Pleased to contribute a print of Hitching Post [Syunik, Armenia] to Hit Parade! An Exhibition in Celebration of World Pride 2014 – at Toronto’s p|m gallery – from June 24 to July 6 – in support of the Will Munro Memorial Fund for Queers Living with Cancer. Opening reception is June 24, 6-10pm.
If memory serves, I recall that I first wrote down these words almost four years ago. It was only more recently, though, that I found myself spelling them out in staples – so, I guess they have resonated somehow. It has been fun to see this work appear, this past February, in a special issue of KAPSULA magazine on the theme of “Making Love” and to see it go to a good home for a good cause, just a few days ago, as a print for Xpace’s 10th Anniversary Fundraiser.
Gearing up for upcoming project at Xpace Cultural Centre here in Toronto. Chalk Form Census will run January 30 to February 28, 2014.
About Chalk Form Census:
A series of questions is posed, one at a time, on a chalkboard installed in a street level window. Citizens passing by are invited to contemplate or respond to the question, which changes at regular intervals over the month long project timeframe. Extending the reach of the census, the question is simultaneously posted online through social media [#chalkformcensus], thereby also providing a platform for responses.
Special thanks to Amber Landgraff, Alicia Nauta and Adrienne Crossman at Xpace. Also, thanks to Simon Rabyniuk, for his thoughtful reflections on the work.
Was super pleased and in good company presenting my 25 latest paintings, [Red & Blue] from the series Productive Limitations, at the Gladstone Hotel’s //The Annual// Shifting Ground this past October 10-13 here in Toronto. Thanks to curator Katherine Dennis for her work in creating cohesion out of disparity for this group exhibition. Here a few detail shots I took of the work, as well as an install photo by fellow exhibitor, Tom Ridout. Thanks Tom!
Bottom: Install photo by Tom Ridout
More on Productive Limitations:
Imagined as a modular system, Productive Limitations exploits the same process over and over, such that each panel is constructed following the exact same sequence of steps. Even so, product defies process, as aleatory chance enters the equation and no two panels are exactly alike.
With the basic unit of one square, there exist four possible orientations for the work––simple enough. With just four of these squares, there arise 45,280 possible permutations [ordered combinations] of the work. With twenty-five panels, as the work is shown here installed, the possibilities jump to 3,761,767,332,187,389,431,968,
The audience was invited to move the panels around to explore some of these iterations – allowing them to ‘shift the ground’.
Peace Process 
GPS drawing [using MapMyRun]
10.15km 1:58:49 [dimensions variable ]
As an outsider to Yerevan, a map served as a logical tool for my early orientation in the city. At some point during this way finding, the city streets jumped out at me as the peace symbol.
As it relates to “In and Between the (Re)public”, the act of making the work happens in the public sphere but remains a private affair, with no outward signs that this inscription is taking place.
As a GPS drawing, the work plays with the notion of public surveillance, but defies the surveyors through purposeful activation of the tracking technology.
The product is virtual and disembodied but the process is real and embodied.
The product is imperfect but the process is negotiated rather than dictated.
The product is one of a kind but the process is reproducible and encouraged.
The project takes an art history paper entitled, “Immaterealities of Dematerialisation in Contemporary Art and Finance,” that I wrote as partial fulfillment of my M.A. and publishes it over Twitter—one tweet a day from start to finish—call it a ‘tweethis’.
The paper was not written with Twitter dissemination in mind—so some idiosyncrasies will almost necessarily arise with the sort of force fit of the text into this new frame. No attempt has been made for each tweet to make sense on its own—some will, some won’t. This point underscores the juxtaposition of the significant and the trivial, the meaningful and the superficial of the opposed intentions of ‘profound’ academia versus ‘shallow’ pop media.
The choice to roll the text out with one tweet a day, until 140 character lots are exhausted, could frustrate the impatient. As the writer, though, I see a clear parallel in the timespans of the publishing process to the preceding research and writing phases of the project.
Strict academics will dislike the format for aspects such as zero pages, words cut in half, and endnotes that will only appear towards the very end of the almost year-long project. Strict Twitterers will bemoan a lack of relevance of these posts to daily events. To these objectors, I would argue that once up in its entirety, the paper has a better chance of being accessed than it might cloistered in the ivory cloud of academic journals—perhaps the trumping feature among these other details. And, more to the latter, there is something poetic about all of the nonsense summing to sense.
This Tweethis was made possible by the support and shelter of the Pop Culture Lab of Kitchener – my very special thanks to Managing Director, Danielle Deveau for facilitating this inaugural artist residency.
Also – a big thanks to my OCAD U team of Andrea Fatona and Dot Tuer for their indefatigable efforts related to the research, writing, and lest I mention, editing, phases of this project.
Abstract of “Immaterealities of Dematerialisation in Contemporary Art and Finance”
This paper is an in-depth examination of two artworks: Crisis in the Credit System (2008) by Melanie Gilligan and Inventory (2007) by Carey Young. These works are positioned as successful critiques of contemporary speculative capitalism. This criticality stems from the works’ ability to engage the institution of the economy as a network, which itself functions through language. With Crisis in the Credit System, art acts out finance. Gilligan’s film takes the familiar signs and symbols of capitalism as its script, yet with narrative exposes the abstraction of this vocabulary. With Inventory, art acts as finance. Young’s work assigns a value to the artist’s body based on a chemical breakdown of the body’s constituent elements, which then becomes the offer price of the artwork. The artist and the work thereby adopt the role of financial products. Through irony, these two works question processes of signification and meaning in financial capitalism.
I designed this Art Collector’s Starter Kit for the Gladstone’s booth at the 2012 Queen West Art Crawl. It was paired with a limited edition screenprint by artist Alicia Nauta – the collector’s first piece! Special thanks to curators Zach Pearl and Caoimhe Morgan-Feir for their support and collaboration on the project.
Played a minor role in artist Angel Chen’s project entitled, Candid Call Centre – where she connected the public with various professionals [especially in the legal and financial sectors] via a toll free call in line. I answered phones for an hour one day in my role as a former stock trader, which made for some anonymously meaningful chitchat. Thank you Angel for facilitating these crucial dialogues.
A quick quote from me in coverage by The Toronto Star.
I was super pleased to participate recently in Gift Shop Gift Shop, a store within a store at the AGO. The shop was part of the larger NOW: A Collaborative Project with Sean Martindale and Pascal Paquette, that ran from January 21-April 2, 2012. Special thanks to curator Katherine Dennis for her efforts in putting this dynamic show together.
General Admission: Not Everyone Can Afford It
AGO Ticket, white card stock, fineliners, ruler, plastic envelope
8 x 24 cm
Being She: The Culture of Women’s Health and Health Care Through the Lens of Wholeness
Gladstone Hotel – TORONTO
Featured Artists – Sarah Anne Johnson, Nina Levitt, Jane Martin, Meryl McMaster
[June 9 to August 1 2011]
Juried Artists - Dawn, James Azzopardi, Caitlin Baker, Laura Barrón, Jennifer Bedford, Carole Conde + Karl Beveridge, Talia Eylon, Jeane Fabb, Hoda Ghods, Michelle Gibson, Katherine Hartel, Sophie Hogan, Moe Laverty, Manon Lizé with Marianne Lizé-Dumoilin, Yalda Pashai-Fakhri, Pam Patterson + Leena Raudvee, Larry Rossignol, Jasper Savage, Elida Schogt with Guntar Kravis, Lillian Sly, Alison Snowball, Gaëtanne Sylvester, Elaine Whittaker, Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services
[June 9 to 15 2011]
Curators: Deborah Wang and Christina Zeidler
Curatorial advisors: Sophie Hackett, Michelle Jacques, and Betty Ann Jordan
Judging by a capacity crowd for opening night at the Gladstone, an intimate and thoughtful curated tour a few days later, and a high volume of press coverage that has been dedicated to the show – something about Being She has struck a nerve, if not the central nervous system of women’s health itself. Being held as part of centennial celebrations of Women’s College Hospital, the photo based exhibition is the first of its kind in the 100 year history of the health care institution.
My contribution as part of the juried show is dedicated to my mother Margie Snowball [1952-2010]. The series of photos was taken at Akropoli metro station in Athens.
Round & Round [She Goes] 2009
Often, the whole is illuminated only with the brilliance of hindsight. Kinetic forces of motion and change redraw borders and reshape lines, in staunch defiance of definition until – natural or otherwise – a conclusion is reached. My mom and I were in Athens when doctors discovered the tumour in her brain. With the forces at play, with our roles reversed, I mostly walked behind her. It was the beginning of her end and the end of my beginning.
While the juried portion of the show has come down the featured artists works remain up on the third and fourth floors of the hotel through August 1. Still, you can check out the Women’s College Hospital site for samples of all Featured and Juried artists’ works. Below, you can click through to more extensive press coverage of the show.
York University – York prof featured in Toronto hospital’s centennial celebration [June 1]
Xtra – Artists revisit troubling history of women’s health in Canada [June 2]
National Post – Five things to do this week [June 3]
CBC Radio One – Here and Now – Interview with curator Deborah Wang [June 8]
Globe and Mail – One Hundred Years of Healing [June 9]
Inside Toronto – Exhibit celebrates centennial of Women’s College Hospital [June 12]
SkeirGallery – TORONTO
[June 2 to July 16 2011]
New works by Shawn Skeir
It’s official – SPRUNG done been sprang! With the lines between seasons blurring on a daily, even hourly, basis this year – the opening of Shawn Skeir’s latest show this past Thursday, provided a welcome dose of intensity and energy to all in attendance. Meant to “explore and celebrate Spring’s invigorating spirit of rebirth” and the season’s “transition from dormancy to new found vigour”, Skeir employs a wide spectrum of colours and techniques in expressing this transitory phase. From softer, natural hues in his Seascapes to full blown neon in his DNA and Abstract paintings, Parkdale’s master of colour is successful in getting his point across. See for yourself at 1537A Queen Street West until July 16.
Abstract Expressionist New York: Masterpieces from the Museum of Modern Art
Art Gallery of Ontario – TORONTO
[May 28 to September 4 2011]
Works by William Baziotes, Louise Bourgeois, Rudy Burckhart, Harry Callahan, Paul Caponigro, Walter Chappell, Willem de Kooning, Robert Frank, Helen Frankenthaler, Arshile Gorky, Adolph Gottlieb, Philip Guston, Hans Hoffman, Franz Kline, Lee Krasner, Norman Lewis, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Isamu Noguchi, Jackson Pollock, Richard Pousette-Dart, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, Aaron Siskind, David Smith, Clyfford Still
Curated by Anne Temkin, MoMA
This morning, I took in the members’ preview of the AGO’s latest exhibition Abstract Expressionist New York: Masterpieces from the Museum of Modern Art. The show officially opens this Saturday, May 28.
It is hard to draw solid lines around the beginning and end of the Abstract Expressionism movement, but it generally refers to a school of painting based out of New York City in the 1940s and 1950s. Curators credit art critic William Coates with first using the term and thereby naming the movement in 1946. Wiki points out an earlier usage, in 1919, by German magazine Der Sturm as it referred to German Expressionism. In this instance, presented along with the painters most usually associated with the era are several of their photography and sculpture contemporaries.
The exhibition leads with a quote from Jackson Pollock, not so arguably, the most well known of the featured artists. Pollock is quoted as saying, “The modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or any other past culture. Each age finds its own techniques.” Too true, Jackson, too true. As it refers to the show in its entirety, these ‘techniques’ are wide ranging but with a great commonality in the boldness of scale and strokes, colour and composition. Further to the definition of the movement, though pieces may have their roots in reality, the end results are abstracted and non-representational.
With at least six or seven galleries devoted to the show, visitors are invited to discover artists one or two at a time [with the exception of a few rooms]. This thoughtful setup allows for a quick, structured survey or a more ambling assessment. Either way you choose to go about it, there are surprises around every corner. On return visits [yes, worth repeat trips] I will be employing both techniques.
Arshile Gorky [1904-1948] Garden in Sochi, 1943
Adolph Gottlieb [1903-1974] Flotsam at Noon [Imaginary Landscape], 1952
Willem de Kooning [1904-1997] Painting, 1948
Aaron Siskind [1903-1991] series of photographic prints
Isamu Noguchi [1904-1988] Work Sheet for Sculpture, 1946 Untitled, 1946
Franz Kline [1910-1962] Chief, 1950 White Forms, 1955 Le Gros, 1961
Lee Krasner [1908-1994] Gaea, 1966
Joan Mitchell [1925-1992] Ladybug, 1957
Jackson Pollock [1912-1956] No.1A, 1948 Echo No.25 1951, 1951, White Light, 1954
Mark Rothko [1903-1970] No.5/No.22, 1950 No.14 [Horizontals, White Over Darks], 1961
Ad Reinhardt [1913-1967] Abstract Painting, 1960-61
Philip Guston [1913-1980] Painting, 1954 Inhabiter, 1965
A few of these works can be previewed on the AGO website.
This past Victoria Day long weekend, a group of artists [disclaimer: myself included] took to the streets to change the cityscape in straightforward, impactful ways. Depending on your generosity – oft or totally – neglected city tree planter boxes found themselves the subject of interventions all around town as a part of project entitled Outside the Planter Boxes. Organized by Sean Martindale in putting his FEAST grant to work, the scheme puts the simple back in the sublime. With no guidelines other than the starting point of the planter, a great range exists in artists’ media, mixing artificial and natural elements, as the planter boxes themselves do, not ironically.
I volunteered as a set of hands and my intervention at its most basic was cleaning garbage out of planters all along Bloor West from Lansdowne to Dufferin. Number one contribution from Torontonians – chewing gum. Followed in rapid and close succession by cigarette butts, coffee cups, chocolate bar wrappers, and in a strange and grizzly discovery in the planter outside the House of Lancaster some kind of jumbo animal bone [human or pig, maybe, remains TBD, but by someone else - I couldn't bring myself to touch it further despite thick rubber gloves and had to leave it for the bouncers to identify].
When I came across the following planter, the abandoned crate alongside it naturally suggested the final design. The grass clippings were imported from a freshly mown lawn in North York.
BEFORE & AFTER
La Guerra Que No Hemos Visto: Un Proyecto de Memoria Historica
The War We Have Not Seen: A Historical Memory Project
Museo La Tertulia – CALI, Colombia
[January 27 to April 17 2011]
A Project by Juan Manuel Echavarria
Curated by Ana Tiscornia
With this show having been mounted first by the Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogota late last year, its second and extended incarnation at Cali’s premier modern art museum is well merited. At first glance, the colourful collection of paintings strikes as infantile, primary pieces looking for a home on a fridge somewhere. A second look, though, turns into a stare. These are not the works of children, but of fledgling artists – former combatants in Colombia‘s ongoing internal conflict. Organized by Echavarria into workshops aimed at bringing the etchings of war from the mind to the surface, aimed at capturing and preserving the collective memory.
Grand pastoral scenes of green hillsides are scarred with blood and big blue skies sub in bullets for birds. Tiny figures are out of scale with the works, but perfectly in scale as they relate humans to the universe. Tiny figures carry guns and knives. Tiny figures are being shot and stabbed.
The title is an interesting choice, no mistake undoubtedly, in the selection of ‘el preterito perfecto’ or ‘the present perfect’ for the tense. Perhaps as a student of the language, the choice stands out more prominently, but its use conveys that this War is not over, that past events continue into the present. Not the “War We Did Not See” but a translation more along the lines of “The War We May or May Not Have Seen But Could Still See”.
So, who’s fighting you ask? In general terms, it’s FARC [Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionares de Colombia] aka versus paramilitary groups sponsored by Colombia’s government [the US among others]. Those interested can read up on the conflict and its roots in La Violencia. Not to say that there has not been a marked improvement in safety and security for citizens and visitors alike, especially in the last five to ten years. Rather, to acknowledge what Colombians freely do, that a tougher past has given way to a tough present, but in spite of this, by and large citizens remain optimistic and well positioned for the future.
Below are a few personal highlights from the show. It is interesting to note that no individual artists are credited in the show – nor are they credited in the online catalogue – testament it seems to the still sensitive nature of their past and present roles in society.
After a few days exploring within the city limits of Medellin, Colombia – I wound my way up and out of its central valley into the hills of nearby Santa Elena. A new friend invited me to make a painting on the premises and this is how things shaped up.
In Pink & Blue [Nontych] 2010
Can you believe NONTYCH is a word? Nine separate panels painted as one piece.
Not just nights
But under direct sun too
Old grey matter
Meets new paint splatter
Ready to start again – you?
Text and images from One Year Lease solo photography installation [Dec 11 2009 to Jan 11 2010 - Snowball Gallery & Workshop, Toronto].
One Year Lease is a work in progress, a story still unfolding. Contrasting the strength of architecture with the frailty of our human existence. How the permanent can be altered by impermanent perspectives. How beauty is at once reinforced and betrayed by time.
[These are ideas I've been toying with for a few years - and some of my notes are dated relative to this interweb post. At this time, I still don't buy that the underlying economy is experiencing the same recovery we've seen in world equity markets since bottoming out a year ago - we can all mark the date - check the chart of TSX and SP500 from late last February up until yesterday's close. With a spate of stocks setting new 52 week highs recently - it still looks like the major indices are facing new resistance. With this thought, I generally end up humming The Guess Who's She's Come Undone.]
June 2009: With reference to my own ‘restructuring’ out of stock trading earlier this year – I return often to the notion that I have become an exhibit of my own thesis of the markets and of the world economy as a whole. Not only are we experiencing a global cyclical downturn but a coincident and magnifying one that is structural in nature. My own case aside herein, there remain many sources of evidence to this effect, which will in no doubt protract all aspects of the “cirque du credit” blanketing all with its big top these days.
This critical juncture demands reflection and grinding through provides opportunity to do just that, offering a chance to examine the big picture in contrast to the normal, myopic focus on the day to day gyrations of one index or another. When the psychological pendulum of the market swings back from fear to hope, what will this hope be focused upon? More importantly, for the sake of a fragile environment, what should this hope be focused upon?
More than 200 years ago, psychology guided actors party to the first contracted exchange of stock certificates under a buttonwood tree in New York. Now, as then, this inextricable influence is of utmost importance. What does the market think and what do we want it to think? What is the structural mindshift required to catalyze an accompanying resource shift in favour of our collective future?