Generation V-azaleen from Paradise Now on Vimeo.]]>
Jenna Syde at PRIDE Toronto 2011
Jenna Syde – Prom Night 2
Jenna Syde – Prom Night
Jenna Syde – Keith Cole Experience]]>
G20Toronto Kettling Stain from Paradise Now on Vimeo.
PRISONERS – Brett Gundlock from Paradise Now on Vimeo.
Download the full Word Document here
Deep assignments run through our lives; there are no coincidences.
J.G. Ballard, The Kindness of Women
I participated with NOW Magazine co-founder Alice Klein in a sweat lodge in Eganville a couple of summers ago. It was a cozy sisterly event, facilitated by the lovely Heather Sole.
“If anyone told you back then this was where we would next meet would you have believed them?” I asked Alice over tea in writer and tea maven Kim Elkington’s house later.
“Probably not,” Alice smiled and it was then she told me something she’d never mentioned back in the day. She said that she’d met my mother, the painter Christiane Pflug, at the early second wave feminist meetings which sprang up out of the same collective energy which fuelled the Marxist Leninist League, the Young Socialists, and the Vietnam Mobilization Committee. I remember the VMC in particular because it was my mother’s idea that we girls accompany her on postering expeditions preceding antiwar demonstrations, even on nights when it was so cold not only did our proverbial snot freeze but also the glue in the buckets. She would cajole us to carry on in the frozen night with promises of hot chocolate in divey diners long cold streetcar rides far from home.
I mention this not only because I miss it now that the opportunity’s gone but also because when much is made of Queen West’s early 80’s art and music explosion what is often forgotten is that Alice Klein and Michael Hollett’s brand new NOW Magazine was as seminal in fostering the burgeoning community as was Dr. Herb Tookey and Paul Sannella’s Cameron House pub.
I drank and talked at The Cameron, sure, but Alice and Michael gave me work. I was first published by Victor Coleman (an interstitial piece!) in Only Paper Today in 1979 but my first regular paid writing gig was about art for Ms. Klein who a decade earlier along with my sister Esther and Ellie Kirzner were members of the Young Socialists. The youth group met in the back room behind a downtown socialist bookstore. It was a location that would become the renowned Rivoli, a café and performance space still operating in the same location today. Before the artists, Queen West was home to activists, some of whom became artists, writers and publishers in the street’s next incarnation.
Politics never entirely left the conversation about art as evidenced in these remarks by critic Lucy Lippard. She could just as easily have been describing Toronto’s nascent scene when she wrote about New York, “In the early 80’s, collaboration itself became a political statement, an effective way of attacking the conventional notion of rugged individual genius and of breaking down barriers between ‘downtown’ and ‘uptown’ artists.”
Download the full Word Document here
PREFACE – I CREATE A LIVING PAINTING
In 1987, Clarke Rogers, the artistic director of Theatre Passe Muraille, made me a deal. He dared me to write a play about the Cameron Hotel, where I lived for several years and demanded I make it a “living painting.”
This taunting enthusiast would actually leave messages on my machine teasing me about writing this play which was to be the penultimate theatrical portrait of Queen Street bohemian life. He would hold court on patios and yell at me as I walked by, “Going to write that play, Lypchuk? Too chicken shit to write that play!? Where’s my play LYPCHUK?” He promised me that if I produced the script that he would mount it as part of the 1987/88 season at Passe Muraille.
I holed myself up and wrote the Monster-Play-That–Killed-Queen-Street. I then took the 113 page manuscript with it’s 43 characters and several musical numbers and handed it to Clarke, who was enjoying listening to his favorite song “Forever Young” on the jukebox in a dive down the street from the theater. He spit up his beer when I smacked the huge cyst thumping Bible of a script on the table. He swore at me, accused me with great ferocity of trying to murder him because it was going to kill him to get it onstage and then like the shape-shifting laser beam of a genius that he was kept his promise to direct it.
The result of my bet with Clark Rogers was Tragedy of Manners, a two hour semi-musical about “the people in your neighborhood “ that boasted a cast of 43 local actors. Each actor was sponsored per week by a local business. It ran for eight weeks and to this day is the largest scripted theatrical performance ever put on a stage in Toronto that was not produced by the Mirvish’s.
Tragedy of Manners is an unusual play because we took the idea of the living painting and mass portraiture quite seriously. The enormous multi-level set, designed by Clarke’s wife (and the current curator of this show), Rae Johnson, was a mirrored replication of the interior of The Cameron including Tom Dean’s iconic “This is Paradise” with the lettering done in reverse.
One of the things that Clarke and I wanted to express as part of this living painting was what an “art gallery” the Cameron had become or “le Musee de Beer” as I refer to it in the Cameron Culture essay here.
Directed by Sarah Miller-Garvin
Featuring Jenn Fraser, Ron Kelly, and Darwin Lyons
Produced by Joshua Korngut, Sarah Miller-Garvin and Anna Standish
Factory Studio Theatre, 125 Bathurst St.
July 7 – 8:45 pm
July 8 – 1:30 pm
July 9 – 6:00 pm
July 10 – noon
July 12 – 1:00 pm
July 14 – 7:45 pm
July 16 – 5:15 pm
Hushabye is a play of nightdreams and daymares. Mary, a troubled university student, starts a relationship with her university mathematics professor while she searches her dreams for an old friend and answers to formulas in her life that just don’t add up. Hushabye is a story of dreams, reality and facing ones past.
Hushabye, by Blood Orange Theatre at the Fringe is a brainy, literary trip, fleshed out with wit, poignancy and insight. In the spirit of the films Memento and Synecdoche New York, and Paul Auster’s compellingly believable fantasias, Hushabye opens by setting up the audience to make a decision, then demonstrating with probability math that in some scenarios the irrational choice is best. The narrative then weaves together the present, staged present, flashbacks, and dreams with such remarkable lucidity that it spits you back onto the sidewalk with lingering suspicions that things are not as solid as they appear. Go see this play and spread the word about another talented troupe emerging in the cultural crucible that is Toronto.
Download the Word Document here
The sign (by Tom Dean) informs us that this is indeed “Paradise“, and it must be since there are (mostly) men drinking at tables below that sign who have been drinking here since World War II. Some of these characters leave at “last call for daytime prices” and some soldier on, becoming part of the nighttime mix. And what a mix it was.
A friend of mine always asks me (as a long-term tenant) how is The Cameron. I’m never quite sure what the question refers to. Does it refer to the business, to the bar, to the upstairs accommodation, or to some all-encompassing entity? Does it refer to some social experiment or some abstraction at least several degrees removed from everyday reality?
Does it refer to a “community”? What is meant by that over-familiar word, anyway? A geographical community, or an artistic counterpart? Perhaps the reference is closer to a scene than a community. But both words imply commonality, so …? Was there a school of thought either originating at or coalescing around The Cameron? No, mercifully there were far too many contradictions and even oppositions – both during the 1981-7 period and indeed ever since.
When The Cameron House changed management and mandate in 1981, the neighbourhood around Queen Street West was in full swing and also in flux. Older artist-run galleries (A Space) had moved to Toronto’s downtown west, and newer ARCs (YYZ, Mercer Union) had recently opened in the vicinity. There were also younger artists – painters, sculptors and others, who felt that the artist-run galleries had become institutionalized and inaccessible. The waiting lists were too long, so alternatives were necessary. There were also many artists making art that was social, that involved crowds and audiences who were themselves performative, as in they enjoyed being on display.
The new Cameron became an immediate successor to bars or taverns which had gained artistic reputations via their clienteles. The Cabana Room, in the Spadina Hotel at King and Spadina, had earlier been a fluidly interdisciplinary performative venue but now it was really just another live band venue. The Beverley Tavern, further east on Queen, was no longer the Ontario College of Art watering hole that it had been previously. The Peter Pan restaurant wasn’t the art hangout it had been in the nineteen seventies, when it catered to artist clientele and employed artist-servers. The Cameron also could be viewed as a descendant of Toronto boho landmarks such as The Pilot in the now-gentrified Yorkville neighbourhood, as well as Grossman’s on Spadina just south of College, with its mixture of draft-dodgers and peace activists, hard-edged abstract painters, and generic blues bands.
The late Felix Partz, one of the three artists comprising General Idea, opined in the performance Press Conference (1977), again in the videotape Pilot (also 1977), and then reasserted in Shut the Fuck Up (1986) that “if it doesn’t sell, then it’s not art”. (1) For not only artist-run centre people, that quote sounded rather Thatcherite or Reaganite (or Mulroney-Lite). This quote is also a clear ancestor of the twenty-first century Instant Coffee maxim “Be social or get lost”. Does the verb “sell” refer to strictly economic transactions? Or does it, like the word “social”, refer to the notion of entering into play, engaging audiences, mirroring scenes or communities rather than staring them in the face and demanding respect or reverence?
Certainly, in the early period of The Cameron House, even seemingly hermetic practices such as painting became more “social” in flavour. Not only the figure but also scene or salon portraits were back with a vengeance. Performance art and video art also began to flirt with their host and ghost mediums – theatre, film, and television. With the art boom in full swing, there was pressure to go big rather than remain small. Out of the garrets and into the public realm, which included the bars as well as the media? In the spirit of the early decade, there were a lot of people talking being interdisciplinary, about “crossing over”. Artists who refused to confine themselves to singular disciplines have always existed – they certainly exist today. Many such artists have profitable careers thanks to their eclecticism. However … there is crossing over as in truly appealing to different audiences who have not traditionally blended or interacted; and there is “crossing over” as a marketing plan. Mix in this with a little bit of that and then … voila! That mindset tends to result in messy confusion, rather than creative collaboration.
But the bar itself was certainly a mix. In the front room, one could circulate (or wait on tables) and identify different tables with different galleries or art organizations. There’s the Art Metropole table, there‘s YYZ at another table, there‘s Mercer Union, there’s FUSE magazine, there’s Chromazone, there are the abstract painters, and then there are so many more. On many nights all of these people would inhabit the same geographical space. Some stayed put at their tables. Some didn’t like each other very much; and some did make a point of crossing the floor and socializing. Then there were unaligned individuals, younger but not only younger artists, looking for exhibition opportunities. (2) Many of them were suspicious of the governmental granting agencies. Many artists of course benefited from governmental largesse but there was and still is legitimate criticism of the agencies in question: they were too political; they were too apolitical; they were frankly too white-bread and inaccessible to a large variety of eligible artists. Quasi-anarchic impulses and quick-draw capitalism have often been difficult to distinguish and the early decade was a time when many were impatient with bureaucratic demands and restrictions. Somebody or a pair or group of people has an idea. So why not get working on it immediately and to hell with handouts?
However… there did seem for many to be a very appealing energy at the Cameron itself and in the neighbourhood. But did, or could, that energy sustain? Energy by definition attracts other energies, and profile attracts more and larger media. Queen Street West and the Cameron itself became brand names – its players and inhabitants had these tastes, they consumed these products. Distinctions between “community” and targeted demographic or market became messier than they already were. Parallel restaurants and music venues sprang up – The Rivoli and The Bamboo. City-TV moved into the Ryerson building on Queen West and displaced non-profit tenants A Space, Trinity Square Video, FUSE, and others. Everything had to get bigger and bigger. If something isn’t visible, then how can that something exist?
As bodies became defined by means of their consumption habits and so forth, bodies also came under attack. What was initially called GRID (Gay Related Immunity Disease) was renamed AIDS (Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome). As HIV/AIDS literally threatened and killed bodies, profiles or images of bodies also came under the microscope. As the AIDS pandemic intensified, as representational questions which had been swept under carpets during the top of the Roaring Eighties became impossible for anybody with a brain to ignore, and as markets began seriously crashing. Reflexivity began to resurface. Image-making became less celebratory – visual and media-arts entered a suspended zone oscillating between activism and mourning. Art became more “social” (in relation to socio-political issues) and less “social” (in relation to being seen and hanging out). Performance for its own sake was no longer good enough, if indeed it ever had been in the first place. People got older – they read and thought more. Energies must either seriously re-charge or else simply fade.
1 – This quote dates back to General Idea’s performance “Press Conference”, presented at the Western Front in Vancouver on March 9, 1977. Segments of this performance were integrated into GI’s videotape “Pilot”, produced for television by OECA TV (The Ontario Educational Corrections Authority, now TV Ontario), later in 1977. The author would like to thank Fern Bayer and A.A. Bronson for this information.
2 – Many of the younger artists who felt alienated and excluded by both non-profit and for-profit galleries reacted creatively by forming collectives that operated on a project-by-project basis without gallery overheads and with minimal bureaucratic baggage. These collectives included: Public Access, Republic, Nethermind, Spontaneous Combustion, Blanket, and numerous others. Cold City Gallery, a commercial gallery operating parallel to an artists’ collective, is also interesting in this context.
Philip Monk, Picturing the Toronto Art Community: The Queen Street Years, “C” International Contemporary Art No. 59, in conjunction with Power Plant exhibition Picturing the Toronto Art Community: The Queen Street Years, Sept. 25- Dec. 20, 1998
Barbara Fischer, YYZ ⎯ An Anniversary, Decalog: YYZ 1979-1989 (YYZ Books Toronto, 1993, pp.5-31)
AA Bronson, The Humiliation of the Bureaucrat: Artist-run Spaces as Museums by Artists, From Sea to Shining Sea (Power Plant, 1987, pp. 164-169, reprinted from Museums by Artists, Art Metropole, Toronto, 1983)
Rosemary Donnegan, What Ever Happened to Queen Street West?, FUSE, No. 42 (fall 1986, pp. 10-24)
Dot Tuer, The CEAC Was Banned in Canada, Mining the Media Archive (YYZ Books, 2005, pp. 55-90, reprinted from “C” No. 11, 1986, pp. 22-37)
Clive Robertson, A Culture of Eviction: Beer, Boats, Bohemians & Bureaucracies, FUSE, Vol. XI, No.1, Fall 1987, pp. 42-45
This essay was commissioned by and for This is Paradise, exhibition at MOCCA (Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art) from June 24 to August 21, 2011. This and other essays for this exhibition have been supported by YYZ Artists’ Outlet and YYZ Publishing.]]>
Wednesday, June 29, 6 to 9 p.m.
Exhibition of work by alumnus Dennis Burton
Christopher Cutts Gallery presents Word Magic: Toronto 1970s, an exhibition of work by Dennis Burton, (AOCA, Drawing & Painting, 1956). The show is co-curated by Faculty of Art member Diane Pugen and Christopher Cutts.
Word Magic is a comprehensive way to describe Dennis Burton’s innovative and continuous fascination with the communication mechanism and architecture of language. Word play, construction of letters, mark making and the way in which marks may or may not convey meaning has always been a major consideration in his creative and visual process: sometimes humorous, polemical, political, and sometimes poking fun at society and his peers and himself, but always intellectually and editorially quirky and unique. Burton catches the viewer off guard and tells us what he wants us to know. His word associations and non-traditional parsing and pausing of words and sentences appear to the uninitiated as an unknown language.
The exhibition is presented in conjunction with the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art’s This is Paradise.
Algoma August #2
47 x 61 in., acrylic on canvas
Christopher Cutts Gallery
21 Morrow Avenue
Since his arrival from the U.K. in the early 1970s, when he screened films at Rochdale College, the legendary Martin Heath has been a pillar of the creative community. His activities with the Women in Film International Festival (WFIF) 1973, then the Festival of Festivals, were the precursors of the Toronto International Film Festival; however Martin has remained committed to grass roots, independent culture. With his synthesis of bike shop, alternative cinema and performance venue Martin has enabled several generations of artists. Internet searches reveal the wide range of film makers, artists and performers who find a way to share their work at Cinecycle.
Cinecycle – Martin Heath from Paradise Now on Vimeo.
An account of Martin’s Cinecycle history, from portable inflatable theatres, through several Toronto locations, can be found in an article by Janine Marchessault in Public Journal, Issue 40.
Cinecycle’s current location is featured on the 401 Richmond web site.
Current programing is listed on John Porter’s super8porter site.
For images, see the flickr page
Box 45, 401 Richmond St. W
In the old coach house down the lane behind 129 Spadina Ave.,
on the east side between Richmond St. W. and Adelaide St. W., Toronto.
The Epicure Café’s own web site reports,
“After serving the neighborhood for almost two decades at the corner of Queen Street West and Portland, Epicure has recently moved to a new and improved location just a few doors east.”
But I ran out of fingers and toes when I tried to count back to my memories of hanging out at the Epicure with A.S.A. Harrison, whose books ORGASMS (Coach House) and, with Margaret Dragu, Revelations: Essays on Striptease and Sexuality (Nightwood Press) were published in the 70s and 80s.
A.S.A. had such a distinctive way of moving her lips around the word, “Epicure”, that her voice still rings in my head. “Let’s try the Epicure.”
A fact-checking phone call reassured me that 20 digits are insufficient to represent the number of years that the bistro has been serving the Queen West neighbourhood, even counting 2 years for 1:
In 2011 Epicure Café logs 42 years on the block.
Adding worry beads to fingers and toes, 42 years brings my count back to the time when I dropped acid and for amusement hitchhiked on 401, crossing to travel west if no one offered a ride thumbing east. The trip would bring me to Toronto, where the sight of speedfreaks’ German shepherds in the Rochdale elevators made my hair stand on end. Or a draft dodger sporting a Zapata mustache whom I had met at Expo ’67 took me to my first experience of art gallery openings in the then cool Yorkville, and got me hooked on art for life.
Rae Johnson reminisced too:
“…the Epicure, where I had a clandestine dinners with Vincent Tangredi, and a year later, where I would be with Clarke, it was his ‘office’.
The Epicure was the caterer for our wedding. And one of the stools really belonged to Graham Greene.”
(email correspondence, May 17, 2011)
Epicure Café from Paradise Now on Vimeo.
“When everything else has gone from my brain – the President’s name, the state capitals, the neighborhoods where I lived, and then my own name and what it was on earth I sought, and then at length the faces of my friends, and finally the faces of my family – when all this has dissolved, what will be left, I believe, is topology: the dreaming memory of land as it lay this way and that.”
-Annie Dillard, An American Childhood
Jamie Ross is a multi-disciplinary artist interested in personal psycho-geography, Land and Place. The ways in which people establish connections and meaningful relationships with their powerful places – their linkages to the landscape and topography and to the specific non-human persons who inhabit these landscapes drive his art practice.
Ross’ work deals with mythology, genealogy, storytelling and dreams; the numinous as is approached by a young, urban queer man largely isolated from the powerful magical cultures from which he sprung.
Creating and documenting queer community based on a sincere engagement with magic, grafting myself onto the rich artistic traditions of my cultural ancestors is fundamental. Overt references to things queer and punk are often present.
This show is Part 2 of THE LEGEND IS BLACK: a three-part curatorial project by Xenia Benivolski concurrent with THIS IS PARADISE/PARADISE NOW.
PART 1 www.butchergallery.com/thelegendisblack
PART 3 www.1332queenwest.com/upcoming.html
Curated by Xenia Benivolski
Jamie Ross was born in a little house on Pendrith Street, just north of Toronto’s Christie Pits Park. He is a red haired film/video artist, working primarily in time-based media, working at the farthest-flung edges of narrative film and video. His work has screened in nationally and in Europe and Asia. His fiction has been anthologized, self-published in the form of a zine, and his most recent work, a novella entitled Coldwater, was published this year. Ross now lives in Montreal.
Curatorial Text by Stephanie Fielding
can be found by clicking here
June 1 – June 18
Opening Reception: June 3
Toronto Free Gallery
1277 Bloor Street West
Archiving the 80s engages with posters and ephemera from the period. Dormant for over twenty years, Toronto’s unique downtown culture rematerializes throughout this exhibition, opening-up the historiographic experiences of Queen Street West during the 80’s. With a fascinating end of days style and unpredictable design, these fragmentary documents create a repository of historical artifacts.
Projecting an era of gesamtkunstwerk (all-embracing art form), these remarkable art-posters were produced by seminal artists of the period including David Buchan, Brian Burnett, ChromaZone/Chromatique, Tom Dean, Andy Fabo, Fastwürms, Eldon Garnet, Oliver Girling, Sybil Goldstein, Randy and Berenicci, Matt Harley, Jenny Holzer, General Idea, Tim Jocelyn, Rae Johnson, Barbara Klunder, Shadowy Men, Michael Merrill, Andrew James Paterson, Andy Patton, David Ramsden, Michael Snow, Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak and more…
General Idea – P Is for Poodle, 1983. Collection of Herb Tookey.
ARCHIVING THE 80s on VIMEO
PARADISE NOW provides an opportunity for artists and culture enthusiasts to write their own histories and living narratives, and to build an archive resource for research.
Please make use of the MAP, ARCHIVE, and current LISTINGS, by sharing information, memories, and experience.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to submit information about your addresses over time (studios, venues) for inclusion in the MAP that will track the migration of Toronto’s creative communities from the 70s to the present. The information can be as detailed as you wish. If you prefer not to share exact addresses, general indications (intersection, block, neighborhood) are sufficient..
Please also submit the addresses of any clubs, venues, galleries, or studios to include in the mapping of Toronto art.
Paradise Map Data
- Addresses 1970s/1980s/1990s/ to present (exact or rough)
If you wish, in addition:
- links to related websites, videos, blogs, facebook etc.
- text (cv, artist statement, promo, caprice)
- 1 image
Please email email@example.com to share information about your work, practice, event listings, venues and reviews to the FEED BACK section.
- Contact info
- Link to video
- Inks to related websites, blogs, facebook etc.
- Text (cv, artist statement, promo, caprice, review, essay, memoir)
Admission: $10.00 pwc
Linda Griffiths will begin with a short reading of her novel in progress The Dirty Theatre Stories
written by Linda Griffiths and Patrick Brymer
Originally directed by Clarke Rogers
Produced by Linda Griffiths and Andrew Moodie
This is the play that brought the police into Theatre Passe Muraille and spawned a law suit between the Toronto Star and the cast of O.D. On Paradise in 1983. This eight character social comedy is about a group of Canadians who go to Jamaica for a one week package deal. There’s a blue collar family and a group of young professionals who find themselves thrown together in a place of startling beauty and illusive danger. They ( of course) smoke the sacred herb and transcend their daily existance. All personal philosophies are questioned under the paradise sun.
The Toronto Star accused the actors in the play of smoking real marijuana on stage – they were, in fact, smoking strawberry tea! A Strawberry Tea Benefit raised money for the legal action and the Star settled outside of court.
O.D. On Paradise, directed by Clarke Rogers, was a run-away hit – playing eight weeks to packed audiences who sat in a theatre filled with paper flowers and two tons of sand. It was revived a second year, selling out again….and then, the lawsuit! A vibrant new cast will overdose on Paradise – on June 26.
To Celebrate the launch of the immensely spectacular show at MOCCA we wanted to have a bite to eat with artists and musicians who think this is Paradise.
Please bring something to share… especially wonderful stories and something delicious (or a delicious story)
We think that this will be an intimate place to relax with some of the old friends we don’t see often enough. Please join us and celebrate
Please invite other Queen street folks to come along.
In the Cameron House Back Room.
In the front room at 9pm is the amazingly curious Kevin Quain at 9pm. It is the last before his break for the summer. His theatrical performance requires a quiet attentive audience. Please be respectful if you’re walking through.
Our facebook page