Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A small room inside 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.

Dinner parties where the conversation intensifies and the host slips away, returning with a book. In this case, a Dover Thrift Edition of Great Speeches by Native Americans (2000).

Last night I read a speech by Oren Lyons delivered at a 1991 conference of the Aboriginal Law Association of McGill University, entitled "Sovereignty and the Natural World Economy."

"Land is the issue, land has always been the issue. We cannot trade our jurisdiction over lands and territories for money. Our lands and our right to govern ourselves are all we have. If we gamble our lands for money, jurisdiction and taxation, we will have lost because that is the white man's game."

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Neighbourhood Walks

I would like to know more about the four square blocks between East Broadway and 12th Avenue, and Commercial and Clark Drives.

Saturday, February 25, 2017


Vancouver Special Forum

Vancouver Special includes work by forty visual artists, as a survey of the contemporary art activity in the city over the last five years. The featured works of art do not adhere to a singular subject or style but instead point to overlapping and ongoing conversations about abstraction, Surrealism and conceptual practice. In this afternoon of talks, artists and writers offer perspectives on these aspects of the exhibition and highlight the nuanced and stimulating spaces in-between definitions. 

1pm: Perspectives on Surrealism presented by catalogue contributor Steffanie Ling with further reflections by artists Julia Feyrer & Rebecca Brewer

2:20pm: Two perspectives on Abstraction presented by artists Mina Totino & Eli Bornowsky with further reflections by artists Colleen Heslin & Sylvain Sailly

3:45pm: Two perspectives on Conceptual Practice presented by Raymond Boisjoly & Gareth James with further reflections by artists Matt Browning & Krista Belle Stewart

Free. Seating is first come, first seated for an audience of 170.
Presented in collaboration with 221A, supported by the British Columbia Arts Council

Following the forum please join us at 221A for Walter Scott's book launch of Wendy's Revenge (Toronto: Koyama Press, 2016) with reading from 7–9pm.

Friday, February 24, 2017

"Dost sometimes council take -- and sometimes tea"

A broom-like member of the Fabaceae family found in South Africa's fynbos.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A small room inside 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.

Snowdrops, crocuses, narcissus -- then everything else. (The first to emerge, the first to die.)

We delight in the sight of these bulb-based plants, but in death we have no words for them, no observations.

What of our floral world do we like best in dying? The maple leaf, Canada's most widely recognized symbol? The arbutus, a vine that carries aspects of its past deaths?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


When "Unless" means (no) more?

Monday, February 20, 2017

"...trapped within the circle time parade of changes"

Why did a record label speak over a song (1:34-1:38) by an artist known and appreciated by his audience for calling out that kind of "crass commercialism"? To help him not sell records? To punish him? Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

More Descending

The January 20, 2017 presidential inauguration entrance.

In mid-1930s Germany, scaffolds like those erected on the West Front of the Capitol Building would have held Joseph Goebbels's camera crews, not simultaneously projected images of what American citizens were invited to participate in, but not get too close to.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Desmond Descending a Staircase

After her descent down the "staircase of the palace," Norma (as Salome) tells the director, Cecil B. DeMille, that she is "too happy" to continue, and would like to "say a few words."


You see, this is my life -- it always will be. There's nothing else, just us and the camera and those wonderful people out there in the dark.

Alright Mr DeMille, I am ready for my close-up.

And with that Norma throws back her head and steps towards the un-zooming camera. Only later, in post-production, is a dissolve applied.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Dude Descending a Staircase

Do we know why descending a staircase was once such a big deal?

Atop this post is recently uncovered footage of Marcel Proust doing just that in 1904 (he appears at the 0:36 mark, dressed in a lighter coat).

This is the only known footage of Proust.

What are the entrance mediums of today? Is it even possible to make an entrance anymore in this always already, ever-present world?

Thursday, February 16, 2017


He was a grumpy dude whose cruelty extended to the administration of near-lethal overdoses of sentimentality, particularly to strangers. He knew what he was doing, and the love he received for it only made him grumpier.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Glenn Lewis

Eva Madden has made a short video on Glenn Lewis that has the artist recognizable to those who know him.

At one point in the video we see Glenn walking through the Ambivalent Pleasures exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, where his photo/pot works are on display.

On pairing his pots with photos of the places in which his pots (and the photos) were made, Glenn says, "When you're putting something together, say a photograph and a pot, I mean this is an illogical thing. But when I am thinking about an artwork, it's a different kind of process and I think it's maybe a kind of poetic process. When you think about it, what is the inspiration for poetry? It is actual life -- I mean it is something that you notice in your everyday world."

Of Tamara Henderson's sculpture and paintings, Glenn says (0:39-0:44), "These are far out." But when he enters a room of Kim Dorland paintings (1:12-1:15), he looks away.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Catalogue Essay

Katherine Pickering's lean, stumble, spill, sway, fold exhibition is at the Vernon Public Art Gallery January 5 - March 8, 2017.

Composition by Association: The Recent Sculpture Paintings of Katherine Pickering

While preparing to write a text on painting I arrange my study to parallel what I have seen of painters’ studios, with my source materials lined up beside me like tubes of paint and a desktop surface that is not so much primed but wiped clean of bread crumbs and coffee rings. There, I think as I stare into the glare of my pine laminate “canvas” -- almost there. But where years ago I would place a blotter on that canvas, with a fresh piece of construction paper tucked into its puffy leather corners, then a typewriter on top of that, now it is a MacBook, whose lid I flip up and, as Katherine Pickering does when working late in her studio, select a podcast to both ignore and keep me company while I look through my books and print-outs, scanning their pages before “cutting” from these scans a few relevant passages, which I paste into a Word file, hoping something will emanate from them, much like tonight’s podcast on the kombucha phenomenon, how this fermented drink requires a starter, or a “mother”, as it is called, to keep me from sitting there, staring.

One of the books lined up for this text is not Frank O’Hara’s Art Chronicles:1954-1966, as I thought I had pulled from my shelf in advance of this writing, but a collection of his poems, one of which, “Why I Am Not a Painter”, I am familiar with but read again for fun. O’Hara visits the studio of Michael Goldberg, who is starting a painting. O’Hara says, “You have SARDINES in it,” and Goldberg says, “Yes, it needed something there.” When O’Hara next visits Goldberg the painting is finished, and O’Hara remarks, “Where’s SARDINES?” and Goldberg replies, “It was too much.” Time passes. O’Hara finishes a series of poems called “Oranges” without mentioning the word. “Why I Am Not a Painter” ends with the lines “And one day in a gallery/ I see Mike’s painting, called SARDINES.”

But Goldberg’s painting is not what comes to mind while reading O’Hara’s poem. This time it is John Ashbery’s “The Instruction Manual”, which, like “Why I Am Not a Painter”, is canonized in Donald Allen’s 1960 New American Poetry anthology. “The Instruction Manual” begins with the young poet working as a technical writer in New York City. When not labouring over an instruction manual “on the uses of a new metal” he is staring out his office window thinking of Guadalajara, a city he has never visited but writes a poem about nonetheless -- “mothered”, as it were, by an instruction manual “that I wish I did not have to write.” The moral of this poem? Be thankful what you wish for.

While attending UBC Okanagan’s Summer Indigenous Intensive this past summer I visited Katherine’s on-campus studio to look at her recent paintings and to talk with her about her practice. In advance of my visit I read a conference text by her UBCO colleague Gary Pearson, who introduces Katherine as a Vernon, B.C. resident who studied at UBCO and later at Concordia in Montreal, where she received her MFA. Gary writes of Katherine’s original focus on landscape and the attention she paid to “transitory conditions of climate, colour and light.”[1] Abstracted landscape painting was for the longest time the dominant style in British Columbia, from Emily Carr’s forest forays of the 1930s through Jack Shadbolt’s vibrant deforestations to Gordon Smith who, at 97, continues to find inspiration in life’s intricate snow-dusted brambles. Like some maturing artists, Katherine is her own “transitory condition,” and rather than refine her voice, perfect it, she has expanded it -- in this instance, by “alternating between the flat picture plane and the sculptural object.”[2]

It is these sculpture paintings that I was eager to see as I drove to Katherine’s studio from my trailer at Six Mile one golden morning in late-July, the radio slowly losing its signal until the hitchhiker I had picked up at Little Kingdom -- a painter himself, he kept telling me -- plugged in his iPod and perfumed the car with Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue (1959), which he spoke of as if it had just been released, in the way some young people do when filled with enthusiasm for what’s new to them, how great a player Miles is. And though I agreed with him about Miles’s playing, I added that as great as Miles is, so too is his producer, Teo Macero, who encouraged Miles to play whatever and whenever he wanted, and who recorded everything, cataloguing it, then cutting up the tape with a razor blade to make a track, or to add to one, sometimes two or three or four sessions later. This is what Miles Davis and Teo Macero were doing when Clement Greenberg was tracing abstract expressionism from Cézanne’s explorations of flatness and colour for an essay he would publish the following year, entitled “Modernist Painting”. Same too with the meticulously assembled digital podcasts that many of us listen to today, like Radiolab, with its spilt-second contextual annotations. But all this young painter -- this hitchhiker -- wanted to talk about was Miles. Miles, Miles, Miles, Miles, Miles.

Katherine’s studio was dark when I entered it, a darkness foreshadowed by Gary’s essay, where he spoke of Katherine’s “investigations into perception and light deprivation, specifically through observation of the phenomenal world under night time conditions,”[3] Which is what Katherine had happening in her studio that day, with her windows blocked out and a bank of ceiling spots casting what felt like pools of street light. And floating on these “pools” were her sculpture paintings: some of them, like psychedelic lily pads, still in their preliminary flat state; others raised and held in place not by some invisible means of support but by the medium of their own making; still others on plinths, and in some cases, spilling over top of them. I asked Katherine how she made these works and it was clear from her description that she is a materials-oriented artist who does not simply begin with a canvas surface but a 100% cotton 12-ounce duck canvas surface, which she tells me has a tighter weave. From there she applies her acrylic medium through a variety of processes that include pouring, brushing and scraping. Once these applications suggest a shape, or better yet, a feeling, she cuts them out, drenches them in water and models them as a sculptor would.

Each of the three finished pieces on display in Katherine’s studio that day emanated an energy that met my criteria for an artwork that succeeds on the terms it sets out for itself -- that overtonal quality where the work is greater than the sum of its parts. And by parts I do not mean material and gallery-support elements, but gestures too -- in this instance, the artist’s modelling of the material, the shape it took after it was decided that it had arrived at something in its flat state and was ready to enter the third-dimension. For it is here, in this raised state, that the overtonal quality of the work is supported not only by the presence of the fold but by the dark recesses its folds promote. These recesses, with their lightless interiors, are in fact positive or generative spaces in the way Luce Irigaray speaks of the fold in contrast to the phallocentricism of psychoanalysts like Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan, a fold that, as Gilles Deleuze has theorized, continues to unfold, both in life and in its landscapes (like that of the unfolding Okanagan Valley), but also in the imagination that underwrites life and land, a void space that invites more than it repels.

A couple months after my visit to Katherine’s studio I attended a talk by artist Liz Magor at the UBCO campus. Among those lucky to grab a seat was Katherine, who found one in the first row just before the lights went down. Those familiar with Liz’s work will recall her penchant for tucking everyday objects (often transformative elements like cigarettes and booze) into tree trunks and behind stacks of folded towels. Another variant of these works is not what is tucked into these spaces but what is suggested by them. One of Liz’s strongest material propositions is found in her latex clothing molds. In talking about these works, Liz told the audience that commercial molding companies do not generally mold objects with folds in them because a) it is cost prohibitive and b) the market, for whatever reason, does not demand them. As a result, we are not used to seeing these objects; but when we do, such as Liz’s super-realistic molded leather jacket, it is the jacket’s folds that hold us. Liz talks about this in sculptural terms as a union of inside and outside, an uncanny feeling that, when she mentioned it in her talk, was magnified further when I looked to where Katherine was sitting and at that same instance Katherine, who did not know I was in the back, turned her head and looked at what could have been me.


1. Gary Pearson “Reading Artistic Models and Cultural Codes in Contemporary Sculpture,” 4th International Conference on Artistic and Arts-Based Research, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland, June 28-30, 2016, p. 13

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

Monday, February 13, 2017


I can count on one hand the number of times I have been dealt four fives, and instead of cutting a face card or a ten, I get a card like the above.

According to metasymbology.com, "the Eight of Club is one of the three fixed cards in the deck: their place in the card-spreads never changes. In many ways, Eight of Club people are like cats who always land on their feet. Protection surrounds them in all departments of life and yet it is this very blessing that can also trip them up."


Your go.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Say It With Diamonds


what anger forms
this stone is shown

carved is art
but a jewel must be cut

who says it is
a shield before injury kneeling

sword in hand
a cross that cries by right


gathered to face
the interior administration

of trustworthy light
equal until otherwise

a documentation problem
Da Vinci’s diners face out

a facet for each knight
does not always make it round


down and outwards
a susceptible angle

the collected scratches
a history of resistance

its rule and its injustices
gold’s purple abdication

gone fishin’ is free
to lure each shilling


a border
not a cinch

to look at
catch light

its top assumes
a bottom

an indifferent gesture
sparkles at night


on climbing days
cutting feet

legs swinging
the body in each finger

under the weather

with every ascent
a pulling


flat or pointed
goes unseen

a spinning top
is not about

what goes on

but what comes up
from under

Saturday, February 11, 2017

In the Pines

On July 15 I posted a picture of Richard Armstrong introducing a group of us to Syilx cosmology. The picture (at bottom) was taken from the opposite angle as the one up top, which was taken last Monday on my way back to the parking lot after our 507 methods class. As for the foot prints, they are paw prints. (Now look again. Can you see the heart that these prints -- and that first tree -- make?)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Highway 16

"...they [RCMP] focused on cases where they thought a serial killer may have been involved, and once they determined that a case didn't involve a serial killer, it got put aside, like its been put aside for 30 years." -- Ray Michalko, former RCMP

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Inquiries and Reviews

Susan Vella is the lead lawyer in Canada's National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Here is an excerpt from a press conference report that appeared in Tuesday's Toronto Star:

Vella also said that when the hearings get underway, people shouldn’t expect the traditional “western courtroom.” The goal is to incorporate indigenous customs to the process, which could include a circle instead of front-to-back courtroom-style set-up, and allowing evidence to be submitted through traditional storytelling, poetry or art...

Meanwhile, in the 9th United States Circuit Court of Appeals, White House lawyer and special counsel to the assistant attorney general August Fientje

argued that the plaintiffs, the States of Washington and Minnesota, did not have standing to challenge the president's action because the executive order was "well within the president's power."

That lead to a skeptical question from Judge Michelle Friedland, who asked, "Are you arguing, then, that the president's decision in that regard is unreviewable?"

Fientje paused before saying yes.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Mars News 3

The 45th American Presidential Cabinet was announced within hours of the 57th Venice Biennale doing the same with its list of participating artists.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Mars News 2

Here is what the artist said on Twitter at 12:39 p.m. 5 Feb. 2017:

"Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!"

Enter the curator -- because something will happen. Why else would the artist say what he said other than to be right about something happening. It is the curator's job to make the artist appear prescient.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Mars News

In this unprecedented art world event that most Americans did not vote for yet received electoral college approval for comes a four-year exhibition entitled Office of the Presidency, featuring mostly white male American artists whose practices are based in performance, sculpture and text.

Included in this exhibition, which opened on January 20th, 2017 in Washington, D.C. and is said to feature multiple international platforms, are Mike Pence, Sean Spicer and Donald Trump. The curator of the exhibition is Steve Bannon.

When asked to elaborate on the exhibition and its numerous objects, events, gestures and orders, Bannon declined comment. However, rumours abound of a massive sculptural project on the U.S.-Mexico border. "Bigger than Serra," said one source, who did not wish to be identified. "Better than Christo and Jeanne Claude," said another.

For more information, click here.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

"She told me more about me than I knew myself"

Singer-actor Cher was born Cherilyn Sarkisian in El Centro, California in 1946. Her father was of Armenian descent; her mother claims Irish, English, German and Cherokee ancestry.

My first memory of Cher was when she and her former husband Sonny Bono had the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, which ran on the CBS network from 1971 to 1974. Before that, Sonny & Cher were voices on the radio, singers of duets like "I Got You, Babe" (1965) and "The Beat Goes On" (1967), the only one-chord song to become at Top 10 hit.

As the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour progressed (it went off the air at the height of its popularity, when the couple divorced), so too did Cher's solo career. With each song she sang she was someone new. In 1971 she was a gypsy; in 1973, an indigenous woman; and in 1974 -- a gypsy killer!

(Bob Stone)

I was born in the wagon of a travellin' show
My mama used to dance for the money they'd throw
Papa would do whatever he could
Preach a little gospel, sell a couple bottles of Doctor Good

Gypsys, tramps, and thieves
We'd hear it from the people of the town
They'd call us gypsys, tramps, and thieves
But every night all the men would come around
And lay their money down

Picked up a boy just south of Mobile
Gave him a ride, filled him with a hot meal
I was sixteen, he was twenty-one
Rode with us to Memphis
And papa woulda shot him if he knew what he'd done

Gypsys, tramps, and thieves
We'd hear it from the people of the town
They'd call us gypsys, tramps, and thieves
But every night all the men would come around
And lay their money down

I never had no schooling but he taught me well
With his smooth Southern style
Three months later I’m a gal in trouble
And I haven’t seen him for a while, uh huh
I haven’t seen him for a while, uh huh

She was born in the wagon of a travellin’ show
Her momma had to dance for the money they’d throw
Grandpa’d do whatever he could
Preach a little gospel, sell a couple bottles of Doctor Good

(Al Capps, Mary Dean)

My father married a pure Cherokee
My mother's people were ashamed of me
The Indians said I was white by law
The White Man always called me "Indian Squaw"

Half-breed, that's all I ever heard
Half-breed, how I learned to hate the word
Half-breed, she's no good they warned
Both sides were against me since the day I was born

We never settled, went from town to town
When you're not welcome you don't hang around
The other children always laughed at me
"Give her a feather, she's a Cherokee"

Half-breed, that's all I ever heard
Half-breed, how I learned to hate the word
Half-breed, she's no good they warned
Both sides were against me since the day I was born

We weren't accepted and I felt ashamed
Nineteen I left them, tell me who's to blame
My life since then has been from man to man
But I can't run away from what I am

Half-breed, that's all I ever heard
Half-breed, how I learned to hate the word
Half-breed, she's no good they warned
Both sides were against me since the day I was born

Half-breed, that's all I ever heard
Half-breed, how I learned to hate the word
Half-breed, she's no good they warned
Both sides were against me since the day I was born

(John Robert Durrill)

Dark lady laughed and danced and lit the candles one by one
Danced to her gypsy music till her brew was done
Dark lady played back magic till the clock struck on the twelve
She told me more about me than I knew myself

She dealt two cards, a queen and a three
And mumbled some words that were so strange to me
Then she turned up a two-eyed jack,
My eyes saw red but the card still stayed black

She said the man you love is secretly true
To someone else who is very close to you
My advice is that you leave this place,
Never come back and forget you ever saw my face

Dark lady laughed and danced and lit the candles one by one
Danced to her gypsy music till her brew was done
Dark lady played back magic till the clock struck on the twelve
She told me more about me than I knew myself

So I ran home and crawled in my bed,
I couldn't sleep because of all the things she said
Then I remembered her strange perfume,
And how I smelled it was in my own room!

So I sneaked back and caught her with my man,
Laughing and kissing till they saw the gun in my hand
The next thing I knew they were dead on the floor,
Dark lady would never turn a card up anymore

Dark lady laughed and danced and lit the candles one by one
Danced to her gypsy music till her brew was done
Dark lady played back magic till the clock struck on the twelve
She told me more about me than I knew myself