2014 started off fast and furious for Fine Arts, with a flurry of media coverage coming out of the new year’s gate.
Wrapping up 2013, History in Art’s Eva Baboula was interviewed by Vancouver’s Jewish Independent newspaper for this late December article. She was talking about her new course on Jewish art—the first of its kind in Canada!—and discusses the distinctive characteristics of ancient & medieval Jewish art.
Baboula was also asked why, as someone who isn’t Jewish but is Greek, she would teach a course on this subject. “I just love learning,” she explains. “Something that did intrigue me . . . was the history of the Jews of Greece. Up to the Second World War, Greece had very significant ancient Romaniote Jewish communities, as well as Sephardim who had originated in the Iberian Peninsula. The country witnessed an unprecedented loss of its Jewish communities in relation to its general population (about 80 percent were lost in the Holocaust). Often this kind of history, as well as the material remnants of the history of many centuries, is not really known or very visible. I think it is the history of all of us and it has to be preserved.”
VIsual Arts got one more piece on their Paradox faculty exhibit, courtesy of this end of the year story in the weekly Monday Magazine section of the Victoria News. Running just before the exhibit wrapped up at the downtown Legacy Art Gallery in early January, the article quoted curator and gallery director Mary Jo Hughes saying, “The main point of art is to help people look at the world a different way.”
Visual Arts professor Paul Walde‘s video & sound installation “Requiem for a Glacier”—shot last summer on the Farnham Glacier in the Kootenays—opened at Nelson’s Oxygen Art Centre in early January. The Nelson Star ran this article about the exhibit, noting that political motivation and diversity of the numerous collaborators is what gave the work a whole new dimension of social practice. You can read more about the backstory of “Requiem for a Glacier” here, and the exhibit itself runs to February 8.
Walde’s “Requiem” was also recently reviewed by Canadian Art magazine. Describing it as Walde’s “most ambitious work to date”, reviewer TE Hardy noted “it demonstrates an essential progress: the ideas are more expansive than in Walde’s past work; the compositional systems that define his practice create a richer intertextual field; and his efficacy as a multi-disciplinary artist is impressively enhanced.” Hardy also notes that Walde “successfully frames questions of mythic import” and mentions the “stark and beautiful” moments in the video. Read the full review here.
And in other Paul Walde news, he’s now curating the annual installation Audiospace 10 for downtown’s Open Space arts centre. Opening 7pm Friday, January 17, and running monthly through to Saturday, June 7, Audiospace is an exploration of digital sound, originally created as a venue for sound on the Internet (a novel idea when the series began back in 2003). Walde will bring audio back to the physical realm through the creation of a listening room at Open Space, which will feature a new artist each month. Keep up to date with the series here.
While we’re in Visual Arts, high-profile alumna Althea Thauberger was listed in the Vancouver Sun as having one of the “three of the most influential events in Vancouver galleries” for her show opening January 15 at SFU’s downtown Audain Gallery. The Vancouver-based Thauberger’s video installation Marat Sade Bohnice (first presented at Toronto’s Power Plant contemporary art gallery) examines the staging of Peter Weiss’s famed play Marat/Sade at a mental institution in Prague and questions the meaning of mental illness and art’s role in therapy. As the Sun writes, “Well-known for facilitating collaborative situations with groups such as military families, adolescent girls, and artists of the Downtown Eastside, Thauberger reveals social and political issues as she creates a space for collaborators to express themselves.”
The School of Music had an ambitious first week back in January, thanks to their fascinating Week with Gustav Mahler. A combination of open rehearsals, lectures, listening rooms and a full faculty recital, Mahler Week earned a fair bit of media coverage. As busy local arts blogger Janis LaCouvee noted, it was a great way to learn more about this under-appreciated composer. “My knowledge of Mahler—sadly—is limited to the 1974 biographical film by Ken Russell, so when Kristy Farkas, the Concert Manager for the UVic School of Music, contacted me with news of a week-long Mahler tribute, I knew that I had to add some of the events to my arts calendar.” You can read more about Janis’ Mahlerization here.
The Times Colonist did a nice job with a pair of articles about Mahler Week. As TC arts writer Amy Smart noted, “One doesn’t simply say, ‘Hey, let’s play Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde,’ on a whim. The large work not only requires a certain number of trained musicians, but a level of commitment to learning the complex rhythms, especially when performed in a chamber arrangement without a conductor.”
The aptly-named Smart then speaks to both Music faculty members Benjamin Butterfield and Alexandra Pohran Dawkins in this article, who noted the concert could only come about because of the size of the School of Music’s performance faculty—the largest in the country—and its emphasis on chamber music. “There aren’t many schools that could pull this off,” said Pohran Dawkins. “I won’t say it exactly fell into place, but the timing was right and there’s a lot of enthusiasm for the project. We’re hoping it will be a bit of a splash.”
Classical music columnist Kevin Bazzana also highlighted the final concert of Mahler Week—the faculty performance of Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth)—in his January 9 column. (Alas, it’s not available online, but can be read here in the article UVic pays tribute to Mahler.) Bazzana provided the fascinating history of the symphony as well as some insight into the specific arrangement the faculty were performing. As Benjamin Butterfield notes, “It is the ultimate chamber music piece.”
The Times Colonist returned to the School of Music again with columnist Kevin Bazzana writing about the Galiano Ensemble in this article. The Galiano Ensemble includes not only School of Music faculty members but also alumni amongst its players.
But wait, there’s more—the TC also picked up a story about professor Eugene Dowling‘s A Mostly Canadian Recital on January 12. In this article, Dowling describes the many personal connections he has with many of the composers and the stories behind the compositions, noting that he will try to bring all those emotions and friendships to mind as he plays.
Music instructor Colleen Eccleston was also interviewed on the CFAX radio show Cafe Victoria with Bruce Williams, speaking about the legacy and role the Everly Brothers had in rock-and-roll history. (Phil Everly passed away on January 3.) Click here to hear a podcast of the show, then fast forward to timecode 16:15. Eccleston teaches the history of rock and roll for Music, among other classes—and she was also announced as the first-place winner of the School of Music/Vikes Rally Song contest on January 10 (but more on that in this separate post). All in all, that’s some outstanding Music coverage for just the first week of classes!
Back in History in Art, both Allan Antliff and Erin Campbell have contributed to new books. Antliff’s chapter on “Ezra Pound, Man Ray and Vorticism in America, 1914-1917” can be found in the new book Vorticism: New Perspectives (Oxford University Press), and Campbell’s is co-editor of The Early Modern Italian Domestic Interior, 1400-1700 (Ashgate), with her specific chapter “Art and Family Viewers in the 17th-century Bolognese Domestic Interior.”
History in Art is also gearing up for the unveiling of their Big Button Blanket project, debuting at the Legacy Downtown on September 16 as part of the exhibit Adasla: The Movement of Hands. An ambitious collaborative project between professor Carolyn Butler Palmer, Tahtan Nation artist and sessional instructor Peter Morin, plus local indigenous blanket makers and History in Art students, watch for all sorts of coverage coming up about both the exhibit and the blanket itself. Get a taste of it with this CBC Radio All Points West interview with Morin and host Jo-Ann Roberts (scroll down to the January 7 entry).
Adasla runs January 16 to April 25, with a special performance on February 22 by Governor General’s Award winning performance artist Rebecca Belmore, a former Audain professor for the Department of Visual Arts, and Morin. Morin will also inaugurate the blanket in its debut performance at the start of UVic’s annual Diversity Research Forum on January 29.
Over in Writing, professor Maureen Bradley was featured in this Times Colonist article in late November, being interviewed about her upcoming feature film Two 4 One and the representation of transgendered people in the media. Two 4 One will be the first transgender romantic comedy.
Meanwhile, both professor Lee Henderson and alumna Eliza Robertson were included on the National Post‘s list of “The 25 most anticipated (Canadian) books of 2014.” Despite doom & gloom in the publishing industry, books writer Mark Medley feels we’re presently in the midst of another Can-lit boom. “While the industry still faces financial challenges, Canadian writers are in the midst of a creative peak that rivals anything we’ve seen before.” Tucked in with such literary luminaries as Michael Crummey, Emma Donoghue, Steven Galloway, Ann-Marie MacDonald and Miriam Toews, Medley includes books by Henderson and Robertson among the books he “can’t wait to devour” in 2014:
Finally, Department of Theatre sessional instructor, former student and veteran lighting designer Michael Whitfield has been announced as this year’s Fine Arts recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award. Whitfield was a student during the earliest days of UVic and literally got in on the ground floor of the nascent Theatre department. You can read some of his memories in this Torch article from the Spring 2013 issue (skip ahead to page 34). Learn more about the Distinguished Alumni Awards here. Congratulations, Michael!