Guillermo del Toro’s Monster Celebration

Photos by Suzy Lyster.

Synergy can be a wonderful thing: Guillermo del Toro has made Toronto his base of operations and has a new movie coming (The Shape of Water) awash in critical and commercial buzz. The Art Gallery of Ontario is consistently looking for ways to bring first-timers in and is open to non-traditional exhibitions. Put Del Toro and AGO together and you have “At Home with Monsters”.

The stunning exhibit, organized alongside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, aims to break into the Mexican director’s creative process. Mission accomplished: It actually feels like stepping inside Del Toro’s head.

“At Home with Monsters” features over 500 objects, many from Guillermo del Toro’s personal collection and others selected by the filmmaker from AGO’s storage. The exhibit gives us a glimpse of Del Toro’s Bleak House, his home-studio in L.A. The place is filled with strange art pieces that captured Guillermo’s imagination and inspired him at one time or another.

Most of the rooms in the exhibition are linked to Del Toro’s movies, and grouped according to the director’s favorite authors and subjects. Among them, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, outsiders, insects, Victoriana, death and the afterlife, and a striking corner dedicated to Frankenstein’s monster.

Comfort Creates Fear

Guillermo del Toro was at hand to introduce “At Home with Monsters” to the press alongside co-curator Jim Shedden. In perfect Del Toro form, the director came on defense of genre filmmaking and pre-establishment Disney (“Like Frank Capra, Disney is often misrepresented. Fantasia, Pinocchio and Sleeping Beauty contain moments of great darkness.”) In spite of the remarkable collecting items he has lend to the exhibit, he doesn’t think of himself as a hoarder (“I can live without all of this”).

Not one to shy away from sharing his opinion about today’s political climate, Del Toro stated that “comfort creates fear” and brought up Tod Browning’s Freaks: “In the movie, normal people are horrible while the freaks have a cohesive, functional society based on accepting one another. Judging yourself by the standards of perfection is torture.”

“At Home with Monsters” will open to the general public this Saturday, September 30th, and is set to close January 7th, 2018. Del Toro himself will be signing the companion book and related items tomorrow Wednesday 27th from 4pm to 9pm. Some restrictions apply.

Theory Of Obscurity

If you like a bit of subversive political disruption with your documentary film viewing, the RPL Film Theatre has a great double-bill for you this weekend.

Theory of Obscurity is the first film in the queue. Its a 2016 doc by Don Hardy that examines the 40-year career of the anonymous sound and video collective called The Residents. Known for their avant garde music and innovative multi-media works, The Residents have released  well over 100 albums, music videos and short films during their four decades together.

The second film is directed by Joh Nealon and Jenny Raskin, and is called Here Come The Videofreex. It’s focal point is a counterculture project created on the sly by Don West at CBS in 1969. To provide content, he hired a group of young videographers/journalists who went by the name Videofreex. They subsequently travelled the U.S. interviewing counterculture figures such as Abbie Hoffman and Black Panther member Fred Hampton. Any hope West had of bringing their material to air on CBS was quashed by higher-ups, although Videofreex did go on to set up a pirate TV station in 1972.

Theory of Obscurity screens at the RPL Friday June 10 at 7 p.m., Saturday June 11 at 9 p.m., and Sunday June 12 at 2:30 p.m. Here Come The Videofreex screens on the same days at 9 p.m., 7 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Here’s the trailer for Theory of Obscurity:

 

Kingdom

Michel Boutin: Frog (2015) Enamel on canvas
Michel Boutin: Frog (2015) Enamel on canvas

On Saturday June 11, the Dunlop Art Gallery is hosting an artist talk and reception at its Sherwood Village branch location for a four-artist exhibition called Kingdom. As used in the exhibition, the word Kingdom references the taxonomic term that biologists use to describe various categories of life.

Kingdom is the second largest grouping below domain, and scientists are apparently somewhat split on the number of kingdoms of life we have on Earth. The U.S. typically cites six kingdoms, while Europe and other locales stick with five.

Animals and plants are two kingdoms common to both taxonomic systems. And under both systems, people are classed as animals. In this exhibition, four artists with roots in northern Canada explore the relationship between humanity and our fellow members of the animal kingdom.

Curated by Wendy Peart, Kingdom features work by Michel Boutin (Prince Albert), Nicholas Galanin (Sitka, AB), Tim Moore (Round Lake, SK), and Judy McNaughton (Prince Albert). The talk will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday, with the reception to follow.

Prairie Puppetslam Cabaret

PuppetSLAM Cabaret 2016 photo 03Over the last few years there’s been a bit of a puppet culture emerging in Regina. There’s been a couple of puppet film and live performance festivals, plus the odd stand-alone event involving a similar mix of film and performance.

On Tuesday May 31 the Prairie Puppetslam Cabaret is being held at the Artesian on 13th. Doors are at 7:30 p.m., with the performance beginning at 8 p.m. I haven’t heard details yet on what will be on the bill, but the performances are described as being “adult-themed”. As well, there will be a special guest appearance by clown artist Mooky Cornish who has a background in performance with Cirque Du Soleil.

Again, the Prairie Puppetslam Cabaret goes on Tuesday at the Artesian and tickets are $15.

Epic-Tom

You can get a bit more information on this event, which goes Saturday May 21 at 8 p.m. at Neutral Ground Contemporary Art Forum, by visiting the gallery’s website.

Julie Andreyev and Simon Overstall are the two principles, and they’ll be collaborating with Regina Symphony Orchestra members Simon MacDonald (violin), Simon Fryer (cello) and Marie-Noelle (flute) to create a sound art performance. Apparently there’s also some canine involvement, with various new media techniques such as motion capture and live animation used to riff on the interspecies relationship between people and dogs.

Again, Epic-Tom goes Saturday at 8 p.m., and once it’s over video documentation of the work will be on display at Neutral Ground (203-1856 Scarth) until July 7. Admission to the concert is $10.

Cathedral Village Arts Festival

2016poster (2)Prairie Dog has partnered with the Cathedral Village Arts Festival since 2000 to produce the festival’s official program guide. The guide for the 2016 festival went out in our May 12 issue. The CVAF is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and our issue also had look back with author Ken Mitchell and CVAF staffer Deb Jones on how the festival got going way back in 1992.

The 2016 CVAF kicks off with the traditional parade and picnic on the holiday Monday May 23, and features a variety of arts and culture events that run each day until Saturday May 28, when the always popular street fair is held on 13th Ave.

One anniversary highlight is a 5X5 gala that is being held on Friday night that will showcase five different arts disciplines: visual art, music, dance, theatre and literary arts. CVAF artist-in-residence Evie Ruddy has also created a walking tour of the Cathedral neighbourhood that can be accessed by downloading an app. You can read more about it in this CBC report.

You can get more information on all the Cathedral Village Arts Festival activities here.

The Justification I’ve Always Needed

XKCD (justification)I argue with our designer about text justification at least once a week. I want almost everything justified, Paul approaches things case-by-case (as if specific circumstances have specific needs, pffft). I like paragraphs to look like finely marbled rectangular blocks, he wants words to be readable first and foremost (the weirdo).

Little did we know there was a solution we could both agree on, thanks to the website XKCD. Thanks, XKCD!

The Candahar

_MG_9667The Candahar is an installation by artist Theo Sims that is modelled after a historic pub in Belfast. It first appeared at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and has since been presented in other cities including Calgary. Last weekend, it opened at the MacKenzie Art Gallery

The installation offers an immersive environment that, once you enter it, shifts your perspective in terms of space, time, culture and function. That’s especially true at certain times in the exhibition period when the Candahar actually comes alive as a full-service pub.

The exhibition runs until Sept. 4, and pretty much every Thursday evening the MacKenzie is teaming with someone from Regina or the broader art world to host a social evening. Here’s some of the social evenings that have been confirmed so far.

May 5: First Nations visual artist Dylan Miner, who is currently conducting a residency in Regina; May 12: educator Marc Spooner; May 19: actor/author Jean Freeman; May 26: performing artists Jayden Pfeifer and Johanna Bundon; June 2: visual artist Kyle Herranen; June 23: local dance troupe FadaDance; June 30: musician Marshal Burns; July 7: musician Belle Plaine; July 21: cultural theorist Jeanne Randolph; Sept. 1: MacKenzie curator Michelle LaVallee

The Metafold

Brendan SchickYou can read more about this exhibition by artist Brendan Schick on the Art Gallery of Regina website. There’s paintings and mixed media works that allude to art styles from the Middle ages while also exploring concepts such as fractals and hallucinations as they relate to the artist’s youth.

The Metafold opened on April 29 and will run until June 30. As well, on Wednesday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. there’s an opening reception and artist talk by Schick at the gallery.

Fan Expo Regina

The third annual celebration of comic, SF, anime, horror and other niche cultures goes at Canada Centre Building, Evraz Place on April 23-24.

In addition to all the different displays from local and travelling exhibitors tied to products in this area, not to mention all the fans who show up dressed like a favourite superhero or other character in these genres, the highlight of these expos is typically the celebrity guests. In this case, the guests include Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings), James & Oliver Phelps (the Weasley twins in Harry Potter), Verne Troyer (Mini-Me in the Austin Powers movies), Dirk Benedict (Battlestar Galactica) and Matt Frewer (Max Headroom).

On April 23, Fan Expo Regina runs from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and on April 24 the hours are from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information you can visit the Fan Expo Regina website.

When Raven Became Spider

Julianne HerneyGuest curated by Vancouver-based Gitxaala/British curator/artist Leena Minifie, this exhibition opens at the Dunlop Art Gallery on Friday April 15 and includes work by six indigenous artists: Joi T. Arcand, Sonny Assu , Julianne Beaudin-Herney, Shaun Beyale, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Jeffrey Veregge.

You can find out more on the show on the Dunlop website, but the basic premise is that Minifie is exploring parallels between superheroes in modern pop culture and supernatural characters of one kind or another that are featured in indigenous myths and legends.

Often, those stories were transmitted orally. Superheroes in pop culture, conversely, have their roots in comic books — so through their work the artists are also examining the intersection between the oral and the visual and how those different strategies can be used to transmit meaning.

When Raven Became Spider opens with a talk by Minifie on Friday at 6 p.m., followed by a reception. Then the following weekend Julianne Beaudin-Herney (pictured above) will be doing a performance involving her heroine Super Neckbone Woman at Fan Expo Regina. The performance is called A Historic Confrontation, and it will be held Saturday, April 23 from 10-10:15 am outside Fan Expo at Evraz Place, and again from 1-1:15 pm at the Regina Public Library booth inside Fan Expo.

When Raven Became Spider runs at the Dunlop Gallery until June 22.

Live Theatre from the London West End: Hangmen

Hangmen

As part of the Live Stage to the Screen series, this Thursday Cineplex will be showing the recent winner of Best New Play at the Olivier Awards, Hangmen.

The piece was written and directed by one of the best playwrights at work in the UK, Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopats), who went ten years without treating his fans with new material, at least on stage.

Hangmen takes place mostly at a pub the day the British government announced the abolition of capital punishment (1965, not that long ago). While the decision has a considerable impact in the general population, no one is more affected than Harry Allen (David Morrissey), England’s second best executioner. Continue reading “Live Theatre from the London West End: Hangmen”

Cry of the Lake Dwellers

Lumen print produced by placing dead fish on photographic paper to create an image using sunlight
Lumen print produced by placing dead fish on photographic paper to create an image using sunlight

At left is an image from an exhibition by artist Vera Saltzman that is on at Slate Gallery until April 9.

If you read this CBC report about the show, you’ll learn that Saltzman grew up in Atlantic Canada, so she has a resonable degree of familiarity with fish and aquatic habitats. When she was walking along the shore of Echo Lake in the lower Qu’Appelle Valley watershed she stumbled across hundreds of dead fish that had been washed up on shore.

The fish kills are not uncommon in Saskatchewan lakes, a biologist notes in the CBC report, and are typically caused by algae blooms that deplete the oxygen supply in shallow areas of the lake and result in large-scale fish die-offs.

The blooms occur naturally during the warmer months, but the frequency and severity of them is magnified when water quality is compromised. That’s certainly the case in the Qu’Appelle system, where factors such agricultural run-off and periodic releases of untreated sewage from Regina, heighten the nutrient content of the water. That leads to larger than normal algae blooms that wreak havoc on native fish populations.

Again, Saltzman’s exhibition Cry of the Lake Dwellers is on at Slate Gallery (2078 Halifax St.) until April 9. You can find out more on the Slate website.

Home Is Where You’re Happy

brette edited imageMany moons ago, Brette Gabel worked as a barista at the downtown Roca Jacks location on 19 block Scarth. She did that while she was enrolled at the University of Regina, where she graduated with a major in Theatre Studies and minor in Visual Art.

From there, she moved to Toronto where she participated in the Toronto School of Art’s Independent Studio Program. She later studied at the Ontario College of Art & Design, and graduated from there with a MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies.

For this exhibition at the Dunlop’s Sherwood Village Gallery, Gabel returns to her Saskatchewan roots — specifically, to her childhood home in rural Saskatchewan. The house Gabel and her family lived in was an old-style “kit house”, so called because it literally arrived as a kit that pioneer families would order via the Eaton’s catalogue and then assemble.

Through 2D and 3D fabric works such as that pictured above, Gabel explores notions of home, memory and the domestic realm. Home Is Where You’re Happy is curated by the Dunlop’s Blair Fornwald. There’s an artist talk and reception at the Sherwood Village Gallery in north-west Regina on Saturday April 2 at 1 p.m., and the exhibition runs until June 1.

Stapleford Lecture

You can find out more about this annual lecture, which goes at the University of Regina on Thursday March 31, by visiting the U of R website. The guest-speaker is the MacKenzie Art Gallery’s Head Curator Timothy Long, and the topic of his talk is “Ronald Bloore and the Art of Provocation”.

Bloore was an influential figure in the Regina art community in the 1950s and ’60s as an educator at the old Regina campus on College Ave., director of the MacKenzie from 1958-66 and as a member of the Regina Five who garnered international attention for their abstract expressionist painting in that era.

With all the intellectual and cultural ferment that was going on in Saskatchewan with the Tommy Douglas-led CCF government still going strong, it was definitely an interesting period in our city and province’s history. And Bloore and his colleagues Arthur McKay, Kenneth Lochhead, Ted Godwin and Douglas Morton (all of whom have now passed away) were a huge part of the arts scene at the time.

Long’s talk Thursday night is being held at RIC119 at the University of Regina at 7 p.m.

Basil AIZeri: The Mobile Kitchen Lab

20160302_142957_resizedSince the food-themed exhibition On The Table opened at the Dunlop Art Gallery at Central Library in late January the above-pictured mobile kitchen has been sitting in front of the gallery window.

The kitchen is the creation of Toronto-based Palestinian artist Basil AIZeri. He calls it the Mobile Kitchen Lab, and on Saturday March 19 he’ll be in Regina to do a durational performance at the gallery.

In past performances, AIZeri has cooked a meal in the gallery while patrons watch and interact with him. Sometimes, while he’s cooking he communicates with his mother via Skype.

At the end of the performance AIZeri shares the food with people in the gallery. Consistent with the broader themes of On The Table the performance relates to subjects such as the role food plays as an expression of cultural identity and social engagement.

AIZeri’s performance goes at the Dunlop on Saturday between 3-6 p.m. If you’d like to read more about AIZeri’s practice here’s a short article from late 2013.

Hitchcock/Truffaut

As a famous director of suspense/thriller films in England and the U.S. Alfred Hitchcock probably needs no introduction. Francois Truffaut was equally accomplished as a filmmaker, but because he worked pretty much in French in France, he’s less well-known — at least in the English-speaking world.

Truffaut died of a brain tumour at the age of 52 in 1984, so his career didn’t run as long as Hitchcock’s. But as a critic, actor and director he’s regarded as one of the leading figures in the New Wave movement that dominated French cinema from the late 1950s through the 1960s.

In 1962, Truffaut conducted over 50 hours of interviews with Hitchcock for a book project about his approach to filmmaking that proved hugely influential for later generations of filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese and Wes Anderson.

Directed by Kent Jones, Hitchcock/Truffaut is a documentary that explores the historical legacy of those interviews and the book that followed. It screens at the RPL Theatre Thursday Feb. 18 and Saturday Feb. 20 at 9 p.m., Friday Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. and Sunday Feb. 21 at 2:30 p.m. Here’s the trailer:

Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict

Born to a wealthy New York family in 1898, Peggy Guggenheim moved to Paris at the end of World War I and immersed herself in the vibrant arts scene of the interwar period. Through her contacts, and savvy critical eye, she amassed an outstanding collection of avant garde art by some of the 20th century’s most famous abstract and surrealist artists.

Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, Man Ray and Piet Mondrain were some of her early acquisitions, and with the shift to New York as the hub of contemporary art following the outbreak of WWII, she added works by the likes of Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell and Willem de Koonig to her collection.

During her lifetime, she exhibited her collection in various museums. A Peggy Guggenheim Museum continues to exist in Venice, and some of her collection is also included in the Guggenheim Museum in New York that was begun under a foundation started by her uncle Solomon.

Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict is a 2015 documentary that looks at both her passion for art, and her passion for life, which had a strong bohemian character that included numerous love affairs with prominent artists such as Max Ernst and Samuel Beckett.

The film screens tonight and Sunday at 7 p.m. at the RPL Theatre. Here’s the trailer:

Magdance 3: Art + Dance (Updated)

Françoise Sullivan (with Marion Landry), Les Saisons Sullivan, 2007, photograph. Collection of the Université de Quebéc à Montréal (UQAM)
Françoise Sullivan (with Marion Landry),
Les Saisons Sullivan, 2007, photograph.
Collection of the Université de Quebéc à Montréal (UQAM)

Starting on Thursday, Jan. 28, local dance company New Dance Horizons begins a two-month residency at the MacKenzie Art Gallery. The previous two times NDH and MAG joined forces space was set aside in the hardwood-floored Kenderdine Gallery, and a variety of workshops and performances were held.

This year marks NDH’s 30th anniversary, and if you visit its website you’ll find a run-down on all the events that are planned during the residency.

One theme that will be explored is the relationship between visual art and dance. Concurrent with the residency the MacKenzie is hosting an exhibition of dance-themed photographs, drawings and text by Quebec artist/choreographer Francoise Sullivan (sample image above).

Les Saisons Sullivan opens on Thursday Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m. with a performance of three of Sullivan’s dance works by Ginette Boutin: Dédale (1947), Black and Tan (1947-48) and Je parle (1993). The evening will also feature a conversation between Sullivan and Louise Déry who is the director/curator of the Galerie de l’UQAM in Montréal. Also in attendance will be Allana Lindgren, who authored a 2003 book called From Automatism to Modern Dance: Francoise Sullivan with Franziska Boas in New York. Admission is free.

Following that, there’s the dance work Misfit Blues. It’s co-presented with Le Conseil culturel fransaskois and Dance Saskatchewan, and involves a performance by choreographer Paul-André Fortier and Robin Poitras that explores the inherent comedy in human relationships. It will be held at the MacKenzie Gallery on Jan. 29-30 at 8 p.m., and Feb. 1 at 1:30 p.m. Tickets for that are $30 adult, $20 students & seniors, $10 13 and under.

As outlined on NDH’s website, many more events are planned after that. The residency will run until April 10.

Nature Matching System

tattfoo_1322853441_69We’ll perhaps have a review down the road, but on Jan. 22 the Dunlop Art Gallery will be opening a new exhibition called On The Table. The exhibition features work by 14 Canadian and international artists and will be held at the Central and Sherwood Village galleries. It’s curated by Blair Fornwald, Jennifer Matotek and Wendy Peart, and will explore the subject of food.

Before that happens, though, the Dunlop is hosting a drop-in workshop called Nature Matching System which will give people an opportunity to create a small panel for an art work by Brooklyn artist Tattfoo Tan (pictured above) that will be part of On The Table. Fan’s art work will apparently examine the importance of colour to our diet.

The workshop goes on Saturday Jan. 16 from 1-4 p.m. at the Dunlop. And On the Table itself opens on Friday Jan. 22 at Central Library with an artist talk by Amber Phelps Bondaroff at 6 p.m., and a reception at 7 p.m.