Monday, March 19, 2018


If this address should appear before you, please send the account holder something you think might distract museum trustees from putting their private collections before the curatorial vision of the museums on whose boards they serve. The account holder is human and would like to act as a conduit.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Love and Affection (1976)

I love this song. I loved it when I first heard it over the house PA before a CANO concert at the Queen E in 1977, and I have loved it to this day, especially while driving between the Okanagan, Vancouver and the Northern Gulf Islands.

The video above is a "live" performance from Armatrading's appearance on BBC2's Old Grey Whistle Test (1971-1988). The highlight for me comes at 1:24, when Armatrading delivers that wicked upstroke -- the musical equivalent of Stanley Kubrick's great match-cut.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Nothing Is What It Seems (2006)

While doing research on the original Woodward's store I came upon Tony Pantages's film of its September 30, 2006 implosion. From there, a music video Tony did for Colin James that features guest appearances by musician and author Tom Wilson and myself as "The Barber".

I had forgotten about this, but not about the many who, in the weeks after the release of the Coen Brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), greeted me on the street with, "Hey, Billy Bob. What are you doin' in town?"

For those interested in Tony's implosion (Nothing Is What It Seems, 2006), click here. For those interested in my work with a straight razor, scroll down to the fifth video -- Colin's song "Far Away Like a Radio" (2005), written by Colin, Tom, and Craig Northey.

Friday, March 16, 2018


The image above is of Béance (gap) (2017) by Bernadette Phan. Wool, oil on canvas.

You can't see it in the image, but the work has a horizontal slit halfway up its non-fringed form and slightly to the right. Already I need to return to the gallery to see if the slit is "woven" into the form or if it is cut, with its edges sewn down. It makes a difference. Everything is of interest in a work of art.

Inside the wool form (though it functions as a pocket it looks like a halter top, a purse, a votive object) is a small abstract painting, of which only the top portion is available to the human eye.

Béance is one of eight works in an exhibitional conversation between Tom Burrows and Bernadette Phan at CSA Space. Entitled Threads, the exhibition runs through March 30.

Below is an exhibition statement, and below that another of my inconclusive photos -- an image of Tom's China Silk Lining (2008). Polyester thread in polyester resin.

Tom Burrows and Bernadette Phan
February 22nd - March 30th  2018 
Opening Reception: Thursday, February 22nd, 6-9pm

“a dense mat of threads which completely hides the animal” 

Painting, weaving and layering set the foundations for the dialogue between Tom Burrows and Bernadette Phan, whose bodies of work often involve processes of accumulation, be it the slow buildup of marks or layering of resin. This exhibition offers a peek at new directions for both artists.

For the past few years, Tom Burrows has been working in Jingdezhen, a city with a history of producing pottery for over 1700 years. In a discourse between ceramics and his ongoing exploration of cast resin, Tom creates colour fields that probe the surface and textures of both polymers and porcelain. “Bethune,” glazed porcelain, is a nod to Doctor Norman Bethune’s dedication to battle-field surgery in the struggle against fascism.

Bernadette Phan's work often negotiates the pictorial plane using patterns such as ovoids, grids and fields of colour. With "Béance", Bernadette revisits her painting practice through textile. The woven surface echoes the stippling of paint on her canvases  and the pace generated in the making. Alongside its colourful siblings, "Béance" envelops and contains, hanging loosely between painting and sculpture.  

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Two Books

Forged from a night of reckless drinking -- that great tolling bell known as The Hangover. That's what I awoke to yesterday, what I feared would get worse, not better, as the day tolled on. But no! Two aspirins, a glass of lukewarm water, and voila -- good to go! I reviewed the nine previews I wrote for the April-May issue of Preview Guide to Galleries + Museums, took out the semi-colons, pressed SEND, then sent myself out for a walk ...

... west ... down the lane just north of Kingsway, out at 16th, across Fraser, past Little Montparnasse, Robson Park, the two car lots, the former Biltmore Hotel/social housing complex, the new market housing condo, the Best Western Hotel, Kingsgate Mall to East Broadway, a block west to Main, half a block north to Pulp Fiction...

Chris and JP standing behind the counter. Like bartenders, I think. Pulp Fiction is a bar and bottles line the shelves.

Notes from a Feminist Killjoy: Essays on everyday life (Book*hug, 2017) is showcased, and because I have heard of its author Erin Wunker (a social media casualty after Christian took a screen grab from her private correspondence and sent it to Angie who sent it to Jonathan who made it public), I read the first pages of her "Introduction: Some Notes for You, Reading". "Who do I think I am?" asks Wunker three pages in (13), after noting the consequences of her opening line: "I have a bitchy resting face." I return the book to the shelf for a less-thumbed over copy, when Chris is suddenly beside me.

"This!" he says holding up a copy of Terese Marie Mailhot's Heart Berries: A Memoir (Doubleday Canada, 2018), and in his impatiently anxious way, he tells me why.

Later that night, savouring the first brief chapters of Mailhot's fiercely spare prose, I am reminded of Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son (FSG, 1992). Only it isn't booze and drugs shaping Mailhot's lyric line -- it's more primary than that. Mailhot provides all sorts of examples rooted in patriarchy, colonialism, but the word that recurs more often than others is that most intersectional of descriptors -- "context."

After her grandmother dies, Mailhot writes: "nobody noticed me. Indian girls can be forgotten so well they forget themselves."

A few lines later Mailhot's mother brings a healer to their house:

"He knelt down. I thought I was in trouble, so I told him I had been good. He said, 'You don't have to be nice.'

My mother said that was when I became trouble."

Permission granted? A curse brought on by her "healer"?

Thank you for your books.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A small room behind a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

The door next door has a musical squeak. Every couple of days a new note enters its arpeggio. The most recent note allowed the arpeggio's middle section its major chord.

But it's not all melodies around here. There's rhythm, too. The hand that opens and closes the door is linked to a pair of heels that, en route to the water closet, pound like mallets on a timpani.