By Will McGuirk
Artist Olex Wlasenko has a series of new works currently on exhibit at the Art Gallery of Northumberland in Cobourg, ON. The exhibit is titled, “In Reel Time.” and is sourced, as Wlasenko’s work normally is, from found film footage.
Film; see a darkened cinema, projections of light and shadows on a wall, on screen, mere distractions, the stuff of fables, the stuff of myth. But who hasn’t thought to reach through the screen, into the action, to become a star on that silky flickering silver screen. Who in the darkness has not thought to reach out, aim to touch those stars, to reach beyond.
One can be awed by spectacle, entertained by vaudeville, enchanted by theatre without a desire to step on to the stage. The fourth wall is intact. But there are films, which shed light onto life, our life, the life of the audience, we can see ourselves in there, up there and we lean in, to look inside, side to side. The film is a world, the projection is a portal and we yearn to follow this Alice down this rabbit hole, to share these adventures.
But the portal disappears when the film ends. We are frozen in the flood of light, stuck in a moment we can’t get out of, suspended, still. The yearning to be in the movies unfulfilled.
Film has been of interest to Wlasenko from a young age, his father collected Soviet era Ukrainian cinema. He has been exploring the intersection of art and film by way of charcoal on paper, using just his forefinger, with subject matter drawn from old movies, mostly of Eastern European origin, more recently from western European art house films. His large scale works are expressions of that moment when seeing becomes touching.
To the images of “In Reel Time”, already layered, (life as light on film on screen on paper as drawing), Wlasenko has added yet another layer. The index finger of Wlasenko, like Michelangelo’s "The Creation of Adam" or E.T’s finger electrifying Elliot's, touches the stilled life and distills life. This exhibit layers a consciousness to the subject matter. The film knows it is being watched. The stars are looking back.
In “Paragina”, taken from Antonionni’s “L’Avventura” several people on a boat look out over the sea. All seem lost in their own thoughts. One however looks at us, a face in a side mirror. We do not see the full body, just the reflection of this hidden figure who spots us looking. It is jolting when one sees him at first, this other’s gaze on us.
It is a surprising reaction. We should, by now, be accustomed to faces on screens looking back at us, talking back even. The screen once solid as the back wall of a cinema has become a portal and we have all long since entered, running with Alice through the Looking Glass. Yet, there it is, surprise.
Perhaps it is the mode Wlasenko employs, a form as old as cave painting, dust on a finger, a drawing, on paper, old media long since relegated to the purview of artists, not one we expect to hold surprise but here is this artist, this cave painter, Plato’s Cave painter, and there is that unease when the shadows on the wall turn to face us. The old made new, our past having caught up with our future.
In “Following Metropolis” Wlasenko’s subject is a group who have just finished watching Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis.” They are watching the film projectionist close down the film, the projector faces us. We are the projected, we are Lang’s imagined future, realised. Lang’s reel time is our real time. The crowd looks away from us, and we look down the lens of the projector and we walk away, from them, each of us, us, them, into an imagined future of our own making, to be caught one can imagine given the times, on camera.
Olex Wlasenko's "In Reel Time" runs until 29 April 2018. He will give a talk at 2 pm on Wednesday Apr 4 on Canadian art works which appear in Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining."
Updated with video add - Tue Apr 17 2018
Artist Shaun Downey has shared a short documentary on his portraiture process. Downey's work is among the Permanent Collection at the Robert McLaughlin but as they say a picture is worth a thousand words so I'll shut up and you can watch the film. Then go check out Downey's website here.
At Slowcity.ca we aim to turn the spotlight on those who are making their own future. They are also those who imagine our future and some of those folks, young folks, very young folk, were at the Station Gallery for March Break imagining what their future would look like. It looks hopeful. Results below.
Jay Dart will be exhibiting at Drawing Now art fair in Paris, France March 22-25 2018. He will be showing work alongside fellow Galerie Youn artist, Peter Morstad. Galerie You has produced limited edition catalogue which is available for order at the gallery. He will also be showing work at Papier 18 in Montreal with Slate Gallery in April and in August he will have a solo show at the Agnes Jamieson Gallery, in Minden, ON.
Station Gallery curator Olex Wlasenko conducts a talk Thursday Mar 15 2018 on the art of the Beatle's iconic Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. The album was a revolution in itself in so many ways, the music being one but the cover too. Wlasenko will speak to the many clues the four moptops inserted into the art and what they say about the band, the music, the times and the future as it was then.
Wlasenko's talk will be followed by a talk by movie poster collector and restorer, Dan Miles whose own collection of posters is currently on display at the Gallery.
By Will McGuirk
The Visual Arts Centre in Bowmanville has Fiona Crangle's "Look Out/ Look In" on exhibit. The show runs from Saturday Mar 10 - Sunday Apr 4 with an artist talk on Mar 25 at 1 - 3 p.m.
In the accompanying catalogue there is a question asked - "by reclaiming the process of painting the woman, and positioning contemporary woman in place of historical ones, Crangle, becomes the actor and raises questions about the ways women are scrutinized in painting. How are we looking at them today?"
Lets answer that. There have been quite a few female-centric exhibitions in Durham Region in the past while. Read about some of them here and then look at some of the works by Toni Hamel and Shaun Downey for their looks at women.
David Samila is one of the many artists currently on exhibit at the 2018 Annual Juried Exhibition at the Latcham Gallery in Stouffville. The opening reception is Saturday Mar 10, 1 - 3 p.m.
Other artists on display include Jim Hurtubise, Cate McGuire, Kyungmin Kate Lee, Judy Sherman, Fiona Evans, Ray Shivrattan, Tibor Hargitai, Virginia Dixon, Jeannie Pappas, Stephanie Thompson, Diana Hillman, Justin Mencel, Joanna Strong, Kim-Lee Kho, Kal Honey, Andrew Cripps, Leonora Husveti-Frenette, Bob Tunnoch, Fong Ki Wan, Patrick Stieber, Kyle Yip, Clare Ross, Ronald Regamey, Peter Adams, Vicky Talwar, Doris Purchase, Yang Yang Pan and Allan O'Marra who also writes extensively on Durham Region arts and history for durhamregion.com.
The Latcham Gallery is located at 6240 Main Street.
Artist Olex Wlasenko celebrates film on canvas, drawing room-sized works based on historic movie stills. Wlasenko, who is also the curator at the Station Gallery in Whitby, has an exhibit running Mar 8 to Apr 29 at the Art Gallery of Northumberland in Cobourg, ON.
Wlasenko is a film buff and has hosted a series of film related talks; on Apr 4 he will host "Overlooked: Canadian Art in 'The Shining.'" Kubrick's classic uses, according to Wlasenko, a wide selection of Canadian works, from Norval Morriseau to Alex Colville to members of Group of Seven. The paintings add another layer of complexity to an already complex movie.
This layered approach to art can be found too in the work of Wlasenko; a simple process dating back to cave man times belies the deep complexity of the story he is telling, building it layer upon layer upon layer.
Singer/songwriter Brooklyn Doran is hooked on touring and has lined up an extensive Spring tour of Ontario. She will be on the road with Rory Taillon, a frequent tour mate.
Doran says she is working on a new record to be available later in the year but for now just enjoys performing.
"I won't be touring a new record this time around, I just like the tour life and Rory is a pretty rad tour bud to have! That being said, I think I'll have a few songs coming down the line later in the year."
Originally from Kenora, but now based in Toronto, Doran has played Durham Region previously, most recently at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in November 2017. She plays Cork and Bean in downtown Oshawa May 1 and the Second Wedge Brewery in Uxbridge May 6 2018.
We have been a fan of Jay Dart's Yander Wanderings for some time and were happy he agreed to be the poster guy for the first issue of Wunderlit. See more of his work here.
And we are happy too to share the news he is the subject of a new episode of CBC Arts: Exhibitionists.
The Remix - perhaps the defining artistic process of our time. To take previous works and using their elements make something new. We live at a time of disruption, of fragmentation when the entire planet, everything we know is being broken down into its essential base elements. We can take those pieces and build a new world., not just a song, not just a collage not just mash-up, but an entirely new world. Which is why we at www.slowcity.ca believe creativity is the most important tool and artists our greatest resource.
The remix is the process, the trial and error, the practise. Bowmanville artist Pete Smith is collaborating with other artists to recreate new works from those original works. Smith is working with Lyla Rye, Anda Kubis, John Kissick, Jessica Thompson, James Olley, Chief Ladybird and Paulette Phillips to choose an artist to partner with. They’ve chosen Christina La Sala, Jennie Suddick, Stu Oxley, Duncan Macdonald, Jennifer Wigmore, Mike Pszczonak, Aura and Jean-Paul Kelly.
The Remix party kicks into action at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery Mar 2, 2018. Everyone who brings an artwork in for trade (regardless of age or experience level) is welcome to participate, and will leave with their own remixed piece of art. Anyone and everyone who enjoys making things are welcomed and encouraged to participate!
The Kick It Party is part of the RMG FF monthly events. This month musical guests are Melanie Hebert and Morgan Steele.
By Steven Frank
For the past three decades many people knew Dr. George Blake as a storyteller, having founded the Durham Folklore Society, however, when one looks back at the trajectory of his life, perhaps the greatest story of all is the one of George’s own life.
Born Buxton George Leopold Blake in 1922, George led a rather conventional village life in Green Island, Jamaica until at age 18 he enlisted and found himself on the RMS Queen Elizabeth heading to England to join the Royal Air Force. He was stationed on the home front as a meteorologist in northern Scotland. After the war, George, having turned down a university scholarship, decided to work as a government clerk in London. He grew restless feeling he had a higher calling and after reading a book on Buddhism, which told him he was responsible for his own mental, spiritual and psychological health, would study and eventually become ordained a samanera (novice monk) at the Sinhalese Centre in London. He received his full ordination as a Theravadan Buddhist Monk at the Wat Paknam Temple in Bangkok, Thailand in 1956.
George then decided it was time to work on a degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He would find work in a mental health ward in London and eventually return to Scotland to train in clinical psychology at the University of Glasgow where he became renowned for treating alcoholism. One can’t help but think that his Buddhist teachings informed his successful behaviour therapy techniques helping patients overcome habits and fears.
In 1966 a married George moved to Whitby, Ontario by invitation of York University in Toronto to teach and this led to his work at the Whitby Psychiatric Hospital (now Ontario Shores). This in turn would lead to his founding of the Pinewood Centre for Addiction in Oshawa and the Alexandra Clinic at the Oshawa General Hospital.
Upon ‘retirement’, George returned to his Buddhist studies and even taught courses on Buddhist meditation. Always a great raconteur, George founded the Durham Folklore Society, which continues to celebrate the oral tradition of storytelling nearly three decades later. (They are now known as the Durham Storytellers.) He was an accomplished drummer and drum maker and combined his African/Caribbean stories with the Buddhist legends he learned known as Jataka Tales in another ensemble known as Kalalu Folklore Theatre.
The storytelling and music would all come together and George shared his many talents at various venues including schools, libraries, Durham Art Fest and festivals across Canada including Toronto’s Festival of Storytelling Listen Up!
George was also an author and wrote The Legend of Harriet Tubman; Kaipora Cove; A Buddhist Approach to Managing Stage Fright; A Buddhist Odyssey (A Manual on Meditation) and Bypassing Ego: The Buddhist Way.
George leaves two sons and two grandchildren and a unique legacy as a man who saw life as a journey and a quest for inner harmony and delighted in sharing his stories and wisdom with the world. In 2014 he received the African Canadian Lifetime Achievement Award.
This article first appeared as the text in a display about Blake at the Whitby Station Gallery.
The artist marches to their own beat. All those beats form the parade of life. Artist Grant Cole explores this parade as it marched its way through the city of Oshawa. Using The Robert McLaughlin Gallery's vast Bouckley collection as a source, Cole has created a series of works which add another beat, another flag, another banner and another voice to the city's parade. The exhibit opens Feb 11. Curator Sonya Jones will conduct a Q and A with Cole, 1-3 p.m.
By Will McGuirk
There were no limits to artist, author, filmmaker and environmental activist Bill Lishman, not even the sky was out of bounds.
Lishman, aka Father Goose, because he most famously taught geese to fly, passed away Saturday Dec. 30 2017, at his underground home in Purple Woods, which overlooks the southern shore of Lake Scugog, Ontario.
The home itself is a piece of art, marrying nature and technology in a seamless blend of domes curving into each other. The workflow of tasks, chores and family life were all considered at the project’s inception, right down to the fridge Lishman designed; a circular set of shelving which is pulled up from the kitchen counter top.
His daughter Carmen Lishman posted on her Facebook page, “A beautiful thing that Dad often said: ‘there are no straight lines in nature’. . . Dad's nature followed no straight lines. He provided our human world with beautiful curved lines and natural inspirations. His explorations of bird flight and migration captured our imaginations. An active mind kept him conjuring creative solutions to the world's problems.”
Flow and movement were central to the mind of Lishman. How a family moves in a space below, how a bird moves in the space above, how the world moves in space around - all were thoughtfully answered in his work. Everything he made seemed to either take flight or was about to.
In 1993 Father Goose successfully led 18 hand-raised geese to their traditional migratory home in Virginia. The following Spring the geese returned to Lishman’s farm. The 1996 movie “Fly Away Home”, starring Anna Paquin and Jeff Daniels, was inspired by Lishman’s experience and was nominated for Best Cinematography at the 1996 Academy Awards. Lishman continued migratory explorations (Operation Migration) with other birds including sandhill cranes and whooping cranes. His work led to an additional migratory path which will help preserve the whooping crane.
2017 began with his participation in the Durham Reach exhibit at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, the piece “Wild Man” from the IMAX movie “The Last Buffalo” was displayed. Lishman also had a piece in the Durham ArtFest 25: Reframed held at Gallery 67 in September. Displayed was a maquette of his sculpture “Transcending the Traffic". The piece was created for Expo’86 and is a 26 metre tall cone wrapped with a spiraling flow of traffic, from wheeled vehicles through to walking.
In the 2015 year-end update on Lishman’s website, he writes he was involved in producing a coffee table book on microflights over the Oak Ridge Moraine, was working on a project for relief aid using the small aircraft he designed and built, installed 25 steel figures at Bridgepoint Hospital in Toronto, unveiled his stainless steel Iceberg sculpture at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa and listed a treehouse on his property on Airbnb.
At the end of the letter he says he was asked in an interview what he thought 2016 may bring he says - ‘Aliens will finally reveal that they are actually Angels and will save us humans from ourselves’.
One can imagine Bill as a young boy staring up , under a clear night sky over his parent’s farm in Pickering, at the blinking lights of planes passing overhead, planes or space craft perhaps. One can imagine his awe at the beauty of such a scene, the openness of the sky, the cosmos, the mystery and a building desire to go there, to get up there, to be up there. In a way the entirety of his life’s work has been as if he was reaching up from Durham to his destiny beyond, as if he has been constructing his own Jacob’s Ladder to join the heavens with the earth.
Is it a coincidence it was Alice who navigated us through Wonderland or that it was Dorothy who walked us through the Land of Oz. We are all inside the Looking Glass now, inside the storm, whether environmental or political. This is a time of disruption and artists of all genres are gathering up the pieces of the past and rearranging and rebuilding. But out of the corner of my eye I see something else. I see more and more women emerging as the central force behind the rebuild.
As the world, built on colonial paternalistic pillars, crumbles it is women who are towers of strength. As men thrash around looking for someone to blame, it is women who are getting on with the work of creating a new home. Before the disruption men were born complete, their roles defined, their destiny ordained while women could only be completed by the presence of a man in their life. Not so much anymore. The Old White Males and their acolytes are hanging on but their grip is weak. While they cling to power the artists, the female artists, have been working.
At the Visual Arts Centre in September there was an exhibit, “Coming of Age” featuring three mature female artists, Mary Kainer, Ramune Luminaire, and Judith A. Mason. They were collectively exploring what being old means. Old age has meant fear for men but for women it can mean freedom. The Old Crone archetype of myth and legend wields substantial power. It is power that comes with wisdom, knowledge, comes of having lived and worked and shared the unwritten over the work. This sharing is explored in Toni Hamel’s exhibit “The Lingering” shown in 2015 “The Lingering” explored the role of the female as homemaker, simultaneously rejecting those homes as gilded cages and celebrating the creativity of the work done by the women.
The work of women does seem tilted towards the creative arts however. Although female artists are underrepresented in the 'HIS'tory of art, women are well represented in the management of galleries, at least here in Durham Region.
At every level whether private or public it is females who are at the helm, even at the municipal level; Oshawa’s CultureCounts department and its overseer, Parks and Recreation, are manned mostly by women. It makes for an odd situation; Females are in charge of the walls and stages yet females are underrepresented when it comes to shows and exhibits.
But something is changing. Female artists are missing from the canon yes but we are finding them, or rather they are finding us.
I took a walk a week or so ago, well a drive, to three Durham Region galleries and what I saw was capital W Work, the getting on with the Work, the doing.
Ingrid Ruthig’s solo show Re/Visions at the Station Gallery is a massive engagement for the eye and mind. One is struck immediately by the volume of work. 120 portraits of 120 ladies, each woven from images and text. It is not something absorbed in a glance. These portraits are not icons, cartoons. It is architectural, sculptural, it is deep thoughtfulness and one can see perhaps it is the work of it which is at the centre of it. Not art for art’s sake but work for art’s sake.
Finding Florence is the other show on at the Station Gallery. Florence Helena McGillivray was born in 1864 in Whitby and painted her whole life, teaching at what is now Trafalgar Castle School. She travelled Europe and brought the modernist influence to her paintings.Her work is in the National Gallery, the AGO, the RMG and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. But as the kids say Who knew?
She was lost but like Alice and Dorothy has found her own way back. Sometimes its a matter of time. Sometimes its a matter of what endures, of what lasts.
The work of Alexandra Luke and Isabel McLaughlin has lasted. The two were a force in Canadian Abstract art, enabling and creating a home for those men who would become the better-known members of Painters 11. Margaret Rodgers has curated an exhibition at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, pairing the works of Luke and McLaughlin with two modern artists, Teri Donovan and Gwen MacGregor. Donovan and MacGregor show how difficult it was for women of the past to build an identity for themselves separate from the relationship with a man.
The Paint Factory Gallery has a show too featuring not just females but males too. While the paintings by Joaquin Manay are gruesome in a way, I do not see them as purposefully so. What I see is an artist endeavouring to capture how people create their own identity. How we create ourselves one piece at a time, taking one piece from someone else, one piece not quite fitting, but over time an identity will emerge, the picture will reveal itself from a distance. Give it time.
So it is with Ruthig’s work. The further one steps back from the portrait the closer one comes to the identity of the subject. It is an exhibit which demands time, which demands distance. It took time and distance to make and all of that is present in the work. To fully understand this show one needs to give it what it asks. It is not something delivered on your terms. This exhibit of women will be seen on its terms. I stepped away from Ruthig’s Re/Visions and saw better the women within. These are women as activists, as makers, as creators, as doers, as lost and found, as figure and ground, as a new gathering force.
The next step demanded by this force is for us, or for me at least to stop making random connections based on gender. These artists are not female artists, just artists.
Music, a musician of all things. A nation as a song who knew?
With all the bluster and posturing, bravado and warmongering, territorial pissings, whatever, it is the people who find their own heroes and the people who will define the nation. And it seems this nation has decided to define itself by music. A nation as sound. Marshall McLuhan would dig it.
So Gord Downie of all of them; with his passing he is being heralded as the idea of Canada personified. Who would disagree. At some time in the future this land will stop for him. At a time in the past this nation, 11 million, stopped to watch the Tragically Hip’s final concert in Kingston. This was Canada as Hip Nation and Gord made it hip to be Canuck. He embedded its history, its geography, its past and present into his lyrics and at the Kingston concert he made a plea for its future. Canada can be better.
It took a musician to bring this diverse, divided, wide as it is long, three seas and too many lakes, this cold country to a better sense of itself.
Its the work of the artist - they give us options, choices about what we can be.
In Oshawa on Thursday Oct 19 there will be a summit of culture at the Arts Resource Centre downtown. It is organised by the Culture Counts department at City Hall and will feature theatre, a Tamil poet, a presentation on the Canadian Automotive Museum and a high school dance group. It will also feature music from duo Crown Lands.
Crown Lands’ sleazy diesel power rock is a peculiar brand - one heard around these parts, one we call ShwaRock. It is equally parts classic rock riffs and grit, sponging up radio hits and live and local. Its a blend of rock and oil, call it hunnypot rock. I hear it in The Standstills and the Micronite Filters and every local kid band that ever dragged gear across the sticky floor of The Dungeon.
There are roots spreading into Rush, the Hip, Zeppelin, DFA, White Stripes but Crown Lands make it all their own. Its the harmonies. Just delve right into “Misery” from their most recent release, ‘Rise Over Run’. Its anything but miserable. Its a road rag rocket launcher, a speed king demon, all desert sands and open top and loud loud loud chugging riff ready trip-out, a space trucker of a mother that has not been out of my car deck and when the turbo kicks in the diesel rock of Crown Lands is the only soundtrack I need on my fly by night.
But is Oshawa ready to embrace its own sound and define itself by it. Is Oshawa ready to seek out the artists to find itself as it moves away from its one time role as a factory town. It was defined by work one time. How will it define itself now? Will it be by players?
Culture defines a place, a city, and a nation. Nothing else.
We are only our culture nothing else. We are only a song and Gord Downie has written more of that song than any other.
Oct 27 - 30: Jay Dart is one of the artists showing at Art Toronto @ the Metro Convention Convention Centre.The Opening Night Party, on Thursday Oct 26 is a benefit for the Art Gallery of Ontario. He is exhibiting artist for Gallerie Youn in Montreal.
Nov. 25: RMG Exposed @ the Robert McLaughlin Gallery. The annual fundraiser auction/event raises money for free public arts programming for kids and families. Over 50 works are available for bidding, including an exclusive print by David Bastedao, exclusive photographer for the Tragically Hip.
Its been some week for art - began with the opening of Steven Frank's Durham ArtFest 25 (closing Oct 7) and then continued with the first meeting of Oshawa's Pubic Art Task Force (I am the rep for the Cultural Leadership Committee), Thursday I met up with folks from the Station Gallery at the AGO and wandered through Rodins, Moores, Van Goghs, Group of Sevens and a performance by Peaches, so much great work - and last night I was at RMG FF taking in probably their best line-up of shows in some years. Locals and legacies on display and the Heavy Hitters show is just mindblowing (as you see above). Lots going on, make art part of your Thanksgiving.
Submissions are being accepted for the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington Annual Juried Show running October 15th to November 12th. Submit your work by Oct 10 at 5pm, cost is $11 for members, $22 for non-members.
RMG Exposed takes place Saturday Nov. 25 2017. The annual fundraiser auction/event raises money for free public arts programming for kids and families. Over 50 works are available for bidding, including an exclusive print by David Bastedao, exclusive photographer for the Tragically Hip.
Its Culture Days this weekend and there are many, many events going on – for a complete list go to their website but here’s some recommendations:
Sep 30 Ajax Creative Arts Reception @ the Ajax Library 10 am – noon. Meet gardeners, painters, photographers, wood carvers and railway enthusiasts to name but a few. Watch live demonstrations, ask questions and see samples of their best works.
Sep 29/ 30 - Celebrate the official opening of Durham Region's first Urban Art Gallery at The Paint Factory! Come see recent works by portrait artist, "Seven", photographs by Judy Krajcik and airbrushed works by Keegan De France. Students from UASC Graffiti School will also be exhibiting their work in a pop-up exhibition. Live Graffiti painting at the Paint Factory Owner, Chad Tyson, will be on hand to run free graffiti painting demonstrations and workshops for anyone interested in learning about tools and techniques to great your own graffiti