For those of you who don’t know, let me introduce you to my home town, Pictou, Nova Scotia. Nestled on the Northumberland Strait, it’s a community of fishin’ and farmin’. My lovely friend and fellow Pictonian Mary MacDonald, created the W(here) Festival as the research project for her Masters of Fine Arts degree at OCAD University in Toronto in Criticism & Curatorial Practice. This festival has proved to be so much more than that, bringing “together local artists, diverse communities and visiting artists in a rich program for all ages. Discussions with the local community will form the basis from which the project will grow as well as the artists, locations and modes of presentation chosen.”
Tonight was the Launch event, the “Kitchen Party” was a social event, with artists talks and discussions. Painters, sculptors, filmmakers, textile artists, all with a common thread of place, came to share their stories and work with the community.
Artists included Dawn MacNutt, Susan Tilsley Manley, St. Clair Prest, Carolyn Vienneau, Fenn Martin, Eliza Fernbach, and Amanda MacDonald.
Image (l to r): Dawn MacNutt, Timeless Figure, 66.9 in..; Fenn Martin, Ceramic relief sculpture, approximately 120 x 60 in.
Okay, so this is LONG over due. While meandering around the Artist Project here in the Toronto back in March, I came across Jenna Faye Powell’s work. At the time, she was working towards her MFA at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (she is now officially a Master of Fine Art! Congrats Jenna!) and was part of the Artist Project’s UNTAPPED Emerging Artist Exhibition.
Her current body of work is focused on a fictitious place called “Chesterfield”. She says about Chesterfield:
It is an illusory place I have lovingly created to support and develop the many aesthetic, theoretical, and historical inquiries I have around middle class lifestyle. It is constantly changing and adapting to suit my artistic needs. It is a place brimming with mundane everydayness; it is both fantastical and pathetic, full of romance and familiarity. Don’t be deceived though. Chesterfield is not all laughter and sunshine. From suburban sprawl to poor air quality, Chesterfield is one full of contradictions, irony (and failed irony), autobiographical confessions, cheeky narratives, illusions and allusions, and nonsensical exploration: Welcome to Chesterfield!
I would love to see Chesterfield in Toronto, sprawling across the common area around city hall or peeking it’s little suburban head around a busy corner where tall men in tall suits work in tall building and get tall lattes.
If you happen to be one of those people who think of the east coast in summer time as one big camping trip, where we all sit in boats or on the shore in our sweats, drinkin’ beers and singing songs…
Well, you’re not far off.
Fellow artist and Nova Scotian (never mind that we are from the same wonderful town, Pictou!) Mary MacDonald is capturing a piece of the bonfire culture this Tuesday right here in Toronto.
bonfirecity is a simulated campfire experience transported to the heart of downtown Toronto. Part exhibition, part social gathering, this project seeks to rectify the intense urbanity of summer in downtown Toronto by introducing a decidedly pastoral summer event. On a series of ten television monitors, piled at the centre of the gallery, DVDs of the commercially produced Faux Fire 2 will be played. In keeping with ritual, visitors to bonfirecity are encouraged to dress for a proper beach fire (plaid shirts are highly encouraged) and bring a blanket or cushion to sit on. Throughout the evening, host artist Mary MacDonald will encourage performances of all varieties from traditional storytelling and games to performance art and musical odes to summer. Two guitars will be present in case this very impromptu sing-along happens to break out. What is a summer campfire without friends, sociability and a general woodsy atmosphere?
bonfirecity is a gentle if not humourous critique of contemporary art’s recent obsession with relational aesthetics as explored by Nicolas Bourriaud. bonfirecity does not attempt to bring the “real” bonfire into the gallery space, rather an absurd mutation of it. Unlike the real thing, bonfirecity is potentially infinite and repeatable for the gallery will long close before the virtual logs burn out.
So on the eve of summer, come and enjoy bonfirecity with a friend, have a marshmallow and enjoy the scene. This event is free and open to all summer revelers. If you have a burning interest to participate or perform at bonfirecity, and would like to know more, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
bonfirecity is to be held on the evening of June 21st, the official summer solstice, from 9pm to 1am. The Graduate Gallery is located at 205 Richmond Street West (at Duncan), on the Ground floor (press G in the elevator).
Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=221716714513888 Akimbo event: http://www.akimbo.ca/events/?id=28298
Mary MacDonald is an artist and aspiring curator from Pictou, NS. At present she is studying towards a MFA in Criticism & Curatorial Practice at OCAD University (Toronto). Currently researching the production and presentation of contemporary art in non-urban locales, Mary is interested in hybrid modes of curatorial practice that support partnerships between artists and communities and the potential field of inquiry that this opens. Mary graduated from Mount Allison University (BFA 2006) and until recently worked as Assistant Director of Eastern Edge Gallery (St. John’s).
On March 25th, 2011, Meghan Fish Contemporary and Projects launched its first group exhibition at 2053 Gottingen Street. However, this is not a gallery space. Director Meghan Fish has created a primarily online and by-appointment gallery space featuring cutting edge painting, photography and new media work by emerging and established artists from across Canada. Collectors will be able to view the art online, by appointment locally at the Meghan Fish Contemporary Art + Projects showroom/office, or have work sent on approval to their own space. Also in the works are plans for pop-up events and exhibitions–an exciting way to showcase art in a series of changing venues around Halifax.
“I see this as a more progressive model for selling art,” explains Director Meghan Fish (née Dorward), who has worked in Halifax’s commercial art world for the last five years (most notably as the former Assistant Director at Studio 21 Fine Art). “It circumvents the inefficiencies of maintaining a traditional gallery space year round. In my experience, I’ve found that most art-buying audiences arrive through word-of-mouth. It made me realize that I didn’t need a static, physical space to sell art. Instead, I will focus my resources and energy on personal service —offering artwork installation services and lease-to-own options to clients who purchase work, while effectively promoting my roster of artists. Pop-up exhibitions will add to this hybrid approach in creating a unique and diverse experience for the public.”
Meghan Fish Contemporary “fills a void for local collectors” by showcasing both painting and photography in its stable. “There are very few galleries carrying photography in Halifax,” says Fish, “I am introducing the media in a commercial context in Halifax.”
Not only is she filling a void for local collectors, she is also filling a void for the rest of the world, by exposing her fantastic artists to the rest of the world through her mainly web based business.“We’re thinking outside the box, literally,” Fish laughs. “I plan to introduce the concept that galleries no longer have to be limited to one static set of walls on a daily basis. It’s a malleable, ever-changing, and virtual world out there now — without geographical boundaries. It’s time we embrace that in the art world.”
Never underestimate the power of “craft”. Whatever it is. Whatever it was. The Rooms in St. John’s Newfoundland’s Crafting Paradox exhibits the art of three fantastic artists:
Cal Lane crafts exquisite, metal works, so delicate, as if constructed from string or paper.
Jason Holley makes chain mail with ceramic links.
John Good year creates what I can only describe as other-worldly delicacies out of wood.
Commonly, there is a paradox that results from the tension between material and technique, form and content. Fellow blogger Rosalind Ford had the opportunity to see the show:
It’s amazing. From Cal’s intensely torched out oil drum to resemble a map of the world, John’s woodwork that will have you wondering what the heck his material is – I’ve never seen anyone treat wood the way he does and then there’s Jason’s claymaille. Looks like metal, sounds like metal, but made of clay.
Crafting Paradox exhibits until May 15th 2011.
Experiencing the work of internationally renowned artist Douglas Gordon, I get the unique feeling only attained when writing or saying aloud the word, “milk” over and over again. I used to experiment with this when I was a child, and found that when forced to examine the mundane in such detail, it becomes something else entirely; something abstract, other worldly, thought-provoking. Try it; milk, milk, milk, milk, milk, milk, milk, milk, milk…
Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery in Halifax’s upcoming exhibition of the 2003 piece “Play Dead: Real Time”, opens on January 7th, 2011, at 8pm. For this monumental video installation, Gordon transported a four-year-old Indian elephant to New York’s Gagosian Gallery where he filmed the massive pachyderm performing a sequence of circus tricks from playing dead to standing still to begging. The three screens, as well as the large scale and Gordon’s brilliant camera angles create something very different from just an elephant in a white cube.
“My work is more about researching, about memory, about stories that happened, films I saw… I’m interested in finding out what happens when you look at something so long, it disappears. You look at a picture, you start looking through the picture and you get to the other side- and then you go back to the front view. “-Douglas Gordon, 1999
Interesting. I wonder if Mr. Gordon in fact, also used to perform my little experiment with “milk”, repeating it over and over again until it disappeared into something completely new.
Douglas Gordon: Play Dead: Real Time is organized by the National Gallery of Canada, and will be showing at Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery until February 6th 2011. Douglas Gordon was born in 1966 in Glasgow, Scotland. He lives and works in New York.
Image: Douglas Gordon Play Dead: Real Time 2003 Courtesy National Gallery of Canada © Douglas Gordon / photo © NGC
To everyone in the east coast this holiday season, here’s the checklist for what to see while you’re there:
1. The Last Frontier group exhibition at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia – www.artgalleryofnovascotia.ca
2. Jayce Salloum at The Confederation Centre of the Arts, PEI .
3. A Canadian Winter, The Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton – www.beaverbrookartgallery.org
4. Ship Shape by Stefan Hancherow, MSVU Art Gallery, Halifax – www.msvuart.ca
5. Elena Popova and Barb Hunt’s exhibitions at the Rooms, St.John’s – www.therooms.ca
What does artouteast have in store for the New Year? Betty Goodwin, animal blood and lots of surprises!
Happy Holidays everyone!
Image Credits (top to bottom): Jayce Salloum History of the Present installation shot; Elena Popova Let Me Know the Way, mixed media on paper, 40cm x 60cm 2010 from Elena Popova: Still Vortices.