Montreal's senior monthly since 1986

Feb '10

Columns

Exhibition explores how culture reflects nature

The majority of ceramic departments in North America pride themselves on their interdisciplinary conceptual savvy, but Concordia continues to provide something unique – the richest cultural mix in Canada. As Raw/Medium Rare/Well Done demonstrates, there is a constant interplay between identities and languages.

Two broad, recurring themes have emerged within this exhibition: nature and culture. The title of the show obliquely references Claude Levi- Strauss’s seminal anthropological text, The Raw and the Cooked, which explores the dichotomy between nature and culture by examining myths. In Raw/Medium Rare/Well Done, artists explore how culture reflects nature.

This exhibition will be displayed until April 17 from 11 am to 7 pm, at Concordia University’s FOFA Gallery, 1515 Ste. Catherine W.

For information, visit http://fofagallery.concordia.ca or call 514-848-2424, ext 7962.

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The FOFA Gallery presents a scenic trio

Vitaly Medvedovsky Airport

March 2009

Listening to the Mountains is an exhibition of landscapes on small panels. The artist, Nicole Bauberger, is based in the Yukon. This collection of small paintings depicts the scenic area surrounding her house. According to Bauberger, she was aiming to portray “the conversation going on between the dynamic skies and strong wide mountains.”

Bauberger will also present 100 Dresses, an interactive residency. Under the watchful eyes of viewers she will create 100 small paintings of dresses, all inspired by life in Montreal. Titles may include dress of slush, dress of the mountain seen between the buildings, taxi dress, etc. These will be displayed in the gallery’s Black Box.

In Landscapes, current MFA student Vitaly Medvedovsky presents a series of paintings depicting scenes remembered from his childhood in the former USSR.

Here’s the catch: His family left the Soviet Union in 1990 a few months before the country fell apart, when he was only 8 years old. So how much of his work is historical, and how much is a boy’s whimsical fantasy? Since nothing remains to size it up against, we have no way of knowing; the imagined world of his heritage is more real, in a sense, than any existing remains of that fallen era.

These will be showing at Concordia’s FOFA Gallery, 1515 Ste. Catherine W., RoomEV 1-715, until March 13. The gallery is right next to Guy-Concordia Metro. Gallery hours: Monday to Friday from 11am-7am.

Admission is free.

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An art career spanning seven decades

(photo: Susan Horan)

Women of Anita Shapiro’s generation were either teachers, nurses, or secretaries. Anything outside of that wasn’t really accepted. “My mother and father would have liked me to go to McGill,” Shapiro says. “You would go to McGill for an arts degree and do teaching after, which most of my friends did.” Those were the 1930s.

Going against tradition, she chose a different profession. Growing up in Westmount she was exposed to a close community. Her neighbour’s father was also her doctor and she learned that they had relatives in Boston. Her friend went to Boston to study, got an arts degree and came back. “She was a few years older than me and she got a job at Eaton’s and that’s where I got the idea,” says Shapiro with a sparkle in her eyes.

She took art classes at Sir George Williams University in the 1930s and followed up by studying life drawing and landscapes with Herman Heimlich. They would go out on location, practice and learn everything about drawing. In those days there weren’t many books available, as they all came from Europe and had to be translated.

After that she got a job in the advertising department of Morgan’s doing illustrations of merchandise. “We would be given an empty page and we would have to plan it,” she recalls fondly. She worked there during the war years and had to be very creative with resources. “You get your merchandise and you invent the figure, or else somebody tries something on and you do a life drawing. It was really a fun job.” She worked there from 1940-1946, leaving to get married and raise three sons. Taking care of family and working as an artist proved to be a challenge. “It was hard to do freelancing because it was only on the weekends,” she says. “Whenever I had a call to do some work, it was just the time that I had other plans.”

Once her children were grown, Anita was back into her professional career full swing. She belonged to Powerhouse, which later became known as Le Centrale. “I wanted to meet other artists,” she remembers. “This was in the 1970s and I met some very nice people who I’m still in touch with.”

Over the years she’s perfected many styles of artwork including abstract, still life, figures, and cubism, in various media including charcoal and acrylic. She was influenced by the impressionists and loves colour. Her latest paintings explode with colour and shapes, a stark contrast to these dark fall days.

Going against the norm proved the right decision in the long run for Anita Shapiro, who sums up art’s lifelong appeal in noting there’s little that could keep her from it: “These are such fun to do!”

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Who is the real Santa Claus?

(photo: Normand Rajotte)

The Pointe-à-Callière Museum of Archaeology and History will present Who is the real Santa Claus? December 6,-7, 13-14, 20-21, 23-24, 26-28, and 30-31 at 350 Place Royale (corner de la Commune).

All are invited to meet Melkior, Babushka, Black Peter and Santa Claus. While visiting the archaeological remains, children will meet four Christmas characters who will explain how the holidays are celebrated in their parts of the world.

Come on a world tour of holiday traditions! Meet them all and decide for yourself. Plan for about 45 minutes to complete this tour accompanied by and interpreter-guide. Places for each tour are limited.

Tours are from 12:30 to 4:30 pm. The last tour in English leaves at 3 pm.

This price of this event is included with the cost of admission to the Museum.

Info: 514-872-9150 or pacmusee.qc.ca

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Innovative artist goes for the funky

Une, Deux, Trois Tasses

"I'm on a high right now. Many good things are happening in my life," says Cote St-Luc artist Carol Rabinovitch.

"My son just got married and so did my daughter, within two months of one another. My husband and I are ecstatic but I'm also excited about the art show" – an exhibition at Cafe Volver featuring acrylic and one-of-a-kind ballerina prints, displayed beside the work of established artists Myrna Brooks Berkovitch and Joyce Slapcoff Stuart. "The response was fabulous."

"Myrna's mixed media art is magnificent. She's my mentor and she inspires me as my teacher. Joyce's oil landscapes and ballerina prints are appealing. I felt honoured to be in the same show," says Carol, who is coming into her own in a big way. She has exhibited at six Montreal galleries, and her whimsical works have been in solo shows at Gryphon d'Or and Dix Mille Villages.

Her work has also been featured at Mountain Lake Arts Auction on PBS, The Art for Healing Foundation at Maimonides, and Mesquite Restaurant. At one exhibit, she showcased her collages of recycled objects featuring bottle caps, CD fragments and badges. Called Blue Hawaii, it was a hit.

Her fun personality pops out in each one of her paintings, from wardrobe, watches and wedding scenes to shoes, dancers and musical instruments. "My passion flows in bright colours. I take the traditional and make it whimsical and illogical. I'm often told that my paintings are unique and highly imaginative."

Jazz Queen

Carol has the uncanny knack of creating a new version of something ordinary that she sees. In her piece Jazz Queen, a shirt sporting the word Ôjazz' and a male musician's face have been morphed into a Picasso-like female playing a saxophone. It's full of her signature swirls and dots. Vibrant, almost kaleidoscopic, it seems to move before your eyes. You can almost hear the music.

"My overactive mind turns the mundane, such as a teacup, into an amu­sing version. On this tea theme, I created an Alice in Wonderland series of paintings." There is joy and humour as teapots dance about in a colourful background speckled with spirals, stripes and dots. Talent pours out of her, just like the tea in her teapots. Called Party of Teapots, this series' themes are painted on tiny 7-inch-square canvases, currently on display at TMR's Gallery Archipelago.

"I never set out to change the image – it just happens, but I see that each piece shares a commonality: vibrant colours, simple lines and seemingly unrelated objects are prevalent. They seem to go together. I'm just happy that people respond to my art with a giggle and smile. They must have something going for them."

Hot Hot Hot

Admittedly, Carol says, she may be a tad crazy. Even her son nicknames her Crazy C. "Sometimes, I have to remind myself that less is more. I just want to keep adding more decorative motifs." But she certainly has found her crazy calling. It's at the end of a paintbrush. To date, Carol has sold several of her paintings abroad and locally.

She also generously donates her art to charity fundraisers. Her website is at earthartgallery.com.

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I Musici: good things come in small packages

Pat Gueller

Magician Pat Gueller will be on hand to launch the first concert in I Musici's Piccoli series, The Wizard's Book of Spells. The concert on Sunday, September 14 will be followed by other concerts especially conceived for children throughout the year. Storyteller Suzanne De Serres will welcome artists from various backgrounds, including circus, dance, magic, theatre, mime and art. Before each show a musician in the orchestra will talk about his or her instrument. The music on the program will feature works by Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi, Respighi and more. Concerts are presented in French at Ogilvy Tudor Hall, 1307 St Catherine W, 5th floor. $12/$8.

Info: 514-982-6038 or imusici.com

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Nascent academy entertains possibilities

Gisele Rucker and George Doxas, Music Director of the academy

When 16-year-old Ryan Cons took a Media Workshop course at the brand new Academy for the Performing Arts at the Segal Centre, he discovered it takes a lot more than a state-of-the art camera to create a video worth watching.

"We learned to handle the camera to add ambiance to a scene, and how to do interviews, how to zoom in and create special effects, and how to be in front of the camera." Cons says he learned to see with a critical eye. "My teacher, Paul Shore, used to say, 'You don't want to go to a movie with me because I'll criticize everything.'"

As well, the novice filmmaker had to confront the agony of editing, which he says he found the most challenging. "A movie's made with many takes. Editing is basically taking out stuff that's not important."

It's too early to say whether Cons will become a filmmaker. But one thing is certain: his appreciation of film will have grown immensely.

"Research has shown that performing arts education has significant impact on children," says Gisele Rucker, director of the Academy, as she describes the new lineup. "It allows them to achieve greater academic success and develops self-confidence and resilience." She says another goal of the Academy is to make the arts accessible to the community by keeping the fees affordable and not requiring previous knowledge. Besides the Media Workshop program, there are courses offered in Circus Arts for children (2-13), Theatre Performance (9-17), Theatre Production (high school students) and Music (2+).

There is a practical music session offered to preschoolers, featuring elements from the Kodaly and Orff methods. There are courses in drums, saxophone and guitar, and jazz and rock combos, as well as two music history courses for adults. All courses are taught by professionals experienced in working with kids.

She doesn't have to stretch her imagination too far to see the Centre becoming a foundation for the future. In her thirties she joined the Yiddish Theatre, met her future husband there and years later brought her son to join the cast.

Everything is possible. Rucker speaks of bringing the arts outdoors, perhaps involving the neighbourhood with performances in the park. "We want to provide a safe place to explore and take risks artistically, where students are allowed to dream and play."

"We've just begun, this is a new voyage," says George Doxas, director of the Music Program, who has four decades of instrumental, choral and Big Band Jazz teaching under his belt. He speaks of kids "getting in through the ground floor" and evolving with the Centre through the years. "Once we have a group of kids who know something, we'll streamline the courses."

The future, vast and limitless, still lies ahead. "The exciting thing about working here is that there's a long-term vision," Doxas says. "This kind of commitment makes everybody want to do that much better."

To register, call 514-739-7944. For more information, call Kasia Leskiewicz at 514-739-2301 x 8379.

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Discover the artist within

Registration has begun at the CSL Parks and Recreation's Adult Art Socio-Cultural programs, given at the aptly named Rembrandt Park Chalet. If you've never dabbled in watercolour, oils, acrylics and pastels, but always dreamed of trying, there are courses for novices like you. If you're an experienced painter, you can enhance your skills with advanced painting techniques. Courses are given both in the day and the evening, and both residents and non residents are welcome. There are special rates for seniors.

Info: 514-485-6806

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Art Events July 2008

Until September 21, Espace Creation Loto-Québec presents an exhibition by Claude Le Sauteur, who died last year. Curated by the Musée de Charlevoix of La Malbaie, the exhibit features 70 selected works, including a 911S Porsche, which Sauteur used as a canvas. 500 Sherbrooke W.

Until Sunday, September 14, the Museum of Costume and Textile of Quebec presents the exhibition The Bag Knows Why… with numerous loans from museums, private collectors and contemporary creators. The evolution of this accessory is linked to the development of women in society as well as major historical and ideological currents. 349 Riverside Street, St-Lambert, accessible via Highway 132 exit 6 or by bus 6, 13 or 15 from metro Longueuil. Open Tuesday to Friday 10 am - 5 pm and weekends 11 am - 5 pm. $4. Info: 450-923-6601 or mctq.org

Monday, July 14 to Friday, August 15 from 11 am – 7 pm the Faculty of Fine Arts Gallery at Concordia presents three concurrent exhibitions. Jake Moore works with images drawn from the natural world to reflect on western culture. Maskull Lasserre’s work addresses notions of class, culture and crafted artifacts. Lasserre’s sculptures resemble, and function to some degree, as mechanical musical instruments. Holly Tingley shows seven paintings that deal with personal identity. 1515 Ste-Catherine W (metro Guy-Concordia). Info: 514-848-2424 x 7962 or fofagallery.concordia.ca

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Art events June 2008

Saturday, June 7 at 9 am, Art Deco Montreal guides an Art Deco day trip by bus to the Eastern Townships, returning via the Ste-Agnes Vineyard in the Sutton Mountains of southern Quebec for a tour and dinner. Reservations required. Info: 514-931-9325 or artdecomontreal.com

Until Sunday, June 15, Mile-End gallery presents an exhibition of visual art by Catherine Burry. 5345 Parc. Info: 514-271-3383 or ame-art.com

Until Sunday, September 14, Shashin, Japanese Canadian Studio Photography to 1942 is at the McCord Museum. 690 Sherbrooke W. Info: 514-398-7100 x 262

Until Thursday, June 26, Beaconsfield Cultural Services exhibits woodturnings by Rohit Kent. 303 Beaconsfield. Info: 514-428-4460

Until Sunday, October 12, Pointe-à-Callière presents exhibition France, new France, birth of a French people in North America. 350 Place Royale. Info: 514-872-9150

Until Tuesday, October 13, McCord Museum presents Inuit, an exhibition to connect cultures and communities. 690 Sherbrooke W. Info: 514-398-7100 x 262

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Jet-set golfer takes a swing at painting

Side by Side (photo: Peter Smith)

Peter Smith can’t recall which came first – swinging a golf club or dabbing the paintbrush. But one thing is certain: the precision of his putt is at par with his painting.

Both have played an integral part in his life for the past 35 years. His pursuits of the perfect landscape to paint and the perfect golf course to play on have led him to the four corners of the world. Combining both while traveling, he claims that the game of golf is not that far removed from the art of painting.

“I’m always looking for perfection whether it’s in the stroke on the golf course or the stroke of a paintbrush on canvas. Inevitably, I rarely find that perfection, yet I know it’s there. In both, I have to envisage and imagine what I’m striving for,” he says, having golfed and painted landscapes in 37 countries. He has produced hundreds of paintings now hanging in galleries and private collections all over the world, but you need not travel far to enjoy the picturesque views he has captured – his paintings can be seen in various store windows on Monkland and of course in his studio, where private collectors gather.

Although he is an award-winning golfer and writer – having published 15 books on golf and 14 on travel, plus countless articles – Smith is far more intent on talking about the challenges of painting.

Peter Smith

“A painting is not like a photograph, which represents what the eye sees. A painting is what the heart sees. I try to capture that sense of enjoyment rather than a mere photographic image.”

He succeeds exquisitely. His paintings have a striking quality of tranquility and timelessness. His vast azure skies are as interesting as the demure trees that give way to the powerful horizon above them. Nothing goes unnoticed by Smith – just as his eagle eye helps nail a nine-iron, so too does it hone in on the minutest of details destined for his landscapes. Look at his leaning boats in the painting Side by Side. It all seems effortless, yet every shadow, texture and colour is filled with detail. No matter the scene, each has an inherently neat, almost manicured look. The effect is calming.

“For me, painting is a very peaceful activity that at the same time demands concentration, just like golf. Interestingly, both involve strategies. With golf, I have an end in mind and to get the score I want, I need to use different tools and a plan according to the terrain and weather conditions. Similarly for a painting, I know how I would like it to look. The art is in achieving that end, through technique and feeling without compromising spontaneity.”

Peter Smith is online at peterdsmith.net.

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Here Be Monsters at the Château Ramezay

The love-hate relationship between people and the sea from the 15th century is the subject of the exhibition Here Be Monsters, presented by the Château Ramezay Museum until October 19.

Adapted from an exhibition created by La Corderie Royale Centre International de la Mer in Rochefort, France, Here Be Monsters takes you on a voyage that plummets to the depths of human imagination and the deep blue sea. To early explorers, the sea was a world without landmarks and inhabited by monsters, threatening tempest, sickness and piracy.

The first obstacle settling the Americas was when the sea put its stamp on the cultural identity of Quebec. From the shores of Europe to the banks of the St. Lawrence, maps, charts, travel accounts, cutlasses, and figureheads reveal the secrets of this hostile universe.

The Château Ramezay Museum is in Old Montreal, east of Place Jacques-Cartier and across from Montreal City Hall.

Info: 514-861-3708 x 225

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Literary Fare

Thursday, May 15, the Irish Studies Department at Concordia hosts Professor Wolfgang Zach of the University of Innsbruck, Austria, discussing “Jonathan Swift and the Anglicization of Ireland.” Info: www.cdnirish.concordia.ca

Tuesday, May 27, at 6pm, Justice John Gomery is the guest speaker at the St. James Literary Society’s Annual Dinner at the Atwater Club, 3505 Atwater. Info: 514-484-0146

Friday, June 2, from 1-3pm, join Howard Richler’s class on The Bawdy English Language at Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors. The English language did not become the world's global language by being pure. It literally slept its way to the top by co-mingling with other languages to enlarge its vocabulary. 5700 Westbury.

From June 30 – July 18, La fondation humanitas offers bilingual Latin and Ancient Greek courses at Loyola High School. $100. Info: Denis Brault, 450-445-8897 or braultd@loyola.ca

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