Arts + Music » Cultural Festivals

Fall Arts Guide: October 2007

No McDreamy, but there are plenty of bones and flesh--just watch out for the explosions and the pirates.

by Sue Carter Flinn, Sean Flinn, Mike Landry, Lindsay McCarney, Shannon Webb-Campbell


Last June the amazing Wellcome Collection, a museum based on the intersection of art, medicine and science, opened in London, UK. Based on the collection and original endowment of Sir Henry Wellcome in 1936, the Wellcome Trust formed, and eventually the museum. As with the Wellcome, the upcoming exhibition at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Gray's Anatomy: Mysteries of the Human Machine, immerses you in the physicality, spirituality and emotions related to the human body—the ol' corporeal reality.

Inspired by the 1918 publication of Gray's Anatomy this exhibition "dissects death, measures mortality, exposes internal medicine and lingers upon our obsession with the macabre," according to the AGNS. At the same time, the show will reveal how art and science pursue the same things: a distillation and an understanding of the powerful forces and essences governing our bodies, our lives.

Interestingly, Gray's Anatomy arrived during the last year of World War I, when bodies were suffering the worst wounding. Wellcome's initial gesture was made in 1936 with tensions mounting toward World War II. Now comes the Wellcome Collection and this show by the AGNS, during times still wracked with fear and war, and threats to the individual and global body. (SF)

October 13-December 9, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 1723 Hollis, 424-7542,


Expanding Bodies is the theme of the international ACADIA 2007 conference, a four-day event organized by the Association for Computer-Aided Design in Architecture and the Canada Design Research Network, which includes lectures and presentations on "expanding physical boundaries and expanding bodies of knowledge in digital sensing, interactive, and responsive systems."

If that statement makes you go "huh?" perhaps you need a visual reference or interaction—something you can touch or observe. Which perhaps is the point. In the Flesh, an accompanying contemporary art exhibition at Anna Leonowens Gallery and the NSCAD Port Campus, is comprised of six artists who work in technology and who are more than aware of its fleeting nature, repercussions and creative limits. Curated by Robert Bean, watch for Steven Kelly's "WaveUp," which translocates real-time sound from a remote ocean location into the gallery space: ocean waves become sound waves. David Clark's "The Light Touch" turns archival photographic slides into pixels to explore how we still physically control images and information on the screen. Jolante Lapiak, who often uses "speaking hands" in her poetry, performance and installations, challenges phonocentrism (the belief that sounds and speaking are superior to the written language) with a video-projected person who travels over a sketchbook, speaking/writing in American Sign Language while moving in lines across the open pages. (SCF)

October 1-13, Anna Leonowens Gallery, 1891 Granville, 494-8223,


Hosting the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word for the first time is a big opportunity for Halifax. Last year Halifax representatives couldn't even afford to attend the festival in Vancouver. The four-year-old fest brings spoken-word teams from across Canada to compete in slam competitions and promote spoken word. Each night poets will perform short prepared spoken-word poems for a jury of judges selected by the audience. The team with the most combined points wins.

"The competition is a part of what's going on, but the scores aren't that important," explains festival director Shauntay Grant. "It's not quite cutthroat." What's more important are the daytime events. There will be events combining spoken word with music and visual art. Students will learn from the poets and perform at Dartmouth High School. For the opening night poetry showcase, local spoken-word collective Word iz Bond, along with Silvio Pupo on piano, will introduce visiting poets to Halifax. Poets will also take to the streets for guerilla poetry readings across the city. "I'm proud that we have such a strong support network for this art in Halifax," says Grant. "That's going to show, because we're going to show the same love to visiting poets." (ML)

October 10-13 at various locations, $5-$8,


Local playwright Catherine Banks met Jamie down by the river 10 years ago. He was a young logging man from rural Nova Scotia sick of fighting, drinking, boredom and clear-cutting the forest he loved. He wanted to leave town. He'd marry a girl not yet out of high school and get her to come with him, that way he'd still have someone that understood him. Banks spent six years writing Jamie's story. When she was finished, Jamie drove off in his pick-up truck. Not that Jamie was ever really there: Jamie only lived in Banks' imagination. Jamie will come alive onstage when Banks' play Bone Cage premiers at Neptune Studio Theatre on October 10. This is Banks' first male-centric play; as the younger sister of three boys and mother of a 19-year-old boy, Banks absorbed the rural male experience.

The play features a warning because of strong language. It's a dark story about the complexity of rural life and its effect on young men. Banks was inspired by eastern shore feuds and the city's idea that the country is backwards. "These are people whose rhythm and language I know," says Banks. "These are complex people. Jamie's a poet but he doesn't know it and the frustration of that causes him to use his fists instead." (ML)

October 10-14 at Neptune Studio, 1593 Argyle, Wed-Fri 8pm, Sat-Sun 2pm, 8pm, 429-7070


There's a human impulse to list things, an especially noticeable behaviour over the last decade or more.

New Brunswick journalist and columnist Bob Mersereau launches his contribution to the hall of lists called simply Top 100 Canadian Albums. Published by Goose Lane, the book creates "a consensus of close to 600 people from all over Canada, from many different occupations, ages, music styles, etc.," says Mersereau. "Jazz fans will have a completely different list than punk fans, but hopefully their absolute favourite will be found here."

The list was compiled in the first three months of 2007, according to the author. So some albums out and doing well now will not show up here. Still, he says, there's plenty to foster debate and interest in all kinds of music from this country. "You don't have to agree with the final list here, but I do hope it creates lots of interest in different forms of Canadian music. That's why there's a hockey card-styled checklist at the very end of the book...judge for yourself. Canadian music fans have very good ears. They're open to lots of different genres, and if they start checking out discs on the list they don't know, I'll be thrilled." (SF)

October 20, location TBD,


Being surrounded by a population of transient individuals, the annual Halifax Pop Explosion is reason to keep a Halifax postal code. The usual local suspects are scheduled to take the stage, as Joel Plaskett, In-Flight Safety, Matt Mays and El Torpedo can comfortably crash post-show in their own pads. While indie-rovers Dog Day return from their European tour just in time, Their Majesties, Be Bad, Play Guitar and David Myles hold down the fort. Toronto's Arts and Crafts label have constructed a night to distract craftsers, as Apostle of Hustle, The Most Serene Republic, Grand Theft Bus and Young Galaxy promise a scissors- and glue-free night at The Marquee. Sold out months in advance, the creative, counter-culture Quin twins, Tegan and Sara, roll into town. Northern State, the New York-based mouthy masterminds behind "Can I Keep This Pen?" open the show.

Speaking of pencil theft, the greater portion of Saturday's events includes Canzine, the nation's largest zine fair presented by indie-bible Broken Pencil. Local hub Strange Adventures ensures there will be endless piles of local books, minis, zines, graphic novels and comics to root through. The $5 admission fee also includes a free copy of Broken Pencil magazine—no writing utensils included. (SWC)

October 16-20, various venues, various prices,


Maybe it's the bountiful fresh mountain air that makes you want to yodel. Or pick up an accordian, throw a hootenenay or join a choir. There's definitely something happening out west that inspires off-beat musical acts that ooze with charm, and have the pipes to back it up. On October 6, former Corn Sister and terrible hostess Carolyn Mark breezes into Ginger's in a whirlwind of gin-soaked gingham and alt-country honky-tonk. Her latest album Nothing is Free might be more introspective than her previous releases, and this trip to Halifax is part of her Eastern Philosophy Tour, but you know Mark is far from maudlin, especially because she's travelling with everyone's favourite acerbic accordianist, Geoff Berner.

The west coast musical exodus continues a week later with Yukon songwriter gem Kim Barlow at The Music Room. Barlow, whose fireside banjo sweetness won over fans on her last trip here, brings along Vancouver's Great Aunt Ida—if you're a fan of Laura Peek's piano poetics, check this band out. And if that's not enough, they're also touring with Tim Vesely—technically Vesely is a Toronto boy, but his former band, a little number called The Rheostatics, is as all-Canadian as a maple-syrup snowcone. (SCF)

Carolyn Mark w/Geoff Berner, October 6 at Ginger's, 1662 Barrington, 422-4954. Kim Barlow w/Great Aunt Ida, Tim Vesely, October 12 at The Music Room, 6181 Lady Hammond, 8pm, $10.


The National Film Board is synonymous with internationally acclaimed animation. In 2005, Chris Landreth's Ryan won an Academy Award, and in fact, the NFB has received more Oscar nominations than any other production studio outside of the Hollywood hills, many of which were for animation. And last year, the NFB produced a comprehensive box-set of Norman McLaren's work, which is a fascinating survey of the pioneering animator's work.

During the 1960s, there was another nominated filmmaker who is owed similar acknowledgement. Remembered as "the ghost of experimental film in the NFB documentary machine," Arthur Lipsett created political- and social-minded experimental films, using waste footage from NFB documentaries. Deceivingly simple, Lipsett's use of sound and editing is still fascinating and relevant. Now thanks to AFCOOP and curator Gerda Johanna Cammaer, you'll get a chance to view the best of Lipsett's collage films. On October 9 at 7pm, in the CBC Radio Room, Remembering Arthur is a documentary by close friend Martin Lavut. On October 10 at the AGNS's Windsor Theatre, there is a complete retrospective of all his films, and on October 12, a screening of films by other artists influenced by the forgotten filmmaker, who sadly committed suicide in 1986, two weeks before his 50th birthday. (SCF)

October 9 at CBC Radio Room, South Park, 420-4572. October 10 and 12, AGNS Windsor Theatre, 1723 Hollis,


Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End hits DVD this December. But to heck with that noise. The pirate-related event that we should get pumped about is Upstream Music Association's October 19 screening of 1929 silent flick The Black Pirate. The film stars Douglas Fairbanks. More importantly, it's being presented with an all-new live score composed by Upstream's music director Paul Cram and performed by his five-piece Sunrise Orchestra specifically for the film. In the past, the orchestra's given the same treatment to a host of other interesting sounding silent flicks, including Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill, Jr. and the 1929 Academy Award winner Sunrise. (Guess where Sunrise Orchestra got its name.)

This time, Cram wanted to try something new. "I thought: "Let's do a swashbuckler!'" he says. Performing live scores for the films is fun, and allows for tons of improvisation, adds the jazz veteran. In a way, he's also doing these classic films a service. "I think that these things need to be re-scored," he says. "Because the music that is on them, that they come with on the DVDs, is real's really interesting to re-score these things and bring them to life based on the music of the last 90 years." Hey, he had us at "swashbuckler." (LM)

October 19 at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, 1675 Lower Water, 8pm, $15-$20, 492-2225


Until this summer, a tiny attic on Willow Street was home to the Gallery Deluxe Gallery, a unique, 2.5-feet-high alternative art space. Before that, the attic was the Motel Deluxe Motel, a resting spot for non-claustrophobic travellers. The gallery's closed now, and new tenants have moved into the apartment beneath the well-loved attic. Luckily, one of them, photographer Melanie Colosimo, has a soft spot for the attic and its ever-expanding legacy. "It was kind of sad to just let that space go to waste, and just be a storage space now," she says. To that end, Colosimo is setting up the Super-8 Super Theatre, a screening venue for artist-submitted short films created on nifty old-school Super-8 movie cameras. Colosimo plans to hold free screenings in her attic on the third Tuesday of every month (with three to five films screened at each), thereby keeping the space alive as a gallery. Obviously, the tiny theatre can only accommodate five or six film watchers at a time. But the films being shown are short, so it'll be easy for filmgoers to take turns in the space. Plus, one of the films being screened could be yours—Colosimo is accepting submissions for the first screening until October 2. (LM)

October 16 at the Super-8 Super Theatre, 6015 Willow, 7pm, free

More Fall arts Listings:

Add a comment

Remember, it's entirely possible to disagree without spiralling into a thread of negativity and personal attacks. We have the right to remove (and you have the right to report) any comments that go against our policy.

xxx - Deprecated in favor of GTM, above.