Media roundup for the fall

Once again, it’s been a busy season for Fine Arts coverage in the local media. Here’s a quick roundup of who’s been hitting the headlines.

Josh Lovell as Bardolfo (standing) in POV's Falstaff. (photo: David Cooper)

Josh Lovell as Bardolfo (standing) in POV’s Falstaff. (photo: David Cooper)

The School of Music is always a strong source of stories. In this article, visiting trombonist Abbie Conant spoke to the Times Colonist about her successful efforts to fight sexism in the Munich Orchestra. Meanwhile, the Lafayette String Quartet‘s autumn “Brahms, Bubbly & Brunch” fundraiser appeared on a lovely CHEK TV segment (which, unfortunately, is no longer available online) and the LSQ’s November concert series dedicated to David Jaffe also earned attention in this recent Times Colonist article.

Music undergrad Josh Lovell garnered high praise for his performance in Pacific Opera Victoria’s recent production of Falstaff. As Times Colonist reviewer Kevin Bazzana noted, “tenor Josh Lovell, who plays Bardolfo, is still an undergraduate student, and that is scarcely believable—he seems fully at home among all these distinguished pros.” Bazzana also wrote about Music’s involvement in the Britten Festival of Song, celebrating the centenary of legendary composer Benjamin Britten.

Music professor Christopher Butterfield was also featured in this Monday Magazine article about the Victoria Symphony’s November 10 performance of his piece, Convoy PQ-17. “In Russia they take very seriously the history of the war,” Butterfield told Monday reporter Natalie North, who is also a graduate of our Writing program. “It’s very serious business. Here, this kind of work is more uncommon, to put it mildly. You don’t often go to see large commemorative piece for wartime episodes with dance, chorus and orchestra.”

Over in Writing, professor Lorna Jackson appeared on CBC Radio’s All Points West to speak about Alice Munro’s recent winning of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Why Jackson? In addition to being a short story specialist herself, she also included Munro in her 2008 book of constructed interviews Flirt: The Interviews (and you can hear Jackson read the Munro story by clicking here). Writing professor and Associate Dean of Fine Arts Lynne Van Luven is always busy, and this time she was called upon to act as one of the judges in the annual Times Colonist “So You Think You Can Write” contest.

Writing alumni have also been busy this fall. Rapidly rising Writing graduate Eliza Robertson was named to the prestigious Writers’ Trust Journey Prize shorlist—earning herself $1,000 and a place in their annual publication. Fellow Writing alum Kayla Czaga and Garth Martens were both longlisted for CBC Poetry Prize—Martens twice!—alongside former instructor Pamela Porter; Porter ended up being a finalist.

Thelma Fayle in Focus magazine

Thelma Fayle in Focus magazine

Meanwhile, Writing alum Thelma Fayle garnered widespread media coverage for her new book on iconic photojournalist Ted Grant: appearing in the Times Colonist, speaking with Grant on CFAX Radio’s weekly Eye on the Arts show (from 33:50 to 58:00), as well as being interviewed in Monday Magazine and in the November issue of Focus magazine (scroll to pages 48-51). Why write a book about Grant? “Ted is the kind of person who would say ‘I just knew it was a good picture’ and not be aware of its significance,” she tells Focus. “I want Canadians to really know him. Everyone I interviewed said basically the same thing: ‘You have no idea how special this man is.’”

Recent MFA graduate Portia Elan is featured in “Writing Lessons” on the Ploughshares Literary Magazine blog. “Writing Lessons” features essays by writing students—and now writing instructors—about lessons learned, epiphanies about craft, and the challenges of studying writing. “My advisor told me during my second year that when he saw what I’d turned in for workshop first year, he’d been stunned and disappointed,” she writes. “Getting out of workshop saved my writing. The things that crack our writing open and give them new voice, new body, take experimentation and patience. It is often not until the tenth or twentieth poem-in-a-new-voice that I write anything worth keeping.”

That's Lorna Crozier & partner Patrick Lane at the Victoria Butler Book Prize gala

That’s Lorna Crozier & partner Patrick Lane at the Victoria Butler Book Prize gala

Writing professors Lorna Crozier and Bill Gaston were both named finalists in October’s City of Victoria Butler Book Prize—with the recently retired Crozier speaking to CBC Radio’s All Points West in this interview about being nominated.

Crozier also recently wrote a great self-explanatory travel piece titled “A Poet in the Great Bear Rainforest” for the online magazine Toque and Canoe—produced in collaboration with noted conservation photographer Ian McAllister.

(In typical Crozier fashion, she writes, “The big grizzly is perched on the other side of the river bank, so near he can hear the rain on my jacket. He raises his blunt head and courses the air. Stares at me and sniffs. Above the stench of rotting salmon, my smell has been drawn into a grizzly’s nostrils, through the nasal passages inside his long snout. Part of me now lives inside the mind of an omnivorous animal whose Latin name ends with horribilis.”)

Also, Writing professor Maureen Bradley appeared in this Monday Magazine article—alongside Fine Arts digital media staffer Dan Hogg—discussing their involvement with Telefilm Canada’s Micro-Budget Production program, which allows local filmmakers to apply for up to $120,000 toward a film project. Bradley benefited from the program to help finance her current transgender romantic comedy feature film Two 4 One (which you can help support via her Indiegogo campaign), which will be shooting in Victoria in early 2014. Hogg, a very active local filmmaker and screenwriter himself (regular readers will recall his involvement with the short film Floodplain, which took him to the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year), is also CineVic’s current president.

From Focus magazine's article

From Focus magazine’s article

Over in Visual Arts, new Audain professor and Visual Arts alumnus Jackson 2Bears was written up in UVic’s Ring newspaper. There was also a short preview of the continuing faculty exhibition Paradox on CTV VI, which runs through to January 12 at the recently renamed Legacy Art Galleries Downtown. Painting professor Sandra Meigs earned some great coverage for her solo exhibition The Basement Panoramas, running at Open Space until December 14. Read the extensive Focus magazine profile (flip to page 44), see the Times Colonist article by local arts writer Amy Smart, and read how a number of local and campus artists reacted to the show in this piece from Kate Cino’s ArtOpenings website.

Finally, Phoenix Theatre’s recent Spotlight on Alumni production of Kitt & Jane: An Interactive Survival Guide to the Near Post-Apocolyptic Future.

Ingrid Hansen in Kitt & Jane (photo: Jam Hamidi)

Ingrid Hansen in Kitt & Jane (photo: Jam Hamidi)

“Kitt and Jane’s genius lies in the ability of the creators to craft a story that has simultaneously tapped into young people’s concern and anxiety about the state of the world while reminding their elders of a simpler more playful time,” wrote local arts blogger
Janis La Couvée.

Meanwhile, The Marble theatre review blog encouraged people to “Go see Kitt & Jane. The story of two 14-year-olds prepping an audience for the apocalypse is immensely enjoyable, theatrical and funny. It’s also a whole bunch of other superfluous adjectives I could assign, all of which would be true and complimentary, but would just take up valuable time you could be using to go down to the box office and buy a ticket.”

CBC Victoria’s On the Island reviewer Monica Prendergast praised Phoenix alumni Ingrid Hansen for her characteristically “simple yet effective theatricality . . . . Just using a flashlight on a screen behind the two actors creating amazing effects . . . at one point she does an entire shadow puppet show with the most simple of props which is really theatre that I love. You don’t need a huge, huge budget.” Hear her full review here (from the 0:00 to 5:00 mark).

Even the Times Colonist‘s Adrian Chamberlain noted in his review how Hansen and fellow Phoenix alum and show co-creator Kathleen Greenfield “opted to sidestep some of the conventions of theatre. Similar to alt-rock/folk bands that use dollar-store instruments and record albums that sound like bootlegs, the notion is to create a show that’s fresh and unfettered by theatre’s formal constructs.” Chamberlain also highlighted the “clever shadow projections” and songs—”including one about children’s rights activist Craig Kielburger and Taliban-defier Malala Yousafzai, accompanied by ukulele and glockenspiel.”

You can also hear this podcast of the pre-show lecture by Phoenix grad and UVic’s University Centre Auditorium Director Ian Case on “Theatre, Creativity and Paying the Bills in Victoria”

What’s in the Basement?

Busy Visual Arts faculty member Sandra Meigs is not only participating in the current faculty exhibit Paradox at Legacy Art Galleries Downtown, she also has her own solo exhibition of new large-scale works, The Basement Panoramas, running at Open Space through to December 14.

Sandra Meigs with one of her Basement Panoramas

Sandra Meigs with one of her Basement Panoramas (photo: Cliff Haman)

“The work relates to my year of grieving after my husband succumbed to cancer in 2010,” she says. “It took me a year to get back to work—but then I went into it big time with this epic project. I think grieving is not something people talk about enough; there is a big mystery and privacy about it in our culture, whereas in other cultures it is quite openly shared. I decided to share these four major stages in my process over the year, from when I could do nothing till I came out of it feeling transformed.”

The result is the vividly coloured paintings that make up The Basement Panoramas. Based on her studies of the invisible foundations of buildings—places like basements and crawl spaces—Meigs found these overlooked, catch-all spaces to be surprisingly intimate. “The paintings deal with the grieving process in a universal sense—it isn’t necessary to know specifics, just to walk with the paintings and experience the spaces they portray.

"Red, 3011 Jackson" (detail), by Sandra Meigs

“Red, 3011 Jackson” (detail), by Sandra Meigs

Basement spaces often hold that which we do not want to let go of and are also the foundation of the house, analogous to the psyche,” explains Meigs, noting that many of the pieces in the exhibit relate to the idea of transformation.

Her research into this project began, naturally enough, with her own basement: a crawl space with a giant rock in it upon which her house was built in 1922. From there, she took panoramic photos of people’s basements, then made drawings from them. Another unique aspect of Meigs’ exhibit is the inclusion of a “robotic element”—six life-size ghost-like forms that take turns perambulating on a raised platform. “Each ‘ghost’ wears a semi-transparent robe with a golden spiral painted on it and has noise makers inside that jingle as they moves,” she explains. “It’s an extension of my painting—a moving painting, in a sense.”

From Focus magazine's article

From Focus magazine’s article

Be sure to read this fascinating profile of Meigs and her new exhibit in the November issue of Focus magazine (flip to page 44), as well as this piece from the Times Colonist. You can find out more about the backstory to the exhibit on this post from Kate Cino’s Art Openings website—where there are also some opening night reactions from familiar Fine Arts faces Maureen Bradley, Megan Dickie, Todd Lambeth and Kevin McGuinn, among others.

“Meigs’s unsettling canvases achieve an uncanny physical presence and seem to shift and move as subtly as breath or the movement of the body’s circulatory system,” says Open Space executive director Helen Marzolf. “Meigs observes that these new works cannot be read in a single glance; it is only by walking back and forth or finding a high and distant vantage point that they can be apprehended.”

The Basement Panoramas continues to December 14 at Open Space, 510 Fort Street.