Top 10 Fine Arts stories for 2014

2014 sees the end of another busy year here at the Faculty of Fine Arts, where there was always something afoot. Five departments and hundreds of annual concerts, theatrical productions, readings, exhibits and lectures by visiting artists, academics and professionals means Fine Arts is always one of the busiest faculties on campus when it comes to community engagement. Here’s a quick wrap-up featuring some—but certainly not all—of the leading Fine Arts stories of the year.

“Hear us roar!”

UVic President Jamie Cassels and Vikes mascot Thunder present Rally Song winner Colleen Eccleston with her iPad  (photo: Armando Turo)

UVic President Jamie Cassels and Vikes mascot Thunder present Rally Song winner Colleen Eccleston with her iPad (photo: Armando Turo)

To the cheers of a tight game and the applause of a packed house, the winner of the School of Music / Vikes Nation Rally Song Contest was decided at the Vikes men’s basketball game way back on January 10—and first prize went to the School of Music’s own songwriting instructor Colleen Eccleston. With 18 submissions from across campus—including entries by students, faculty and administration alike—the top three finalists were performed live at half-time by fourth-year Music student Josh Lovell. Eccleston picked up a brand new iPad for her winning song, “Vikes Nation” (“We are Vikes Nation, hear us roar!”) as chosen by judges UVic President Jamie Cassels, Director of Athletics and Recreation Clint Hamilton, Director of School of Music Dr. Susan Lewis Hammond and varsity athlete Kyle Irvine. Attendees now hear a recorded version of Lovell’s rendition before the starting lineups of each Vikes home game.

On the button blanket

The button blanket receiving its inaugural dance at UVic's First Peoples House (Photo Services)

The button blanket receiving its inaugural dance at UVic’s First Peoples House (Photo Services)

It may have been nicknamed “the big button blanket project” by Art History & Visual Studies, but the creation and subsequent exhibit of Adasla: The Movement of Hands at the Legacy Galley garnered a great deal of attention in the community and the media. Both the blanket’s inaugural dance at the opening ceremonies of UVic’s annual Diversity Research Forum in February at First People’s House and the accompanying exhibit—featuring a special contemporary performance collaboration between Governor General’s Award-winning performance artist Rebecca Belmore, former Audain professor for the Department of Visual Arts, and blanket co-creator, Tahtan Nation artist Peter Morin—represented one of the strongest examples of community engagement of the year.

A name you can trust

Chancellor-designate Shelagh Rogers meets the media. Credit: UVic Photo Services

Chancellor-designate Shelagh Rogers meets the media. Credit: UVic Photo Services

It was the kind of news that would warm the heart of any arts supporter when famed CBC Radio host Shelagh Rogers was named the University of Victoria’s 11th Chancellor in May. “To speak in a very non-chancellorian way, I’m thrilled out of my bean,” Rogers said at the time. “I feel like over the last little while I’ve been dating UVic—I’m glad now to be in a relationship with you.” Nominated by Fine Arts Dean Dr. Sarah Blackstone and Associate Dean Dr. Lynne Van Luven, Rogers’ term begins in January 2015. “As UVic’s chancellor, Shelagh Rogers will enhance the excellence of our university,” said Blackstone. “She will bring tremendous energy and great insight to her new role. Her national reputation as an advocate for Canadian arts and culture will serve the university well. UVic could not ask for a better ambassador as we build on our reputation for excellence in teaching, research, and community engagement.”

Getting an A in Queen B

Melissa Avdeeff

Melissa Avdeeff

There’s nothing like a little controversy to spark interest in a course, as School of Music instructor Melissa Avdeeff discovered when word broke in July that she’d be teaching a course on the music of Beyoncé at UVic, resulting in some less than positive comments (“I think I just gave up on Western culture!” “Truly a waste of education and money!”). It didn’t take long for media outlets ranging from the CBC, CTV and Macleans to the Globe and Mail and the Huffington Post to jump on the Beyoncé bandwagon. “I don’t see studying popular culture as any less academically or socially relevant than studying other forms of musicology like historical musicology or music theory,” Avdeef told the Globe. “It’s important to have these courses. They get people thinking more critically about how they are engaging with media.”

Art on view

"Hit for the sculpture!" Stillwell's piece in context of the baseball diamond

“Hit for the sculpture!” Stillwell’s piece as it appears from the baseball diamond

It was a busy year for professors in the Department of Visual Arts, with a number of exhibits and new sculptures being unveiled. Both Jennifer Stillwell and Robert Youds debuted new pieces of public art—Stillwell’s High Five began reaching for the sky in Winnipeg back in August and Youds’ For Everyone a Sunset was unveiled at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Offsite in October—while departmental chair Paul Walde‘s Requiem For A Glacier installation appeared in Nelson in January, was written up in a  Times Colonist UVic Research feature in July, ran from September to November at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam, then ran at Laval University Art Gallery in Quebec City until the end of December. Meanwhile, photographer Vikky Alexander opened two photography exhibitions this fall—a show of new work Theatergarden Bestiarium in Los Angeles and the retrospective The Temptation of St Anthony in Vancouver—and will have two more shows opening in early 2015 in both Calgary and Montreal.

All for Two 4 One

Bradley considering a shot on set  (photo: Arnold Lim)

Bradley considering a shot on set (photo: Arnold Lim)

Department of Writing professor Maureen Bradley‘s locally lensed debut feature film, Two 4 One, had  its world premiere at the 2014 Calgary International Film Festival in September, before moving on to its BC premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival in October, and the Eastern Canada premiere at Montréal’s Image + Nation Film Festival in November.
Coming up in February 2015, it will be the opening gala film at the Available Light Film Festival in the Yukon and local audiences will be able to see the film—described as Canada’s first transgendered romantic comedy—as part of the Victoria Film Festival, also in February. Two 4 One is written and directed by Bradley and produced by digital media staffer Daniel Hogg.

The best exotic intergenerational theatre company

Theatre PhD Matthew Gusul (centre) at the field school in India

Theatre PhD Matthew Gusul (centre) at the field school in India

Department of Theatre PhD candidate Matthew Gusul attracted attention with his field school to India in October. Gusul and 13 undergraduates spent two months in the Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry regions to create the country’s first intergenerational theatre company. By positively highlighting the life experiences of residents at the Tamaraikulam Elders’ Village and the students of the Isha Vidhya Matriculation School, Gusul and his students worked with a team of Indian directors to encourage these seniors and rural youth to perform their own stories, develop strong community relations and create new lines of dialogue across generations. Stay tuned for an update on their efforts, coming the first week of January.

World War I history mystery

Marcus Milwright with JM's diaries

Marcus Milwright with JM’s diaries

When Art History and Visual Studies professor Marcus Milwright began planning his November exhibit The Arts of World War I, he had no idea that his use of a two-volume leather diary set featuring illustrations of life during the Great War—signed only by the initials “JM”—would generate so much publicity. But Milwright’s search for JM’s identity sparked a flurry of international media attention, which you can read about here. The Arts of World War I continues to March 2, 2015, in the McPherson Library’s Legacy Maltwood Gallery, and will be a featured part of UVic’s IdeaFest in March.

National honours

Arleen Paré accepts her award from the Governor General

Arleen Paré accepts her award from the Governor General

The Faculty of Fine Arts was remarkably well-represented in national awards this year, thanks to the nomination of five Fine Arts faculty and alumni in the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Awards—Writing professor Bill Gaston, Writing alumni Garth Martens & Arno Kopecky, and Department of Theatre aluma & playwright Janet Munsil, as well as eventual Poetry winner and Writing alumna Arleen Paré. But there was also Writing professor Tim Lilburn‘s induction as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, retired Writing professor Patrick Lane receiving the Order of Canada and Department of Visual Arts student Kim Adams winning the 2014 Governor-General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. “Having so many areas of the Faculty of Fine Arts recognized illustrates the strength and vibrancy of fine arts at the University of Victoria in particular and in British Columbia generally,” says Dr. Lynne Van Luven, Acting Dean of Fine Arts. “Such achievements are all the more impressive given budget cuts for fine arts programs overall.” Add to that new books by Writing professors Lee Henderson (The Road Narrows As You Go), Bill Gaston (Juliet Was a Surprise) and Kevin Kerr (Tear The Curtain).

Fine Arts can be a picnic

Evocative 1940s costumes made Picnic a winner in the Spotlight Awards (photo: David Lowes)

Evocative 1940s costumes made Picnic a winner in the Spotlight Awards (photo: David Lowes)

Finally, Phoenix Theatre rounded out another busy year of productions in the Department of Theatre with their 1970s revamp of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by professor Fran Gebhard, which followed their latest Spotlight on Alumni production The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe—which was so popular that it had to be held over! Both their spring productions—Picnic (directed by professor Peter McGuire) and Unity (1918) (written and directed by Writing professor Kevin Kerr)—were well-received and recently earned nominations and a win for Best Costumes in Victoria’s annual Critic’s Choice Spotlight Awards.

Here’s looking forward to an equally busy 2015!

The temptations of Vikky Alexander

It’s been a busy fall for Department of Visual Arts professor and acclaimed photographer Vikky Alexander. In addition to her busy teaching schedule, she just opened the second of two recent photography exhibitions and will have two more shows opening in early 2015.

From Vikky Alexander's "The Temptation of St Anthony"

From Vikky Alexander’s “The Temptation of St Anthony”

Currently running at The Apartment Gallery in Vancouver is the retrospective exhibition, The Temptation of St Anthony. Appropriated from 1980s fashion photography, these pivotal historic works by Alexander are arranged as near religious diptychs and triptychs, offering classic postmodern takes on objectification and temptation.

Described by pioneering Vancouver artist and writer Ian Wallace as “an expression of the imaginary, wherein fantasies of hope and utopia are acted out in the daydreams that call reality into question . . . . Alexander’s work projects the raw indulgence that exists on the inside of these fantasies, heightening our apprehension and anxieties of them from within.”

From Vikky Alexander's "The Temptation of St Anthony"

From Vikky Alexander’s “The Temptation of St Anthony”

“These are collective fantasies and are linked to popular taste for images that transcend the everyday,” says Wallace. “The images of extreme beauty, which are ubiquitous in commodity culture, function as a cult of escape from the everyday.”

The Temptation of St Anthony runs until January 24 at Vancouver’s The Apartment Gallery, 119B East Pender. The gallery is open noon-5pm Saturdays, or by appointment via email info@theapt.ca or by calling 604-336-4046.

Coming up next is a solo exhibit of new work at Calgary’s TrépanierBaer Gallery (opening January 31, 2015) and a project in Montreal coming in February 2015.

Vikky Alexander, snapped in Paris

Vikky Alexander, snapped in Paris

Working as a photographer, sculptor, collagist and installation artist, Vikky Alexander is a leading practitioner in the field of photo-conceptualism. Her work explores the relationship between art, architecture, and nature, and in particular the modernist tendency for incorporating landscapes into buildings and the notion of domestic utopia. She is interested in how nature is experienced in a consumer society, which she investigates in her photographs of artificial environments as well as her use of mass-produced decorator materials such as wood veneers, wallpaper murals of landscapes, and mirrors.

Alexander has long established herself as an important voice in contemporary photography, and her work is also part of the permanent collection in The National Gallery. Over the past 30 years, her solo exhibitions have been seen in Los Angeles, New York City, Bern, Vancouver, Toronto, Windsor, Ottawa and Wellington, as well as the National Gallery of Canada. And her work has been included group exhibitions at the likes of London’s Barbican Art Gallery, New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art and Dia Art Foundation, the Yokohama Civic Art Gallery, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, and the Seattle Art Museum.

You can glean some insights into her work in this 2013 interview with Vancouver’s online Here and Elsewhere magazine.

Alexander_promoHer fall 2014 exhibit at the Wilding Cran Gallery in Los Angeles—titled Theatergarden Bestiarium—focused on a series of photo-collages featuring cutout images of animals from a toy catalogue overlaid onto a photo of a historical site, sans people. As the Huffington-Post noted in this review, “The flat-footed austerity of the collages’ artistic construction stands in diametric contrast to the opulence of each depicted site; suspended in this dialectic is a multiplicity of meanings.”

Vikky Alexander, "Cheetah and Pavilion at Sans Souci," 2013

Vikky Alexander, “Cheetah and Pavilion at Sans Souci,” 2013

Alexander’s photos highlight the improbability of the fabricated scenes, with intentionally less-than-seamless construction of each collage—the animals, for example, cast neither shadow nor reflection. “In using source materials from toy catalogs and postcards from her own travels, Alexander invokes the persona of an eccentric preoccupied with the creation of a fantastic world analogous to Huguette Clark’s dollhouses, William Randolph Hearst’s menagerie, or the fictional character Jean des Esseintes’ idiosyncratic interiors in the 1884 novel Against Nature,” writes Annabel Osberg in the Huffington-Post.

Vikky Alexander, "Bengal Tiger in Large Drawing Room," 2013

Vikky Alexander, “Bengal Tiger in Large Drawing Room,” 2013

“The luxurious sensibility of Alexander’s grand interiors and gardens further reinforces such a persona. However, Alexander creates her worlds not for entertainment, but to show the dichotomy between the consumption that accompanies humans’ extreme affluence and the comparatively modest use of resources by animals, to whom wealth means little except insofar as it contributes to humans’ power over them. The more complex and affluent our societies become, the more we dominate the earth, annexing land and forcing other creatures to either adapt to artificial conditions or withdraw into ever-shrinking natural habitats.”

Osberg concludes with the thought that “Alexander’s show is a two-dimensional simulation of a zoo or museum that, rather than proffering specific instructive facts about animals or history, exhibits the spuriousness of common representations and treatments of them.”

Prior to Theatergarden Bestiarium, Alexander was one of 12 artists selected for a summer 2014 group exhibition at the Wilding Cran Gallery.

Five for Fine Arts in Long Service Awards

Patricia Kostek with Chancellor Murray Farmer at the Long Service Awards (Photo Services)

Patricia Kostek with Chancellor Murray Farmer at the Long Service Awards (Photo Services)

The annual Long Service Awards were once again held in October, and Fine Arts was well-represented among the faculty and employees being honoured for 25 years or more at UVic.

This year, congratulations go out to five Long Service Recognition recipients in Fine Arts. From faculty, recognitions went out to Visual Arts professor and alumnus Robert Youds, School of Music professor Patricia Kostek and Art History & Visual Studies professor Victoria Wyatt, each clocking in at 25 years—and seen here with outgoing Chancellor Murray Farmer.

For staff, Visual Arts building caretaker Cheryl Crooks—previous winner of the President’s Distinguished Award for Excellence in Service—celebrates 25 years, and the School of Music’s Anthony Booker clocks in with an impressive 30 years under his belt as the accompanist for the UVic Chorus.

Victoria Wyatt (Photo Services)

Victoria Wyatt (Photo Services)

“You are the backbone of this university,” said Chancellor Farmer at the event. “It is your talent, hard work and dedication that make UVic’s accomplishments possible . . . that is what sets UVic apart: great people, people like you. On behalf of President Cassels and myself, I extend our deep gratitude for your years of service. We are all fortunate to be part of a university that has such caring, committed and enthusiastic faculty and staff. You have made UVic what it is today.”

“‘All the changes they must have seen,’ I was thinking as I attended the recent long-service awards,” noted Acting Dean Dr. Lynne Van Luven. “Twenty-five years, 30 years, all dedicated to one employer. The University of Victoria is a good place to work, and we attract good people. I’d like to say congratulations on your perseverance and dedication to all the Fine Arts staff and faculty who have served us all these years. Our campus is a better place because of you.”

Cheryl Crooks (Photo Services)

Cheryl Crooks (Photo Services)

First held in 1988 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the university, the awards have been presented each year since then, with the university president presenting each recipient with a special gift or silver pin crafted for the occasion. The event was expanded in 1999 to recognize long service beyond 25 years, in increments of five years.

Visual Arts profs create new public art

Two recent new public art pieces have been installed by Visual Arts faculty members in different locations across Canada: For Everyone a Sunset by Robert Youds was just unveiled at the Vancouver Art Gallery, while High Five by Jennifer Stillwell is now reaching for the sky in Winnipeg.

Jennifer Stillwell's "High Five" sculpture in Winnipeg

Jennifer Stillwell’s “High Five” sculpture in Winnipeg

Stillwell’s large-scale, site-specific commission High Five was recently installed on Waterfront Drive over the left field wall of Winnipeg’s baseball park. Standing 25 feet tall, seven feet wide and six inches deep—but designed to offer a bit of an optical illusion—High Five was designed to resemble either wings, fins in formation, an abstracted human hand . . . or even a baseball glove.

“I wanted to create an artwork where image and meaning are not fixed but flexible with changes in perspective and movement,” says Stillwell. “Even though the size of each the pieces are the same, I worked with the slope in order to create the shape of a human hand from a distance.”

"Hit for the sculpture!" Stillwell's piece in context of the baseball diamond

“Hit for the sculpture!” Stillwell’s piece in context of the baseball diamond

As for the “targets” on the sculpture, the artist says they have multiple meanings: abstract fingerprints, roundels on an airplane wing, archery targets, advertising graphics and, of course, actual targets. “They playfully address the baseball diamond and the home run potential of hitting the art,” she says. “A baseball player even hit one of the sculptures during batting practice!”

Installing "High Five"

Installing “High Five”

Talking to Winnipeg CBC in this piece, Stillwell explains that her pieces never have just one meaning.  “With my work I tend to try to play around with images and meaning and just trying to allow people to interpret it in more than one direction.” She also received coverage in this Winnipeg cultural blog for the artwork which was originally commissioned as part of the redevelopment of Winnipeg’s Waterfront Drive; the project has been managed by the Winnipeg Arts Council on behalf of the City of Winnipeg.

Meanwhile, veteran Visual Arts professor Robert Youds just opened his latest piece of public art—a light installation commissioned by the Vancouver Art Gallery for their Offsite location on West Georgia Street (between Thurlow & Bute).

Rob Youds' new art installation in Vancouver (photo: Diana Freundl)

Rob Youds’ new art installation in Vancouver (photo: Diana Freundl)

As the VAG explains, “For Everyone a Sunset draws upon the architectural vernacular of downtown Vancouver [and] references the urban surroundings by using their associated materials—aluminium framework, salvaged glass, LED lighting—to construct a sculptural query that creates a space for audiences to contemplate the urban experience.”

The piece will be on view until March 30, 2015, at the base of Vancouver’s vaunted Shangri La Hotel.

The original concept sketch envisioning "For Everyone A Sunset"

The original concept sketch envisioning “For Everyone A Sunset”

Existing in the space between architecture and design, uniformity and variety, For Everyone a Sunset highlights the intersection of built and natural environments. It measures 30 feet long by 12 feet high and 10 feet wide.

“Shifting tonality as it moves through laminate coloured glass, the light in Youds’ work captures our gaze and holds it suspended, suggesting a plenitude of possibilities amidst the

Constructing the piece

Constructing the piece

regularity of the urban grid,” says VAG assistant curator Diana Freundl.

As part of the commission, Youds also gave an artist’s talk on October 25, addressing the range of materials generally in his work and specifically with this  installation. VAG’s Offsite is funded by the City of Vancouver through the Public Art Program.

No rest for Paul Walde’s Glacier

New departmental chair Paul Walde is participating in the October 4 dusk-to-dawn contemporary arts celebration that is Nuit Blanche Toronto. His recent video installation Requiem for a Glacier will be screened at University of Toronto’s Hart House as part of the choral exhibit All Together Now. All Together Now will consider the renewed interest in the choir format and its capacities for inspiring feelings of togetherness, communicating shared memory and history, and—occasionally—provoking less than harmonious results. Nine video installations and sound works by Canadian and international artists will resonate throughout Hart House, accompanied by on-the-hour performances by 10 choirs from the Toronto community.

Paul Walde recording on Farnham Glacier (photo: Pat Morrow)

Paul Walde recording on Farnham Glacier (photo: Pat Morrow)

Says Nuit Blanche: “Paul Walde’s massive video installation Requiem for a Glacier will engulf visitors in a panoramic portrait of BC’s Jumbo Glacier area, serenaded by a four-movement oratorio written to respond to the imminent threats of global warming and resort development.”

Walde’s piece is presented alongside acclaimed UVic Visual Arts alumnus Althea Thauberger’s sound piece Murphy Canyon Choir, a documentation of a choral performance developed by the artist and a group of spouses of active-duty soldiers in the largest military housing complex in the USA.

Originally conceived in Paris in 2002, Nuit Blanche is a 12-hour event with a mandate to make contemporary art accessible to large audiences, while inspiring dialogue and engaging the public to examine its significance and impact on public space. Nuit Blanche is both a “high art” event and a free populous event that encourages celebration and community engagement.

nuit-blancheFrom sunset to sunrise city spaces and neighbourhoods are transformed into temporary exhibitions: unusual or forbidden spaces become sites of contemporary art open for all-night discovery and rediscovery, and cultural institutions—from museums to galleries to artist run centres—open their doors and offer free access to contemporary art. Now universally translated as “Sleepless Night,” Nuit Blanche has expanded its reach beyond Paris to more than 25 cities across the globe, each offering its own version of the all-night art extravaganza.

Fellow Visual Arts professor Vikki Alexander‘s photographs were a highlight of the 2012 Nuit Blanche Toronto.

A little closer to home, Requiem for a Glacier is also currently on view through to October 25 at the Art Gallery at Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam BC, and from there will appear at Université Laval’s visual arts gallery in Quebec City until the end of December.

You can read more about Walde’s Requiem in this UVic KnowlEDGE feature.

Walde's "Interdeterminacy" offers art from mushroom spores

Walde’s “Interdeterminacy” offers art from mushroom spores

In other Paul Walde news, his work Interdeterminacy (for John Cage)—seen locally as part of last year’s Visual Arts faculty exhibit Paradox—is part of Open Sound 2014: Sonorous Kingdom at the Surrey Art Gallery in Surrey, BC. That exhibition runs until December 14, but Walde will perform with EMU: Experimental Music Unit from noon to 5pm on Saturday, November 15, at the Surrey Art Gallery. Elements from the concert Music for Mycologists will be on the program, including Interdeterminacy.

New student welcome

Now that classes are back in session, it’s time again for our annual Fine Arts New Student Welcome soiree, where we welcome our first-year students in style.

ice-social_960x540But rather than offer yet another year of pizza, this time around the Fine Arts faculty and staff will be serving something different: ice cream! Yep, we’re throwing an ice cream social—but better still, this Sept 11 event will feature tasty gourmet ice cream sandwiches by Cold Comfort, local purveyor of high-end ice cream yumminess.

ColdComfortRather than just the humdrum likes of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate, Cold Comfort offers ice cream sandwiches with flavours like Vanilla Bean sandwiched between chocolate cookies and Salted Caramel (that’s dairy and gluten-free, no less). We’ll also have a mystery box of random flavours for the more daring ice cream gourmands.

Coastal Giant

Coastal Giant

But there will be more than just ice cream up for grabs. In addition to popcorn and cookies (for those who don’t like chilly treats), we’ll also be featuring the music of local country funk band Coastal Giant.

Come for the food, stay for the fun! The New Student Welcome is always a great chance to connect with Fine Arts faculty and staff in a casual environment. All Fine Arts students, staff and faculty are welcome to join us from 4 to 6pm Thursday, September 11, in the Fine Arts Courtyard.

A September full of events

Now that  university classes are back in session (at least some BC students have returned to school), Fine Arts is also back in action with a full slate of September events. Here’s a chronological list of what’s coming up in the next few weeks—be sure to check back in early October for next month’s lineup.

irontomahawksThe annual Audain Exhibition presents returning Audain Professor Jackson 2Bears and his live cinema/scratch video performance, Iron Tomahawks. Digitally-encoded vinyl records—created in conjunction with specialized software developed by the artist—enable the manipulation of audio/video media in realtime, creating a multimedia performance that simply needs to be seen. Pop in and see the kind of contemporary work our Visual Arts professors are creating.

Iron Tomahawks should be open by Sept 12—they’re just dealing with some technical issues at the moment. Once it opens, it will run 10am-4:30pm Mondays-Fridays through to Sept 26 in the Audain Gallery, found off the main foyer of the Visual Arts building. And it’s free to watch, of course.

TiaCasperPhotoMagicPosterVisual Arts alumna Tia Casper is opening her first exhibit since graduating. Photo Magic offers a series of photographs taken in Las Vegas over 48 hours.These analog, pseudo tourist snapshots show Las Vegas through its lights, signs and grandiose architecture. The images juxtapose the glamour of greed against the detritus and decay of a failing dream. The images are dark, yet the lights shine through to create a parody of what Las Vegas symbolizes.

Photo Magic opens Thursday, Sept 11 and runs to Sept 28 at the Fifty Fifty Arts Collective, 2516 Douglas.

From Thomas Kneubuhler's "Access Denied" series

From Thomas Kneubuhler’s “Access Denied” series

Staying on the visual arts beat, we’ve got the first of the 2014/15 Visiting Artist series—Thomas Kneubuhler. A Swiss-born multimedia artist, Kneubuhler creates work that often deals with social issues and how technology affects people’s lives. His work has been presented in many exhibitions in both Europe and North America. He’s appearing here as part of his participation in Open Space’s Work’PLACE’ exhibit. (Thanks to Open Space for jointly sponsoring his illustrated talk here on campus.)

If you’ve never caught one of the Visiting Artist talks, they’re a great chance to hear about what’s happening in the contemporary art scene around the world. Thomas Kneubuhler appears at 8pm Wednesday, Sept 17, in room A162 of the Visual Arts building. Also free!

Iron Chink imageAs mentioned above, Open Space’s fall exhibit is Work’PLACE’, and it features a number of connections to the Visual Arts department. Work’PLACE’—curated by longtime Visual Arts professor Lynda Gammonuses a variety of strategies to interrogate the rapidly transforming definitions of “work”. Work’PLACE’ features Visual Arts MFA alumnus Dong-Kyoon Nam, previously mentioned Visiting Artist Thomas Kneubuhler, and London’s Tommy Ting, along with a film by Christine Welsh of UVic’s Women’s Studies.

Work’PLACE’ opens 7pm Friday, Sept 19, and continues to Oct 25 at Open Space, 510 Fort. If you’re interested in the ideas behind the art, the exhibit’s Artist’s Talks is at 2pm Saturday, Sept 20.

ReBirth of the Cool_PatrickBoyle9 copyThe School of Music is keeping the “cool” in “school” (but, you know, spelling it correctly) with the first of the season’s Faculty Concert Series: Re-Birth of the Cool. Jazz professor Patrick Boyle is celebrating the 65th anniversary of the iconic Birth of the Cool sessions—featuring Miles Davis, Gil Evans and Gerry Mulligan—by performing innovative arrangements from these classic charts on guitar and trumpet, as well as a duo with Juno Award-winning local trombonist and School of Music professor emeritus Ian McDougall.

Re-Birth of the Cool kicks off at 8pm Saturday, Sept 20, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. Tickets are $14 & $18. Can’t make it to the show? Tune in here for a live broadcast of the concert.

Our colleagues at the Legacy Art Galleries are offering a pair of exhibits focusing on Salish art: Perpetual Salish: Contemporary Coast Salish Art from the Salish Weave Collection and Salish Reflection: Coast Salish Art and Artists on Campus.

lessLIE's "wHOle_W(((h)))orl(((d)))"

Art by lessLIE

Perpetual Salish presents a wide range of art forms and ideas, and gallery visitors will gain a better understanding of the cultural and stylistic elements that unify and inspire these contemporary artists in their own artistic practices. Artists featured are Maynard Johnny Jr., lessLIE, John Marston, Susan Point and Dylan Thomas, and the exhibit runs to January 10, 2015.

Meanwhile, Salish Reflection honours Coast Salish artists Chris Paul, Maynard Johnny Jr., and knitters May Sam and the Olsen family (Adam, Joni, and their mother Sylvia), who were all part of UVic’s Artist in Residence Program through the Department of Anthropology between 2011 and 2013. During their three-month residency, they collectively taught students about their own artistic practices as well as aspects of Coast Salish history and contemporary culture.

Chris Paul's "Conservation"

Chris Paul’s “Conservation”

This exhibit illustrates the teaching methodology and experience of students and artists in collaboration along with examples of the artists’ work. (The Artist in Residence Program is facilitated by Dr. Andrea Walsh, who teaches the Anthropology of Art, and the program is supported by donors George and Christiane Smyth.)

All are welcome to join the artists and curators of both exhibits for a reception at 2pm Saturday, Sept 20, at Legacy Downtown, 630 Yates. Light refreshments will be served

You can also hear a curator’s talk with lessLIE at 2pm Saturday, Sept 27, at the Legacy Downtown.

cal_23_event_97334

Sarah Treadwell (top) and West My Friend

A great new project by the School of Music is their Emerging Artist Alumni Series. Not only does it allow recent Music graduates a chance to shine in the spotlight, the Emerging Artist series also offers a fantastic opportunity for students to meet with and learn from young alumni. The first in the series brings together classical and folk traditions in a double-bill of violist Sarah Tradewell and the chamber folk group West My Friend—featuring Eden Oliver, Jeff Poynter and Alex Rempel. 

The Emerging Artist Alumni Series kicks off at 7:30pm Sunday, Sept 21, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. Admission is by donation.

WR Faculty reading poster_14If the literary arts are more your style, the Department of Writing is holding its Annual Faculty Reading Night this month. Featuring the words of Carla Funk, Bill Gaston, Kevin Kerr, David Leach, Tim Lilburn, Joan MacLeod and an excerpt of a film by Maureen Bradley, plus grad students Leah Callen, Heather Clark, Danielle Janess, Michael LaPointe and Sam Shelstad, the evening will be hosted by Fine Arts communications honcho and Writing department sessional instructor John Threlfall.

The Annual Faculty Reading Night starts at 7pm Tuesday, Sept 23, in room A240 of the Human & Social Development building. Guess what? It’s also free.

spearin_CAREWORN

Gary Spearin’s “Careworn”

Over the past two decades, the multi-media installations of Ontario-based multimedia artist Gary Spearin have utilized painting both on and off the canvas. A repertoire of painting techniques and styles had been employed to magnify issues of site and context within museums, private and public galleries, public and domestic architecture, and the natural and historic landscape.

Come hear Spearin talk when he’s the next in the Visiting Artist series. That’s at 8pm Wednesday, Sept 24, in room A162 of the Visual Arts building. Yep, it’s free.

Suzanne SnizekAnd you can end your month in harmony thanks to another of the Faculty Concert Series. This time it’s School of Music flute professor Suzanne Snizek performing works by composers Mel Bonis, Charles Koechlin, Kaija Saariaho and J.S. Bach. This concert will also feature School of Music guests, pianist Bruce Vogt and soprano Anne Grimm.

That’s at 2:30 pm Sunday, Sept 28, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. Tickets are $18 & $14, and you can tune in here for a live audio webcast.

 

Sounds like art

Most artists aren’t very pleased when their work receives a chilly reception. But when Visual Arts professor Paul Walde created a four-movement orchestral requiem for an audience of one—the Farnham glacier in the Kootenays—he was expecting to get the cold shoulder.

Paul Walde recording on Farnham Glacier (photo: Pat Morrow)

Paul Walde recording on Farnham Glacier (photo: Pat Morrow)

Accompanied by a 70-person choir and orchestra, Walde and a film crew trekked up the icefield in July 2013 to bring awareness to melting glaciers in general, and to the Jumbo and Farnham glaciers in particular. The glacier area is the site of a controversial resort development.

While composing music for a glacier may seem a bit odd, it’s simply part of Walde’s wider practice as an artist exploring the boundaries between sound, landscape and art.

“Is listening a natural act? Is perception a cultural act? What does it mean to overlay something completely natural with something overtly cultural?” asks Walde. “Those are the kind of questions I deal with.”

As an artist, Walde believes the combination of visual material with natural sounds allows for a different kind of listening experience. “If you can convince your brain that what you’re hearing is music, you’re going to listen to those sounds very differently,” he says.

Growing up in northern Ontario, Walde was influenced by his experiences with nature and landscape art. “On a larger scale, Canadian identity has always been wrapped up in landscape,” he says. “But I have a strong interest in science, and a lot of science is centered on the investigation of the natural world and how it works.

“Then there’s the larger socio-political dimension of climate change—if you consider the environment somehow integral to our Canadian identity, what does it mean when it’s threatened?”

Paul Walde (photo: Times Colonist)

Falling pine needles bring a piano to life (photo: Times Colonist)

As an acclaimed intermedia artist, Walde has fused his passion for nature and art by transforming mushroom spores, flitting moths, falling pine needles, beaver-gnawed trees and improvised soundscapes into numerous gallery pieces over the years—including Requiem for a Glacier.

Originally commissioned by the Langham Cultural Centre in Kaslo, Requiem received international media attention. Conducted by UVic Symphony director Ajtony Csaba, the performance was filmed as the basis for a video installation.

The soundtrack also incorporates field recordings taken on top of (and beneath) the glacier’s ice field. “The natural resonances of the glacial sounds almost elicit another melody,” he says.

The volunteer orchestra on the glacier (photo: Pat Morrow)

The volunteer orchestra on the glacier (photo: Pat Morrow)

The final 9 x 32-foot, 40-minute projected video installation—which also includes material recounting the history of the glacier, the advent of electricity and climate change, and the government’s announcement of a year-round resort community in the Jumbo Glacier area (which Walde translated into Latin and used as the choral parts in his Requiem) has already appeared in two Kootenay-region galleries.

As the proposed $1-billion Jumbo Glacier Resort continues to generate controversy, Requiem for a Glacier has created new awareness about the issues of global warming and the development of wild spaces. “I offer information and allow people to draw their own conclusions,” he explains. “The video isn’t simply a documentation of the performance. I didn’t want to make a music video, I wanted to make a unique art work which operated more like a painting.”

As always, Walde leaves it to his audience to discover the impact of the art.

Walde's "Interdeterminacy" offers art from mushroom spores

Walde’s “Interdeterminacy” offers art from mushroom spores

“I love leaving a gallery and seeing information in ways I never noticed before,” he says. “That’s one of the great experiences you can have with any art form—literature, theatre, film, visual art—the artist gives you a lens to understand the world.”

Walde is the new chair of UVic’s Visual Arts department and an old hand at engaging students in the contemporary creative process. “I try to convince them that their first idea isn’t always their best idea,” he says. “Consider that first idea an initial impulse and see where else it can go.”

He’s also excited by new opportunities in the art world. “There are great opportunities in technology,” he says. “We’re also seeing the development of an art market that’s unprecedented; it’s enormous compared to what it used to be. Really, it’s a great time to be an artist.”

Requiem for a Glacier runs September 11 to November 1 at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam, then at Laval University Art Gallery in Quebec City until the end of December.

This piece originally ran as part of the KnowlEDGE UVic Research series.

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.

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!