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Art about a lesbian couple in Ottawa

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For most people in Ottawa, our first exposure to the work of surrealist artists Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore came with the current exhibit at the Ottawa Art Gallery.

Facing Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore opened last fall and features historic works by the couple, as well as new works by Ottawa-area artists that respond to their artistic legacy.

But Ottawa playwright Sarah Waisvisz discovered the pair almost 15 years ago when she happened to see a film about them while visiting a friend in New York City.

https://canadanewsmedia.ca/?s=OttawaNow her new play, Heartlines, inspired by the couple, has its world premiere at the 10th-anniversary edition of the undercurrents festival of independent theatre. This week also marks the final days of the OAG exhibit; it closes Feb. 9.

The film Waisvisz saw was Lover Other by American visual artist Barbara Hammer, and it explored the life and work of the French-Jewish lesbian couple that engaged in resistance against the Nazis in occupied France during the Second World War. Born in the late 19th-century as Suzanne Malherbe and Lucie Schwob, they adopted gender neutral pseudonyms for their pioneering art collaborations.

“I was totally mesmerized,” recalled Waisvisz during an interview at the OAG. “They were regular people engaged in acts of outrageous bravery, even though they had targets on their back themselves because they were Jewish and gay and making art that wouldn’t have been approved by the Fuhrer. They were essentially two middle-aged women making pamphlets using their own creativity and artistic talents, and they managed to terrify the Nazi regime. The Nazis thought it was a huge network of resistors wanting to overthrow the occupation.”

The film struck a chord with Waisvisz and her friend because they’re both Jewish, gay and French, but had never heard of Cahun and Moore. At the time, Waisvisz was a recent McGill grad with a degree in drama, trying to decide what to do with her life.

“To see this movie about gay Jews and activists really spoke to me because I didn’t know you could be gay and Jewish,” she said. “I was wondering which part of myself I had to give up so to see this film about people who managed to embody all of those aspects of their identity, where their art was never separate from their politics or their spirituality, I found to be really inspiring.”

Waisvisz, who’s 38, went on to complete a doctorate in English and is now an instructor in the English department at Carleton University, as well as a playwright and performer. Over the last five years or so, she wrote the play about Cahun and Moore, developing it from a 20-minute performance to a full-length, two-act piece starring Margo MacDonald and Maryse Fernandes, with a live score composed and performed by The PepTides’ Scottie Irving. It’s directed by Rebecca Benson.

“It’s a memory play but it’s also very much set in our present moment,” Waisvisz says. “There are little winks to the present throughout the play. We’re not making art in the tradition of realism, we’re making it in the tradition of surrealism. We’re more interested in it as an experience that makes you more aware of your reality rather than going off somewhere else in dreamland. I’m deeply interested in this notion that everybody here is trying to make the world a better place in whatever way they can.”

Her play is one of eight selected for this year’s festival of independent theatre. Undercurrents began in 2011 at the Great Canadian Theatre Company, eventually moving to Arts Court. More than 60 shows have been presented in the last decade, including 19 world premieres by Ottawa-area theatre artists.

Here’s a quick look at the other plays on the program. For complete details and showtimes, including information on the new pay-what-you-can-afford pricing model, go to undercurrentsfestival.ca. The festival runs to Feb. 15.

Awkward Hug: 

An O Albatross Production

Vancouver, Britsh Columbia

Created & Performed by Cory Thibert

What to expect: A coming of age tale about a family forced outside the margins because both parents have disabilities.

Beth-Anne

A Monica Bradford-Lea & Nicholas Leno Production

Ottawa, Ontario

What to expect: A solo comedy show about a horse-crazy girl.

Cardinal

An Aplombusrhombus Production

Ottawa, Ontario

Created & Performed by Mitchel Rose and Madeleine Hall

What to expect: A clown show about Alzheimer’s.

Crippled

Presented by Power Productions

St. John’s, Newfoundland

What to expect: A love story about a gay man living with a disability in small-town Newfoundland.

Home Sweet…Something

A Litera Pro Production

Ottawa, Ontario

What to expect: A satire about three women who wake up in an escape room and must find their way out.

Honey Dew Me

A theatre decentred Production

Ottawa, Ontario

What to expect: A slice of life in 1960s Ottawa when queer people in the public service were considered a threat to national security.

Kitt & Jane: An Interactive Survival Guide to the Near-Post-Apocalyptic Future

A SNAFU Production

Victoria, British Columbia

What to expect: This survival guide comes with choreographed dance numbers, live music and puppetry.

Unbridled Futurism – A Sci-Fi Comedy Rock Show

A makendoes Production

Toronto, Ontario

What to expect: A comic performance featuring original music, a live band, DIY video and absurd characters such as The Raccoon King of Toronto.

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Stony Plain: 'Punching above [its] weight when it comes to public art' – CBC.ca

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Judy Bennett gazes fondly at her favourite mural in her hometown of Stony Plain, Alta. 

“To me it’s just downright grass roots. This is the way things happened. Around a kitchen table, talked about things that needed to be done and how they could do it together,” said the town councillor. 

The mural by James Mackay was commissioned in 2012 by cooperatives like banks, grocery stores and insurance companies in the community to mark the 100th anniversary of co-ops. 

The mural is one of nearly 40 dotting the town 40 kilometres west of Edmonton. The works not only draw tourists but are also a point of civic pride. 

Take a tour of some of the murals dotting the community of Stony Plain, Alta. 2:05

You can see more from the town of Stony Plain on Our Edmonton on Saturday at 10 a.m., Sunday at noon and Monday at 11 a.m. on CBC TV and CBC GEM.

Bennett says since the first mural was unveiled around 30 years ago, they have come to adorn dry cleaning shops, hair salons, the post office and the arena. 

The murals depict the town’s past and colourful characters like local NHL goalie great Glenn Hall, long-serving country physician Dr. Richard Oatway, and teenage translator and telephone operator Ottilia Zucht, who could speak five languages.  

In a normal year, tourists can hop aboard a horse-drawn wagon with long-time tour guide Greg Hanna. In a pandemic year, Bennett encourages people to walk or drive the mural route using a map available on the town’s website

A mural called Goods in Kind by Stony Plain artist Windi Scott-Hanson shows the town’s first lawyer F.W. Lundy who often accepted goods rather than money for his services. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

“We wanted these murals to be outside, so they were always accessible and what a great idea that was, especially during the pandemic,” Bennett said. 

Mayor William Choy stands in front of the newest mural in the pedestrian tunnel below the CN rail line just off the skateboard park at 4401 49th Avenue. 

The bright colours, messages of hope and pineapples wearing sunglasses make the mural “awesome,” Choy says.

“That’s a living, breathing wall, allowing residents to express themselves in a productive and friendly manner,” he says. 

This summer, the town partnered with artists Daphne Côté and AJA Louden, short for Adrian Joseph Alexander, to host a public art project featuring an introduction to graffiti-style art. 

Artists Daphne Côté and AJA Louden offered a spray paint mural workshop in Stony Plain this summer. (Supplied by AJA Louden)

“The murals allow us to showcase the history and past of Stony Plain but also allows us to move forward such as the projects here,” Choy says. “A new generation of art and thinking.” 

Louden, an Edmonton-based contemporary urban muralist, worked with about a dozen skateboard and scooter kids and other residents who showed up to learn.

“I think we brought about 50 or 60 cans of spray paint,” Louden recalls. 

“My favourite part was watching that eureka moment, when people finally figure out a new trick with the spray can or realize that they could,” he says.

“They maybe didn’t see themselves as an artist before this and they’ve started to find a medium that felt fun and felt new. That’s really exciting.” 

Louden hopes to return next summer for more sessions at the skateboard park.

“I’ve always been impressed with communities like Stony Plain for punching above their weight when it comes to public art, lots of cool murals that celebrate the heritage of the town.”

The Book by James Mackay, completed in 2012, is featured outside the town’s public library. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

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Art and cultural venues get £75m boost from Culture Recovery Fund – Yahoo Canada Sports

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A production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night
The culture secretary has announced grants of up to £3m in a bid to save 35 of the country’s cultural icons. Photo: Reuters/Russell Cheyne

Arts venues and cultural organisations have received a £75m ($57m) injection from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The culture secretary has announced grants of up to £3m in a bid to save 35 of the country’s cultural icons, with £52m (70%) of funding awarded outside of London.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”24″>The culture secretary has announced grants of up to £3m in a bid to save 35 of the country’s cultural icons, with £52m (70%) of funding awarded outside of London. 

It is the largest boost from the £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund to date.

Recipients of the grants include iconic venues such as Shakespeare’s Globe, Sadler’s Wells, the Old Vic, the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, the Design Museum and the Sheffield Crucible.

London’s Shakespeare’s Globe will receive £2,985,707 to support start-up costs for a planned reopening in spring 2021, while The Old Vic will receive £3m from the fund.

The funding also aims to provide jobs across the country and support the wider community.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “As part of our unprecedented £1.57bn rescue fund, today we’re saving British cultural icons with large grants of up to £3m – from Shakespeare’s Globe to the Sheffield Crucible. 

“These places and organisations are irreplaceable parts of our heritage and what make us the cultural superpower we are. This vital funding will secure their future and protect jobs right away.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="READ MORE: COVID-hit UK arts groups welcome government cash infusion” data-reactid=”31″>READ MORE: COVID-hit UK arts groups welcome government cash infusion

This is the fourth round of funding announced by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Independent cinemas, heritage institutions and cultural organisations were awarded grants of up to £1m in previous rounds.

The DCMS said more than £500m of support has now been allocated from the Culture Recovery Fund to British cultural institutions. The grants are designed to help them survive until April 2021.

Sir Nicholas Serota, chairman of Arts Council England, said the funding has “provided a lifeline” to allow arts and cultural organisations to continue.

“This latest funding, which are the largest grants to date, will support some of the country’s most loved and admired cultural spaces – from great regional theatres and museums to historic venues in the capital – which are critical to the development of a new generation of talent and in providing work for freelance creatives,” he said.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Watch: Oliver Dowden defends UK government’s record on arts funding” data-reactid=”36″>Watch: Oliver Dowden defends UK government’s record on arts funding

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St. John's major focus of fall exhibition at Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — Mimi Stockland always considered herself to be a creative person.

But, it wasn’t until she moved to St. John’s, N.L., five year ago that Stockland truly felt things take off.

Now, her work is on display for all to see.

Stockland is one of the featured artists whose works are part of the new fall exhibition at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown. The exhibition, Give Me Shelter, profiles the work of 13 emerging St. John’s artists, all of it curated by Pan Wendt, the centre’s art gallery curator.

“It was a whole new world. I had a vague idea … but something just clicked,” Stockland said in an interview at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery on Thursday. “Five years ago I permanently moved to Newfoundland with the goal of joining the artistic community. I’ve always wanted to be an artist. I always liked making things.”

The Confederation Centre Art Gallery exhibition entitled, Give Me Shelter, features this oil on canvas from John McDonald, which is called Moving On, 2019. Courtesy of Emma Butler Gallery. – Contributed

Stockland found the East Coast artistic community not only welcoming but encouraging, support she did not feel while working as an artist in Montreal, Que., where she was based beforehand.

“My humour really just clicked with East Coast humour. I was understood; my jokes landed better.”

Stockland graduated from textile school in 2015 and decided to start putting her work out in the professional world and see what happened. She also established a professional art practice in St. John’s.

Her work in the fall exhibition at the centre is based on a mix of things she has created over the past five years, all displayed in a collage.

Pepa Chan, another St. John’s-based artist whose work is part of the exhibition, chose to focus on relationships and trauma.

Pepa Chan is one of the featured artists whose work is part of the new Confederation Centre Art Gallery exhibition, Give Me Shelter, which profiles the work of 13 emerging artists in St. John’s, N.L. The exhibition is curated by Pan Wendt, curator at the centre. - Dave Stewart
Pepa Chan is one of the featured artists whose work is part of the new Confederation Centre Art Gallery exhibition, Give Me Shelter, which profiles the work of 13 emerging artists in St. John’s, N.L. The exhibition is curated by Pan Wendt, curator at the centre. – Dave Stewart

“It’s about making ourselves vulnerable when we are relating to others,” said Chan, who is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. “It’s about intimacy and the risk we take when we are connecting with others.”

Chan calls her exhibit, Brush. An televised image of someone having their long hair brushed plays in the background. But, there is also an image of a brush with burning matches in place of the normal bristles.

Part of Pepa Chan’s exhibit at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery features images of strands of hair. Chan is in the process of setting up her exhibit here. - Dave Stewart
Part of Pepa Chan’s exhibit at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery features images of strands of hair. Chan is in the process of setting up her exhibit here. – Dave Stewart

Chan said that’s meant to signify that brushing can be cathartic to some people but symbolize trauma for others.

“There’s abandonment in my family and violence,” she said. “I lose a lot of hair and that’s related to stress and anxiety. I’m basically using hair brushing and losing hair as metaphors for all of those things.”

Wendt said Give Me Shelter is an exhibition that reflects the fact St. John’s is a cosmopolitan city.

“It really gives you a sense of the scene in St. John’s,” Wendt said. “You go there and you really feel that even though, when you go there, you get a real sense of (the city’s) heritage and its past. Give Me Shelter is a … place the artists feel very at home.”

The Confederation Centre Art Gallery exhibition includes the portrait series Tukien (Awaken), Reclaiming the Throne, from St. John’s, N.L.-based Mi’kmaw painter Nelson White. - Contributed
The Confederation Centre Art Gallery exhibition includes the portrait series Tukien (Awaken), Reclaiming the Throne, from St. John’s, N.L.-based Mi’kmaw painter Nelson White. – Contributed

Fall exhibitions

Following are the fall exhibitions at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery:

  • St. John’s-based Mi’kmaw painter Nelson White’s portrait series Tukien (Awaken) celebrates Indigenous artists and activists.
  • Give Me Shelter features the work of 13 artists from St. John’s, N.L. They are Nicholas Aiden, Greg Bennett, Pepa Chan, Hazel Eckert, Jose Gonzalez, Ashley Hemmings, John McDonald, Jason Penney, Emily Pittman, Daniel Rumbolt, Mimi Stockland, April White and Olivia Wong.
  • Alexis Bellavance: ops, a video installation looking at the constant and regular breathing of the sea and sky by the Montreal-based artist.

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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