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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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Spreading roots: City of Charlottetown calling for art proposals for tree appreciation program – Saltwire

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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — The City of Charlottetown is accepting proposals for Rooted in Art, an opportunity for P.E.I. artists to create temporary art installations inspired by Charlottetown trees.

Rooted in Art matches local artists with trees on public land in Charlottetown create an art installation on or around a tree.

The project was first held in fall 2020 and is meant to engage the community with nature in a new way and reflect the importance of the urban forest.

Nancy Coles contribution to Rooted in Art hangs on a littleleaf linden tree in Victoria Park. - Michael Robar
Nancy Coles contribution to Rooted in Art in 2020 hangs on a littleleaf linden tree in Victoria Park. – Michael Robar

This year, four artists will be selected to install temporary art installations in different locations in the city. The structures will be on display over two weeks in October.

All Island artists are eligible to submit proposals for Rooted in Art, with a limit of one proposal per artist.

Applications will be accepted until Aug. 30 at 4 p.m. and can be sent by email to [email protected] or delivered to City Hall at 199 Queen St.

More information on the project and application requirements is available online.

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Canada's largest women's festival, Kingston Women's Art Festival, returns – Kingstonist

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On Sunday, the Kingston Women’s Art Festival will return to City Park to celebrate women artists. Bring the family, browse, and enjoy original art designed and created by women. Sasha Jiminez French, local multi-disciplinary artist, is volunteering her time to help ensure the festival returns to full strength after the

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Windsor Public Library wants to show you local art while you ride your bike – CBC.ca

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Windsor Public Library wants to showcase the city’s downtown art. It plans to have two cycling tours to show it off.

Becky Mayer, a librarian at the Windsor Public Library organized the tours. She said the main reason she wanted to do this is because people think there’s nothing to do or see in Windsor.

“I often ride my bike around and I see a lot of cool and weird stuff,” said Mayer. “So, I just thought that maybe a few people would want to join me on a weird stuff tour.”

Mayer said she’ll be bringing Betty the Bookmobile along for the journey. She said the ride will be pretty casual and if someone has a story to tell she’s happy to give them space to share.

“I’m fine with talking as well. If you want to have a silent tour, that’s also cool. Like, it’s very, very casual. Go with the flow. We’ll see what happens,” Mayer said.

The first tour starts at 6 p.m. August 16, the second tour is on August 20 starting at 10 a.m. The tours last about an hour and starts at the library’s Central Branch at the corner of Ouellette Avenue and Pitt Street.

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