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.


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.

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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.

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A Word September 25 2014

There is so much going on this weekend, as we close out September and kiss the summer of 2014 goodbye.


Ursula Johnson has a reception (I give you an image of her past work above), and some ongoing performances that may stretch into next week, at the College Gallery on campus. As I say on air, you may wish to contact them about the specifics, as what I relay on air is what I was told in conversation.

The Mendel has the 50th Anniversary exhibition opening this Friday, and Nuit Blanche Saskatoon is this Saturday night. They’ve just posted a map of the locations of various installations and performances which you can see at the previous link, and my conversation with Sean Shaw is still online here. Both get mentioned in Canadian Art’s list of things to see this week, so congrats to both on that.


And if the Mayor gives his “gramma wanted to be an artist” speech at the Mendel reception, I will scream and scream and scream like the child of a faculty member allowed to run riot and disrupt talks and destroy artwork in the space.

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More importantly,  we’re into FM Phasis: you can donate online here, but you can always make a donation in person at the station (267 3rd Avenue South, 3rd Floor – sorry, stairs only), or call up and pledge it by phone ( 306 664-6678).

In the past year of the A Word, my guests have included: Sandra Fraser, Shanell Papp, Cheryl Buckmaster, Troy Gronsdahl, Keeley Haftner, Leah Taylor, Shawn Pinchbeck, Peter Flemming, Darren Copeland, Lisa Baldissera, Heidi Phillips, Amanda Dawn Christie, David Thauberger, Rhiannon Vogl and Sean Shaw. Several of you will remember the “extra” programming that CFCR graciously facilitated for Sounds Like IV, too, which definitely was extra flavour for that festival. There’s some excellent prizes for the draws this year, too, including a trip to Manitou, and the t shirts look very nice.

CFCR runs on the blood and sweat of volunteers, and also on the donations of our listeners, and I thank all of you who’ve donated already, and those of you who I know will, in the next week.

This week’s show can be heard here.

A Word / Nuit Blanche Saskatoon

This week’s A Word is all about Nuit Blanche Saskatoon: Sean Shaw, who’s one of the main individuals behind this project, and I chat about artists and events that will happen as part of the first NB Saskatoon this month. I’d suggest following them on various social media, as well as their website.

Some of the things mentioned on air, such as artist profiles, can be seen at their Facebook page, and you can follow them on Twitter at @Nuit Blanche YXE. They are still looking for volunteers, too, and you can get involved here.

You can listen to us talk about some of the participating artists and some of the ideas that shaped the festival here.


Now, this is shaping up to be a very active Fall in Saskatoon: my Fall Arts Preview can be seen here, at the Planet.

However, something I want to mention something that happens this Saturday at paved is a screening of work by the Bent Light Collective. You may remember Heidi Phillips, when she was on the show a few weeks ago with Rhayne Vermette, mentioning this, and it happens this weekend.


And last but not least, Park(ing) Day is happening again on 20th Street, and everything you need to know about that is here.


A Word September 10 Amanda Dawn Christie

This week’s radio show can be heard here: this is an engaging conversation between myself and Amanda Dawn Christie, whose exhibition Off Route 2 will open at paved this Friday, and she’ll also be performing Requiem for Radio: Pulse Decay at 7 PM that same evening. We talk about a variety of ideas that inform and influence her work, from the space between performance and narrative and how it seems some governments are more interested in tearing down than building up.


Besides her opening reception, there is also what’s being called the Riversdale Arts Crawl, which starts at 5pm.  Galleries include 330g, Green Ark and The Storefront. BlackFlash Magazine is also launching its fall issue that evening.

Warrior Woman

I was chatting recently with a fellow cultural worker (anonymously: organizations that cite “critical dialogue” in their mandate, like an art department or artist run centre, can be exceptionally Stalinist and reactionary to dissent). We were bemoaning the disparity in many artistic organizations between a genuine engagement with a site, and fluctuating narratives of a place that directly challenge comfortable, current ones, and the half assed political glad-handing we usually see in these spaces. To paraphrase Lori Blondeau, an Aboriginal artist of local and international renown, some organizations simply check off that box of “Aboriginal engagement” and demand some cash for this strenuous effort.

These discussions – or arguments, if you will – can be overt, and often pervade an environment but are rarely officially acknowledged. It’s like a billboard that owns precious public space – also within our heads and public discourse – that we’re often unaware is being “occupied”. That’s why it seems appropriate to bring so many “outside” ideas into a discussion about Mary Longman’s billboard project Warrior Woman, on 20th Street: this isn’t in a “white cube” gallery, some restrained classroom or a gelded academic space. It exists in the real world. Warrior looks out on a literal site of history and argument in Saskatoon, with some being privileged (gentrification), some being ignored (those displaced).


Longman is also an art historian, so her words are exact: “The concept of Warrior Woman began as a memorial for my late mother, Lorraine Longman [and] evolved into a larger theme of Indigenous Genocide in North America. Lorraine’s legacy was the earned title of, “the toughest chick in the hood.” Having survived regular beatings in residential school, that culminated in a severe head injury at the age of 8, she was left with a life-long disability of grand mal epilepsy and premature dementia and could no longer attend school or work in her adulthood”.

Warrior Woman embodies the activist notion that the personal is the political, and the memory / history of her mother is the base of it, but “[with] the billboard, Lorraine’s image and legacy is transformed into Warrior Woman, the Indigenized version of the Americanized Wonder Woman. Her fight now becomes one of justice and transparency of Indigenous Genocide in North America (1492-1888). She becomes the voice for the millions of Indigenous people who were slain by Spanish, British, American colonial armies and settlers who were driven to inhumane acts by their greed of acquiring gold, land and scalping payments”.

It’s a contemporary stance, with a PMO spending taxpayer money on a New Yorker ad selling tar sands, but dismissing any inquiry into missing / murdered Aboriginal women. But hey, that’s just kissing cousins to an art school that claims LG award winning artist Ruth Cuthand as “faculty” to make themselves look better, ten years after she’s worked there. To return to the beginning of this piece, the arts community is often as filled with duplicity, denial and self-serving propagandists as the PMO they hypocritically decry, when it comes to issues of race and representation (both in the gallery behind the scenes).

Longman’s Warrior Woman reconfigures Wonder Woman: and (ahem) exposing my comic book geekiness, her golden lasso was supposed to force whomever was in its grip to tell the truth. It’s amusing to think how that power could play in the current political environment. The simplicity of the image is perfect for a billboard, in its candor and forcefulness.

The military helmets that flank her resemble Conquistadores (left) and the British Empire (right), and both hang on projections that suggest graves or death, appropriately. She raises “the tightly clutched red campaign ribbon with white tips, in the hope to raise awareness and bring justice to all those that perished” in our genocidal histories. This hopefulness is an echo of how Lorraine, “despite her painful youth and hard life” was “tough and…feisty until the day she passed”.

When I reviewed the exhibitions at Wanuskewin, and the play between older and more contemporary works, the string that tied them together was an insistence of the place of Aboriginal artists within the larger national imaginary. I’m curious to see how the upcoming Mendel 50th Anniversary will “write” history, as well. I hope it will touch on the forced famine, germ warfare, manifest destiny, residential school or genocide that is part of Canada’s history, that imbues Longman’s work, but that might make the political delegates and other institutional gatekeepers “uncomfortable.”

This factors into Warrior Woman, as Longman states it’s “a long-overdue memorial to all the Indigenous men, women and children who unnecessarily died only because the color of their skin.” Along with the shows at Wanuskewin, or Sympathetic Magic (at the Mendel), this summer has been a summer of dissenting narratives that speak a truth and require inclusion in “our” history.