Thursday, October 29, 2015

OMNI Television Brings Canadians its First Original,Chinese Crime Drama Blood and Water Beginning November 8 2015


From a media release:

OMNI Television Brings Canadians its First Original, Chinese
Crime Drama Blood and Water, Beginning November 8, 2015

TORONTO - Canada’s first trilingual (English, Cantonese, Mandarin) crime drama will be premiering on November 8 on OMNI. It’s called Blood and Water and is about Charles, the son of a prominent real estate developer being found ritualistically buried and the cop assigned to the case who will be forced to tear his family apart and reveal long held secrets in order to solve the murder of their troubled middle son.

This half-hour, eight-part crime drama premieres with two back-to-back episodes Nov. 8 at 10 p.m. ET/PT and 10:30 p.m. ET/PT, and will air regularly Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on OMNI Television (check local listings) with episodes airing next day on www.OMNITV.ca.

While race relations is a subject that the public and media often dance around, Blood and Water is the show to change this, and delve into a discussion that has only had the surface scratched. Blood and Water will expose audiences to a grittier side of characters that have long been made two-dimensional.

Two of these characters are Paul (Charles’ brother) and Teresa (Charles’ girlfriend) played by Simu Liu and Loretta Yu respectively. Simu and Loretta are a tale as old as time. Boy meets girl at audition – they don’t fall in love – they continuously meet at auditions – and then land roles together in Blood and Water and become the best of friends.



“We are so proud to be the first Canadian broadcaster to bring a home-grown mainstream Chinese crime drama series to our audiences,” said Colette Watson, Vice President of Television & Broadcast Operations, Rogers. “With a complex storyline and well-developed characters, Blood and Water is a drama that will resonate not only with language audiences, but with all Canadians. We believe so much in the appeal of this series that development is already underway on Season 2.”

In the premiere episode, after Jo is hit with an unexpected diagnosis of cancer, she is given the assignment of lead detective in a complicated homicide. The drug addicted son of a prominent family has turned up dead and ritualistically buried in the endowment lands. With everything at stake, the pressure is on for Jo to quickly solve the crime and make the department look good in this high profile case, before the clock runs out.

New York City Premiere: Dead and Breathing at the National Black Theater October 28 to November 23 2015


From a media release:


Dead and Breathing
a new play by Chisa Hutchinson
directed by Jonathan McCrory

October 28 to November 23, 2015
National Black Theater - New York City

Previews: Wednesday - Saturday: 7:30pm / Saturday 2:00 & Sunday: 4:00pm
OPENING NIGHT GALA Monday, November 2, 2015
Thursday - Saturday & Monday: 7:30pm; Saturday: 2:00pm & Sunday: 4:00pm

Get Tickets

NEW YORK CITY- Cranky old broad, Carolyn Whitlock, has been in hospice for far too long and just wants to die already.  When she tries to convince a loud, oversharing, and very Christian nurse to assist her suicide, she has to work harder than she ever has in her privileged life to end it. Through surprising humor and persistent questioning, Dead and Breathing investigates morality, mortality and the intense tug-of-war between the right to die with dignity and the idea of life as a gift. The play stars Lizan Mitchell and Nikki Walker.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Art Toronto: Canada's international contemporary art fair October 23 to 26, 2015 in Toronto

With material from a release:

Art Toronto
Canada's international fair for contemporary art
October 23 to 26, 2015 - opening reception October 22
Metro Convention Centre - Toronto

Works from the Nikola Rukaj Gallery (Toronto) incl artist William Perehudoff
Art Toronto is back downtown, representing over 70 galleries at what has become one of the most important access points to the Canadian art market. Founded in 2000, the fair is now in its 16th year. Art Toronto presents important artwork from leading Canadian and international galleries combined with PLATFORM, an engaging series of lectures and panel discussions from prominent art world figures, curated projects, an extensive VIP Program, and top-tier cultural offerings throughout the city.

What I love about it is that it gives you a kind of snapshot of contemporary art and art practices, with a great representation of Canadian galleries from coast to coast along with a sprinkling of galleries from Europe, New York City, L.A., Tel Aviv and Tokyo.

Works from Zemack Contemporary Art (Tel Aviv)
The best news is for collectors, who can sample from a truly dizzying range of contemporary art and artists. This is a unique time in art history when 'contemporary art', even as a term applied only to painting and sculpture, can mean just about anything - representational art using traditional techniques - and, as I'm happy to note as a still now and then fine art model, plenty of figurative work too - abstracts, conceptual pieces, installations and more.
Mark Lang 'Transmission' - Galerie Bellefeuille (Mtl)
Pierre-Francois Ouellette art contemporain
Works from the Loch Gallery (Toronto, Calgary, Winnipeg)
One of the special features of this year's show is FOCUS: LATIN AMERICA, including a curatorial project put together by Mexico City and Berlin-based independent curator Abaseh Mirvali and featuring works by Eduardo Basualdo (ARG), Matías Duville (ARG), Max Gómez Canle (ARG), Catalina León (ARG), Mateo López (COL) and Milena Muzquiz (MX).

I had the chance to speak to Abaseh for a few minutes about the work of Eduardo Basualdo, an artist she is very excited about. The piece pictured below is on loan from a Canadian collector and ties in with his frequent theme of examining mental spaces and emphasizing the viewer's experience of the art work, meant to gently question your relationship to your surroundings. Eduardo has several shows in Europe at the moment, including a piece at the Venice Bienniale.

FOCUS: LATIN AMERICA also includes booths featuring eight additional galleries based in Latin America and/or showcasing the work of Latin American artists.

Eduardo Basualdo
Other features this year:
• As always, the RBC Painting Competition finalists and their work;
• Another returning feature is the MoCCA Benefit, which sees a prominent Canadian artist donate their work in support of MoCCA. This year it's Douglas Coupland's archival inkjet print ($2,500 each).
• Naturally, tours, talks and other educational features;
• A wine bar;


SOLO - 12 booths that each focus on the work of a single artist;

Artist Jim Holyoak at Galerie Donald Browne (Mtl)
VERGE & VERGE VIDEO - featuring the work of emerging artists.

In an interactive feature, artist Ricardo Mazal's 'Bhutan Abstractions' invites visitors to write your thoughts or prayers on his iPad - as you write, your words will instantly merge with his video of a traditional Bhutanese prayer flag.

Slate Fine Art (Calgary)
I also highly recommend the VIP experience where you'll sit in a chic lounge and where RBC has sponsored a display focusing on the work of Canadian women artists.


Here's a peek at how last year's extravaganza was put together:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

New Release: Nyimpa: A collection of poems by Kwame Stephens


New Release:
Nyimpa: A collection of poems
by Kwame Stephens

Buy the paperback
Buy the Kindle version

"Nyimpa" which means "human" in Kwame's mother tongue of Fanti as spoken in Ghana - is a collection of over forty poems. These poems present a holistic view of life and the complexity of perspective as modern African/North American man. The poems span over twenty years of his work, some written as recently as this year (2015).


The are five chapters in Nyimpad:
• Nyame - The Fanti people of Ghana say you don't teach a child about Nyame (God).
• Abofra - The birth of a child (abofra) is a time of joy.
• Nyonko - A true friend (nyonko) - is always a blessing in our lives.
• Mbesiafo (women) -  mothers, sisters, friends and more are the salt of the earth.​​
• ​Mbanyinfo (men) - brother, friends and lovers -  teachers us lessons of the soul.​​

Much of Kwame's work has a musical quality about it, as if the poems should be sung. They examine and celebrate the five themes he outlines - a couple of excerpts:

from Angels All Around

...
I see angels all around you
and they are happy people
joyful people, loving people
God has opened my eyes
and I see angels all around you

from Still Waters (2003)

He leads me beside still waters
where the river slows and the water calms

He leads me to places
where there are no other voices
but mine and his own so I can hear
listen and feed my soul

He leads me to quiet places

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Michael Tilson Thomas & the San Francisco Symphony Release New Recording of Beethoven featuring Emmanuel Ax (SFS Media - November 13 2015)

From a media release:

MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS AND THE SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY RELEASE
NEW RECORDING OF BEETHOVEN’S PIANO CONCERTO NO. 3 FEATURING EMANUEL AX AND MASS IN C MAJOR ON SFS MEDIA NOVEMBER 13, 2015

Pre-order now on iTunes.com
Find out more

SAN FRANCISCO, October 13, 2015 – Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) and the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) will release a live recording of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 featuring Emanuel Ax and Mass in C major on the Orchestra’s Grammy Award-winning SFS Media Label on Friday, November 13, 2015. This is the fifth all-Beethoven album released by MTT and the SFS. Of this journey through Beethoven’s music, MTT states, “In our performances we have been exploring a lyrical, transparent approach to the music. This gives us an opportunity to hear the remarkable qualities of the players of the San Francisco Symphony.” The recording will be available as a hybrid SACD compatible with conventional CD players, and as a digital download — including as high-resolution 24-bit downloads — and on all major streaming services. The album is available for pre-order starting today on iTunes with Mastered for iTunes audio quality at iTunes.com. Piano Concerto No. 3 was recorded in 96kHz/24-bit audio September 26-28, 2013 and Mass in C major was recorded in PCM 192kHz/24-bit audio January 15-18, 2014, both in Davies Symphony Hall.

On recording with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, Emanuel Ax shared, “I have known MTT for 40 years now since we first played together. I’m a total fan of his mind, and his musical approach. I feel very privileged to be part of a recording project with this orchestra and with Michael.”

Beethoven wrote Mass in C major in 1808, and later described it as “especially close to my heart.” MTT says of this work, “Mass in C unfolds in a way that says, ‘Please come inside and we’ll spend time together listening to something beautiful.' It’s enveloping and comforting. The soloists – Joelle Harvey, Kelley O’Connor, William Burden and Shenyang – are all lyric voices who can float phrases in a way that I’m sure Beethoven must have been imagining when he wrote them.”

This new recording joins four previous SFS Media recordings of Beethoven’s music by MTT and the San Francisco Symphony, and a Keeping Score documentary and concert of the composer’s Symphony No. 3, Eroica, available on DVD and Blu-ray. Of their recording of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and Piano Concerto No. 4 with Emanuel Ax in 2011, Donald Rosenberg wrote in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Tilson Thomas leads a forceful, nuanced account of Beethoven's Fifth that shows his San Francisco Symphony to be in prime health. But the highlight of the disc is the performance of the Fourth Piano Concerto with Ax at his most crystalline and poetic. The relationships between piano and orchestra are beautifully defined, the music's grace, drama and joy bountifully conveyed.” MTT and the SFS also recorded and released Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and Leonore Overture No. 3. Beethoven recordings featuring the Grammy Award-winning San Francisco Symphony Chorus include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and his Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II and Symphony No. 2. Of MTT and the SFS’s Beethoven exploration, Blair Sanderson wrote on All Music.com, “Michael Tilson Thomas's super audio recordings of Beethoven's symphonies with the San Francisco Symphony deserve attention for their superb musicianship and extraordinary sound quality.” (Image of Emmanuel Ax by Maurice Jerry Beznos)

A frequent guest soloist and longtime friend of the San Francisco Symphony, Emanuel Ax made his San Francisco Symphony debut in 1979, performing Grieg’s Piano Concerto under conductor Walter Weller. In 1992, during the San Francisco Symphony’s Beethoven Festival, Ax performed the complete cycle of Beethoven’s five piano concertos within a two-week span. Those performances were the only previous time Ax played Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the SFS.

Soprano Joélle Harvey, a native of Bolivar, New York, first appeared with the San Francisco Symphony in 2009, singing the role of Leila in the semi-staged production of Iolanthe. Her most recent appearances with the SFS were during the Orchestra’s 2015 Beethoven Festival, in which she performed Missa solemnis and the role of Marzelline in a concert setting of Fidelio. Prior to that she performed the role of Solveig in the SFS’s January 2013 semi-staged production of Peer Gynt. Tenor William Burden made his San Francisco Symphony debut in 2012, and can be heard on the SFS Media recording of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. Mezzo soprano Kelley O’Connor made her SFS debut in 2008 in Haydn’s Mass in Time of War. Her most recent appearances were in this recording’s Mass in C performances in January 2014. She returns to perform with MTT and the SFS in June 2016, in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Resurrection. Born in Tianjin, China, bass-baritone Shenyang made his San Francisco Symphony debut in 2011, and most recently performed with MTT and the Orchestra in the June 2015 semi-staged production of Missa solemnis.

One of America’s most distinguished choruses, the 156-member San Francisco Symphony Chorus is known for its precision, power, and versatility. Led by Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin, the Chorus performs more than twenty concerts each season and is comprised of 32 professional and 124 volunteer members. Recordings featuring the SFS Chorus have won a total of eight Grammy awards, including three for Best Choral Performance. They were featured on the SFS Media’s recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with MTT and the SFS, which won three 2010 Grammys, including the award for Best Choral Performance.

The San Francisco Symphony is widely considered to be among the most artistically adventurous and innovative arts institutions in the US. Led by Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, the SFS presents more than 220 concerts annually, and reaches an audience of nearly 600,000 in its home of Davies Symphony Hall, through its multifaceted education and community programs, and a global audience through its media initiatives, national, and international tours.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Love Letter to Downtown Toronto #Toronto

A Love Letter to
Downtown Toronto

Toronto, I do love you. Here are some pics taken over the last year or so, usually taken while I've been walking to or from Union Station, to or from various events and work assignments in the city - including three views from the rooftop lounge of the Thompson Hotel.

Looking east from the Thompson Hotel Toronto rooftop lounge.


A moody Toronto skyline in the rain.

Beautiful Toronto by night - with the rooftop vanishing pool of the Thompson Hotel in the foreground.

A condo's eye view of downtown from Bay & Bloor

Interesting geometry as seen from the GO station

Queen Street West

University Avenue


Shimmering TD Tower

Front Street, leaving Union Station


Friday, October 16, 2015

Toronto Dance Theatre Echo November 3-7, 2015 Fleck Dance Theatre

From a media release:

Toronto Dance Theatre
Echo
November 3-7, 2015
Fleck Dance Theatre

Buy Tickets
• Join us on Wednesday, November 4 for a post-performance Q&A.

Christopher House’s Echo is a captivating hybrid creation, a new production and a remix of his provocative dance-theatre work Echo’s Object (2005). An incisive look at narcissism and the manufacture of the self, the 2005 work was described by The Globe and Mail as “… asking personal questions that we have always privately asked ourselves.” Echo (2015) delves deeper into this world, using movement, music and design in an unsettling landscape of dreams, impulses and surprising juxtapositions.

Christopher House builds on images from his “fresh and original” (The Globe and Mail) Echo’s Object (2005) to create a dynamic new production called Echo in which ten dancers inhabit a world of beautiful creatures, dark angels and lost souls. With costumes by Jeremy Laing, lighting by Steve Lucas, décor by Cheryl Lalonde, and sound track by Phil Strong and Thom Gill, Echo is a visually stunning work of dance theatre that looks forwards and backwards in time.

About the Choreographer
Artistic Director of TDT since 1994, Christopher House has contributed over sixty works to the company’s repertoire which have been presented across Canada and in such major centres as New York, London, Berlin, Tokyo and Beijing. His many honours include three Dora Mavor Moore Awards, the Muriel Sherrin Award for International Achievement in Dance and the Silver Ticket Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.  He has invited a growing number of artistic innovators, both Canadian and international, to participate in TDT’s creative projects and continues his performance work, in particular through his solo adaptations of the choreography of Deborah Hay. His performance of Hay’s work in 2012 garnered him a Dora Mavor Moore award nomination for Outstanding Performance.

Christopher House enjoys mentoring emerging artists and has taught across Canada and in the USA and Europe. He is an Associate Dance Artist of Canada’s National Arts Centre.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Natalia Clavier, the live voice of Thievery Coporation, Releases Career-Spanning Album 'Live In Buenos Aires,' (October 30, 2015 - Nacional Records)

From a media release:

Natalia Clavier, the live voice of Thievery Coporation,
Releases Career-Spanning Album 'Live In Buenos Aires,'
Recorded at Teatro Del Viejo Mercado
(October 30, 2015 - Nacional Records)

Pre-order/buy the CD

Natalia Clavier's most recent solo album "Lumen" has received praise from NPR, MTV Iggy, AV Club, KEXP, KCRW And Many More

Natalia Clavier, the sultry-voiced singer we’ve heard fronting Thievery Corporation concerts around the world and on her own albums, brings us to her home town on her new album ‘Live in Buenos Aires,’ to be released on October 30. The album was recorded at a show in Buenos Aires at Teatro Del Viaje Mercado.

The show, as Natalia says, was a family affair. She had previously played in Buenos Aires with Thievery Corporation, but this would be her first time playing solo for her hometown audience. And, of course, no homecoming is complete without a family reunion—sitting at the keys during the show was none other than her brother, Pablo Anglade aka Polsik, who also did the musical direction and arrangements for the show and engineered the record.

Natalia’s signature jazz-inspired vocals and electronic textures are ever-present on this live album, with an extra touch of that live spontaneity and rawness that make you feel as if you were in Buenos Aires with her. The album features lives twists on familiar songs such as ‘El Tren,’ ‘Trouble,’ and ‘Every Time.’ Rounding out the album album are some funky bonus remixes of the songs ‘Lumen’ and ‘Cantanta’.

CD Release: Holy Forest (Mighty Fine Music - October 15, 2015) & NYC Live Dates

From a media release:

CD Release:
Holy Forest - Holy Forest
(Mighty Fine Music - October 15, 2015)

Pre-order/buy the CD

Live dates in NYC:
Oct 23 The Shrine - New York, NY
Oct 25 C'moneverybody - Brooklyn, NY

In a digital diaspora there are no borders. Playing with sound of the diaspora, Holy Forest blends the ingredients of an evermore connected world into its debut album.  Imagined as a series of songs from the holy forest, a place where we once travelled, where we once fell in love, where we are no longer… but where we long to return. Recorded in The Gambia, NYC, Woodstock and San Francisco, “Holy Forest” is a body of work spanning a number of years, produced and arranged by musician and documentary filmmaker Jon Fine (Herbie Hancock’s “Possibilities”/ Bill Wither’s “Still Bill”).

Producer, instrumentalist and songwriter, Jon Fine enlisted friends and collaborators to play on the genre blending project including Ed “Preachermann” Holley, Gambian griot Tata Din Din Jobarteh (aka the Jimi Hendrix of the Kora), members of Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, singer’s Morley Kamen, Seraphim, Sparlha Swa, and Grammy nominated Kora master Youssoupha Sidibe.

The making of the album, spanning a number of years was inspired by Fine’s trip to the Gambia’s Makasutu forest, a lush-green riverine wilderness of mangrove swamps. While in Gambia, he sought out Tata Din Din Jobarteh and the seeds for the project were planted. Drawing on the beautiful melodies of the Kora, reggae rhythms, folk and blues, “Holy Forest” is 21rst century cross-continental roots music.

In throwback to an era of music when vinyl was king, world-renowned DJ and tastemaker Gilles Peterson happened to hear Holy Forest’s album playing in a small boutique record shop in London called “Love Vinyl”. As it turns out, that actual copy he stumbled upon was, at the time, the only record in circulation anywhere in the world. It was the first pressing of the record, sent to one of the shop’s employees as a sample. The record was spinning on the right turntable at the right time. Gilles left the shop with it in his hands and, the next day, featured the single “Africa Calling” on his BBC 6 Radio show introducing it to his massive audience worldwide. For a project that is being distributed and released independently, the serendipity is a testament to the refreshingly old-school, pre-streaming power of music.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Kent Monkman’s New Exhibition -The Rise and Fall of Civilization at the Gardiner Museum from October 15 2015 – January 10 2016

 From a media release:

Kent Monkman’s New Exhibition at the Gardiner Museum Reveals a Dark Period in First Nations History
The Rise and Fall of Civilization at the Gardiner from October 15, 2015 – January 10, 2016

PUBLIC OPENING
Friday, October 16
Free with half-price admission, 4 – 9 pm
In collaboration with imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival and Soundstreams Canada, the Gardiner hosts a special opening party for Kent Monkman's The Rise and Fall of Civilization.

Check the link for other programming, including the artist in conversation, film screenings and more

Toronto, ON — Atop a cliff flanked by two life-sized bison, Miss Chief stands with her arms outstretched and her hair blowing in the wind. Sculptures of cubist-style bison plunge headlong into the gallery, violently shattering at the base of the cliff in a pile of broken ceramics.

Kent Monkman’s new large-scale intervention at the Gardiner Museum, entitled The Rise and Fall of Civilization, alludes to the near extinction of the American bison in the nineteenth century when their numbers were reduced from approximately 50 million to the hundreds. European settlers hunted the bison for their pelts and used their bones for fertilizer and bone china.

“I was immediately drawn to the Gardiner Museum’s collection of bone china and how I could relate it to this particularly dark period in the history of North America’s First Peoples,” explains Monkman. “The bison represented the food supply of the Plains Indians, so when their population was decimated, it destroyed a way of life for a lot of Indigenous cultures. It was a turning point in the movement of theEuropean population across North America which pushed the First Peoples to the fringes.”

“Kent Monkman’s new work not only acts as a reminder of a pivotal and often overlooked moment in our collective history, it reinforces the idea that clay is part of the vocabulary of today’s most important and provocative artists,” says Kelvin Browne, Executive Director and CEO of the Gardiner Museum.

The installation is made up of a 9-foot high “buffalo jump” topped by two mounted bison and a sculpture of the artist’s glamourous diva alter ego, Miss Chief, a supernatural being who challenges historical narratives. Bison leap from the cliff and morph through several cubist stages inspired by Picasso’s drawing of a bull, ultimately appearing on the walls in the form of Aboriginal rock pictographs. Smashed ceramics at the base of the cliff reference the build-up of bones often found at buffalo jumps, and the history of Indigenous ceramics uncovered at sites across North America.

“People engage with a sculptural installation in a different way than they do a painting,” says Monkman. “They can move around it and really approach it. People are familiar with the idiom of the museum diorama so they have certain ideas, memories, and associations connected with it and I like to disrupt those ideas. I like to challenge conventional or received notions that people have about First Nations cultures.”

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication featuring an interview with Monkman by Kelvin Browne, as well as essays by well-known art critic Sarah Milroy and Gemini-award-winning documentary filmmaker Tasha Hubbard.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Gardiner Museum will celebrate contemporary First Peoples culture with a full schedule of programming created in collaboration with imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, Human Rights Watch Canada, Art Toronto, RPM.FM – Indigenous Music Culture, The Institute of American Indian Arts, The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA), the Consulate General of the United States Toronto, and Soundstreams Canada.

ABOUT THE ARTIST
Kent Monkman is one of the country’s preeminent contemporary artists, working in a variety of mediums, including painting, film/video, performance, and installation. His work is represented in numerous private and public collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum London, The Glenbow Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, The Mackenzie Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. In 2014, Monkman received the Indspire Award in recognition of his outstanding career achievements.

TD Bank Group is the Presenting Sponsor for Kent Monkman: The Rise and Fall of Civilization, and The Hal Jackman Foundation is the Exhibition Partner.

EXHIBITION PROGRAMMING:
EMPTY BOWLS
Thursday, October 15
5 – 7:30 pm - $55
Empty Bowls is a North American-wide project to aid the homeless. More than 400 bowls are donated by potters, potter’s guilds, and pottery students, and gourmet soups are prepared and ladled out by some of the province’s top chefs. All proceeds are donated to Anishnawbe Health Toronto, a culture-based Native centre committed to changing lives through traditional healing practices.

Friday, October 16, as part of the public opening of Kent Monkman’s new site-specific installation at the Gardiner Museum, imagineNATIVE will present Kent Monkman: Miss Chief in Motion, a series of Monkman's short films featuring Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, the artist’s iconic drag queen alter ego. Kent Monkman will be in attendance for an audience discussion after the screening, followed by a tour of the exhibition guided by the artist himself.

Visual Arts: Greater New York on view October 11 2015–March 7 2016 at MoMA PS1

From a release:

Greater New York
October 11, 2015 to March 7, 2016
at MoMA PS1

Check the website for Performance Program Schedule & participating artists

NEW YORK CITY - Greater New York is the fourth iteration of the renowned series, begun in 2000 as a collaboration between MoMA PS1 (then P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center) and The Museum of Modern Art, that showcases emerging artists living and working in the New York metropolitan area.

This Greater New York arrives, however, in a city and art community that has changed dramatically since the first version of the survey. Against this backdrop, Greater New York will depart from the show’s primary focus on youth, instead examining key points of connection and intersection between emerging and more established artists across New York, while also exploring aspects of earlier histories of the city itself, and its changing political, social, and architectural fabric. (Image is the Painted Chair by Collier Schorr)

The exhibition occupies MoMA PS1’s entire building with over 400 works by 157 artists, including programs of film and performance. The 2015 exhibition is co-organized by a team, led by Peter Eleey, Curator and Associate Director of Exhibitions and Programs, MoMA PS1, that includes art historian Douglas Crimp, University of Rochester; Thomas J. Lax, Associate Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art, MoMA; and Mia Locks, Assistant Curator, MoMA PS1.

Considering the “greater” aspect of its title in terms of both geography and time, Greater New York begins roughly with the moment when MoMA PS1 was founded in 1976 as an alternative venue that took advantage of disused real estate, reaching back to artists who engaged the margins of the city. Together, the works in the exhibition employ a heterogeneous range of aesthetic strategies, often emphatically representing the city’s inhabitants through forms of bold figuration, and foregrounding New York itself as a location of conflict and possibility. (work below by Huma BhaBha)

Major support for the exhibition is provided by MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation.

Generous funding is provided by The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, The Friends of Education of The Museum of Modern Art, and The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art.

Additional support is provided by the MoMA PS1 Annual Exhibition Fund.

Special thanks to Elham and Tony Salamé. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Food, Music & Film: Taste of Iceland fifth anniversary in Toronto from November 12 to 15 2015

From a media release:

Taste of Iceland celebrates its fifth anniversary in Toronto from November 12 to 15 2015
Annual event showcases the best in Icelandic food, music and film

TORONTO, ON – Celebrating its fifth anniversary in Toronto, Taste of Iceland touches down in the city from Thursday, Nov. 12 to Sunday, Nov. 15. Presented by Iceland Naturally, the event highlights the country’s renowned cuisine, music and film, including a free concert with Icelandic bands, a tasting menu featuring Icelandic ingredients and film screenings by Icelandic directors.

“Toronto is always so enthusiastic about Taste of Iceland, and welcomes Icelandic culture to the city with open arms,” said Kristjana Rós Guðjohnsen, project manager for the festival. “We’re excited to celebrate the festival’s fifth year here, with a great lineup that we can’t wait for everyone to experience.”

Cuisine
This year, Taste of Iceland brings noted chef Ylfa Helgadóttir to Toronto. Owner and chef de cuisine of the newly opened but much acclaimed Kopar, Helgadóttir has a delicious menu in store that she will present at Oliver & Bonacini’s Luma. Despite her young age, Helgadóttir has gained notable attention for her work. After apprenticing at one of Iceland’s top restaurants, Fish Market, she moved on to open Kopar, where she enjoys working with Icelandic products to find unexpected flavour combinations. She has received numerous awards and is also a member of Iceland’s national team of chefs, who won two gold medals at Expogast 2014. Chef Ylfa Helgadóttir will present an Icelandic tasting menu at Luma from Nov. 12 to 15.

On Sunday, Nov. 15, Luma will again host An Evening in Iceland - an interactive ticketed event showcasing the best cuisine Iceland has to offer. Join chef Helgadóttir along with Oliver & Bonacini’s Anthony Walsh and Michael Wilson for a meet and greet cocktail reception, followed by the four-course tasting menu. Chefs will walk guests through the menu while they dine at communal tables and are treated to a musical performance throughout the night.

Reykjavik Calling
On Saturday, Nov. 14, The Horsehoe Tavern will once again play host to Taste of Iceland’s Reykjavik Calling, a free, open-to-the-public concert showcasing two Icelandic acts, alongside a local Toronto band and DJ.

This year’s performers include Samaris, a trio that fuses glacial electronica and pulse-like beats with haunting vocals. The band won both the Icelandic Músíktilraunir and Kraumur Awards before the international release of their debut album in 2013.

Samaris are just one of the Icelandic bands performing at Reykjavik Calling in Toronto. Airplane and Spaceship is a refreshing one-woman act whose electronic space-music is a mix of playful beats, cool bass and high-pitched vocals. Her new album, Nótt á Hafsbotni, focuses on the magic and darkness of the deep ocean. Airplane and Spaceship will bring the magical darkness of the ocean to the Horseshoe Tavern on Nov. 14.

Film Screenings
Iceland Naturally will screen two Icelandic film programs specially curated by the Reykjavik Shorts & Docs Festival on Sunday, Nov. 15 at The Royal Cinema. The first screening will be a series of short films, followed by a documentary. Admission to the film screenings is free on a first-come, first-served basis and will be followed by a Q&A by the director of the film festival.

About Taste of Iceland
Taste of Iceland in Toronto is presented by Iceland Naturally in cooperation with Icelandair, Reyka Vodka, Blue Lagoon, Icelandic Glacial Water, Promote Iceland, Brennivín, Iceland Airwaves, Luma and Horseshoe Tavern.

Iceland Naturally
Iceland Naturally is a cooperative marketing organization that promotes the tourism, services, products and culture of Iceland. It represents the true essence of Iceland, its creativity and spectacular natural wonders. The group is comprised of Icelandair, Icelandic Group, Islandsbanki, Reyka Vodka, City of Reykjavik, Icelandic Glacial Water, Blue Lagoon, Keflavik International Airport (KEF), Landsvirkjun, Ölgerðin Egill Skallagrímsson, Promote Iceland and the Government of Iceland.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Traditional Jazz: Old Harlem Lives at Bill's Place

Old Harlem Lives at Bill's Place
148 West 133rd Street (btw 7th and Lenox Avenues)
Open Friday's and Saturday's
Doors Open:7:30 PM - shows start 8:00 PM and 10:00 PM
Price: $20.00 per person

Remember : We are a dry establishment. No Alcohol is allowed.

At one time, speakeasys lined both sides of 133rd Street between 7th and Lenox Avenues, sending the jazz vibes onto the street from the unassuming brownstones. Nowadays, the speakeasys are gone but Bill's Place Harlem remains as a stalwart ode to the music.

During Prohibition Days, speakeasys sprang up in private houses to avoid official scrutiny and in Bill's you get to experience the feel of the genuine article. You're inside one of the old brownstones, down a staircase to the basement. Frontage was taxed in the city at the time, forging the iconic streetscapes of narrow, taller buildings that still makes up the vast majority of Harlem. The basement stage is set against one wall while the seats are strewn along the opposite wall of the long narrow space.

Best of all, you can sit an arm's length away from the sound - still genuine in its spirit and expert in its execution. This is one of the very locations, after all, where a young Billie Holliday took to the mic while Fats Waller and Willie the Lion Smith were regulars most weeks. Today, the line-up includes co-founder Bill Saxton, a bebop sax player with a long history on the international stage and his Harlem All Stars on Friday nights and a guest band on Saturdays. Either way, you'll get a powerful set of mesmerizing traditional jazz served straight up.

Bill's Place is actually the hood's longest serving authentic speakeasy - although there's an irony there. Opened during the days of Prohibition to serve illegal booze to music lovers, the establishment is nowadays dry, with no alcohol allowed. Now, the New York Times did a write up of the place late last year and naturally Bill's Place got a lot of publicity because of it. At the time - and described in the article - you could bring your own bottle. I first visited not long after that and the surprised crowd was told the place was between licenses and couldn't allow liquor for the time being... and nowadays it's flat out dry. An object lesson in why a speakeasy needs to retain a low profile, it would appear.

For reservations: click here or call 212-281-0777 
Email: billsplaceharlem@gmail.com
For Private parties please contact Club Manager, Joseph Landon at billsplaceharlem@gmail.com

True Cool: CHILL Ice House - Toronto's Ice Lounge

True Cool:
CHILL Ice House
82 Bathurst Street - Toronto

There are ice hotels and ice castles but the CHILL Ice House is - according to the billing - 'Canada's first and the world's largest permanent ice lounge'. Twelve months a year, if offers a taste of frozen Toronto to tourists and locals, doubling as a family friendly attraction by day and a cool (couldn't resist!) cocktail lounge by night.

CHILL is the brainchild of Gresham Bayley, who worked for the innovative family business Iceculture for years before opening the lounge. Iceculture is a Canadian success, having become one of the world's leading purveyers of specialty ice and ice sculptures and creators of innovative ice designs over the last three decades or so. I guess it should come as no surprise that Canadians can ace the ice. They've often led the world in innovations like the beaded ice curtain and chandelier and export their expertise to clients worldwide. Iceculture has even worked for NASA, producing precise ice components for the Return-to-flight program of the shuttle. It all started with a patented process that takes all the air bubbles out of the water as it freezes to produce clear, glass-like blocks and shapes of all kinds.

For Iceculture, Bayley became a globe trotting ice lounge installation expert. The company's projects took him to Dubai, Greece and India. He worked on projects like the Disney fairy-tale castle in Times Square, New York City,  the World Ski Championships and a global warming exhibition in Oslo, Norway at the time Al Gore received his Nobel Prize.

What is The CHILL Ice House?
It's a lounge where everything is made of ice from floor to ceiling, including a private (sort of!) seating area, decorative elements and a sleek bar where you'll order the coldest shots of vodka you've ever had. The room is kept at a chilly minus 4 degrees Celsius and your cover charge includes rental of a blue or white quilted cape to keep you reasonably warm and toasty. To keep it interesting, the decor is changed all the time, including the theme, sculptures and features of the bar/lounge area. When you touch one of the exquisite sculptures with your hand, the flawless surface begins to get wet... only to refreeze as soon as you move on.

Tip: You may be thinking this is the place to check out in the heat of summer but if you do go during warmer months, be sure to wear solid shoes. Skimpy sandals don't last long at that temperature.

If you get too cold, there's an unfrozen side of the bar as well, a roomy space with wood panelled walls, a long bar with hip beverage selections, a nice menu of house made charcuterie and other nibbles - and a coat rack for those blue and red capes.