Cal Lane : Ammunition at Art Mûr

Howdy!

I don’t know for certain if I’ve ever been this close to something that costs $160,000. But Cal Lane‘s Gutter Snipes is a pretty gosh darn impressive drainpipe. It’s part of the show Ammunition that was at Art Mûr earlier this month. Given that it was part of the show I initially thought that it was a Quonset hut that had been cut up, but according to the wall tag, she used a drain pipe. It appeared that all the rest of the pieces in her show had some connection to the military. Consisting of ammunition boxes that had been ajoured. Beyond being very pretty and making some awesome shadows, the pieces and the show raise a whole whack of interesting questions.

Cal Lane, Gutter Snipes
Cal Lane, Gutter Snipes

Back when I was a child, I used to haunt Army/Navy surplus stores. They always had ammunition boxes for sale. Since I was so young, and as a consequence hadn’t accumulated an awful lot of stuff, I never could quite figure out what to do with an old ammunition box from World War 2 or the Korean War. Now I wish I had bought a bunch. I have more junk and crap in my place that would be so much better served by being in a box or something than just being piled on my floor. But I digress…

Cal Lane, M-62
Cal Lane, M-62

Since war is fought very differently these days in comparison to 65 years ago, I strongly doubt that contemporary ammunition boxes look at all like the ones in the exhibition. Without doing any research, I kind of figure plastic and either much smaller, for the reduction in size of projectiles or larger, for the increase in size of the projectiles. But to be absolutely honest, now-a-days I do my darndest to stay as far away as possible from anything and everything that might possibly be connect to any military. So I honestly have no clue a to what a contemporary ammunition box looks like. But, I’m quite familiar with the old ones.

Basically two feet by three feet by four feet (or something like that) and made out of metal, they make for a fairly stable and regular object to have bits cut out by a welding torch – that’s the difference, filigree is made by twisting threads together, lace and hemstitch are done similarly – with ajoure you cut the bits out.

There are all sorts of things you can read into the use of ajoure on old ammunition boxes. If you need some help, a traditionally female type of work being used on a traditionally male piece of equipment. Military vs. Domestic, you get the idea. Let your imagination run wild. Then the final kick at the can, it wasn’t until I actually went to callane.com that I discovered in fact that Ms. Lane is in fact a Ms. Thereby adding even more fuel for the fire of your imagination.

Cal Lane, Infrared Illumination
Cal Lane, Infrared Illumination

The one thing I was particularly impressed with through, beyond the juxtapositioning of two seemingly incongruous ideas was her use of shadows and negative space. There was nothing particularly special about the lighting per se, but the shadows thrown off the objects were riveting. To the extent that it was extremely difficult to concentrate on the rather rough cut outs on the boxes. I’m fairly certain that if I had one of the boxes hanging across from my desk or bed or something, where I would have multiple opportunities to study it for an extended period of time I’d be able to create some sort of story or understand the things Ms. Lane has cut out in the boxes. As it is, the shadows function kind of like a veil, obscuring things just enough to make it extremely alluring.

Cal Lane, Messenger of Combat I and II
Cal Lane, Messenger of Combat I and II

As I mentioned at the beginning, I thought Gutter Snipes was a Quonset hut. I’m a tad disappointed that it wasn’t. Because it would have been in keeping with the whole whole military theme. But as an object, it is something spectacular. Unlike the other pieces, it’s lit from within, so the shadows fall out side of it on the wall and floor. While they do make pretty patterns they don’t interfere with the metalwork which enables you to actually see and concentrate on some of the motifs and patterns. In some ways this is a good thing, and in other ways it isn’t suck a good thing.

Cal Lane, Gutter Snipes, detail
Cal Lane, Gutter Snipes, detail

It’s not good, because you get to see up close how rough Ms. Lane’s work is. Not that there is anything wrong with rough work, it’s just that when your work gets compared to lace and filigree in an age when there is a techniques known as laser cutting and waterjet cutting. It becomes a case of not quite living up to expectations, especially when your eye switches from the ammunition boxes veiled in shadows. Then secondarily, I didn’t quite appreciate seeing that the individual parts were held together by wrapped wire. It gave a little bit too much of an air of being jury-rigged together or slapdash, and not well thought out.

Cal Lane, Gutter Snipes, detail
Cal Lane, Gutter Snipes, detail

On the other hand it is a good thing, because by being able to see what she has cut out, you can start to make up stories about what everyone is doing, and making up stories is a very very good thing. When I was there, I couldn’t make up my mind if the whole thing was supposed to be read left-to-right, top-to-bottom or right-to-left. I guess it kind of depends on what god you believe in. Going left-to-right there seem to be a bunch of angels, some with mohawks, along with industrial landscapes, some other animals and a lot of the pretty shapes she uses to keep everything attached. If you read top-to-bottom, there seem to be a a bunch of devas or dharmapalas, some with mohawks, along with industrial landscapes, some other animals and a lot of the pretty shapes she uses to keep everything attached. If you read right-to-left there seem to be a bunch of Garuda or malaikah, some with mohawks, along with industrial landscapes, some other animals and a lot of the pretty shapes she uses to keep everything attached. I wish I had the time to go over it more closely, and actually try to give you some idea of the story I would make up about what was happening, but unfortunately, as you can see, I’m desperately behind the times and as the show closed two weeks ago, it’s not exactly easy to go back and spend a day-and-a-half looking at. With a little luck Rhéal Olivier & François were able to sell it to someone or something that will allow it to be viewed by the public and you can see it and make up your own.

Cal Lane, Gutter Snipes, detail
Cal Lane, Gutter Snipes, detail

It was at this point that I was going to try and write about how Gutter Snipes also was some kind of half pipe and tie it into skater culture and then finish up with a paragraph or two on recycling and reusing. But the more I think about it, neither one really applies. While there are lots of similarities that can be made between Gutter Snipes and The Pipe specifically in the shape and the ornamentation, the more I think about it, the less it seems natural and organic. And yes, I could jam them together no matter what anyone else thinks, but if I had to add another 1,200 words to this, I’m not certain it would be the best use of my time (can you tell that I’m getting anxious about all the backlogged stuff I’ve got?) And then while the recycle and reuse is a much more graceful thing to posit (and probably would only require about 500 words) I find it equally awkward when the ammunition boxes are most likely from Army Surplus stores and were never intended to be thrown away.

The Big O Pipe
The Big O Pipe

But the whole Women’s art thing really can’t be avoided. Ms. Lane leans heavily on what has traditionally been the only type of art that the y-chromosome challenged folk have been allowed to do for something like the last couple of millennia, while at the same time using as her base material and (for lack of a better word) “brushes” things that are most typically associated with the more aggressive of the sexes. Kind of like flipping everything on its head, or at least twisting standard issue artistic practices inside out. This is a good thing. While, personally, I would prefer to call Ms. Lane “Caledonia” (if in fact that is her name) rather than the gender bending diminutive “Cal,” more, because I really don’t like surprises, and then secondarily, it makes that whole “in fact that Ms. Lane is in fact a Ms.” redundant and superfluous, which is what gender in art should be. It doesn’t matter whether it is made by a guy or a girl. Yes it is unfortunate and bad that the art world has been one of the more sexist and misogynistic places for thousands of years. but here in Quebec, despite a lapse for 1,032 days starting in 2006, things for the most part are better than equal.

Three out of the four big museums in town are run by women, most of the major art festivals are run by women, a large preponderance of the galleries (commercial, university and artist run) are run by women, and believe it or not the collections in the museums that have collections while not 50/50 are a darn site closer than probably any other museums in the world (if I remember correctly, when I tried to count, the MACM had about 35% of its collection made by women, and the MBAM something like 20%) and there are significant local collections that actually have more art made by women.

But it’s beginning to look like I am foaming at the mouth here. In short, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, it’s impossible to avoid gender issues in this exhibit by Ms. Lane. This is a good thing. Her art is also a good thing. And finally it’s a very good thing I got to see it. Next time you have a chance you should too.

A bunch of possibly alright exhibits to see this weekend in Montreal.

Howdy!

I got to start writing faster, I’m getting incredibly backlogged on stuff I’ve seen. In the meantime, if you’re itching to see some stuff over the weekend, these look very interesting.

Le livre de la Renaissance à Montréal, volet un is at the Grande Bibliotheque until August 21.

Inuit Modern is at the McCord Museum until September 3.

Aimé Despatis, de l’encre dans les veines is at Site historique de l’Île-des-Moulins until September 9 (although they call it a permanent exhibition, and getting there is going to be a pain in the neck).

Alexis Lavoie has an exhibit at the Maison de la culture Frontenac until August 25.

A second set of elevators from Montreal buildings

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I have some more elevator pictures. Working on both, getting a better lens and in going to photograph the antiques.

The elevators at Quebecor, 612 Saint Jacques
The elevators at Quebecor, 612 Saint Jacques
The elevators at Carrefour d’innovation INGO, 355 Peel
The elevators at Carrefour d’innovation INGO, 355 Peel
Elevators in some building in Montreal
Elevators in some building in Montreal
An elevator without a call button (extremely rare!)
An elevator without a call button (extremely rare!)
The elevators at 1000 de La Gauchetiere
The elevators at 1000 de La Gauchetiere
The elevators at 990 Saint Antoine
The elevators at 990 Saint Antoine
Some elevators at Place Bonaventure
Some elevators at Place Bonaventure
More elevators at Place Bonaventure
More elevators at Place Bonaventure
The elevators at 615 Rene Levesque
The elevators at 615 Rene Levesque
The elevator at 1172 Place Phillips
The elevator at 1172 Place Phillips
The elevators at 1255 Phillips Square
The elevators at 1255 Phillips Square
The elevators at 1001 de Mainsonneuve E
The elevators at 1001 de Mainsonneuve E
Elevators some place in Montreal
Elevators some place in Montreal
Elevators at the Adresse Symphonique
Elevators at the Adresse Symphonique
Another elevator in Montreal
Another elevator in Montreal
The elevator at 231 Notre Dame W
The elevator at 231 Notre Dame W

Two articles on Public Art

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Last week it seemed like forgotten public art was all the rage. Both François Cardinal in La Presse and Emmanuel Delacour from QMI wrote articles about Fonte modulaire by Robert Roussil and Iris by Raoul Hunter respectively.

If anyone is looking for other forgotten public art that has fallen into disrepair. I got a short list: Mastodo by Charles Daudelin, Forces by Claude Theberge, Jackie Robinson by Jules Lasalle, Comme si le temps… de la rue by Pierre Granche, Stained Glass by Alfred Pellan at the Bar Pellan in Place des Arts, Girafes by Robert Roussil, Affinité by Hans Schleeh, Trialogue by Hans Schleeh, Trente Deux Fois Passera La Derniere S’Envolera by Pierre Granche.

Some more Montreal Apartment Building awnings

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The more I think about it, the more it strikes me that these are the only places where architects who do not have much power get to express their creativity. Some of these are just wild!

Awning on Berri st.
Awning on Berri st.

It would have been really cool of those were curved fluorescent lights, but sadly not.

An awning on Saint Laurent just before Little Italy
An awning on Saint Laurent just before Little Italy

Minimal and restrained

A Pentagonal Awning in Parc Ex
A Pentagonal Awning in Parc Ex
A Cute Awning in Parc Ex
A Cute Awning in Parc Ex
Another Cute Awning in Parc Ex
Another Cute Awning in Parc Ex

I don’t know what it is about recent South Asian immigrants and small cute awnings (actually I do, but writing it like that makes you think about it, not just take my word).

And Yet Another Cute Awning in Parc Ex
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Stone and Plaster Awning
Stone and Plaster Awning
Corrugated Aluminum to protect you from the rain
Corrugated Aluminum to protect you from the rain
An Awning Built for a Basketball Player?
An Awning Built for a Basketball Player?
A smirking awning
A smirking awning
What's with the ornamental grill-work?
What’s with the ornamental grill-work?
Apparently the architect really liked the lights.
Apparently the architect really liked the lights.
I don't get this awning at all. Someone was asleep at the switch.
I don’t get this awning at all. Someone was asleep at the switch.
Apparently the built in supports were not strong enough
Apparently the built in supports were not strong enough
A Baroque, potentially Rococo Awning in the McGill Ghetto
A Baroque, potentially Rococo Awning in the McGill Ghetto
A Flipped Lid Awning
A Flipped Lid Awning
Again a redundant awning
Again a redundant awning
A very gracefully arching awning on Lorne Crescent
A very gracefully arching awning on Lorne Crescent
A Very Nice Paint Job I
A Very Nice Paint Job I
A Very Nice Paint Job II
A Very Nice Paint Job II
A Very Nice Paint Job III
A Very Nice Paint Job III

All on the same street down by UQAM.

A Gull-Winged Awning on Rachel
A Gull-Winged Awning on Rachel
A Jagged Awning on Rosemont
A Jagged Awning on Rosemont
A Gothic Awning on Côte Saint-Luc
A Gothic Awning on Côte Saint-Luc
Another Pentagular Awning on Côte Saint-Luc
Another Pentagular Awning on Côte Saint-Luc
The developer did not own a level
The developer did not own a level
A phenomenal example of "swoopiness" in an awning on The Boulevard
A phenomenal example of “swoopiness” in an awning on The Boulevard

A bunch of theoretically interesting exhibits to see this weekend.

Howdy!

Just three this week (when I went to see Dil Hildebrand at Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain they were closed).

There’s the Tom Wesselmann exhibit at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal.

Le Québec raconté par sa pub at the bibliothèque Myriam et J.-Robert Ouimet.

Gare aux gorilles at the Maison de la culture de Côte-des-Neiges

Canadian Art Auction at Iegor – Hôtel des Encans

Howdy!

On Tuesday I went to the auction of (mostly) Canadian Art at Iegor – Hôtel des Encans. It was vaguely frustrating as less than 50% of the lots offered up for sale sold. I don’t know if that was due to reserves being placed to high, or lack of interest, or if it was more indicative of lower quality work, or something else entirely.

The scene before the auction at Iegor De Saint Hippolyte's place.
The scene before the auction at Iegor De Saint Hippolyte’s place.

I was interested in it because of a bunch of items, specifically two Marcel Barbeau paintings, prints by a Johanne Corno, Alfred Pellan and Jacques Hurtubise, a Zilon painting and a Robert Roussil sculpture. Along the way there was also Vladimir Lebedev print, some Frère Jérôme stuff and three Fernand Toupins that looked kind of funky. Overall Iegor – Hôtel des Encans grossed almost $250,000. (Please take care when quoting my figures, taking notes at an Iegor auction is not an easy thing, there are numerous question marks in my notes and while I would feel comfortable using them as a rough guide, I would not trust them to be the definitive word – there is a reason why M. De Saint Hippolyte is extremely secretive).

The blockbuster, if you can call it that, was a pair of Cloisonné Qilin (Cloisonnéd Qilins?) that went for $30,353.40 with the 20% buyer’s premium and taxes included (all prices quoted here have the 20% buyer’s premium and taxes included). It seems to me that while M. De Saint Hippolyte initially made his name selling Quebecois art, he is more and more moving into the more generalized practice that really doesn’t differentiate objects that cost a chunk of change and takes advantage of the fact that most potential buyers will be first time, only time buyers from him. Emphasizing that while they know the objects in question (such as the Cloisonné Qilin in question) and therefore unlikely to overpay, there are a bunch of practices that M. De Saint Hippolyte can employ to obtain fair market value.

Iegor - Hôtel des Encans, Lot #11, June 19, 2012 Pair of Qilin Cloisonné
Iegor – Hôtel des Encans, Lot #11, June 19, 2012 Pair of Qilin Cloisonné

I’m always a large believer in taking full advantage of arbitrage, buying winter coats and boots in the middle of the summer, buying baseball cards of Tampa Bay Rays’ players in Seattle, playing Beach Boys songs in December, etc. In short going against the grain. Shorter still: Contrarian.

So you’d figure that after this much time M. De Saint Hippolyte would have figured out how to maximize sales of and on Quebecois artists. That he would have fostered and promoted collectors of Quebecois art. But as far as I can tell paintings by Stanley Cosgrove, Goodrich Roberts and others of their ilk are still selling for about $5,000, like they were a decade and a half ago. a rising tide is supposed to lift all boats, but if the tide never comes then everything just remains beached. And from where I am sitting Quebecois art has been beached and left out to rot for the longest time. If a new painting by Zilon will cost something like five figure but you can pick up an older pre-loved one for $1,793.61 like someone did on Tuesday, why in anyone’s name would you buy new?

That all being said, I will repeat myself again and say that there is sole pretty gosh darn phenomenal art being made here right now (and in the past as well) but the people whose job and responsibility it is (like M. De Saint Hippolyte, Nathalie Bondil, Simon Blais, and others) to make the rest of the world aware of how amazing, kick-ass and wonderful the art made here is are dropping the ball and screwing around big time.

The Marcel Barbeau paintings at Iegor - Hôtel des Encans June 19, 2012. Neither one sold.
The Marcel Barbeau paintings at Iegor – Hôtel des Encans June 19, 2012. Neither one sold.
Johanne Corno, Breast and Blue at Iegor - Hôtel des Encans, June 19, 2012. Did not sell
Johanne Corno, Breast and Blue at Iegor – Hôtel des Encans, June 19, 2012. Did not sell
Jacques Hurtubise, Citrique at Iegor - Hôtel des Encans June 19, 2012. Sold for $1,655.64
Jacques Hurtubise, Citrique at Iegor – Hôtel des Encans June 19, 2012. Sold for $1,655.64
Alfred Pellan prints at Iegor - Hôtel des Encans, June 19, 2012
Alfred Pellan prints at Iegor – Hôtel des Encans, June 19, 2012

Pop Shop, the one on top sold for $1,103.76.l Au bord de la mer (on the bottom) did not sell.

Robert Roussil sculpture The tree of life from the Iegor - Hôtel des Encans auction June 19, 2012. Sold for $12,417.30.
Robert Roussil sculpture The tree of life from the Iegor – Hôtel des Encans auction June 19, 2012. Sold for $12,417.30.
Zilon, Se dire adieu at the Iegor - Hôtel des Encans auction June 19, 2012. Sold for $1,793.61
Zilon, Se dire adieu at the Iegor – Hôtel des Encans auction June 19, 2012. Sold for $1,793.61
Zilon, Se dire adieu at Iegor - Hôtel des Encans (detail)
Zilon, Se dire adieu at Iegor – Hôtel des Encans (detail)

And then finally, if you’d like my spreadsheet of prices from the auction, download this.