Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mois de la Photo in Montreal

Check out my coverage of Mois de la Photo at the Art Blog. Below is the image of Jeff Guess, for which I featured a picture of the lighting in yesterday's post ... (keep scrolling) ...

Eleven days remaining of free exhibitions across the city as part of this event. Also of interest is a visit with Pascal Convert of his exhibit at the Galerie de l'UQAM and a Colloquium on the topic of Mois de la Photo at the Canadian Centre for Architecture on Friday.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Spiralling Out

I've been masticating some ideas lately, but have also been truly really busy. So for now, another image. This time it is of the lights used to illuminate a circular work of photography by Jeff Guess. The work is a huge circular band of paper on which are printed a number of images; the viewer needs to duck into the work and the viewer becomes the center of the circle, viewing the images.

It reminds me of the band of paper inside a zoetrope, a half-cylindrical device with slits on the side and illustrations on its bottom inner edge. When spun life animates. Zoetrope comes from the Greek zoe for life and trope for turn. Life just keeps on spinning....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

mid night

I'm not really sure what's happening at this house around the corner from mine, but I was captivated by the image, the house transparent and glowing...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Value of Time

As I approached the park, the sidewalk was full of Hassidic Jewish women and their children. Most of the women wore white head scarves and the children were all dressed up, celebrating Rosh Hashanah. Getting closer to the park, I saw that the women and children were all headed towards the fountain. And there, at the fountain, the women were gathered, facing the water, holding their prayer books and praying. It seemed as if they flocked there as the sun set, the path was full and populated, the children played, the women prayed. It was a moving sight, cinematic, and stunning.

This was quite a beautiful moment. Unexpected. Touching. It is often the unexpected moments that strike us most deeply.

Today, waking up to an empty house with my parents away in New York, I thought, it might be nice to invite my friend Jessica over for dinner. And in an impromptu way, I gave her a call and we decided that she would come over that evening. I cooked my reliable recipe: Sesame Ginger Lime Soba Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms and Snowpeas (substituting with Udon for a change). It is such a pleasure cooking and bringing things together (I've even offered to cook for friends, but no one has taken me up on my offer yet).

Jessica arrived and we talked and shared and cooked a bit more and ate and conversed and laughed... Before we knew it we were doing the dishes and Jessica was getting ready to head back home and tackle more schoolwork. While it had felt like we had spent so much time together. Surely a few hours had passed. But no. In fact, only a bit over an hour had passed. But such quality time.

Therein lies the difference between the amount of time and the value of that time. Really it doesn't take too much to have a conversation, to connect, to share. One needs to invest a bit of effort. One needs to take a moment to recognize the value of that time. And just like my evening with Jess, the benefits that are subsequently reaped are so very beneficial, and so very simple too. All you have to do is allow those moments to bloom, and units of measure fall away to something more.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Art & Design Montreal

For complete article go to: the Art Blog. A&D Montreal launches again tonight at the W Hotel.

Part art exhibit, part cocktail hour, part full-on party – that was the recipe for Art & Design Montreal. The event, organized by a group of young design-world connoisseurs, aimed to promote creative Montrealers working in design who also create artistically compelling work. This inaugural one-night-only event for Art & Design Montreal attracted a young, funky and aesthetic crowd, commensurate with the polished, spunky and vibrant work on display.


Last Friday’s event succeeded in promoting Montreal’s distinction as being a UNESCO City of Design (a recognition it earned in 2006 along with Berlin and Melbourne). The showcase of 13 artists ranged in medium from evocative photography to slick graphic design to quirky illustration. Reading the exquisitely produced and highly professional catalogue, I have to say I was impressed: each of the artists on display has garnered national and international attention and distinction. An introductory essay further revealed other Montrealers working behind the design scenes in Paris, Las Vegas, Singapore, Copenhagen and Stockholm. Montreal design talent is definitely much stronger than I gave it credit.


But let’s get to the art (and for all the art-curious in Montreal who missed Friday’s event, the works go up at the W Hotel starting with another bash September 18 and will be up until December). Not knowing of the award-padded resumes of some of the artists, I surveyed the spread of work at Art & Design with confusion. While some of the young creative aesthetes showed undeniable strength, others missed the mark completely. In bringing work done for corporate and commercial clients onto the exhibition wall and out of its natural context, the work’s strength can be lost.


For example, the work of fashion photographer Richard Bernardin, who has been featured in Brazilian Vogue, seemed to be gratuitous. Apparently he is an extremely sought after talent. And he very well may be, yet outside of his commercial setting, do his images of saucy naked girls really stand as art? Similarly photographer Roger Proulx, while lauded with awards on the national scene, presented a rather insipid reality-TV-like collection of drinking shots. When I see art, I want to think, I want to dream, I want to react. The “art” on the wall from these two left me wanting something else. So I looked at their websites to see learn more of their story. I saw very clearly that these creative minds do indeed have strong talent to share – it’s a shame that their publicly presented work did not do them justice.


Two artists whose work did very effectively stimulate the mind were Christophe Collette and Jason Cantoro. Even though Christophe Collette only showed two images, they were immediately mesmerizing. His photography is so richly textured and imaginative. An image of a woman leaning up against the wall, as if listening, draws its viewer in, we examine, we wonder, we are transported. In the same vein, Jason Cantoro sends his viewers to another dimension with his playful silkscreens of imaginatively mixed images.


Art& Design Montreal also featured the cinematographic photography of Jimmi Francoeur, the crisp graphics of 123 Klan, the imaginative and evocative images of Varial, the strength and pop of Julien de Repentigny, the witty and fun objects of Studio Rita, the truly artistic book creations of Transistor Design, the illustrations of Francis Léveillée and Mélanie Baillairgé and the colourful work of Seripop (actually on display in Philadelphia at Space 1026). The celebration of design was sweetly rounded out by a live art creation station and a collaborative project where each artist decorated a pair of Creative Recreation high tops.


All in all, Art & Design Montreal presented a polished successful event and put design as art out there. While the larger question remains as to the value of design as art, I applaud this event for posing the question. They brought talent into the spotlight and found a way to get people curious, talking and excited about design in their city.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ode to the Boot

Today, with a chill in the air, I decided it was time. It was time to wear my boots.

Back in March, I went out to California for the first time and for a good long while I had had riding boots on my mind. i had even placed a bet on an old pair of English Police Boots on eBay (only to be outbid at the last millisecond). After a wondrous (and wondrously filling) culinary tour of L.A.'s Farmer's Market and its surroundings, my best friend Angela and I strolled through the nearby outdoor mall, called The Grove, and popped into Barney's Coop. I was looking for the latest from Canadian fashion twin brothers, the Burkman Brothers. Not only did I find a few items of theirs (which I merely looked at), I saw them. Beautiful brown leather boots. On sale.

And today I wore them - strolling confidently down the street to the resonant clomp of my own boots. There sure is something to be said for the acoustics of footwear. The clomp (not the arrogant stomp) of a boot is only second to the click/clatter of a well made dress shoe. man, is it ever empowering. And sexy too.

After a day in the boots, I just had to write a little piece - nothing like the pre-winter autumnal brown leather boot.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Applauding Fountain

By chance, Jessica and I happened to walk onto the Place des Festivals at 9:30pm on Friday night. Montreal's newest open square, built to accommodate the many festivals that happen around the Place des Arts and part of the city's greater plan to redevelop this area into a cohesive and hip Quartier des Spectacles, fills me with glee. Just like the communal Bixi program, here is another new initiative that is a roaring success. Immediately, this square has become a gathering spot.

Walking onto the square, Jess and I witnessed the fountains bubbling quietly, lit in red and white. But as the clock struck 9:30, the show began. Jets shot up and the fountain became a feast of lights and sounds. At moments the fountain sounds like the uneven fracas of applause. Once again I got giddy and happy at a Montreal spectacle, a new quirk of the metropolis's burgeoning personality as a place of culture and leisure. Enjoy the show!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


At this moment in the film adaptation of Anne Michaels's Fugitive Pieces, I had a moment of my own. There was a beautiful symmetry, a longing that echoed, went beyond the gesture of the little boy, gestures mirrored, a constellation begun. My mind extrapolated into emotion.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Art of Gnocchi

We were doomed from the beginning. You think it would be easy. Gnocchi = Potatoes + Flour. How could you possibly screw up two ingredients? Well. As I started to read the recipe and Mom simultaneously started peeling the potatoes, I yelled out. See, when I follow a recipe, I ABIDE by the recipe to the julienne. I can improvise on some measurements but for the most part, I consider cooking a science - a wonderfully enriching and delicious science. Mom doesn't follow recipes to a T, how hard could it be?

So halfway through peeling the potatoes, I stopped her. The recipe says to peel after cooking (it's easier that way), probably to preserve the starch. You do only have two ingredients to work with after all.

So I added the flour and mixed it up and thought, well, this doesn't really look like a dough. Sorta like mashed potatoes. But the recipe says not to add too much flour or to knead the dough too much. Whenever a recipe tells me this, I freak out. I mean, how do I really know when too much is too much? (Refer to the incident where Stefan had no idea how stiff the stiff peaks of whipped cream were supposed to be. When it started turning to butter, he knew he had gone too far).

The test is to pinch off a bit and throw it into a pot of boiling water (throw is perhaps the wrong verb, dangerous burning splash not recommended) and see if the piece holds its shape. It did. A very strange shape, but it held its shape nonetheless.

So we tried to roll out the dough, but it was like mashed potatoes. Maybe it was soaking up the flour. We added more and more flour, all the while thinking we were headed to rubberland, afraid of the "not too much" indications of the recipe.

The other tough part was shaping the gnocchi. You're supposed to press it into the twines of a fork, give it its characteristic shape. There was nothing characteristic about the shapes we were making. Glutinous blobs. Numerous times I called out for help, my fingers covered in potato-flour goo, unable to manipulate flour from its tub.

Defeated, laughing, and christening our pasta Disaster Gnocchi, we made it through the ordeal of shaping the pasta. And with a final fateful plop we put our gnocchi into water and waited for them to float up, ready.

Seasoned with a delicate butter-sage sauce, the gnocchi looked surprisingly good on the other end. And were REMARKABLY delicious. Light, tasty, good fun. Gobbled up by the family.

A lovely surprise, a riotous time. I know we scored poorly on appearance (or at least form), we'll work on it...

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Pants with a Message

I enjoy the fact that my pants have so much personality that they have a message on the inside of the zipper... Lucky You! and Conosci Te Stesso [Know Yourself].

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Montreal: A City in Renaissance

At the moment I feel as if Montreal is definitely a city in renaissance, in revival, in bloom -- and it's not because of the student population freshly injected into the city's urban campuses (les etudiants qui fourmillent, no verb like that in English). Montreal is undergoing urban renewal which is brightening up parts of the city through renovation and redevelopment and truly injecting new life into the veins of its streets through improved infrastructure. Montreal, je t'aime!

Montreal in the summer is festival central, Jazz, Francofolies, beer, Just for Laughs, International Film and innumerable others that I couldn't possibly name in their entirety. At the heart of these festivals is the heart of the city centred around Place Des Arts. The city is just about to put the finishing touches (for now) on the refurbishments for this area, called the Place des Festivals within the larger Quartier des Spectacles. Monday September 7th, the Place des Festivals opens to the public with a big bash called LE GRAND BAISER (the big kiss) complete with parade, musical performances and concluding with a screening of Imagine: John Lennon. Click here for more info.

Montreal is not only revitalizing parts of the city but has also ushered in a new era for public transportation. Since the blue subway cars hit the rails with their rubber tires shortly before the unveiling of Expo 67, the Societe de Transport de Montreal hasn't really buffed up its image. Until this year. On the wave of environmental responsibility and making the city more efficient, the STM got cute and clean and all spruced up thanks to rebranding care of Sid Lee.
Check out their website to see what I mean. They also have plans to bring in sleek new metro cars. While the idea seems great (just check out the video here), I'd be heartbroken and nostalgic to see those iconic (charming? vintage? awesome?) subway cars go. [Montreal also seems to be planning a tram line...]

The one recent change that fills my heart with joy is the communal bike system called Bixi. Following in the footsteps of Paris's Velib', Montreal's system allows for anyone to come up to its solar powered stations and take out a bike to transit across the city (and its oodles of bike paths another major change in the city). Somehow it makes me happy to now end to see the unique Bixi bikes in use with their pedal-powered front and rear lights. I've pedaled home late one night after going out and the feeling was wonderful, exhilarating. Sigh. Not only has the system been embraced by citizens and tourists alike, Bixi is slated for test runs in New York, London and Boston. It has also won an International Design Excellence Award (another point for Montreal, a UNESCO design capital of the world)!

So Montreal is definitely on the rise. A beautiful city bursting with culture, it boasts being the second largest French-speaking city outside of Paris. Rich with design, popping with fashion, a centre for music, festivals galore, food from all over and people from all over who mix harmoniously together, what is not to love? Montreal has even taken measures to revolutionize tourism by getting locals to blog about the goings on in the city, providing an insider's edge. There have been two videos showcasing Montreal (from Tourism Montreal and Sid Lee) that capture the city in a nutshell (watch em!). A vibrant metropolis, fun, funky, artsy, eco and fabulous.

While Montreal is taking major strides, perhaps an interesting sidenote is that all this optimism may be the sunny terrasse weather and the pleasures of light clothing. Neither of the tourism videos show Montreal in the wintertime. Harumph. When it gets cold and the snow piles up, Montreal can tend to be a little more difficult (although it is beautiful! and there is an *eyeroll* underground city). But hey, with all these great things going for us, from summer festivals to bicycle beautifulness, how can you fault such a lovely metropolis? As for winter, we'll work on it...