A Word 18.12.2014 Sandra Fraser

This week’s episode of the A Word is a conversation between myself and Acting Chief Curator Sandra Fraser all about Modern Visions at the Mendel. That show is up over the holidays, so go and see it, and the talk / tour that Sandra mentions at the end of the show takes place on Sunday, January 4th. I believe she said it starts at 2 PM, but I’d contact the Mendel to be sure.

You can listen to us talk about the exhibition and ideas behind it here. I should add that I mention in the course of the show the conversation I had with David Thauberger on a previous A Word, but that is not, in fact, online. I’ll track it down and post it here in the next few days.


I’ve published two different pieces on Modern Visions, and I still feel I could speak even more about it, and the different areas, like the downstairs which highlights works by Ian Baxter & and Jack Chambers.

A Word 11.12.2014 / Imaginary Architects

This week’s show is predominantly a conversation between myself and Steph Canning, the curator of Imaginary Architects at the Saskatchewan Craft Council, in the Affinity Gallery. I give you a few images below of works that are in the show (both by Anita Rocamora), which runs until early January. Steph and I also mention how some of the artists in this exhibition are associated with Flock and Gather and one of the people behind that, Carole Epp, was on the A Word a long time ago, and has won awards for her blog Musing About Mud.


You can listen to it here, and I also pass on some information regarding an event PAVED is involved with tonight, December 11th (this screening at the Roxy), as well as the submission details for their upcoming members’ screening.

Some other things: my wider analysis of the year in public art in Saskatoon can be read here, at PrairieSeen. Regrettably, PrairieSeen will be discontinuing after this issue, so praise and thanks to the ladies for running it for as long as they were able to do so.

A Word 12.04.2014

This week’s radio show can be heard here, and its primarily information regarding shows that are about to close, such as at the College Galleries or Art Placement (Jonathan Forrest’s work is the work to see, in that show – it’s excellent), and a few things that are ongoing (the Mendel and Unreal City) and an exhibition that is just opening at the Sask Craft Council.

Now, I forgot to mention the upcoming members’ screening at paved. It’s a little ways off, but how can you resist that wonderfully post modern bastardization of Soviet era art that I post for you below?



Testimony + Transformation

If you saw Felicia Gay’s exhibition Oksun at Wanuskewin, or Joi Arcand’s otē nīkān misiwē askīhk – Here On Future Earth billboard, then you share my excitement for the exhibitions Testimony and Transformation, at 424 20th Street. They reach outside as well, with Terrance Houle’s Aakaisttsiiksiinaakii / Many Snake Woman / “The Daughters after Me” overlooking Riversdale in a strong and silent manner.

These socially germane exhibitions mesh within paved’s programming and are a gift to the stuttering aka, whose 2014 began with a significant (yet merited) funding cut from the Canada Council, the second in five years. Gay has curated independently for several years, often providing an aesthetic still absent from some “official” institutions. This focus also manifested in her co founding (with Joi Arcand) of The Red Shift Gallery. Currently, she’s also curated Lens, with works by Michèle Mackasey, Arcand and Angela Sterrit at Wanuskewin.

Her focus here (and with Lens) is on the ongoing horror of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. Gay has chosen artists whom are privileging the “immediate”, in terms of women within their immediate social spheres that are of significance. Felicia’s words: “Testimony…features the testimonies of Indigenous peoples concerning difficult knowledge, in this instance the focus is primarily on the testimonies of Indigenous women [and] creating a third space in which testimony has an opportunity to become a strategy.” This leads to how Transformation next door highlights “the power of transformative change.”

Houle’s video component of Aakaisttsiiksiinaakii fills one wall, and dominates the space: whereas next door, Arcand’s The Beautiful NDN Supermaidens™ grabs your attention as you enter. The near life-size ladies in Supermaidens and the sparse use of colour only emphasizes the women, with specific objects in colour to highlight their significance. Arcand’s work is a piece that, like her recent Artists by Artists at the Mendel (that work is on display in an alternate form in Lens), plays upon the personal being political. The women pictured in Supermaidens are drawn from her circle and in conversation she commented about them being “supermaidens” in every day clothes.


Houle also employs a personal narrative to frame a larger dialectic: one wall has a reproduction of his grandmother May Weaselfat (Bloods/ Kainai) by German born NYC artist Winold Reiss from the Glenbow Gallery. She makes fierce eye contact, in this minimalist, very Edward Weston influenced, portrait. One can’t help remember Steve Loft’s ideas regarding the political nature of portraiture, and the idea of the aesthetics of resistance as defined in creating self-portraits instead of submitting to others’ versions of whom, and what you are.

Houle’s words on his video that reconfigures Reiss: “[This is] a living portrait in process…my Grandmother then my Mother: Maxine Weaselfat- Sacred Soaring Bird woman, my sister: Jolane Houle – Three Suns Woman and…my own daughter: Neko- Peace Keeping Woman or Many Peace Flags Woman. [This is a] video piece for the matrilineal part of my family that speaks to survival and strength that they have endured…my grandmother is alive and one of the only surviving members of Winold’s Work, she has stood the test of a life as an Aboriginal woman raising 12 children 2nd gen residential school attendee, and seeing her great great great grand children. She is an elder on my Reservation and holds almost 100 years of Blackfoot knowledge”.

The billboard outside is split into four equal sections, for each woman’s “portrait”. The simplicity of this work is its strength: the frankness, eye contact and directness matches the same in Niro’s Stories of Women at aka.

Houle_Billboard01web This is a very “female” show (just as it was women at the genesis of Idle No More, and just as I realize that women like Arcand –with her role with the zine Kimiwan – or Gay or Lori Blondeau – one of Niro’s portraits – or Mary Longman. whose Warrior Woman image is installed at aka, come to mind when I think of feminism…).

Gay spoke of these shows as single voices in a larger choir: Testimony, Transformation, Lens (Sterrit’s work will be familiar to you from Idle No More coverage – the real coverage, not the Globe and Mail or Star Phoenix), Walking With Our Sisters, Mary Longman’s Warrior Woman and the recently passed Stronger Than Stone four day gathering of panels and performances all are speaking to reality and society in a manner our politicians should be emulating, but eschew.


A Word 11.27.2014 Ursula Johnson / Mi’kwite’tmn

The new episode of the A Word can be heard here, and this week I talk to Ursula Johnson, whose exhibition Mi’kwite’tmn is currently on display at the College Gallery on the University of Saskatchewan campus. Her show is up until the 11th of December.

02 Performance16 Archive Room08 Performance site 11 Detail of Vitrine

Now, just some updates: my review of Felicia Gay’s curatorial projects Testimony and Transformation will be going online tomorrow at Planet S, so I’ll be sharing that when it does. As well, over the next few weeks, I’ll have a few pieces showing up in publications across the country. PrairieSeen will be running a piece on Scott Massey’s Outstanding Outdoors, and that will also be giving a rundown of highlights (and nadirs) of discourse around public art in Saskatoon this year. Hamilton Arts and Letters will be launching their This Century issue, and my take on the ReWilding Modernity exhibition at the Mendel, touching on the panel I was part of for that as well, soon. Finally, Magenta Magazine in Toronto will soon have a new issue out, and I offer a different take on Modern Visions at the Mendel.

All of these will be shared when they’re available, and I also have a piece on some engaging and very different works by Jonathan Forrestt currently on display at Art Placement, still in progress. Go and see that show, as I’ve never been a fan of his work, but these are very lovely, and very interesting, works.

A Word 20.11.2014: Felicia Gay + Joi Arcand

This week’s episode of the A Word is a conversation with Joi Arcand and Felicia Gay. Currently, there’s three shows you can visit that are curated by Felicia, and Joi is in two of them. We talk about the exhibitions at 424 20th Street West as well as the works at Wanuskewin: and the reception for the shows on 20th Street is also the opening event for the Saskatoon arm of Stronger Than Stone. That – the reception – happens this upcoming Saturday at 8 PM. You can see an itinerary of events and panels for STS at the previous link, and this is definitely worth your time and attendance, at Wanuskewin. 

A point Felicia makes on air is that there are a number of events / exhibitions highlighting the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in this country. Walking With Our Sisters is on display still at Wanuskewin (the previous link will give you the bus schedule that Felicia mentioned, as well as their larger national schedule),  and WWOS is another part of the conversation that Testimony, TransformationLens or Mary Longman’s Warrior Woman (still on display on a large format monitor at 20th Street West) are all engaged in.

A few other things of note: that same evening kimiwan will launch its new issue (buy a copy or a subscription) and Joi will be selling limited edition artist cards too. And the hashtag that Joi requests you use, for any and all selfies (or perhaps even just spreading images of her work online) is #supermaidens.

You can listen to the show here.



A Word 11/13/2014

This week’s radio show is primarily about Stronger than Stone: I go into some detail about the Saskatoon panels and performances that are happening, and all of that information can be seen here. Several performers / speakers such as Rebecca Belmore, Elwood Jimmy and Steve Loft are not to be missed.

The image below is of the latest billboard project that’s part of Felicia Gay’s curatorial project Testimony (at paved) that features the work of K.C. Adams and Terence Houle. This billboard is an extension, you might say, of the work Terence has in paved’s gallery space. The reception for this exhibition, and its component in the gallery space next door at 424 20th that features work by Shelley Niro and Joi Arcand (also curated by Gay, titled Transformation), will be the Saturday evening that “kicks off” the Saskatoon arm of STS.


However, a few other things worth mentioning are the Cultural Mapping project presentations that Kathy Allen passed on to me (the poster is below with all you need to know) as well as the exhibition currently on display at the Rouge (congratulations to them for being voted best commercial art gallery in the just released Planet S Best of Saskatoon poll).

You can listen to this week’s episode of the A Word here. And, as I cited above, Planet S Magazine’s Best of Saskatoon poll results are online. Congratulations are in order to the Mendel Art Gallery, whom once again nailed the Best Public Gallery spot, and you can see my take on their current exhibition, Modern Visions, in the new Planet. Their past exhibitions of drawings from the National Gallery and Convoluted Beauty also placed in best exhibitions.

Other notable points: props to paved for taking third place in best public gallery, and congratulations to the Persephone, Chad Coombs and the SPCA (my cat insisted I mention that last one). I must, of course, use this as a teachable moment and indicate that perhaps aka’s drop from a strong second place in public gallery last year to much lower may be reflected in their inappropriate reluctance to paying artist fees for emerging artists in their Unpaid Intern – oh, sorry, the TBA – outreach space.

Cultural and Community Mapping Presentations


A Word 11.6.14 Marcel Petit

This week’s episode of the A Word is a conversation between myself and Marcel Petit, whose bio describes him as a filmmaker, photographer and a lover of everything star wars and batman. Marcel’s been on the show before when we’ve talked more about this site and the politics that inform it, but this A Word we’re focused on his exhibition Cambodia and Me that opens at SCYAP next week and has a reception on the 18th. You can see more about that exhibition here. You can listen to the new A Word here.


Several other events of note this week: Cate Francis will be having a reception at Unreal City this upcoming Saturday at 7 PM, Darrell Bell Gallery has a reception this Sunday of some of his own work (I believe around 2 PM), and Maia Stark has a closing reception for her MFA show Selfsame on campus Friday evening.

I’m unsure if tickets are still available for the latest installment of the award winning CORE Series, presented through paved and the SSO, but if there is you can purchase them here.

And last but most assuredly not least, Felicia Gay’s dual gallery curatorial project Testimony (in paved) and Transformation (at aka) opens this Saturday. The reception for this is later in the month, however, so that it can coincide with Stronger than Stone.

I hope to have Felicia on the show in the near future to talk about these exhibitions, as well as passing on some more specific information for the Stronger than Stone conference coming up at Wanuskewin.

A Word October 30 2014

This week’s radio show can be heard here. I talk about a few different things, some that are happening now and some that are coming up and go off on a few different tangents.

I had been told my review of Modern Visions would be in the current Planet, but again I have been bumped. If the Planet doesn’t opt for the online option, I may simply post it here in the next day or so. But you can read an interesting interview with Matthew Teitelbaum here in today’s SP, focused on his time at the Mendel.


image Maia Stark PR


A Word October 23 2014

There is a lot jammed into this week’s radio show: I believe I commented back in September about how many things would be happening this Fall in Saskatoon, and I touch on several things I’ve mentioned before, but also a few that came to my attention just recently.

Gregory Hardy’s exhibition has a reception tonight (Thursday): I speak a bit about this work, and I really want to send some praise to Art Placement for expanding how long their exhibitions are on display. Luminous Explorer is up until the 13th of November, and Hardy has some new aspects of his practice that are intriguing and well executed.

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Information regarding registration for Stronger Than Stone can be found here, including registration information: this is about a month away, but with participants like Jimmie Durham (the image above is him, and the image next to it is Jeff Thomas, whose work can be seen in Modern Visions at the Mendel) you want to make sure you take advantage of this opportunity as soon as you can.

This week’s episode of the A Word can be heard here. I will also add that I’m just finishing a long piece on the aforementioned Modern Visions exhibition at the Mendel, and you can expect that in the next issue of the Planet.