Things of Desire Issue #8

October 9, 2008

Top of the day ToD friends! I would like to give a grand chin-grabbing nod of artful appreciation to the more than 100 subscribers reading this week. Thank so much for jumping on board the ToD art boat. Here’s hoping there’s smooth sailing ahead. And for those who have yet to sign up to ToD, if you like what you see help us get up to 200 subscribers and email thingsofdesire@gmail.com. Enjoy!
-Mike Landry

By Mike Landry
Jeremy Hof's award-winning work "Layer Painting Red."

Jeremy Hof's award-winning work "Layer Painting Red."

Before Jeremy Hof knew anything about art he knew he was a painter. Now his passion for the medium has taken him to forefront of emerging Canadian visual artists, after taking home top prize at this year’s RBC Painting Competition.

It’s an interesting to position to find young Hof in given his work could be argued as having as many sculptural elements as painterly aspects. And it’s a claim Hof agrees with, but insists that doesn’t mean he works aren’t paintings.

“I want to see painting evolve as well into areas maybe that aren’t familiar,” says Hof. “I want to try and create alternatives for paintings that will spawn new ideas or different understanding of what a painting can be. I personally don’t believe a painting just has to be paint applied with a brush on a piece of canvas.”

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They Are Making Art

October 9, 2008

By Mike Landry
Daniel Wong and Mary-Anne McTrowe are ready to make some art.

Daniel Wong and Mary-Anne McTrowe are ready to make some art.

In the song “East Coast West Coast” Mary-Anne McTrowe describes herself as “an East Coast artist. I like systematic stuff, but I’ve never rally made anything because the ideas are good enough.” Her band mate, Daniel Wong, then chimes in, “I’m a West Coast artist. I’m a touchy feely guy. I like to watch all the birds and clouds as they float across the sky.”

A true art band, The Cedar Tavern Singers AKA The Phonoréalistes is the brainchild of art history buffs McTrowe and Wong. Under the guise of a folk duo, the pair aim to free art history from its no-fun, stiff-collared academic existence.

“Our attitude towards it is more like those obsessed fans who draw pictures of their rock idols and know every detail about them,” says Wong. “It just happens that our rock idols are people like John Baldessari and Yves Klein.”

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Reading Machine for Dr. NO

October 9, 2008

By Stacey Ho
Dr. Julius No torments 007 in Liddington's "Reading Machine."

Dr. Julius No torments 007 in Liddington's "Reading Machine."

In a textual piece from the early eighties, Vancouver artist Rodney Graham rewrites a scene from Ian Fleming’s Dr. No. Part of an extensive body of work that reconfigures the classic super-spy, lenz loops a climatic scene where Bond is caught in a fix—a centipede crawling up the length of his body. In Fleming’s version, 007 shakes off the bug and smoothly saves the day. In Graham’s version, the centipede is always there; Bond never escapes.

A take off of Graham’s practice, Derek Liddington’s Reading Machine for Dr. NO similarly loops a car chase scene from Dr. No. In Liddington’s piece, the bad guy’s car never flies off a cliff, does not blow up. Rather, James Bond is forever being chased in an infinite figure eight. There’s no pay off.

Liddington’s play on Rodney Graham’s strategies extends upon his fascination with Vancouver’s art scene, where artists, mixing their work with pop culture and academia, would freely appropriate each other’s practices.

“It’s a very traditional approach, much like the idea of an apprenticeship,” says Liddington. “Building a practice based on the practice of others is a traditionalist process that I’m interested in.”

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Fear the Doily

October 9, 2008

By Mike Landry
One of Alain Bonder's menacing doily works.

One of Alain Bonder's menacing doily works.

When Alain Bonder was living in Montreal his dad used to send him random images with notes scrawled on the bottom. One of his favourites was an image from an old Italian horror movie of a man cowering under the covers.

For many years the note lived stuck to the Ottawa-based painter’s walls. But something clicked last year, and Bonder decided to pair his own macabre rendering of the image in black and monster green with an ornate doily dipped heavily in black paint. Although it was meant to be a keeper, Bonder soon found himself with an entire series called Fear the Doily.

“On top the doily looks dead on like a UFO to me. So it was this strange object, but at the same it’s something that would never hurt you,” says Bonder. “You would have to really try to be hurt by a doily.”

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The Task at Hand

October 9, 2008

By Mike Landry
One of Matthew Robertson's scaffolding inspired drawings.

One of Matthew Robertson's scaffolding inspired drawings.

When I was 15-years-old my uncle Noel hired me to help him with some roofing one cool winter’s day. Although the rough and heavy shingles were nightmare inducing, there was nothing I hated more than having to unload, build, move and take down the scaffolding. To this day whenever I look at scaffolding I scowl and shiver.

But when Vancouver-based artist Matthew Robertson looks at scaffolding he sees art. Using pieces of wood reclaimed from construction sites, Robertson has built his own scaffolding inside Vancouver’s Jeffrey Boone Gallery. His exhibition, The Task at Hand, will also feature drawings and large format photographs dealing with scaffolding.

“I like that they’re these large publicly visible structures that are esthetically unconsidered when it comes to designing, and are nice impermanent structures,” says Robertson. “I’ve been studying them, in my own way, trying to decipher why these seemingly bizarre structures to me why and how they function.”

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High on a Hill

October 9, 2008

By Stacey Ho
Choose either goat or

Lipton invites you to be either goatherd or Heidi in "High on a Hill"

Sometimes love is just not meant to be.

Trapped on two separate snowy mountains, a pair of alpine lovers in green attire yodel to one another above a howling wind. As their calls intensify, the storm subsides and the snow melts away. Heidi and her goatherd lover fade into their freshly green mountain backdrop. The sound of trickling water is all that remains.

This short video is the centre of High on a Hill, a new installation by Lisa Lipton. Playing off The Sound of Music-style kitsch, the exhibition asks viewers to participate in the gallery space. Surrounded by towering green mountain murals, Lipton adds a touristy plywood mountain vignette to the gallery. Visitors step behind the sculpture to have their photo taken as Heidi or the goatherd.

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