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


Whose art? Whose public?

Remember the round dance flash mob, at Midtown Mall, during the early days of Idle No More? That got stifled faster than the Ghost Dance, eh, but with Canadian passive aggressive appeals to “order” instead of artillery (in theory speak it’s called Ideological State Apparatus instead of Repressive State Apparatus: softer, subversive measures are used instead of an obvious act of violence to silence dissent). Perhaps you’re following how the God Loves Gay Billboards are being declined by corporations like Reagan Outdoor advertising or YESCO, to avoid “controversy”: I hope they apply this sensitivity to all provocative content…

It’s reminiscent of an exhibition curated by Robin Metcalfe for the Art Gallery of Windsor, when it resided in the Devonshire Mall. Named PUBLIC ORDER, it deconstructed those loaded terms deftly. All animals are equal but some are more equal than others, as some citizens are only citizens if they are consumers. Many public spaces are no longer public, but “pay as you go”, you might say. And before we don the artistic cloak o’ righteousness, let me paraphrase Indigo, an artist in Street Meet 2014, that art spaces are as classist and exclusionary as any other. Let me channel my sporadic Marxist: “law and order are always and everywhere the law and order which protect the established hierarchy” (Marcuse).

Nuit_Blanche  06_Outstanding_Outdoor

David LaRiviere, the curator of the Anti Advertising Billboard project, employs a critical approach to the media landscape on a local and national level. The billboard on 20th street has seen its successes (Cathy Busby’s Budget Cuts) and its failures (Hadley and Maxwell) and its often dependent on whether the artist(s) in question understand the billboard as a unique space separate and different from a gallery wall, with a diverse audience both unique and challenging.

Massey’s words: commercial billboards are “uncontested in the public sphere…a puzzling phenomenon when contrasted with the outspoken criticisms and laments from the public over some public art installations…visual advertising clutter are rarely discussed critically.”

Scott Massey’s Outstanding Outdoor employs brevity and conciseness in his bastardizing – or correcting – of the well-known Pattison logo of the prominent billboard rental company to Pollution. It’s superficially crass and a bit insulting, but like any good “advertisement”, you’ll take it away to think about later. Insidious, those things that don’t just invade our public spaces, but also our mental ones…I’m unsure if this is moving into dangerous legal territory, though. The ideas of fair use and satire have been repeatedly attacked, and cowards whom think “going along to get along” doesn’t mean irrelevance and failure define too many ARCs.

A completely different take upon public spaces, and distinct communities interacting therein, can be seen in the War of 1812 Monument, Spirit of Alliance (River Landing).

We’re all – especially in cultural spaces – familiar with the retconning of Canadian history that has marked the regime of The Harper Government™. I attended a Southern Ontario high school named after Laura Secord, am familiar with Isaac Brock University: but to presume that 1812 has contemporary relevance in Treaty 6 is the kind of willful ignorance that builds a “human rights” museum on the Red River but denies “clearing the plains” genteel and bureaucratic genocides… I expected a joke of a monument as shallow as our local federal political hucksters.

Its’ good to be proven completely wrong in this work realized by Adrian Stimson, Hap Grove and J.S. Gauthier.

Saskatchewan artists and curators have demonstrated deftness in taking ideologies imposed from other places and reconfiguring them to a local and national relevance. Sometimes, as I think could be said with Spirit, in a manner that the PMO did not intend, or even desire. Some words from the plethora of media around this: “While Western Canada is unconnected to the War of 1812 through place, it is significant to the history of Western Canada because of the contribution of its people. The history of the War of 1812 is just as much about building what would later become the nation of Canada as it is about the solidifying of Canadian identity. The contribution of the multicultural allies remains a significant—and un-commemorated—part of this story…History has not properly recognized the contribution of individuals whose descendants now reside in Western Canada…First Nations such as the Dakota, Métis, Francophone and Anglophone Canadians, Ukrainians, German, and the British, among others.”

The figures depicted: Chief Wabasha, Ista Totowin / Helen Dickson and Col. Robert Dickson (Ista holds the hand of one of their children), all within the tepee, with implications of openness, exchange and respect of difference but acknowledgement of commonalities. Four interpretative panels encircle the scene, varying between a description, listing allies and descendants, petro glyphic decoding and Oyate history circa 1812, and also elaborating on alliances, treaties and failures therein…

I don’t want to say too much about the piece itself, but instead suggest you experience it yourself. Whenever I’ve been to see it there’s been a diverse mix of people interacting with it, and considering the aforementioned “criticisms and laments”, Alliance succeeds in both that rarefied artistic air, but more importantly resonates when encountered by various citizens from multiple “spaces.”

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.

Jimmie-Durham_Still-Life-with-Stone-and-Car_2004_cropped2-copy 2.-1992-Ottawa-Ontario-Samuel-de-Champlain-monument-Indigenous-man--e1411622811922-1030x677

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.


A Word October 16 2014

This week’s radio show is a series of tangents, as my week has been a bit convoluted and difficult. Frankly, I’m at my more entertaining when angry, I’ve been told (looking at you, Zocia Malevich), and there’s a few things I talk about on this week’s show that play into that space.

I mention a few things that are upcoming, an opportunity for media artists in the city, and I hold forth on how aka’s decision to not pay artist fees for their “outreach” space is both ignorant of their history and a betrayal of the mandate. Its also not really the way to deal with a significant cut from the Canada Council, and claiming “outreach” when you dropped the ball on ARTwalk, and Street Meet doesn’t help either. I invite artists and cultural producers (and those whom value what they do) to make your views known on this, at info[@]akaartistrun.com.


You can listen to it here.

A Word October 9th 2014

The latest A Word is a fun show, as I asked online, while in the studio at CFCR this week, if Saskatoon being “the Paris of the Prairies” is why Frida Kahlo’s comments about the “art bitches of Paris” seems to apply so well to the visual arts community here…

I also ask why Sailor Dan isn’t considered for the LG awards and illustrate his worthiness over others in the “community”, and I again offer praise to Thelma Pepper for her own LG recognition. A little Tribe Called Red is the musical selection.

This week’s radio show focuses on a few different things, from Greg Hardy’s upcoming exhibition at Art Placement, Sandra Knoss’ show at the VOID, and a few other things of note in the Saskatoon visual arts community.

Now, one last thing: CFCR is doing it’s 12th ANNUAL ART AUCTION, and they’re looking for artists to donate work to this worthy cause. Everything you need to know about that is in this PDF: CFCR Art Auction 3-page Artist Package 2014. But the following words of Voluneer Coordinator Kira Yanko add a bit more:

Fall is well under way now and that means that CFCR’s 12th Annual Artists for Alternative Radio Art Auction Fundraiser is coming up! It will be held on Saturday November 15th 2014 at the Riverside Country Club and we are currently accepting artist submissions.

Please see the attached artist submission package for details and email your submission form to volunteers[at]cfcr.ca by October 17th, 2014.

All y’all can listen to the current A Word here. And I give you an image of a work by Hardy in the current show at AP.


Paula Cooley’s MIX at the Affinity Gallery

I’ve made enemies by my blunt assertions of the superiority of local fine craft artisans (as often seen at the Affinity Gallery) to the reheated cabbage excreted by academics and their sheep. But let’s review, class: to compare work by people like C. Craig Campbell, Anita Rocamora and the artist currently showing at the SCC, Paula Cooley, to the techno – fetishism or sloppy onanisms (there’s a trend of an “unfinished”, “rough” aesthetic lately that suggests a child’s YMCA craft class – no offense, kids) at the U of S really just demeans the former…

I suspect this is because the primacy of the object in fine craft has never has been negated by the self regarding post modernist fallacy of the idea being more important than the (seemingly inconvenient) “detritus” of the physical work. In English: the importance of the object itself has never wavered. Cooley’s latest exhibition of work also indicates that concepts, however, need not be foreign to a well-made object.

The statement: “MIX: hard surfaces and soft curves; ceramic, metal and glass; kiln and torch; hands and hammers; blood, sweat and burns. Serve at room temperature.” And: “Paula’s new body of work required melting glass, zapping MIG welders, smoking coal forges and earth shaking power hammers. Undeterred by flying sparks, Paula’s elegant sense of form and design has expanded to encompass new materials into her ceramic vocabulary.” Those are Mel Bolen’s word, curator of this show, and a significant fine craft artist as well.

Cooley’s works have an organic flow, and although they have a (dare I say it) feminine quality to them with their bends and cambers, they’re made of materials that suggest a solidity, strength and endurance that are just as female. I’m reminded of June Jacobs’ ability to employ contradictory metaphors of female with her “shift” dresses, suggesting gentleness and then affirming solidity.

This manifests even further in the wonderful “gate” Cooley has installed at the front of the gallery. Lucent is solid and massive, but its delicate and detailed components have a variety of gaps and spaces. The patterning on the cylinders is sometimes rhythmic, sometimes not, and they rest within respective “organs” of the triptych, more like a map than a structure.

Cooley-LUCENT (2014)

It’s also very minimalist, in primarily monochromatic colour, with clean frames and the suspended “portals” that reveal more than they hide. The name itself is defined as “glowing with light” or “marked by clarity or translucence”, so its placement before the window is ideal, and employs the natural light in a manner that enhances the works.

De La Mer, and De La Mer # 2, have firm curvatures that mimic a hip or thigh that I want to grasp. De La Mer #3, being stoneware, seems more somber and leaden, with its teeth-like “buttons.” These works share a common formalism with past works by Cooley, like the Stag works, but are moving more towards an abstraction that allows the materials to define the direction of the work.


Undergrowth, melding porcelain and bone, blends an aspect of “artifact” with the immediacy of the body, with antlers incorporated in the work, while Tendre seems in the midst of rising to meet you. Nest combines porcelain and wire, and also suggests something alive that you expect to shift as you observe it, and to writhe under your gaze.

Cooley-SMOKEY PRICKLE (2014)

Mix runs until October 18th: and you should also keep an eye out for Imaginary Architects, which is an “exhibition of imaginative, handmade toys and games” examining how play factors into the work of contemporary Fine Craft Artists. That opens on December 5th.


A Word October 2 2014

This week’s radio show can be heard here: we’re approaching the end of FM Phasis and CFCR and myself are still soliciting donations for the station’s annual fundraiser. As I posted on social media last night, I’m very disappointed in the lack of support I’m seeing from the visual arts community right now, regarding FM Phasis. All of us who host shows at CFCR are volunteers: I’ve been doing this show for more than seven years, and I will admit that this, more than my shabby handling by aka or the sheer work of continually producing a show with guests from across the country, is beginning to make me wonder if it is time to move on.

However, there is still time to pledge to CFCR with FM Phasis, and you can do it here, or you can call the station or stop in.

Some other things of note to share: congratulations to Thelma Pepper. Not only does the anniversary exhibition at the Mendel have several of her works, as well as a number of other fine works from the former Photographers Gallery Collection, but she was recently announced as the winner of the Saskatchewan Lieutenant Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

I’m neutral about some of the other choices, but here’s hoping Sylvie Legris wins, as well.

Well deserved, Thelma, and its good to see that for the second consecutive year that the recipient of this honour is well deserving.

I give you an image below, from the aforementioned exhibition at the Mendel, Modern Visions, which is their fiftieth anniversary exhibition, and I talk a bit about it on the air this week. Its a surprisingly diverse and engaged show, but if you’re familiar with the curatorial approach of Sandra Fraser, from past projects at the Mendel, you’ll see the same sense of engagement and relevance.


The first image below is from Cameron McKay’s exhibition at the Frances Morrison Library, titled Framing a City, which runs for the next few weeks. Some very interesting work, and I also give you a shot of his installation from last weekend’s Nuit Blanche Saskatoon.

WP_20140930_003 WP_20140927_006

And here’s a few more shots from Nuite Blanche, including Free Flow Dance, the audio installation at the Storefront, the combined audio and visual works of Ernie Dulankowsky & Ian Campbell (The Floating World Remix) with Terry Billings (Haunt [Revisited]) and a shot I took in the midst of the almost messianic audio performance rolling off the balcony from 424 20th Street West. The “pollution” billboard will be the subject of an upcoming review in the Planet.

I’d recommend following NB on FB or Twitter for updates of far better images than the ones I’ve posted.

WP_20140927_004  WP_20140927_007 WP_20140927_018 WP_20140927_026