When Kevin Hearn, a keyboard player and guitarist in the Canadian band Barenaked Ladies, bought a painting ostensibly by the pioneering Indigenous artist Norval Morrisseau, he never imagined he was about to become enmeshed in a sinister web of art forgery, drug dealing, and sexual assault stretching from Toronto to the snowy wilds of northern Ontario.
“I just wanted to buy a painting, really,” Hearn says in a new documentary directed by Jamie Kastner, There Are No Fakes, released via iTunes in the US last month (and due to appear later in the UK on SkyArts). “I found myself in this complex, dark story that went beyond art fraud.”
Hearn paid C$20,000 ($15,000) for a canvas called Spirit Energy of Mother Earth. But when he lent it to an exhibition a few years later, a curator sounded an alarm; it was not an authentic work by Morrisseau, a charismatic figure often described as the “Picasso of the North” who died in 2007.
There Are No Fakes recounts Hearn’s battle to get compensation for the fraudulent work, bought from the Toronto-based Maslak McLeod Gallery. The film’s host of colourful characters includes ivory-tower art historians, drug-addled forgers, thuggish art dealers and a predatory villain at the centre of the web: Gary Lamont, appearing in one photo wearing a row of giant gold rings like knuckle-dusters.
Hearn’s civil suit finally succeeded. After appealing an initial court decision against him, he was awarded C$60,000 ($41,700)in damages last year. Following a criminal investigation, Lamont was sentenced to five years in prison in 2016 for sexual assault; police are still investigating the forgery ring. One art dealer in the film, Don Robinson, estimates that Lamont’s ring may have produced as many as 3,000 fake paintings.
“[It’s] the greatest art scam in Canadian history,” says Robinson, who suffered a stroke because of the stress he endured in his campaign against a market awash with forgeries. “The more you dive into a pool of garbage, the more you get to know the garbage within it,” says Ritchie Sinclair, Morrisseau’s former assistant and another key figure in exposing the scandal.
Kastner’s deep dive into this sordid, wintry world blasts sizeable holes in stereotypes about clean-living, law-abiding Canadians. It includes interviews with several eye-witnesses to the forgery operation, including one artist, Tim Tait, who says he painted works for Lamont, to which Morrisseau’s forged signature was later added.
“I did it to get my fix,” Tait says with endearing honesty. “Crack, coke, Oxycontin.”
Dallas Thompson, an accomplice of Lamont’s, recalls around 26 trips to Calgary to sell forged paintings over a three-month period in 2006 and 2007. But Thompson was also among the victims—he says Lamont raped him hundreds of times.
It is voices like Thompson’s that take this documentary beyond the true-crime genre: it is also an uplifting tale of broken people who muster the courage to take the enormous step of telling the truth. Thompson was the first to speak up in 2012: after that, other victims came forward.
Ottawa business faces backlash after posts on Blackout Tuesday – CTV News Ottawa
Expressing outrage over racism can be a complicated and sometimes divisive action. One Ottawa business that tried to share its opinion on social media this week found out exactly how hard that can be.
Blackout Tuesday is a collective action to protest racism and police brutality. The action, originally organized within the music industry in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
Earlier this week, Art-Is-In Bakery, a popular eatery in Ottawa, posted a ‘black-tile’ for #BlackoutTuesday on its Instagram page. Stephanie Mathieson owns the business, along with her husband,
“We’re a family run business, and IG is run by a few members of this family, I posted the black square.”
Then, according to Mathieson, another family member created a promotional post – celebrating the stores re-opening; something that you are not supposed to do once you post a “black-tile” on social media; creating a backlash.
“Unfortunate that we hurt people along the way, and we are terribly, very sorry about this… We made a mistake, but our heart was at the right place; we deeply care what happened, that’s why we posted the black square in the first place.”
Comments then flooded the Art-Is-In Bakery Instagram account. Makda Kidane used to shop at Art-Is-In and she left comments, which were deleted. According to her, she was then blocked by Art-Is-In.
“We put money in your pocket, we support your business; we share this business with other people when I have my friends coming in from out of town, it’s an establishment that I frequent with them, and it was disappointing that they don’t see the value in our dollar or our voice.”
Kidane does not think the use of the “black-tile” is appropriate, if used along side a marketing campaign,
“The plight of black people is not a trend; it is our life, it is our reality; and, we need allies and we don’t need people to just follow a trend.”
Yodit Haile also saw the post, comments, and then the deletion.
“What they did was wrong; it’s clear that they used the Black Lives Matter movement for their own benefit, for their own advertising, and that’s not what this movement is about.”
Art-Is-In deleted the post, now making their Instagram page private.
SO HOW SHOULD BUSINESSES USE THE BLACK TILE?
“There’s no appropriate way to use that,” says Boulou Ebanda de B’béri, Professor of Media, Communication, and Cultural Studies at the University of Ottawa’s Department of Communication, whose areas of expertise include history, culture, and racism in Canada.
“When some businesses, particularly white businesses – white owned businesses are trying to all of a sudden become black, that is problematic; there is not an appropriate way to recycle pain.”
He says that businesses should participate more with their actions – who they hire, and who they employ in management positions.
As for Art-Is-In?
Mathieson says, “All our intention by posting this black square were good; it came from a concerned and caring place.”
New works selected for Yukon Permanent Art Collection – Whitehorse Star
Art and Entertainment should not have the Limitation of the Boundary – Net Newsledger
Today, when the entire world is running after a mundane lifestyle, the artists are the only souls who fill up their life. They project complex notions and performances as they breathe life into the world.
Bahadır Ünlü is a Turkish actor who plays a crucial role in spreading positivity and entertaining millions with his witty thoughts and stellar performances. He firmly believes that entertainment and Art should not have any boundaries, both metaphorically and physically. He explained, “Art and entertainment are kindred spirits. People should be able to experience them without any restrictions or inhibitions. Boundaries should be blurred, and people should come together.” Bahadir is a leading actor in Turkey, and he is keen to explore international projects and reach a broader audience.
Now his ambition is to reach out to the global audience so that he can connect with them through his Art as an actor. He is also a social influencer and enjoys interacting with his audience, fans, and followers. He enjoys social media as it is a medium that also transcends boundaries.
The actor, director life, was not a bed of roses. Bahadir has also gone through some challenging times, but experience taught him the critical aspects of life, and he knows how to connect the dots to achieve new heights. He believes that the best way to approach life is by being optimistic in the face of adversity. According to Bahadir, artists and entertainers are not bound by borders, and it is entirely correct. Bahadir believes that art and entertainment as mediums have the power to reach millions of people, surpassing boundaries like language, distance, and culture.
Bahadir has more than 600 thousand followers who regularly follow him on Instagram. Bahadır Ünlü has been very active recently on his social media. Bahadir has numerous upcoming international projects and is excited to reach out to a brand new audience, with whom he can connect and interact. Bahadir’s devotion to his Art is commendable as he continues to grow and evolve as an actor and director.
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