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The art of curling has changed. The robots are passing Canada by – Toronto Star

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Krista McCarville’s Northern Ontario rink, just like every other one competing at the Canadian Olympic curling trials in Saskatoon, is hoping to represent Canada at the Beijing Olympics. But how her team got there is a little unusual.

They spend most of the time they have to curl in training, not in competition as is the norm in Canada. And because of all that training back in Thunder Bay, she only has to read the ice once during these high-pressure games at the SaskTel Centre.

McCarville, Kendra Lilly, Ashley Sippala and Sarah Potts have spent years tamping down their natural curling styles to ensure they slide on the same line of delivery, release the stone the same way and apply the same rotation.

This is how they’ve made it to this stage, alongside Canada’s very best, while competing only about a fifth as often as the top teams, says their coach, Rick Lang.

Using focused team training to create and maintain the exact same curling technique, or as close to it as humanly possible, is something that’s increasingly being done in other countries — including the ones that are beating Canada on the world stage.

But it’s still rare among teams here, says Lang, the two-time world champion who was a long-time national team coach for Curling Canada. It’s controversial, too. In fact, when Lang talks about this he’s sometimes accused of wanting to turn curlers into robots.

“I’m not talking about making robots out of them,” Lang says. “Sometimes I’m interpreted that way. I call them artists. We have a lot of teams in Canada that are artists. They make shots, but they kind of do it in their own way.

“But the game has changed to the point now where the technical level is so high and precise that if you don’t do this you’re going to get beat.”

That’s already happening more often than Canadian curlers would like, especially on the most important global stages: the Olympics and the worlds.

Canada left the 2018 Olympics without a men’s or women’s curling medal for the first time since the sport was included in 1998. (Canada did win gold in the debut of the mixed doubles event.) They also missed the podium at the world championships this year.

Countries in Asia and Europe that don’t have the same history and depth of talent in the sport are selecting curlers — rather than having teams earn their way to the top, as Canada does — and training them full-time in high-performance hubs with Olympic podium performances specifically in mind.

McCarville and her teammates, who made a decision years ago to put their jobs — she’s an elementary school teacher — and families first, are considered underdogs at the Olympic trials, which run until Nov. 28. But the fact that they’re there and as good as they are, with so little competition, is the result of years of training to increase their curling symmetry, she says.

“I can put the broom down for myself and the exact same ice for Ashley, Sarah, Kendra,” says McCarville. “It makes my life a thousand times easier.”

Kerri Einarson’s Manitoba rink approaches things in a more typically Canadian way. They often practise individually because of work and family commitments; they compete a lot, which keeps their points ranking high and sponsors happy; and they gather to train a day or two before big events such as the trials.

We each have our own individual style, which makes it a little more difficult for me,” Einarson says. “But as long as they’re consistent with it, I can just remember who I have to give a little more ice to, who I don’t. Not everyone’s going to be structured the exact same and throw the exact same thing.”

But that is what’s happening on top teams in other nations, says Curling Canada’s high performance director Gerry Peckham.

Countries in Asia and Europe that don’t have the same history and depth of talent are selecting curlers — rather than having teams earn their way to the top, as Canada does — and training them full-time in high-performance hubs with Olympic podium performances specifically in mind.

“When you bear witness to the technical excellence of the Asian teams, you marvel at it,” Peckham says. “They’re just so precise and so biomechanically sound.”

In many sports the training-to-competition ratio is around 90 per cent to 10 per cent, but few curling teams in Canada would even hit the 50/50 mark, Lang says: “The culture in Canada is that you get better by playing a lot.”

That culture needs to change if Canada wants to keep up with the increasingly competitive global curling environment, he says.

Of course, as Lang knows well from his time at Curling Canada, the elite system itself drives teams to compete a lot.

There is so much depth in Canadian curling that the best have to chase points in competitions to get into the big, televised events, which are crucial to attracting and maintaining sponsors. They also have to compete a lot to beat each other, as they’re doing in Saskatoon, just for the chance to get to the Olympics.

And then there’s the money.

“The reality in Canada is that none of our athletes make sufficient money through the sport of curling to make their world go around,” Peckham says. “Especially when their world includes spouses, family members and upcoming university programs for kids.”

So unlike the full-time curlers in some other countries, Canada’s best all have day jobs. That means that even if a team is based in the same city, and some have members in other provinces, their work schedules and family lives can make it hard to consistently train at the same time with a coach.

And without that piece of the puzzle there’s little hope of getting to the kind of team symmetry that Lang and Peckham are seeing elsewhere — and worrying about.

“There’s no question that other countries have caught up to Canada in terms of performance, and in many cases surpassed us,” Lang says.

“One has to ask why and how that is happening.”

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Public art, vibrant cities subject of Thursday Windsor art gallery panel – Windsor Star

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How does public art express the spirit of Windsor — and how does it help create a more interesting, vibrant city?

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The Art Gallery of Windsor invites the community to think about these questions, and others, during a panel discussion Thursday on the role of art in public spaces.

“Public art impacts everyone. I don’t think there is any such thing as starting the conversation too early in the process,” said Valerie Dawn, one of Thursday’s panelists for Drawing the Line: Creative Spaces and Places, hosted by the Art Gallery of Windsor.

“Prompting a conversation where we can be really open-ended and talk about impact on a broad scale, we’re coming into those conversations (about public art) with a lot more perspective.”

Dawn, principal architect for Glos Arch + Eng, will be joined by Shane Potvin, chair of the Ford City BIA, and Heather Grondin, vice-president of corporate affairs and external relations for the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, in a panel discussion moderated by Windsor Star managing editor Craig Pearson.

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Valerie Dawn, principal architect for Glos Arch + Eng, and a panelist at this Thursday’s discussion on public art, is pictured in front of the public art in Maiden Lane, on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021.
Valerie Dawn, principal architect for Glos Arch + Eng, and a panelist at this Thursday’s discussion on public art, is pictured in front of the public art in Maiden Lane, on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

The discussion will explore what public art brings to communities, where it should go and how the community can engage with public art.

“It expresses a sense that we care,” Dawn said. “Art gives us perspective and pause and a sense of connection. It’s important to any community. What kinds of art do we want and need, and what kind of art resonates with our community — that’s something I imagine we’ll dig into quite a bit more on Thursday.”

  1. Jennifer Matotek, executive director of the Art Gallery of Windsor, stands by a weatherproof life-sized reproduction of a painting from the AGW collection, mounted in downtown Windsor. Photographed Nov. 11, 2021.

    Look Again! AGW brings art to the streets of downtown Windsor

  2. The City of Windsor unveiled the

    Windsor chair sculpture unveiled at Jackson Park

  3. People check out a display at the Art in the Park at the Willistead Manor in Windsor on Saturday, June 1, 2019.

    Art in the Park scheduled to return in 2022

Thursday’s discussion will be the second in a series of monthly community conversations hosted by the Art Gallery of Windsor meant to help facilitate meaningful dialogue between members of the community on a variety of topics.

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“I hope having the conversation offers a lot of new perspectives by bringing different people from different sides of the conversation together,” Dawn said. “These are the conversations that tend to get people excited, and getting people excited is one really wonderful way to make things happen.”

Valerie Dawn, principal architect for Glos Arch + Eng, and a panelist at this Thursday’s discussion on public art, is pictured in front of the public art in Maiden Lane, on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021.
Valerie Dawn, principal architect for Glos Arch + Eng, and a panelist at this Thursday’s discussion on public art, is pictured in front of the public art in Maiden Lane, on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

Drawing the Line: Creative Spaces and Places , will happen via Zoom on Thursday, Dec. 2 from 7 to 8:15 p.m. Find the link to register at agw.ca . Attendees are encouraged to ask curious, engaging and respectful questions and can read the gallery’s code of conduct, found online, for more information.

ksaylors@postmedia.com

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Suzanne Lacy: What Kind of City? review – art that breaks down borders – The Guardian

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Suzanne Lacy: What Kind of City? review – art that breaks down borders  The Guardian



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Looking at Surrealist Art in Our Own Surreal Age – The New York Times

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When viewed as a vehicle for various forms of liberation, the movement remains highly resonant even a century after its heyday.

“SURREALISM” IS ONE of those buzzwords, like “curate” or “groundbreaking,” that has been rendered effectively meaningless through overuse. In his 1924 “Manifesto of Surrealism,” the writer André Breton defined the term most succinctly as an attempt to resolve “these two states, dream and reality, which are seemingly so contradictory,” though its true origins came earlier, with the rise of Dada, an artistic movement that emerged in Zurich in 1916, and which favored the absurd over the logical. It was the exact middle of World War I, and there was a sense among Dada’s proponents that linear thinking hadn’t gotten society anywhere good.

There has been much talk of late about our own surreal age. Certainly, there are parallels between the 1920s and now: The United States has just extricated itself, messily, from a war; nationalist fervor is part of the political mainstream; basic rights are being revoked; and some version of a pandemic that has killed millions lingers from one month to the next. And if Surrealism is, at its core, a kind of glitch in the status quo, a moment in which reality itself becomes vaguely unrecognizable, then yes, time is seeming pretty melty, and the days rather dreamlike.

It can’t, therefore, be a coincidence that nearly every major museum in New York City currently has an exhibition that, at least to some extent, embraces a melty or dreamlike aesthetic. “Living Abstraction,” a retrospective of the Swiss artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp, a key Dadaist, at the Museum of Modern Art (on view through March 12, 2022), emphasizes her influence across disciplines: She produced drawings, paintings, sculptures, textiles, marionettes, whimsical costumes (including asymmetrical patchwork pants that wouldn’t look out of place at Bode), beaded bags and necklaces, stained-glass windows, furniture and more. The night of the 1917 opening of Zurich’s Galerie Dada, the movement’s de facto headquarters, she danced to the writer Hugo Ball’s sound poems — absurdist compositions focusing on phonetic speech. (Ball later described her performance as having been “full of spikes and fish bones.”)

Stiftung Arp e.V., Berlin. Photo: Alex Delfanne

Art historians would take issue with the pigeonholing of Taeuber-Arp as a Surrealist. Whereas Dada endeavored to explore nonrational thought, Surrealism was interested in the subliminal, in the strangeness beneath the surface of the everyday (one of the most famous examples of a Surrealist artwork remains René Magritte’s 1929 “The Treachery of Images,” a painting of a pipe captioned with the phrase “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”). Also, Taeuber-Arp’s career preceded and outlived Zurich Dada, which fizzled out in the early 1920s, as those who’d sought refuge in the city during World War I went their separate ways, but she was an artist who looked inward as a means of arriving somewhere unfamiliar: “Only when we go into ourselves and attempt to be entirely true to ourselves will we succeed in making things of value, living things, and in this way help to develop a new style that is fitting for us,” she wrote in 1922.

AT THE METROPOLITAN Museum of Art, “Surrealism Beyond Borders” (through Jan. 30, 2022) aims to expand viewers’ understanding of the movement, which, though it was born in Paris, became a global phenomenon — with practitioners in Egypt, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines and elsewhere — one that aligned itself with new interpretations of and ideas about freedom that were concurrently being conceived around the world. The Cairo, Ill.-born artist, Beat poet and musician Ted Joans, despite being a generation younger than his friend Breton, found in Surrealism a framework for Black liberation. He discovered the aesthetic as a child, eventually buying a French dictionary to translate jettisoned issues of Surrealist journals like Minotaure that his aunt, who worked as a housekeeper, had gotten from her employers. Decades later, in 1963, one of the politically and psychologically charged collages from Joans’s “Alphabet Surreal” series — this one showing a Black man and a white woman sitting side by side, a salamander-like creature hovering above them, and various iterations of the letter “X,” the work’s title and a reference to Malcolm X — appeared in another major Surrealist journal, La Brèche. Even many of the works displayed at the Whitney Museum of American Art as one half of “Mind/Mirror,” a retrospective dedicated to Jasper Johns (through Feb. 13, 2022; also at the Philadelphia Museum of Art) have strong Surrealist leanings. In “The Bath” (1988), a Picasso painting within the painting (presumably hanging above Johns’s tub, which is also shown in the frame) is juxtaposed with a rendering of wood planks at the work’s left border. This can be seen as a reference, notes Whitney chief curator Scott Rothkopf, to Magritte’s frequent incorporation of wood grain into his own paintings.

Tate Gallery © 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

So what is Surrealism’s legacy a century after its founding? Classic Surrealist works — such as “Téléphone-Homard” (1938), the Salvador Dalí sculpture that famously features a rendering of a bright orange lobster stretched across the handset of a rotary phone, or Dorothea Tanning’s 1943 painting “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (A Little Night Music),” in which a young girl in a hotel corridor stares down a massive sunflower — may feel a bit old-fashioned, but the idea that the means of rebelling against the present are already within us, if only we can learn to pay attention, is, in 2021, highly resonant. When understood in this way, as referring to a form of protest and escape, “surreal” becomes so much more — and so much more interesting — than shorthand for “strange,” as it is commonly used today. As Stephanie D’Alessandro, a curator of the Met show, says, in an art context, anyway: “It’s about something that sparks us … that wakes us up from the haze of our daily habits.” It offers, she adds, whether for reasons political, social, sexual or artistic, “an opportunity to imagine something beyond the circumstances that someone has” and, as an idea, “it is there as an option, always.”

“What branches grow / out of this stony rubbish? Son of man, / You cannot say, or guess,” T.S. Eliot writes in “The Waste Land,” his 1922 masterpiece, another Surrealist touchstone. But what we can do is seek alternate, better ways of seeing, thinking and living. Perhaps this is partly what Taeuber-Arp meant when she wrote of her belief that “the wish to produce beautiful things — when that wish is true and profound — falls together with [one’s] striving for perfection.” She made work up until her death in 1943, during another world war, and her nimble, irrepressible creativity is a reminder that art making, especially in times of strife, is an inherently optimistic act. This optimism might be the most overlooked aspect of Surrealism, given its often calamitous origins, but why invest in new realities if not to move forward? Art is something you do, says Anne Umland, a co-curator of “Living Abstraction,” thinking: “ ‘I believe there will be a future. And even if there isn’t, I’ve made something today.’”

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