After 25 years of joyful work, Aytahn Ross was prepared to bow out. The Edmonton-based circus-cum-comedy performer was ready to retire his crystal juggling balls and pack up the cigar boxes he can pile as high as the sky, if that was what the world was telling him to do.
“I’ve always been a humble person, so I am open to different ways of living,” said Ross, who lost all his spring and summer bookings to COVID-19. “I’m a student of history and literature and I know the world changes and sometimes we cannot control that.”
But then the Found Festival asked for submissions that would respect physical distancing, prompting Ross to craft a show that is emblematic of what the festival does best. That is, to send art careening into the community, and see what happens.
The festival, now in its ninth year and running July 2-5 in the Old Strathcona area, is known for curating “unexpected collisions” between the world, and artists. Previous iterations have seen theatre, dance and music turn up in a grocery store, on the loading dock of a business, or at a playground. This year, though, festival co-producers Megan Dart and her sister, Beth Dart, knew things would have to be different, and it wasn’t just because festival sponsorship dropped by half to only $55,000. (And there’s no beer garden.)
Five Art Accounts to Follow on Instagram Now – The New York Times
When things are tough at home, I sometimes search Instagram for street photographers abroad. It’s not that I’m looking for happy scenes, necessarily. It’s just reassuring to be reminded that the world is so much larger than our national news cycle. (Scrolling through digital feeds is also the safest way to travel these days, not to mention the most eco-friendly.) These are the five accounts that I’ve been turning to lately for quick little doses of our common humanity; other New York Times critics will be posting their own favorites regularly.
The engineer Ali Shokouhandeh started Streetphoto Iran four years ago as an independent forum for views of the country’s daily life. Surprised by the interest it generated, both at home and abroad, he recruited Hamed Mousavi and David Shokouhbeen, both fine street photographers in their own right, to help him edit the feed and find new work. Now it offers an extraordinary curated trip through Iran both historical and contemporary, from a handball game in the ancient city of Yazd to a sea of intricately patterned hijabs, from a fashion shoot beside the pink waters of Lake Maharloo to the very contemporary problem of adjusting Islamic burial practices to Covid-19 deaths.
The photojournalist Ley Uwera’s portrait subjects often have quizzical expressions, as if she’s catching them in the act of sizing her up. It’s a refreshingly forthright approach, one that takes into account both the disrupting fact of her own presence and the difficulty of capturing the complexity of any given locale, whether it’s a displaced persons’ camp or just backstage at a fashion show. That’s not to suggest that she’ll turn down a smile. She’s captured more than a few dazzling grins. But even then, a discreetly foreboding background — like the low, cloudy sky and glittering green heath of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo — keeps the fundamental mystery of the human condition close at hand.
One thing I like about the Hong Kong photographer Jimi Tsang, whose bio line describes him as “obsessed with 35 mm film,” is that he doesn’t abide by Instagram’s format. Full of tilted lines, receding streets, and men turning their backs, his photographs are defiantly rectangular. Apart from the occasional gaggle of orange traffic barriers, they also tend to be black and white. (My favorite shows a solitary man crossing an empty soccer pitch surrounded by soulless office buildings.) To display his rectangles within Instagram’s unbending square, he mounts the images on solid color backgrounds of black or gray or hot pink. It’s an apt aesthetic detail for an artist mourning his uncommon city as it is rocked by turbulent political change.
I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly is so beguiling about Seunggu Kim’s 2017 photo of a swimming pool. There’s the pool itself, of course, with its whimsical mix of premodern Korean architecture and bright blue water, and there’s the photo’s elevated vantage point, which turns pink and yellow flotation devices into so many rainbow sprinkles on a neon ice cream cake. But I think what really does it is the way the building’s design and the photograph’s framing combine to flatten and enclose the whole enormous, crowded rectangle: Like the map in a fantasy novel or a Richard Scarry picture book, the resulting image offers freedom and containment at the same time, a sensation of activity anchored by a feeling of perfect safety.
Shooting mostly in and around Addis Ababa, the photographer and fashion designer Eyerusalem Jiregna bundles simple details like a bright orange hard hat, a patterned skirt, or daisy-shaped barrettes into bouquets of irresistible color. Coca-Cola red, Heineken green, face-paint white, a coral blue wall, or Ethiopia’s own national colors can all be equally alluring if you know how to capture them. Sometimes she lets her colors melt a little, too, as in a striking pair of views of candlelit parishioners celebrating Orthodox Epiphany in Lalibela. Reflecting the flickering yellow light, their white robes glow like molten wax. Either way, though, what she arrives at is an apparently endless series of exceptional moments.
Algoma's rugged wilderness inspired art that continues to inspire 100 years later – SooToday
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Group of Seven. The Canadian paint team’s legacy on the Northern Ontario art scene is undeniable. As such, it is the subject of the Art Gallery of Algoma’s latest exhibition
As the name suggests, the Group of Seven was a group of seven Canadian landscape painters, active between 1920 to 1922. Much of their work was inspired by the natural scenery found in the Algoma Region. In turn, their paintings influenced countless local artists.
For example, A.Y. Jackson, one of the members of the Group, owned a property on the shores of Lake Superior near Wawa where he took inspiration from the landscape.
Because of the Group’s involvement in the region, the Art Gallery of Algoma is hosting an online exhibit to celebrate 100 years since its formation.
“It’s a twofold exhibition,” said Jasmina Javanovic, Executive Director of the Art Gallery. “The first is a selection of many artists in our collection [including works by the Group of Seven] about landscapes and Canada. Then there’s a place to submit your own submissions.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the exhibit – called Algoma Through an Artist’s Eye – will be held virtually on ArtGalleryOfAlgoma.com.
The exhibit hosts dozens of works of art inspired by Algoma. The influence of the Group of Seven is clear in many of these pieces. “I think there are a lot of local artists that are inspired by the Group of Seven and who follow in their tradition and continue to paint the landscape.”
In the same way that the Group of Seven travelled to Algoma for inspiration in the 20th Century, artists from all around the country today come here for the same reason. Their works are equally featured in the exhibit.
Those visiting the Art Gallery can recognize the Group’s influence in landscape paintings with large brush strokes and bright colours. Although each member had their own individual style, all of their paintings are a sort of love letter to Canada’s natural environment. “Even though they followed similar styles, they all had their own specific style and differences,” said Javanovic.
“Overall, it would be the emotions and brushstroke that reflect their feelings about the landscapes they are painting.”
Sault Ste. Marie was especially influenced by the Group: member A.J. Casson opened the Art Gallery in September of 1980.
In addition to the Algoma Region, the Group of Seven also had a major influence on the art world in Canada as a whole.
The art history book Beyond Wilderness posits that the Group of Seven helped solidify the Canadian identity and separate us from Europe and the United States. “In the first half of the 20th Century, art in Canada was focused on a wilderness painting movement,” reads the textbook.
The Group of Seven “set about unmaking and remaking prevailing conventions of landscape painting for the purpose of producing a national art . . . For them, Canadianness was defined by way of northerness and wilderness. The nation, in their view, should shed its Eurocentrism and embrace its northern identity. Wilderness was a source of pride.”
Despite this, the individual artists were harshly criticized for their use of realism before they came together. The art style was common in Europe but was yet to be accepted here.
“In Canada, art critics appreciated realism (which they’re not, their influence was impressionism). When they started off, they were very seriously criticized by everybody. They were not accepted. They had lots of difficulties to break into the way they painted,” said Jovanovic.
“That’s why they formed the group: because they experienced criticism.”
The exhibit will go on until the 23rd of August.
Movie posters become art at pop-up show in Powell River – Powell River Peak
With themes and images drawn from motion picture posters, Theo Angell’s Cinema Pandemico pop-up art show at the Patricia Theatre provides abstract posters for viewers to explore.
Angell, who is himself a filmmaker, has been keeping himself busy during the COVID-19 pandemic creating new posters out of old.
“Each art piece in this unique show is a collage made entirely of old movie posters donated by the Patricia Theatre,” said Angell. “It takes the idea of the Hollywood dream machine one step further and reassembles it into a glorious mashup of unintended plots and subtext. New narratives are born.
“Often revealed is Hollywood’s complicity in promoting violence and social conditioning. Are you safe enough? Are you too safe? All the subject matter was readily available in the messages from these posters.”
Angell said strong themes of Armageddon and pandemonium abound, as well as the occasional glimpse of spiritual renewal and harmonious humanity.
“This is the dream within the dream,” said Angell.
All the art was made during these last few months of the COVID-19 period and the entire show is set up in the Patricia Theatre windows facing out to the sidewalk and the public, taking advantage of the theatre’s natural exterior showcase for passersby.
“All ages are welcome,” said Angell. “Bring your own popcorn and a prayer for the Patricia Theatre.”
He said his inspiration for the art show, in part, came from living in New York City and seeing movie posters in the subway, posted on top of each other.
“Folks, when waiting for their trains, had knives come out, pens come out,” said Angell. “People end up cutting into the movie posters and other posters are revealed under the top layer. The layers get deeper and more complex. It’s an influence and an inspiration for me.”
He said he also goes to Portland, Oregon, to visit family, and posters on telephone poles get “fat” because there are so many of them.
“Those get ripped off so I’ve been photographing them, and I’ve ripped off chunks and brought them home,” said Angell. “I just love the idea of something being out in the public, rearranging it and diving into the mythology.”
Angell said he moved to Powell River, discovered the Patricia Theatre and got to know Ann and Brian Nelson, the owners.
“I got to go to the balcony and I saw bags and bags of movie posters and I got really excited,” said Angell. “I asked if I could bring some home and they said, ‘sure.’”
Angell’s collection of Patricia Theatre posters was the foundation for his latest art show.
“There’s a lot of themes and they come from a bunch of different films,” said Angell. “I had more than 100 posters and I started organizing them by theme, by colour, or other factors. It’s amazing, for example, how many posters had guns in them. Every third poster must have had one.”
The newly configured images provide fodder for the mind to wander and plenty of opportunity for individual interpretation, according to Angell. Some of the reconfigured posters on display at the Patricia Theatre even capture some of the dreams he has had.
Angell said with the pandemic, he has been a stay-at-home dad, so he’s had time to be at home, with his children, keeping busy with his art.
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