If you’re not a David Bowie fan you probably don’t know (and possibly don’t care) that “Sound and Vision” is the title of a song from the rock star’s pivotal and supremely arty 1977 album, Low. In many ways, the song sums up what curator Anthony Kiendl wanted to say with his Scotiabank Nuit Blanche exhibition this Saturday (October 2) so he borrowed the title.
“I was thinking about the role of pop music in art and vice versa,” says the Winnipeg-based Kiendl, “and at that particular time Bowie was leaving the U.S. and going to Europe to make the Berlin trilogy (Low, Heroes, Lodger). It seemed like an example of someone crossing boundaries and making transitions; he’d been doing film work around that time, as well. I like that it’s a simple title, it doesn’t over-explain or pre-determine the reception of the artworks.” READ MORE
Art Gallery of Ontario curator Gerald McMaster, above (photo by Angus Rowe MacPherson) is the most seasoned member of this year’s Scotiabank Nuit Blanche curatorial team and yet he’s the least prone to indulge in art speak and the most open to child-like wonder at the power of contemporary art. Jaded, he is not.
McMaster uses the word “fun” repeatedly to describe several of his zone’s commissioned and open call project selections and he definitely cherishes the evening’s power to provoke and transform the city’s collective perception of contemporary art. On October 2, for the fifth year running, downtown Toronto will become a nocturnal hive for art and art lovers.
“There’s something so fantastic about the buzz of being surrounded by so many other people all out to experience the wonder of the event,” McMaster enthuses. “It’s safe and it’s fun. Nuit Blanche has really created an awareness among Torontonians of art and new artistic practices. People suddenly realize that art is not just for a white cube, it can be a spatial experience.”
“At the AGO,” adds McMaster, “we’re constantly asking, ‘Who is our audience?’ and it’s not always an easy question to answer. But with Nuit Blanche everybody is the audience.” READ MORE
The annual Queen West Art Crawl has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 2003; the three-day event now stretches from Trinity Bellwoods Woods Park – scene of a mammoth outdoor art exhibition — well past the Drake and Gladstone hotels and deep into Parkdale. Artists throw open the doors of their studios, neighbourhood galleries pull out the stops and Art Spin is leading what promises to be a head-turning bicycle tour through all of the above on Saturday from 4 – 6 pm.
The Gladstone Hotel is the place to be tomorrow night (September 17) for a no-holds-barred, kick-off event where individual artists have turned guest suites into mini-galleries and where Director of Exhibitions Britt Welter-Nolan has curated an Art Fair spanning the second floor public space. A major highlight takes place in the Gladstone Ballroom where artist and organizer Chris Pemberton hosts Art Battle, above, a rowdy session of live, competitive painting.
Pre-selected artists go head-to-head in 20-minute contests painting as fast and as well as they can in order to win spots in successive bouts. Typical Art Battles feature parallel rounds where known artists compete against one another while wannabe painters are drawn from a hat to take each other on. In the final round, the newbie faces-off against the pro. There will be blood! READ MORE
Frank Viva is an in-demand illustrator and branding expert whose work has appeared on the cover of The New Yorker, in Time and Esquire, the New York Times and Toronto Life: commercial clients include Butterfield and Robinson, New York Life and Le Creuset. But busy as he is, Viva found the time to do a pro bono job being unveiled today (August 26) at the Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street); the OCAD-educated artist has lent his talent to Poet Laureate Dionne Brand’s Poetry is Public is Poetry project, an initiative designed to etch some of Canada’s most celebrated poetry into public spaces.
A collaboration between City of Toronto’s Cultural Services, Transportation Services and the Toronto Public Library and the TPL Foundation, the project will embed two to four installations per year in outdoor library spaces. Viva’s hoarding design (above) blends his whimsical art with snippets of poems by 34 Canadian poets.
B-boy culture busts out at the Isabel Bader Theatre Wednesday evening with the grand finale of the Dare to B after-school program. For the past 14 weeks, non-profit group Break it Down has been instructing teens from seven Toronto high schools in the foundations and finer points of break dancing. The students go head-to-head Wednesday from 5:30 – 9 pm in this “school vs. school battle”.
Program co-founder Lee Pham – Lethal to his crew, the Supernaturalz – stresses that the showcase will be a “friendly” competition. “The idea was to bring kids from different neighbourhoods across the city to one place to share the passion,” he says. “Each school will showcase and then there will be head-to-head battles, which hopefully will be very intense.”
Intensity is a hallmark of the break dancing phenomenon. On Saturday, I attended a drop-in session at the St. Lawrence Community Centre where Lethal, above left, and his partners Dyzee (Karl Alba), centre, and Drops (Jon Reid), right, were overseeing the casual, freestyle session. There were a few young women in the room but the male/female ratio is typically 10- or even 20-1 in this male-dominated practice. Hip hop beats pounded from the PA while dancers stretched, practiced and coached each other.