Welcome!

August 7, 2008

Thanks for joining Things of Desire for our first issue. Although envisioned as a weekly roundup of what’s going on in Canadian galleries, this lofty initiative was soon grounded by reality and Things of Desire will now be updated every second Thursday. If you would like to receive future issues on Things of Desire, please shoot an email at thingsofdesire@gmail.com. Special thanks to Sue Carter Flinn for all her encouragement and support. Enjoy!

By Mike Landry

If there’s one thing the 21st century is not, says Todorovic Gallery owner Ljubica Todorovic, it’s cultured. She only has to step out of her Gallery into downtown Calgary to know it.

“My parents are from Europe, and I grew up here in Calgary, and it’s so cultureless. It’s all so corporate,” says Todorovic. “What you do is you go to the mall, downtown becomes dead at night. Everyone thinks that Calgary is a horse/cowboy town, but it’s not. It’s just so cultureless.”

That’s why Todorovic is encouraging Calgarians to art up their life with her latest show How to Wow the Neighbours: Redecorate your life with new works by talented artists.

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By Mike Landry

When I reach Toronto artist Nicholas Di Genova on the phone he’s in the middle of a nap on his picnic table. Given that he’s in the middle of a new work—27,000 butterflies on a 4×6.5 foot piece of paper—napping isn’t something you would have found him doing seven years ago. Di Genova admits he’s just grown up a little bit.

“I think for a 22-year-old I had my fair share of problems. I was a lot more aggressive; I was a lot more into aggressive things; and I was a lot more into quick art,” says Di Genova. “I’ve just chilled out. I’m a little less likely to just rip a piece up if it takes more than a week to do.”

To help send off his old work, Di Genova has partnered with Magic Pony and Spanish magazine Belio to launch a collection of his earlier work and present a solo exhibition. The collection is part of Belio’s “Die Young” series, which documents emerging international artists, illustrators and designers.

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By Mike Landry

I think someone at the programming staff at the Diane Farris Gallery is a fan of Clueless, Amy Heckerling’s 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. In case you don’t remember, romantic comedy ensues in Emma as a result of a portrait. In Clueless the portrait is replaced with a photograph. Unlike most of Heckerling’s wonder-piece this slight change in plot ends up falling flat, because portraiture is more than a simple capture of person.

This aspect of portraiture will be on display at the gallery’s upcoming show, Portrayal. Various gallery artists including Wil Murray along with guest artists Angela Grossmann and Nick Lepard will present different styles of portraiture.

“We have a variety of quite talented artists that range from emerging to seasoned artists that work in portraiture,” says Christopher Fadden. “So we wanted to explore the different realms from the young to the more established and it’s just a beautiful of artwork.”

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By Stacey Ho

Ron Pollock had given up on stardom long ago. It was when The Pollock and Pollock Gossip Show, a wild community-access television show hosted with his sister Natalie, was abruptly canceled in 1989. However, with the help of Daniel Barrow’s touring video archive, The Winnipeg Babysitter, audiences were once again introduced to “Nifty Natalie” and “Rockin’ Ron.” Witnessing the audience’s reaction encouraged Ron Pollock to begin working on a new project after nearly twenty years. “I saw it,” he says. “They were laughing like crazy.”

The new piece, Spanking Joni Mitchell, looks at “the changing roles of women, with rock ‘n roll as a backdrop” and involves working with teen girls, interviewing them about their life experiences. He then develops strategies to draw these emotions out on camera.

“I’ve done some scripting,” says Pollock, “but I’d rather have an outline, and talk with actresses to see if I can get them to use their own emotions rather than a script.”

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By Mike Landry

The non-descript barn on the property in Campbellville, Ontario may have been torn down, but it stands strong in Guelph artist Scott Pattinson‘s acrylics. The barn was on a property Pattinson had been living on four years ago.

The acclaimed architect-turned-abstract artist was so enthralled by the positive energy, craftsmanship, and age of the old barn that his latest series Silence on images. Using other colours as a base, rather than the black that dominated his previous works, Silence abstract images are light yet complex. It’s a simple change that reflects Pattinson’s desire for people to, “get your selves right into things and question things around us.”

“The idea of the barn is that most people would walk into a barn and go “is a barn.” But what really do spaces mean,” asks Pattinson. “The built environments we create are so often done without much thought and sensibility, so we don’t question it.”

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By Mike Landry

Surreal, fabricated, extraterrestrial—three unlikely words Jen Hutton uses to describe a blue and pink ice/snow pile outside an ice rink.

She noticed the pile accidentally when leaving her suburban hometown of St. Mary’s, Ontario. Hutton was so intrigued by the unusual shape and placement of the snow she’s created a 500sq/ft structure based on it for Ecotecture Canada and the DeLeon White Gallery

“It’s funny, because I had recently come back to that formation over the past couple of months—was interested in it as a land form, just this incongruous thing,” says Hutton. “I really liked this fantasy side of it and I thought I could really manipulate that somehow.”

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By Mike Landry

If walking a mile in someone’s shoes really builds understanding, participants in Eryn Foster’s latest project are about to get a compassion overload. For the second project in her New Canadian Pilgrimages, interdisciplinary artist Eryn Foster is currently walking the perimeter of PEI.

Unlike the first NCP experiment last year, walking from Halifax to Sackville, New Brunswick, Foster has made this walk interactive. Visitors to Sackville, New Brunswick’s Struts Gallery can experience the walk with the Virtual Pilgrimage Machine—a treadmill set up with a telephone and headset set to call Foster on her cell phone. There will also be a large map on the wall for visitors to flag the distance they walked with Foster.

“It’s partially a little experiment in the actual and virtual experience,” says Foster. “It is a play on the idea of communication and how you can connect with someone… physically you’re separated while at the same time doing the same thing.”

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Taking Two to Tango

August 7, 2008

By Stacey Ho

duet is born from reworking the same set of gestures over the span of three years. However, for Montreal artist Andrew Forster, throughout this process, the gestures have always retained their own power. For him, “You don’t ever forget where they come from.”

Taken from footage released to the media, duet echoes the movements of a young suicide bomber, stopped at an Israeli army checkpoint. The boy, following instructions shouted to him from off camera, removes first the bomb he is carrying, then his clothing.

We are presented with a 40-minute video with two performers. The first performer re-enacts the movements of the Palestinian boy, beginning with “very subtle gestures, facial gestures and twitches, [which] gradually builds.” Another performer reflects the heightening tension by initiating the movements of the first performer, then trying to stop them.

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Moncton Rocks

August 7, 2008

By Mike Landry

Stefan St-Laurent may have moved from Moncton in 1990 when he was 19-years-old, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have love for his hometown. Along with fellow ex-pat and SAW Gallery Director, Tam-Co Vo-Van, St-Laurent has organized a retrospective of Moncton art and music culture from the late 60’s to today.

Capping off the Moncton Rock exhibition is a night celebrating Moncton film. The featured films chronicle Moncton’s underground music, art, television scenes, and how they’re all tied to the city’s Acadian history.

“It’s like a coming together that’s fun for us to coordinate…It was really fun to fill the generational gaps,” says St-Laurent.

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By Mike Landry

Artist-run centres are pretty cool, but, like a ten-year-old circa 1990 with Reebok Pumps and steps shaved into his hair, Edmonton’s Latitude 53 might just be the coolest kid in its class.

Latitude 53 is wrapping up the second summer of its Rooftop Patio Series—a one of a kind event where the centre blends art, music, drinks, and its sun-drenched rooftop patio. This year the series features weekly guest hosts such as Gilbert Bouchard from the Edmonton Journal, Nokomis clothing, and the University of Alberta’s young alumni.

Designed as a relaxed summer fundraiser, Sydney Lancaster, Latitude 53’s administration’s officer, says it was “a no-brainer” to decide to do another series this summer.

“Rather than doing a huge one off event, we thought the rooftop patio would be a great relaxed way to bring in some revenue to the gallery, have a good time, and connect with the larger Edmonton community,” says Lancaster.

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