Category Archives: Arts & Culture

Guerrilla Art for Curious People

It took 18 years of rural living for Guerrilla Art for Curious People to surface.

The idea popped into my brain because I love nothing more than discovering public art in unexpected places. Every time I’m surprised by an installation – turning a corner or driving through a neighborhood – my body vibrates, my head alights and I am consumed by happiness. To quote Mr. Whitman, I Sing the Body Electric. Continue reading Guerrilla Art for Curious People

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New York and the MTA Underground Art Museum

I love riding New York’s subway system – just not as much as I love walking the city. 

Riding necessitates paying attention to lines and stops and tracks – my mind can’t wander for fear of ending up in who-knows-where – but walking favours mental and corporeal freedom, especially when time holds no sway.

However, my penchant for perambulation has its downside: walking New York means I’ve all but missed the MTA Underground Art Museum, an Ali Baba-on-steroids-sized treasure trove.  Continue reading New York and the MTA Underground Art Museum

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My Brain on Art-O-Mat®

It’s more fun than Pez and more addictive than crack.

I nearly lost my mind when I stepped into District Taco and spotted the Art-O-Mat® against the wall. It’s a refurbished cigarette machine, but instead of vending cancer sticks, it dispatches micro art pieces for five bucks a hit.

Of course, I immediately started plugging it with money and pulling the levers. Continue reading My Brain on Art-O-Mat®

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“Too fancy and ingenious”: Children’s Books by Adult Writers

Reading to children is inextricably intertwined with the idea of home, comfort and love. These five children’s books by authors better known for their adult writing, are available in first edition form from Peter Harrington, London’s leading rare book firm. And because we all love a good backstory, the home lives of the authors prove as interesting as the books themselves. 

This piece is reproduced with permission from its author, Rachel Chanter, and Peter Harrington Rare Books Continue reading “Too fancy and ingenious”: Children’s Books by Adult Writers

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The Sham of Highest and Best Use

This triplet of houses in Québec City defies the modern logic of “highest and best use” and its inherent rule of being “maximally productive.” It flaunts every last morsel of economic thought except one: It is a keeper of history, and provides a vital and extraordinary point of interest in the city’s viewscape, arguably contributing to the profits realized by the city’s tourism efforts. Continue reading The Sham of Highest and Best Use

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Capital Building: A View from Washington – Part 3

Click here for Capital Building: A View from Washington – Part 1

Click here for Capital Building: A View from Washington – Part 2


Not Set in Stone: Memorials for the Future

The National Park Service (NPS), the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), and Van Alen Institute collaborated on Memorials for the Future, an international ideas competition that took place between March and September 2016. The goal of the competition was not to directly produce new monuments, but to reimagine how we think about, feel, and experience memorials. 

It called for designers, artists and social scientists to develop new ways to commemorate people and events that are more inclusive and flexible, reflect the country’s diversity in history, heritage and culture, and that enrich Washington’s landscape while responding to the limitations of traditional commemoration. 

The jury chose four finalist teams –  Climate ChronographAmerican WildThe IM(MIGRANT) and VOICEOVER – who offered distinct concepts and approaches.

Continue reading Capital Building: A View from Washington – Part 3

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Capital Building: A View from Washington – Part 1

In spite of the oppressive heat and humidity of August in Washington, D.C., I did what I like to do best: I walked around, looked at things and talked to people. This being my first trip to the capital, I focussed on the National Mall, exploring adjacent neighborhoods, and my relentless pursuit of Guastavino tile

In D.C., security is the conversational opener in the same way people elsewhere talk about the weather. 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing were cited as the salvo, the traceable moments in time when Everything Changed. Reduced accessibility was visible on the streets, in screening procedures employed at every public building, and in architecturally-based security features. And what you couldn’t see – the behind-the-scenes invisible – hung in the air. Continue reading Capital Building: A View from Washington – Part 1

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Alex Janvier at the National Gallery of Canada

Alex Janvier is among the most important figures in the development of contemporary Indigenous art in Canada. This retrospective presents more than 150 works created from 1950 to the present day and recounts the story of a life devoted to art and the re-empowerment of Indigenous cultures. Over a prolific sixty-five-year career Janvier has produced thousands of paintings and many public commissions, all in a unique style, recognizable for its calligraphic lines, vivid colours, Dene iconography and forms that evoke land, sky, galaxies and microscopic life. Janvier is part of a distinguished group of artists in Canada who have brought Indigenous beliefs, issues and aesthetics to the foreground and successfully combined them with Western art styles and techniques. ~ National Gallery of Canada website

Yesterday marked the opening of painter Alex Janvier’s gorgeous retrospective at the National Gallery of Canada. I slipped in for the members tour before catching the 6:00pm opening ceremony, which included traditional dancing, honour songs, prayers and a speech by Janvier in his signature white cowboy hat and black suit. Continue reading Alex Janvier at the National Gallery of Canada

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Manhattan’s Divine Intervention

Unless you leave room for serendipity…how can the divine enter? ~Joseph Campbell

A few minutes one way or the other, heading south instead of north, a conversation, a distraction, a photo or lunch. There’s no good reason I stepped into St. Paul’s Chapel at that precise moment and not another. Filled to the brim – standing room only – I felt I’d stumbled in on a private event, a funeral perhaps. Not so, the man in a dark suit whispered back. You are perfectly welcome.

Crossing the threshold at 12:59 (not earlier, not later) was a flash of serendipity, a flourish of divine intervention, the kind that occurs every minute of every day all around the city. But then St. Paul’s, part of the Parish of Trinity Church and the oldest house of worship in Manhattan, is no stranger to miracles. Continue reading Manhattan’s Divine Intervention

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Would You Let This Man Sell Your House?

would you let this man sell your house

I’m guessing that someone somewhere at sometime told this fellow that he looks like Owen Wilson’s male model in Zoolander. It’s the only reasonable reason I can imagine he would slap his ‘Blue Steel’ face on gigantic posters around White Rock, B.C., to push his unique brand of real estate sales in Greater Vancouver’s steaming housing market.

In a market where the product is selling itself, regardless of price, condition, and, arguably, the agent at hand, this approach may not seem foolish or cheesy at all. Maybe it’s the new normal. Maybe I don’t know anything.

If I’m feeling charitable, this is brilliant satire and clever public art rather than one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. And the more I think about it, the more likely I am to ring him up and have him send me the entire set of posters. Autographed.

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