Monday, August 25, 2014

Imagine whirled peas...

Saturday was a day that proved to be all about community. It started with an event sponsored by the SOFIA Collective, an interdisciplinary group of artists based in the north end of Surrey, the city where I live.

They've sponsored a couple of these events, forums exploring ways the arts can contribute to the health of the community.

Even though I only attended the afternoon panels, I came away filled with hopeful thoughts for our city.

The first panel, "Intersections: Art Practice in Convergent Communities" raised many questions (and comments) about the broad multicultural spectrum represented in our city. Racism, the elephant in the room we all seem to choose to ignore, was key to the discussion -- and rightly so. According to the last reliable census figures (2006, the last census to employ the 'long form' which asks respondents to identify their ethnicity), 46% of our city consisted of 'visible minorities'. No doubt, this figure is higher now, but thanks to Harper's fact-denying agenda, such numbers will no longer be available. Not that such numbers are necessary to see who we are. Attendees were united in wanting all of us, artists and others, to go forward together, regardless of what we might look like.

The second session, "Lessons Learned: A Survival Guide to Establishing an Artist-Run Centre" was much more light-hearted, even fun. And this is likely where I found the most to take home with me.

All of the speakers talked about getting together with other artists, and surprisingly, the notion of potluck dinners came up more than once. Yes, say I, food can serve as the glue (even when the food isn't sticky!) that brings us together.

So, later in the evening, when we went to nearby New Westminster for their second annual festival of food trucks, I couldn't help notice the way everyone was getting along. It wasn't a potluck supper, but the atmosphere was similar. There were lots of conversations, comparisons of food items (Oooh, where'd you get that sandwich??), good-natured kidding while standing in line, people snapping pictures with cameras or phones.

Maybe food really is the answer, even the way to world peace.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Everywhere is Anywhere is More...

It isn't very often that an art gallery has signs that encourage you to take photos of the exhibit. But then, there aren't a lot of exhibits quite like the current one on the main floor of the Vancouver Art Gallery, a wide-ranging show by Douglas Coupland.

Yes, there's plenty of Lego, not all of it quite as wildly assembled as this piece. Still, I love the ways he uses it, even when he's pointing out the mundaneness of contemporary suburbia: row upon row of identical houses. All that's missing from his show are the identical people who must inhabit those houses.

One of my favourite parts of the show is a section of Canadiana artefacts -- everything from hokey-looking lunch kits and thermoses to a tin of Uncle Ben's beer.

But don't think for a minute this exhibit is all about trinkets and toys.

Coupland's paintings and sculptures reveal an artist who's committed to interpreting art history. Some of his paintings serve as homage to the Group of Seven and Emily Carr. Others hearken to the era of Pop Art, with obvious tributes to Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol -- or, to their predecessors, Mondrian and Miro.

He even plays around with his own forms of Op Art, with pieces that require you to view them with a Smartphone, for almost a 'magic eye' effect.

It's hard to imagine anyone having this much talent, but yes, he also writes fiction. So, it's not surprising that some of his art is text-based. One section of the show, called Slogans for the 21st Century, consists of signs with Couplandesque sayings on them. An example? "It's not an illusion. Time is moving faster." Fans of his books will recognize some of these as part of the marginalia from Generation X.

Those living in or near Vancouver should try to get to the gallery soon, as the show closes on September 1st. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

It must be summer...

 ... for me to be so lazy. Already the 11th of the month, and nary a blog post.

And not only have I been staying off the blog, but clearly I've not even been using the car enough, as look at that spider who's decided to build a home on the mirror.

Maybe he (she?) just got sucked in by things appearing closer (and larger?) in the mirror. Tasty bits of tiny bugs must be looking like much bigger feasts.

Even today's drink of choice is one that's lazy. Sun tea, a recipe that makes itself by sitting outside in
the sun for the day. This batch isn't actually tea, it's more like lemonade, but is made from the much more refreshing fruit, quince.

Cheers to summer and to keeping cool!