A Word 22.01.2015 Ed Janzen

This week’s episode of the A Word is a conversation with artist Ed Janzen, whose Good Dog Bad Dog opens tomorrow night at paved. He’ll be giving a talk this Saturday at 1 PM in the gallery, as well, but you can listen to us talk here. Respective images below are Ed’s and Terry Billings.


Toon’s Kitchen will also be starting up again: this excellent ongoing series that features artists both emerging and more mature (and that pays them an artist fee, as an artist run centre should) will debut works by Terry Billings this Friday evening as well. Learn more about that here: and the reception for that, as well as Ed’s exhibition, is at 8 PM.


A few other things of note: a few shows ago I mentioned local artisan Mary Lynn Podiluk being shortlisted for the Niche awards. I recently received the following news: Art Jeweller & Goldsmith Mary Lynn Podiluk of Saskatoon, SK has been selected as a professional winner in the 2015 NICHE Awards for her piece entitled ‘Infinite’. This is a second-time NICHE Awards win for Podiluk; in 2013, her teapot, ‘Metalanguage’, was named a student winner. You may be familiar with her work from a few exhibitions at the Saskatchewan Craft Council but you can also see her work here.

Speaking of the SCC, they have an exhibition that’s open right now: Our Prairie in Fiber. I’ll be visiting that show soon, and in looking ahead, I hope to speak to Shauna McCabe on the show about Battleground: War Rugs from Afghanistan. My review of concerning recent events at the Mendel is now online at Galleries West, and in today’s Planet S you can see some thoughts on the current exhibition at Art Placement.

A Word 15.01.2015 / The Mendel + HA & L

This week’s episode of the A Word is focused upon the upcoming exhibitions at the Mendel: I apologize for my confusion in saying that this week’s show would feature Ed Janzen, but I got my weeks mixed up, and Ed’s exhibition opens next week and he’ll be on the show next Thursday amidst installing at paved.

But this Friday, a number of exhibitions open for the Winter season at the Mendel: several of note, one that’s a glorified advertorial (what do you call that, when it happens in a gallery? Feel free to send suggestions for that), and an Artists by Artists that I’m anticipating. The image below is from Ursula Biemann’s Deep Weather, opening tomorrow at the Mendel.


A few other notable things: Art Placement’s Winter Exhibition runs until early February, and I’ll have a piece in an upcoming Planet on the works of Ellen Moffat and Jonathan Forrest, the highlights of that show. I give you an installation shot of his works below (on the right), which I am completely seduced by, right now.


And my long piece on ReWilding Modernity, which was at the Mendel, is now in the current edition of Hamilton Arts & Letters. You can read that here. This is a more in depth examination of that show, exploring ideas like regionalist xenophobia and karaoke modernism. Much praise to HA & L for their ongoing interest in covering artists on the Prairies, as they’ve previously published pieces on Joseph Anderson’s work and on Jen Budney’s excellent Beneath A Petroliferous Moon.

Speaking of publishing, I talk about a new artist book from JackPine: I Exi(s)t / exit I. This is a collaboration between C. Isa Lausas and Tyson Atkings and it is a thing of beauty, and you can purchase one of the limited number here, at JackPine Press’ site. They’ve produced a number of excellent artist books (some of which you can purchase at Storefront).

A Word 08.01.2015 LUGO GOLD

This week’s show is all about Lugo Gold at the Mendel, that happens this Saturday evening: I mention several performers, from Tod Emel to Reilly Forbes & Carla Protsko, as well as playing some music by The Musical Powers. They’ll also be performing.

You can listen to this week’s show here: I do slide in a few other things, such as how Imaginary Architects has a closing reception this Friday, Art Placement has an opening reception this Saturday, and mention a few exhibitions that are upcoming at paved and at the Mendel to keep an eye out for, when they open. I can say right now that I’ll be taking to the artist from paved next week, Ed Janzen, and hope to be talking to a few others (both artists & curators) that will be making things happen in the early winter of 2015.

Images below are from Tod Emel and Pandcorn, respectively.


A Word 02.01.2015

And let us kick off the new year with a recap of what was interesting, what was seminal and what also deserved some scolding within the visual arts community in 2014 in Saskatoon. The first episode of 2015 can be heard here.

Now, besides that, a few other things to pass on: I believe LUGO is sold out for this year (with its LUGO GOLD theme), but I might add that they’re always looking for volunteers if you’re still interested to attend. My sources tell me that there will be a project by the BAM artists collective as well as “All Alone Together: A Close Listening Experience. We’re providing 30 sets of wireless headphones for a unique shared experience. There will be an eclectic mix of music (including Musical Powers, Little Criminals and Panda Corn) in addition to video projections, experimental audio, spoken word, dance, and a couple of surprises!” Those are the words of one of the Mendel people behind this annual extravaganza.

The Mendel has also announced its first round of shows for 2015, and these look to be interesting. But more immediately, Acting Chief Curator Sandra Fraser will be giving a talk and tour of Modern Visions this Sunday (I’ve been told that’s actually at 1 PM, not 2 PM, as I think I say on air), and you still have time to catch Imaginary Architects at the Affinity Gallery. As I said on air, my conversations with Sandra and Steph Canning (the respective curators of MV and IA) can be heard here and here.

Happy new year to all my listeners.

A Word 25.12.2014

Here’s wishing you all a Merry Christmas, X Mas or Happy Holidays, whichever fits within your lexicon: we lapsed Catholics tend to not be overtly prescribed.

This week’s radio show is a bit heavier on musical content than usual, and that may be as I’ve used the show as a response to the horrible onslaught of holiday music we’ve all just endured. So, in response I give you a mix of Neko Case, The Pogues and Aimee Mann. I mention a few things that are up over the next week, and I drop a few comments about LUGO GOLD as well. Today’s show can be heard here.

Now, I allude to this on air, but my year end re cap can be read here, at Planet S: Its an alright piece, but my editor removed a number of significant criticisms I levied at this community and some of the organizations and individuals within it, and that is always annoying.

I would paraphrase a friend of mine and say that’s assuming a tepid position for tepid minds, and there’s a lot fewer of those than people fear, and the ones there can usually be ignored.

However, I did promise on air this week that I’d revisit some of those concerns on the January 1st, 2015, broadcast: and I have a few more entertaining things to add, as well.

I’d like to offer congratulations, however, to Mendel CEO / Director Gregory Burke, who co curated L’avenir (looking foward): Biennale de Montréal 2014, and it was listed by CA editor Richard Rhodes as his top show of the year.

But for now, best wishes to all my listeners, and hoping you’re looking forward to a positive 2015. I’m heading out for a quiet, cold and clear walk by the South Saskatchewan River.



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.