Spring Art

Just hanging out in the ol’ trailer park, waiting for the show. Here we are at the back parking lot of the Italian Cultural Centre, where several trailers have been installed for the It’s a Zoo production of Killer Joe, a black comedy about a Texas murder for hire gone terribly wrong.

Here Ty is lined up at the refreshment trailer, manned by Co-Artistic Director Chelsea Haberlin, which had hot dogs and beverages for sale, just the right kind of snacks for the trailer park action.

The play is staged in an old, beat up 40 foot long live-aboard trailer, whose entrance is seen here, the home of the play’s protagonists, the Smiths, giving a claustrophic, fly-on-the-wall ambience. Inside the trailer, the scene is set, with its old, dirty furnishings and fittings and appropriately retro touches, such as the big troll doll,

the macrame wall hanging of an eagle, cigarette butts in overflowing ashtrays, and a stove used for storing beer cans.

Each performance can only accommodate 37 people, those with red tickets (us) in chairs lined up against one wall, and the rest seated against the back of the trailer.

Our seats gave us unparalleled close proximity to the action and an intimate view of all the actors’ body parts on display.

The poster for the show warns that this production contains Smoke, Violence, Nudity, Coarse Language, and Simulated Sex – and it did, including jiggling full-frontal male nudity about 10 inches from my face. Although the play can be criticized for its extremely unflattering portrayal of the poor, and has been critiqued as “porn”, I did enjoy it.

Killer Joe runs until May 4th; for more info, click here.

Friday saw us up at the UBC Printmedia Research Centre, a newly-opened facility at the Audain Art Centre on campus, for the inaugural presentation of the Marijke Nap Award for Printmaking. This new print facility is fantastic, huge, full of light, and with lots of great and updated equipment, quite a change from the old days in the second world war era wooden huts that constituted the program’s home when I went there back in the ancient day.

It was nice to see some old printmaking friends, such as Milos and Tim from Langara, and Wayne from Capilano, there to lend support and check out the facility.

The Audain Centre also contains a gallery and the permanent print collection, in which I have a piece (not the one I’m touching but a large collograph made while I was a grad student there).

Friday night we checked out the art party Thru the Trapdoor, a multi-media, multi-artist, Paul Wong curated art extravaganza at the former Alderbridge Mini-Storage and Vivo Media Arts on Main. This facility is destined for the wrecking ball in the not-too-distant future and it is going out with a bang. All the art works are installed below ground in the locker spaces of the former storage facility, some of which are very small and others more expansive.

The exhibition reminded me of the Artropolis shows that I loved back in the 1980s, especially the one in a multi-story old stone and brick factory in Yaletown in 1984. Thru the Trapdoor is entered – yes – through a trapdoor down to the lower depths, presided over by Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptan’s enormous painting (one of the few paintings on display here) Customs Officer.

Various sound installations are included, one, Acoustics of a Storage Room by Leo Stefansson, set in what looks like a 60s rec room in which the pulsating beats really engage the whole body.

This night two women were beating a grand piano and three DJs played some great tunes at a makeshift bar set up in what looked like a 50s basement, complete with LP record covers on the walls and exposed wooden beams. We really enjoyed sitting here at one of the small high tables watching the crowd, including a gang of painted drummers who breezed through. Tomoyo and I had a little dance, as well.

LocoMotoArt Collective’s PoSSeSSiONz is an interactive video with six layers. A pile of what looks to be discarded junk lies on the floor in front of a projection and people are encouraged to grab a piece and generate changing images by waving it in front of a sensor.

The mirrored room below was a two-part piece, the second of which consisted of a periscope on the floor above, here manipulated by Ty, through which one could watch whoever is reflected in these mirrors below.

Among the works I enjoyed was Dear Emily by Katherine Coe, a room with many pages of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights hanging from the ceiling. Entering the room I was struck by the smell of beeswax, achieved by dipping the text’s pages in melted wax. This is meant to evoke the conditions of the early 19th, in which the novel would have been read at night to the light of beeswax candles.

I was surprised to see some very detailed black and white pencil and charcoal work, including V Jeko Sager’s Underground Kontinent, an immersive charcoal drawing on paper that completely covers the walls of its underground space.

Another was “excerpt from ‘An Abridged History of Death and Taxes’ pgs 29-43”, a “year long meditation on the various representations of death, in dialogue with the writings of Sir Thomas Browne” by Christian Pelech.

One of my favourite rooms, surprisingly, contained David Campion’s Shot, a collection of objects such as a metal refillable propane container, a mannequin, and a cooking pan that were used for target practice. He has photographed these and hung the photos above the objects.

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