January 31, 2009

mac daddy comes to town

I live in a town that honours and appreciates creativity. All acts of creativity. Some might even say ANY acts of creativity. There's a lot to be said for that kind of supportive environment. I've certainly benefited from it. The flip side of that cultural coin however is that it can lead to a lack of distinction at times between acts of creative expression (art therapy?) and works of art. Works that are based on technique, mastery, a deep understanding of both the historical and contemporary context of the medium. Works that have a conceptual underpinning or that have a distinct point of view or that bring something new to the table.

Those of us who appreciate that distinction have come to accept that (not always but) for the most part, we need to go Outside of our community to satisify our art cravings. Nakai Theatre's Pivot Festival may just be changing that.

I don't know how they did it, but the organizers this year gave audiences the gift of New York performance artist Taylor Mac (seen in this Whitehorse Star photo). To call him a drag queen doesn't somehow do him justice. Mac lulls you into a false sense of comfort with his garish make-up and over the top attire only to hit you with a sucker punch of such poignancy and heartbreak you're laughing hysterically one minute and crying the next. With stories and songs he tells of growing up different in a family and a society where the desperate need to conform results in acts of such humiliation and degradation it boggles the mind and makes David Sedaris' family seem like a hallmark movie of the week. We caught a sneak peek of his Be(A)st show which included an imagined encounter between Mrs Dick Cheney and Saddam Hussein exposing their humanity in a most unexpected way. Truly the week art came to town.

Mac, seen in this Yukon News photo performing with local art-star-in-the-making Joseph Tisiga in his (also fantastic) "Late Nite With Grey Owl."

January 27, 2009

I loved you in married to the mob (aka is it hot in here or is it just me?)

Lock up your daughters (heck your sons too just to be safe) and put on your sunglasses - Mr Mirrorball Suit is coming back to the small screen in February as the host of the new talk show "The Chris Isaak Hour" on the Biography channel. Suddenly life is worth living again. Now if we could only do something about expediting the Chris Isaak Show's release on DVD.

January 26, 2009

dreaming of do-overs

It used to be a common occurrence in my ongoing search for "the THING" in life - the second guessing. Since finally stumbling upon my own version of that elusive thing a few years ago, I haven't had much cause to wish for do-overs. I have to say though, when I listen to these guys (and I listen to them a lot) I can't help thinking maybe music is the way to go . . .

The Frames/Swell Season live rendition of Fitzcarraldo is truly one of the finest things in life. If you aren't able to get out to see them live, you can download the next best thing from Played Last Night or check out some great sets on youtube. Is it too late, do you think to take up the guitar? or the piano? or the violin?

(p.s. it behooves me to mention that a certain someone I know has a major man crush on the drummer.)

January 24, 2009

for the love of god, halt's maul!

You know who I'm talking about - that guy in the restaurant, the loudmouths in the airport lounge, the colleague on the other side of the wafer-thin cubicle wall - who either a) imagines everyone is fascinated by minutiae of their every life experience b) has no sense of personal boundaries be it their own or others or c) suffers from voice modulation dysfunction. For those situations when you'd really like to tell someone to shut the f@#$ up but social conventions prevent it, here's a genuinely useful design object.

Alison Riley's "Stop Talking" cards are just the ticket. Get yours here

January 10, 2009

calling all pacific pallisades grannies

Wherever I travel, be it through the physical or cyber world, I'm always on the lookout for certain hard-to-find vintage treasures. Up til now I've had some great luck tracking down or stumbling upon many of these coveted design items but there is one that continues to elude me. The Revell dollhouse designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1959 complete with eames furniture. In what may be the single greatest miniature tragedy of our time, the house never made it past the R&D phase though there are rumoured to be prototypes floating around out there. The thought of it keeps me up nights.

I did inquire at the Eames Office when we visited a year or so ago, but they claimed to be equally in the dark. Where's a pacific pallisades Granny/former industrial designer with forgetful tendencies and a large attic when I need one?

January 4, 2009

baby, it's scary outside

Forget the cold, baby it's downright scary out there and designer Tristan Zimmerman ain't about to let us forget it. In these troubled times, there's no excuse to forgo any good fear-based opportunity, least of all in our home furnishings. These "park planters" fit the bill nicely.

For the extra vigilant who prefer to be kept constantly informed about exactly how afraid to be in a given day, Paul Gort's home version of the security meter is a must-have. Tastefully designed to discreetly complement any decor, you need never worry again about being caught inappropriately fearful or less.

and so concludes the second installment in my "7th commandment" sunday fireside series.

January 2, 2009

what would diana think?

Have you ever had the experience of looking at the work of an artist you admire and thinking, "all right then. I'm shit. Time to get back at it and work harder." I love it when that happens. When you're just starting out, and particularly when you live in an isolated part of the world, true critics and mentors are hard to come by. While she's thousands of miles away in Winnipeg, and quite unbeknownst to her, Diana Thorneycroft is one of those people for me.

Her work explores the uncomfortable truths behind our national symbols, sacred cows and our seeming ease with the spectacle of violence. It's intelligent, provocative, uncomfortable, funny, dark and beautifully executed - everything art should be.

"Algonquin Park" and "Winter on the Don" from her Group of Seven Awkward Moments Series:

January 1, 2009

curiouser and curiouser

A couple of people have referred in recent conversations to this billboard message I posted from Copenhagen a few weeks back:

Now there's a new year's resolution if ever I've heard one. Here's to curious new years all round.