Oh my! Where does one start?! First let me say this. There is nothing boring about Ottawa. So let’s just put that “it’s the city that rolls up the sidewalks at night” myth to rest. Just when I think I might get a breather from events the Writers Festival ends by seguing this city into another festival celebrating the arts – The National Arts Centre’s Ontario Scene. “Imagine 600 Ontario artists, from all disciplines, performing in the national spotlight on the stages of Ottawa/Gatineau: that’s Ontario Scene.”
The biggest limiting factor to Ontario Scene is that my body only allows for me to be in one place at one time. I may have to settle for 300 Artists, 30-ish events and maybe 1 less day.
I have already clocked two events with back to back nights at Carleton University Art Gallery for the Opening and Artist Walk Thru of the current exhibit “Human Nature.” This show “presents fourteen contemporary Ontario artists whose works look at the state of the natural world and our impact on it.”
Images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.
Graffiti Boxman Project. Photo Flips BSC. Kwende Kefentse.Credit James Park Photography.
“Century Song is a live performance hybrid showcasing the extraordinary Canadian soprano NEEMA BICKERSTETH. A radical revisioning of the recital form from one of Canada’s most exciting theatre companies, it is part classical song, part dance, part projection, and entirely theatrical.” Find outmore…
Digging Roots. Raven Kanatakta and Shoshona Kish. Photo Ratul Debnath.
DECLARATION is a great Ontario Scene initiative that will be running from April 29 to May 3.
“DECLARATION is a celebration of Indigenous peoples’ right to engage in the creation and evolution of arts and culture, as asserted in Article 11 of the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Created by Toronto-based ARTICLE 11, DECLARATION is an immersive, live, sound and image installation and performance-creation lab. It offers the rare opportunity to witness established Indigenous artists mid-process as they take risks and explore new approaches and collaborations in a responsive, interdisciplinary environment.”
Read more about the full DECLARATION programming here.
Santee Smith. Image by Red Works.
John Morris, NAC Executive Chef
Also, on the menu, literally, is food – the best of what Ontario has to offer in the culinary arts.
On Monday night:
“le café presents a WINEMAKER’S DINNER that showcases and complements the delightful wines of Pelee Island, Canada’s oldest and most southerly wine region. For this special occasion, National Arts Centre Executive Chef JOHN MORRIS will prepare a sumptuous five-course menu with all-Ontario ingredients, and every course will be paired with the finest varietals that Pelee Island has to offer. Winemaster MARTIN JANZ, of Pelee Island Winery, will be in attendance.”
On Tuesday night:
“Experience the innovative and mouth-watering creations of more than a dozen top chefs from across the province as they vie for the $10,000 top prize in the ONTARIO CULINARY CHALLENGE. Each chef will prepare uniquely Ontario small plates, using a selection of 100% local and regional meats, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables. With the support of Wine Country Ontario, chefs will be partnered with Ontario wineries to produce the perfect food-wine pairings, which attendees can sample throughout the night. Rub elbows with chefs, sommeliers, and media, sample some of the province’s finest wines, and cast your vote to award the first-place prize for the very best of the best in Ontario’s culinary arts.”
Alright, time for a 2nd shot of espresso and I will be ready to go.
How one woman changed a community then went on to change the world.
So much of the way we think and act around neighbourhood, community and city building in the 21st Century is because of the ideas of a single woman – Jane Jacobs. If you need an example of how one human being can have huge impact, Jane is that inspiring person who walked her talk and went on to inspire an international movement. Her ideas of what a community should be resonated with many because it articulated what people already knew to be true as to why certain spaces become thriving communities.
Every year, to honour Jane’s legacy, cities world-wide hosts walks that allow people to discover some brilliant nuance of the place where they live that they may never have discovered otherwise. All of this is possible due to the thousands of volunteers who get out into their community and share their knowledge during Jane’s Walks.
I just discovered the above video highlighting a great walk I participated in a few years back. This walk, that featured the work of Toronto’s many street artists, had us meandering through the downtown core via the back alleys where a technicolour world awaited us. The tour was given by Jason of the Tour Guys, an organization in Toronto that specializes in giving offbeat tours of one of North America’s most interesting cities.
Women who are Indigenizing city spaces.
This year, in both Toronto and Ottawa, walks will be given that highlight the history of Indigenous Peoples.
“This walk will explore historic land use along Davenport Rd and the lands along the ridge while providing excellent views of the city. How did First Nations people get around? Who were some of the early movers and shakers? What was the origin of Wychwood Park?”
In Ottawa there is a newly launched initiative, Indigenous Walks, and IW’s tour guide, local Metis artist and educator Jaime Koebel, will be sharing her knowledge and passion for Indigenous history on Saturday and Sunday at 2pm each day. Jaime uses the experience of sight-seeing the beautiful monuments in the Capital city to allow people to experience the history of Ottawa, as well as the history of Canada, by walking in the shoes (or moccasins) of an Indigenous person. The tour starts at the Human Rights Monument at City Hall. More info can be found here.
And speaking of Indigenizing public spaces, artist Dana Claxton’s (Lakota) “Indian Candy” is part of CONTACT, Toronto’s annual festival celebrating the art of photography.
Each year CONTACT commissions work to be put up on billboards around the downtown core, activating what is normally a space reserved for spreading a message of commerce to instead spread messages on social issues.
Dana’s work “interrogates the presentation of Indigenous iconography through the digital archive in Indian Candy.
Working from found images of the “Wild West” sourced online, the artist focuses on those connected to Sitting Bull, the iconic tribal leader who led a resistance against government policies in the United States. As a descendant of Sitting Bull’s band who came to Canada, Claxton simultaneously mines her own personal family history and the legacy of racism. Her diverse range of images present aspects of Indigeneity in a new light; from the buffalo, which represents spirituality for Lakota people and was a main source of sustenance until their near annihilation, to signed souvenir cards from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. As a whole, Indian Candy uncovers truths and performs as a provisional archive of Aboriginal imagery seen through the lens of colonialism.”
For the month of May you will be able to see Dana’s billboards along Dundas St. West. For more information on the exhibit as well as a map click here.
Also part of CONTACT, some of MIXED BAG MAG’s favourite people, projects and art spaces!
And another favourite MIXED BAG MAG space for the arts, this time in Ottawa, is The National Arts Centre. This week “huff” has opened at the NAC and runs through until May 10. This provocative work has left everyone I know who has experienced it, changed. It’s not a piece of theatre that is easily digestible but despite the heavy subject matter, substance abuse among First Nations’ youth, people seem to walk away feeling that the experience of being uncomfortable witnessing Cliff Cardinal’s one man show was a positive one that includes a message of hope!
FYI- Be a part of the Samba Launch Party Procession Tonight at 6 pm. MIXED BAG MAG’ fave Zahra Ebrahim of archiTEXT will be one of the procession leaders of this walk that is all about PLAY! Details here.
WISHING EVERYONE A WEEKEND WHERE YOU LEARN SOMETHING NEW & HAVE FUN!
All above images of Jane’s Walk 2011 (Graffiti Tour & Samba Procession) by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.
TORONTO’S ANNUAL PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL
Missed it? Oops! Well good news is you can still catch a few more exhibits running past the May 31 end date. Here’s Mixed Bag Mag’s comprehensive list of what’s still on for Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival.
“brings together artists who explore the tenuous relationship between identity and place, and who investigate how movement has become a mode of being in the world during an era of globalization.
The month-long exhibition will feature established and emerging artists from Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver, and highlight their aesthetic engagements with cultural dislocation. Artists Annie Sakkab, Meral Pasha, Mona Kamal, Jin-me Yoon, Brett Gundlock and Jamelie Hassan consider how we negotiate a place for ourselves from one social environment to another.
Mona Kamal, Reflections on Memory, 2011. Photo credit: Terrance Houle.
They examine what travels with us across personal, political, and social borders during different kinds of migratory trajectories, and what we leave behind. As discussions on place and identity have shifted towards more fluid understandings, these artists engage with particular kinds of uprootings and regroundings that are embodied and specific. Their work articulates a sense of self which is gendered and cultured, and explores how visual culture informs the way we see ourselves in the world, as well as how others situate us in it.
The exhibition will launch the opening of the new Riverdale Hub Community Art Gallery and its arts programming which is geared towards community development. Located in the heart of Little India in Toronto, the Riverdale Hub provides invaluable hands-on training opportunities to marginalized women and their families, enabling them to develop sustainable livelihoods.”
“With your contribution, we will be able to establish a new gallery in the heart of Little India, further the Hub’s goal of engaging the community in dialogue through art, and present the work of 7 established and emerging contemporary artists who address experiences of migration.”
Images by Annie Sakkab,Untitled, from the series Projections – Ghosts of Dubai’s Boom, 2008
To contribute to the Dislocations campaign click here.
For more information on Riverdale Hub Community Arts Centre click here.
“Exploring the photographic medium as a way of seeing, this year’s Festival theme, Field of Vision, frames a series of primary exhibitions and public installations.”
What lies outside our own field of vision? From gender to sexual orientation; culture, race, place; nature vs the unnatural; the understanding of new technology, the experience of a physical disability…
…sometimes it takes truly seeing what is right in front of us in order to shift our focus.
As artists, photographers will manipulate light, context, and composition to suit the telling of a ‘Truth’.
They use photography to explore how best to let someone into a world they might not be aware exists to experience stories they may not be able to hear. Something about seeing can move people into believing. An image can authenticate an experience not just for the artist but for the viewer.
“From the age of 14 – 17, the Toronto-based photographer Janieta Eyre developed a disorder that made it impossible to speak. As a consequence, many people gave up attempting to converse with Eyre and instead behaved as if she did not exist. The imposed silence and isolation had a curious effect on the artist’s development: in her silence, she began to have strange thoughts and to wonder if she was, in fact, invisible.”Read more…
“Using professional lighting and a medium-format film camera, Levine creates a studio within each home environment, positioning objects that appear within the frame. These settings explore private queer space as a realm for the development of community and the expression of genders and sexualities often marginalized within the public sphere.”Read more…
“Unreleased explores the gap that can exist between a person’s sense of belonging within a culture, and the culture’s opinion of that person. In this work, 2Fik performs multiple visions of “self,” while exploring the positive and negative prejudices that accompany visual perceptions of the “other.” This exhibition presents a series of dramatic tableau photographs in which characters from different cultures meet and evolve.”Read more…
“Dislocations brings together artists who explore the tenuous relationship between identity and place, and who investigate how movement has become a mode of being in the world during an era of globalization.” Read more…
“Deliberately referencing the constructed aesthetic of digital image-making—the pixel, the choice of red, green, or blue tape, and the surface/depth tension of altered focus—Miyoshi’s analogue self-portraits use metaphor to evoke a slew of contemporary questions about the status of the photographer/author and the referent/real in the digital age.”Read more…
“In recent years, Meryl McMaster has travelled to remote landscapes on journeys that have helped her begin to understand her place in the natural world. These processes of self-discovery continue when McMaster returns to her studio and incorporates what she has learned into her art practice through the exploration of new themes. In-Between Worlds is an expression of one of these themes: McMasters bicultural Aboriginal-European heritage, which she views as a synergistic strength rather than a struggle between opposing forces.” Read more…
“ The images have a surreal and ethereal quality that blurs the viewer’s concepts of space and reality. Pesce’s photographs depict both explicit and implicit narratives that investigate the idea of objectifying the female body.” Read more…