WEB EXCLUSIVE: What the heck is Pedal Punk?

Last week, our friends at Centrepointe Theatre approached us about featuring Pedal Punk. It’s BMX bikes, acrobats, and steampunk style, they said. We said, we love those things, but all mixed together? What the heck?

Indeed, they conceded, Cirque Mechanics, the group behind the show, hasn’t been to Ottawa before, so it needs a bit of education.

 

Pedal Punk image courtesy Centrepointe Theatre

Pedal Punk image courtesy Centrepointe Theatre

Herewith, 10 reasons Cirque Mechanics will blow your mind!

  1. There are approximately 90 wheels on stage in Pedal Punk.
  2. The aerial Penny Farthing in Pedal Punk can also be used to ride on the ground. It is a real bike!
  3. Many of the bicycles in Pedal Punk were built from parts found in scrap yards. A great way to 
recycle and repurpose parts!
  4. The Gantry Bike featured in Pedal Punk as the Bike Shop is an original Cirque Mechanics 
apparatus, weighs 3,000 lbs. with artists on board, yet it can be pedaled by just 2 people.
  5. The Gantry Bike steers like a bulldozer or a tank.
  6. It takes a team of 4 people 1 1/2 hours to build the Gantry Bike. It also takes 1 1/2 hours to pack 
up the whole show.
  7. The Gantry Bike has a top speed of 5 mph and can be pedaled indoors and outdoors.
  8. The cast of Pedal Punk is made up of 10 artists: dancers, trampolinists, aerialists, a BMX rider, a 
juggler and clown, a rhythmic gymnast, a contortionist and a stilt‐walking stuntman.
  9. It took one year to create Pedal Punk.
  10. The entire show fits in one 26’ truck.

Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 7:30PM, Cirque Mechanics presents Pedal Punk at Centrepointe Theatres.
Tickets are $49.75 and are available on centrepointetheatres.com or through the box office at 613‐580‐2700.

Pedal Punk image courtesy Centrepointe Theatre

Pedal Punk image courtesy Centrepointe Theatre

 

 

ARTFUL BLOGGER: Skinned animals, stuffed birds, and Alex Colville

By PAUL GESSELL

Skinned animals at Museum of Nature

Photo courtesy Museum of Nature

Photo courtesy Museum of Nature

The skinned camel with its head neatly sliced in three is awesome. Ditto the skinless, almost featherless ostrich and the tall giraffe, its birthday suit removed to reveal all its inner workings.

But the star attraction of these anatomy lessons might prove to be human — just an arm, actually, with the skin peeled back to reveal muscles and tendons and slender bones. The fingernails remain intact. Somehow the nails, more than anything, tell us this preserved arm once was attached to a living, breathing body.

Visitors to the exhibition, Body Worlds: Animals Inside Out, at the Canadian Museum of Nature tend to gravitate to that human arm. You are allowed to touch it and shake its bony hand. Nearby, a real human heart rests, its pumping days long gone. You can hold it and speculate on whose life it once powered.

Read the rest of this story »

WEEKENDER: Four things to do on the First Weekend of May

BY MATT HARRISON

summer-solstice-midsummer-maypole

Image, courtesy of www.imgkid.com

Once considered the first day of Spring, May 1 was celebrated in more ancient times with young people dancing around phallic-shaped maypoles (also thought to symbolize the world axis or, in Norse cultures, as the universe itself). In the 19th C., it was adopted by the workers of the world as International Worker’s Day — which it still is today. For some countries (Russia, I’m looking at you), May 1 also became a day to parade all manner of assorted weapons of mass destruction, because nothing says birth and renewal like an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile armed with a five-megaton nuclear warhead.

This May 1st weekend, celebrate the birth of spring (so to speak) by attending a variety of non-lethal, less phallic events.


rdmSoAj5JAwqsARiXivxNi8NBa-McMLoOO1QbhMz3QTMxF3ZdPAsW-mXARjE5FXUCcWLy4lwoK17vOtPwC0rARhrnKueiWJfRSeLhIGdQ2BLmowjgliNgnn2UnnVI8lRLu1jFIVvcdHvqjlfBBoeKtd-ef0P_jGPry47jV9dORrjVJgVWm9ZYJH1yTh-GGpXoqo2WWJ5nFpncAjdRB85r1E

Moonfruits at Cafe Nostalgica this Thursday, April 30. Photo credit: J.B. Hildebrand

Happy Birthday Café Nostalgica
Bust our your platinum (cuz we all have oodles of platinum lying around?!?) Café Nostalgica is celebrating its 20th anniversary this Thursday, April 30. That house-y looking coffee spot at the University of Ottawa is throwing a Quebec-themed b-day bash, which includes loads of music — Chloe Perrault, Moonfruits, The Howards, Mackenzie, Rhythm Section, and Capital DJ — and such provincial-themed food as cheeses, mini tortiere, poutine, pea soup, plus cotton candy, popcorn, and more. Show up before 8 p.m. and get a free drink. Decorate a mug even. $15. Starts at 6 p.m. More info, visit here.
Café Nostalgica is at 601 Cumberland St.

lovepetri-476x480

Biotechnology is a Technology of Love… By Jennifer Willet, Digital Photograph, 2013 Photographer: Arturo Herrera

Still Life is Dividing, Multiplying (FREE!)
Breathing pore; protocell; hylozoic; hibernaculum — word-y words you’d expect to hear coming from the mouths of, say, scientists at the National Research Centre (or not, given the gov’t’s present gag-orders). But from visual artists?

Yet, the fusion of science and art is the protoplasm from which a new field is emerging: “Bioart features a diverse range of practices from the lab, the wilderness, and cities, which use cells, microbes, plants, and bodies (human and otherwise) in the production of art” — this according to the catalogue excerpt from the travelling exhibition, BioART: Collaborating With Life, which debuts on Thursday, April 30 at the Karsh-Masson Gallery. Curated by Jennifer Willet, it features works by her, and seven other artists, including a performance piece by Alana Bartol. The Thursday vernissage is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The show is up until May 31. More info here.
Karsh-Masson Gallery is at 110 Laurier Ave.

Cold-Specks-video-608x465
Cold Specks (and gang) Steal the (Ontario) Scene
Ontario Scene kicks off this weekend — Friday, May 1 — with Cold Specks, a Toronto-based songstress and Juno/Polaris Prize nominee whose music has been called ‘doom soul’.

In spite of what that may conjure, be assured that Cold Speck’s music is deft, beautifully haunting, and her performances are mesmerizing. She’s playing with Etiquette — that’s Graham Walsh of Holy F*ck and Julie Fader, also a visual artist — along with Ottawa’s Boyhood. The former just released their debut in March (a must-hear if you’re fans of Air, The Chromatics); the latter produces experimental, drugged-out sounding pop (think The Brian Jonestown Massacre/Raveonettes). Show’s at 9 p.m.; tickets $15.
Ritual is at 137 Besserer St.

Main Street Market on McLeod
Where are the fiddleheads? The asparagus? Typically some of the first offerings from the soil, they appear to be absent from local shops — not surprising given the long winter, which has fresh veg lagging by a few weeks. And yet, the late start to the season won’t deter the Main Street Farmer’s Market from opening this Saturday, May 2 — except, that it isn’t being held on Main Street near St. Paul’s University. During the on-going construction on that road, it’ll be held, instead, at the Canadian Museum of Nature on McLeod for the next two years — every Saturday from May 1 until end of October, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Canadian Museum of Nature is at 240 McLeod St.

 

 

 

ANNOUNCING! The winners of the Ottawa Magazine Short Fiction Contest

Earlier this year, we announced our first-ever short fiction contest. We knew there were writers out there, crafting great stories and dreaming of sharing them with a wider audience. We wanted to provide the audience — and tap into some of that creative energy. So we put the word out there and crossed our fingers. We got some great support from the local and national writing community, who shared our post through social media.

Illustration by Alanah Abels

Illustration by Alanah Abels

And the entries poured in! First it was a trickle, then came the flood. Over 75 entries in total were judged through a “blind” process — thanks rob mclennan for that suggestion, which helped us read each story with an open mind. Three members of the Ottawa St. Joseph Communications team read every story, and a fourth helped us whittle the long list down to a winner and a runner-up.

And the winner is…

Barbara Sibbald, for Waiting

And the runner-up is Theresa Wallace, for Camping at Mont Tremblant

You can read these two stories in the Summer issue of Ottawa Magazine, which hits newsstands in early June.

 

SOUND SEEKERS: Ontario (Scene), Yours to Discover — Kalle Mattson’s Snapshots

BY FATEEMA SAYANI

Ahead of the NAC’s Ontario Scene extravaganza, we tap into hometown homie Kalle Mattson’s Instagram account to get a snapshot of the province through a musician’s eye. Mattson will play with The Sadies and The Wooden Sky on May 8 at the Bronson Centre, just one of many concerts and events taking over the city in the coming weeks. Find full details online.

Read the rest of this story »

WEEKENDER: A few things to do on the weekend of April 23 to 26 (and beyond!)

BY MATT HARRISON

kayak1

Photo: Courtesy of the Canadian Museum of Nature


Modern Wonder of the World
Stories — and tragedy — surround the history, and construction, of the modern-day wonder of the world, the Panama Canal. A film Ottawans will be able to relate to — given our own tragic history concerning the thousand or so that perished building the Rideau Canal — the film, Historias del Canal (Panama Canal Stories), presents a “sweeping historical drama” — it’s a gripping opener at this years’ 19th annual Latin American Film Fest.

lg_galeria10

A still from Historias del Canal (Panama Canal Stories), the opening film at this year’s 19th annual Latin Film Festival

The festival — held at Carleton University and presented by the Canadian Film Institute — will screen 19 films from South America over the course of two weeks, beginning this Saturday evening on April 25 at 7 p.m. The next day, make sure to check out the coming-of-age comedy, Rocanrol ’68 (Rock and Roll ’68) — Sunday, April 26 at 4 p.m.

Details on the films, times, costs, etc. can be found here.

Carleton University, River Building Theatre, is at 1125 Colonel By Drive

kayak2

Qajak being built at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Photo: Courtesy of the Canadian Museum of Nature

Nature Nocturne / Q is for Qajaq
With Spring in full-gear, admittedly the thought of anything cold, snow, or ice-related is like a knife in the eye. That said, the Canadian Museum of Nature has some ‘cool’ activities planned in this vein — including being able to stop by from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, Friday, April 24, and Saturday, April 25, and watch a four-man team construct a qajaq, that it is an Inuit kayak, which is part of ‘Q is for Qajaq’, a collaborative project to help inspire a renaissance of qajaq-building and paddling in Canada’s Arctic. (Cost of regular admission.)

But if qajaq-building doesn’t scream par-tay, then check out this month’s edition of Nature Nocturne — a Friday (April 24) night party, where the museum throws its doors open to music (DJ Rise Ashen + DJ Ron Lavoie), throat singing, drinks and more. Tickets are $25. Starts at 8 p.m. More info, visit here.

The Canadian Museum of Nature is at 240 McLeod St.

The ‘Other’ Folk Fest
Two festivals; divergent paths — that’s the story, of sorts, regarding the addition of springtime’s newest folk festival, the Ottawa Grassroots Festival, which takes place this week (Thursday, April 23 to Sunday, April 26).

This indoor festival should not be confused with falls’ longer-running, larger, outdoor Folk Festival (September 16-20). Nor, would the instigator behind this latest folk fest incarnation — Bob Nesbitt — necessarily court such a comparison. After all, Grassroots was created, in part, out of a need to eschew the commercialization many see taking place in the re-branded Cityfolk Festival. And so, here we are. One city, two folk fests — albeit Grassroots is much smaller, shorter, and bills itself as closer to folk’s roots — sort of like Bob Dylan before he plugged in.

Stef Paquette and Eric Dubeau open the fest on Thursday evening, with Old Man Luedecke headlining on Friday, followed by Connie Kaldor on Saturday. Lots of other musicians, workshops, and activities, full details here.

Ottawa Grassroots Festival is at Montgomery Legion Hall, 330 Kent St.

71o0NoBGX6L._SL1500_JFK, the ‘Smiths’ & a Glimpse Inside the Teenage Brain
By the time you get this, the Spring edition of Ottawa Writer’s Fest will be in full swing. At this point, most will have already scored tickets, planned which events to attend, bought the books, etc. For others, it may have snuck up on you — and for you folks, here’s a speed-read version:

With events from now until June, this weekend’s highlights include:

  • Thursday, April 23 Hear Andrew Cohen, author of Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours That Made History, speak about the famed President. Plus songwriters Craig Finn, Elliott Brood, Rose Cousins, Bonjay, Iskew, and The Split.andrewcohen-twodaysinjune
  • Friday, April 24 The Smiths! Not the band, rather authors Russell Smith, Neil Smith, and (later that evening) Michael V. Smith, as well as Giller Prize winner Sean Michaels and GG recipient Raziel Reid. Plus music by Mike Dubue and Glenn Nutio.
  • Saturday, April 25 Mark Bourrie doesn’t shy away from speaking about about the gagging of Canadian media in his recent book, Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper’s Assault on Your Right to Know.
  • Sunday, April 26 You know you don’t want to look inside, but you’re dying to regardless of what horrors lurk there — author Dr. Frances E. Jensen delivers her book The Teenage Brain.

Full details on these and many others, here.

 

WEEKENDER: Five things to do on the weekend of April 17 to 19

BY KYLA CLARKE

x6c7659-web__large

Steven Page, stripped down

Canadian musical icon Steven Page performs at the National Arts Centre this Friday, April 17, with a little help from his friend, Craig Northey (of The Odds). We all remember Steven Page as the witty former frontman of the Barenaked Ladies, and now that he’s forging his own path as a solo artist, he’s doing things a little bit differently. Collaborating with Northey on guitar and vocals, Page will also perform solo material from his album Page One and, never to disappoint his unyielding fans, there will be plenty of Barenaked Ladies hits too. Tickets start at $57 and can be purchased at www.nac-cna.ca.
The National Arts Centre is located at 53 Elgin Street.

Twilight stars’ ‘best movie yet’

cloud-of-sils-mariaIndie movie buffs might want to check out Clouds of Sils Maria, which debuts this Friday, April 17 at the Bytowne Cinema. It’s the story of a successful actress who agrees to take part in the revival of the play that made her famous 20 years prior. She must now face an uncomfortable reflection of herself, playing the role of an older character instead of the young temptress she once portrayed. A layered, character-driven film, Clouds of Sils Maria stars Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, and Chloe Grace Moretz. The film is said to be Stewart’s best work yet – though, at this point, anything is better than Twilight. The film runs at the Bytowne Cinema until Thursday, April 23. For ticket info and showtimes, visit www.bytowne.ca.
The Bytowne Cinema is located at 325 Rideau Street.

Wax on, wax off

Also on Friday, April 17th, The Raw Sugar Café hosts Record “Swap” Day. It’s completely FREE – all you have to do is show up in your best bartering shoes with a bag of cherished vinyls – that you’ve deemed ready to pass on to the next worthy listener. With a DJ on the ones and twos, it’s time to swap your trash for someone else’s treasure. Don’t have any vinyls to trade? Don’t sweat it – there will be free giveaways and good food too, so anyone can show up and still have a good time. 8 p.m. to 1 p.m.
The Raw Sugar Café is located at 692 Somerset Street West.

RSDvector_text_bw

Record “Swap” Day is a pre-emptive celebration for International Record Store Day on Saturday, April 18th. Local record shops across town will be participating in the yearly event (such as Compact Music, Vertigo Records, The Record Centre, and many more), which supports the resurgence of vinyl in the hearts and hands of music fans. Not only can you find cool discounts on countless records, there will also be exclusive special releases just for the day. Over a hundred artists, from A-Ha to the Wu-Tang Clan, will release special edition vinyls or first releases on Record Store Day.
Check out the full list of artist releases, along with a list of participating stores, recordstoreday.com.

ottawa_vintage_clothing_show_beasley_sm

 … Plus wearable vintage

If all the vintage vinyl wasn’t enough, maybe a little vintage fashion will satiate your hungry hipster pocketbook. On Sunday, April 19th, the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show sets up shop in the Shaw Centre for Canada’s largest vintage clothing event. $10 gets you in the door for a day of hunting for clothing, handbags, accessories, and designer goods, from the ‘20s all the way to the ‘80s. Groovy.
The Shaw Centre (formerly the Ottawa Convention Centre) is located at 55 Colonel By Drive. 

1 Comment

CULTURE: Waxing On About Why Records are Essential in the Digital Era

The popularity of records is more than just good vibrations. With Record Store Day on April 18 and the city’s own Community Record Show on April 12,  Matt Harrison discovers why vinyl
is an essential lifeline in the age of ones and zeros

Ott-mag-culture-column

Illustration: Michael George Haddad

 

BY MATT HARRISON

This was originally published in the April 2015 print version of Ottawa Magazine

Closing.

CD Warehouse owners Stephen Bleeker and Janice McDonald cited “substantial shifts” in the industry when they held a press conference this past autumn to announce the closure of their 23-year-old store.
The owners were referring to the music industry’s move to digital downloads (legal or otherwise) and streaming formats.

This spring, CD Warehouse — one of the largest independent music stores in town — will close its doors, joining a long list of Ottawa music stores (Record Runner, Organized Sound, Sounds Unlikely, The Record Shaap) that have exited the scene in the past decade. Even chain stores such as HMV look much different than they did a decade ago, with fewer rows of CDs and an emphasis on such digital music gear as iPhones and headphones.

Paradoxically, at the same time CD Warehouse announced its closure, John Thompson announced the opening of The Record Centre in Hintonburg. The beautiful modern space, dressed in finished plywood and outfitted with trendy lounge chairs, is garnering great acclaim. Central to the store’s appeal are the rows of carefully selected records and turntables — everything from Technics (a favourite among DJs) to a giant reconstructed Lenco, a defunct European brand that remains popular with turntable hobbyists.

The only part of this place that doesn’t shine is the small bin of CDs at the back. Relics from a bygone technological age, CDs are quickly taking their place alongside reel-to-reels, eight-tracks, and cassette tapes.

But wait a sec. Shouldn’t vinyl be resting peacefully in this graveyard as well? After all, records are older than CDs: the former were conceived in the late 1800s by such inventors as Emile Berliner, Alexander Graham Bell, and Thomas Edison. Why is there still a place for unwieldy circular pieces of plastic that require a very unportable sound system? Records are completely antithetical to the miniaturization of music devices and the digital age, an era that sees much of our daily life compressed into ones and zeros.

Read the rest of this story »

WEEKENDER: Five things to do on the weekend of April 9 – 12

BY KYLA CLARKE

The ballet Alice's Adventures in Wonderland takes the NAC stage this Thursday

The ballet Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland takes the NAC stage this Thursday

Adventures in Wonderland

Ballet fans will delight in this weekend-long run of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Starting Thursday, April 9 and showing until Sunday, April 12, British choreographer Christopher Wheeldon brings the classic Carroll novel to life in an inventive new way. With entertaining choreography, vivid costumes, and surreal production, the show is sure to entertain even those who aren’t so schooled in dance. Just don’t get trapped down the rabbit hole.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland will show at the National Arts Centre, 53 Elgin Street. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased here.

 EFT-Up Improv

The Experiment Farm Theatre, an Ottawa improv comedy collective, presents their monthly show at Pressed Café this Thursday, April 9th. The troupe performs long-form comedic storytelling – and it’s all entirely made up on the spot. Standup comedian Greg Houston will open the show. Doors are at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are (only) $5. Think you’ve got some comedic chops yourself? EFT-Up also offers improv workshops for the bold and bright.

Pressed Café is located at 750 Gladstone. For more information, click here.

Feeling crafty?

Try something new this weekend with Spins & Needles’ silkscreening workshop. Hosted at Possible Worlds (a nifty little project space and shop in Chinatown) on the afternoon of Saturday, April 11th, Silkscreening 101 teaches participants how to create original handmade gifts, merchandise for a new business, or spoil themselves with the fruits of their creativity. If all goes well, take it to the next level with Silkscreening 201.

Possible Worlds is at 708G Somerset Street. Tickets are $145. For more information click here.

Music for Social Justice

Erin Saoirse Adair performs at the Blacksheep Inn this weekend. Photo by Jonathan Lorange

Erin Saoirse Adair performs at the Blacksheep Inn this weekend. Photo by Jonathan Lorange

The Blacksheep Inn hosts Erin Saoirse Adair’s new single and video release party this Saturday, April 11th. The new track, “I Want Drugs” discusses the urge to turn to drugs or alcohol as a means to escape. Erin’s lyrics, accompanied by piano or acoustic guitar, typically cover social justice issues, such as violence against women and mental health. Her music is catchy, entertaining, and, at times, cringeworthy – not because it’s bad, but because it’s so uncomfortably honest. Tickets are $10 and the show starts at 3:00 p.m.

The Blacksheep Inn is located at 753 Riverside Drive, Wakefield, QC. For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.theblacksheepinn.com

Dark Heart Brings Light to NAC

Valery Gore hits the NAC Fourth Stage this Saturday. Photo: Valery Gore

Valery Gore hits the NAC Fourth Stage this Saturday. Photo: Valery Gore

Valery Gore hits the NAC Fourth Stage this Saturday, April 11th in support of her highly acclaimed third album, Idols in the Dark Heart. Like many others in current Canadian music, Gore experiments with electronic elements in her newest project. But she remains a standout, blending synth and bass with her signature throaty vocals and layered harmonies, and her lyrics intricately recount love, loss, and doubt as she comes of age. Tickets are $20 and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

The National Arts Centre is at 53 Elgin Street. Tickets are available here.

ARTFUL BLOGGER: Terry Fox, Alex Colville, and a room full of selfies

By PAUL GESSELL

The Marathon of Hope van provided Terry and his companions with more than transport. It serves as bedroom, office, billboard, mileage calculator, equipment locker, clothes hamper, kitchen, warehouse, washroom, windbreak, jukebox, and fortress of solitude. © Canadian Museum of History

The Marathon of Hope van provided Terry and his companions with more than transport. It serves as bedroom, office, billboard, mileage calculator, equipment locker, clothes hamper, kitchen, warehouse, washroom, windbreak, jukebox, and fortress of solitude. © Canadian Museum of History

What would Terry Fox be like if he had not died at age 22 in 1981?

Would he still be a national hero, but one now in his 50s? Would he have become a great motivational speaker, an author, a politician or paralypian? One has the feeling he could have succeeded in whatever field he wanted.

I suddenly started thinking about the “what ifs” of Terry’s life upon seeing and talking to some of his friends and family who came to Gatineau to participate in the opening of an exhibition at the Canadian Museum of History called Terry Fox: Running to the Heart of Canada.

These friends and family have all naturally aged since they were first catapulted into the national news in 1980 alongside Terry when he started his Marathon of Hope, his fund-raising run for cancer across Canada.

So what would Terry look like today? Would the curls be gone? A paunch have developed? Would there be a bionic leg to replace the absolutely primitive looking prosthetic he used and is on display in the exhibition?

Terry’s prosthetic leg was built by prosthetic specialist Ben Speicher of Vancouver, British Columbia. © Canadian Museum of History

Terry’s prosthetic leg was built by prosthetic specialist Ben Speicher of Vancouver, British Columbia. © Canadian Museum of History

Those who die young remain young forever in our hearts. But wouldn’t it be great if Terry came back, even just for a day, to pose for photographs with the 1980 E250 Econoline Ford van that was turned into a camper and was his “home” during the 143 days he ran — more of a hop really — from St. John’s, NL to Thunder Bay? That was where the run ended. The cancer that claimed his right leg caught up to him again, this time in his lungs, forced an end to the run and caused his death some months later.

The Ford Motor Co. had donated the van for Terry’s use. When the run ended, the van was sold to a London, Ont. family with the surname Johnston. A member of that family was Bill Johnston, who moved to Vancouver and used the van to tour the country with his heavy metal band Removal. In 2005, Doug Coupland, the celebrated author, artist, and friend of the Fox family, attended a party in Vancouver where someone told him the van was in the city. With Terry’s brother Darrell Fox, Coupland tracked down the van and the Terry Fox Foundation took ownership. Ford has restored the van to the way it looked in 1980.

The van is like the Holy Grail of Canada, a symbol of goodness and generosity and bravery. It is the centrepiece of an exhibition that is bound to leave anyone in tears who can remember Terry’s run and his death and the impact he had on an entire country. The van is surrounded by letters, cards and film clips of people talking about how Terry inspired and helped them. Thirty-five years after his death, we still mourn him.

The exhibition continues until Jan. 24, 2016.

Living Room by Alex Colville

Living Room by Alex Colville

If you go to only one art exhibition a year, visit Colville

Images of Alex Colville’s paintings have been reproduced so extensively over the years on posters, book covers, and other paraphernalia that they have become as familiar as photos in one’s own family album.

You have seen your Colville relatives (and their animal friends) in such familiar paintings as To Prince Edward Island, Horse and Train, Church and Horse, and Dog in Car. These are all snapshots of the menacing, mysterious parallel world of “Colville moments” that lay just beneath the surface of our everyday Canadian lives and threaten to erupt at any moment.

About 100 Colville works, including many of his most famous paintings, have been assembled for an exhibition running from April 23 to Sept. 7 at the National Gallery of Canada. Simply titled Alex Colville, the show ran last summer at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto and attracted 166,406 visitors, the largest number ever to attend a show of Canadian art at the AGO.

The exhibition was mainly organized by the AGO’s Andrew Hunter, who focuses on the relationship between Colville’s paintings and the much larger world of pop culture. Example: The late American film-maker Stanley Kubrick personally selected four reproductions of Colville paintings to hang on the walls of sets constructed for the horror film The Shining. The first Colville seen, Horse and Train, appears early in the spooky film at the home of Danny, the boy with the supernatural power called “the shining.” Danny’s father, played by Jack Nicholson, is soon to go wildly insane chasing Danny with an axe. We always had a sense of foreboding with Horse and Train. We just never knew it could presage an axe murder.

Actually, many of Colville’s paintings exude the feeling that something horrible is about to happen. Call them “Colville moments.” The Coen Brothers film No Country for Old Men is filled with “Colville moments,” most involving a psychopathic killer (actor Javier Bardem) patiently waiting for the right moment to unleash what we know will be another bloodbath. Colville, who died in 2013 at age 92, was a fan of the Coen Brothers films. The National Gallery show will explore this Coen-Colville relationship.

Colville’s career as an artist dates back to the 1940s, including a stint as a war artist, and a visit to the newly liberated Nazi concentration camp Belsen. Some of the war art, including horrifying Belsen work, are in the National Gallery exhibition.

We also get to explore Colville’s relationship to his late wife Rhoda, who was a model for many of her husband’s paintings. Their intense 70-year-long marriage is another focus of the exhibition.

If you go to only one art exhibition a year, visit Colville. Think of it as a family reunion of sorts. Colville was the quintessential Canadian – patriotic, polite, and humble. But he was also a regular visitor to that sometimes frightening place the show’s curator calls the town of “Colville.” It’s that town of “Colville” that has made — and continues to make — this country into a far more fascinating and complex place.

The Selfie

Remember when Lilly Koltun was trying to create a portrait gallery for Ottawa? Koltun was bursting with great ideas as to what constitutes a portrait: Maybe just a pair of hands or an article of clothing. Who says portraits have to include the subject’s face?

The Caribbean country of Barbados, for example, has a portrait gallery. Some of the country’s heros in that gallery were former slaves who left no paintings or photographs of themselves. So “portraits” were created by gathering objects owned by those freedom-fighters, letters written by them, and other personal paraphernalia.

Three young Ottawa photographers have taken a similar expansive approach to the notion of a self-portrait. Magida El-Kassis, Olivia Johnston, and Jennifer Stewart have collaborated on an exhibition titled Selfies at Karsh-Masson Gallery in Ottawa City Hall.

In one installation, Johnston, one of Ottawa’s most interesting portrait photographers, has arranged 39 inkjet prints on a wall depicting used cosmetic pads. The smears on the pads are like Johnston’s face removed and then reduced to crude smears.

Both El-Kassis and Stewart have large inkjet prints of themselves as ghostly figures in rooms or in a forest. These images, just like conventional portraits, make you wonder what this person is really like. Why did she choose this media? What does that say about her?

Some of the images in Selfies are far more conventional, some are nudes, some show personal objects such as shoes or gloves. The results are innovative, fascinating and brave. Selfies continues at Karsh-Masson until April 19.

PLUS

Elaine Goble, an Ottawa artist I much admire, has a new exhibition opening April 9 at Wallack Galleries. The show is called The Painted Truth and includes works in graphite, photography, and egg tempera. Goble is best known as a homefront war artist, but her oeuvre is much more extensive. The exhibition continues until April 25.