Articles Tagged ‘art’

TIMELINE: The story behind the cool and colourful murals around Chinatown

The public art project “Chinatown Blossoms” has brought colourful mini-murals to shops and restaurants of Somerset Street West. Here’s how it all came together:

Photo courtesy of Chinatown BIA.

The weather was fine when the murals began popping up around Chinatown last May. Photo courtesy of Chinatown BIA.

Summer 2012
Grace Xin, executive director of the Chinatown Business Improvement Association, reaches out to the Ottawa School of Art. A long-time fan of the OSA, Xin sees the future of Chinatown as a hub of art and artists. Eventually she connects with Claudia Gutierrez, development officer at the OSA, and presents her with the concept for Chinatown Blossoms, a beautification project that gives students an opportunity to gain experience working for a client while bringing colourful murals to doorways and windows of Somerset Street West.

Over at the OSA, Gutierrez pushes for the development of a course that teaches students about the process of working for a client on a piece of public art, using the Chinatown Blossoms project as a case study of sorts.

March 2013
Eleven artists from the OSA’s three-year diploma program register for the public commission course, which runs from May to June. The curriculum includes various aspects of working with clients, from creating proposals to communicating openly with them, as well as understanding the difference between private and public commissions and how to navigate grant funding.

When the Chinatown BIA hosts an open house later in the spring at the Dalhousie Community Centre, the art students showcase mock-ups of their designs. Community members and property and business owners come to check out the proposed murals.

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WEEKENDER: The Edward Curtis Project, the great outdoors, and a girls’ day out — plus 6 more events that offer something for everyone

Todd Duckwork, Quelemia Sparrow, and Kevin Loring perform in The Edward Curtis Project.

More than 80 years after photographer Edward Curtis documented the First Nations, which he called a “vanishing people,” Métis/Dené playwright Marie Clements and photojournalist Rita Leistner embarked on a journey to re-contextualize his findings. The result is a phenomenal multi-disciplinary theatre production contrasting Curtis’ findings and the contemporary landscapes and people encountered by these two women. Directed by Clements, The Great Canadian Theatre Company provides an insightful glimpse into modern First Nations communities throughout North America. From $36. Until Sunday, April 21. See website for show times. Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre, 1233 Wellington St. W.,

Fifty Ottawa ceramic artists and potters have been wedging, trimming, glazing, and firing up a storm in preparation for the annual Ottawa Guild of Potters Spring Sale and Juried Exhibition. The Ottawa Guild of Potters celebrates their 40th anniversary this year, and will kick off the weekend with a vernissage at 6 p.m. on Thursday. Come browse the creations of local potters, and find a uniquely hand crafted pot or sculpture to call your own! Thursday, April 11, to Sunday, April 14. See website for exhibition hours. Shenkman Arts Centre, 245 Centrum Blvd.,

There might be a snowstorm in the forecast, but that won’t stop us from picturing days spent at the lake or dinners on the patio. The Cottage and Backyard Show rolls into town to get your outdoor space equipped for some fun in the sun. Join in seminars on gardening, grilling, and landscaping with resident experts to brush up on your knowledge of the season. And don’t miss out on this weekend of prizes, contests, and exhibitors to renew your holiday haven. $12, $10 online, children 17 and under free. Friday, April 12 to Sunday, April 14. See website for show hours. Ernst and Young Centre, 4899 Uplands Dr.,

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ARTFUL BLOGGER ROAD TRIP: A photo exhibit in Montreal shows the good, the bad, and the ugly of Haiti

Carnival III, Jacmel, 2011 © Benoit Aquin

The spectacular Haitian exhibition Vodou, which opened last year at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, will continue as the main show at the museum throughout the coming summer.

So, if you saw the show already and became intrigued with Haitian culture, then you might be interested in a new Haitian photo exhibition at the McCord Museum in Montreal.

The exhibition is titled Haiti: Chaos and Daily Life and contains dozens of large-scale colour photographs, some terrifying and some moving, by internationally renowned Montreal photographer Benoit Aquin, whose work is found in several prestigious collections, including that of the National Gallery of Canada.

The backdrop for the photographs is the 7.3 magnitude earthquake on January 12, 2010, that killed 220,000 people, injured 300,000 others and left 1 million homeless. Much of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince was left in ruins. Much rebuilding still needs to be done.

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ARTFUL BLOGGER: Meet photo-artist Rosalie Favell, Ottawa’s own Princess Warrior, whose images of Xena pop up in unusual places

Rosalie Favell, "I Awoke to Find My Spirit had Returned." See the photo of Xena on the wall?

Ottawa photo-artist Rosalie Favell has an alter-ego and it’s none other than the supernatural cult heroine, Xena, Princess Warrior.

Images of the kitschy Xena pop up all over the place in Favell’s new photo exhibition at Cube Gallery. Favell poses as Xena, or places a small image of the Princess Warrior in the most unlikeliest of places, including the bedroom wall of little Dorothy (Favell, actually) awakening after her magical experiences in the land of Oz.

Originally from Winnipeg, Favell is not the only Canadian celebrity to appropriate Xena. Mary Walsh’s over-the-top CBC television character of Marg Delahunty, Princess Warrior, has for many years been wielding a sword, “smiting” Canadian politicians from the prime minister on down. Let’s just say Favell’s Xena has more class than Walsh’s loud-mouthed version.

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WEEKENDER: The Beatles Experience, a cool art party, and an orchestra outing for families are on the bill this April weekend

Relieve the magic that was the Beatles with Day Tripper: The Beatles Experience on Thursday night.

Though it’s been almost 45 years since The Beatles last played together publicly on a London rooftop, you’ll feel as though it was only “Yesterday” as you behold The Beatles Experience. Four accomplished Montreal musicians take the stage as John, Paul, George, and Ringo, reviving the nuances, mannerisms, and musicianship of the band that forever changed the world. From Beatlemania to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to Abbey Road, this concert will have you twisting and shouting for more. $51. Thursday, April 4, 8 p.m. Salle Odysée, 855 boule. de la Gappe., Gatineau,

As the weather (hopefully) warms up in the city, things are cooling off at the Canadian Museum of Nature. The Extraordinary Arctic Festival kicks off this weekend, featuring films, storytelling, performing arts, games, and activities. Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Arctic Expedition (a scientific expedition in the Arctic Circle), the Festival’s feature exhibit, Flora of the Canadian Arctic, contrasts flora specimens from 1912 and 2012. Get out and discover the remarkable heritage of Canada’s far north! $12, students and seniors $10, children $8, children three and under free. Thursday, April 4, to Sunday, April 28, Canadian Museum of Nature, 240 McLeod St.,

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ARTFUL BLOGGER: Some Outaouais artists are about to win the “art lottery” by having their works purchased by Loto-Québec

Reid McLachlan, "Northward." Oil on canvas, 71 x 61 cm, 2012.

Ontario artists can only be envious. Every two years, or sometimes three, Loto-Québec sponsors an exhibition at Galerie Montcalm in Hull for artists living in the Outaouais. It’s a competition of sorts, with the winners – and there are often several winners – having their work purchased and then incorporated into the vast Loto-Québec art collection for display in public buildings around the province.

In Ontario, most large cities, including Ottawa, have an art purchasing program, but the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. does not have a program similar to Quebec’s to benefit the province’s artists.

The current Loto-Québec show at Galerie Montcalm is called Reperage Collection Loto-Quebec. The word “reperage” is a muscular one with many meanings. In this instance, the exhibition title can mean “tracking” art for the Loto-Québec collection.

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ARTFUL BLOGGER: Kenneth Emig’s new sculpture exhibition at Galerie St. Laurent + Hill is all light, mirrors, and magic

One of the images from Kenneth Emig's exhibit "Equinox."

Sculptor Kenneth Emig is really a magician. Savouring his handiwork is like watching a truly professional magic act in which you are constantly torn between simply being thrilled with the experience and obsessively trying to figure out how it all works.

Emig’s art is all light and mirrors bundled up in what he calls “architectural light boxes.” Think of when you were last at a clothing shop, tried on a new outfit, admired yourself in a mirrored alcove, and suddenly saw your reflection again and again, right into infinity. Now, reduce that kind of experience to a large box, suitable for hanging on a wall, and you have Emig’s magic art. You could even call it kinetic art because what you see hanging on the wall contains “fictional space” that becomes “elastic space” that stretches into infinity and shape-shifts depending upon the angle you are at and the intensity of the light in the room.

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ARTFUL BLOGGER: The Artful Blogger stumbles upon a major talent at SPAO’s new show at Exposure Gallery

Vera Saltzman's "Debbie and Dolly" is part of the exhibit SPAO: APPLIED at Exposure Gallery.

The best part of visiting contemporary art exhibitions is the discovery of a previously unknown major talent.

Such was the case upon catching the new show by the School for the Photographic Arts: Ottawa at Exposure Gallery. Each of the photographs on display is from a student or teacher at SPAO who received special recognition during the past decade from Applied Arts magazine. So, consider the show something akin to SPAO’s greatest hits since 2002.

One particular, devilishly ambiguous, slightly creepy image jumped out at me. It is titled “Debbie and Dolly” by Vera Saltzman, a former student of SPAO now living in Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask. I was unfamiliar with Saltzman’s work. I soon rectified that.

Saltzman’s image shows a mature woman holding a child’s doll. What is going on in this picture? Is Dolly some cherished item from Debbie’s childhood? Is Debbie a little off her rocker and still playing with dolls? Is the photographer just playing with our head?

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ARTFUL BLOGGER: Female figures sprout from the landscape in Meaghan Haughian’s new show at La Petite Mort Gallery

Meaghan Haughian, Beyond Hibernation. Mixed media & collage on paper, 15 x 11 inches, 2013.

We are all products of our landscape. Canadians have more in common with such fellow northerners as Swedes and Finns than we do with more southerly Egyptians and Mexicans.

Ottawa artist Meaghan Haughian has taken that truism to heart. The result is a new body of work, Winter Garden, on view at La Petite Mort Gallery until March 31.

Haughian is a collage artist who has taken old photographs, including some of her grandmother, and painted around them to produce a series of dreamy, haunted images in which female figures literally seem to sprout from the landscape. The figures and the landscape are inseparable.

In this recent interview, Haughian discusses her work.

What inspired this particular body of work?
A family friend died of cancer last spring, which caused me to revisit cemeteries. I had photographed a few European cemeteries almost 10 years ago (some of these are exhibited in Winter Garden). These photos have existed in my studio for several years but I’ve never been able to show them. I visited Beechwood Cemetery last summer with my camera. This resulted in dozens of photographs of fake flowers from the graves of individuals. I used these photos to create a big garden of nearly 60 framed flowers for an installation at Blink Gallery last August called Practice Saying Goodbye. I wanted to capture colour and beauty during a time of sadness, and to create a quiet, soothing space for reflection. So a number of things in the past year have led me to explore gardens and growth/decay. I realize that there is much sadness in my work… but I seek to express the beauty in that sadness, and within beauty there is hope.

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ARTFUL BLOGGER: One of the leading war photographers of the 20th century exhibits his “art” at the National Gallery

Don McCullin. American soldiers, Checkpoint Charlie, West Berlin, August 1961. Gelatin silver print. © Don McCullin / Contact Press Images.

Some journalists were having lunch the other day with Marc Mayer, director of the National Gallery of Canada, and suddenly found themselves asking: What is art?

Specifically, do the photographs of British photojournalist Don McCullin qualify as art? Or are his dramatic images from war zones, famines, and decrepit neighbourhoods simply photojournalism?

There is a splendid exhibition of McCullin’s work at the National Gallery these days and Mayer certainly believes the photographs on display are art, although McCullin himself is most uncomfortable being called an artist. As Mayer says, these are not lucky shots by a photographer who happened to be in the right place at the right time during a career stretching back a half century. No, these are consistently high quality, powerful images created under extreme conditions that, together, deliberately create a body of work with a purpose: To draw attention to the victims of aggression, poverty, and discrimination.

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