Your intrepid #artcriticfromhell

This is a blog that I began in response to how many art exhibitions and events in my city (Saskatoon, at that time), and sometimes beyond, didn’t get the coverage they deserved (whether positive or negative).  Episodes of the radio show, also called the A Word, that I’d hosted / produced with CFCR 90.5 FM in Saskatoon from 2006 to 2015, with guests as diverse as Steve Loft, Rhiannon Vogl, David Clark, Jeff Thomas and David Thauberger, were also made available at this site.

As I’ve relocated to Southern Ontario, the focus of this blog has changed, and this is reflected in who, and what is covered in this current incarnation of my site.

The A Word is still primarily a forum for critical responses to art (sometimes in conjunction with The Sound: Your Source for Arts and Culture in Niagara), though there are also podcasts available that I’ve done since my arrival in the Fall of 2015, with guests such as Stuart Reid, Elizabeth Chitty, Donna SzőkeAnna SzaflarskiAmy Friend, Catherine Parayre, Sharilyn Ingram and Martin Van Zon. These have been part of my work at CFBU, with Niagara Voices and Views: contemporary issues in the Niagara region.

Sometimes I’ll also link out to pieces I’ve written that are published elsewhere: this feature in Hamilton Arts & Letters, A Confluence of Geographies, is one I’m particularly pleased with, and it also is relevant as it speaks of leaving / arriving, from Saskatoon to St. Catharines.

I’ve published with Canadian Art, FUSE, Galleries West, PrairieSeenHamilton Arts & Letters, BlackFlash, Long Exposure (UK), ti< un journal de critique / creation texte-et-image  and Magenta. Longer pieces include a catalogue essay for Niagara Artist Centre‘s upcoming book on Thomas Craig Oliver, another for the exhibition Jouissance at Gallerie de Serge Blais in Montréal, as well as a commissioned book chapter for Mona Holmuld’s Art From The Margins: New Perspectives on the Visual Culture of Saskatchewan (McGill / Queen’s Press).

A personal favourite among my recent writing is this contribution to Anna Szaflarski’s ongoing LTTE: Letters To The Editor series, Augmented Reality: my brief non fiction text On Leaving [paris of the prairies] can be read here.

Past curatorial projects include REGION (Contemporary Saskatchewan Painting) and Personal Geographies (an overview of The Photographers Gallery collection).

I was Editorial Chair of BlackFlash Magazine (3 years), and for approximately 14 years was the visual arts critic for Planet S Magazine. For more than a dozen years I taught at the University of Saskatchewan, specifically digital media: I’m a founding member of paved, and have served on boards and worked at galleries in Saskatoon and Windsor, ON.

Currently I’m a regular contributor to The Sound in St. Catharines, though anything of interest that I publish with them I will always post here, too. I’ve also become a regular contributor to New Art Examiner, and will have a longer response to Joseph Beuys’ work at the AGO, from this past Summer, in there upcoming Fall issue.

I was recently  ‘Writer in Residence’ at AIH Studios in Welland in late Winter 2019, and it was an exciting opportunity to focus upon cultural instigators in that space, but further my idea of Niagara as a more unifed, but still individually unique, cultural conglomerate.

My interests focus on sites of contested narratives, both in the immediate areas that I live in, and in the larger national theatre.

My art practice is an activity that has changed significantly since my relocation to Ontario. I’ve often described my past work as making inappropriately beautiful images. A past solo exhibition at the College / Kenderdine Art Gallery can be seen here, and a two person exhibition at paved is here. I’ve exhibited at the Mendel Art Gallery, Gallery 44, Platform and Alternator.

My current series is more playful: my ongoing Post Industrial Wasteland images can be seen at my Instagram and Twitter accounts. I can be contacted at bart.gazzola[at] I have a tendency to treat people as they treat me, so please keep that in mind with any and all correspondence.

The wonderful image near the top of  this page is courtesy Emily Spanton as I reclined on a brothel worthy couch just off the downtown, during a wonderful summer evening in Niagara.  The second shot is from my recent visit to Atlas Steels abandoned plant, as part of my time in the ‘rust belt wonderland’ there, and is taken by the artist Jonathan Shaw. The final image here is among the demolition site of the former St. Catharines General Hospital, which has also been an instigator for writing and consideration about the larger Niagara narrative. This image is also photographed by Jon, and he was generous enough to allow me to accompany him on occasion to the area (he’ll be exhibiting a body of works inspired by the demolition of the hospital in Fall of 2019, in Niagara).

Lastly, the image at the bottom was recently taken by Sandy Fairbairn, a photographer and historian whose work I’ll be curating for an exhibition in the AIH Studios space in Welland, focused upon his photographas of Welland going back several decades, that will open in February of 2020.

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