by John Threlfall | Sep 29, 2017 | Events, School of Music
Staying informed is an important part of staying healthy — a fact the Lafayette String Quartet well knows. For the past 12 years, these artists-in-residence and School of Music professors have hosted their annual free Health Awareness Forum, with topics ranging from mental health and aging well to cervical cancer, personalized medicine and, naturally, the healing power of music.
This year’s forum, coming up on Thursday October 5, is focusing on healthy minds with Our Vital Brain: Being Mindful About Optimal Health. Learn what’s new in brain health and how the practice of mindfulness and music-making are helping to positively impact overall health.
Three specialists will share their expertise and lead the audience through mindfulness exercises, with time for a Q&A. As a new initiative this year, a student research poster contest will be associated with this annual forum. The event starts at 6:15pm with refreshments and a chance to view the posters in the lobby, prior to the evening presentation at 7pm in UVic’s David Lam Auditorium (MacLaurin Building A-Wing).
The Lafayette String Quartet
This year’s presenters include Alexandre Henri-Bhargava, a clinical assistant professor of medicine at UBC and neurologist with Island Health in Victoria; Mark Sherman, executive director of the BC Association for Living Mindfully; and Erin Guinup, voice teacher, conductor of the Tacoma Refugee Choir and host of the podcast Why We Sing.
The Lafayette Health Awareness Series began in 2006 with a dialogue on the topic of breast cancer, a disease that profoundly impacted the Lafayette String Quartet, UVic’s quartet-in-residence, when one of its members was diagnosed and treated in 2001. This free forum was created to provide expert and updated information to the public on various health topics.
Admission is free and everyone is welcome, but RSVPs are strongly encouraged, as this event often sells out.
by John Threlfall | Sep 22, 2017 | Alumni, Faculty, School of Music
Whether they realize it or not, generations of graduating UVic students have been touched by the music of Dr. Erich Schwandt.
Professor Emeritus of Musicology in the School of Music, Dr. Schwandt passed away in Victoria on August 2. A native of California, he attended Stanford University for his entire academic training, where he studied harpsichord with noted American musicologist, Putnam Aldrich. After a period of teaching at the Eastman School, Schwandt came to UVic in 1975, where he taught until he retired in 2001.
Erich P. Schwandt
An expert on music of the French Baroque, towards the end of his career Schwandt did major work on the early 20th century composer Erik Satie, notably reconstructing his lost Messe des pauvres, which had its world premiere at UVic in 1997, accompanied by a 40-person choir.
A gentle and witty man, much beloved by his students, he continued to be a presence at the university after he retired, and for 30 years played the huge Clearihue organ at every convocation ceremony in the University Centre Farquhar Auditorium until spring 2013. His work as an organist was profiled in this “Day in the Life” story for UVic’s Ring newspaper back in 2011. “It’s a lot of fun, and it’s an easy thing to do,” Schwandt said at the time. “I get to play whatever music I please.”
Indeed, due to his position as organist, Schwandt may have attended more UVic Convocations than any other person, with tens of thousands of UVic grads hearing his work. “It means a lot to the families to see their child get their degree,” he said, adding that he had “also heard speeches of all kinds from honorary degree recipients through the years.” (Favourites included eco-forester Merv Wilkinson and Canadian author Carol Shields.)
Schwandt was also instrumental (pun intended) in UVic’s acquisition of the Clearihue organ in the late 1970s. “I saw an ad with a very vague description of an organ for sale in Quebec for $20,000,” he recalled in the Ring article. “I went to Quebec to investigate. And it was in a church where it had been subject to extreme fluctuations in temperature and had suffered damage so that it was barely playable. Local organ builder Hugo Spilker went and examined it, took it apart, arranged for transport and modified it mechanically for installation in the new UVic auditorium.”
The French classic organ — originally built by 1966 by Georges Mayer of Sarre-Union, France, for the parish of St. Mathias, Quebec — was purchased and donated to UVic by Dr. Joyce Clearihue, as a memorial to her parents Joseph and Irene Clearihue (Joseph served as UVic’s first chancellor). “I like it very much,” Schwandt said at the time.
Schwandt’s interest in education surfaced at an early age when he tutored the neighboring pastor’s child on the kitchen blackboard. His appreciation of music dates back to his early years in his childhood home, which held two pianos and an organ that he restored while in high school.
In 2015, Schwandt was awarded Honorary Alumnus status at UVic, when then-Director of Music, Dr. Susan Lewis, described him as “one of the department’s defining spirits.”
A memorial gathering for Erich Schwandt, with music and refreshments, will take place at 2 pm Saturday, September 30, at the University Centre Farquhar Auditorium. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Mary M. and Erich P. Schwandt Scholarships. Donations can be made either online or by mail: Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Victoria, PO Box 1700 STN CSC, Victoria BC V8W 2Y2. Attn: Development Office. Please include in Cheque Memo: “Mary M. and Erich P. Schwandt Scholarships”
—With files by Kristy Farkas, Robie Liscomb and Samantha Krzywonos
by John Threlfall | Sep 21, 2017 | Alumni, Faculty, indigenous, Visual Arts
It’s a busy season for our Visual Arts professors, a number of whom have exhibits of new work on view, both locally, nationally and internationally.
Robert Youds, “City Cut Flowers”
Visual Arts professor and alumnus Robert Youds presents City Cut Flowers, a solo exhibit of new works, until Sept 30 at Winchester Galleries Downtown (665 Fort). Featuring three related painting projects and two light-based works, City Cut Flowers explores picture/objects as imagined and remembered fragments drawn from our urban world. Each piece explores the core perceptual conditions of light, shadow, colour, surface, and their communicative relationship to our aesthetic, cultural, and ideological values.
“I have been thinking about consciousness in our time, and that age-old question: how do we as individuals shape it?” says Youds. “For example, is a home a home without personal choices evidenced through the careful spatial choreography of pictures, colours, surfaces, and light? Where do our aesthetic dispositions evolve from? Can the growing digital and AI realms alter our future understanding of the physical world or will they simply reinforce the same elements through a different means?”
Youds also has another solo exhibit coming up this winter: For Everyone A Fountain runs Nov 17 – Jan 2, 2018, at Open Space. He’ll be hosting an artist’s talk at 2pm Saturday, Nov 18.
New work by Daniel Laskarin
Visual Arts professor and sculptor Daniel Laskarin presents his latest solo exhibit, ruins and reclamation, which continues until Oct 7 at Deluge Contemporary (636 Yates). His work combines industrial forms with elements of minimalist sculpture, material exploration and the lyrical sensibility of visual metaphor. He describes his work as means for thinking through the world, a process by which he might give sensory experience to consciousness.
Objects and materials, combined and manipulated, form things that find their own order in a condition of disorder and yet refuse that which orders everything. Independent materials congeal to create an interdependent network, resulting in unique forms that generate a complex and shifting subjective experience. His diverse media incorporates photography and video, optics, robotics systems, installation and sound. He has been involved with set design, public image projections and large-scale public commissions in Vancouver and Seattle, and has exhibited in Canada and internationally.
Kelly Richardson’s “Leviathan”
New Visual Arts professor Kelly Richardson is in the midst of a very busy few months, with work in a variety of exhibitions. Her hyper-real digital films of rich and complex landscapes that have been manipulated using CGI, animation and sound, have caught the eye of galleries around the world. Her latest solo exhibit, Kelly Richardson: The Weather Makers, runs at Dundee Contemporary Arts in Scotland from Sept 23 to Nov 26. Weather Makers was previewed in this article from The Herald newspaper, which describes her “thought-provoking, post-apocalyptic art in its spectacular large-scale form” as both “visceral and provoking” and “a wonderful fictional and imaginary element tied in to stark scientific fact and research.”
Weather Makers features three of Richardson’s video works and a series of chromogenic prints, Pillars of Dawn, which posits a desertscape of environmental desiccation in which trees and plants have been physically crystallized by some unknown environmental event. “The questions that she’s asking about the way we’re mistreating the world around us, about global warming, the constant consumption of resources and how we’re going to manage after mismanaging it for so long are so incredibly pertinent and urgent right now,” says DCA curator Eoin Dara of Richardson’s show. “Magnificent and complex, Richardson’s work asks us to consider what our future might be like if we continue on our current trajectory of planetary pillaging and consumption, and why we have allowed ourselves to arrive at such a moment of global environmental crisis.”
Richardson also has work at the following group exhibits this fall:
“Embassy 2017” by Cedric Bomford & Verena Kazimierz
Visual Arts professor Cedric Bomford and department LTA Verena Kaminiarz are working together on “Embassy, 2017” an outdoor project for the Calculating Upon the Unforseen portion of Toronto’s upcoming Nuit Blanche on Sept 30. “Embassy, 2017” is described as a large-scale structure “designed to adapt to the site where it is located; which can be seen as opportunistic, parasitic and political . . . Given the current trend of hardening nationalism around the world, it seems fitting to reflect on notions of national identity. Forever in progress, Embassy requires visitors to complete the structure in their minds.” The piece was featured as a highlight of the Toronto Star’s Nuit Blanche preview article.
Professor Emeritus Sandra Meigs opens her latest solo exhibit this fall. Room for Mystics will run at the prestigious Art Gallery of Ontario starting October 18. A recipient of the Governor General’s Award in 2015, and the 2015 Gershon Iskowitz Prize, Meigs was also recently named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Her new installation, Room for Mystics (which includes work by School of Music Director Christopher Butterfield), emerges from her Iskowitz Prize.
For over 35 years Meigs has created vivid, immersive, and enigmatic paintings that combine complex narratives with comic elements. She derives the content of her work from her own personal experiences, and develops these to create visual metaphors related to the psyche. Meigs will provide an overview of her work and speak about her new installation, Room for Mystics, at an AGO public talk on Oct 18—but more locally, she’ll also be speaking as part of the “Treasures & Tea” series at UVic’s LIbraries from 1-2pm Wednesday, Sept 27 in room A003 of the McPherson Library.
Meigs will talk about what it was like to be a painter in the ’70s and ’80s, and why the donation of her archive from that period to UVic’s Special Collections might be of interest to researchers. She will also show a brand new artist flap book project she collaborated on with poet Ron Padgett.
Sessional instructor and noted local artist Charles Campbell is involved in a pair of international exhibitions this fall: Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago at Los Angeles’ Museum of Latin American Art (running Sept 16, 2017 – February 25, 2018) and En Mas: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean at San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora (Sept 20, 2017 – March 4, 2018).
And busy MFA alumni Lindsay Delaronde, and Hjalmer Wenstob were both involved in the One Wave Gathering on September 16. As Victoria’s Indigenous Artist in Residence, Delaronde had a featured performance, while Wenstob worked with local Indigenous youth to create four longhouses on the lawns of the BC Legislature. Wenstob’s involvement was mentioned in this Victoria News article.
Finally, the department’s acclaimed Visiting Artist program is in full swing again, with a number of guests coming in this fall:
All Visiting Artists talks happen at 7:30pm in room A150 of UVic’s Visual Arts building, and all are free and open to the public. Please join us!
by John Threlfall | Sep 12, 2017 | Events, Theatre, Writing
The Department of Theatre is dipping into the world of film for a special screening of Robin & Mark & Richard III. Better still, the filmmakers — Canadian theatrical legends themselves — will be on hand for an exclusive session only for Fine Arts students and faculty.
McKinney and Phillips in “Robin and Mark and Richard III”
The free screening begins at 12:30pm on Tuesday, September 19, in UVic’s Phoenix Theatre, with a post-screening Q&A featuring the film’s producers and co-directors Martha Burns and Susan Coyne. Then, at 12:30pm on Wednesday, September 20, Burns and Coyne will return for the special, Fine Arts-only intimate conversation.
Robin & Mark & Richard III tells the story of an unusual collaboration between one of Canada’s most influential directors—Robin Phillips (Stratford Festival)—and gifted comedian and actor Mark McKinney (Kids in the Hall, Saturday Night Live and Slings and Arrows). Together, they delve into the one of Shakespeare’s most challenging plays: Richard III.
Click here to watch the film’s trailer and discover the power of “Shakespearituality”.
Centuries after its debut, there have been countless stage versions and numerous screen adaptations over the past 100 years — including notable interpretations by Sir Laurence Olivier, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sir Ian McKellen, Richard Dreyfuss and Julian Glover — as well as documentary explorations like Al Pacino’s 1996 Looking for Richard. With Robin & Mark & Richard III, Phillips and McKinney had not met before, and they had no idea what might happen when they begain this project: it was to be an adventure of two brilliant minds exploring Shakespeare’s world.
Burns (left) and Coyne
Captured over the course of three years by Burns and Coyne — award-winning Canadian stage veterans, co-founders of Toronto’s famed Soulpepper Theatre and Slings and Arrows co-creators and co-stars — they filmed Phillips and McKinney rehearsing in the intimacy of Phillips’ home outside of Stratford. Although the filmmakers didn’t know it at the time, Phillips was actually quite ill and would die shortly after the film was finished.
For the Fine Arts-only conversation, hosted by Theatre professor Fran Gebhard, Burns and Coyne will discuss their diverse careers on stage, writing for theatre, film and TV, and directing and producing several short films together, including How Are You? (an official selection for the 2008 Toronto Film Festival).
Screened at the Hot Docs Cinema festival in 2016, Robin & Mark & Richard III is described as a love letter to a passionate, complicated, irreplaceable genius. The film has been called “a wonderful look into how actors build performances over time” (Toronto Film Scene) and “equal parts interview, scene study class and in-memoriam tribute to Phillips” (Now Magazine).
Shakespeare wrote: “It is required you do awake your faith”, and Robin Phillips lived this every day. An Officer of the Order of Canada and winner of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement, his profound insights, exacting standards, and belief in the transformational power of theatre made him one of this country’s great mentors—one who touched the lives of three generations of artists, including Dame Maggie Smith, Brent Carver and Martha Henry, who all appear in this film.
(And for those who don’t know it, the acclaimed Canadian satirical TV series Slings and Arrows is required watching for theatre buffs! It’s a hilarious three short seasons of life back- and on-stage at a Shakespeare-specific theatre festival very much like Stratford, and no aspect of theatre — from acting and directing to marketing, production, reviewing, and post-show schmoozing — is spared.)
by John Threlfall | Sep 7, 2017 | Award, Research, Visual Arts
Contemporary artist and newly retired Visual Arts professor Sandra Meigs has been named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC)—Canada’s highest academic honour.
Sandra Meigs, 2017 (UVic Photo Services)
The title has been bestowed on only 2,000 Canadians in the 134-year history of the RSC, and has just one criterion: excellence. The peer-elected fellows of the society are chosen for making “remarkable contributions” in the arts, humanities and sciences, and Canadian public life.
“Academians are largely associated with scientific and theoretical knowledge, and I’ve always believed that visual art offers a special kind of knowledge—a knowledge giving form to imaginative discovery,” Meigs says in this September 7 article in UVic’s Ring newspaper. “I feel lucky to be able to meet with this large community of thinkers.”
As one of Canada’s leading contemporary artists, Meigs’s work has been presented at more than 100 solo and group exhibitions put on by some of Canada’s most culturally relevant institutions. In 2015, she won both a Governor General’s Award in Visual Arts and Media and the Gershon Iskowitz Prize for professional artists.
“Through her work and commitment to students, Sandra Meigs inspires the next generation of artists and strengthens the Faculty’s core mission of artistic practice and scholarship,” says Dean of Fine Arts, Dr. Susan Lewis. “On behalf of the Faculty of Fine Arts, I extend my congratulations to her on this richly deserved honour.”
Meigs retired in July 2017 after 24 years with UVic’s Department of Visual Arts and has been at the forefront of the studio-integrated learning model now used by many art schools across Canada. Her work has been shown in close to 100 exhibitions, including solo exhibits across Canada, and internationally in Europe and Australia.
“En Trance” by Sandra Meigs (Photo: Winchester Galleries)
She’s recognized as a critically acclaimed visual artist who creates vivid, immersive and enigmatic paintings that combine complex narratives with comic elements. Drawing inspiration from philosophical texts, theory, popular culture, music, fiction, travels and personal experience during her 35-year artistic career, she creates visual metaphors related to the psyche.
Her latest exhibit, “Room for Mystics,” will run at the Art Gallery of Ontario from October 18 to January 13, 2018; part of the Iskowitz Prize, there will also be a exhibit publication and it will feature a collaboration with UVic School of Music professor Christopher Butterfield. An advance look at some of this new work ran at Victoria’s Winchester Galleries back in January 2017 as the exhibit “En Trance.”
But even though she’s retired, Meigs will still remain part of UVic’s Fine Arts community. Now a Professor Emeritus, she believes the university is home to some of Canada’s foremost artists—but is missing one crucial component.
“The University of Victoria should be proud of its Faculty of Fine Arts, but the Visual Arts department is in need of a real, on-campus contemporary art gallery to pursue our creative research and teaching,” she says. “UVic is one of the few universities in Canada that does not have its own contemporary art gallery. Our recitals and concerts at the School of Music are renown, and performances at the Phoenix Theatre are a magnet for the public—whereas Visual Arts has no such venue on campus to showcase its research and teaching.”
Meigs is the fifth Fine Arts professor to be named a Fellow, joining colleagues Harald Krebs (Music), Mary Kerr (Theatre), Joan MacLeod (Writing) and Tim Lilburn (Writing), as well as RSC College member Dániel Péter Biró (Music) and RSC Medal winner Jack Hodgins (Writing, retired).
The Royal Society of Canada was established in 1883 as Canada’s national academy for distinguished scholars, artists and scientists. Its primary objective is to promote learning and research in the arts, humanities, and natural and social sciences. The society has named 72 current, former and adjunct UVic faculty members as fellows over the years.
“Imagination and play, the exchange of ideas and forms, and a sense of wonder and discovery are some of the aspects of academia that inspire,” she says. “I’d be interested in generating a project with an RSC fellow from any other area. Projects are best born when there’s no expected outcome, when there’s just a spark of creative impulse. It just takes making a connection.”