I’ve had a busy few months since my last studio update so it’s high time I did more than repost articles that I’ve written for the CARFAC newsletter. This post summarizes my recent art activities since my last activity report in March, in no particular order. I’ll write individual posts about specific projects either as I have time or upon request. As you’ll soon find out, it’s been somewhat bipolar: up and down, with very little in between. Luckily everything averages out to a positive state of mind for me.
Regina Skateboard Park Public Art Project
I was shortlisted for a public art project in Regina. My proposed piece was a large steel sculpture for the skateboard park being built in Wascana Park near the Saskatchewan Science Centre. Unfortunately the jury chose the other shortlisted project. I have sketches, plans, and photos of the maquettes.
Here’s a photo of one of the maquettes. The piece would have been about 7.5 feet tall at its highest point, and around sixteen feet long. The working title for this iteration is Parade, though my original proposal was for one tight cluster titled The Gathering. I’d planned to leave the steel unpainted, and to either allow it to rust or else to do a graffiti project on the piece with the help of the skateboard park users.
New Digital Series: Transit and Transience
Since the beginning of April, I’ve been working on a new digital series with a working title of Transit and Transience. This series was originally planned as 32 images to be displayed on billboards in a Berlin subway station. Unfortunately the jury chose two other proposals. I don’t feel too badly, though, because there were over 300 proposals for 2 billboard projects and 2 site-specific intervention projects. After I wrote the proposal, I was so excited about the series that I decided to go ahead and create the pieces. I started working on them in April, and found out in mid-May that my project hadn’t made the cut. In terms of the actual creation of the pieces, lately it’s been tough going. I’ve completed 8 of the 32 pieces, and have hit a couple of creative walls. The rest of the series is on hold, pending a breakthrough.
These pieces were originally supposed to be 14 feet wide by 7 feet tall. Here’s one image from the series. As you’ll no doubt notice, the figures have legs! And feet! So far the pieces only have serial numbers. I haven’t decided whether they will eventually have individual titles.
Saskatchewan Arts Board
The bad news is that in mid-June I was notified that Arts Board turned down my application for a grant. The good news is that my application ranked reasonably close to the cutoff. I’ll be revising and resubmitting in the fall. The better news is the the Arts Board is acquiring two pieces from my Encounters series for their permanent collection. The pieces in question are Encounters: 2 and Encounters: 10. Neither edition is sold out yet so it’s not too late if you’re the type who likes to follow the lead of the leading provincial collection.
Graphic Poem with Lia Pas: A Taste of Wings
Lia and I did a graphic poem together at the end of April. It’s a 6-page piece in black and white that is a fusion of Lia’s poetry with my visuals, in a style that looks like a graphic novel or arty comic book. We’ve submitted it to an anthology so I don’t want to post the whole thing, but I could probably send out preview copies as PDF. Just ask.
Here a sample of A Taste of Wings. It’s the lower half of page 4 (or page 5, if you count the title/cover page as page 1).
New Digital Series: Incidentals
Incidentals is an attempt to break out of the creative funk that has been hanging over my Transit and Transience series. I decided to take a bunch of the strange quirky creatures and beings that I’ve been drawing recently, and do them up as simple studies. They have a very graphic style that harks back to the illustrations I was doing in the mid- to late 1990s. I plan to print them at small sizes, probably no larger than 6 inches square, in editions of 30 or so. I have grand plans of making available for order directly from this site, but we’ll see how much coding I feel up to. The per-print price will be affordable, probably in the $20-30 range. So far I’ve completed 16 images. I’m not sure how many I’ll do, but I plan to organize them into sets once I have a large enough variety of them.
Here are a couple of the pieces. Some of them have titles. The top image is Up in arms. The bottom image doesn’t have a title yet, though I plan to eventually title all of them.
I’ve been resisting a number of forces that are pulling me into the vortex of arts advocacy. Suffice to say that I’ve been proposing the idea of creating some sort of funding system for more commercially-oriented artists who don’t fit within the current grant system which caters mainly to artists who make what I call “institutional-style” work. My idea centers on the concept of microfinance and/or microlending for arts projects and would be evaluated on the basis of commercial viability and/or the ability to repay the loan at the end of the project. This would allow artists to create work for specific presentations or sales, or to develop new performance pieces and such. These kinds of projects have a high likelihood of generating income, if only the up-front costs don’t prevent them from being undertaken in the first place. Regardless of how it’s implemented, I see this kind of program as a way to diversify the client base of the funding agencies while simultaneously walking the walk of “economic development” which has been a part of cultural industries rhetoric of late. As well, programs like this could do a lot to defuse fiscal conservatives who see current arts funding initiatives as a waste of money. Don’t get me wrong on my altruism here. I’m doing this out of self-interest. I see a gap in the services being offered by the arts agencies, and see this kind of program as exactly the kind of thing that would serve my own needs. And no, I’m not out to destroy the existing system.
Related to this, I’ve been thinking a great deal about the divide between “high art” and the general public. As I’ve said in many recent conversations, there is a pervasive attitude among arts institutions—and here I include funding agencies, galleries, museums, and educational institutions, and such—that they exist to “culture up” the ignorant masses. Meanwhile, the actual practices of the staff of these institutions seems to be more centered on resume- and career-building than on the so-called educational mandate. There’s a long ranting essay here, but I’ll spare you. For now.
My apologies for the lack of pictures to go with the arts advocacy issues. Most of the meetings where I’ve brought up these issues have been visually uninteresting.
I’ve been watching the Facebook phenomenon with a mixture of fascination and trepidation. For the last few months I’ve been holding out on signing up simply because it has the potential to become a huge time-sink. And it’s not like I need more of those. But I have my own profile as of about a week ago. I haven’t been going out of my way to search for friends, but don’t let my lack of Facebook etiquette stop you from interacting with me there. Here’s a link to the public Facebook profile of Ed Pas.