Queen West is always buzzing but never more than during the annual Queen West Art Crawl (QWAC), which hits Trinity Bellwoods Park and beyond into Parkdale beginning Friday (Sept. 16) and running throughout the weekend. Studio tours, curator walks and talks and a major juried art sale and exhibition are all in the cards both day and evening. One of the highlights of the Parkdale Nightcrawl is a special edition of Art Battle featuring “cage matches” where two painters go head-to-head and only one painting survives to be auctioned while the other is ignominiously destroyed.
“We’ve got a ton of stuff happening,” assures QWAC Associate Director Lanie Treen. “Everybody’s getting involved and it’s really, really exciting this year.”
The photos don’t capture the sweep and swirl of this winning new production from Toronto dance/theatre company, Corpus. Creatively staged in the round at Casa Loma‘s Carriage House, the highly interactive performance features three pairs of brides of grooms clowning and dancing around a central cabinet from which the hi-jinx emanate. The show may be called Machina Nuptialis but the name of this game is FUN, all caps.
The dancers engage with the audience from the get-go, greeting spectators as if meeting friends and relatives at a wedding reception. Later, each member of the audience is ushered through the cabinet to present a token and be toasted; many of the guests are pulled into the actual dance.
Local filmmaker Ingrid Veninger is under no illusions about the commercial prospects for her latest feature, i am a good person, i am a bad person, even though Toronto critics have been unanimous in praising the film. The Toronto Star called the movie “a sure-footed film about finding yourself off balance” and The Globe and Mail said it’s “a realistic, funny, touching picture of life’s ‘in-between’ moments.”
Yet Veninger is here at TIFF enjoying the buzz, revelling in the laurels and not doing a darn thing to actually “sell” her picture.
“It’s crazy to say, I know, but I don’t want to sell this film,” she tells me. “I’d love it to expose me to people I wouldn’t otherwise meet – industry people, other film people – and maybe open the door to collaborations that might not have happened otherwise. But this film is very much a festival film, it’s an art piece, a limited edition. It was born out of travelling to film festivals and I want it to be seen at film festivals and that’s it.”
Watson is an especially good choice for the bill, which is focused on fighting violence in the community: the rapper’s father and uncle were shot dead in Lawrence Heights in 2001. That tragic event changed the course of Watson’s life; a sports-playing 10-year-old at the time of the shooting, he responded to the loss by acting out, skipping school and generally getting into trouble.
By age 19, he’d been in and out of jail twice. His second sentence included two years of house arrest during which he had nothing else to do but sit and write.
“Instead of taking out my anger on people and the world, I started writing it down on paper,” he says. “I really found a talent.”
In jail, Watson met some of his father’s friends: “They taught me that I can’t be trying to take out my revenge on the world, I can’t be keeping up with the badness. Deep down I was a good kid but the death of my father and uncle really changed my whole demeanor.”
Saidah Baba Talibah may hail from a musical family – her mother is Salome Bey and her cousins, aunt, uncle and sister have all performed – but she is very much her own woman. With tight, blonde dreads and a nose ring, her image is fierce, more rock chick than soul sister. And that’s how she sounds on her debut disc, the just released (S)CREAM.
Talibah and her band will be dropping the hammer on Harbourfront Centre’s West Jet stage tomorrow night at 8 pm after winning the venue’s first Soundclash Music Award, presented by NOW.
It’s a great gig for an artist who is still paying her dues and trying to make enough noise to get noticed above the din of indie attention seekers. With CD sales in a death spiral and fewer and fewer new artists being signed by the major labels, artists like Talibah have little choice but to exploit any and all opportunities to get the word out.