Four on the Floor

New faces will soon be seen in the faculty boardroom, as four departmental mainstays step into fresh administrative roles for three-year terms. Three new Chairs have been announced: Allana Lindgren in Theatre; David Leach in Writing; and Paul Walde in Visual Arts. Not to be left out, Evanthia Baboula of History in Art has been named the new Associate Dean.

Baboula

Baboula

“As we welcome the new leadership team we should also remember to thank those who have been serving in these jobs over the past few years,” says Dean Sarah Blackstone. “These individuals—Lynne Van Luven, Bill Gaston, Daniel Laskarin, and Warwick Dobson—have been working very hard on behalf of the Faculty, sometimes sacrificing their own scholarship and creative activity to be sure everyone else had the proper support to be successful in their own endeavours.”

“Good leadership is key to everything we do and all we want to accomplish as a Faculty,” Blackstone continues. “We have been very well served by the outgoing team, and I am looking forward to working with the new team.”

Lindgren

Lindgren

While appreciating the amount of work the position will entail, Lindgren is clearly looking forward to her new post. “I am grateful to my colleagues for their support and encouragement, and buoyed by our collective desire to solidify our reputation as one of the best theatre departments in Canada,” says Lindgren, a specialist in theatre history. “We’re going to continue to produce exciting theatre while preparing our students to be creative leaders.”

For his part, Leach is “thrilled and honoured” to lead the department he first joined as a student 25 years ago. “Every day, we hear good news about the creative success of our alumni,” says Leach, currently the director of both the Professional Writing and Technology and Society programs.

Leach

Leach

“I hope to increase the awareness of our program, nationally and internationally, so that any student seriously considering a career in the literary arts will put UVic on the top of their wish list . . . I also hope my hair doesn’t turn completely grey until after my second year!”

Both Leach and Lindgren highlight the importance of interdisciplinarity—in Fine Arts and across campus—as well as UVic’s core values of experiential learning, socially engaged research and community outreach. (Walde was out of town as of this writing.) Lindgren also notes the importance of the Phoenix as one of UVic’s most public faces. “In the coming years, I encourage everyone to catch a show and see our ideals in action!”

Walde (photo: Pat Morrow)

Walde (photo: Pat Morrow)

When asked for some words of advice, outgoing Theatre Chair Warwick Dobson offered this sage wisdom to the new Chairs: “Visit your Dean briefly and infrequently,” he quipped. “And know that you can usually help students—but faculty is trickier.”

Dean Blackstone also appreciates the time and effort taken by those who assisted with the appointments. “Join me in thanking the search committees who undertook this important work and congratulating the new administrative team,” she says.

Theatre grad already in good company

It’s safe to say few students would be proud of being called a scam artist, but Department of Theatre graduate Max Johnson’s pride comes from the spelling. Johnson, who has been working for local professional theatrical company Theatre SKAM since 2011 (whose associates are charmingly dubbed “SKAM artists”), is graduating with a double major in Writing and Theatre. But it’s the practical experience he learned at Phoenix Theatre that has made him such a valued member of SKAM’s team.

Max Johnson (photo: Pamela Bethel)

Max Johnson (photo: Pamela Bethel)

As with many students in the Faculty of Fine Arts, Johnson didn’t wait until graduation to put his experiential learning to work. He was hired into a part-time position as the Administrative and Communications Assistant for Theatre SKAM while only in his second year.

“Theatre is a department where you absolutely get out of it what you put in,” says Johnson. “My entire time at university was spent stepping sideways into things that would lead me places I never expected—which is how I got into marketing and Theatre SKAM in the first place.”

Daniel MacIvor (seated, left) with the cast & director of Inside (photo: Travis Bower)

Daniel MacIvor (seated, left) with the cast & director of Inside (photo: Travis Bower)

Even though marketing and communications wasn’t his first choice as a specialization, that’s where he was placed in his second year. “They needed someone with writing experience—and I was part of a group where I needed to solve a lot of crises,” he recalls.

One of those crises? Helping to market Phoenix Theatre’s 2011 production of Inside, a world premiere by Daniel MacIvor, one of Canada’s leading theatre artists. But when Johnson’s communications team of three lost two members due to illness and the Tohoku earthquake (“one of my group was an exchange student from Japan, so she was out of the picture making sure her family was okay”), he soon found himself as a solo act. “It was a crash course on marketing, publicity, photography and media relations,” he says. “It definitely acclimated me to the whole trial-by-fire scenario.”

Johnson at Theatre SKAM HQ

Johnson at Theatre SKAM HQ

No surprise, then that Theatre SKAM thought Johnson would be a good fit when they found themselves in a similar situation: just as SKAM was beginning to plan a tour of their show Cariboo Buckaroo, a medical crisis and an unexpected resignation left them bust in the dust. “To say Theatre SKAM was desperate for good help would be entirely accurate,” recalls alumnus Matthew Payne, SKAM’s Artistic Producer. Payne contacted Adrienne Holierhoek, Marketing & Communications Manager for the Department of Theatre, who recommended Johnson; as a Phoenix grad, Payne well knew the potential Theatre students had for putting learning into action. “I just wished a tour in Max’s general direction and somehow he pulled it off—a three-week tour in rural B.C. A true SKAM artist was born.”

While it sounds funny now, Johnson recalls it as being anything but. “I had never planned a tour before, but suddenly I was the sole person responsible for finding venues,” he says. “Then while the show was on tour, I was the only person left in the office. But it turned out to be a very harmonious fit—I got the vibe of the company very quickly.” While he started as a tour coordinator, Johnson is now SKAM’s full-time Administrative Assistant, and soon to be Artistic Associate.

Johnson dressed for success at SKAM's Bike Ride

Johnson dressed for success at SKAM’s Bike Ride

Given the current drumbeat of practical employability, does Johnson ever worry about pursuing a career in the arts? “I took a couple years off after high school to try and come up with something more practical than the arts, but I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to study outside of that,” he admits. “I could have become an electrician, but that’s not where my skills lay.”

Ultimately, says Johnson, studying Theatre at UVic revealed his true passion. “I wanted to better myself, and I’m a better person now for having come here. I understand the need to be practical, but we clearly want to live in a society that values creativity. That needs to be encouraged.”

Theatre SKAM’s annual Bike Ride mini-theatre festival runs along the Galloping Goose trail July 12-13 & 19-20. Full details here, and be sure to say hi to Max.

Summer plans (part two)

What else is on the horizon for Fine Arts faculty members?

book-U6-A146-B319-R493Department of Writing professor Lee Henderson has his sophomore novel, The Road Narrows As You Go, coming out this fall . . . which he’s, uh, still putting the finishing touches to this summer. But it has already been touted as “one of the most anticipated (Canadian) titles of 2014″ by the National Post . . . no pressure, eh? Henderson has previously released the short story collection The Broken Record Technique and the novel The Man Game (which the Post described as “an audacious, wildly inventive novel that deserved a wider audience”). For  The Road Narrows As You Go, Henderson is fusing his love of art and graphic novels into a story about Victoria-born comic artist Wendy Ashbubble, who may or may not be the illegitimate love-child of then-US President Ronald Reagan

Described as “a highly entertaining and unendingly surprising novel about love, comics, Ronald Reagan, and the true meaning of success,” The Road Narrows As You Go is “simultaneously the portrait of a young woman struggling to find her place and a bright, rollicking, unflinching depiction of the 1980s.” Stay tuned for more details.

Over in the School of Music, sessional instructor Anita Bonkowski spent the month of June performing in Europe and will have a full summer slate of playing gigs as well, both locally at out in Winnipeg.

Hogg, (left) on the set for Two 4 One  (photo: Arnold Lim)

Hogg, (left) on the set for Two 4 One (photo: Arnold Lim)

After producing Maureen Bradley’s transgender rom-com Two 4 One this spring, busy digital media staffer and filmmaker Daniel Hogg just finished shooting the short film Gord’s Brother with Writing department alumnus filmmaker and frequent collaborator Jeremy Lutter. “Gord’s Brother is about a boy trying to find a place for his monster brother to fit in, the film grapples with unspoken issues of discrimination from a child’s perspective, accessible by a layer of fantasy,” says Hogg.

The Lafayette String Quartet has a busy recording session ahead of them this summer, thanks to the August release date set for their world premier recording of Piano Quintet by Canadian composer Kelly Marie-Murphy, featuring pianist Alexander Tselyakov. Marie-Murphy was commissioned by the Pender Harbour Chamber Music Festival to compose a piano quintet for Alexander (the festival’s artistic director) and the LSQ in celebration of the festival’s 10th anniversary. As a bonus, the CD will also feature the Shostakovich piano quintet. The LSQ will perform the world premier of Marie-Murphy’s quintet at the fest in August, where they will also launch the CD.

The Lafayette String Quartet

The Lafayette String Quartet

And in other LSQ news, having just completed QuarteFest West here on campus, the busy quartet will be in Ontario for a large part of the summer performing in Leith, Waterloo, Ottawa, and the 35th annual Festival of the Sound in Parry Sound. Just by way of showing the range of works they’ll be tackling this summer, their lineup of composers includes Murray Adaskin, Fanny Hensel-Mendelssohn, Benjamin Britten, Beethoven (“Op. 95 String Quartet and the 9th Symphony with a smash-up band organized to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Festival of the Sound,” says the LSQ’s Ann Elliott-Goldschmid), Alberto Ginastera, Felix Mendeslssohn, Luigi Boccherini, Arthur Foote, Rebecca Clarke, Joseph Haydn, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Dmitri Shostakovich (quartet and piano quintet), and Ernst Chausson.

David Leach

David Leach

In addition to getting up to speed on his duties as the new Department of Writing chair, David Leach will be off to Madison, Wisconsin, for the Games Learning Society conference. “I’ll be presenting a paper on the results of our research study into the benefits of ‘gamification’ tools—badges and leader boards—to promote online learning,” he says. “David Broome plus colleagues in Education, the Library and an undergrad research assistant are listed as co-authors for helping with the research.” Leach will also be on a panel about using augmented reality tools in the classroom, as his TS400 students created AR guides to the future of the campus, using a geolocative tool called ARIS. Got all that? (Good, ’cause there’s going to be a quiz!) Any extra spare time will find Leach “finally finishing my damn book! (Maybe…)”

Noted pianist and School of Music professor Arthur Rowe is back in his role as the artistic director of the 19th annual Victoria Summer Music Festival in July—a position he has held for at least 10 years now. “It’s a good festival, ever growing in stature and popularity,” he says.

poster-bellaAlthough it’s a bit further off than the summer, acclaimed theatrical set designer, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and Department of Theatre professor Mary Kerr is in the planning stages of her upcoming musical about Bella Chagall—the wife of famed artists Marc Chagall. Titled Bella: The Colour of Love, Kerr designed and co-wrote the production with Theresa Tova, who will be playing Bella. The show will have a 3-week run at Toronto’s Harold Green Theatre in October

Also in the theatrical vein is news from famed playwright and Writing professor Joan MacLeod. “I’m just writing, starting a new play,” she says. “What it’s about? No clue!” MacLeod latest play, The Valley, was most recently mounted in Winnipeg, and the book of the script was released this spring by Talon Books.

Summer plans (part one)

Who doesn’t like summer? Classes are finished, the fall semester is still far enough away to not worry about and we’ve all got some time to put towards our own creative practices. What’s on deck for some of our faculty this summer? Let’s find out.

Lynne Van Luven

Lynne Van Luven

Outgoing Associate Dean Lynne Van Luven has been busy winding up her job in the Dean’s Office and trundling all her books back upstairs to her permanent home in the Department of Writing. But, before she assumes full teaching duties again, she’s taking a well-deserved administrative leave for the 2014/15 academic year.

“In the period of my leave, I hope to get a whole lot of work done on Flesh Wounds, which is the working title for my new book of essays about the hilarious and hair-raising process of ageing,” she says. “I have lots of research and writing to do, so I am most appreciative of the time off.” But having time off doesn’t come naturally to the diligent Van Luven. “I have never—since I started teaching at universities back in 1981—had a full year off to work on a project,” she admits. “I hope I just don’t blow all my time pursuing Skittles and beer . . . or, alternately, wine and roses.”

Bland with Canadian actress Neve Campbell

Bland with Canadian actress Neve Campbell

Busy Department of Theatre continuing sessional instructor Leslie Bland always has some fascinating side-projects on the go. Recently back from a trip to Paris and from attending the Banff World Media Festival in June, he’s currently completing his latest film project.

“I’m wrapping post production on our feature documentary Gone South: How Canada Invented Hollywood,” Bland reports. “There will a world premiere of it in August in Los Angeles hosted by the LA Consul General for Canada.” Word is the premier might even be held at the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. (Maybe Bland can give a tour of all the famed Canadian hand-prints in the concrete there.) Gone South comes on the heels of the all-female stand-up comedy series She Kills Me that Bland recently produced and directedfor broadcast on APTN.

Lewis Hammond & Monteverdi

Lewis Hammond

School of Music director Susan Lewis Hammond is cracking the books this summer—her own book, that is. “I’ll be finishing a textbook titled Baroque Music: History, Culture, Performance—forthcoming with Routledge in 2015″, she says. On top of that, she’ll be presenting on a panel “on the value of a Bachelor of Music degree” at Congress 2015 at Brock University, and traveling to do research at the University of Toronto. Let’s hope there’s time for some relaxing in her schedule, too.

Writing professor and filmmaker Maureen Bradley recently completed editing her locally-lensed debut feature film Two 4 One—Canada’s, and possibly the world’s, first mainstream transgender romantic comedy— and is now in the process of submitting it to major film festivals, both Canadian and international.

Dániel Péter Biró

Biró

As well as preparing for his prestigious Fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University in 2014/15, School of Music professor Dániel Péter Biró will have his new composition Al Ken Kara (That Is Why It Was Called) performed on July 26 at the Teatro Fondamenta Nuove in Venice, Italy. This piece was originally composed as part of the Mediterranean Voices film project. In addition, the book The String Quartets of Béla Bartók: Tradition and Legacy in Analytical Perspective that he co-edited with fellow School of Music professor Harald Krebs, has just been released by Oxford University Press.

Youds photoVisual Arts professor Robert Youds currently has his light-based sculpture “turn on your electric* on view as part of the Vancouver Art Gallery’s exhibit Out of Sight: New Aquistions, running to September 1. He’s also completing a major sculptural commission which will be opening at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Offsite this fall. Locally, his piece “soft works for complicated needs*” is featured in the current AGGV exhibit Through the Looking Glass until September 7.  In addition to that, Youds will have the paintings “our aurora borealis and everything else” as part of the Transformation of Canadian Landscape Art: Inside and Outside of Being at the Xi’an Art Museum in China from August 10 – September 21. Better still, he’ll be travelling to Xi’an and Beijing to give talks and to meet foreign dignitaries as part of the exhibit.

Stay tuned for more summer plans!

Call for Courses

The Faculty of Fine Arts is requesting expressions of interest for the following sessional assignments:

Got a great course idea?

Got a great course idea?

Fall Term - FA 200 A0: Special Topics in Fine Arts (maximum enrollment: 150 students), September-December 2014.
A multi-disciplinary investigation into various aspects of the arts. Focus may vary from year-to-year. Class runs Monday and Wednesday, 4:30pm – 5:50pm.

Spring Term -FA 335 A01 – Popular Culture (maximum enrollment: 75 students), January – April 2015.
An interdisciplinary examination of the popular arts and their place in society. The topics for
examination will vary in different years and sections. Class runs Monday and Thursday, 8:30am – 9:50am.

Expressions of Interest are due by 4:30pm Thursday, June 19th, 2014. Positions will be assigned no later than June 27, 2014.

Insert your course here

Insert your course here

Please submit a written letter of interest indicating qualifications and experience,
potential course outline along with a current Curriculum Vitae to:
Samantha Knudson, Academic Administrative Officer
Faculty of Fine Arts (Fine Arts Building, Rm 116)
University of Victoria, PO Box 1700 Stn CSC, Victoria BC V8W 2Y2

If you are interested in proposing future courses that fit within the Fine Arts curriculum (see Undergraduate Calendar pg. 310), please contact the Dean of Fine Arts Office to schedule an appointment. Sessional Instructors are CUPE 4163 (Component 3) positions with Sessional Lecturers Certification.

The University of Victoria is an equity employer and encourages applications from women, persons with disabilities, visible minorities, aboriginal peoples, people of all sexual orientations and genders, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of the University. The University reserves the right to fill additional teaching assignments from the pool of applicants for this posting. All positions are subject to enrolment and budgetary approval.

Phoenix alumni nominated for Jessies

The nominations for Vancouver’s 32nd annual Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards are out, and there are once again a number of Phoenix Theatre alumni on the list! The Jessies  are divided into three categories: Large Theatre, Small Theatre, and Theatre for Young Audiences, as well as the Significant Achievement Award and a few other special awards.

Sebastien Archibald (left) in ITSAZOO's Killer Joe

Sebastien Archibald (left) in ITSAZOO’s Killer Joe

Foremost among the nominations is alumni company ITSAZOO Productions, whose presentation of Killer Joe earned seven nominations in the small theatre category, including Outstanding Direction, Production, Set Design, and Supporting Actor categories—as well as the Georgia Straight Critics’ Choice Innovation Award. Co-Artistic Director Chelsea Haberlin is nominated for direction, and Co-Artistic Director Sebastien Archibald is nominated for supporting actor.

Jennifer Lines

Jennifer Lines

Also twice nominated is accomplished actress and frequent Jessie nominee Jennifer Lines, up for best supporting actress (large theatre) for Bard on the Beach’s Twelfth Night, and (in small theatre) for Whose Life is it Anyway?

Other nominated Phoenix alumni include Susan Hogan, up for Lead Actress (small theatre) for her role in Kayak, Peter Carlone (of Peter ‘n Chris fame) for Supporting Actor (large theatre) for his turn in The Foreigner, Michelle Deines for Outstanding Original Script for Ghosts in Baghdad and and former student Kim Collier, who is nominated for Outstanding Direction for Bard on the Beach’s Hamlet. (Collier, it’s worth noting, is co-artistic director of Vancouver’s Electric Company Theatre, as is our own Writing professor Kevin Kerr.)

Jenny Cassidy (far right, with yellow & blue bears) in Avenue Q (photo: Emily Cooper)

Jeny Cassaday (far right, with yellow & blue bears) in Avenue Q (photo: Emily Cooper)

Alumnus Andrew Wade was also a cast member of Patrick Street Theatre’s Floyd Collins, nominated for Outstanding Production Musical (large theatre), and incoming Directing MFA Alan Brodie is nominated for his work on Blackbird Theatre’s Uncle Vanya (small theatre). Finally, stellar alumna puppeteer Jeny Cassady is among the cast of the Arts Club’s Avenue Q, nominated for Significant Artistic Achievement – Outstanding Ensemble Performance.

The awards ceremony will be held at Vancouver’s famed Commodore Ballroom on June 23.

Conrad Alexandrowicz’s new production earns praise

Linda-Quibell-Vanessa-Goodman-and-Peter-Anderson-with-the-other-members-of-the-company-cred-Tim-Matheson

Linda Quibell, Vanessa Goodman and Peter Anderson (Photo: Tim Matheson)

Mother Tongue, the latest stage production by Department of Theatre professor Conrad Alexandrowicz, earned praise and wowed audiences in its debut performance this month.

Conceived, directed, and choreographed by Alexandrowicz with text by recently retired Writing professor Lorna Crozier and Governor General’s Award-winning poet Erin Mouré, Mother Tongue ran May 14-18 at Vancouver’s Scotiabank Dance Centre. Presented by Alexandrowicz’s Wild Excursions, the productionuses a company of six actors and two dancers to explores the poets’ texts. And chalk one up for interdisciplinary mingling—the germ of Mother Tongue came from the 2011 Fine Arts faculty retreat, where Alexandrowicz met Crozier. From that opportunity came a nearly $175,000 SSHRC grant that resulted in the production that Vancouver theatre reviewer Jo Ledingham described as “cerebral . . . and mind-expanding.”

Mother Tongue1

Peter Anderson, Lucas Hall, Sandra Ferens, Brahm Taylor and Linda Quibell (Photo: Tim Matheson)

Georgia Straight reviewer Colin Thomas was also quite taken with the production, noting in one scene that, “Alexandrowicz’s choreography is powerfully simple . . .  the performers sit in two lines of stools and face one another, their arms raised . . . their hands float away: we know we’re in the memory of a destroyed church. In moments like these—and there are more than enough of them to make the evening worthwhile—Alexandrowicz and his company catch the ineffable in their net.”

Thomas also praised Crozier’s text: “[Her] language is so alert and sensual that listening to it feels intimate—even erotic.”

(Photo: Tim Matheson)

(Photo: Tim Matheson)

In his director’s notes, Alexandrowicz explains his inspiration for Mother Tongue: “If dance is a kind of ‘visual poetry’, so poetry is perhaps ‘dancing with language’”—and clearly, he has found success with this form. Describing the director/choreographer as “a big thinker who has gone on to explore and challenge the way language works or fails to work,” Ledingham notes the show has in fact inspired her to return to poetry. “I have all but given up on poetry but I will now seek out Crozier and Moure’s work. And I will try to let linearity go and give searching for ‘meaning’ a rest.”

Ledingham offers a concluding thought: “Alexandrowicz doesn’t let you out of the theatre without a desire to learn, to discover and to explore. Challenging your brain is seldom packaged so gorgeously.”

Fingers crossed for a local production!

Fine Arts in the 2014 M Awards

While their printed format may have changed, the local Monday Magazine is still running their annual M Awards honouring what they describe as “Greater Victoria’s best and brightest in the arts and entertainment field.” Fine Arts faculty, students, staff and alumni have been frequent nominees and winners in the past, and this year’s lineup is no different.

12124925080832946964Rather than list all nominees in each category, we’ve just listed the Fine Arts associated nominees below, and you can vote online here. According to the rules, you can only vote online once, and must vote in a minimum of 20 categories. Voting closes at 5pm Friday, May 30—and you’ll automatically be entered to win $75 at Zambri’s.

MUSIC:

  • The Krells concert poster_2013Top Electronic Artist: The Krells (featuring School of Music’s Kirk McNally and John Celona)
  • Top Avant Garde/New Music Artist/Composer or Group: School of Music concert manager Kristy Farkas is nominated alongside Aventa Ensemble (under the direction of Music’s Bill Linwood), as well as Music alumni Daniel Brandes, Christopher Reiche and Alex Jang. It’s worth noting that every nominee in this category is associate with UVic’s School of Music!
  • Top Classical Artist or Group: the Lafayette String Quartet

THEATRE:

  • Top Overall Production: the Phoenix production The Skin of Our Teeth is nominated alongside Theatre professor Brian Richmond‘s production of My Fair Lady for his Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre (which he also starred in, alongside grad Kholby Wardell). Phoenix talent were also involved in nominated shows Calendar Girls (featuring Randi Edmunson) and Will Weigler‘s From the Heart.
  • Top Improv/Sketch or Variety Show: alumna Britt Small‘s Atomic Vaudeville company is nominated, alongside Paper Street Theatre, which features Monica Ogden.
  • The Skin of Our Teeth (photo: David Lowes)

    The Skin of Our Teeth (photo: David Lowes)

    Top Director: Phoenix alum Christine Willes is nominated for her UVic production of Reasons to be Pretty and Theatre professor Linda Hardy is nominated for The Skin of our Teeth.

  • Top Emerging Company/Artist: Kerploding Theatre, run by Phoenix alum Mollison Farmer; Impulse Theatre, run by Andrew Barrett, New Blood Theatre, Robin Gadsby and Kieran Wilson
  • Top Original Production: Kitt & Jane by the Phoenix Theatre alumni company SNAFU, featuring the talents of Ingrid Hansen and Katherine Greenfield, who are also nominated for the SNAFU/WHoS co-production Fractured Fables; From the Heart: Enter the Journey of Reconciliation, by Phoenix PhD alum and former instructor Will Weigler; Paper Street Theatre’s An Improvised Quentin Tarrantino featured Phoenix student Monica Ogden ; New Blood Theatre’s Judgement Day starred alumni Robin Gadsby and Kieran Wilson; and  also featured the talents of Greenfield and Hansen.

WRITING:

  • Jeremy Lutter's latest film

    Jeremy Lutter’s latest film

    Top Filmmaker: Oooh, it’s a tough race between alumni filmmakers Jeremy Lutter (Floodplain), Connor Gaston (’Til Death) and Writing professor Maureen Bradley (Two 4 One).

  • Top Local Book: Writing alum Thelma Fayle is nominated for her recent book, Ted Grant: Sixty Years of Legendary Photojournalism.
  • Top Spoken Word Performer: Writing undergraduate and former City of Victoria Youth Poet Laureate Aysia Law has earned a well-deserved nominated in this category

Be sure to add your vote to the efforts of our top achieving faculty, staff, students and alumni!

Recent Fine Arts media roundup

Whatever the season, our Fine Arts faculty always seem to be in the media. The only trick is keeping up with it all!

EdgeKicking off 2014, History in Art’s Victoria Wyatt was announced as a contributor to the influential Edge blog. For those not familiar with Edge, it’s an ongoing conversation of intellectual adventure. As they say on the Edge website, To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.

The 2014 Edge question was, “What scientific idea is ready for retirement?” and it’s a bit  unusual for a History in Art professor to be asked to contribute to the conversation. But Victoria Wyatt was more than game for it, weighing in with her idea that “it’s time for the rocket scientist to retire.” She’s not talking about the folks at NASA, mind you, but that tired old cliche, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to . . . ” Read Wyatt’s engaging short essay here. All the responses are compiled in one really long list, so if you want to find hers quickly, just search for “Wyatt”.

The online Edge salon is, as they put it, “a living document of millions of words charting the Edge conversation over the past 15 years wherever it has gone.” In the words of the novelist Ian McEwan, Edge.org offers “open-minded, free ranging, intellectually playful . . . an unadorned pleasure in curiosity, a collective expression of wonder at the living and inanimate world . . . an ongoing and thrilling colloquium.”

JMPS_new_covIn other History in Art news, Allan Antliff recently edited a special issue of The Journal of Modern Periodical Studies focusing on “Anarchist Modernism in Print” (Volume 4, Number 2, 2013). As Antliff says in his introduction, “This issue of the Journal of Modern Periodical Studies examines political engagements with modernism in journals where productive comingling gave rise to new modes of anarchism contiguous with modernism, while modernism itself was propelled in new directions. In this instance we have a critical/creative nexus . . . keyed to values profoundly at odds with modernity, including its ‘socialist’ guise. Anarchism’s modernisms grapple with such issues as power relations, sexual difference, colonialism, and the economics of art—to name a few—with revolutionary intent.” Read more about Antliff’s issue here.

Allan Antliff's latest book, Joseph Beuys (Phaidon Focus)

Allan Antliff’s latest book, Joseph Beuys (Phaidon Focus)

Antliff also has a soon to be released new book about sculptor, painter, draughtsman, teacher, theorist and political activist Joseph Beuys. Simply titled Joseph Beuys, the 144-page book from Phaidon Focus is part of a groundbreaking new series that offers accessible, enjoyable and thought-provoking books on the visual arts. Described as “An enigmatic figure whose complex imagination drew on his research across a wide range of themes . . . Beuys strove to establish a truly democratic approach towards artistic creativity, and prove that modern art need not be confined to the museum or the gallery.”

Phaidon notes, “As Antliff effectively demonstrates, the ecological and political issues that informed much of Beuys’s art can be considered as relevant today as they were in his own lifetime.” You can read more about the art and life of Joseph Beuys in this article and this one. The book will be released on March 23.

A happy—and no doubt relieved—Carolyn Butler Palmer watches as the big button blanket is raised in First Peoples House (UVic Photo Services)

A happy—and no doubt relieved—Carolyn Butler Palmer watches as the big button blanket is raised in First Peoples House (UVic Photo Services)

Still in History in Art, Carolyn Butler Palmer‘s Big Button Blanket project—which earned all sorts of media attention during its fall 2013 creation—continued to make headlines with its 2014 public debut. Times Colonist art writer Robert Amos called the blanket’s exhibit at Legacy Gallery Downtown‘s Adasla: The Movement of Hands (continuing through to April 25) a “stimulating and multi-faceted show” in his review. Following the blanket’s debut at the opening of the Diversity Research Forum, UVic’s Ring newspaper previewed the upcoming performance by blanket co-creator Peter Morin and former Department of Visual Arts Audain Professor Rebecca Belmore in this article, and the Times Colonist also ran this article previewing the February 22 performance, summarizing the history of the button blanket and this blanket’s specific intention.

Peter Morin observes the big button blanket after it has been raised in First Peoples House (UVic Photo Services)

Peter Morin observes the big button blanket after it has been raised in First Peoples House (UVic Photo Services)

Local visual arts writer Robert Amos also ran this Times Colonist article about Adasla, describing it as a “stimulating and multi-faceted show.” The exhibit was also featured in the February/March issue of Preview: The Gallery Guide magazine, was written up in this article for the UVic student newspaper Martlet and appeared in the Victoria News article, “Big Art Emerges From A Big Blanket.”

Shifting to the Department of Theatre, professor emeritus  Juliana Saxton was the focus of this March 7 Montreal Gazette op-ed by Andrea Courey about life-long learning. At 80, Saxton certainly knows how to walk the talk! (“When asked to comment on the fun of still ‘coming to class,’ Saxton said she had no time to talk. She was off to teach a class! Bingo. I smiled and remembered the old adage: If you want to learn something, teach it. And if you can, keep learning.”)

Some of the cast of Unity (1918), on to March 22 at Phoenix Theatre (photo by David Lowes)

Some of the cast of Unity (1918), on to March 22 at Phoenix Theatre (photo by David Lowes)

Phoenix Theatre’s last production of the year—the award-winning Unity (1918), written and directed by Department of Writing professor Kevin Kerr—picked up a great deal of media attention in advance of its March 13 opening. The Times Colonist, CTV VI and CFUV’s U in the Ring all featured previews of the production, and the reviews coming in have all been outstanding (“Who knew a play about the flu could be so moving?” writes the Times Colonist). Click to this separate post to read a roundup of the press surrounding Unity (1918).

School of Music instructor Colleen Eccleston was a guest on CFAX 1070′s “Cafe Victoria with Bruce Williams” show (unfortunately not archived online). Eccleston spoke about the recent anniversary of the Beatles appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, and the impact they have had since that day 50 years ago. Music’s Wendell Clanton was also featured on CFAX 1070 in February (but also not archived); both he and members of the UVic Vocal Jazz Ensemble were interviewed about their Singing Valentines fundraiser.

12tet-frontThe UVic Wind Symphony and the Naden Band appeared on Shaw TV’s Go Island South show in advance of their Naden Scholarship fundraiser concert on February 7. Also in the brass department, congratulations go out once more to School of Music professor emeritus Ian McDougall on his latest Juno Award nomination! His album The Ian McDougall 12tet LIVE is nominated for “Traditional Jazz Album of the Year.” The winners will be announced on the March 30 broadcast from Winnipeg.

The School of Music’s new live streaming initiative also sparked this Times Colonist article about the pros and cons of digital content when it comes to audience impact. Concert Manager Kristy Farkas was interviewed, saying “she knows of no evidence suggesting that this program compromises attendance at UVic concerts.” The TC’s Kevin Bazzana quoted Farkas on how technology is “broadening our reach with the community” by allowing a student’s family in another city to watch a graduating recital, for example.

Sandra Meigs' "The Basement Panoramas"

Sandra Meigs’ “The Basement Panoramas”

Over in Visual Arts, the Toronto exhibit of Sandra Meigs‘ new series of paintings The Basement Panoramas got a great full-page review in the Toronto Star, which called it “perhaps the most potent work of Meigs’ career.” As anyone who saw the show when it appeared locally at Open Space back in November 2013 will recall, these are really, really big paintings—so large the Toronto exhibit was split between two galleries!

Daniel Laskarin at Deluge

Daniel Laskarin at Deluge

Current Visual Arts chair Daniel Laskarin had his fourth exhibition at downtown’s Deluge Contemporary Art from January 31 to March 8. In fallen and found, Laskarin returned to a decades-old preoccupation with the role of the sculptor as matterist in this solo exhibit, and you can hear him discuss the work in this video interview from ExhibitVic website.

WainoAnd the timing was perfect for Carol Wainio’s March 12 appearance as the latest in the long-running Department of Visual Arts VIsiting Artist series. Wainio had just been announced one of the recipients of the 2014 Governor General’s Awards for Visual & Media Arts on March 4, alongside Visual Arts alumnus Kim Adams. Wainio’s talk was teased by an advance photo in the local Victoria News listings.
Finally, in the Department of Writing, Joan MacLeod‘s latest play The Valley opened in Winnipeg recently, earning her this Winnipeg Free Press article: “Over almost three decades, the Victoria-based MacLeod has won a shelf full of awards for her plays, including the 2011 Siminovitch Prize, Canada’s richest theatre award. She is taken aback by the news that anyone thinks of her as a groundbreaking dramatist. ‘That’s extremely flattering and shocking,’ MacLeod says from her office at the University of Victoria, where she teaches. ‘When I sit down to write, I never feel like a master playwright. It’s nice to hear people think that. I’m blushing.’”
BCB-Feb2014-Cover_5_2Fellow Writing professor and Technology & Society program director David Leach wrote a great piece for BC Business magazine’s special all-TED issue in February. “Over the past 30 years, the annual Technology, Entertainment and Design conference has grown into a media juggernaut, fuelled by “ideas worth spreading” (as its tag line promises) and the most effective marketing on the social web,” writes Leach. “Today, this brand without borders aspires to reprogram our entire global operating system for the greater good.”

And the 2014 Southam Lecturer, Tom Hawthorn, popped up in the news a few times recently—not surprisingly, given that his Southam course focuses on sports journalism, and we’ve just come through a flurry of coverage on both the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics. While it’s no longer archived, Hawthorn spoke to CBC All Points West host Jo-Ann Roberts—also a former Southam Lecturer herself—about his January 29 public Southam Lecture titled, “In Defence of Sports Writing (Not All of it, Just the Good Stuff)”.

HawthornHawthorn also spoke about the importance of UVic’s new Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities (CARSA) in this article for the CARSA website: “When it comes to training facilities, there’s no question: CARSA will attract a very high level of athlete,” he says. “You’re going to attract people who want to succeed in athletics—that will definitely be weighed in their decision of where they’re going to do their studies—and you’ll have more people dedicated to success at that elite level.”

Cleve Dheensaw, sports writer for the Times Colonist, also talked to Hawthorn ahead of his lecture in this article. “Even people who don’t follow sports should read the sports pages because sport tells us a lot about ourselves as a society,” he says. (Plus, who wouldn’t want to take a class where your homework is watching the Super Bowl?) And Hawthorn talked about the likelihood of queer activism at the Olympics in this Victoria News article. “I fully anticipate that some athletes will make a display of solidarity with gay people in the community of Russia,” he said.

Phoenix’s Unity (1918) “a visual poem”

Here’s a tip if you’re planning on seeing Unity (1918) at the Phoenix Theatre this week: book fast! Given the outstanding reviews the show has been receiving, tickets won’t last long—and the show closes after two final performances on Saturday, March 22. Click here for ticket information.

Some of the cast of Unity (1918), on to March 22 at Phoenix Theatre (photo by David Lowes)

Some of the cast of Unity (1918), on to March 22 at Phoenix Theatre (photo by David Lowes)

Writing professor Kevin Kerr directs his own Governor General’s Award-winning script with style and grace, crafting a heartfelt and surprisingly funny look at the impact of the 1919 Spanish Flu pandemic on the small town of Unity, Saskatchewan. As discussed in this post, this is the first time Kerr has directed Unity (1918), despite his long and lauded career in theatre as a playwright, director and artistic director.

You can find out more about the backstory to this production in this Times Colonist preview—wherein Kerr reveals the play’s teenage female undertaker is based on a friend from high school (“She said, ‘I think I’m going to become a mortician.’ This beautiful, vivacious 17-year-old was saying, ‘I’m going to spend the rest of my life in death.’ It was like, wow, really?”)—and this podcast of U in the Ring, the CFUV weekly campus radio show (fast forward to the 18:40 mark). CTV VI also offered a preview of Unity (1918) in the  March 13 episode of “Your Island Arts & Lifestyle” (skip ahead to the 1:50 mark), as did CHEK TV in this clip.

Phoenix students Keshia Palm and Logan Mitev (photo by David Lowes)

Phoenix students Keshia Palm and Logan Mitev (photo by David Lowes)

Reviews of the production are unanimously strong. “Who knew a play about the flu could be so moving?,” writes Adrian Chamberlain of the Times Colonist in his four-star review. “The University of Victoria’s student cast does a superior job with a challenging script—the sisters [student actors Haley Garnett, Gillian McConnell and Amy Culliford] are particularly convincing. Kerr has directed his show with panache and grace. Mounted on the thrust stage of the Phoenix’s Chief Dan George Theatre, the production’s simple, bold design elements are first-rate . . . . Kerr & set/lighting designer [Allan] Stichbury have conspired to make Unity (1918) a visual poem.”

Busy local arts blogger Janis LaCouvee was also mightily impressed with the production, describing it as “a masterpiece by any measure” in her review. “Unity (1918) is an ode to our human capacity to endure, to continue to dream, even among unimagined horror,” she writes. “A remarkable production and a fine tribute to preserving our ancestors.”

Local theatre blog The Marble was also very enthusiastic, hailing “Unity is a triumph. Performers . . . never appeared to be giving an ounce less than their best.” Noting that the script “trembles with emotion”, reviewer Drew May also praised the show’s design as a “combination of detailed, turn-of-the-century objects and costumes, and a sparsely decorated but ingeniously flexible set will draw in even stubbornly realist audience members. Detail is used to suggest, rather than assert, and the result refuses to distract.”

Allan Stichbury's effective set (photo by David Lowes)

Allan Stichbury’s effective set (photo by David Lowes)

CBC Radio’s On The Island also reviewed the production, with veteran theatre critic Monica Prendergast noting the opportunity “to see a Governor General’s prize-winning play is always a must-do for any theatre lover, especially a Canadian theatre lover.” Prendergast also felt the age of the characters well-matched the student cast—she singled out leads Amy Culliford (Beatrice) and Logan Mitev (Hart)— and enjoyed how “this event in history is shown through the eyes of its effect on young people.” She also enjoyed Stitchbury’s set, but wasn’t so much a fan of the show’s three-hour run time.

Local online arts source CVV Magazine also praised the production in this review simply titled, “You should go!” Melanie Tromp-Hoover, wrote “Unity (1918) is about so much more than just the flu. It’s a look at the enduring struggle we all face in our ambition towards love and purpose and family; the Phoenix’s production simply gives us an elegant, intuitive tool to better explore it.” Tromp-Hoover was particularly keen on cast members Danielle Florence, Marisa Nielsen, Amy Culliford, Haley Garnett and Francis Melling, as well as Colette Habel‘s sound design.

Finally, the Coastal Spectator blog was mostly impressed with the show, particularly the “memorable performances” of Marisa Nielson and Keshia Palm. “Phoenix’s production of Kerr’s award-winning play did the university proud,” writes Nadia Grutter.

Bottom line, don’t miss this fantastic production!