John Waters has a massive collection of art that he says makes people “furious,” and he’s leaving it all to his hometown museum.
In exchange for the bequest of 372 pieces, the campy cult film director asked the Baltimore Museum of Art to name its bathrooms in his honour — a fitting tribute for the man who calls himself the “Pope of Trash.”
The collection includes some of Waters’ own work, as well as pieces by 125 artists, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Cy Twombly, Cindy Sherman and more.
“John’s generosity, friendship, and commitment to his hometown are boundless,” Clair Zamoiski Segal, the museum’s board chair, said in a press release.
Waters spoke to As It Happens host Carol Off about the collection, the museum and the “ridiculous elitism” of the art world. Here is part of their conversation.
Mr. Waters, how big an honour is it to have not one, but two washrooms named after you?
I think there might be a third if they ever have … a trans bathroom that they don’t have yet, but I think that might be coming, which will be even more of an honour.
It was my idea. They did also name a rotunda after me in their gallery, but I said, “That’s fine, but I really want the bathrooms.”
And they kept thinking I was kidding, but I wasn’t because I don’t want to be too pretentious, you know. I want to keep my gifts down to Earth. And maybe people can meet there?
But of course, it’s a mockery of those who do give great gifts and then have halls named after them, buildings named after them, because they’ve given a donation. So you wanted to avoid that, then?
Well, I wanted to comment on it and not be too grand. And [I] know that my collection is a good one, and they would have given me other stuff, but I just thought this was more with my sense of humour and the kind of art, and my career and everything, it just seemed more fitting to me.
What’s, I guess, the point of view of your collection?
All art that lasted in history made people insane when it first came out. Andy Warhol put the abstract expressionists out of business in one night with that soup can. People were furious. Then minimalism made people furious. Graffiti art made people furious. Performance art made people furious.
So I love art that makes you furious, because I’m in on it. You finally learn to see differently if you like art. And it’s a secret club. It’s like a biker gang where you learn a special language, you have to dress a certain way. I love all the ridiculous elitism about the art world. I think it’s hilarious.
You’re donating 372 pieces. We’re talking Andy Warhol, Diane Arbus, Cindy Sherman, so many others. What are some of your favourites?
I’m a big fan of Mike Kelly, the artist that’s no longer with us, unfortunately. But he was great because his art was all about being a bad boy and Catholic guilt and pitifulness. And I think he did that very well.
I have one piece he did that says, “Thay you love Thatan.” And it looks like a devil drawing. But I guess the Satanist had a lisp, and it would be hard to be too threatening with a lisp. So it says “Thay you love Thatan,” which does kind of make me laugh. It’s in my bedroom. It hangs across from my bed.
There’s another installation piece, Gregory Green’s work, Table #7, that’s bound to make people a bit jumpy. Can you describe that one?
Well, even today, it’s probably worse than when I brought it. It’s an installation. He lived here for a week and I gave him a room, and he built the room of a mad bomber. And it looked like the cops came in one minute before he ran out the door. He’s making three different bombs. It’s like all the things you can buy legally in a hardware store. The only thing missing is the gunpowder. And it is quite creepy. It’s actually like the person lived there and was discovered. And it’s in a hidden room. So it is kind of great, but it is an installation. It is going to the museum and there are like 200 pictures of it. So it can be built exactly again just like this.
When you say that you like art, and art should be something that just outrages people and shocks them and makes them think of things they’ve not thought of before …
Well, it does all that, but it also makes them think of things in a different way. Once you learn about art, every time you can take a walk, you can see a piece of garbage in the street and that can remind you of one particular art picture. You can look at a tree that might remind you of a different photographer. You can see everything through the eyes of art.
Now it starts to fade away. But then if you keep going to … galleries, it comes back. You’ve got to keep reinforcing it. But it makes you see the world in a different way. It’s a magic trick.
Is there going to be one show that that so people in Baltimore and elsewhere can come?
It’ll be a curated show of it, and that will be before I die because they don’t really get the collection until I die.
Will it be interesting to go when people are visiting your collection and watch them. Is that something that would appeal to you?
I guess I’ll go to the opening, so I’ll see people react, yeah. I’m not going to stand there in a guard’s uniform and try to pass so I can eavesdrop like Borat.
But will it be fun to actually see how people respond to things that you have been collecting over all these years?
I know they’ll hate some of them. I mean, my father used to say, “You bought that? Oh my God!” He used to go crazy. So, yes, there’s many people who will not like what I have, definitely. And that’s the kind of art I buy on purpose.
You have said that you have to know good taste to have bad taste. So what is good bad taste?
Well, good bad taste, I would say, is all my movies. I think good bad taste, you’re in on it, but you don’t make fun of it. You make fun with it. I think that’s the thing. You’re not condescending. You’re not looking down. You’re marvelling … that this a taste that someone actually has.
And that’s certainly what Hairspray [is], which is probably the movie people best know of yours.
Hairspray was a Trojan horse that snuck [into] America. You know, it’s being done in high schools all over America. And it’s a show that sings about two men getting married and interracial dating. I mean, even racists like Hairspray. They don’t notice. So it’s a Trojan horse. And the only subversive thing I ever did.
I’ve loved this museum my whole life. It’s where I learned about art. And it’s my hometown. That’s where I want everything to go.– John Waters, filmmaker
Are you going to be concerned or at all worried that they might [remove] some of your works and sell them?
They can’t. It’s a restricted gift. That’s the term that they use in that. They can’t sell it.
Why was that important to you to have that?
Well, for obvious reasons. You know, there was just a giant controversy with the Baltimore Museum selling some other things that I was against them selling. But, you know, that’s all right. I’m not on the board. I can disagree. I’ve loved this museum my whole life. It’s where I learned about art. And it’s my hometown. That’s where I want everything to go.
Are there any works from the collection that you’re donating that you would like to have hung in the John Waters restrooms?
Well, no, because, you know, technically, I don’t think you can hang any art in the restroom because people could steal it or deface it or it would have light restrictions.
I can think of things that would be fitting in there. There’s one piece, but it’s too large, by Tony Tasset, who’s a well-known artist, called I Peed in my Pants. And it’s just a picture of him after he just did that.
Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview produced by Jeanne Armstrong and Kate Swoger. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.
Visit the city's tiniest art gallery: Five things to do in Saskatoon this weekend – Saskatoon StarPhoenix
In an effort to help Saskatoon residents share art with one another, Suzy Schwanke has created the Free Little Art Gallery YXE outside her home at 332 Hilliard St. E.
Whether you’re interested in art, a virtual party, some outdoor activities or cleaning up around the house, there’s a little bit of something for everyone this weekend in Saskatoon.
1. Visit the Free Little Art Gallery
In an effort to help Saskatoon residents share art with one another, Suzy Schwanke has created the Free Little Art Gallery YXE outside her home at 332 Hilliard St. E. Designed in the style of community libraries and kitchen boxes, visitors to the gallery can take a piece of art, leave a piece of art, or do both. You can check out some of the artwork on Instagram @Freelittleartgalleryyxe.
2. Hit up The Bassment’s virtual party
Featuring the music and talents of eight Saskatoon bands, The Bassment presents InTune 2021 — a free online party playing from 2 to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The shows will be streamed live through the Bassment’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
3. Check out local performers
Watch as some of Saskatoon’s performing artists share their work in Episode 1 of Persephone Theatre’s Open Stage, which was published earlier this month. The episode is available to watch whenever you want at persephonetheatre.org and features Peace Akintade, Kathie Cram, Amanda Trapp, Sketchy Bandits, Carla Orosz and Ellen Froese.
4. Have some family fun
The Fuddruckers Family Fun Centre (2910 8th St. E) is open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Sunday, weather permitting. Families can practice their skills on the 18-hole Putt N’ Bounce miniature golf course, reach new heights on The Rock climbing wall or take a swing at the Grand Slam batting cages. More information is available at fudds.ca or by calling 306-477-0808.
5. Drop off your hazardous waste
The City of Saskatoon is holding its first Hazardous Household Waste Drop Off of the year on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Civic Operations Centre (57 Valley Rd.). The drop off is open to Saskatoon residents from residential properties only. Products eligible for drop off include aerosols, automotive fluids, batteries, cleaners, light bulbs, yard chemicals and more. Learn more at saskatoon.ca/hazardouswaste.
The news seems to be flying at us faster all the time. From COVID-19 updates to politics and crime and everything in between, it can be hard to keep up. With that in mind, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has created an Afternoon Headlines newsletter that can be delivered daily to your inbox to help make sure you are up to date with the most vital news of the day. Click here to subscribe.
YK ARCC celebrates 10 years by pushing for NWT art gallery – Cabin Radio
Its trailer doubles as one of the NWT’s only art galleries. Now, the Yellowknife Artist-Run Community Centre is turning 10 years old.
The group, YK ARCC for short, formed in 2011 in a downtown Yellowknife church scheduled for demolition. “There was always something going on,” recalled Métis artist Rosalind Mercredi, owner of the city’s Down to Earth Gallery, who was YK ARCC’s first president.
“I think it was so good to be able to have a space where people wanted to work on stuff and, if they had bigger projects they wanted to do, there was a space to do it. It was pretty vibrant times, I would say, for art.”
Though the organization stayed in the church for less than a year, it has brought art and shows to Yellowknife since. Temporary homes have included an apartment above a Vietnamese restaurant and empty spaces in the Centre Square Mall.
Casey Koyczan, a Tłı̨chǫ artist from Yellowknife pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Manitoba, held some of his first shows with YK ARCC’s help.
“It really helped to be able to show work within an environment that was conducive to more of a fine arts aesthetic as opposed to … a coffee shop, or a pub, or something like that,” said Koyczan, who was on YK ARCC’s board.
“YK ARCC felt like it was getting to more of a formal-exhibit kind of feel.”
‘We need a territorial gallery’
The group made headlines shortly after opening a mobile art gallery in a trailer. At the beginning of the pandemic, the team took art to residents by accepting reservations through Facebook then driving the gallery to make house calls in different neighbourhoods.
“Because it’s so small, we might be the only gallery in Canada that didn’t have to close,” said longtime board member Sarah Swan. “It has a limited capacity. We knew we could still operate it safely.”
Yet the trailer’s success simultaneously illuminated what YK ARCC’s members believe is a glaring deficiency in the NWT: the absence of a territorial gallery.
The cost of rent makes it difficult for the non-profit to hold on to one space for any length of time. Many of the spaces that are available in Yellowknife don’t work well for art shows.
“We need a territorial gallery,” former board member Dan Korver said.
That doesn’t mean a commercial gallery geared toward profit, he clarified. Instead, Korver wants a space where artists can show their work and engage with an audience “for art’s sake.”
The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre is the only large-scale, non-commercial, gallery fitting that bill in the NWT. It hosts two fine art exhibits a year.
“It’s just simply not enough,” said Swan. “There are so many more artists and so much more work out there to show, so many more ideas.”
“We created the mobile gallery in the first place to feel that exhibition gap, but also, we created it to be a piece of agitation in itself. That’s why we called it the Art Gallery of the Northwest Territories.
“It’s really pathetic that our territorial gallery is a trailer. We all joke that if there ever is a real gallery of the Northwest Territories that’s not in a trailer, we’ll happily give the name back.”
Koyczan described obstacles in establishing his career that stemmed directly from the lack of a territorial art gallery.
“Back when I was showing at YK ARCC, it wasn’t recognized by the Canada Arts Council,” he said. “Therefore, when you go to apply for grants and funding … and you provide your CV saying that you showed work at YK ARCC, they check their records and say the show basically didn’t exist because they don’t recognize it as a legitimate gallery.
“I’ve had to work really hard on exporting myself and making artwork that is impactful so that, regardless of where I was located, it would be recognized by people in the south, or around North America, or internationally.
“The NWT needs a contemporary gallery. It’s just holding us back, not having that space.”
‘No GNWT mandate’ for a gallery
In a written statement to Cabin Radio, the territorial Department of Education, Culture, and Employment said it has no plan to create a territorial gallery.
The department said it “does not have a mandate to create physical infrastructure for the arts.”
“However,” the response continued, “the GNWT would be happy to work with regional organizations to see how the GNWT can support their plans.”
Korver believes government involvement in creating an artist-run centre or non-commercial gallery should be limited to provision of funding, so any gallery can remain community-driven and independent.
“We need that physical space, but how do you run it?” he wondered. “Is it better to just provide a grassroots organization – or organizations, maybe there shouldn’t just be one – with stable funding so they can provide those spaces and run those spaces?”
More spaces that can host art are on the way.
Makerspace YK moved into the old After 8 pub this January and is planning workshops and exhibits. The City of Yellowknife expects to open a visitor centre in the Centre Square Mall that would include art displays.
Meanwhile, the territorial government is set to release its updated NWT Arts Strategy this June. The previous territorial arts strategy, released in 2004, had identified a need for more arts spaces.
As a gallery owner, Mercredi said she is curious to see how the strategy is implemented.
“You can make a strategy but if the plan doesn’t have an implementation idea behind it, then really just sits,” she said. “How do you implement it when most of the arts organizations don’t have enough infrastructure or people to put those things together?”
Swan said YK ARCC will continue to run its mobile gallery while celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Members have applied for funding to run a series of “emerging curator workshops.”
“Art is our passion,” Swan said. “I think there’s just this drive to share.
“Because we know how good art can be, or how amazing and fully developed it can be, we want to fight for that. We want to try to grow the art community in Yellowknife.”
Imaginations, creativity of Mountview students on display at Cariboo Art Beat
Creative, imaginative artwork of students from Mountview Elementary School will be on public display at the gallery of Cariboo Art Beat until April 9.
“The students of Mountview elementary were all invited to participate in an art contest,” Tiffany Jorgensen said, an artist at Cariboo Art Beat.
Each class was separately judged by three professional artists at Cariboo Art Beat, Jorgensen said, based on the students’ creativity, techniques, use of space and originality.
“It was extremely difficult to select pieces from the abundance of beautiful art presented,” she said. “There is so much talent and fantastic imaginations.”
The artist of each selected piece was given formal invitations to their art show to distribute to whomever they choose, and Jorgensen said anyone is free to view the beautiful artwork throughout until April 9.
Honoured at the show were works from local artists Ryker Hagen, Annika Nilsson, Rylie Trampleasure, Angus Shoults, Izabella Telford, Isabella Buchner, Kai Pare and more.
“Come view their wonderful pieces to get a glimpse into the minds of our creative youth,” Jorgensen said.
“It’s been so fun. The kids have come in and seen their work on display with their grandparents, parents, and they’re all so excited.”
Following up on the success of the Mountview art show, Jorgensen said more elementary schools have been invited to participate.
April will feature the works of Nesika and Big Lake, followed by Marie Sharpe and Chilcotin Road next month.
Cariboo Art Beat is located at 19 First Ave., under Caribou Ski Source for Sports’ entrance on Oliver Street.
Source:– Williams Lake Tribune – Williams Lake Tribune
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