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.”
Barrie by-law demands 10-year-old's Canadian flag art be removed from city property – CTV News
Erin van Kessel says she was sitting outside her north-end Barrie home Thursday morning when a by-law officer handed her a warning. The Barrie resident was told she is to remove chalk-art of a Canadian flag drawn by her 10-year-old daughter in honour of Canada Day on Wednesday.
“2004-142-2,” says Van Kessel, while looking over the document citing her infraction. The City’s by-law for that particular code refers to use of public property.
“2. No person shall throw, drop, place, or otherwise deposit garbage, paper, paper or plastic products, cans, rubbish, or other debris on any City property, unless authorized by the City.”
Van Kessel said large green plastic objects which may have been children’s items left at the curb near the end of her driveway did not belong to her. The chalk art however has left her disappointed. Van Kessel was informed by the by-law officer someone had complained of the chalk spray-painted art on the lawn at the end of her driveway. The chunk of grass, painted red and white, is city property.
“They couldn’t really say why, I mean, mostly because it is on city property but really,” said Van Kessel in response to the by-law violation.
Van Kessel was informed she had 24-hours to remove her daughter’s chalk painting from the lawn or face a potential fine. Her daughter, Van Kessel says, is distraught and doesn’t understand why the chalk art needs to be removed.
“Not too happy,” said Van Kessel. “Because she did put a lot of work into it and now we have to remove it,” she said.“It’s a child doing something exciting when she’s been stuck in the house for four months; and no school, no friends, so what more is there to do!”
The City of Barrie confirmed a complaint was made and a by-law officer visited the home; providing the following statement to CTV News.
“The city’s enforcement services received and responded to a complaint about individuals painting on city property. By-law officers are obligated to investigate and respond to all complaints received.
While the homeowner advised that the paint was washable, the officer was unable to confirm if it was or not, which was why the property owner was warned that they had 24 hours to remove it from the city’s boulevard. A warning was issued to the property owner, not the child.”
Van Kessel plans to have the art work removed by Friday morning.
“I guess other people don’t appreciate it or look at it the same way we do,” she said. “What can you do? I guess it’s the way of the world these days.”
VIDEO: Supporters turn out to honour art gallery curator – Maple Ridge News – Maple Ridge News
The community is celebrating Barbara Duncan, curator of the ACT Art Gallery.
Many of you may not know that the art gallery and the gallery store at The ACT were closed and its curator Barbara Duncan and her assistant Susan Thompson were fired by the arts council in late April, a mere five weeks into the lockdown of the COVID19 pandemic.
The gallery as we have always known it, is now referred to as the gallery space.
The arts council has never publicly admitted that they fired the curator.
In May, two high profile articles in The News featured the financial disaster the ACT was experiencing, but there was no mention of closing the gallery and firing Barbara Duncan.
The subsequent press releases from the arts council are cloaked around the pandemic creating a financial disaster.
This decision has been kept from the public.
Consistent reference to the incident as a personnel matter that couldn’t be discussed, raised questions regarding Barbara’s competence or whether she was charged with something unlawful and this speculation has resulted in harming her reputation.
In a letter I received from the executive director, Curtis Pendleton, she stated that, “Barbara has done exemplary work in our community in her position as curator and she will be missed.”
Why would an employee who has done exemplary work be suddenly fired?
The arts council is effectively standing by and watching the fallout after they lit the bomb!
A 1,250 strong petition has been presented to the arts council and city council requesting a reinstatement of Barbara Duncan. An impressive result considering that not many people knew about it and was collected within a two-week period during a pandemic.
If the arts council had appealed to the public for support to keep the gallery and retain their their employees, I am certain the community would have responded generously.
They showed no confidence that the community would choose to save the gallery. However, taking this unilateral step ensured that the community would have no input nor be given the opportunity to keep this valuable cultural asset alive.
Instead of cutting two jobs, everyone could have agreed to take a pay cut or cut back on work days. But perhaps there always was a different plan before the pandemic and a perfect opportunity presented itself.
I felt proud to have such a professional be in charge of the many facets that a high quality gallery demands and I am requesting a thorough review by a third-party investigator to see if all the proper procedures were followed, if all other avenues to save the gallery were explored and whether the two employees were compensated for their sudden dismissal and given due process financially.
It is a publicly funded organization and this decision has made the public lose trust in this arts council. They have forgotten that they are accountable to the public. I feel the arts council owes Barbara and the community an honest explanation, and perhaps we can start there.
On the sunny June 19, 40 supporters of the art community organized a surprise car and heart parade to honour Barbara Duncan. It should be noted that so many others wanted to attend, but we respected the provincial guidelines regarding large gatherings.
Barbara was our curator for 10 years and in that time, she built an exciting, well respected gallery, which was known for its support of local artists, professional artists and artisans, as well as featuring both contemporary and unique exhibitions.
She was the face of gallery, always respectful, innovative, and open to ideas.
The community did not want Barbara to disappear without a heartfelt appreciation within the park grounds outside of the ACT.
It was not a rally nor a demonstration, but a public celebration in recognition of Barbara’s support of our community and showcasing artists in their best light.
The arts community and its supporters wanted to honour and thank Barbara by giving her a warm, genuine, and joyful send off to remember the community of Maple Ridge by, because June 19 would otherwise be only remembered as a very sad day for Maple Ridge.
Betty von Hardenberg, Maple Ridge
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Art is back in Quesnel – Quesnel Cariboo Observer
The Quesnel Art Gallery has reopened to the public and will be featuring a new show Artists In Isolation beginning Thursday, July 2.
The show features work from nine local artists, most of which was created during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and will run through the month of July.
Gallery director Marguerite Hall says she began to put together the show immediately after being given the green light to reopen the gallery so that local artists could begin to show their work as quickly as possible.
“When we found out that we could finally reopen I immediately thought of the artists,” said Hall. “This is the only venue that they have to show their work in Quesnel and it’s been closed for so long, so I wanted to immediately reach out to our local artists and let them know that we would like to do a show called Artists In Isolation just as a jump-start to get them back into showing their work.”
Along with their art, the featured artists have written statements as to how the pandemic has affected their work and artistic process which will be displayed in the gallery.
In order to comply with COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, the gallery will only be allowing nine patrons into the space at any given time, with the gallery being limited to seven individuals and the gift shop to two. Visitors are asked to enter through the gallery, follow the markings on the floor to ensure one way foot traffic and exit through the gift shop. Hand sanitizer will be available to the public both at the entrance and exit of the gallery.
Hall says that the show will also serve as a “practice run” as the gallery directors figure out exactly how best to put on shows for the public while adhering to all provincial health and safety guidelines put in place due to COVID-19.
“We would like to find out what other galleries around the province and country are doing whether it’s outdoor showing or tours through the gallery we will investigate many different things so that we can represent our artists as well as we can moving forward,” said Hall.
Gallery director Cyndi Cassidy says she is very happy to be able to reopen the gallery and begin to put on shows for the public however, she is worried that due to COVID-19 the galleries annual holiday show the Beaux Arts Bazaar, which brings in the majority of the galleries income for the year, may not be as well attended as previous years.
“It’s something we have to take into consideration,” said Cassidy. “I’m not so much worried about the summer because we tend to have moderate numbers in the summer time, what I am worried about is our Beaux Arts Bazaar in November and December which is probably where we get 70 per cent of our income for the year.”
One way the gallery is hoping to make up some of that lost income is by launching an online store on their website which will eventually showcase and sell all the art featured in the gallery as well as the items in the gift shop.
Currently the galleries online store offers the “most unique card selection in all of Quesnel” according to Hall, with more items and art to be added over the summer.
Hall says she believes that the closure of the gallery left a “hole in the community” and that being able to bring art back to the residents of Quesnel is incredibly important.
“I think that the quality of a community is reflected in the arts, whether it’s musical or visual or dance arts, through being creative that’s what makes us,” said Hall. “We have a job, we earn money but what makes life valuable is our ability to be creative in whatever way we choose and to appreciate creativity.”
The Quesnel Art Gallery is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the Artists In Isolation show running for the rest of July. Up to date information on current and future shows can be found on the galleries website at www.quesnelartgallery.ca.
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