Nuit Blanche Takes A Break (Petite Nuit)

Write a post about a festival you’ve never been to they said, it’ll be fun they said. I’d rather be sleeping right now.

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Let’s get down to business, dear readers. I was tasked with the opportunity to write about Nuit Blanche, which lots of my friends have attended in 2015, but which I have absolutely no experience with.

If you haven’t heard of it before, you shouldn’t be too surprised, as it’s fairly new to Edmonton and area. Though the festival has been active since 2002. Formed in the city of Paris, France under the direction of Jean Blaise, founder of the Centre de recherche pour le developpement culturel (Research Center for Cultural Development), Nuit Blanche is an annual all-night AKA “night-time” artists festival that begins in the evening and carries through to the following morning.

The goal of the festival is to attract people to the streets and buildings of a concentrated area, allowing local businesses to participate in and support the display of all kinds of art works. Since the first event was successful, the idea has slowly expanded to be featured in over 120 cities across the world – Paris, Brussels, Rome, Madrid, Riga, Bucharest, and Valletta to name a few. In Europe, several of these capital cities work together to share and exchange ideas and artists, keeping up with the theme of community.

Canada of course is not one to shy away from opportunities to support the arts, and has slowly integrated each of it’s capital cities and major urban centres into the mix. Edmonton hosted it’s first Nuit Blanche last year on Saturday September 26th in Edmonton’s downtown. It had over 30 artworks and 50,000+ attendees, which was pretty awesome.

I wasn’t able to attend at the time, but as I mentioned previously, a number of my friends in the arts admin scene were talking about it like crazy. So I decided to check it out this year, and report back with my own findings later.

This year, Nuit Blanche Edmonton will be putting on Petite Nuit, a smaller scale version of contemporary art and urban spaces. Featuring 5 artworks and taking place on both Friday night (September 23) and Saturday night (September 24) between 7pm and midnight. You will need to go to Beaver Hills House Park (10440 Jasper Ave NW
Edmonton, AB) in order to see the exhibits, but you can easily get there via LRT, bus, bicycle or car.

I hope you’ll be there, because it’s near Enterprise Square, and you wouldn’t want to get caught being one. But that’s just a theory. I hope you creative cuties have an excellent weekend, and I’ll see you on Sunday with the new episode of Cross Talk.

Tim!

A Full Plate (The Works)

There are not a lot of purely visual art based festivals in North America.

It’s a sad reality, and one that I’ve never had the problem of in my entire life. Seriously, I’ve always had a festival for visual art and design in my city. There has been a group of artists dedicated to providing programming for artists since 1985.

They build a festival called The Works and are now celebrating the 31st year of their labour.

The Works International Visual Arts Society has a long-standing tradition of delivering a combination of excellent food and even more excellent art over a period of 2 weeks. They do this through The Works Art & Design festival, which is the largest FREE outdoor art and design festival in North America.

The event averages 60 exhibits via 29 venues throughout the downtown core and surrounding areas of the City, while the food and art vendors occupy 1 square kilometer of space in Churchill square. I’ve stolen The Works map for quick reference.

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This is seriously one of my favourite events in the Festival City because it features street performers, 90+ musical performances, tours, demonstrations and all sorts of performance art.

More impressive is the giant list of volunteers and education programs that allow emerging artists the opportunity to explore the art community and truly see what is involved with a career in the arts. Whether it’s an internship in exhibition production, curation, design, administration or marketing, there are a number of opportunities available and a consistently surprising amount of information to unpack.

Let me put it this way, the interns begin their work placement at the start of May and carry through all the way to the end of the summer.

And there are TONS of opportunities if you want to volunteer too. Working on the street as a greeter, in grounds maintenance, and working on the patio are just some examples. But if you want to get involved with the exhibitions there are a number of places that need help with the programs, administration, and installation.  I know this from personal experience and because I had friends and a former girlfriend spend their time helping out with the festival over their summers in previous years.

That being said, I don’t think it matters if you are a visual artist, an art enthusiast or simply a spectator, The Works International Visual Arts Society is delivering again this year. And you’ll literally (read:literally) have a full plate when you arrive and you’ll literally (read:metaphorically) have a full plate when you leave.

The Works is located at 10635 95th street Edmonton, Alberta, between June 23 and July 5. Check out their website for more information! I’m out of theories for this week friends, so check back on Sunday for something stimulating!

Tim!

I Am an Art-bitch (Latitude 53)

I’ve written about the band CSS once already in recent months, as an opener to a Melodic Monday entry on Grimes, in fact. But because this is a music reference, I’m okay to play like a broken record and write about this week’s Timely Thursday entry on timotheories with a repetitive start.

Cansei de Ser Sexy (CSS) is a rock group from São Paulo, Brazil. The band came together in 2003, which was the year I entered into university for my undergrad BFA in art and design. For the next few years, I became accustomed to their new rave sound. This is back when there was a bar called HALO in the downtown core of Edmonton.

A long time ago, in an Edmonton far, far away, for you younger readers.

Anyways, CSS had this great little ditty called Art-bitch (chorus to follow), and when my graduating class was putting together their final submissions to the exhibition and supplemental catalogue, I witnessed several lyrics come together in the titles of some of my friends final pieces. Titles like Art-bitch, Art-lick, and Art-hole.

Lick lick lick my art-tit
Lick lick lick my art-tit
Suck suck suck my art-hole
Suck suck suck my art-hole

I ain’t no art-ist
I am an art-bitch
I sell my panties to the men i eat
I have no port-fo-lee-o
Cuz i only show
Where there’s free al-co-hol

This is significant because a band like CSS represents an aesthetic gone by, and fashion is often closely associated with visual arts. For instance, new rave took elements from both new wave and rave to produce a fashion look (and sound) that incorporates fluorescent clothing, and similar visual accessories, ie glowsticks. It even had a shelf life, much like fashion, because by the time it got really popular in mid-2008 it kinda just died right then and there. The use of synthetic music combined with apathy and anarchism made it perfect for artists to capitalize on.

And this is totally applicable to the memories I associate with a key group of friends at that time, many of whom continued on their art journey almost immediately after university and are now making waves all over the world, but in totally different ways then they did a decade ago, kinda.

One of those friends now works at Latitude 53, the same one who organizes Manhunt-Edmonton.

Incidentally, I went to see an art opening at his invitation back in January. It was for students of the UofA at Latitude 53 and called Bridging Encounters. This is where I heard Grimes new album blasting away, that’s right, Art Angels was playing in the background. Yes! I thought, this means that the revolving aesthetic is still alive and well.

Which is why I’ve spent all this back story building up to an event that is happening this saturday and which I’m pretty excited about. Latitude regularly hosts exhibitions of two kinds. In their main space artists and curators can submit proposals twice a year, which are reviewed and then selected by a board. A second option exists in the ProjEX Room, where artists and groups can submit work that is midway through it’s process; allowing the audience to contribute in the research and development.

That’s where the exhibition, The Menagerie, comes in. Edmonton visual artist Lisa Jones will be hosting an artist talk on her work this Saturday at 2PM at Latitude 53.

It’s exciting because she is a painter, who is exploring aspects of her physical self and identity through an analogy of the circus! It promises to be a good one! The Facebook event is here, and the Latitude 53 link is here. Address is 10242 106 St NW.

What do you think dear readers? Any fond memories of your art past? Any triggers? Please leave some comments and of course subscribe if you haven’t already to say updated on timely events in my journey and local events!

Tim!

Where The Art Is (The Google Cultural Institute)

You ever watch those movie trailers, posters or commericials which start off by saying “since the dawn of time…”? I find them cheesy too, dear readers. But I want to try it out one time okay?

Since the dawn of time, mankind has created artwork and stored it in precious places. In other words, for what seems like forever.

What’s forever, precious?

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You know, FOR-EV-ER? Eternity? Infinity? Time without end? Even you can comprehend THAT Gollum.

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You don’t believe me, well that’s fine. I love pulling out my art history cap every now and again. Just give me a minute here to get down to business and find some images and links to get this party started.

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This image was one of the first cave painting images I ever saw when I was doing my undergrad, at the time it was considered to be one of the oldest images ever made (approx. 32,000BC – 30,000BC).

According to this article, a new theory has cropped up. Humans having been making art for about 42,000 years, which when taken along with the theory of evolution, means that humans have been making art for even longer than we’ve been thinking about things. Which is amazing to me, because I’ve always considered art to be a language in and of itself.

That means that we need art more then we need literature and speech, it’s something that we all can understand and relate to, no matter what the oral or sign language we subscribe to. And it’s foundational to who we are. That’s right, sign language is not universal to all creeds and ethnicities.

So visual language is something we can all experience and relate to, and one which is not interpreted differently in other communication styles. It’s fascinating, really.

Also, while I haven’t read this academic paper on comics, linguistics and visual language, just yet – I did find an interesting point made pretty much at the start of the paper which helps with my argument.

Many authors of comics have metaphorically compared their writing process to that of language. Jack “King” Kirby, celebrated as one of the most influential artists of mainstream American comics, once commented, “I’ve been writing all along and I’ve been doing it in pictures” (Kirby, 1999). Similarly, Japan’s “God of Comics” Osamu Tezuka stated, “I don’t consider them pictures …In reality I’m not drawing. I’m writing a story with a unique type of symbol” (Schodt, 1983). Recently, in his introduction to McSweeny’s (Issue 13), modern comic artist Chris Ware stated overtly that, “Comics are not a genre, but a developing language.” Furthermore, several comic authors writing about their medium have described the properties of comics like a language. Will Eisner (1985) compared gestures and graphic symbols to a visual vocabulary, a sentiment echoed by Scott McCloud (1993), who also described the properties governing the sequence of panels as its “grammar.” Meanwhile, Mort Walker (1980), the artist of Beetle Bailey, has catalogued the graphic emblems and symbols used in comics in his facetious dictionary, The Lexicon of Comicana.

You see, we need visual art just as much as we need other languages and the fact that so many people discard this skill for themselves, their children, their students, and the younger generation is frightening to me.

I’m generalizing here, which I hate to do, but so often I hear stories from people that made art when they were young, and then gave it up. We cannot seem to find value in learning the right skills needed to draw accurately, and attribute it to an ability which only some humans can possess. That is false and limiting behaviour.

But today’s Wisdom Wednesday resource is going to get you back to your roots, so to speak.

Alright, I have a secret to share with you fine folks today. Well, I wish it was a secret, because this is one of those resources anyone with an internet connection has had access to since 2011 and which I cannot believe hasn’t shown up more often in Facebook newsfeeds, on blog posts, and in cultural events.

The Google Cultural Institute is an amazing achievement in digital curation and one which features artwork from around the world, archival exhibitions, and three-dimensional recreations of world heritage sites.

You can navigate this content through Art Project, Historic Moments, and World Wonders, all from your main navigation menu. What I find especially cool is that you can take virtual tours of over 40 different museums, whenever you want.

The search terms are incredible as well – collection, medium, event, place, person, media type, date. And did I mention the Discover feature? It lets you explore related topics at the push of a button. And of course can share your findings with friends too.

But that’s not the best part. As an artist, this gets me the most excited. You can save your favourite items and create your own gallery.

Now tell me that that is not cool. Ha, I don’t believe you! Tell me what you really think! Leave some comments, share some thoughts, and I’ll catch you tomorrow for something timely.

Tim!