Glen Le Mesurier, Arcane de Mer

Howdy!

What is it about Montreal and place temporary sculpture exhibits in parks where junkies hang out? Last month I wrote about Robert Lorrain at the Parc des Faubourgs, and at about the same time as I was writing that, I discovered the Glen Le Mesurier exhibit called Arcane de Mer at Cabot Square.

Cabot Square, for those who don’t frequent it all that often, is across the street from the Pepsi Forum and is notorious for being a hangout for junkies, hookers, hustlers and other assorted members of the not-quite-ready-for-the-nine-to-five lifestyle. I, myself, can remember selling oregano cigarettes, 3 for $5 there before a Gentle Giant show there in the 1970s.

The Pedagogic Panel for Glen Le Mesurier's Arcane de Mer.
The Pedagogic Panel for Glen Le Mesurier's Arcane de Mer.

Yeah, I know it’s not a great photo, but if you squint you can make out what it says. For the francophobes reading this, it roughly translates as

Glen Le Mesurier is a prolific artist know for making environmental sculptures. For 25 years he has show his work in Europe and the United States. In Montreal his work is on display at Sunset Garden [Ed note: it sounds WAY better in French as Le Jardin du Crépuscule] a permanent exhibit in the hipster neighborhood, Mile End. There are over 100 of his sculptures all over the world, Montreal and even in some private homes and stores. This exhibit of 10 sculptures made out of steel recycled from trains and ships took over two years to make. In memory of the voyages that Cabot made. These sculptures form an allegorical triptych combining movement, shipbuilding and spirit of adventure.

Overall it’s a nice enough exhibit. I didn’t get (or see) and of the kineticism of the sculptures, nor did any of them remind me of shipbuilding or Giovanni Cabot. But maybe whomever wrote the offending paragraph on the sign didn’t actually have a chance to see the sculptures before writing what they wrote.

A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.
A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.

As none of the sculptures had titles (or had titles that I was able to ascertain) it’s tough to figure out what M. Le Mesurier had in mind. If you squint hard, this one can look like a ships wheel. But to my eye it looks way more like an eye or perhaps a compass. Then again, it also could be some sort of monument to a sun god or any number of other things depending on which way you look at it.

A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.
A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.

This one, I’m not certain what to make of it, a bunch of circles, and semicircles, arranged in a vaguely totemic fashion. It doesn’t make me think much about the sea or ships unless I squint hard and then perhaps, maybe it reminds me of something kind of like a lighthouse. But if M. Le Mesurier had decided to name the exhibit Arcane de Haida then the connection to totem poles would be much more evident. And what’s with the use of the word “Arcane” in the title? On one hand, if he wanted to keep things mysterious, secret and obscure, I would have suggested picking a title that didn’t attract attention to the mysterious, the secret and the obscure. But on the other hand, I can’t help but think that the title has something to do with Tarot cards, but there are only 10 sculptures, whereas there are 22 arcana major cards and 56 arcana minor cards so the numerology is not quite there.

A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.
A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.

I don’t quite know what to make of this one, especially since it has a hat on. The gears inside kind of confuse me as well. Up close it reminds me of a film projector. But I have a sinking suspicion, that I’m missing something.

Close up of a sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.
Close up of a sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.
A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.
A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.

This sculpture, appeared to me, to be placed in the wrong direction. It’s on the northwest side of Cabot Square, facing Lambert Closse. Which is all fine and dandy if you want the buses to be able to see what it looks like from the front. Because they are the only things on Lambert Closse. If whomever had installed it, had twisted it 180 degrees, then the denizens of the square would have been able to see it from the front.

A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.
A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.

No matter how hard I try the only thing I can think of when I see this sculpture, is Fozzie Bear. I think it has to do with what I would call “the mouth.”

Close up of a sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.
Close up of a sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.

However the only thing I can find about Fozzie Bear being at sea is from the 220th episode of the Muppet Show, with Petula Clark as the guest, where they did this sketch called “Sea Chantey.”

Which still leaves us stretching for meanings.

A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.
A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.

At which point it probably would be better to start talking about form. If you notice, three of the five sculptures so far are columns with a circular piece on top, frequently the circular piece on top has some sort of mass inside. For those that aren’t made to look like magnifying glasses, M. Le Mesurier still manages to work a lot of circular parts in and on to the sculptures.

Now other than Cabot being fairly instrumental in proving that the world was round, I don’t see any other connections between the sculptures themselves and “Arcane de Mer.” And the world being round isn’t exactly the most obscure fact around.

Close up of a sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.
Close up of a sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.

What’s not to like about really big rusted chains?

A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.
A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.
A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.
A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.

Front and back views of what I think is my favorite sculpture in the exhibit. I don’t know if it is because there is text on the metal, or because he is using an I-beam for a pedestal, or if it is due to the reproduction of the Roman aqueducts being stuck on the front, or something entirely different.

In a nutshell, with this piece M. Le Mesurier has exploded his normal methodology. Instead of having a circular piece with something insde it on top of a column, he has taken the guts (the stuff that would normally be inside the circle) and placed multiple circles around it (and also depending on your perspective, in it and on it). In effect exploding his typical style.

As a consequence, where the sculptures that look like a magnifying glass kind of focus your view on one spot, your eye ends up roaming all over the place on this one.

A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.
A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.

The only thing that comes to mind upon seeing this one, is Etta James’ song Tell Mama.

“…and I’ll make everything alright.” Granted there are no legs, and the sculpture isn’t quite as voluptuous as Etta James is, but those arms look extremely inviting and comforting. It might have something to do with the lack of detail in the face, and as a result you end up imposing your own ideas on it, and mine say “Etta James.”

A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.
A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.
A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.
A sculpture by Glen Le Mesurier in Arcane de mer at Cabot Square.

The last two sculptures at Cabot Square. I find them kind of “meh” but you may think differently.

Overall, it’s nice to see that the city takes the initiative to install temporary sculpture exhibits in disadvantaged neighborhoods during the summer. And Glen Le Mesurier’s work is a far sight better than that by Robert Lorrain at the Parc des Faubourgs, but M. Le Mesurier still has a long ways to go if these works are examples of his latest work. These sculptures are far too similar, bordering on clichéd, the only thing that they have going for them is their massive nature, but after a while, even extremely large gets mundane.

Other than making the presumption that M. Le Mesurier used old bits of ships to create the works, I can see no connection to the sea (even an obscure one) and with a lack of titles trying to find a quote, deeper, unquote meaning is going to take just a little bit more time than I have to invest in M. Le Mesurier’s work.

Ultimately I just wish that the city would be able to install a better caliber of work in both Cabot Square and Parc des Faubourgs.

More Dollar Store Dinosaur Lawn Ornaments

Howdy!

Saw these on Ash, in Point Saint Charles…

Some cool dollar store purchases on the lawn at 422 Ash
Some cool dollar store purchases on the lawn at 422 Ash
The dinosaurs
The dinosaurs
Close up of the dinosaurs on the lawn.
Close up of the dinosaurs on the lawn.
Dinosaurs resting on the lawn.
Dinosaurs resting on the lawn.
Aren't the dogs cute?
Aren't the dogs cute?
And we can't forget the snail!
And we can't forget the snail!

How much money did Gilles Porte make travelling the world?

Howdy!

While I was at the Eaton Centre the other day I wandered up to the top floor and came across an exhibit of children’s pictures.

Some drawings by children on the top floor of the Eaton Centre
Some drawings by children on the top floor of the Eaton Centre
Some more drawings by children on the top floor of the Eaton Centre.
Some more drawings by children on the top floor of the Eaton Centre.

On the flip side were portraits of (what I presume are) the children who did the drawings.

Portraits of children on the top floor of the Eaton Centre.
Portraits of children on the top floor of the Eaton Centre.

And dispersed around were some wall panels that explained things.

Wall panel explaining what the exhibit is about.
Wall panel explaining what the exhibit is about.
Wall panel explaining that the Quebec government gave money so that this exhibit could happen.
Wall panel explaining that the Quebec government gave money so that this exhibit could happen.

And this is where my gums start flapping and I get a little bit agitated (it’s ok, I’ve had my blood pressure tested recently, and it’s ok). Ostensibly this is an exhibit of children’s self-portraits from around the world. And in going through it, it appeared that most of the children were from some pretty poor places. Or more bluntly there weren’t any pictures by middle-class children.

Some more children from the exhibit.
Some more children from the exhibit.

Which got me wondering how much money each of the children got for participating in the project, and how much money Gilles Porte got to travel the world to gather the self-portraits by disadvantaged youth around the world and then print them in a large scale format.

Heck it got me thinking how this must be one of the more effective uses of money by the Quebec government to raise awareness of the basic rights of children around the world, because there was not a single person on the entire floor while I went around taking photos.

And since they were trumpeting how the exhibit had been to 20 other French cities as well, I wondered if they had placed it in other places that got little to no traffic.

And then the thing that really got my bile flowing was this juxtaposition:

One of the portraits next to an advertisement for The Gap.
One of the portraits next to an advertisement for The Gap.

Now I realize you can’t really make out the portrait of Penda too easily, but see that Gap ad right next to it? Now please explain the difference between the two to me (other than the fact that they are of two very different children).

So as far as I can tell (please someone tell me that I’m wrong) the Quebec government spent good money on an photo exhibit in a mall that is being seen by no one and that is for the most part indistinguishable from advertisements.

I’d love to know who signed off on that one.

Jean-François Talbot, Sylvie Dubuc and lain Dumouchel need your help

Howdy!

An oil painting of either strawberries or potatoes (or perhaps red rocks from 3484 Hutchison) by Claude Picher made in 1973.
An oil painting of either strawberries or potatoes (or perhaps red rocks from 3484 Hutchison) by Claude Picher made in 1973.
An oil painting of a farmhouse by Claude Picher made in 1973.
An oil painting of a farmhouse by Claude Picher made in 1973.

Jean-François Talbot, Sylvie Dubuc and lain Dumouchel are the new “art cops” in Quebec these days and they are looking for these two paintings. If you’ve seen the paintings they ask that you contact them at (514) 598-4134 or art.alert@surete.qc.ca.

3484 Hutchison

Howdy!

3484 Hutchison is one of my favorite places in the city.

A corner of the "lawn" painted blue to make it look like the sea, with some rocks carefully placed so as to appear to be whales tails.
A corner of the "lawn" painted blue to make it look like the sea, with some rocks carefully placed so as to appear to be whales tails.
A close up of the "whale" diving.
A close up of the "whale" diving.
What appear to be thumbtacks placed in the sand in order to spell something, but I can't make out head or tail. It just looks pretty.
What appear to be thumbtacks placed in the sand in order to spell something, but I can't make out head or tail. It just looks pretty.
Some dollar store plastic crocodiles hanging around a rock.
Some dollar store plastic crocodiles hanging around a rock.
Some small happy rocks hanging out on a larger rock.
Some small happy rocks hanging out on a larger rock.
Some more small happy rocks hanging out on a larger rock.
Some more small happy rocks hanging out on a larger rock.
Stylish rocks
Stylish rocks
Two bird rocks being watched by a happy rock.
Two bird rocks being watched by a happy rock.
Red (ok, maybe orange) rocks
Red (ok, maybe orange) rocks
Green rocks
Green rocks
Blue Rocks
Blue Rocks

And then if you enter the lobby there’s THIS!

Elephantized names.
Elephantized names.
Sort of self-explanatory
Sort of self-explanatory
Email sangfroidmagnon@hotmail.com for more details
Email sangfroidmagnon@hotmail.com for more details

Roadsworth & Brian Armstrong, Fragile at the Eaton Centre

Howdy!

Your friend and mine, Roadsworth appears to be cashing in on his fame. If you haven’t heard, The fine folk who own the Eaton Centre hired him and his friend Brian Armstrong to make a quote, installation, unquote. Initially I thought “great!” but then upon hearing more about it, I started to think that it might just be an attempt to Greenwash Ivanhoe Cambridge (aka the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec).

It’s gotten a fair bit of mainstream press (more and still more) some random bloggers, and a bunch of websites made by (and for) the creators, but no real critical analysis. Which further solidified my thoughts about the Greenwashing. But I figured I would reserve any and all judgment until after I visited the mecca of consumerism.

Generic photo of "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at the Eaton Centre
Generic photo of "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at the Eaton Centre

Well I made it there today. And in my humble estimation, it is Greenwashing.

I hear you ask; “Hey dude, why do you think it is Greenwashing?” Well let me tell you…

Part of the didactic display for "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at the Eaton Centre.
Part of the didactic display for "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at the Eaton Centre.
Another generic photo of "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at the Eaton Centre where I was unable to avoid the advertisement for Virgin mobile.
Another generic photo of "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at the Eaton Centre where I was unable to avoid the advertisement for Virgin mobile.

First off, if it wasn’t greenwashing, why does the didactic display look like some sort of advertisement?

Second off, if it wasn’t greenwashing, why is it impossible to avoid the ads when looking at the “art?”

And third off, if it isn’t greenwashing, why is it that there are 12 year-olds in Montreal who could have done a better job? I don’t know how many of you saw Arrimage 2010 – Distortion, but I did, and this is what I said about it last year. And for that matter Arrimage happens every year at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (2009 version, 2011 version) It is an exhibit of art made by elementary and high school students that is then exhibited at Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Since schools don’t have an awful lot of cash for art supplies, very frequently they use trash and other recycled material. And I can say without a doubt, that there is stuff I’ve seen in the Arrimages that beats Fragile hand-down.

Something that looks like a frog made out of a milk container sitting on a cardboard lily at "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at the Eaton Centre.
Something that looks like a frog made out of a milk container sitting on a cardboard lily at "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at the Eaton Centre.
Flowers made from soda cans and cups at "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at the Eaton Centre.
Flowers made from soda cans and cups at "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at the Eaton Centre.

Now my not-even-two-year-old nephew could have made those. (Actually I take that back, his mother would have killed me and then strung me up by my balls for the dogs to eat if I let him use a pair of scissors to cut up the cups.) But you get my drift, right?

The underside of "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at teh Eaton Centre.
The underside of "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at teh Eaton Centre.

Now, despite my complaining, it isn’t all crap. I gotta hand it to whomever was the person who came up with the idea of turning one of the holes in the Eaton Centre into a 3-D pond. The quote, fish, unquote, below the quote, water, unquote, is a stroke of genius. Pity that that level of thought couldn’t be upheld for the entire project.

BGL on the other hand, is a group of artists who can keep up a certain level of quality in their art, while at the same time making extremely pointed commentary on consumerist culture.

And as long as I am handing out compliments, Fragile by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at the Eaton Centre does get noticed by the shoppers.

Some shoppers looking at "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at the Eaton Centre.
Some shoppers looking at "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at the Eaton Centre.
Some more shoppers looking at "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at the Eaton Centre.
Some more shoppers looking at "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at the Eaton Centre.

And I presume that getting people to stop is one of its primary purposes.

Another reason that I think it is Greenwashing, is this:

The massive touch screen thing used to explain an ecosystem almost as far removed from The Eaton Centre as the moon. It gets bonus points for allowing the organizers to use the words "interactivity" and "multi-media."
The massive touch screen thing used to explain an ecosystem almost as far removed from The Eaton Centre as the moon. It gets bonus points for allowing the organizers to use the words "interactivity" and "multi-media."

Quick, guess how much that thing cost? And then how much to create the program (ok, you can call it an app, if you like) to explain ecosystems? And while I’m at it, although you really can’t tell it from here, the screen is not at an appropriate height for children, who I would presume are the intended audience.

Oh, and if you’re interested, my guess would be about $10,000 for the touch screen and another $10,000 for the program. I wonder if Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong saw any of it? Personally I would think that most of the cash was scooped up by Genevieve Kelly who appears to be the brains behind Projek room. Because not only is there the massive touch screen, but then there are also the videos! (Click on this link for the Projek room’s videos) All five of them.

Given that the Eaton Centre has displayed the corpses of Chinese political prisoners, I’m inclined to believe that their ethics, when it comes to presenting exhibitions are not of the highest caliber. And while one might think that they present exhibitions in order to entice people in the doors, figuring that once you’re in the Eaton Centre, you are much more likely to make a purchase than if you were not. But I personally believe that they are actually looking to manipulate their public image. Or in blunter terminology, they want to look good, they don’t really want people to think that all they are interested in is more money.

When more than 75,000 people each day walk through it (more than 3,000/hour if it was open 24 hours every day) it’s kind of difficult to get a handle on whether there are more people showing up at the Eaton Centre because of an exhibit, or if they present an exhibit in order to appease and appeal to the people who already frequent the Eaton Centre. My guess is the later. But as I am fond of saying, I have been wrong before, and I will be wrong in the future.

As well, I’ve rambled on here for more than 1,200 words. Far more than I intended. I think I’ve made my point that the actual exhibit is more craft-like than art; that it doesn’t represent the highest caliber of craft; and that I think it is all an attempt on the part of Ivanhoe Cambridge (aka the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec) to make most people think that they actually care about the environment, when in fact all they really care about is accumulating as much money as possible.

I’ve got some more pictures, but I really should wrap it up here. By all means go see it yourself and make up your own mind. They don’t throw it out until the end of October.

Oooh! An elevator shaft covered in cardboard!
Oooh! An elevator shaft covered in cardboard!
OMIGAWD!! Used water bottles stuck to the side of an escalator in a wavy pattern!!!
OMIGAWD!! Used water bottles stuck to the side of an escalator in a wavy pattern!!!
The view from above
The view from above
More cardboard used to cover columns.
More cardboard used to cover columns.
Superfluous photo of a young-ish woman taking a picture of "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at the Eaton Centre.
Superfluous photo of a young-ish woman taking a picture of "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at the Eaton Centre.
Superfluous photo of an older woman taking a picture of "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at the Eaton Centre.
Superfluous photo of an older woman taking a picture of "Fragile" by Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong at the Eaton Centre.

More questions than answers

Howdy!

Over at Parcours, they talk with Louis Lacerte about the “art market.” Unfortunately he trots out the same old tired cliches that have been around since time immemorial.

If you really want to learn about the “art market” I’d strongly suggest reading the following websites:

And then getting out and visiting as many galleries and auction houses as you can.