W(here) now? Final thoughts

The W(here) festival has come and gone for this year, but I wanted to wrap it up by jotting down some of my thoughts and memories of the project.

From day one, the Kitchen pARTy, the community was buzzing with excitement; Carver’s, the local coffee shop in Pictou, was packed. As one of the speaking artists, I was unsure of the topic, what the heck I should be talking to this crew about. I ended up speaking briefly on my own art practice, as did the other speakers. There were textile artists, videographers, sculptors, painters, you name it. Susan Tilsley Manley makes mixed media pieces with rusty gadgets from her barn. You get the idea.

What I really wanted to talk about was artists in the area and their practice. I wanted to ask each artist how they live out in middle of nowhere Nova Scotia and have an art career as well. Some artists have a day job. Some artists teach, others actually have managed to maintain an art practice that is successful from this place. This small town whose industry has passed and most of the younger generation has moved away. Is it though the internet that they manage to hold their careers? Are they jet setters, hopping on planes to group shows in New York or Barcelona?

The Award Ribbons for Places was first and foremost, fun. There we were, a group of enthusiastic locals, making crafts at the Old Bayview School House, something I hadn’t done since I joined the 4H club when I was very young.
I am now a huge fan of artist Marlene Creates . I have a lot of respect for her work as an artist, not to mention she is just a fantastic lady! Yes, this project was fun; but it was also emotional and raised our awareness of the “W(here)” around us. For me, this installation project was the most successful of the entire festival. I traveled with a group of cars from place to place, seeing parts of Pictou County that I had never seen before.
 At each stop, we awarded our special places with a ribbon, and spoke about the spot much like you would give a short speech to the prize winner in any ceremony. It got us all thinking about this beautiful community in a new light. I gave my award to the “Little Island” on Waterside Beach. It is this little mound of rock and clay that used to be acres, but has been eroding more and more each year. As the story goes, the island used to have sheep on it, and after that volkswagon minivans would drive up on it in the summer. My generation would tent on the land that was left, and now there is barely enough grass for people to sit on. If the island was living, I am sure it would have been like Christopher Plummer, who as the age of 82, received his first Oscar. “It’s about time! This is what I have worked so hard for.”

There were several projects that I did not participate in; living in Toronto, I needed some time with my own Pictou places and people to hold me over until Christmas. But I did come to the closing event and launch of “Memory Factory”, an online project by filmmakers David Craig and Katherine Knight. I love this project. Craig and Knight moved to Caribou Harbour several years ago into an old farmhouse. They began to research about W(here) they were. Being artists, they turned their quest into a body of work, and this amazing compilation of stories and images is the end result. How great would it be if we all took the time to find out W(here) we are when we land in an area?
So, I left the festival all excited, determined and of course, sad it was over. I always look for reasons to come home; but W(here) gave me a reason to come home that is connected with my life in the city, my art career.



Memory Factory: Caribou Harbour closes W(here) Festival 2012

When filmmakers David Craig and Katherine Knight moved to the “Old Simpson house” in Braeshore, Nova Scotia, they soon came to discover that the history of the area and the house were so rich, it impacted the entire community around them for over 100 years.

Memory Factory: Caribou Harbour “celebrates Caribou Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada past and present. The project invites contributions in terms of memories, facts and reflections of this place. It aims to be a receptacle for the oral histories gathered from near and far about lives lived in and around this area.”

The project is an online collection of stories, images and videos all focused on the history of Maritime Packers, a lobster packing plant, purportedly the largest in the world during its heyday, which was open from approximately 1875 – 1975.

Memory Factory was developed by Katherine Knight of York University, Department of Visual Art with the assistance of David Craig and Site Media Inc. (www.sitemedia.ca ) in cooperation with the Northumberland Fisheries Museum of Pictou, Nova Scotia. It intends to foster a greater awareness and understanding of the fishing industry and its history in this part of the Northumberland Straight.

Site Media has produced four documentaries on Canadian artists: Annie PootoogookKinngait: Riding Light into the WorldPretend Not to See Me: The Art of Colette Urban, which received Special Mention at the 2010 Ecofilm Festival in Rhodos, Greece; and KOOP – The Art of Wanda Koop, which premiered as the gala night selection at the 2011 Reel Artists Film Festival, Toronto. Site Media Inc. is currently developing a film on the architecture of Todd Saunders on Fogo Island, NL.

The launch of Memory Factory was the perfect end to the inaugural W(here) Festival. Each project both took a journey to answer the question “Where is here?” and what they came up with was a refreshing reminder of pride and joy in being exactly where you are.


W(here) day 2 – Award Ribbons and unexpected artistic discoveries

Visitng Artist Marlene Creates enjoys the boat ride to Pictou Island

Award Ribbons for Places is a project headed by visiting artist Marlene Creates as part of a very eventful day two of the W(here) Festival.Creates is an environmental artist and poet who lives and works in Portugal Cove, Newfoundland, Canada. “For over thirty years her work has been an exploration of the relationship between human experience, memory, language and the land, and the impact they have on each other.” In this installation project, locals from the area (including myself) created award ribbons for a place in Pictou that had special significance to them. The participants will then, over the next couple of days, travel to each place and present the place with their ribbon. Documentation of this will be posted on the W(here) website, so be sure to visit back often.www.wherefestival.ca What is my special place? Well, you will have to stay tuned tomorrow! Myself and fellow Pictonian John Burns accidentally chose the very same place, and so will be doing a bit of a collaborative presentation that is sure to knock your socks off.   In the afternoon, using the framework of the life and times of Pictou Island nurse, Margaret MacDonald (1897-1977), we travelled to Pictou Island, a small private island off the coast of Caribou, NS. On Pictou Island, writer Susan Sellers lead us to various sites that played a major role in MacDonald’s life. The walk was informative and adventurous, but I was wondering how the tour would tie in with the W(here) festival’s connection of art and a sense of place. It was then that we ran into Maureen Hull, also a writer ( Check out her book “The View from a Kite“. I give it two thumbs up) and an Islander who took us to the Community Centre, where several of her neighbors and her have been working on a quilt.

Artouteast readers, I am well aware that this masterpiece will not be regarded as “high art”; this quilt will probably never be displayed in a gallery alongside the quilted works of Joyce Weiland or Anna Torma. But this quilt has the technique of masters, the passion of any artist and the history and tradition reminding the medium of its roots. It is a celebration of art and place, which is exactly what W(here) is all about.

For more on the history of Margaret MacDonald, be sure to read Susan Summer’s article “Pictou Island’s unsung heroine”www.pictouisland.com

Sweetest Little Thing – spreading the love since 1999

I posted it last year, and I will continue to post every year; The Sweetest Little Thing is the best thing to come out of Valentines Day since….well…its the best thing to come out of Valentines Day.

Micah Lexier and Jon Sasaki A collaborative sculpture consisting of two boards accomplishing something together that neither could do alone, 2012

Now in its 13th year, The Sweetest Little Thing is the most important annual fundraising event for The Owens Art Gallery and Struts Gallery & Faucet Media Arts Centre in Sackville, New Brunswick. It’s not hard to see the love that Struts Gallery has spread to the art scene world wide, with participants such as Graeme Patterson, Micah Lexier, Jon Sasaki, and Eliza Griffiths.

Presented in partnership on Valentine’s Day,The Sweetest Little Thing combines a contemporary art auction with a cake walk and dance. The event has become a seasonal highlight for the community, featuring artists, friends and supporters from across the country and beyond.

The funds raised go directly to the ongoing programming of the galleries.

Bidding closes at 5pm. (New Brunswick time) Tuesday, February 14th at 7:30pm.


Art! Beer! Hockey! Now that I have your attention…

How does an Art installation come to be posted on the Canadian Beer News website? Amazing. Enter “The King and I”, a collaboration between Halifax based artist and curator Eleanor King; and Toronto based Stefan Hancherow.  Opening on February 4th, Hockey Bar will transform the Confederation Centre for the Arts’ Entrance Gallery in Prince Edward Island “into a welcoming social space that features both hockey and beer related artworks alongside [Prince Edward] Island hockey memorabilia.”

The King and I

The King and I - Eleanor King and Stefan Hancherow

Imagine your favorite sports bar housing  Graeme Patterson’s Ten Point Game, a table-hockey based sculpture featuring an animation narrated by Darryl Sittler; Ali Nickerson’s altered bar stool, Colleen; and, Andy Warhol’s Wayne Gretzky 99. And what would the ambiance be without an assortment of beer kegs, bottles and labels?

This dynamic duo is definitely onto something, and it has the art community and sports fans alike talking and, well, drinking beer.

The Confederation Centre for the Arts

The King and I

Page and Strange’s one night stand with Toronto June 23rd

Gallery Page and Strange, a gallery in the heart of Halifax,  is hitting the road to host a one night show to Toronto! 
The event this Thursday at the Richmond (477 Richmond Street West) features new work by Jonathan Johnson, Ivan Murphy, Jessica Korderas, Drew Klassen, Wayne Boucher, Peter Hill, Jack Bishop, Mara Korkola, John McEwen, Tom Hammick, Karen Kulyk, Christian McLeod and Patrick Rapati.  Also featuring work by Gerald Ferguson, Peter DiGesu, Melissa Kuntz, Colin Lyons and Shelley Mansel.  The Victorias (Gallery owners Victoria Page and Victoria Strange) will also have other surprises to show you on request.

Artists in attendance will include Ivan Murphy, Jessica Korderas, Peter Hill, Christian McLeod, Jonathan Johnson and John McEwen.

Be sure to go down to the Richmond from 6 to 9pm this Thursday for a glass of wine and artouteast at its finest.


Afterthoughts on Love and Napalm


First of all, I’m sorry for the couple of weeks of artouteast hiatus! We’re back, and although this exhibition ended last week, it needs to be posted on artouteast.


In an abandoned store in Sackville, New Brunswick, artist/dj/curator Jon Cleveland organized “Love and Napalm”, a group show filled with local and international talent. And as I always say, nothing says love like Zombies and jelly jesuses.

The show, which ran until April 15th, featured work by artists from New Brunswick, Montreal, Vancouver and Paris,  including Jon Cleveland, Corey Isenor, Ainslie Moss, Jerry Ropson, Erika Sullivan, Jon Shaw, Sean Corscadden and Erin Ramsay, as well as an exciting collection of prints, posters and paintings by French artists 3615, Kashink, Papy Microgram, FMR, Gorellaume Undemi, Sword, and Kuny.

As only Sackville can do,  really great artistic talent pops up in places where you least expect it; this time in an old dollarstore.

click here for more info

Jon Cleveland, 40 nights (detail), Gelatin

%d bloggers like this: