In Memorium: Armand Edouard Demers 1927–2013

Today marks the first anniversary of my father’s death. As a tribute to him, I am posting the eulogy I wrote for his funeral (with a few words tweaked). What is so wonderful about today is that what I wrote then — about not having any unfinished business — has held true, and for that I am eternally grateful, for it means today I am not burdened by the anniversary of his death. I can think of my father with a smile, and while, yes, there is a touch of Read More …

Finding Inspiration: Pedro Pablo Oliva

On a recent trip to Cuba I discovered this artist, one of the country’s finest, at the Museo Nacional Bellas Artes in Havana where his triptych of huge ceramic teacups greets the visitor and four of his original oil paintings hang. Upon discovering the ceramics I was immediately smitten, and then upon entering the second floor gallery I discovered the paintings, which were the best in the whole museum. The imagination and style expressed in ¡Y qué mala Magdalena…! (who resembled a psychotic Alice in Wonderland) and Saturno enseñando a Read More …

Why writers and artists should reconsider their patronage of Starbucks and Caffè Artigiano

Starbucks and Caffè Artigiano: ubiquitous in Vancouver and two favourites among the many writers and artists I know. Yet that love and support is not reciprocated. Historically, cafés have been the place where writers, artists, and revolutionary thinkers have gathered, where ideas have been born and nurtured, fuelled by passion and caffeine in equal measure. The café’s role as a creative cauldron is so pervasive that it is set in the popular imagination. Considering this symbiotic relationship, then, why is it that neither Starbucks nor Caffè Artigiano support local artists? Read More …

Dear Vancouver media: Thanks for nothing.

Dear Vancouver Media: Vancouver, as you know, is in mourning. For our reputation, for those who suffered injury, for the loss of joy at having gone so far in the Stanley Cup. But in the outrage over the hooligans who turned a party into a riot, there hasn’t been any talk about the real instigators of this mess and who is benefitting: YOU. In the weeks leading up to the final Stanley Cup games, there was constant mention in your newspapers, websites, and evening news programs of the Riot of Read More …

Finding Inspiration: Steven Kennard

Steven Kennard is a sculptor and wood turner based in Canning, Nova Scotia. His passion is boxes with intricate detailing that becomes all the more astounding when you consider some of his pieces are only a few inches high. He’s also worked collaboratively with other artists, most notably metal artist Elizabeth Goluch. There is something inherently mysterious about boxes, suggestive of hidden treasure, secrets, and all that is forbidden. A locked box is particularly intriguing: what is so valuable it needs to be secured, or so private it needs to Read More …

Writers Under Attack Again

  The above video was posted on YouTube in the hope of stopping an educational exemption in the proposed new copyright bill. Whether or not the exemption is fair-dealing or the video fear-mongering (as some have suggested) isn’t, to me, the real issue; to me, this proposed exemption is just one more example of the myriad ways in which people seem to think that writers should work for free. Consider Ariana Huffington’s insistence that her contributors are happy for the byline — then making a $315M sale to AOL on Read More …

Backyard Tourist: Vancouver Maritime Museum

The first thing that strikes me about the Vancouver Maritime Museum is that it serves as an example to those who might wish to use our vast open waters for the purpose of smuggling: you’re more likely to be overlooked if you hide in plain sight. I’ve lived in this town for over fifteen years now and not once had I thought to venture into the pyramid-shaped building in Hadden Park, which, until this very moment, I erroneously thought was a part of neighbouring Vanier Park. See what I mean? Read More …

Finding Inspiration: Fran Forman

On my [previous] website I [had] a page of links to Artists Whose Work I Admire; however, search engines find blog posts more readily than content buried in a website, and so I’ve decided to use this space to highlight these wonderful artists whose works inspire me, bring me joy, and in some cases fill me with an unflattering jealousy. Case in point: collage artist Fran Forman. Years back, in my pre-digital days when I had my own darkroom, I had begun experimenting with photo collages, but sadly the experiments—along Read More …

Is big always better?

It’s not in dispute that today the trend in art is for large, often very large, canvases and prints intended to dominate a wall if not a whole space. It seems more and more we have moved away from art as an intimate exchange between the work and the viewer and into one of physical and emotional distance. Perhaps this is indicative of the trajectory of our culture overall: we have become increasingly isolated from each other, separated by technology that gives the illusion of connecting while keeping us apart. Read More …

Radicals safeguard the middle

In a discussion with a reader over a previous post, I was asked what I thought of a group of German feminists who claim heterosexual sex is oppressive to women. The question was stupid and off topic so I didn’t answer, but it got me thinking about radical social/political groups in general and if they serve any positive function in society, and have concluded that not only do they serve a positive function but that this function is essential. It is only through radicalism that we grow as a society. Read More …