections have been submitted:

There is an error the Star introduced into an image caption of the Sobey ceremony; it stated that the ceremony was in Ottawa. I have requested a correction and have been told it will run.

I have also requested a correction to the sidebar header "New National Arts Prizes" - terminology introduced there ("arts") implies prizes for theatre and dance as well as visual art, genres that the story does not address.

To end this post, here are a few thoughts that I wish I had been able to integrate into the story:

When I spoke with Sophie Hackett, assistant curator of photography at the AGO, she expressed the thought that the growth of awards in Toronto in particular may be related to the fact that since the major cultural building and renovation projects have been completed, donors are looking for other ways to support the art scene. Prizes are another important component of the art ecosystem needed for the scene to have "lift-off."

Hackett also noted, “Governments have dialed back cultural funding... I think that has encouraged individuals and corporations to fill the gap in some ways… they’ve seen an opportunity to make a difference in the cultural life of the country or the city that they’re located in.”

When I spoke with dealer Susan Hobbs, she noted that art prizes are still lagging behind music and literature when it comes to public awareness. She pointed to the Giller Prize's TV broadcast, where a variety of nonspecialists in the literary field/Canadian celebrity types, like Rick Mercer, were involved in talking about the award finalists and making introductions for them. She noted that this doesn't happen in the visual arts in Canada.

I also wasn't able to quote from James F. English's landmark tome The Economy of Prestige: Prizes, Awards and the Circulation of Cultural Value, but I wish I had been able to note his observation that any criticism of a prize simply tends to augment its profile. As he puts it, “critique … is itself a fundamental and even in many circumstances, an obligatory part of the game, a recognisable mode of complicitous participation.”

English has also theorized that prizes proliferate because they provide the general public—and journalists like me—with a means of coming to know the arts without having to truly understand them. As he writes, "It is almost as though winning a prize is the only truly newsworthy thing a cultural worker can do, the one thing that really counts in a lifetime of more or less nonassessable, indescribable, or at least unreportable cultural accomplishments. In this context it is the prize, above all else, that defines the artist . . ."

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David Heffel Q&A at Canadian Art

Here is another long and rangy Q&A.

 It was mostly a learning conversation for me about an art-related business I was curious about: Heffel Fine Art Auction House. Heffel is a home-grown Canadian operation, and often seems to be a the top of the Canadian art auction market, even with the presence of internationally hefty competitors like Sotheby's.

I was interested in finding out more about how Heffel might have succeeded in this unusual and difficult field. This curiosity was what drove the interview, timed to coincide with Canada's fall auction season—which was kicked off by the Heffel event and its 10th anniversary of opening a Toronto gallery. (The company is based in Vancouver.)

Here's an excerpt:  

LS: How did Heffel begin? 

DH: Well, my dad was in the steel business. He was a co-founder of Great West Steel, and was also a collector starting in the late 60s and 70s. So Robert and I were very fortunate to grow up with some fantastic paintings—paintings by Emily Carr and Lawren Harris and other members of the Group of Seven. My dad retired quite early out of Great West Steel while still in his 40s. He dabbled in ranching, but then turned his hobby, which was collecting paintings, into his vocation. In 1978, he founded the art gallery in Vancouver. He died young, at 52, in 1987. And that’s when Robert and I took over the gallery business. We didn’t branch into the auction business until 1995. 

LS: So how old were you when you took over the gallery? 

 DH: 24. 

LS: And your brother? 

DH: 22. LS: That’s quite young. There must have been some big learning curves, to say the least. 

DH: There were tremendous learning curves. But there was also sort of a fearless, youthful enthusiasm that allowed us to be, I think, quite creative in what we tried to do—without worrying too much about not succeeding. And I think it has been very beneficial for us in the long run.

Read on for the rest at Canadian Art.

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Jean de Loisy Q&A at Canadian Art

Catching up now with some posts on recent articles and such.

 I have to say that with some Q&As I have done, I have put a lot of work into editing and condensing. When I have less time to edit and condense, the interviews end up long and rangy, which works for some readers and not for others.

In any case, here is a Q&A from a little while ago, connected to a lecture that my employer, the Canadian Art Foundation, arranged in Toronto. It is more of the long and rangy type, even though it is, of course, edited.

It is with Palais de Tokyo president Jean de Loisy. An excerpt:  

Leah Sandals: You have worked in art institutions of various kinds since 1983. What is the most important job of an art museum or art institution, do you think? 

Jean de Loisy: The most important job is to escape from the normal paths and to try to understand that the history of art is just one of the ways possible to look at art; outside of that, there are a lot of other things to discover. It’s to always try to be unconventional, to refuse the borders, to try to overpass all the limits of what art “should” be. 

Most of the time, we have the idea that the evolution of art is going in one linear direction. In fact, what we have to take care of is all the art that goes in another direction—art that is far more interesting. 

 After all, most of the art that we are most interested in now was originally considered as being outside of art. When you look at Robert Filliou, first you ask, Is it art or not? When you look at Marcel Duchamp, you ask the same thing: Is it art or not? And so on to today’s most important artists. Art happens outside of the limits of what art is. 

So that is the first big job for art institutions. 

The second big job is that we have to preserve the direct relation between the public and the art. By this I mean that to try to transmit knowledge of an artwork to the public before they actually encounter it is a limit—it’s not an aperture. 

We have to organize the information about an artwork or artist so that when the public visits your museum they can still be surprised and astonished, and so there can still be that kind of “wow” effect. Whether that effect comes from understanding the complexities of the world anew or whether it comes from a physical sensation of the work, that effect is still needed. 

I note this because there is a kind of increasing mediation in art museums—this is very good, but only if it doesn’t prevent people from having their own words or experiences about the art. 

I think it’s very important to have the possibility of accompaniment and information that goes with the art, but it should never come before the visitor’s actual relation to the art—it should always come after. This balance between mediation of artworks and experience of artworks is probably one of the most complex things to develop and to organize in exhibitions.

You can read on for the rest at Canadian Art.

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Canadian Biennial review on Canadian Art's website

Earlier this week, I went to Ottawa for the media preview of "Builders," the 2012 Canadian Biennial.

I am really glad that this biennial initiative of the National Gallery's exists, and I'm glad it was introduced in 2010 following an, oh, 20-year absence of such activity from the NGC and basically elsewhere. Like the gallery, I believe it is a valuable thing to try and provide the public with a picture of where contemporary Canadian art is at every two years.

Granted, the NGC's biennial is a bit funny in that it is based in acquisitions made over the past two years rather than works actually made in the past two years. This tends to muddle/reduce its currency somewhat.

In a review written quickly for Canadian Art's website, I attempted to reflect on these and other issues that the 2012 biennial brought up for me.

You can read the review on Canadian Art's site.

I do look forward to reading other reviews of the exhibition and hearing other commentary as well... though there's still no Rotten Tomatoes for the art world, I feel I sure could use it around exhibitions like this!

(Image of Jim Breukelman's Hot Properties 01 1987/2008 Courtesy of the NGC)

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A Look at Living in 10 Easy Lessons in the Star

Last week, I met with artists Linda Duvall and Peter Kingstone at Gallery 44 to discuss their latest project, Living in 10 Easy Lessons.

I have been very intrigued by the unusual work that Duvall and Kingstone do in the art realm. In my view, they do attempt to push the boundaries of what art can be or what some folks call "social practice" can be.

I urge readers to check out their respective websites for information about their past works.

In terms of the present work, I found it interesting in the responses it raised for people including the Gallery 44 essayist for this show, cheyanne turions.

This prompted me to do a brief news item about the work for the Toronto Star. Here is an excerpt:

Successfully growing a small business — as a drug dealer. Developing effective people skills — as a panhandler. Protecting one’s life savings — as a sex worker.

These are job and life skills you won’t find in LinkedIn CVs or professional-development workshops.
But they are the kind of skills highlighted in the new — and controversial — art project “Living in 10 Easy Lessons” by local artists Linda Duvall and Peter Kingstone.

Recently opened at Gallery 44, “Living in 10 Easy Lessons” features videos of 10 street-involved women teaching the artists how to apply false eyebrows, get free drinks and fend off physical attacks, among other skills.

The project also includes posters with slogans that Duvall and Kingstone distilled from their lessons, like “Always put two on, girls” and “Do not be rude.” A free take-home booklet contains notes from all 10 videos. 

Street-involved people “are always being taught how to write a resumé and other things that may not help in their particular world,” Kingstone explains in an interview at the gallery. “And they know all this interesting information that no one is asking them about and is not being taught to anybody. It would be nice if we could start recognizing those skills.”

As should already be apparent, this article provides a scratching-the-surface view of the show. You can read on for the rest at the Toronto Star.

I didn't include my own views of the show in the Star, and kept it more "newsy," sort of.

One thing I noticed in my own reactions to the show is I felt the personalities of the women, and the strength of the women, came across best in the videos. Some of the awkwardness or tenseness of the interaction (as well as warmth and friendliness) came across best in that forum too. The videos were the best part of the show for me.

The posters and the booklet I understood the artists wanting to have in a didactic way, but in these text documents I missed seeing the women represent themselves more so than having the artists represent them. In the posters and booklet, the artists have more power over the representation of the women involved, to an extent that I felt the work became weaker and I was also more uncomfortable with the power dynamic.

I do appreciate the gallery, the artists and some commentators (turions and Ken Moffatt) taking time to talk with me. If you are interested in discussing the work, I urge you to attend a panel from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on November 14 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Co-organized with the Ryerson University Faculty of Community Studies along with the Graduate Program in Social Work, it promises to look at some of the thorny issues that this project raises. 

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Interview with Matthew Teitelbaum on Canadian Art's website

On Wednesday morning, I interviewed Matthew Teitelbaum over the phone for Canadian Art's website.

Mostly, we discussed museum strategy stuffs. I had also really wanted to ask him about all the recent announcements of private-collection museums in Canada (like David Mirvish's and Michael Audain's) and what that means for public museum collections. So I did that.

In retrospect, I wish I had asked him about the ongoing concern many in the Toronto art community have that the museum does not reflect the artists here all that well--or in the rest of Ontario, I might add. But I didn't. Sorry! Here's an excerpt of the interview:

LS: On a different collections note—this month, two prominent Canadian collectors, David Mirvish and Michael Audain, announced plans to open their own private-collection museums. How do you feel about this development, given that it would seem to set some of their most important works off-limits from public Canadian museum collections?
MT: Well, you know, the short answer is that I think it’s terrific. I think it’s terrific that two extraordinary collectors—both in Canada and on the international stage—are making their work available to the public. I mean, the most important thing is that people who care about art, that students, that people who are thinking about what the visual arts mean in our culture are going to have access to two private collections.
And I think quite easy access, I might say—access in a way that truly celebrates both the collectors and these great works of art. So, you know, I’m not somebody who believes in the museum as the absolute pinnacle of recognition or legacy. I think there are many different routes to that, and this is one of them. I think it’s just terrific that they are thinking in that public-minded way.
LS: Private-collector museums have been a trend throughout the world for some time. Are there any particularly Canadian implications of this trend taking off here? I saw you in Miami last year where this type of institution is quite prevalent; does this signal a move to a more American-style situation in Canada?
MT: That’s a good question. I think it relates back to the frustration that many collectors have around the fact that offering collections to museums often means that works of art are hidden from public view. So it’s really a strategic response to the question, How can I make the work available to the public? And you know, those collectors who have chosen this route have, at the core, made a judgment that this is the best way for their work to be celebrated.
What I keep an eye on is the question of access. What I keep an eye on is the question of how these private collections refresh and give energy to the presentation of work.
But, you know, the reality is that we live in a really complicated time around issues of presentation of works of art. I mean, when Gagosian Gallery or White Cube create spaces that rival some of the very best museum spaces in the world and present exhibitions that are truly extraordinary by any standard in terms of the loans they get and the publications they produce, you see the beginning of the blurring between the public and the private world.
So there’s no doubt that in this complicated time there’s going to be blurring between the public museum and the private foundation. That’s why I think the most important issue to focus on is issues of accessibility—because I think one can find oneself in a dead end very quickly if one thinks about ownership as the sole question, i.e. that giving to the museum or giving to the public trust is the highest calling.
You know what the highest calling really is? To make work accessible and to have it shared by the broadest number of people.
For the rest, read on at Canadian Art. 
FYI the works the AGO ended up acquiring at Art Toronto were by Stephen Andrews, Itee Pootoogook and Julia Dault. 
(Image of Teitelbaum courtesy of the AGO)

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Review of Frida & Diego at the AGO in Saturday's Star

The Art Gallery of Ontario launched a joint show of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera on Saturday. On the same day, my review of the show was published in the Toronto Star. An excerpt:

Touting churro-spiced lattes in its espresso bar and an expanded Frank Restaurant margarita menu, the Art Gallery of Ontario launches the exhibition “Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics & Painting” with great tie-in fanfare today.

Featuring more than 80 works by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and more than 60 photographs of them by other artists, the exhibition’s stated aim is to show how their paintings reflect the dramatic story of their lives together and their artistic commitment to the politics of 1930s, 1940s and 1950s Mexico. 

Frida & Diego contains several not-to-be-missed masterpieces (see sidebar for a few). But I wasn’t convinced that the show succeeds in providing an accurate sense of Frida and Diego’s lives together — or of their politics, either. 

The exhibition opens with a large photograph of the couple embracing in San Francisco in 1931, as well as some small portraits and self-portraits.

Next comes Rivera’s early European works — including some Cubist paintings in the style of his Paris-days friend Picasso. Then, there’s a display about the overtly politicized murals and paintings Rivera’s best known for, including one where Kahlo hands out arms to the Mexican people.
From there, Kahlo’s early years and some of her paintings — such as 1932’s A Few Small Nips, her fingerprints visible on the frame — are shown before viewers enter a room where works by both artists hang together.

In many ways, this room’s a must-see, as it’s rare to see Riveras and Kahlos displayed side by side.
However, it’s hard to know what conclusions to draw from this display, as some earlier, less skilled Kahlos are paired with more mature, assured Riveras. Perhaps this is meant to balance the fact that a smaller proportion of Rivera’s career is represented in the show — or the fact that Kahlo’s work tends to surpass Rivera’s in integrating ambiguity and darkness, offering a haunting complexity that’s made her beloved of so many more contemporary viewers. (When they were alive, he was the star, not her.)

For the full review, read on at the Star.

One thing I wish I had underlined in the review in retrospect was the way that the show's dependence on photographs of the artists—which is enriching in many ways—is also part of the difficulty I had with it.

In the end, I felt that the exhibition glossed over the complexity that must have been a huge part of Frida & Diego's relationship. While that complexity is well reflected in Frida's paintings, it is difficult to surmise from photographs of the artists—because betrayal, pain and separation in somebody else's relationship is a near-impossible thing to portray in photographs, unless you happen to be doing it embedded-photojournalism style. And even if you are embedded, say, how do you picture long periods of separation or strife between couples? It's much easier to capture at least a surface level of togetherness in straight photography; much more difficult to capture apartness.

In any case, many interesting works in this show... just wish the storytelling had aimed for more completeness or complexity—not that I think anyone's full sense of relationship or politics can be captured by an outsider decades later, but it would have been nice to aim higher.

(Image: A man takes a photo of a large portrait of 20th century Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at the AGO, via the Toronto Star.)

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Monday, October 15, 2012

An interesting way of thinking about the effects of art

In recently reading Helen Humphreys' 2004 novel Wild Dogs, I came across a passage that I thought expressed, in a really interesting way, the effects of an artwork on one individual.

Here, one character (a non-artist) is commenting on the work of his roommate, Malcolm Dodd.

I don’t think Malcolm Dodd is a very good painter, but what do I know about painting anyway? At night, when he is watching his pornography, I sometimes sneak into the room he uses as a studio and have a look at what’s on the easel. It’s usually a tangled web of lines and colours. If I look hard, I might be able to see a bowl of apples or a tree, but often the subject of the painting remains a mystery to me. I cannot really see the value in it, although I will often like a particular colour. There was a red in one of the paintings that was deep and yet shimmering, like the sun going down underwater. The red outlined what looked like a range of hills, and I did think about that red after I had left the studio. It did stay with me, not quite a feeling, not nearly a memory, but something lasting; so I suppose one could determine that painting a success—at least with me.

When I think about it, I think the red lasted for me as a taste lasts in your mouth after something you’ve just eaten. The taste is so much less than the food was, but it’s also something other than a memory because it’s the echo of something so recent. What is it then? It’s not a memory, but rather it’s a barrier against forgetting.

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Monday, October 1, 2012

This one's for the archive: Nuit Blanche guide in the Toronto Star

It's a rule of publishing that you have to publish event guides in *advance* of that event. So me posting my Nuit Blanche picks at this time is a gesture quite simply for the archive. I did get out on the night of, briefly, and once again experienced Janet Cardiff's 40 Part Motet (which restored or redoubled my faith or hope in so many different things... what a wonderful experience).

I also went to Hart House and had a drink at Dean Baldwin's Piano Bar and twanged on the piano strings Gordon Monahan attached to the building; I found the Hart House scene a little quieter than in past years, but still fun.

Then I went downtown and saw a fight break out; less fun, more alarming, and definitely more disheartening.

Saw Trisha Brown's Planes, which I wish had been in a less dark, dank, setting, and I also saw Alison Norlen's Beacon; I *love* Norlen's large scale drawings, but in this case I felt the work had a hard time competing with the Brookfield atrium's architecture. Live and learn, I guess, which is always the case with these one-off installational events.

I'll note a more condensed version of this guide text below appeared in the Star on Saturday morning. I hope it was of use to some, though I felt no small degree of anxiety at potentially misdirecting folks. One never knows what will actually be most memorable (in a good or bad way) on Nuit Blanche. (I also wish I knew some better phrase than "culture vulture"; I've tried "culturati" in the past, but, well, no one seems happy about such things.)

And I wish in this piece I had been able (i.e. skilled) to better address Douglas Coupland's installation and his thoughts about it; sometimes I really feel he's the McLuhan of our era, a mode not well captured by the resulting event-guide intro. I hope to see some of his Slogans for the Early 21st Century before they close at Dan Faria Gallery this week. Love that series.

Anyway, here is the text that appeared in a more condensed version in the Star on Saturday. 


Over the past year, Douglas Coupland has crashed a car in Etobicoke, put out a YouTube call requesting that strangers mail “titanium pins, breast implants, pacemakers, stents, metal plates, dental retainers” and similar objects to a Vancouver PO box, and entered into a professional partnership with Kensington Market butcher Sanagan’s Meat Locker.

No need to worry, though—it was all for art.

Specifically, it was all preparation for Coupland’s parental-guidance-advised Nuit Blanche installation Museum of the Rapture, opening at 7:03 p.m. at City Hall’s parking garage.

There’s been “a bottomless amount of details involved” in prepping for this evening, Coupland says via email. “I had never heard of custom car crashing until this.” (Coupland provided the desired crash specs, while a GTA company specializing in such matters executed the job.)

Museum isn’t meant to address religious themes, Coupland’s said, but rather highlight the question “where does your body end and the universe begin?”—a question with more relevance than ever in our era of cloud computing and crowdsourcing.

The installation will also integrate some of his Slogans for the Early 21st Century series—paintings bearing humorous-yet-forboding mottos such as “Hoard anything you can’t download” and “That sickening feeling when you realize you’ve lost your cellphone will soon be permanent.” Coupland has created more than 100 of these slogan works in the lead-up to Nuit Blanche, with a selection of these also on display until October 6 at Daniel Faria Gallery.

Coupland is just one of more than 500 artists working madly today—as well as in weeks and months past—to get 158 Nuit Blanche projects set up for tonight.

“We’re recognizing that we’re not just inside our bodies any more—we’ve offshored our brains,” Coupland notes of our contemporary culture. “Nuit Blanche is about that, too—the evolving relationship between the mind and body.”

Trisha Brown Dance Company @ Dundee Place (1 Adelaide Street East) New York choreographer Brown, known for suspending dancers off of walls and buildings, came of age in the 1960s performance art vanguard of the Judson Dance Theatre. This restaging of her 1968 piece Planes is a rare opportunity to view an important—and stunning—early work.
Daniel Barrow at the Drake Hotel (1150 Queen Street West) The 2010 Sobey Art Award winner known for unforgettable overhead-projection tales goes large-scale here, with a performance held in the Drake’s windows every hour on the hour from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. and an epic piece projected on the front of the building all night.
Slavoj Zizek at City Hall (100 Queen Street West) A maverick name in cultural theory—Zizek is a visiting professor at Columbia and Princeton—forms an unexpected addition to our big art party, discussing capital and the end of the world from 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Jon Sasaki at Queen Street West & Brock Avenue The dryly witty Sasaki both deflates and inflates Nuit Blanche hype with this reality-show-style competition: who can stay awake in the cold all night, touching a cube van? The winner will get Sasaki’s $500 artist fee, stored in cash in the same vehicle.
Christian Marclay at the Power Plant (231 Queens Quay West) Yes, worldwide hit The Clock is here for a few months yet, but there’s only a few chances left to squeeze in the work’s wee morning hours and prove your art-loving bona fides. If you couldn’t manage it in Venice, why not try it here?
Also on the radar: Oliver Husain’s Moth Maze at City Hall’s parking garage (100 Queen Street West); Kelly Mark’s feature film debut, Scenes from a Film I’ll Never Make, with Alternate Scores, at the Eaton Centre (220 Yonge Street); Berlin-based Canadians Hadley & Maxwell’s perpetual load-in for “Nirvana’s last concert” at the Elgin (160 Victoria Street); and Ceal Floyer’s punny inversions at Richmond Adelaide Centre (130 Adelaide Street West).

Janet Cardiff at Trinity St. Paul’s (427 Bloor Street West) Cardiff’s audio installation The 40-Part Motet is one of the most universally loved contemporary artworks of the past decade, with good reason. Viewers worldwide have been moved by its sensitive reproduction of a 16th-century choral piece.
Shelley Miller at Metro Hall (55 John Street, viewable from King east of John) Graffiti and street-art fans will get an interesting segueway to contemporary-art appropriation practices in the work of Miller, a Montreal artist who tags walls and creates throw-ups with… cake icing. Sweet.
Geoffrey Pugen @ City Hall (100 Queen Street West) Pugen’s point-for-point re-enactment of Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe’s 1980 Wimbledon tiebreaker, co-created with Tibi Tibi Neuspiel, was a hit of last year’s Nuit Blanche. Will Pugen pull off the same crowd-pleasing charm in 416-788-9663, his re-creation of a 1990s rave? Don some day-glo bell bottoms and find out.
Yves Caizergues at Sun Life Financial Tower (150 King Street West) Old-school video game fans (or anyone who grew up in the 80s) will enjoy a shot of nostalgia with this light installation by France’s Caizergues. Titled Green Invaders, it displays gleeful, prancing space invaders prancing.
Built for Art at 401 Richmond (401 Richmond Street West) All-in-one-building events can provide a great introduction to Nuit Blanche, sans too much walking. Artist-led karaoke, screenings French-pop Scopitone videos of the 1960s, and galleries open to 2 a.m. are among the attractions.
Also keep your eyes peeled for: Hanson & Sonnenberg’s sculptures of “drunk” light standards, which will amuse nightlife denizens (or those sick of them) behind Toronto City Hall or at Temperance and Yonge; TIFF Bell Lightbox’s (350 King Street West) silent films with piano accompaniment or, if you’re feeling more gory, montage of 101 zombie disaster scenes; and Fly by Night at the Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West), another great under-one-roof event featuring civically minded projections by Broken City Lab and a time-capsule display.

Alison Norlen at Brookfield Place (181 Bay Street) Brookfield Place’s beautiful Calatrava atrium has hosted some lovely Nuit works. This year, Saskatchewan’s Norlen—known for large drawings of roller coasters—hopes to create a version of an old amusement-park lighthouse.
The Piano at Hart House (7 Hart House Circle) Hart House does a great Nuit Blanche in a nutshell, with bathrooms, rest areas and vending machines on site to boot. Some previous installments have featured heavier, more adult-appropriate material, but kids will likely enjoy the program this year: an exhibition focusing on pianos in art. It includes works by Gordon Monahan—an Ontario artist known for converting entire buildings into musical instruments—as well as Michael Snow and Dean Baldwin. Some of the emerging-artist installations and kinetic sculptures next door at UTAC also look fun.
Jeanne Holmes at Richmond Adelaide Centre (111 Richmond Street West) A family flash mob dance at 7 p.m. kicks off All Together Now, an all-night program featuring dance classes from ballet to bhangra to hip hop. BYO legwarmers.
Nuit Blanche at the Royal Conservatory of Music (273 Bloor Street West) Award-winning children’s book author Cybèle Young (Ten Birds) will create new artworks live, and Lemon Bucket Orkestra (“Toronto's only balkan-klezmer-gypsy-party-punk-super-band”)  will play fun, raucous tunes, among other all-night attractions.
Rhonda Weppler & Trevor Mahovsky at Bay Adelaide Centre (333 Bay Street) Known in the art world for their craft-heavy critiques of consumerism, this Vancouver duo will add a bright, populist Nuit note to their oeuvre, creating a lantern-shaped convenience store that will give away 2,000 lanterns during the evening. Some of the other items in the “store” might be eccentric, but the lantern gesture is meant in the spirit of much-loved events like the Singapore Lantern Festival and Basel’s Fasnacht.
Also keep in mind: Low-key, family-friendly community events like shadow-puppetry, music and mural-making till midnight at Regent Park’s new Daniels Spectrum (585 Dundas Street East) and Google Earth projections and collaborative book writing for most of the evening at Artscape Wychwood Barns (601 Christie Street).

Layout: Nuit Blanche’s officially curated exhibition projects are in one walkable zone this year bounded by Peter Street to the west, Gerrard Street to the north, Jarvis Street to the east and Front Street to the south. Independent projects stretch as far as Roncesvalles, St. Clair, Greenwood and Queens Quay.
Best routes: Street closures will create pedestrian thoroughfares on Yonge between Wellington and Gerrard, Bay between Wellington and Dundas, Queen between Jarvis and University, King between Jarvis and Peter, and Church between Front and Shuter. Walk these routes and you’re likely to catch (or be directed to) most of the curated projects.
Transportation: The Yonge-University-Spadina subway will run all night from Keele to Woodbine, as will the Bloor-Danforth line from St. Clair West to Eglinton. Last trains depart terminals at 7 a.m. Sunday. GO Transit will have more late-night service; check for details. Dundas, Queen, King and (on GO) Union are the best stations to disembark for official exhibition projects.
Food: Food trucks are new this year. You’ll find them in three spots: Bay Street north of King (near the TD Centre), Albert Street east of Bay (west entrance of Eaton Centre) and Church Street north of Queen (near Metropolitan United Church). Some restaurants and bars are open late; check Nuit Blanche’s website for the details. It’s always good to bring snacks and water from home, just in case.
Washrooms: Washrooms and rest areas can be found at each of the food truck areas listed above as well as on King Street West at John (near Metro Hall) and Gould Street east of Yonge (near Ryerson).
Information booths & first aid: Information booths will be in David Pecaut Square (King Street West between Simcoe and John), Yonge-Dundas Square and Metropolitan United Church (Queen Street East at Church). First aid stations are also nearby each of these.
Accessibility: Each Nuit Blanche venue is asked to identify whether their location is accessible. Check the Nuit guide and website for designations.
Overall: Dress for the weather, be flexible (sometimes standing in line just isn’t worth it) and keep an open mind.


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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Evan Penny article out today in Toronto Star

Earlier this week, I was lucky to speak to Evan Penny about this work on view at the Art Gallery of Ontario exhibition "Re Figured."

Today, a related article was published in the Toronto Star. Here's an excerpt:

Double-takes abound at Evan Penny: Re Figured, just opened at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Penny, a Toronto-based artist, has been making wondrous, hyper-real sculptures of the human form for more than 30 years. Along the way, he’s gained international acclaim for his skill in recreating, with exacting detail, the textures, forms and gestures of the human body. Certainly, it can take a few looks to be sure there aren’t actual people lurking in his silicone-and-human-hair creations.

Also worthy of a double-take, however, given Penny’s aesthetic, technical and critical success, is the fact that Re Figured is only the first AGO solo show for this masterful local.

Re Figured was actually developed by German curator Daniel J. Schreiber, who premiered it at the Kunsthalle Tubingen in June 2011, then toured it to Austria’s Museum der Moderne Salzburg and Italy’s Museo delle Arti Cantanzaro before its final stop here.

Yet Penny, who turns 60 next year, is gracious about his hometown gallery having taken a while to honour his achievements.

“Probably all artists would say it [the recognition] always comes too late, right?” he says, smiling. “But I think, in fact, this is kind of perfect timing.”

For the full story, read on at

(Image of Evan Penny with his work Old Self: Portrait of the Artist as He Will (Not) Be #1, Variation of 4, 2010 © Evan Penny 2012)

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Talk at Gallery 44 on September 22 for Canadian Art Gallery Hop

Hey! Just wanted to say that I will be emerging from under my vast electronic rock to give a brief talk on Saturday, September 22, as part of the Canadian Art Gallery Hop.

The talk will be at Gallery 44, 401 Richmond Street West, at 1:30 p.m. It will address the work of Else Marie Hagen, whose exhibition at Gallery 44 opens today.

The talk (which is free, like all Gallery Hop day activities) is actually part of an art tour of the Richmond and Spadina area. Here are the details from the Gallery Hop site:

TOUR: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.; meet at Onsite [at] OCAD University, 230 Richmond St. W.
: 1:30 p.m. at Gallery 44, 120–401 Richmond St. W.

Assistant Curator at Onsite [at] OCAD University Lisa Deanne Smith conducts this tour of Richmond St. W. and Spadina Ave. galleries. At Gallery 44, writer, editor and Canadian Art  Managing Online Editor Leah Sandals speaks about Else Marie Hagen’s engagement with the materiality of the image in her exhibition “Det Synlige” (“The Visible”) at Gallery 44.

Tour itinerary:
1. “Letter Rip! Art, Words and Toronto” (Onsite [at] OCAD University, 230 Richmond St. W.)
2a. Else Marie Hagen (Gallery 44, 120–401 Richmond St. W.)
2b. Brian Groombridge (YYZ Artists’ Outlet, 140–401 Richmond St. W.)
2c. Andrée-Anne Dupuis-Bourret (Open Studio, 104–401 Richmond St. W.)
3a. Annie Sakkab (Toronto Image Works, 207–80 Spadina Ave.)
3b. Luther Price (CONTACT Gallery, 310–80 Spadina Ave.)

In the Neighbourhood:
3c. Janet Jones (Katzman Kamen Gallery, 406–80 Spadina Ave.)
3d. Selected gallery artists (Trias Gallery, 403–80 Spadina Ave.)
3e. “New Biology 2” (Moore Gallery, 404–80 Spadina Ave.)

There are 7 other tours and talks programs happening on the 22nd, as well as a free panel at 11 a.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and a free magazine launch at Diaz Contemporary from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (You have to RSVP for the launch by September 17, though, to

Also, *tonight* there is a free conversation between the artist and C Magazine editor Amish Morrell, who wrote the exhibition essay. It's also recommended.

For more information visit the Gallery 44 website and the Gallery Hop Talks & Tours page.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Fiiiiiiiinally Read: Swann by Carol Shields

The latest installment of Fiiiiiiiiinally Read brings me to Swann by Carol Shields, which I read with much delight this summer.

Though it doesn't concern visual art, Swann does a terrific job of suggesting the various ways that the creative work of a single individual (in this case, a little-known (fictional) poet, Mary Swann) can be appropriated, edited and reshaped by others into something completely different.

It also raised a question for me: even if we alter a creative work just a little bit, or make it shape our own arguments or views just a little bit, does that make the work, in a way, completely different from what the creator intended?

As with anything by Shields, it's not just the overarching intellectual theme that sings here. Shields' capacity to observe and articulate details of so-called everyday life, whether it be in academia, publishing or curatorial work (of which an amateur version is presented), is stellar. The clothes people wear, the food they eat, the partners they choose—Shields had a wonderful gift and talent for enriching readers with a full, round sense of life in her characters and settings.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who studies the lives and works of creative people, whether academically or otherwise. (Though academia does perhaps get the most fun skewering/tributing here. And Shields skewering often tempers the sharp with the gentle, and vice versa, one of the most wonderful things, I find, about reading her work.)

For more about Shields—and the way her work was sometimes overlooked by those who found it too comedic or "domestic" (aka, often, "feminine"), read this tribute Margaret Atwood wrote following Shields' death in 2003. (Though you may rightfully question this version of her life, and many others, as Shields herself does in Swann.)

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Friday, August 10, 2012

In the zone again...

Yep! This is where I'm at. Back on August 20.

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Q&A with Mark Clintberg at

 Artist/critic/curator Mark Clintberg is a multitalented guy; he's published research on artist restaurants, installed signage at the Banff Centre, and is working on his PhD at Concordia University.

So I felt lucky to connect with this busy man a few weeks back on the occasion of his installation Behind this lies my true desire for you at at the Art Gallery of Alberta.

Building on past works where Clintberg had used signage and text to address ideas of love and relationship, Behind this lies my true desire for you seems to speak of a kind of longing that museums themselves may have. 

A condensed Q&A related to our phone conversation was posted at Here's an excerpt:

LS: Thinking along the lines of passion and desire and your past work, as well as this new project, it came to mind for me that one purpose of an art institution is to encourage admiration or desire or passion for art among viewers. What do you think of that?
MC: Well, I think that’s absolutely true for me. The AGA, which used to be Edmonton Art Gallery, was the first place I learned to love art. I grew up in Stony Plain, about a 45-minute drive from the gallery, and my family used to take me there to see shows from an early age. 

I remember seeing a lot of shows there that really fostered a strong love for art. There was a Stan Douglas show that was really meaningful for me as a teenager. I definitely remember an early Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller work there, which, as someone growing up in a small town, really exploded my idea of what art could be on a material level. There was an Attila Richard Lukacs show; it was the first time I had ever heard of an art exhibition with a mature content rating, so that you needed to be a certain age or have a parent’s permission to go. I made sure to see it as soon as I could! 

Since I’m also pursuing a PhD in art history, it’s very easy to fall into a pattern of considering art from an analytic, thoughtful perspective that is built around proving something or demonstrating an argument that’s purely about reason. I really believe that art institutions are places for reason and for thinking, but they are also places for feeling, too—for passionate feeling. 

I think if art institutions are serious about being places that are about inviting publics to engage, then they need to be willing to allow publics to engage on an emotional level, not just on the level of thought or rationality.

Read the full Q&A at, and find out more about Mark on his website.  

(View of Mark's installation at an artist talk at the Art Gallery of Alberta; photo by the AGA) 

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Rita Davies leaves City of Toronto Culture Post

Still catching up on news from while I was on vacation... today in the Toronto Star I learned that Rita Davies stepped down from her post as executive director of culture at the City of Toronto, and that her last day was July 20.

I don't know Davies, but I did interview her a couple of times and she struck me as an individual who was defnitely passionate about making the city a better place through the arts, and about making the city a better place for artists and creators. She held the position, reports state, for 13 years.

As the Toronto Arts Council ED Claire Hopkinson noted in a related release, Davies helped make possible the founding of Artscape, and by extension Artscape's studio and living spaces for artists. Hopkinson also notes that Davies made great strides on the equity front in terms of arts funding.

Most recently, Davies might be known for providing great support and leadership to the Creative Capital Gains project, a 2011 consultation and reporting endeavour aimed at safeguarding arts funding in a cuts-seeking environment at Toronto City Hall.

The Star reports that it's unclear whether Davies will be replaced.

(Image of  Toronto City Hall via the City of Toronto)

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

When Poor Planning Gives Public Art Initiatives a Bad Name

Just back from a vacation in Calgary, and while most of my time was spent with family, I did have some public-arty reflections along the way.

Driving by the Calatrava-designed Peace Bridge on Memorial Drive, I got to see for myself just how close it is to three other existing pedestrian bridges over the Bow River. According to Wikipedia, the distances are just "275m west, 400m west, and 900m east" of the Calatrava bridge location. Having walked and biked those previously existing bridges during the time I did live in Calgary, the Peace Bridge location does seem a bit strange--couldn't it have gone in a location that better needed a pedestrian bridge? Or have replaced an existing one?

My concern about the less-than-stellar planning around this bridge initiative—like, why give people a good reason to hate on public art? Why not put it in a better location where it will be less wasteful of resources from an infrastructure perspective?—intensified when it was pointed out to me that this project included only a bridge over the river, not a safe pedestrian crossing over the adjoining thoroughfare of Memorial Drive.

As a result, many Peace Bridge users have been unsafely jaywalking across the busy Memorial Drive, which, being somewhat twisty, has poor visibility, and which, as a major downtown artery, can be quite busy.  

The Calgary Herald reported in March that the City of Calgary is acting to resolve this problem by adding a crosswalk, but I didn't see any such crosswalk during my visit. In a more recent article in Metro Calgary, aldermen also trumpeted the success of the bridge, saying usage has well exceeded forecasts—I can definitely see the aesthetic appeal of the bridge and its power to create a kind of destination, but I also don't think that completely excuses the infrastructure doubling.

In any case, driving by the bridge did prompt me to consider the ways public art can go wrong, even when the creative is stellar and the overall result is largely positive for many people. 

Drew Anderson at FFWD also recently posted a reflection on the bridge as being a consequence of what I'll call "world-class city" anxieties, resulting in a generic, rather than particular, feel to new art and design projects. (These anxieties aren't just for Toronto, ya'll!)

Basically, I remain a big supporter of public art and related initiatives, but it remains frustrating to see poor planning that gives citizens quite good reasons reasons to be skeptical or unwelcoming of public art in general.

If anyone has other examples of the ways poor planning can hamper promising public art, feel free to post in the comments.  

(Image: Nighttime view of Peace Bridge by Skeezix1000 at Wikimedia)

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Away until July 24

Vacation time! I'll be away from my desk until July 24. No comments will be moderated during until that date. Happy summer!

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Recommended: New Yorker profile of Nicholas Serota

I feel like I'm probably the last person in the world with an interest in museums to have read the Nicholas Serota profile in the July 2 New Yorker. I finally read it today (or in the terminology I like to use here more of late, I fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinally read it today) and recommend it.

If you have trouble tracking a copy down, you can find a link to a PDF here at Real Clear Arts.

One thing the story definitely comes back to again and again (as does the Real Clear Arts post) is the spectrum of opinion that exists in the art world about whether museums should be lively, casual, community friendly spaces or not. One of the big arguments against that comes up is that this type of space is not adequately reverential towards the art itself, or doesn't encourage a reverence or deep engagement--that it ultimately distracts from the art.

Personally, I think even in a quiet, reverential environment, many people spend only a few moments looking at most of the art. A reverential environment does not in itself guarantee reverence in the viewer, in my opinion.

Of course, I can be reasonable about this and say that there are limits--that a lot of noise and distraction is not conducive to a very deep art experience either. But if distraction and noise and crowds themselves are verboten to these types of museum critics, why do very respected museums manage to maintain that respect while hosting huge parties, galas and openings? Why do so few critics object to art being a backdrop at those types of experience? Or why is that not such a big deal to them?

I'm going down the rabbit hole of imagined argument a bit here.

To step back and summarize, I have to say I find Serota and Tate's commitment to public access and friendliness inspiring. And I was very impressed to learn in this article that their free collection admission is still maintained with just 40% of its funding coming from the government. By comparison, the National Gallery of Canada has been receiving roughly 80% of its funding from the government, and the permanent collection costs money to see most hours of the week.

I also appreciate that the article/Serota also pointed out that it's not just free admission, but strong exhibitions, that also make a museum popular. And that artists are to be integrated into the process of developing the museum too, or shaping it. 

(Image of Tate Modern by Michael Reeve from Wikimedia)

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Hello, Wide Open Spaces: Kara Uzelman talks Saskatchewan Moves at

Earlier this month, my interest was piqued when I saw a release from Saskatoon's AKA Gallery stating that artist Kara Uzelman was residing in a small town in Saskatchewan.

I had thought of Uzelman more as a Vancouver- and Berlin-based artist, having seen her work at the Power Plant, Red Bull Projects and Mercer Union here in Toronto and read about a project where she excavated her Vancouver backyard.

Why, I thought, would someone younger and so evidently growing audiences in these art centres be drawn to a town of 450?

Well, this week, Uzelman kindly indulged my curiosity about her move in a phone conversation from her new home in Nokomis, Saskatchewan, where she lives with her partner Jeffrey Allport. We also discussed she and Allport's first collaborative exhibition, which is currently taking place at AKA Gallery. 

Some of that conversation ended up in a kind of previewy item at, where I work part-time. Here's an excerpt:

“I feel like my work is really somehow based in Canada,” Uzelman says over the phone from her new home. “I didn’t really want to live in Germany permanently, and Vancouver was just getting too expensive to be able to both live and travel.” (By contrast, the house she and Allport purchased cost just $28,000 while remaining in easy driving distance to Regina, Saskatoon and their international airports.)

Uzelman is known for an archaeological approach to her practice—she once dug up the backyard of her Vancouver house—as well as her interest in found materials. She notes that both these tendencies, and her family background and high-school years in Saskatoon, are also part of what made the move a good fit. 

“In a foreign country, I just didn’t feel totally comfortable [using found materials] because there’s a whole history and culture there that I’m not intimately aware of. Here, it’s somehow a little more comfortable working that way.”

You can read the rest over at I also note some of the other contemporary Canadian artists who have been drawn to the frugal pleasures of small-town SK living. Residing in Toronto as I do, I have to say I envy the amount of space they have, which is a factor that likely drives my interest in stories such as these. 

Oh, also to add to my envy, they live near North America's oldest designated bird sanctuary, Last Mountain Lake. It's part of the inspiration for the title of their AKA Gallery exhibition, Warblers.

(Image of Uzelman & Allport's Warblers installation @ AKA Gallery by Devon McAdam via

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Author Photos Article out in July/August Quill & Quire

 Who reads a book based on its author photo? Not many readers, I'd say.

But who looks at the author photo on a given book? And gives it some consideration? Likely most readers.

The current July/August issue of Quill & Quire features an article by yours truly about the tricky, slippery matter of the author photo.

Some exhibitions of late—like Shelley Grimson's show of early Atwood and Ondaatje portraits in Toronto, and Barry Peterson and Blaise Pascal's ongoing travelling exhibition of West-Coast author photos in Vancouver—have demonstrated some of the public's interest in this form of imagery.

At the same time, few publishers are willing to pay anymore for professionally done author photos, even as they recognize their importance in engaging readers and media outlets. 

To find out more—and see some unusual author pics—check out that current issue of Quill & Quire, on newsstands and in libraries now.

(It's a good reminder to me, actually to update the photo I use on Twitter and this blog—got some new glasses recently and am sporting a few more gray hairs to boot!)

(Image: Shelly Grimson's circa-1970 portrait of Michael Ondaatje via Torontoist)

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinally Read: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

So this week, I fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinally read Marilynne Robinson's prizewinning 2004 novel Gilead.

Gilead has little, if anything, to do with visual art, but it has some terrific observations in it about reading and writing and their potential roles in people's lives. The book takes the form of a long letter than an elderly reverend is writing to his young son for him to read long after his death, so it's apropos that these kinds of thoughts come up.

Praise for Robinson's eloquent, gemlike writing style has been delivered by the ton already elsewhere, but I have to reiterate it; Robinson manages to condense a lot of wisdom and cogent observations of human life into a relatively slim volume.

I particularly enjoyed the parts where Robinson's narrator discusses reading and writing in relation to solitude and loneliness.

At a presentation for York University grad students a few years ago, I tried, by much slimmer means, to make a related observation about art writing, or arts criticism in general—that beyond providing a service to the readers (telling them whether or not it might be worth their time and energy to go see an exhibition or movie or play, or read a given book or listen to a given album), criticism can be about not being alone with one's observations about an exhibition, movie, play, book or album.

This can, if we extend Robinson's observations below, be true whether one is writing the criticism or reading it. It's obviously not the only impetus behind reading and writing, but it is one I'm glad she acknowledged.

Here are some passages on this topic from the book:

For me writing has always felt like praying, even when I wasn’t writing prayers, as I was often enough. You feel that you are with someone. I feel I am with you now, whatever that can mean, considering that you’re only a little fellow now and when you’re a man you might find these letters of no interest. Or they might never reach you, for any of a number of reasons. Well, but how deeply I regret any sadness you have suffered and how grateful I am in anticipation of any good you have enjoyed. That is to say, I pray for you. And there’s an intimacy in it. That’s the truth.


… I’ve developed a great reputation for wisdom by ordering far more books than I ever had time to read, and reading more books, by far, than I learned anything useful from, except, of course, that some very tedious gentlemen have written books. This is not a new insight, but the truth of it is something you have to experience to fully grasp.

Thank God for them all, of course, and for that strange interval, which was most of my life, when I read out of loneliness, and when bad company was much better than no company. You can love a bad book for its haplessness or pomposity or gall, if you have that starveling appetite for things human, which I devoutly hope you never will have. “The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry sould every bitter thing is sweet.” There are pleasures to be found where you would never look for them. That’s a bit of fatherly wisdom, but it’s also the Lord’s truth, and a thing I know from my own long experience. 

Now I need to read Robinson's Housekeeping,  first published in the 1980s. She took a long time between the two books, but the wisdom is still packed in there, for sure. 

(Image from MacMillan USA)

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Worth Consideration: Doug Borwick on Questioning Institutional Assumptions

I already RT'd this on Twitter, but wanted to call attention on the blog as well. Over at Artsjournal, arts-engagement consultant Doug Borwick has written a brief post about the value of reexamining some basic arts-engagement assumptions: namely, the belief that art need the be-all and end-all of an art institution's focus.

As Borwick writes,

the deification of art removes (or at least distances) it from its role in human experience. And it is that role that is crucial. Isn’t it the power the arts have in our own lives that drew us to the field? In addition, and this is the important part with respect to engagement, focus on the art as opposed to its role in individuals’ lives makes it easier to (unconsciously) ignore the fact that many are not moved by what we do. The art-focused view has the subliminal effect of supporting the “If we build it . . .” mindset. This impedes the potential for community engagement. 

(Bolding is the author's.)

Though I really love the way art objects manage to speak directly to various people through space and time, I appreciate the point he is trying to make—that my overvaluing the object in a material sense, we may be downplaying the human experiences around it which give it other kinds of community and individual value.

Read the whole post over at Engaging Matters.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Le Cultural Access Sad: Ontario Science Centre hikes adult admission, becoming most expensive museum to visit in Ontario

Much as I would *not* like to rag upon museums a little bit more on the access front, it behooves me to do so again today.

As of July 1, adult admission at the Ontario Science Centre has been raised from $20 to $22. (HST included.)

Granted, it was the Ontario Government, of which the OSC is an agency, which mandated this change, not the OSC itself. Sadly, however, it gives the OSC the dubious honour of being the most expensive museum to visit in Ontario (as far as I know, feel free to correct me)--a mantle once worn by the ROM, which was $24 for adults to visit until it dropped its prices last fall.

Also, there are no free hours at the OSC to provide community access, though it does participate to a limited extent in the Toronto Public Library's Museum Arts Pass program.

It is especially sad to me that an institution which trumpets "40 Years of Innovation" can't innovate to improve its community access.

(Image of the OSC from its website)

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