Instrumentation by Peter Flemming at Skol

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Suffice it to say that Peter Flemming‘s work resonates with me (yuck, yuck, yuck! Sorry I couldn’t resist). In short, Mr. Flemming makes resonators. Quite fascinating ones I might add. The show is up at Skol until Saturday.

In a slightly longer version, Mr. Flemming’s exhibition, called Instrumentation, involves five linked pieces, plus six other small “display” objects some posters and videos. When you first walk around the wall into the main gallery you are confronted with four objects that if you squint enough look like large roughly built megaphones, ear horns or gramophone amplifiers, take your pick. Actually, three. There’s one that while functioning the same way actually looks more like a room divider for a tall person’s garage or workshop. Each of them make a different noise, although it is kind of difficult to figure out what noise emanates from which one.

Installation view of Instrumentation by Peter Flemming at Skol
Installation view of Instrumentation by Peter Flemming at Skol

Then in the back room is a large console of a vaguely mechanical nature with rotating plastic lids on plywood arms, three goose-necked lamps that change in intensity, some drums and some wires. Lots and lots and lots of wires. According to various websites the console (which really is just a large plywood table, but sounds more impressive if I call it a console) is responsible for making the various noises, dimming the lights and all sorts of other endlessly entertaining things.

On their own, the speakers were mildly interesting visually, mainly due to how they were constructed. Plywood and carpentry clamps were the main materials used in one and the others were similarly made out of items that are easily findable in just about any hardware store. It wasn’t until I ventured into the back room that I got excited. While I’ve never been accused of being part of any maker community (I tend to take things apart and break them instead of creating things) as a card carrying generic guy I’m fascinated by others that do. Which if you think about it makes sense, wince I tend to write about them.

Installation view of Instrumentation by Peter Flemming at Skol
Installation view of Instrumentation by Peter Flemming at Skol

The console had just the right number of mechanical doohickeys and automated gizmos to keep me fascinated for what seemed like hours. Then it slowly dawned on me, I’m not always the sharpest tack on the box, that it was controlling everything, and that was my moment of discovery. But how it was controlling things wasn’t exactly clear. Which obviously meant that I had to spend the better part of an hour studying it in minute detail trying to figure it out. Ultimately I wasn’t successful. Sometimes the machine does win. But I was undaunted. As I get older I don’t have to win everything absolutely every time.

Installation view of Instrumentation by Peter Flemming at Skol
Installation view of Instrumentation by Peter Flemming at Skol

For the curious, there are some very informative videos that do a good job of explaining how the sounds are made, unfortunately I didn’t take notes, so I can’t repeat them here. They’re short enough (I think the five different films are about 15 minutes long in total) that it isn’t difficult to sit through them all. And I was pleased to see that they were not playing on an endless loop when I visited, which made things that much more understandable. Also in what could be called the lobby, or the foyer to the gallery were six objects taken from what I presume was an earlier version of the console and were displayed on pedestals and mounted on the wall like regular run of the mill art objects.

Prior to understanding what was happening, I said that the speakers were “mildly interesting visually.” But once I realized that everything was hooked up a linked together, they became completely fascinating. I poured over them taking pictures from every possible angle trying to break the code. It’s a amazing what a little spark will do. Unfortunately, none of my pictures of the details do any of the works any justice. While I seem to be able to take reasonable pictures of objects, I haven’t quite mastered close-ups, yet.

Installation view of Instrumentation by Peter Flemming at Skol
Installation view of Instrumentation by Peter Flemming at Skol

On the whole Instrumentation was a pretty kick-ass show, taking maker culture at white cubing it. I enjoyed myself immensely trying to follow all the cables and figure out what bit was responsible for what movement, even if I was ultimately unsuccessful. It kind of reminded me of some of Mitchell F. Chan’s work. Personally I’m very glad that I don’t work at Skol being assaulted by the noise everyday would go a long way towards making me even loopier than I already am. But in shorter doses while I’m focused on how it’s being made is a completely different kettle of fish.

Résidence Le Rigaud

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One of my favorite buildings in town. Built in 1976, I’d love to know who the architect was, because whatever he was smoking at the time was some powerful stuff.

Slant-end ventilation
Slant-end ventilation
The Penthouse
The Penthouse
Résidence Le Rigaud
Résidence Le Rigaud
Slant-end ventilation (in spring)
Slant-end ventilation (in spring)
Résidence Le Rigaud
Résidence Le Rigaud
Slant-end windows covered with landscaping
Slant-end windows covered with landscaping
Slant-end windows covered with landscaping
Slant-end windows covered with landscaping
Résidence Le Rigaud
Résidence Le Rigaud
Résidence Le Rigaud
Résidence Le Rigaud

Other at Yves LaRoche

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Continuing on the exhibits I saw last week, while Yves Laroche says the show is called Tempest, it struck me much more as a solo show by Derek Mehaffey as I couldn’t really find anything where the work exhibited was thematically linked, let alone being tempestuous. (Although, if pressed, it’d be easy enough to say that all of Mr. Mehaffey’s work is tempestuous to a certain extent).

When I asked if I could take pictures, I was told “no.” So we’re going to have to do with versions from their website, and my pictures from the street. Another reason why it feels to me more like a bunch of paintings by Mr. Mehaffey than anything show-like, is that what they show on the website and what is shown in the gallery, are reasonable facsimiles, but not close to being the same thing. Kind of like the catalogue and exhibit for Wangechi Mutu at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal.

Then, one more thing before launching into the art itself, upon reading the press release, I truly hope that Mr. Mehaffey’s art can’t be seen in “countless art galleries around the world.” That would either imply a level of irresponsibility that is just mind boggling or that his work has been forged enough that he can’t be bothered to fight it anymore. Personally, I hope that it was just slip-up on the part of M. Laroche, when he was writing the press release, and he wanted to give the impression of lots and lots and lots of galleries, instead of giving the impression that Mr. Mehaffey can’t be bothered to keep track of the galleries that show his work.

Other  Pile of Person , Mixed media on paper, 11,25'' x 8,5'', image courtesy yveslaroche.com
Other Pile of Person , Mixed media on paper, 11,25'' x 8,5'', image courtesy yveslaroche.com

Yves Laroche Galerie d’art is one of the older art galleries in town having opened in 1991. They moved from Old Montreal to Little Italy/Mile End something like two years ago (although I could have sworn it was more like five years ago) and this was my first visit since the move. The two spaces couldn’t be more different from each other. Back in Old Montreal, there wasn’t a single white wall that I can remember, pieces were hung cheek to jowl, almost salon style. In a word cluttered, which was entirely and completely appropriate given that they had chosen (and continue to choose) to exhibit street art and other objects that are a reaction to, or commentary on the visual overload one gets in a 21st century city (I can’t remember ever seeing any graffiti in the countryside, can you?) Visiting the old space was almost like being an anthropologist and being able to study some previously unknown Amazonian tribe in situ (back when that was a good thing).

The new space is the exact opposite, all white walls, lots of space between the pieces of art. It seems like an attempt at getting uppity, possibly to justify the prices, possibly because as M. Laroche got older, he, like everyone else, got more conservative and did not need his senses assaulted from every angle, 24/7 when he went to work. Possibly because he got a great deal on a long term lease in a place that, unfortunately, did not have any 15 foot high brick walls, or most likely, some other equally valid reason, mine just being guesses.

Installation shot from the street of Tempest by Other at Yves Laroche galerie d'art
Installation shot from the street of Tempest by Other at Yves Laroche galerie d'art

When I visited, there were 19 different pieces being shown, although two of them were multiples, W, a linoleum print in an edition of 30 and Crying Boxcar in an edition of 10. As I’ve said previously, Mr. Mehaffey’s work can be called tempestuous. Mostly due to the fact that he makes big things with lots and lots of little things. In the same kind of way that a tempest is made up of lots and lots of tiny rain drops to make a big storm. Each of his large pieces is formed by many smaller drawings, sketches, collages, call them what you will, combined together not to make a larger whole image, but just a larger image with specific and individual parts that, for the most part, are recognizable as being separate from the whole. Kind of like a group portrait, in that we all recognize that there are a bunch of different people in a group portrait, and it is the group that makes the whole.

The major difference being that Mr. Mehaffey will not only use different objects, faces, things within a larger whole, he also will use a completely different method of making the image. One being drawn with marker, another in paint, a third in pencil, etc. And it is this heterogeneity that make his larger pieces absolutely fascinating and wonderful. I’m kind of annoyed that I was only limited to taking pictures from the sidewalk and using what’s on the yveslaroche.com website because neither one allows for closeups to show to amount of detail in any of the larger paintings.

Installation shot from the street of Tempest by Other at Yves Laroche galerie d'art
Installation shot from the street of Tempest by Other at Yves Laroche galerie d'art

For purposes of this article, I’m going to call those 19 different pieces the “show” despite the fact that there are 20 different pieces on the website with something like half-a-dozen that don’t correspond. The ones that worked best to me were the larger pieces on non-traditional bases, such as Pile of person 2.

Other  Pile of person 2 , Mixed technique on wood cut out, 79'' x 63'', image courtesy yveslaroche.com
Other Pile of person 2 , Mixed technique on wood cut out, 79'' x 63'', image courtesy yveslaroche.com

Although I’m still trying to decide if the dirt marks on How We Were were intentional or just an oversight.

Other  How We Were , Mixed media on canvas, 67,5'' x 53,75'', image courtesy yveslaroche.com
Other How We Were , Mixed media on canvas, 67,5'' x 53,75'', image courtesy yveslaroche.com

It was nice to see that a bunch of the pieces had sold, I guess both M. Laroche and Mr. Mehaffey will be able to pay next month’s rent. The show itself is up for another two days, and while it isn’t going to change anyone’s life, it’s still a pretty show that can easily occupy 15 to 30 minutes of your time before or after having an espresso and cornetto at the Cornetteria across the street from the gallery.

Other  Lighting the Path , Mixed media on panel 61"x42", image coutesy yveslaroche.com
Other Lighting the Path , Mixed media on panel 61"x42", image coutesy yveslaroche.com

Elevators in Montreal

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Elevators are extremely difficult to photograph. I think I need to get a special lens.

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

Unfortunately, I didn’t keep any notes when taking the pictures.

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

So while I have some vague memories of where these are, I’m not 100% certain

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

100% of the time, and as a consequence prefer to leave them all unidentified

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

Instead of identifying some of them, and not identifying others.

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

After these, which are just a tiny, tiny selection of elevators in Montreal

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

I might have to start taking pictures of escalators that are not in the metro.

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

There are probably fewer escalators than elevators by a factor of at least 10, if not 100.

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

Which would mean, theoretically, that I might be able to get snapshots of all the escalators in town.

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

That all being said, I could also try to find a very wide angle lens

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

And use some website like this

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

Combined with a spreadsheet

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

To actually enable me to photograph all the elevators in town in an organized fashion.

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

But somehow, I don’t think that beyond the concept of paying attention to things that we normally don’t pay attention to

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

That there would be any real demand, desire or interest in compiling a pictorial database of the Elevators in Montreal.

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

That all being said, are there any quote, cool or interesting, unquote elevators that you think are particularly noteworthy?

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

201 Notre Dame O would have been a good one to catch before it was turned into “luxurious living spaces.”

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

And are there any express elevators in town?

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

And if I were to do this seriously I probably should also snap pictures of the panel

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

And the plate to identify the manufacturer.

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

it sounds like an awful lot of work.

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

Let’s see if I get the wide angle lens first.

An elevator in Montreal
An elevator in Montreal

And then we’ll see what happens.

Jackie Robinson Statue at the Olympic Stadium

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There is no more forlorn statue in Montreal than the Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium.

Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium

Moved there in 1996. It now hangs out with skateboarders in a place that has no baseball.

Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium

Smaller than life size, it was initially designed for a miniature baseball field where Delormier Downs was.

Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium

It was moved to “celebrate” the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson playing baseball in Montreal.

Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium

It woudl be very nice if they would return it to the corner of de Lormier and Ontario.

Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium

Jackie Robinson actually wore number 9 when he was playing for the Royals.

Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Jackie Robinson Statue by Jules Lasalle at the Olympic Stadium
Place des Royaux, the former location of Jules Lasalle's stautue of Jackie Robinson, picture by Gates of Ale
Place des Royaux, the former location of Jules Lasalle's stautue of Jackie Robinson, picture by Gates of Ale

Riopelle – Séries graphiques at Centre d’Archives de Montréal

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Poster for Riopelle – Séries graphiques by Philippe Legris Design.
Poster for Riopelle – Séries graphiques by Philippe Legris Design.

Last week I went to see a bunch of shows that I had on my to-do list. One of them was Riopelle – Séries graphiques in the salle Gilles-Hocquart du Centre d’archives de Montréal. The Centre d’archives de Montréal are one of my favorite places to see exhibits. Primarily because there is never anyone there, and secondarily because, for the most part, they produce high quality, well researched exhibits.

Installation shot of Riopelle – Séries graphiques in the salle Gilles-Hocquart du Centre d’archives de Montréal.
Installation shot of Riopelle – Séries graphiques in the salle Gilles-Hocquart du Centre d’archives de Montréal.

This was no exception to either reason. It was so empty that I was in fact able to (illegally) take pictures. Apologies that the pictures aren’t so great and are not comprehensive. I was kind of trying to dodge the two cameras installed on the ceiling. The short version is that it is a very good show, well worth the time spent. A longer more nuanced opinion would go something like this: I’m familiar with a bunch of Jean-Paul Riopelle’s prints. They are nice enough and without getting into too much detail there are obviously going to be some that are better than others.

For the most part, I would strongly suggest not buying any if you come across them. From what I have been told, there is a large possibility that it might be forged. But they are still pretty to look at. Since I did not read the press release before going to see it, I figured that it would be a selection of prints made by Riopelle over the years, presented either chronologically or thematically. While it was presented chronologically, it wasn’t exactly a “selection” of prints.

What it was, was a didactic exhibit that went chronologically through Riopelle’s career presenting examples from all the shows he did (or at least I think it was all the show he did) that were of prints. Since the salle Gilles-Hocquart isn’t the largest room around, it’s technically impossible to exhibit all of Riopelle’s prints. But what the curator, André Hénault, has done is to find examples of the original posters made to publicize the exhibits and placed them side by side with the original prints from which they were based, along with some examples of either the other prints exhibited, the associated book, or other objects.

Installation shot of Riopelle – Séries graphiques in the salle Gilles-Hocquart du Centre d’archives de Montréal.
Installation shot of Riopelle – Séries graphiques in the salle Gilles-Hocquart du Centre d’archives de Montréal.

The wall tags, or panels, are very thorough in explaining the when, the where, the what and the how. Although as it was a glorious day when I went to go see, I did not concentrate all that much on what they said. I figured if I ever needed to know the chronology of Riopelle’s prints, I knew where to find the information. It’s tough to argue about Riopelle’s art. He is a very significant and influential Quebecois artist. Since he dies 10 years ago, it’s doesn’t make any sense to say that this particular print is good, and that one is not good.

Obviously, there are certain prints that are more important than others, there are prints that are better made than others, etc. But that’s the kind of stuff that M. Hénault is there for. Had I really been interested in things like that I probably would have read the wall tags. Next time.

Installation shot of Riopelle – Séries graphiques in the salle Gilles-Hocquart du Centre d’archives de Montréal.
Installation shot of Riopelle – Séries graphiques in the salle Gilles-Hocquart du Centre d’archives de Montréal.

While I quite like most of Riopelle’s work (I don’t think I’ve ever seen something by him that I thought was crap) seeing yet another exhibit of his work is kind of frustrating. It’s like seeing yet another Warhol show, or yet another Picasso show, or yet another Van Gogh show. While they are all fine and dandy, I can’t help but believing that there are other artists who are as deserving of an exhibit, but for whatever reasons are denied.

There are nine other people who signed the Refus Global who made two dimensional art who are way less known than Riopelle (personally I’d love to see a show of work by Madeleine Arbour or Louise Renaud) why they don’t get shown more frequently, I don’t know. While I understand the importance of maintaining the status quo, sometimes enough is enough.

Installation shot of Riopelle – Séries graphiques in the salle Gilles-Hocquart du Centre d’archives de Montréal.
Installation shot of Riopelle – Séries graphiques in the salle Gilles-Hocquart du Centre d’archives de Montréal.

But that’s complaining about stuff that has nothing to do with the art being shown and everything to do with the bureaucracy involved in mounting an exhibit. Two completely different things. Returning to focus on the show at hand, I got a kick out of seeing the original print juxtaposed next to the publicity poster. On one hand, it’s cool to be able to make the comparisons. Given that they are both being exhibited it also makes you kind of think about what is art, and what is historical artifact.

I‘m fairly certain, that there are lots of people who bought the Galerie Maeght publicity posters, framed them and stuck them on their walls, because they couldn’t afford the originals. Does the fact that an object is not unique or limited make it any less pretty or significant?

Installation shot of Riopelle – Séries graphiques in the salle Gilles-Hocquart du Centre d’archives de Montréal.
Installation shot of Riopelle – Séries graphiques in the salle Gilles-Hocquart du Centre d’archives de Montréal.

There are also examples of Derriere le mirroir, the magazine published by the Galerie Maeght, and there is a bunch of other material that is presented bound, as it was initially conceived (the problem with showing bound material is that you can only see one or two pages of a multi-page object – and while I am not exactly clear on who needs to be asked so you can see one, I’m 100% positive that it is possible). It’s exactly that sort of ephemera, or obscure material that helps to flesh out an exhibition and make it more enjoyable. As I’ve said many times, getting a sense of discovery when viewing a piece of art, or an exhibit is extremely important to me, and when the art objects themselves aren’t something fresh and new, as is the case with prints by Riopelle, adding other stuff that isn’t normally seen is a surefire way to bring it on in spades.

Beyond that, the show is a tad cramped, or if you prefer, dense. If you’re planning on reading all the wall tags, I’d suggest planning for at least an hour, and maybe two depending on your level of understanding of French.

Installation shot of Riopelle – Séries graphiques in the salle Gilles-Hocquart du Centre d’archives de Montréal.
Installation shot of Riopelle – Séries graphiques in the salle Gilles-Hocquart du Centre d’archives de Montréal.

A selection of possibly interesting exhibits to go see

Howdy!

The Riopelle show at the National Archives, Other at Yves LaRoche, Jana Sterbak at Laroche/Joncas and Peter Flemming at Skol.