Posted on April 19, 2012 by Kath

Stride: Fire, Brenda Draney and Jewel Shaw

Image via Stride Gallery Website

Fire is an exploration of … fire, and what it means in different facets, both destructive and cleansing.

For me, it was a bit lacking on  engagement. There were some prints which were damaged-looking, as in both physically damaged and emotionally, and they included words that suggested damage to a child and hiding and fear. The second area of work was comprised of drawings, which were strung along in a kind of web. Some were unfinished drawings of people, copies and works-in-progress in several stages, and other materials (see photo, which is from the Stride website, for a close up of part of this portion of the exhibition). This part I thought was more interesting – there was something to start piecing together – but I thought there wasn’t kind of deep enough you could go with specifics. The suggestion of pain, loss, and rebuilding is one thing – and those are certainly things fire does – but I didn’t get any new insight, new corner of fire to explore in a way I hadn’t though of it before, or being taken farther down a path of an idea of fire than I had been. Fire is such a powerful and longstanding symbol in terms of signifying “a time to murder and create” that with this show, I am left thinking “yep, that is what fire does”.

Reading the essay, the stories are very personal, and the essay is quite interesting in how it discusses the fires in the pasts of the artists and their families, but I don’t get the point of focus that makes it personal and engaging from the work itself to the same degree I get it from the essay.

Posted on March 23, 2012 by Kath

Green Fools – Once Upon and Atom Bomb

A sketch I did after seeing Once Upon an Atom Bomb over a <a href="">hubble image</a>.

There were two shows I really wanted to see this weekend – one was Race (Ground Zero / Hit and Myth), which didn’t happen, and the other was Once Upon an Atom Bomb by Jennie Esdale, Eric Rose, and David Rhymer. That one I did make it to (and I ran into Jenna Shummoogum, who has reviewed it here).

I really liked the show overall. The projections were absolute fantastic. They didn’t seem gimmicky, just magical. The only time they didn’t quite work for me was when the projections were on a curtain in front of the stage – I was at a bit of an oblique angle, so the folds in the curtain made it difficult to read (in some cases) and see what was going on when the projection was on  the curtain. But the projection mapping on the main set – which was kind of shaped like a vortex – was absolutely fantastic. There was one part where a black hole sucked up a house, and the projection mapping on the different parts of the set was amazing for that particularly. There was also some projection mapping in a puppet sequence that was also fantastic.

Vanessa Sabourin shone as a few characters, primarily Emily (I think), with Jed Tomlinson doing some awesome costume and puppet work which was the perfect mix of childlike and creepy. I also liked how the music (which Sabourin sang very well) was woven into the story. It was very engaging throughout and I liked the journey we took through the psyche of this little girl, and how it was connection to the setting, 1950’s America during bomb raid drills. Emily’s mother is a nuclear physicist and her father is a military man, but her home life explodes right during this time, when the world could have been expected to explode.

I also liked how hints of science came into the storyline. I am fascinated cosmology, and big bang cosmology has a lot to do with nuclear physics

Posted on March 5, 2012 by Kath

Many Things I’m Thankful For

I’ve decided it doesn’t matter whether I’m doing this wrong – there were no specific instructions, so I assume that just thinking up the things to be thankful for is the main thing.

Wednesday, February 29

  • FollowUpThen
  • Chatting with colleagues
  • When a splash of inspiration surfaces

Thursday, March 1

  • Singing
  • Sketching again
  • Smartphones

Friday, March 2

  • Flexibility in my job
  • Apologies via text message
  • Postmarked dates

Saturday, March 3

  • Cranberry juice and sweet potato pie hors d’oeuvres
  • When it’s not just you
  • Getting to know you

Sunday, March 4

  • Being able to just not do something
  • Having a bit of time to read
  • Showing my mom awesome TED talks
Posted on February 29, 2012 by Kath

Yesterday’s and Today’s Things I’m Thankful For

Yesterday, I got home pretty late (I was at a very interesting meeting that turned out to be a working meeting, but which I didn’t have any expectations for – it’s not a project I initiated – so I wasn’t expecting it to go late), and all I could do when I got home was collapse. But hey.

Monday, February 27

  • My father
  • Home-made burgers when you need them most
  • Inglewood

Tuesday, February 28

  • FedEx’s awesome customer service
  • Finding inspiration in strange places
  • Being able to come home after work
Posted on February 27, 2012 by Kath

Nine things I’m thankful for

I forgot a few days of things I’m thankful for, so I will add a couple days on to the 21, but I figured I also may as well do them all in one go. I’m going to hopefully pick things from that day.

Friday, February 24 2012

  •  The Cat Came Back
  • Open dress rehearsals of TYA shows
  • Being able to just go home on days when I really, really want to just go home

Saturday, February 25 2012

  • Breakfast with Ryan, my mom, and his mom at our house
  • Playing in art exhibits
  • Actors jumping onto stools

Sunday, February 26 2012

  • Singing along
  • My mom’s knowledge of muffin recipes
  • Being able to mostly stay inside on cold days
Posted on February 24, 2012 by Kath

Three new things I’m thankful for

Bumming around Facebook today, I saw some links to an awesome TED talk:

At the end of the talk, Shawn Achor says:

We’ve found that there are ways that you can train your brain to be able to become more positive. In just a two-minute span of time done for 21 days in a row, we can actually rewire your brain, allowing your brain to actually work more optimistically and more successfully. We’ve done these things in research now in every single company that I’ve worked with, getting them to write down three new things that they’re grateful for for 21 days in a row, three new things each day. And at the end of that, their brain starts to retain a pattern of scanning the world, not for the negative, but for the positive first.

Journaling about one positive experience you’ve had over the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it. Exercise teaches your brain that your behavior matters. We find that meditation allows your brain to get over the cultural ADHD that we’ve been creating by trying to do multiple tasks at once and allows our brains to focus on the task at hand. And finally, random acts of kindness are conscious acts of kindness. We get people, when they open up their inbox, to write one positive email praising or thanking somebody in their social support network. [Play the video from this part]

I am a big believer in – but not in all cases a big doer of – starting small and just doing some small things to start off with instead of starting everything at once, so I’m going to start with the three new things I’m thankful for each day, because that’s a super easy thing to do. And then let’s see what else I add to it, 21 days into the future. I am going to do this here. It may not always be appropriate to do these publicly, but I will make that decision when I come to it.

I’m really interested to see how these things change over time. Right now they are not very deep, I’m down with that.

Thursday, Feb 23, 2011

Posted on February 6, 2012 by Kath

Death of the Freak Show – Swallow a Bicycle

Image courtesy Swallow-a-Bicycled Theatre

This High Performance Rodeo, I made it to one non-Lunchbox (Lunchbox is my employer – I’m their marketing manager) rodeo event today! It was Swallow-a-Bicycle’s Death of the Freak Show, which is part of their Site Specific Spectacular series. It was in the EPCOR Centre, and the show was basically split around the building. It consisted of sort of skits throughout the building, and the audience was variably part of the conceit as an audience, and not. This is going to get formal though.

Firstly, some non-formal impressions. Overall, I was entertained, and the story was engaging, even though I felt a bit confrontational with the story to begin with. I find I do feel confrontational with theatre that I am very up close to at first, maybe because I’m physically a part of the story, so if there’s a confrontational situation going on, I feel like I am ‘against’ the characters. And since storytelling normally involves a confrontation, that is basically always a problem. I saw Freak Show last year, the sex-themed one, which was probably not a good choice, it ended up being really awkward. And I feel awkward often enough that it’s not a transgressive theatre experience. This year was not primarily sex-themed which decreased the awkward factor a lot.

On to my formal comments. My main thought about the show was that the fourth wall was still totally there. I think the easiest, broadest comparison to the format of Death of the Freak Show is that it follows the format of a haunted house. And like a haunted house, sometimes you are there, there’s an audience acknowledged in the scene, and sometimes not; you’re able to observe, but like a normal play, there is no audience in the context of the story. This presented a real problem for me because it made it still very much a theatre-audience experience. I never was able to either be myself within the context of the play, or be a real part of the play, or not be really, really aware the theatre is happening. Basically, the fourth wall was really still there, even when actors were directly interacting with you, which happened maybe once. And apparently, when the fourth wall is six inches from you, it is really, really obvious.

I was comparing this experience to performance art, which I think could be a really useful reference point. The nice thing about performance art is you aren’t sandwiched in several realities you have to keep track of. In the site specific spectacular, there’s the reality in which you are you, the reality of the show when you aren’t there, and the reality of the show when you are there as an audience, in which you take on several roles (freak show attendee and medical student, for example). I found that pretty distracting, because instead of making the theatre part of life, it just collapsed the distance. Since in performance art, your role is an artgoer seeing some performance art, you still have all of your personal assumptions to be transgressed, but there’s no cognitive dissonance between the artist, who is playing a specific role but is still themselves, and you, who are essentially doing the same thing. I would be really interested to see site-specific, interactive theatre where it’s more integrated into your actual reality and you don’t have this odd separation from people. Where the roles the actors are playing are more integrated with who they are and where everyone is. I think it would be a lot easier to get lost in it.

And that’s really the key thing I found. I could not get lost in it. I can get lost in performance art, and I can get lost in conventional theatre, and I am sure it would be possible for me to get lost in interactive / site-specific /  theatre that is closer to a story that really blurs the boundaries between life and art and gets you in it, but the experience at the site-specific-spectacular then becomes weirdly confrontational.

Posted on December 1, 2011 by Kath

Separation Point (art review)

Sean Caulfield and Royden Mills. Source: The New Gallery

Full disclosure: I’m on the board of The New Gallery

Separation Point opened a little while ago at The New Gallery. It’s the work of Sean Caulfied and Royden Mills, and builds on previous work they’ve collarated on before, some of which was shown in the Perceptions of Promise exhibition at the Glenbow last year.

I really like art along this line, which is dealing with scientific topics – or rather, scientific epistemology, so I liked seeing the work at the Glenbow and I’m glad to see this work as well (different works but they’re in the same vein). The works are Caulfied’s arcane biological drawings of fictional flora and fauna, and Mills’ arcane sculptures that become the lab equipment used to study the drawings. I like the contrast between the delicacy of the drawings and the potentially brutal quality of the sculpture –  it’s the sort of lab equipment where you might be scared about what it could do to you.

I do find it interesting that the equipment is studying the drawings – the drawings aren’t the result of scientific inquiry, they are the subject of it, as if they are the animals and plants they depict.

Check the show out!

Posted on November 5, 2011 by Kath

Arts Champions Congress

Another in the backlog of stuff I wanted to post about! In the past few weeks I’ve been having some interesting conversations with various people in the arts community about it, so now that it is a few weeks on I can include those discussions.

The sessions I attended were: Keynote by Ben Cameron, 500 000+ Budget Roundtable, the afternoon plenary session, the “Arts Marketing Collab-lab”, a panel discussion on talking about the value of art, and closing remarks. And I made a stop at the We Should Know Each Other lounge at the Legion. Which was awesome cause I have never been to the legion before.

One of the things that I got out of it was that it was a way for CADA to ask us what we need them to do that’s not.give us more money, and based on the roundtable in the morning and the Arts Marketing Collab-Lab. I think those things could be very helpful, because CADA, I think, could help arts orgs in the city work together much more effectively. They have our contact information and the “in” to get us to help each other that I think cold calls between us – or germinating conversations. AND Just recently I did get an email from CADA setting up an Arts Marketing Network meeting – so if you’re in arts marketing, make sure you come. There’s also an Artist Netowork meeting which I hope I can make it too.

I think things like this are potentially great for building community, and possibly bypassing any cliqueyness in the various communities, but it’s really important that we as a community give it a fair shake.

Posted on October 15, 2011 by Kath

PechaKucha #9: Verge

A couple weeks ago I went to PechaKucha Night Calgary #9: Verge. I’m going to give you a rundown on the things that really excited me during the talks:

Jasmine Antonick of Beakerhead

I am really excited for Beakerhead. I love projects that bring arts and science together; in the past few years I’ve become more and more interested in science as another way (like the arts) to have my mind blown. Now I just need a project! Engineers, let me know if you have room for an artist.

Arts Factory and King Edward School

Reid Henry from CADA and Stephen Schroeder from Calgary Arts Factory spoke on the King Edward School project and Arts Factory. Both are projects to create more arts space, both exhibition, workspace and workshops. I am very excited because there’s such a lack of workshop space in Calgary, and I really miss having a shop. I’m also excited about the opportunity for skill-sharing between arts disciplines in Calgary and the idea of a materials bank in the Arts Factory.

Dr Paul Fedak

I love learning about totally on the edge medicine. It’s so fascinating! I hear about a lot of this sort of thing (including HeLa) via the amazing Radiolab, which if you don’t listen to, do.  I had seen Anthony Atala’s TEDMED 2009 talk on the subject of regenerative medicine, and it’s just absolutely mindboggling, so it was realy exciting to see a Calgarian talk about the work he’d doing in the feel.

All in all a really good PechaKucha.