GG_sm Lorna Mills and Sally McKay

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Sunday - Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood

Some Velvet Morning

Summer Wine


- L.M. 1-03-2010 6:34 am [link] [9 comments]

Sally McKay's Top Ten highlights from a course on 20th Century Canadian Art
This fall I taught a course called 20th Century Canadian Art. Here are some of my favourite thingies from our discussions.

1) Newton MacTavish: a journalist and photographer writing right at the time of the Group of Seven. His 1925 book is one of the first ever surveys of The Fine Arts in Canada. MacTavish was dubious about nationalism in art. And he starts the book by suggesting that we must look to the aboriginal Canadians for the beginnings of Canadian art. True to the opinions of his day, he goes on to dismiss Native art and artifacts as utilitarian, rather than aesthetic, but hey, at least he thought to mention it. This was a period of history when the Canadian government was doing everything it could to squash indigenous culture.


2) Colonialism juxtaposition

homer watson

Above: Homer Watson, The Stone Road, 1881

Right: a map showing the Haldimand Tract (aka Grand River Territory), granted to the Six Nations Confederacy in 1784 (grey area), and the current Six Nations reserve (red area) from The Dominion.
six nations map

3) Shelley Niro, a member of the Mohawk Nation, Iroquois Confederacy, Turtle Clan, Six Nations Reserve. The Shirt (2003) is a series of six photographs. See them all here at
shelley niroshelley niro2

4) Great White North

lawren Harris

Lawren Harris, North Shore, Lake Superior, 1926

In the book Beyond Wilderness, an excellent anthology critiquing Canadian landscape painting, Scott Watson suggests that the overwhelming winter whiteness of Lawren Harris' work has racial implications.
Michael Snow

Michael Snow, Plus Tard #15, 1977

Snow made this series of blurred photographs by slowly panning the Group of Seven installation at the National Gallery with a still camera. See the rest of them here at

5) Beavers

Joyce Wieland, The Spirit of Canada Suckles the French and English Beavers, 1970-71
Wendy Coburn, The Spirit of Canada Eating Beaver, 1999-2000

6) 70s video art (yay! I love this stuff)

David Askevold: FILL from benedict drew on Vimeo.

Unfortunately I couldn't get my hands on a copy of this to show the class. I just kind of described it and acted it out, which seemed to go over pretty well. Laughter is a good thing, right? This video had a huge impact on me when I was a student in the 80s, and it is partly responsible for my ongoing fondness for conceptual art.

lisa steele

Lisa Steele, Birthday Suit with scars and defects, 1974. See an excerpt here at

One of the students pointed out how great and strange and creepy it is the way she rubs her scars. It's intimate but at the same time mechanical and a bit robotic. We did a time travel exercise to get in the mood for the slow slow pacing of 70s video before we watched this and Colin Campbell. In a sort of year end nostalgia reflecting on the past frame of mind, I can't help but marvel at just how different the techno-media landscape is now from when this was made. And yet this early 70s video feels very familiar and vital, part of the present conversation.
colin campbell

Colin Campbell, Sackville I'm Yours, 1972. See an excerpt here at

The following quotes are from a wonderful eulogy, "The singing dunes: Colin Campbell, 1943-2001" that John Greyson wrote for C Magazine, no. 74, summer 2002
He's the only person I've known whose friendships (deep, profound, intimate, long-term) were truly transgendered. Which meant that he resolutely refused to let gender define anyone. Which of course made him a very queer enigma that neither Church Street (gay town) nor College street (trendy town) could fathom. (Queen Street the art scene did him somewhat better).


Bad drag is better than good drag. Bad wigs are better than good wigs. Bad drag skips the surface and slams you right into the hunger of gender, the ten-year-old boy with the towel over his tits in the bathroom mirror pretending to be Elizabeth Taylor, terrified of being caught.

7) Vancouver's sublime banal & engagement with small moments of daily life

NE Thing

N.E. Thing Co. Ltd, Territorial Claim - Urination, 1969

Jeff Wall

Jeff Wall, Mimic, 1982

ken Lum

Ken Lum, Melly Shum Hates Her Job, 1990 (installation view, Rotterdam)

8) Collectivity, collaboration, and suspension of disbelief

kate craig2

Mr. Peanut (Vincent Trasov) and the Peanettes (Kate Craig is far left), video still from The Mr. Peanut for Mayor campaign, 1974

kate craig

Kate Craig, Flying Leopard 1974. Photo: Hank Bull


General Idea, The 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion, c.1977


Fastwurms, Blood Clock (installation view), AGYU, 2007

9) Rebecca Belmore and Richard Hill


Rebecca Belmore, Ayem-ee-aawach Ooma-mowan: Speaking to the Mother, 1991-6

landscape show

AGO exhibition curated by Richard Hill, Speaking about
Landscape, Speaking to the Land
(installation view), 2005

In Richard Hill's 2004 essay "Getting Unpinned" he makes a solid muesological case for displaying works by First Nations and Aboriginal artists in dialogue with works by Europeans and Colonizers. In this exhibition he hung together a whole pile of landscapes from the AGO's permanent collection, from mutliple time periods and placed Rebecca Belmore's big megaphone for speaking to the land in the middle of the room. If you go to the JS McLean wing of the new AGO you will see a similar curatorial strategy (including a work by Rebecca Belmore and one by Kent Monkman), only this time its not a temporary exhibition. Good trend! Art museums don't have to suck ass.

10) First Nations contemporary art

Nadia Myre

Nadia Myre, Indian Act (detail), 1999 and 2002. Yep, she got together with groups of people and they beaded the whole darn thing. See more images here on Myre's website.

Kent Monkman

Kent Monkman, Group of Seven Inches (film still), 2005

Terrance Houle

Terrance Houle, Terrance Houle, Urban Indian, 2004

- sally mckay 1-02-2010 6:55 pm [link] [11 refs] [7 comments]

murray Whyte.gif Murray Whyte has published his top ten five list. (b/t/w ideal avatar for the Blingee treatment, thanks Murray)

Also, check out Art Fag City's Best of the Web 2009, Paddy.gif Paddy Johnson invited Sally & I to submit our faves.

- L.M. 1-02-2010 2:54 pm [link] [add a comment]

Chris Ashley's Top ten List

10. I'm
9. not
8. very
7. good
6. at
5. making
4. top
3. ten
2. lists
1. Goodbye Bush!

- L.M. 1-01-2010 7:33 am [link] [add a comment]

Joe McKay - Top ten things that have been missed or overlooked in 2009.

1. South Park Tower Defense Game. This Xbox dlc is a great twist on the Tower Defense genre. Southpark silliness combined with a pretty solid game. Good for a larf, and way better than the super easy plants vs zombies game that everyone loves so much.


2. Party Down. the best show on tv that nobody knows about is a free "play now" if you have the netflixs. The show is centered around a dysfunctional caterer in LA with a great ensemble cast. It's on Showtime or something so there's loads of "adult situations" and swears. (They cater the adult film awards in one memorable episode).


3. Organic Olives. "Normal" olives should be relegated to pizza and martinis only. If what you need are olives, spend the extra, just like you already do with avocados.

olive grove.gif [The olives should also only be picked by virgins, at night.]

2. Taken. Liam Neeson is a serious badass in this underrated action movie.

3. Google street view online road trip across America ... live. The documentation is good , but the real fun lay in participating while they were on the trip. It was a blast.

dude_m.jpg - Dude in the back of a truck spotted on GMRT

[b/t/w interesting numbering system there, Joester, is it special? Do we not like the number 4? or 6?- L.M.]

5. Shoot em up: the movie. Yeah this goes back a couple years, but you've been overlooking it all year so it still counts. Bloody hilarious gun porn that gets no respect.

7. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Here's the thing - yes of course it sucks - but if somehow you managed to miss all the other Harry Potter books and movies and didn't know the story at all and just watched this one you would think it was the weirdest most crazy-assed shit you'd ever seen. Starting in the middle is almost always a good idea and doubly true here. If you've never heard of Harry Potter this is the place to start. If you have, skip it and hope for an amnesia inducing blow to the head.


8. There are two time travel comedies coming soon (joy!) a British one and a American one. Both look, oh I don't know ... perhaps you've heard of a word called ... "awesome"?


9. The app store. Seriously, if you have an iphone how great is the myriad of free or cheap apps you can get? The Iphone is over priced, at&t (iphone carried here in the USofA) is horrible, and they are environmental disasters - but you have to hand it to them with the app store. There's a zillion free or cheap things and yet the store is still easy to navigate and apps are easy to install. Here's a mini top ten of the apps on my phone right now. AroundMe, Attendance, BigTime, DodgeDot, Dragon Dictation, Drop7, Galcon Lite, Geared, geoDefense Swarm, iResist, Mosquito Repellent, Moviefone, NYC Subway Map, TowerMadness: 3D, Traffic Rush, UkuTune, and Word Scramble by Zynga

10. Subtle self-promotion. In the facebook/twitter age the art of crafty yet casual self-promotion has gone by the wayside. These days if you have some project you want people to see you blurt it out like a twelve year old announcing his farts. As video killed the radio star so too has Facetwitter killed subtlety.


Sigh, Twitterface is gone too :(

- L.M. 1-01-2010 7:32 am [link] [1 ref] [1 comment]

Jon Davies' 20 Favourite Art Experiences in Toronto in 2009
(with no regards for conflicts of interest)

1-2. Noise Ghost: Shuvinai Ashoona and Shary Boyle (curated by Nancy Campbell) and Funkaesthetics (curated by Luis Jacob and Pan Wendt) at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery

Left: Shary Boyle, Iceberg, 2007. Right: Shuvinai Ashoona, Monster, 2003-2004.

3. What It Really Is (curated by Nicholas Brown, work by Kristan Horton, Liz Magor, Kristi Malakoff, Kerri Reid and Jennifer Rose Sciarrino) at Red Bull 381 Projects

Jennifer Rose Sciarrino, Supposed Stalactites (Purple and Green Pendants), 2009

4-5. Joao Maria Gusmao and Pedro Paiva: Magnetic Resonance on Abissologic Experiments (with Images Festival) and Street Poets and Visionaries: Selections from the Ubuweb Collection (curated by Kenneth Goldsmith) at Mercer Union

Joao Maria Gusmao and Pedro Paiva, Magnetic Resonance on Abissologic Experiments, 2006

6-8. To Die Like a Man by Joao Pedro Rodrigues, Trash Humpers by Harmony Korine and Phantoms of Nabua by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (with MoCCA) at the Toronto International Film Festival

Harmony Korine, Trash Humpers, 2009

9-11. Talking Points + Talking Ponies by Ben Coonley (with The Power Plant), In the Room 3 by Sung Hwan Kim, dogr (aka David Michael DiGregorio) and Byungjun Kwon (with Gallery TPW), Siting Cinema (curated by Jacob Korczynski, film/video by Oliver Husain, Emily Wardill, Isabell Spengler, Steve Reinke and others) at the Images Festival

Sung Hwan Kim, dogr, Byungjun Kwon, In the Room 3, 2009

12. Satellite by Redmond Entwistle at Gallery TPW (with Pleasure Dome)

Redmond Entwistle, Satellite, 2009

13. Drag Holes by Produzentin and Mary Messhausen at Pride Toronto

Produzentin and Mary Messhausen, Drag Holes, 2009

14. Micah Lexier: Two Parents and Three Children at Oakville Galleries

15. Candice Breitz: Same Same at The Power Plant

Candice Breitz, Still from Factum Kang (Featuring Hanna Kang and Laurie Kang), 2009

16. Stephen Andrews: As Above, So Below at Paul Petro Contemporary Art

Stephen Andrews, The View From Here, 2009

17. Derek Sullivan: Waiting Game at Jessica Bradley Art + Projects

Derek Sullivan, # 47, The Whole World 2009

18-19. Ming Wong: Eat Fear at Trinity Square Video (with Reel Asian Film Festival) and Learn German with Petra Von Kant at the Art Gallery of York University (with Images Festival)

Ming Wong, still from Angst Essen/ Eat Fear, 2008

20. That Night Follows Day by Tim Etchells at Harbourfront Centre's World Stage

Tim Etchells, That Night Follows Day, 2009

So, yes, a good year.

- sally mckay 12-31-2009 7:56 pm [link] [4 refs] [1 comment]

Sholem Krishtalka's top ten list for 2009

#1-10: An Opera for Drella, Jack the Pelican Presents (Brooklyn, NY), Sholem Krishtalka.
Yeah, that's right. Me. My debut solo show in New York was the ten best things of 2009. It was ambitious, conceptually engaged, witty and fun. The paintings were vividly coloured, archly composed and seductively painted. And not even taking into account the fact that I made the work, I can say, fairly objectively, that my show was ten of the best things I saw this year; and I even saw the Venice Biennale (which mostly sucked, PS). I would go so far as to say, in fact, that, alongside the shows I saw this year and liked (oh, I dunno, Shary Boyle and Shuvinai Ashoona at the Barnicke, Stephen Andrews at Paul Petro spring to mind the quickest), my show was on par with my favourite thing at the Biennale, Elmgreen and Dragset's The Collectors. Yup. In complete and total seriousness, I can say with absolute conviction and objective critical authority that my show was on par with all those shows. It was the Top Ten.


- L.M. 12-31-2009 5:16 am [link] [5 comments]

GM.gif Gabrielle Moser's Top Ten List

and Akimblog Editor, Terence Dick's five highlights from the past ten years of Canadian art.


- L.M. 12-30-2009 7:15 pm [link] [2 refs] [add a comment]

My Top Ten Songs of the Century by Mike Canzi
They're in chronological order by year of release. I provided a link to "official" videos where I could find them, but I don't swear by the videos. It's the songs that I like.

1) Outkast - Red Velvet (2000) - Like most of the other songs on the peerless Stankonia, "Red Velvet" is a call to start thinking outside the box ... 'cause you know that fucker is made of pine. A decade later, this song still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up every time I hear it.

2) Queens of the Stone Age - Feel Good Hit of the Summer (2000) - A pounding, neanderthal beat, outrageous, buzzsaw guitar that'll rip your head off and lyrics that read like the shopping list for a party you ain't want your chirren going to, this song is what rock'n'roll is all about, not that limp, polite Beard Rock the scions of the weathy are churning out by the bowlful today.

3) The Weakerthans - Pamphleteer (2000) - "Pamphleteer" is the slow dance boy-loses-girl flipside to Left and Leaving's adrenalyne boy-bounces-back song, "Aside." It is clever, with lyrics mocking 20th Century red-scare propaganda, and Canadian, in the 20th Century meaning of the word, with countrified jangle and prominent slide guitar.

4) El-P - Accidents Don't Happen (2002) - A guitarist's worst enemy, other than a singer, is a patchcord that is plugged into an amplifier at one end, but dangling free at the other ... 'cause you know that shit is gonna buzz. Well, that buzz runs right through this track, the heaviest straw on this camel's back of an album of hobbling beats, grating electronic noise and impenetrable lyrics. (I like it, by the way.)

5) Deerhoof - Apple Bomb (2003)- Dissonant, jangling guitar and a singer with a childlike voice and tenuous grasp on the English language. What's not to like? Deerhoof was the one consistently great band of the decade and this song, 'round about the 3-minute mark, is where it first starting clicking with me.

6) Jay-Z - 99 Problems (2003) - In this, easily the most "punk" song of the century, Jay-Z tells you what you can do to protect yourself, legally, when stopped for driving while black. A civics lesson you can sing along with. Brilliant.

7) The Go! Team - Ladyflash (2004)- A gold star moment in the short history of Cheerleader Rock, of which The Go! Team was the only known exponent.

8) Clap Your Hands Say Yes - The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth (2005) - This song has its charms--the warbling, David Byrnesian voice of the singer chief among them--but the big story here is how it came to my attention in the first place: Clap Your Hands Say Yes was the quintessential internet buzz band. Back when this song came out, the band probably couldn't even buy a friend in their own home town. Then one blogger took a shine to their self-released CD and told his two readers, both of whom were also bloggers, and they told their four readers, and so on.

9) Black Lips - Veni Vidi Vici (2007) - Seamless melding of 1960's garage band fuzz with 21st Century studio trickery. I don't know how they made it sound like this, but I have enjoyed listening to it again and again trying to figure out.

10) Fucked Up - Black Albino Bones (2008) - Someone in this band knows something about electric guitars, because they manage to make them roar, ring and feed back at the same time. This one's up there in the electric guitar pantheon with Back in Black. It's that good.

Honourable mentions to Andrew Bird for "A Nervous Tic Motion," LCD Soundsystem for "Someone Great," Aesop Rock for "Daylight," Outkast (again) for "Hey Ya," and The Juan Maclean for "Give Me Every Little Thing."

- sally mckay 12-30-2009 3:01 pm [link] [add a comment]