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Archives for April, 2011

Creative Transparency

April 29th, 2011

I went to Pecha Kucha last night at the Vogue Theatre, an event where a bunch of different Vancouver locals have 20 images and 20 seconds per image to give a presentation. It’s a fascinating mix of entrepreneurs, artists, activists, and creatives all given a platform to speak about what they’re doing.

Since it is Friday and I am dedicated to keeping Fridays DIY-friendly, this might be a bit of a stretch. But one of the presenters inspired me with his dedication to artistic openness – Carson Ting is all about documenting the process of his artistic endeavours through video or photography.

The making of adidas Originals x Chairman Ting Custom Fixed Gear from Chairman Ting on Vimeo.

As someone who isn’t a natural artist, I love being on the inside of the creative process. Watching talented artists at work inspires me to use my own limited levels of creativity in new ways.

(The next Pecha Kucha is June 23. You should go.)

- Linette

Art House (Part 1: Ken Lum)

April 28th, 2011

Some things you should know about Ken Lum:
He put those boats on the Vancouver Art Gallery roof.
He used to work as an illlustrator down at the library, and as a pestologist for the Ministry of the Environment.
In 1999 he was appointed a Guggenheim Fellow, but we all love him because he made that East Van sign that you’ve been thinking about getting tatooed on the side of your neck.

His work is fantastic. If you want to do yourself a favour, go down to the VAG and check out the exhibit they’ve got up. There’s a mirror coated labyrinth, so you know it’ll be good.

Some things you should know about The Vancouver Art Gallery:
It’s in a beautiful old courthouse building and, like all beautiful things, it’s too small to be of much practical use.
Most of Vancouver’s art is sitting in the basement in what used to be drunk tanks.
If you want to read about their proposed move to a bigger space in the middle of a parking lot on Georgia and Cambie, you can click here for a website – and here for a news release.

About once a month I’ll be photographing at both locations.

Jim Boraas: Art House (Part 1: Ken Lum)

Jim Boraas: Art House (Part 1: Ken Lum)

Jim Boraas: Art House (Part 1: Ken Lum)

Jim Boraas: Art House (Part 1: Ken Lum)

- Jim

“What’s New?” Wednesdays: The Garden of the Gods

April 27th, 2011

- Joel

Ain’t Nobody Who can Sing Like Me

April 26th, 2011

For those of us who need a pick-me-up with our morning coffee this Tuesday, one of my favourites from Billy Bragg and Wilco’s “Mermaid Avenue” album. Woody Guthrie lyrics set to music by Bragg. The wonderful Natalie Merchant is guest vocalist on this song.

- Veronica

Gallery Hop

April 25th, 2011

Canadian Art and the Contemporary Art Society of Vancouver are partnering to host this year’s Gallery Hop Vancouver. Exhibitions, artist talks, tours and film screenings crammed into a day. From biennial veteran Myfanwy MacLeod’s The Birds to documentaries on Chinese contemporary art, the Hop encourages scouring the city with six organized tours led by some of Vancouver’s finest curators. Get your tickets here!

- Laura

The Weekender: A Rabbit Tale

April 24th, 2011

A Rabbit Tale

When I was eight, I saved up six bucks to buy a pet rabbit. My dad and I built a plywood-framed cage with wire mesh walls and a lift latch front door. We installed a water bottle with a drip nozzle and bought a ten-pound bag of pellets. When we drove out to my dad’s friend’s house, I had my six dollars and change in my pants pocket. I asked the price and he said he would only take a dime. I agreed to this, thinking he hadn’t quite heard me, feeling undeservingly lucky. Looking back, who would take all of an eight-year-old kid’s savings?
I brought the rabbit home and named him Splotchie. He was white with large black spots. I was terrified of him. I tied a rope around his neck and after school I would take him out of his cage and let him hop around while I held his rope. I would steal lettuce and carrots from the fridge and feed him to just watch him eat. Eventually I didn’t need the rope at all.
The strangest thing is I can’t remember what happened to Splotchie. I can’t remember if he died or ran away or if I simply started to forget about him. Years later, I caught another rabbit on our property with a carrot tied to a box on an incline. For some reason I didn’t name him although I can’t remember what happened to him either. Maybe it’s better not to know. At least it leaves the possibility for imagination.

Happy Easter.

- Will

Easter Egg Decorating: Not Just for Kids

April 22nd, 2011

As a kid, I loved Easter – an abundance of chocolate, a new frilly dress, and, of course, dipping eggs in brightly coloured dye.

I’ve run across some particularly fun alternatives to the traditional Easter egg dying in the blogosphere the last few days and thought I’d post a few for your Easter weekend entertainment.

Design*Sponge has this incredibly beautiful project – embroidered eggs! It kind of seems impossible, but they are reassuring that it’s completely doable. Another recent D*S post suggests an egg-decorating party, with a three-dimensional collage approach.

The creative people at Pickles have crocheted these cute little egg-warmers, which could actually be used year-round if boiled eggs are your breakfast of choice.

And if you’re hosting an Easter party or dinner and are looking for a decorating solution, this garland on Purl Soho’s blog seems completely Easter-perfect to me.

Happy Easter!

- Linette

Stifled Genius – The life and times of Michael Larson

April 21st, 2011

A few notes on Michael Larson:
At the time this clip was filmed Michael Larson was an unemployed ice-cream truck driver and, like many stifled geniuses, had several children from several ex-wives and no money. He was 35 at the time but looked about 50, for whatever that’s worth.

He used to sit in his living room watching hours of game shows every day. He set up a wall of TVs so he could watch them all at once. He sat there, being a genius, until he recognized a pattern in the random flashing lights of Press Your Luck. He went through episodes frame by frame memorizing some insane set of variables for several different patterns of 18. Then he went on TV and made the most money anyone in 1984 had ever made on a game show.

Then he sort of lost it.

Some radio station was offering $30,000 to anyone who could find a one dollar bill with a specific serial number. So he spent all day with his lady-friend checking numbers from a giant bag of dollar bills – 30 or 40 thousand of them. None of them won. So he did it again the next day, and the next day, until finally he went out to party and came home to find his giant bag was gone. (This is true.) So he blames the lady-friend and she just goes and gets the last few dollars that were still in the house and leaves.

The rest of the money had been lost earlier in an ill-advised real estate deal which turned out to be a ponzi scheme.

So then he tried to sell a national lottery – which, apparently, he did not own. So then he was broke, had the Feds after him, and lived in hiding until he died of throat cancer in his late 40s.

This may seem like sort of a downer story, but I think it’s a pretty good reminder to all of us geniuses to stick to making art if it turns out you’re no good at making money. Also, it’s really fun to watch this guy being happy. So enjoy that.

“What’s New?” Wednesdays: Caring About Politics

April 20th, 2011

Ok ok. So yes, I have voted before, in a mildly-informed, half-assed manner, but this year it feels a little different. For one, I’m as-yet undecided about who to vote for. And it also seems like anything could happen given this year’s hodgepodge mix of parties and candidates.

To answer my dilemma, I’ve been turning to two non-partisan resources to help me in my decision.

The first is CBC’s Vote Compass. It’s a pretty easy site to use. All you do is fill out a short survey answering your opinions on the hot topics and the compass tells you which party you lean towards. The only problem is that everyone I’ve talked to who’s completed the survey has been told they’re Liberal. Is that because I only have liberal friends? Possibly. It may also mean that the CBC has its own bias.

I found Apathy is Boring to have a more even-keel approach. While it’s not quite as quick and easy as the CBC Vote Compass, it’s much more informative, giving a rundown of each party’s views on the topics at hand.

May 2nd is coming fast. Read up and get out to vote.

- Joel

Pulitzer Prize Fiction Winner for 2011

April 19th, 2011

Yesterday, the Pulitzer Prize announced its winners for 2011. I’m always interested in the Letters category, particularly the fiction selection. I had to do a wee bit of research to learn more about this year’s winner.A Visit From the Goon Squad
Fiction: A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan

The fiction category is awarded to an author who “preferably [deals] with American life.” Egan’s novel — set mostly in New York City — uses the music industry as its context, following a cast of mostly self-destructive characters into the unsettling journey of aging in a newly-digital, changing world. This is familiar ground for Egan, who is known for examining questions of contemporary angst and collective identity crisis in her unconventional works.

I’ve never read anything by Egan, a Chicago native whose most recent novels include Look at Me, and The Keep, but this novel seems like a great place to start (it has already won the National Book Critics Award). Egan’s often-experimental narrative style is put to good use in A Visit From the Goon Squad. The story shifts back and forth in time, and she plays widely with the format, including a section that resembles a PowerPoint presentation.

Egan says the book was partly inspired by Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past.” “The book is so much about how change is unexpected and always kind of shocking,” she said in the Wall Street Journal. “So there’s no question that winning a prize like this feels unpredictable and unfathomable.”


I will be marking this as a to-read on my Goodreads list. Our collective and individual relationship with change and time is something I have been intrigued with, recently. I wonder if every era feels as dynamic as our own — I wouldn’t be surprised if Victorians felt a similar emotion to myself when I say “everything is changing so fast.” Questions of identity become important amid so much flux. I remember hearing Irish philosopher and poet John O’Donaghue once say that “Stress is a dysfunctional relationship with time.” I’m curious to see how this award-winning novel explores that relationship, as well as the relationship to ourselves and to others amid the flux.

- Veronica