There is Here

 Posted by on April 4, 2014
Apr 042014


When I asked friends in Ottawa and local Winnipegers what places I should see during my trip to Winnipeg two weeks ago, many of them mentioned checking out artist-run centre aceartinc.

Their current exhibition was an installation by Robert Taite, called There is Here. The singular photo of the exhibition (not the one above) on the website featured geometric shapes such as squares and parallelograms, so my curiosity was piqued.

I’m really glad I did check it out; there was so much more than that one photo.


From the aceartinc website:

Taite will install a number of recent works in response to the architecture of aceartinc. and thereby continue his investigation into the relationships and tensions between painting, sculpture, architecture and the body.

Taite constructs sculptural paintings that are experiments in simple formal and material possibilities. When the pieces (often unfinished) start to pile up in his studio, their original, individual purposes get muddled and lost as they are recycled to solve problems created by new assemblages. This process continues in the gallery where its space becomes a blank canvas, a new arena for construction and placement. The work alludes to other spaces, other worlds, but inevitably self-destructs into the here and now.



When you walk into the room you’re immediately greeted with various colourful shapes and pieces on the walls and on the ground. At some moments it seems like some intentional order has been given to each sculpture, at other moments it seems like you’ve walked into a painting that’s exploded.



I loved that it was dynamic yet at the same time motionless. You could choose to walk through the installation or admire it from afar.You could choose to view the sculptures as standalone pieces, but you could also pick and choose to view objects together and in relation to one another. Or you could group all the objects in the gallery together and view it as one large work.

robert-taite-ace-art-7 robert-taite-ace-art-1

I went hunting for exhibit labels or some descriptive context around the piece.  One of the aceartinc co-diretors explained there weren’t any of these traditional descriptors. And there would be no public artist talk. Instead, he invited me to contact Taite, who was giving individuals guided tours. (If I had been around Winnipeg longer, it would have been great to hear his perspective.)


The show at aceartinc. runs until April 4 (today!), but you can see more of Taite’s work on his website.

Little Voices

 Posted by on March 5, 2014
Mar 052014


Last January, local graphic designer Mark Taylor, asked me to screenprint text written by his wife, writer Lesley Buxton, on a silky purple negligee and a crisp white apron. When I asked them what they were for, he casually mentioned they would be pieces in a show that was opening that month at City Hall and invited me to attend.

That show was Little Voices, a collaboration of Lesley’s writings and the dioramas of sculptor Patti Normand. The show definitely ranks as one of my faves I’ve seen in the last few years. It celebrates three things I love: dioramas, print, and stories about possible worlds. By combining their work, Lesley and Patti are able to tell powerful narratives that are unsettling and fresh and familiar all at the same time.




The show revolves around the fictional place Silent Falls. I was reminded of the many sleepy towns we’ve encountered on our road trips through Canada and the U.S. At first glance, the town seems picturesque. But it seems almost too perfect, and you wonder what will happen if you take a wrong turn, or whether you should keeping driving to the next largest city, or stay the night at the only motel across the way.











Lesley’s words draw you in and she uses a range of mediums  to communicate her stories (diaries, newspapers, letters, a telephone, a postcard, clothing). Patti’s dioramas (featuring empty houses, waterfalls and main street)  could fit in the palms of your hands, but they are complex and intricate, and you could spend hours exploring them.



There’s still time to check out the show until Sunday March 9. It’s at Karsh Masson Gallery in Ottawa City Hall. Plus you’ll get to see what happened to that negligee and apron.

Fables and Folklore

 Posted by on November 2, 2013
Nov 022013


I came across Marigold Santos‘ work after a friend posted she was visiting ODD Gallery in Dawson City, Yukon, where Marigold was exhibiting. On our recent trip to Toronto, I checked out the group show Other Worlds at the Harbourfront Centre, where she was also exhibiting.

A Filipino-born, Montreal-based inter-disciplinary artist, Marigold’s practice involves drawn and printed works, sculpture, animation, and sound. I was immediately drawn to her work in that she explores how “ideas of ‘self’ can become multiple, fragmented, and dislocated and then re-invented and created through a reflection of what is considered ‘home.’ ”

For example,  in much of her work, she references the supernatural asuang, a vampire/witch figure from Filipino folklore. As she explains in this article, it’s metaphor for Santos’s own experiences as a new Canadian.







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As she says:

Through my imagery, I seek to negotiate the narratives of past and present; in their re-telling and reconfiguring, they transform to become personal myth whose imagery functions in the fantastical and otherworldly. This is the realm of play where I situate my work.

In recent works, the fragmented and multiple self is investigated through a hybridization of Filipino and Western folklore, geological processes, weather systems, Canadian landscapes, decomposition and decay, and coincide with references to childhood games that attempt to connect and communicate with the supernatural to bring what is not of the home, into what is the home – suggesting boundaries crossed in favour of testing limits and gauging what to fear and belief, and how to make sense of the unknowable.

Ligaments and Ligatures

 Posted by on September 7, 2013
Sep 072013


Heart Attack

This summer, my friend Karina, a multidisciplinary artist, had a solo show at the Ottawa City Hall gallery entitled Ligaments and Ligatures. Although the show has ended, I wanted to share some photos of her work. I’ve known her for a while now, starting when she introduced her collective art project at a Spins & Needles event in 2006. Her studio is a place full of wonderful, colourful textiles. Last time I went I think she was experimenting with flocking. It’s been so great to see her work develop over the years.

A catalogue excerpt from Ligaments and Ligatures: “In highlighting failures and crises, Bergmans highlights the fragility of those connective tissues, of their immanent potential for slippage, and the damage that occurs thereby. She must know of this intimately, for it is embedded in her process: what is thread, after all, if not a ligature?”

With this exhibition, you can see her skill and vision in reinterpreting reclaimed textiles, starting with the thread and texture of the fabric, all the way to the construction of a biological system. My favourite piece was Lungsconstructed from wire, foam, rope and a reclaimed wedding dress for the membrane.

You can see photos of the exhibition here and behind-the-scenes in making some of the pieces.







Colon cancer

Providence p.1: Industrial Built

 Posted by on August 31, 2013
Aug 312013


“So why again exactly are you visiting?”

This is what locals in Providence, Rhode Island asked when Jason and I told them we were visiting from Canada.

It was a spur of the moment decision, at the 12th hour (midnight literally) to include Providence rather than Boston on our New England road trip. We’d been to Boston last year, and thought we should check out another New England city close by. Something we could in 24 hours.

We hadn’t done much research on the city, but since the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) was there, and it was only an hour from Boston, I had hope there might be something to it.



And there was. First was its downtown core. We walked around at night and during the day, down side streets, stopping every once in a while to take in the architecture and some of the building details. It’s a compact centre so you can probably get from one end to the other in about 20 minutes. I found out later it’s the only American city to have its entire downtown listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

We wandered down one side street to find the mural above by Shepard Fairey. The Obey Giant campaign started in Providence when Fairey was a student at RISD.


Within this historic area, it felt like something was brewing. Lots of the older buildings are being re-used in different ways now. Looking down on another side street, a screen was mounted to one of the brick buildings, with seating, presumably for movies or projecting art pieces. Great use of city space. Plus there was multidisciplinary art spaces like AS220, The Salon, and the shops along Westminster St.


providence-building-shield  providence-flamingo



With a name like Providence, you’d think the city might be more conservative. But when we were talking with the owner of one of the local record shops, he told us ironically it’s a place where people go because they don’t like to follow rules as much as other New England cities (cue their former mayor who served a prison sentence for corruption).

We weren’t there for very long, but what I liked the most about Providence was it mix of grittiness and character, mixed in with history and a touch of quirkiness. Like where else can you find a pineapple arch in a city? (It’s actually a pine cone – “La Pigna” – that marks the start of Federal Hill, a mainly Italian-American community).

Definitely going to be back.