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Visual Arts

Friday, August 28, 2015

Dark Arts: Matt Samways' gothic lounge this Saturday night

The multidisciplinary art and music event challenges time and experience

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 3:25 PM

Sleep and Longevity: a sensory-sound party Saturday at The Khyber - MATT SAMWAYS
  • Sleep and Longevity: a sensory-sound party Saturday at The Khyber
  • Matt Samways


"The more you sleep, the less you live. It's pretty simple really," says Matt Samways, electronic artist and the head of Halifax-based avant-garde label, Electric Voice Records.

On Saturday night, Samways presents Sleep and Longevity, a multidisciplinary sensory-sound party at The Khyber (10pm, $5). With previous performances at Halifax's outsider art festival OBEY Convention, Samways has shifted his artistic practice from analog and digital electronic-experimental songs — heavy, dark, disorienting, passionate — to a live band. He'll sing six songs from his repertoire of releases backed by the instrumentation of Jeremy Costello and Nick Dourado (Special Costello), with Seamus Dalton and Josh Salter (Monomyth). 

Sleep and Longevity, a "gothic lounge," also features electro-artist JFM (performing as GIA): "Bass-heavy and trashy," says Samways. There will also be performances by drone-experimentalist Moss Harvest and oblique-house music by DJ Claire Dragon, with a set by fresh scrap-jazz band Kurt Inder and live visual projections by Alex van Helvoort. The collaborative and engaging event is inspired by Samways' somber, challenging and consistent aesthetic principles. 

"By taking up the components of my electronic instruments and transcribing them to acoustic and electric instruments and saxophone, we maintain the overarching aesthetic but it is presented under a different vibe," he says, "It's the same principle but in a different voice." As someone who operates on the fringes, who consciously rejects societal norms, Samways says "Sleep and Longevity" is inspired by his inability to sleep — his periods of insomnia cause periods of creation. 

"Our biological and internal clocks are trained by society to function in a certain way. They shouldn't be," he says, "You can retrain the body and get more from life by changing your relationship to time. Because this is subversive as an idea, the expression of myself through my art is also going to be subversive, transgressive and sometimes perverse." His practice is thus motivated by his development and experience of each present moment: "It's about living the most you can while you can, because eventually we're all going to disintegrate ... thankfully." The event will be an exposure to the painful aspects of chronological experience. Wear black. 


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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

String Things: German artist Helmut Lemke performs tonight

A collaborative improv sound performance, plus a poem by Andrew Patterson

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 at 1:25 PM

Helmut Lemke performs tonight - HTTP://WWW.SOUND-ART.DE/
  • Helmut Lemke performs tonight
  • http://www.sound-art.de/

Tonight, UK-based, German sound and performance artist Helmut Lemke presents "Long Strings 'n' Short Encounters" at The Bus Stop Theatre (8pm), a collaborative, improvisational concert experience with Paul Cram (sax/ clarinet), Brandon Auger (modular synth), Lukas Pearse (bass) and Andrew Patterson (reading). It will be his only performance in Halifax. 

As one of the the Ballast artists at the White Rabbit Arts Festival last weekend, Lemke performed stringed sound experiences solo, and with drummer/artist Lindsay Dobbin (Gift from God), the culmination of his three-week residency. There, he also met Halifax poet Patterson, who will read excerpts from modern language poet Ron Silliman's Sunset Debris. 

Patterson attempts to describe Lemke's installations and performances during White Rabbit: "Helmut is really into installation work, building contraptions out of drum kits and fishing rods, with little motors to make them run," he says, "At White Rabbit, he did a performance with Lindsay where they were in the ocean, with contact mics, and Helmut was playing a reel of fishing line that was out in the water. There was a guy with a solar panel on his back powering the amps, which were in a wheelbarrow, and moved as the tide went out. It was essentially a mobile performance of playing the tide line. Hard to describe. He also put fishing line across a pond and played the strings. I think tonight he's playing the room. It's pretty out-there stuff."

Lemke also hosted workshops at White Rabbit, which entailed listening as shared experience: "We'd get up early in the morning and all draw what we heard," explains Patterson, "Helmut is really interested in the interactions of language." Naturally, as a poet, Patterson shares these interests. "I stopped seeing a boundary between composition and improv. Any performance has a set of parameters, but they're different for improv, which is something I'm learning."

In the wake of White Rabbit, Patterson has been writing semi-collaborative poetry with Chicago-based artist Anna Wolfe-Pauly, in the spirit of Shiomi Mieko's "Spatial Poem No. 2" circa 1966. The project is a simultaneous listening and writing experience. For the last four days, at 5:00pm in Halifax (3:00pm in Chicago), both Patterson and Wolfe-Pauly write about exactly what they're hearing at that time. They then have 24 hours to send the poems to each other. Below, Patterson shares one of his poems from this series, written during Saturday's power outage. 

Check out the Facebook event for more information about tonight's performance. 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

SOUND REPORT
Nova Scotia ... 5:00pm // August 22nd . 2015

ANDREW PATTERSON 


Swish-
swishing of pants
and moisture parting

in step

Ever a siren
just
barely, off somewhere.

It's suddenly after-work-or-before-work-ending
and everyone has keys
or small bits of change

and children
announce the days to come.

What the crosswalk
does to the sound
of
cars in motion

(and one, two, three) gear
sets freely
strung along the close

- Did the power go out everywhere?
- Oh . . . I didn't notice. It hardly made a sound.


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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Art, tan, laundry, GreatLife!

Go into beast mode and get swole on culture at the Anna Leonowens

Posted By on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 2:26 PM

Hung and Yee are living the GreatLife! - LAURA BAKER-ROBERTS
  • Hung and Yee are living the GreatLife!
  • Laura Baker-Roberts

Like every good idea, the upcoming GreatLife! exhibit (July 28 to August 2 at Anna Leonowens Gallery, artist talk July 31, 12pm) started as a joke. NSCAD student union president Caleb Hung and artist Stephanie Yee were discussing emerging artists’ reliance on artist-run centres, centres that often have their own location and funding problems. “Sometimes what emerging artists coming out of school need most is stability, a place they know is committed to the art community's growth and doesn't have to worry about space,” says Yee. Hung was discussing his upcoming summer show at Anna Leonowens Gallery, and Yee jokingly suggested he have a show called GreatLife!, “which, if you know the area, would face the new GoodLife Fitness across the street.”

They got to talking, realizing they could “address certain frustrations as well as engage the community in thinking about what the good life is and imagine what an arts and cultural utopia could look like,” says Yee. The utopia sounds pretty sweet. Hung and Yee are friendly staff members, offering guests ice water, smoothies, informational pamphlets and free GreatLife! bags and merchandise (with “membership”). Nine artists including Hung and Yee have work in the show—performance, video, photography, textiles, sculpture—dealing with the mind/body dichotomy.

“One of the performances is a day long work, ‘Directed Participation #1’ by Laura Baker-Roberts that explores types of participation through various interventions and interactions with the objects and viewers in the space,” explains Yee. Andrew Rabyniuk’s “Run This Block” features a participatory 5km fun run around the Granville Mall courtyard on Saturday, August 2 (interested parties can email runningrunnersrun@gmail.com to sign up). Adrienna Matzeg’s photography piece, “Benefits of a Membership” will be in display in the reception area, using pinhole photography “to explore spectatorship and performance.”

Yee and Hung are offering a type of “customer service” that isn’t always present in the average exhibit: because they will always be present, visitors can fully engage with the work—confused about a piece? Want more info? Yee and Hung are there to provide orientation sessions.

It’s that spirit of engagement and community drives the idea of GreatLife!. “In contemporary life, arts and culture seems to be so far from the mainstream, but we're trying to prove that arts and culture are synonymous with community.” Yee explains that “real-time communities” are far more exciting than virtual ones, after all, what’s the point of having super fit quads if no one ever sees them? “Real, live body language is so much more exciting!” Yee says. “Our memberships are kind of a play on this. They're free and you’re signing up to commit to a community that upholds certain values and ambitions, plus with a membership, you get a cute little GreatLife! tote bag. Really this commitment to community values or to your own well-being shouldn't need a contract, but that's kind of the point, we like that this show is playing with that corporatism as we question the taking ownership over the intangible.”

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Your guide to Thursday's Downtown Art Walk

Neighbourhood by neighbourhood, here’s how to experience everything Thursday’s Downtown Art Walk has to offer

Posted By on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 4:09 PM

Delicious work by Kim Floyd at Argyle Fine Art's CANADIANA
  • Delicious work by Kim Floyd at Argyle Fine Art's CANADIANA

Fire up the Fitbit, you’re about to clock a lot of steps this Thursday evening (5-8pm). We take you through the Downtown Art Walk gallery by gallery, shop by shop, so you can plan a full night of walkin’, lookin’ and droppin’ your Gs. I assume you're a visual person because you enjoy things like art walks, so for your convenience, red will indicate shops and blue will indicate galleries.

Plus, a Google Map is right here if you like that sort of thing.

Let's go! Start in Dartmouth, because that’s where everything good starts anyway.

Kept Gifts and Housewares, 127 Portland Street will have a 50% off table and everything in the store is tax-free
The Dart Gallery is just a stone's throw away at 127A Portland Street, and will have artists Deborah MacDonald speaking about her Feathers exhibit and Dwayne Carberry will be sketching and previewing his upcoming The Other Side of Life exhibit (July 31 to August 13). Dartmouth Clothing Company will also have a pop-up shop on site.
Dartmouth Yarns , 122 Portland Street will be displaying art from The Dart Gallery and giving out free gift kits to visitors from 6-8pm
Sugar Shok Candy Boutique, 117 Portland Street will offer thirsty/sugar-deprived art walkers tax free drinks and half price ice cream. All right x3.
Strange Adventures, 101 Portland Street will be a shoulder to cry on over your Archie grief. Maybe some locally made comics and prints will soothe your broken heart?
Nectar, 62 Ochterloney Street, gives you 10% off just for being interested in art.
Just Us!, 15 King's Wharf follows suit with the 10% thing.
The Craig Gallery, Alderney Landing has work on display from Andrew Maize and Sera Senakovicz (head back to The Craig Gallery Saturday, July 19 at 1pm for artists talks)
The Wooden Monkey, 88 Alderney Drive has a will to feed all hungry walkers.

Hop on a ferry and continue the adventure in Halifax by strolling down the boardwalk, all the way to the very end to The Mary E Black Gallery at the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design, 1061/1096 Marginal Road and catch the opening of Presence of Absence: Catherine Beck and Jeffrey Cowling, which sounds bloody amazing. Contemporary mourning? Personalized funeral ceremonies? Count me in.
ViewPoint Gallery, 1272 Barrington Street is a great place/the only place to check out Colin Campbell's Topography of Wonder
Studio 21 Gallery, 1273 Hollis Street is also having an opening, for Small is Beautiful a group show focusing on modest sized pieces and Conor Fagan's exhibit, which is a "hybrid of still life, landscape and automatism with a surrealist feel."
Art 1274 Hollis, (you only get one guess as to the address) will feature the opening reception of new work by Cris Sontag, Gail Davis and Cara Wedgbrow
Humani-T Cafe, 1451 South Park Street as the usual great gelato selection, and it’s been so long since your Sugar Shok cone, right?
J&R Grimsmo, 1533 Barrington Street will be “sewing up some things” so you’d best check in to see what that means.
Zwicker’s Gallery, 5415 Doyle Street, The Loop, 1547 Barrington Street, and Attica, 1566 Barrington Street are open for your art-loving business.
Argyle Fine Art, 1559 Barrington Street will be showing CANADIANA (see photo above for a taste, and tell them good job on planning this while you’re there)
The Discovery Centre, 1593 Barrington Street will be demonstrating their intriguing "Lava Volcano and/or a Stomp Rocket" all night.
Inkwell Modern Handmade Boutique & Letterpress Studio, 1658 Market Street are offering visitors a chance to win a letterpress compass clock, no purchase necessary.
Strange Adventures, 5113 Prince Street is a great chance to pick up Bryan Lee O'Malley's Seconds before his August 2 signing at the shop.
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 1723 Hollis Street is free and you should check out Rock Show and make excellent Snapchats (another great place to do this is the Museum of Natural History, 1747 Summer Street, also free all night)
Carrefour Atlantic/The Puffin Gallery, 1869 Upper Water Street brings in Joel Zemel to discuss his book Scapegoat.
Parentheses Gallery, 2168 Gottingen Street features one last chance to catch the amazing work of Susan Szenes and Mariko Paterson.
Plan B/B Side Gallery, 2180 Gottingen Street provides lots of reading material with Sovereign Nation: Paths of Resistance and Decolonization
Hermes Gallery, 5682 North Street will blow your mind with the work of Hangama Amiri.
Humani-T, 5755 Young Street gives you yet another chance for ice cream before the night is through.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Radiant music

Inspired by Ron Shuebrook's drawings, three musicians translate image into sound

Posted By on Tue, Jun 24, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Ron Shuebrook's "Radiance Series (Three Discs)"
  • Ron Shuebrook's "Radiance Series (Three Discs)"

When you look at painting, what do you feel? Perhaps a bit of music will put you in the mood for some artistic imagination.

The fusion of art and music comes together at the Radiance music event at the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery on Saturday, June 28 from 3 to 5pm. Ron Shuebrook’s Drawings exhibition will be the inspiration for musicians Lukas Pearse, D’Arcy Gray and Jackson Fairfax-Perry, who will perform with the paintings as the background. Admission is free.

Each artist will play acoustic instruments in the gallery. Pearse, the Halifax-based composer, artist and musician, will play the double bass. Gray, a seasoned musician who teaches part-time at Dalhousie University, will play the vibraphone and Fairfax-Perry, a recent Dalhousie graduate, will play the saxophone.

“Imagery is a record of action and the suggestion of action,” says Pearse. “That’s what a score really is. It’s instructions for actions in making sounds.” Shuebrook’s exhibition is a departure from his well-known coloured abstract paintings and focuses on his recent charcoal drawings. Four large-scale drawings are the focal points of the exhibition. “Radiance Series (Three Discs)” (2011) is one of Shuebrook’s futuristic style drawings with distinctive swirls and complex lines. “Ron Shuebrook is about action and process,” says Pearse. “For a musician, that’s what it’s really all about.”

Creating graphic scores involves examining a visual medium and representing the essence of the work. Pearce understands the marriage of art and sound. He graduated from NSCAD in 1994 and studied music at Dalhousie University and Goldsmiths College in the UK.

“Form can transcend medium,” says Pearse. “For example, you have 'swoosh' as a sound on your computer and as a visual medium. How can swoosh be a sound? You have traces of motion become the sound, like an echoing of the motion.”

To produce a musical sound for the exhibition, each musician examined Shuebrook’s pieces and his creative process. Shuebrook is a well-renowned, veteran abstract artist known for his strict modernist aesthetic.

“Ron’s drawings are based on the physical gesture,” says Gray. “You look at the shape on the page and look at the gesture to see if we can do that on an instrument or use the same process to create the music.”

The event will be a unique experiment of art and sound. Pearse, Gray and Fairfax-Perry will rehearse the day before the performance for the first time to solidify their ideas.

“Ron is a big fan of jazz from the 1950s and 1960s,” says Gray. “We have the bass, saxophone and percussion so the texture is similar. It doesn’t mean the audience will hear jazz. We’re not sure yet how it will sound but we hope audience sees the connection.”

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Air conditioner art scraps the norm

NSCAD student Hunter Lake imprints old cool-blaster coils

Posted By on Thu, Apr 17, 2014 at 4:19 PM

photo_1.jpg

“Do you know how many thousands of times I’ve been asked that question?” Hunter Lake laughs when asked where he first came up with the idea to make art out of old air-conditioner coils.

He first spotted the scraps at a recycling depot in Dartmouth, but that’s not really the first time he’d thought of doing it. In fact, he remembers pressing down coils before—sometime as a child—but he can’t exactly recall when.

In his third year of fine art at NSCAD, Lake says he’s “looking for that look that no ones ever seen before.” And he thinks he’s found it in a mess of recycled aluminum. “No one's ever applied that concept before; no ones ever executed that concept.” To create these images, he doesn’t draw or paint. He strictly manipulates the surfaces of the coils to create an image.

It isn’t about the image itself, says Lake, “anyone can draw.” For him the emphasis is on the object he is working with and the idea that he can produce an image with just that one material and a knife or a screwdriver. “It’s a pretty strong statement to be made on such a garbage object,” he says.

A few months and 150 pounds of run-down air conditioners later, Lake has created around 20 pieces. He’s sold two so far: one to a man in Australia and one to a Dalhousie professor. One of his pieces will be featured on May 1 at the NSCAD Starfish Student Art Awards.

You can check out his art and others’ at the Studio Open House (Granville campus) on April 17 from 2-7pm.

photo_4.jpg
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Where my girls at?

Saddle up ladies; Big Pony premieres an all-female art show

Posted By on Thu, Apr 17, 2014 at 1:01 PM

EVAN MCINTYRE
  • Evan McIntyre

Hip, vibrant and eclectic work with a hint of party girl attitude describes the local lady art you’ll see at the premiere, GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS—An All Female Art Show.

The event will be held on Thursday, April 17 at the second-hand shop, Big Pony (1453 Brenton Street) at 7pm. The owners and babes behind the debut, Emily Ross and Lindsay Stewart are super jazzed to promote and support 12 female artists.

“We have a lot of talented girlfriends,” says Ross. “And there hasn’t been many straight up female art shows, so we wanted to put this event together.”

This isn’t Big Pony’s first soirée—the shop has hosted promotional festivities in the past, boasting BYO-boozy beverages, dance parties and sales for all. But Ross says this event differs from the rest: this time it’s gettin’ serious.

“We want people to come and enjoy themselves in a more professional environment,” she says.

Amery Sanford, a NSCAD student and pal of Ross and Stewart, saw the Big Pony space as an opportunity to host something beneficial for the art scene in Halifax.

“I thought what better female entrepreneurs to contact?” says Sanford. “After the Roy building and Khyber closing simultaneously, it’s great to have alternative space to show good work, despite all the negative stuff going on in the art community.”

The show gives these independent artists an opportunity to put their name out there, dip their toe into the artistic pool and maybe make some cash.

It will showcase a mix of female work: painting, printmaking, sculpture and photography. But don’t get it twisted—this art show isn’t shunning the dudes, they’re more than welcome, in fact, they’re encouraged.

Sanford says people can expect to see feminine but gritty artwork, some focusing on party culture, nostalgia and social media.

So while you’re pondering your next painted masterpiece, ride on in to Big Pony and scope the local fancies around the store because you may just find exactly what you’re looking for.

Ross' rainbow art - EVAN MCINTYRE
  • Ross' rainbow art
  • Evan McIntyre
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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wikipedia Art+Feminism Edit-A-Thon's takeover

Get in the NSCAD University library and expand the internet's most ubiquitous source this Saturday

Posted By on Tue, Jan 28, 2014 at 4:09 PM

Eleanor King and Rebecca Young do their part to even up the score.
  • Eleanor King and Rebecca Young do their part to even up the score.

Wikipedia has a problem. Of the 20,572,652 editors that populate the online encyclopedia, only 13 per cent are women. Organizers of the Wikipedia Art+Feminism Edit-A-Thon event believe that this lack of female editorship results in less content about notable women.

“It seems that the ratio of the content providers is being reflected in the actual content itself,” says Eleanor King, Director of NSCAD’s Anna Leonowens Gallery and co-coordinator of Halifax’s event. “The aim of the Edit-A-Thon is to get women and men involved and to sort of level out that playing field a little bit.”

On February 1 women and men around the world will be gathering together to become Wikipedia editors, so they can update en masse the profiles of notable women (artists in particular). What started out of the Eyebeam Art+Technology Center in New York City has now been taken up by organizations and universities across North America and now Europe.

Rebecca Young is the director of library services at NSCAD and when she heard about the event through a listserv she immediately thought of hosting an Edit-A-Thon here in Halifax (Saturday, February 1, 1-7pm, NSCAD University Library, 5163 Duke Street). Though the event is based at NSCAD and is directed towards students, it’s open to the public as well. “The participation is open to anybody who wants to come in, bring their own laptop and just work together,” Young says. All you have to do is take a quick tutorial on how to be a Wikipedia editor, pick a person to add and start researching. The process is pretty empowering.

“Every time you see something that needs to be corrected now you can say I’m just logging in, I’m going to fix this.”

And if you don’t want to become an editor yourself there will be lots of opportunities to help other registered editors with their research. “It’s not a place for your opinion,” King says. “It’s an encyclopedia article so if you make any claims then you have to cite that work.”

Young explains that this is why the event is being held in the library, “The resources are available to find those citations,” Young says. “If it’s a local artist from Halifax we might have a magazine where an article was published about them or an exhibition catalogue, all those things are legitimate sources that can then legitimize that page.”

Prof. Jayne Wark of NSCAD is including the event as part of her Feminism and Critical Theory course. Her class has already come up with a list of Nova Scotia women artists they want to add, including Rita McKeough, Kim Morgan, Ursula Johnson and Toshiko MacAdam.

Both Young and King are looking forward to building up the repository of articles on women along with so many other people around the world. “Is the internet going to explode?” Young asks, “We don’t know.”

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Khyber Arts Centre, Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia to be relocated

Sudden relocation by HRM credited to trace amounts of asbestos upset by construction next door

Posted By on Thu, Jan 16, 2014 at 4:40 PM

The Khyber building on Barrington in the 1970s - KHYBER CENTRE FOR THE ARTS
  • The Khyber building on Barrington in the 1970s
  • KHYBER CENTRE FOR THE ARTS

(Disclosure: I am currently a member of the Khyber board)

This Monday, Khyber Centre for the Arts' artistic director Dan Joyce got a notification from HRM Events & Cultural Initiatives manager Elizabeth Taylor to leave and have no further programming at the Khyber Building on 1588 Barrington Street. The reasoning being that construction on a Starfish Properties building next door was potentially disrupting asbestos in the walls of the old building (it just celebrated its 125th birthday last year) and proved a potential toxic health hazard.

Shows—like this weekend's Upstream Music Open Waters Festival—were quickly rescheduled to different locations, and upcoming exhibits will be relocated to a new, yet-to-be-determined venue.

The construction next door wasn’t exactly new—it’s been ongoing since the summer—and assessments of the Khyber walls from 2011, 2012 and 2013 had turned up traces of asbestos—in 2012, one sample in 31 was found to be contaminated. But suddenly, the building was to be out of use until further notice. "The presence of asbestos was not pervasive," says Khyber Board Chair Andrew McLaren.

"It can't be that big of an emergency, they're not locking the doors, we met there last night," says Joyce. "They said 'we suggest that we don't use this as your office, and we will find you a new one.'"

The relocation was sudden, but a renovation of the building was being discussed for Fall 2014. “We’re hoping we can work with the architects to make suggestions and help with the planning," says Joyce.

"At this point we will have to seek assurances from HRM, to assure that we’re still in the plan for being a cultural part of the city,” says McLaren. "In fact, that was ratified with city council five years ago."

HRM will be working with the Khyber to find a new location for the interim, which they are initially estimating as a six-month period. A proposal will be going to council—as soon as the next month—to discuss and (hopefully) approve the renovation and restoration of the building.

HRM has assured the Khyber that the organization's involvement is integral to the city’s cultural plan, so ideally the new location will be able to adequately serve the city’s artistic needs (both as a venue and a gallery space), and this sudden relocation won’t devolve into a “renoviction” for the organization.

“HRM really wants to avoid the perception of an artist-run centre ghost town," says McLaren, referring to another recent eshuffle in the relocation of fellow artist-run centre the Eyelevel Gallery, having moved from Gottingen Street to their new space at Suite 101, 5663 Cornwallis Street last month.

“They [HRM] are very positive about working with us and keeping the place an arts centre," says Joyce. But as of right now, he says, "we don't have any official assurances."

"I think we're recognized and valued in downtown Halifax," says McLaren. "We should take the long view—the Khyber isn't just the current staff and board, the Khyber is generations of people who have used the space. The HRM values the place as a cultural centre."

"I'm trying to look at the positive side—these renos have been a long time coming," says Joyce. "Let's get it out of the way and get us back in. It could be really good if HRM does work with us. We could turn it into a really great arts centre."

An official statement from Khyber Board Chair Andrew McLaren is below:

The Khyber Arts Society is in the process of temporarily relocating from the Khyber Center for the Arts, at 1588 Barrington Street, due to long awaited renovations, and recently exposed toxic building materials. In a recent building assessment, chrysotile asbestos and lead paint fragments have been detected in plaster residue loosened by ongoing construction work next door. Prior surveys from the past two years have found asbestos in some (but not all) walls, cracking and potentially delaminating from age, now further exacerbated by the new development activity on the North side. Identifying, and replacing plaster surfaces which contain these materials, should be undertaken ASAP. Under the terms of Occupational Health and Safety policies, public access to 1588 Barrington St can no longer be permitted.

The Khyber staff and Board of Directors were informed on Monday, January 13. The Khyber and the HRM Property Management and Events & Cultural Initiatives divisions would like to emphasize that this decision is neither an eviction nor a closing down of the Khyber Arts Society, although it certainly impacts our ability to host events, generate revenue, and serve our community at our well recognized location.

HRM is helping us find temporary premises for Office and storage space, and other venues for our programming. As this is all very recent, we (and NS Heritage Trust) are currently exploring our options in consultation with HRM; these will undoubtedly become better resolved in coming weeks. Please be assured that the Khyber will continue operations, and remains on excellent terms with HRM, having been designated as a Cultural Incubator in the municipality's cultural strategy for the past five years. Our current programming is now being re-notified and relocated as best as we and our community collaborators including HRM Property Management and Events and Cultural Initiatives, can, and we are notifying the public about the venue changes.

Proposals for the comprehensive renovation of the Khyber Building at 1588 Barrington St have been deliberated at HRM for the past few years, and we understood that renovations might start as early as the fall of 2014. We knew that this work would likely require our temporary relocation for 12-15 months. Given current circumstances, that time frame is advanced to the immediate present. HRM Council will decide over the next few weeks whether to approve this work on their property, which beyond full removal of hazardous building materials, should present an opportunity for structural improvements (including accessible entry for disabled persons) and restoration.

This should not be characterized (as some say of gentrified urban communities) as a case of “renoviction”. The Khyber has been recognized as a key presence on Barrington St, occupying a heritage property which is uniquely suited to hosting cultural activities, meeting and exceeding the expectations of Halifax's independent arts communities, while achieving financial stability and organizational growth. As an organization we have been fiscally solvent for several years running, and consolidated our revenue generation upon sound management practices. We are recognized as a stakeholder in HRM's downtown, in a building which had always served as a public meeting place.

The Board and Staff of the Khyber Arts Society believe that assurances are due, that our organization and public role in the cultural life of downtown Halifax at the Khyber Building is ratified by HRM Council, consistently with our 2010 designation as Cultural Incubator. Along with Heritage Trust, we note with concern that Barrington St is a bellwether of inactive public space in Halifax's core; there has been a long term decline in cultural, entertainment, and public meeting places along Halifax's former High Street. Our hopefully temporary departure is another such loss. Nevertheless, this is a valuable opportunity to grow downtown cultural demand and resources. The Khyber is excited to be part of that growth.

According to a proverbial Chinese saying, a moment of crisis also presents opportunity. As a mature organization (we are now 18 years old!) the Khyber Arts Society is prepared to grow, to adapt to change, and to face the future. Our longstanding relations with HRM should become stronger, and both parties will benefit from further collaboration in this place, where our organization's identity has grown with the community. We hope to work closely with HRM and consult with the designated architects in consolidating 1588 Barrington St as a cultural space.

In the meantime, please bear with us. We anticipate holding a general membership meeting in the very near future to provide further information.

Andrew McLaren
Chair, Board of Directors
Khyber Art Society
1588 Barrington St, Halifax, NS

Thursday, January 16, 2014

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Review: Obsolescence and Inscription

Ilan Sandler and Robert Bean's artistic conversation about objects and ideas at Saint Mary's University Art Gallery

Posted By on Thu, Nov 28, 2013 at 4:00 AM

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Amidst the printed images, sculptures and flashing screens that fill the Saint Mary’s University Gallery, an inkjet print of Marshall McLuhan’s “A Note of Obsolescence” offers up a hint of what Robert Bean and Ilan Sandler’s Obsolescence and Inscription expresses: “Obsolescence is a very large and mysterious subject which has had very little attention in relation to its importance.” The result of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant, Bean and Sandler’s collaborative exhibit takes on the notions and expressions of obsolescence from multiple angles.

A conversation between objects and ideas, between language and modes of expression is demonstrated through Bean’s photographs of long-rejected communication devices like an Enigma machine and an IBM Computer Card Punch. Sandler’s magnified images of diatoms, projected in video and imprinted onto glass make enormous and immediate the minutiae of the organic, expressible only through inscription. Inscription and obsolescence bump up against each other: simple images of fragments of typewriters sit alongside a hypnotizing photomontage displayed on monitors mounted as though to mimic an open book. An embodiment of the final lines of McLuhan’s “Note”, Obsolescence and Inscription sparks an “awareness of the role of obsolescence in sparking creativity and the invention of new order.”

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Arianne Pollet-Brannen's warrior costumes

Pollet-Brannen plays with conventional ideas of haute couture in her exhibition FLESH at MSVU Art Gallery

Posted By on Wed, Nov 27, 2013 at 11:55 AM

Selfportrait (2012-2013)
  • Selfportrait (2012-2013)

How many pairs of shoes does it take to make a dress? Art, fashion and sculpture collide in the powerful exhibit FLESH at Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery. Arianne Pollet-Brannen’s display of work stays true to the artist’s creative leanings with plenty of unique shapes, colours and textures in her garment-sculptures. The exhibit features 21 pieces of clothing made from old shoes, discarded fabric and cotton. Many are recent creations within the last couple of years and build upon the artist’s signature look of recycled, feminist art.

“I’m playing around with different things,” says Pollet-Brannen, artist-in-residence at Mount Saint Vincent University. “I was interested the history of shoes related to women. It’s really shocking how women hurt themselves in the past by binding their feet and today with 21st century high heels. I’m using objects that were previously considered garbage and deconstructing shoes.”

The dresses cover a wide range of styles and play off the conventional ideas of haute couture fashion. Hanging on a diverse array of mannequins, the viewer has the opportunity to examine the details of each piece. Many of the works are have symmetrical shapes like Selfportrait (2012-2013), where the distinctive pieces of leather from the shoes are clearly visible. Sneakers and high heels are a perfect match in High Mid Low Tops (2013), a rugged top with clean symmetrical lines. All elements of the shoe are used in Shoeliner, where shoe linings and discarded pieces of fabric are used to create an eclectic garment.

“I let the shoes guide me,” says Pollet-Brannen. “I let them be what they are. I use everything, even the nails from the shoes. By keeping the shoe’s shape, I keep the decisions made by the original creator.”

The beauty of the exhibit is the variety. Where else would you see cute polka dots with a colourful, beautiful mish-mash of leather on top? Pieces like Cincinnati Day Dress (2012) bring together the elements of colour, expression, deconstruction and femininity. The pieces from 2011 NSCAD Wearable Art show, the five-piece ensemble of the 12th century allegory Ordo Vitutum are also part of the exhibit.

Pollet-Brannen will be wrapping up her five-week stint as artist-in-residence at MSVU in early December. She hopes to bring her pieces to life again through a short video showcasing her work.

“I usually have two performers at the opening but I’d like to have all the pieces worn,” says Pollet-Brannen. “It’s hard to see the architecture at a show but a video would allow you to see all the details.”

There are certainly pieces that would be appreciated through performance. Who wouldn’t want to see The Soul (Bustle Dress) come alive?

FLESH runs until December 15 at the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery, 166 Bedford Highway.

High Mid Low Tops (2013)
  • High Mid Low Tops (2013)
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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Young talent

Charley Young's shared show with Katie Belcher at Studio 21 gives a glimpse to future projects

Posted By on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 12:56 PM

Charley Young's art is in the house
  • Charley Young's art is in the house

In between teaching at NSCAD summer art camps, artist Charley Young is taking time to exhibit pieces from her Nova Scotia Talent Trust award-winning work for her shared show with Katie Belcher at Studio 21 Fine Art (Aug 23-Sep 11). You’d do well to catch her opening, because she doesn’t stay in one place for long. Splitting her time between Halifax, the Maine College of Art—where she’s completing her Master’s—and various residencies that will take her to Banff and an island near the North Pole, Young’s practice is nomadic right now, and she likes it that way. Her work is nomadic too, you can also catch a glimpse of Young’s work behind local pop queen Jenn Grant on her fall tour—Young’s Phantom Limb will serve as a backdrop to Grant’s performances.

For Young, the local love is important. “Sometimes you can sit in your studio by yourself listening to CBC all day and you don’t know if your work is connecting with anyone or if anyone appreciates it. It seems vain at times,” she says. “It was nice to be coming from Nova Scotia to be recognized within your own town.”

Studio 21 will be showing five of Young’s drawings or paper image transfers on mylar, that serve as sort of blueprints for pieces she wants to execute on a larger scale. “Sometimes I get the reference of the drawings of Christo and Jeanne-Claude,” says Young. “I’m not comparing myself to them in any way, but I do get that reference a lot.” It’s an understandable leap. Young’s large scale textile pieces like “Carbon Copy: The Charles Morris Building” created for 2010’s Nocturne with Sarah Haydon Roy bring the duo’s “Wrapped Reichstag” to mind. The Studio 21 show could show you a peek at Young’s next large scale offering. “I always like thinking about architecture and place and sight,” Young says. “I usually include little notes if I was thinking about something while working. I’ll document it on the page. I just outline themes, topics, installation possibilities that might come from drawings, maybe a title, anything sign in terms of scale or sight.” Pay close attention to the margins on Friday.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

White Rabbit’s five alive


Summer camp for artists and art lovers still going strong

Posted By on Thu, Aug 15, 2013 at 11:38 AM

Devin Krupnick's installation at last year's White Rabbit Festival - ELI GORDON
  • Devin Krupnick's installation at last year's White Rabbit Festival
  • Eli Gordon

White Rabbit Open Air Art Project is celebrating five years of idyllic art practice with this year’s event (August 17-18, Upper Economy, NS, $40, whiterabbitarts.ca, www.eventbrite.com/event/7426227045). A sort of summer camp devoted to a group artist residency, White Rabbit provides a sense of community and pancakes—lots of pancakes.

Founded by the Red Clay Studio Society in 2008, White Rabbit has “slowly and organically” grown, says festival coordinator Chris Foster from their DIY roots. Finding “momentum and fresh ideas for the project through a spirit of collaboration and experimentation with a focus on process rather than 'finished' presentations” has allowed the project to grow sustainably, with help from community funding, and the annual Black Rabbit fundraiser.

This year, 16 artists have created site specific installations, and will open their process up to interested parties this weekend, facilitating tours, discussions and critiques.

Connecting artists with an art-loving audience is something that many galleries and organizations aim for, and despite being located in the middle of Upper Economy, White Rabbit hopes for the same, albeit on a smaller scale. “The realistic limitations of this place and our budgets mean we do not currently have the capacity for large audiences, including lodging, wheelchair accessibility or mass transportation,” says Foster. Instead, the group consider “the limitation as powerful, radical and sustainable element of this project,” Foster says. “We see our small scale actions making a large impact as we develop and connect the White Rabbit community regionally, nationally and internationally, year after year, one Rabbit at a time.”

The past years have focused on starting small and growing, while staying true to their focus, which is “developing art in rural communities, sustainable living and intentional community.” The next five years have lofty goals too. “We’re excited to continue to foster several new offshoot projects including a yearly event called *The Circus of the Normal*, a week long drawing residency held in June and plans for expanding residency opportunities throughout the summer,” says Foster. “We’re also excited about a new radio project being developed for this year's Nocturne.”

Mentor artists including Rita McKeough, Peter Von Tiesenhausen, Michael Waterman, Kay Burns, WhiteFeather Hunter, Michael Fernandes and Reinhard Reitzenstein are available to have their brains picked by artists such as Susan Wolf, Hangama Amiri, Sally Morgan and Christopher van Donkelaar musicians including Owen Steel, Taryn Kawaja and Paper Beat Scissors perform in the pastoral setting, there’s camping, the aforementioned pancakes, a wood fire sauna, forest trails and a fire spectacle. All you need to bring is a portable radio, camping gear, flashlight, swimwear, cash for BBQ dinner, snacks and a willingness to elevate your typical camping trip to inspiring artistic heights.

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Parentheses Gallery named in top 11 emerging commercial galleries in Canada

Yeah, you right, dog

Posted By on Fri, Aug 9, 2013 at 10:51 AM

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Blouin ArtInfo just named Parentheses Gallery one of "eleven commercial galleries shaping the country’s contemporary artworld" citing their focus on street art (such as the amazing piece on Alteregos on Gottingen Street, and even some on the Coast's doors) as a way of involving the community in art appreciation. Well deserved props!

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pop up video

Good Artists Working With Video presses play on new, diverse video art at Seeds Gallery

Posted By on Wed, Jul 17, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Ashley Bedet's "But To Make Do With What You've Got"
  • Ashley Bedet's "But To Make Do With What You've Got"

Five NSCAD students will have their talents on display next week at Seeds Gallery’s new exhibit, Good Artists Working With Video. Curatorial intern and NSCAD student Magnus von Tiesenhausen is the curator of the event. Von Tiesenhausen is going into his final year at NSCAD and had the opportunity to intern at the gallery over the summer.

Good Artists Working With Video showcases five current NSCAD students, Miranda Fay, Beck Gilmer Osborne, Ashley Bedet, Elizabeth Johnson and Krista Kirby. Von Tiesenhausen says it was difficult to choose just five out of the many artists that were interested. “I wanted to choose artists who were making work with video and I wanted to make it really diverse,” says von Tiesenhausen. “I didn’t want the art to conform to any one theme.”

Von Tiesenhausen wanted to get a snapshot of the wide range of things people are dealing with when using video as a medium. He chose video as the focus for the event because he believes it’s a medium that is not usually well represented in commercial galleries. He says video is a newer medium and doesn’t have solidified ways to be showcased like those that have been developed over centuries for more classic mediums like painting and sculpting. Video is different because you have to watch, pay attention, listen and become somewhat critically engaged with it. “I thought it would be a fresh way to show a specifically video show,” says von Tiesenhausen.

The work of the five artists is indeed varied. Their art covers questions of existence and being, subjectivity and time, queer and feminist theoretical exploration and moves between technical and formal experimentation. Von Tiesenhausen says there is such a wide range of work being made by the artists he felt it would be too controlling, as the curator, to say only one type of work could be showcased.

“I wanted to choose a range of things that are very different to more accurately portray what’s going on and the quality of the work,” says von Tiesenhausen. “So I guess the theme is good artists working with video.” Von Tiesenhausen hopes the showcase provides a space for the appreciation of the medium of video as well as the proliferation of young artists who are breaking ground with video. “We’ve got really contemplative and introspective work,” says von Tiesenhausen. “You’ll have to see for yourself.”

Good Artists Working With Video opens at Seeds Gallery (1099 Marginal Road), Wednesday, July 24 at 5:30pm and runs until August 18.

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