Category Archives: Museums, Galleries & Archives

Museums and archives from across Canada

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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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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Larry’s Christmas Cards

I didn’t so much as meet Larry Racioppo as find him. Home from NYC and working on this piece, I admired his photographic work on the 9/11 Memorial & Museum site and he agreed to lend me an image. Turns out, he’s lived a fascinating life; he’s been a NYC taxi driver in the early 80’s, staff photographer for the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development during the city’s lowest (and scariest) point, and a well-respected photo documentarian and keeper of knowledge of life, pre-gentrification, in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. Check out his site at www.larryracioppo.com. Continue reading Larry’s Christmas Cards

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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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Walking with Our Sisters

Over 1,181 native women and girls in Canada have been reported missing or have been murdered in the last 30 years. Many vanished without a trace, with inadequate inquiry into their disappearance or murders paid by the media, the general public, politicians and even law enforcement. This is a travesty of justice. ~ Walking With Our Sisters website
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Almost two thousand pairs of moccasin vamps, or uppers, lay evenly spaced, side by side and end to end, on the floor of the Carleton University Art Gallery, a breathtaking mosaic of traditional beadwork, sewing, painting, embroidery and other creative embellishment. A red fabric path, underlaid by cedar boughs, guides participants around and through the landscape of colour. Continue reading Walking with Our Sisters

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A Zibi Kind of Day

Sunshine. Twenty degrees. Light breeze. Birdsong out-gunning any human distractions. Views to the Ottawa river. And wildflowers, vines, bushes and trees in bloom everywhere.

It was just another perfect day shooting the Domtar lands as part of the Workers History Museum cataloguing project.

While the industrial buildings remain the focus, Mother Nature with her natural green roofs, biodiverse ‘gardens’ and window boxes have taken over, distracting me to no end.

 

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Joyce Frances Devlin: Painter & A Painted House

As part of the Jane’s Walk Burritt’s Rapids community festival, Ms. Devlin will be exhibiting select pieces in the main gallery space of the Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall on May 2nd & May 3rd, 2015.

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If I had any sense, I would pound a wooden stake into my front lawn, attach a five kilometre length of string, and scribe a zone of exploration around my house. To some degree, I’ve theoretically begun to do this, knocking on doors and dropping off flyers for our upcoming Jane’s Walk events here in Burritt’s Rapids. With every person I speak with I realize how little I know about the people who live beyond the adjacent properties. We think we have to go far to find interesting, but we don’t.

Joyce Frances Devlin and I have known of each other for years but had never formally met. We’re not talking a bustling metropolis here: We live in rural Ottawa with .5 km of paved road, a slight rise in the land and maybe six houses on acreage between us. We share mutual friends and acquaintances, admire the same views of the countryside, likely drive past each other on quiet roads.

I discovered her work at The Ottawa Art Gallery shortly after the close of her one-woman show So Much Beauty in 2011. Several of her pieces are part of the local treasure trove of the O.J. & Isobel Firestone Collection. It was a confluence of bad and good timing – missing the exhibition but discovering the artist – and I had to settle for the catalogue which I planned to get signed one day.

Joyce Frances Devlin
“So Much Beauty” Exhibition Catalogue, 2011, The Ottawa Art Gallery

Until I picked up the phone and cold-called her about exhibiting during our upcoming community festival, we remained a mystery to one another. A cup of coffee, fresh figs and a torrent of conversation about our common B.C. roots followed. She signed the catalogue, agreed to exhibit her work, and a few days later I began photographing her fantastical painted house.

Devlin has earned her professional respect and, arguably, more. Her work is part of private and public collections worldwide.

She was born in Fort Fraser, British Columbia and studied at the Vancouver School of Art between 1950 and 1954, under Jack Shadbolt, Peter Aspell and Gordon A. Smith, amidst a heavily modernist art scene. She experimented with abstraction, creating boldly coloured collages and patterned canvases. Yet, she remained devoted to a wider variety of subject matter, developing an interest in portraiture, landscape, and symbolic imagery. Devlin created what she called “interior landscapes”: spiritually metaphorical images of birds and flowers as well as the juxtaposition of abstract collage with landscape imagery. She moved herself and her two young sons from British Columbia in 1965, and has since lived and worked in the Ottawa region.1

She did what few women could do at the time: She supported her family with sales of her commissioned portraits, her best-known, one of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. At 83, she continues to paint and sell.

Aside from exhibiting select works at the Hall, Devlin is preparing for a solo show at her home studio May 30 & 31 and Saturday, June 6th & Sunday, June 7th, 2015 from 11:00am to 5:00pm. The studio address is 7590 Dwyer Hill Rd, Burritt’s Rapids. As well, the show will remain up until the end of June (by appointment only).

Please contact her directly at (613) 269-4458 to view, purchase or commission work.

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  1. http://www.ottawaartgallery.ca/node/4 

Everything Changes: Shooting the Domtar Lands

Since mid-winter, I’ve had the pleasure of photographing the Domtar lands with a team of volunteers from the Workers History Museum in Ottawa.

Windmill Development Group, Inc. is poised to re-develop the land which has been home to pulp and paper giants E.B. Eddy and Domtar since 1891. Because of the placement of the buildings, there isn’t much of a view of Chaudiere Falls from the street. However a few interior windows provide a broader look at the topography. It takes little imagination to see why this land – islands in the middle of the rushing river between Ottawa and Gatineau –  is the most coveted real estate in the city and a traditional sacred site for the Algonquin people.

Our work is an exercise in documenting and cataloguing. It requires systematically photographing each building from top to bottom, beginning with overviews (ceiling, walls, floor) followed by detail work, including room and object measurements. It’s intense and methodical work that requires us to always keep moving forward. Taking part in the project meant developing some new habits: I needed to slow down, use a tripod, and become more measured in my approach. It was the perfect excuse to dig deeper into my camera’s manual and stretch beyond my photographic comfort zone.

But because too much work and not enough play makes Jack a dull boy, we steal the occasional break to take advantage of the light, shadow play and textures which are ubiquitous inside and out. It’s like recess when we pause at a logical place, set our white boards and measuring tapes aside, and run around like kids, exploring with our own personal mind’s eye view. Today, working outside in the sunshine, an enormous pool of overhead light became a natural theatre set. It didn’t take much arm-twisting to marshall the boys into the spotlight.

Photographing the Domtar lands

And then it was my turn. Paul directed me forward by a foot and I became a glorious shadow. The best things about hanging with other photography enthusiasts? You don’t have to explain the rule of thirds or tell them what button to press. They see what you see and more.

Andrea Cordonier

Most of the buildings we’ve explored are astonishing and dream-like; patinas, colours, markings, signs, graffiti, textures, the old-growth timber beams and even the detritus add to the delight. It’s every urban explorer’s dream-come-true because of the shear volume of everything. For my first few shooting days I was overwhelmed, my vocabulary reduced to a monosyllabic “Wow!”

The team has been working for nine months and Paul Harrison, the project lead, anticipates it will take another six or so to reach completion. We are fortunate to be part of the living history of the place, creating a snapshot in time when everything about the land and buildings is about to change.

Here are two mini-galleries to compare and contrast between our mid-winter shoots, deep in the bowels of the buildings, and today’s spring foray to shoot exteriors. Winter was particularly intriguing because of its steam heat fogs, massive icicles dangling outside the windows, icy pools trapping bits of interesting objects, and the sculptures created by the hot drips of leaking pipes landing on the frozen floors.

But spring offers its own delights and a different kind of visual treasure-hunting. I can hardly wait to see what comes next.

Further reading:

A Day in the Life of a WHM Volunteer at the E.B. Eddy Mill – Part 1
A Day in the Life of a WHM Volunteer at the E.B. Eddy Mill – Part 2
A Day in the Life of a WHM Volunteer at the E.B. Eddy Mill – Part 3
A Day in the Life of a WHM Volunteer at the E.B. Eddy Mill – Part 4

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