Garage Art in Regina

It seems that I’m not the only one in Saskatchewan who has considered putting together an art exhibition in a garage. Jeff Nye and Sheila Nourse have started just such a project in Regina, under the umbrella of their Lane Level Projects enterprise.

The project is titled “The Garage Show” and is scheduled to take place on September 8, 2007 in Regina, Saskatchewan. As of this writing, there is an open call for submissions. If you’re interested in submitting something, the deadline is August 10, 2007. Here’s how the teaser on Jeff Nye’s site and the call for submissions describe it:

The Garage Show is Lane Level Project’s first. Lane Level Projects is a Regina based artists’ collective. Our mandate is to introduce the work of local contemporary installation, multi media and performance artists into private and semi-private venues – homes, garages, yards and gardens. Our inaugural project, The Garage Show, will culminate in a one-day exhibition/performance event in the garages and alleys of Regina’s Cathedral Area. 20 visual and performance artists will create site-specific installations and/or performances in response to the private spaces of people’s garages and the public spaces of the alleys that feed into them.

Here are the full details, taken from one of the blogs of my friend Carrie Gates:

Call For Proposals – The Garage Show

Themes: Intervention/ Urbanism/ Public Spaces and Private Spaces/ Garage- Related Activities

Lane Level Projects is seeking artists to create installation and/or performance works for garages to be exhibited in a one day art event in Regina, SK on September 8th, 2007.

An artists fee will be paid to the artists that are selected.

Proposals / Submissions should include:

  • CV/resume and a brief bio including your discipline(s) and your roles within these.
  • A one page project description which outlines the underlying ideas, processes involved, and material result of the proposed work or action, including timeline and workplan. (This will help us facilitate the right space for you.)
  • Technical requirements for the successful completion of you project.
  • Examples of past work enclosed in a SASE: 5-10 slides or jpegs on Cd-Rom, video on DVD

Submission Deadline: August 10th

Mail project Proposals to:
Lane Level Projects
c/o Jeff Nye
P.O. Box 374, Lumsden SK S0G 3C0

According to my cursory googling, this page tells me that “Jeff Nye is a Master of Fine Arts Graduate from the University of Regina. He has exhibited his painting and site-specific installations in Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec, and has presented his written work at national and international conferences. Jeff teaches classes in painting and drawing at the community and university levels.”

And further googling for Jeff’s collaborator on this project tells me that Sheila Nourse is a sessional instructor with the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Regina.

12 thoughts on “Garage Art in Regina

  1. Hi Ed,

    Just thought you might want to hear my story; no idea ever seems to be new, does it?

    A bunch of people who used to be involved with AKA were putting together a project a couple of years ago that we were helping them with, called Oilspots. They put out a call for artists who wanted to mount weekend-long exhibitions in local garages and simultaneously put out a call for garage-owners who wanted to host the exhibitions.

    We hosted the call on behalf of the Oilspots group, so we fielded the call from CARFAC. CARFAC was concerned about several things, but the one that ultimately shut the project down was their insistence that the city and the police would consider those garages businesses (or “studios”) and use the Oilspots tour map as a guide of places to ticket and shut down. My lengthy and frustrating conversation went nowhere in trying to explain that since the garages didn’t belong to the artists and since they weren’t selling anything, they weren’t places of business by any stretch of the imagination.

    Anyway, I don’t remember every detail anymore, but the way the conversation basically ended was that if the project went ahead, CARFAC might just make sure that the city WOULD find out about the project. Yes, a veiled threat. So we advised the Oilspotters to drop their project.

    I do remember that there was something to the story that CARFAC had previously tried, in tandem with the Craft Council, to put out studio maps, but been threatened by the city or something like that, and I think the tone of the phone call may have started out being one of a friendly and helpful nature, but as our situation wasn’t at all similar and I wasn’t willing to shut down the project that the Oilspotters were doing, I think I was getting a little unfair “well, then FUCK YOU!” attitude thrown back at me.

    It put a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of people just starting to get involved with AKA at that time, which really sucked. Granted, I think all of those people have since moved to other provinces now, but that’s kind of the way it seems to work around here sometimes.

  2. Cindy,

    Thanks for your comment. The Oilspotters project sounds like it could have been really fun and interesting, aside from what seems like an extremely frustrating situation.

    Though I’m a current board member and was also on the board from 1999-2001, I can’t speak for current or past CARFAC practices or individuals. And as a current board member I have to cover myself by prefacing what I’m about to say with a disclaimer that what follows is my own opinion and not that of CARFAC, and that it’s not a critique of any specific people. There, is my butt covered?

    I find that there are couple of point to consider, regardless of whether we find ourselves in a situation where legal enforcement might rear its ugly head.

    First of all, I think that it’s the job of organizations like CARFAC, and the Craft Council, and other groups that have individual artists as their primary members, to give information on possible conflicts and/or issues that might arise from a specific project rather than saying “no, we’re not going to promote this to our members because it’ll get them into legal hot water.” Artists are mostly adults, and capable of making informed decisions as to whether to risk getting charged with operating a business without a license. I find that a policy of information rather than judgement usually works best.

    The second issue is directly related to this. I think most artists claim their expenses against income, and are therefore considered businesses. Doubly or triply so for those with GST and/or PST numbers. If they’re going to the trouble of doing the paperwork of claiming themselves as businesses, I think they should really get business licenses. Now, I’m the pot calling the kettle black here because I don’t yet have a business license. However that’s likely to change next week since this comment has reminded me to deal with it.

    In any case, I think that artists are doing a disservice to themselves as individuals by not carrying out their practices as professionals. And this lack of professionalism transfers to the perception of artists-in-general as flakes or bad at business or somehow outside of commerce.

  3. Thanks for responding, Ed. I do agree that it’s up to all of us as artists to be responsible “business owners,” but for CARFAC or any other organization to threaten to have a group of artists who may or may not be licensed ‘taken down’ is not only NOT in the best interest of the community, but in this case, it was completely beside the point.

    In this situation, the threat was that CARFAC was going to go completely outside of what was actually happening to imply to authorities that there were businesses being run out of garages just to make trouble so they could make a point.

    They could do exactly the same thing on any day to any Saskatoon-based artist in any exhibition at any gallery anywhere – tell the city and the police that the artist exhibiting inside doesn’t have a business licence, and that therefore they must be in violation of some bylaw because they have to be making their art somewhere. In all likelihood, any place any Saskatoon artist is making their art violates some bylaw or code.

    I kind of resent the implication that artists are doing us all a disservice by not being better businesspeople. I sit right on the fence between wanting to be a better administrator of my practice, and wanting to screw it all and spend more time making my art. It sucks up a hell of a lot of time and creative energy!

  4. All I can say about your CARFAC story is “yikes.” I’m going to look into this.

    I can understand your reaction to my perhaps too harsh and overly broad generalization about artists being unbusinesslike. I know that different art practices call for different terms of reference. I find it easy look at my practice with a business mindset.

    And while I agree that the administrative side of being an artist takes a great deal of time away from the actual practice, in my case I see it as an armature that supports my ability to keep making work. Again, this doesn’t work for everyone.

  5. Yeah, I know. But as someone who works with aaaaaall kinds of artists, and gets labelled “the man” more often than not by other artists – time, energy, and creative willpower are resources directly affected by the administrative machine. For many, if not most artists, it may only take a small percentage of time for a small amount of administrative work to drain a huge amount of creative energy!

  6. This is kind of a long one. Also I have a GST number and it totally sucks.


    Hey Cindy and Ed, good to e-see you again!

    I’d like to respond to some of this first by saying that if ARCs like AKA Gallery are being called “The Man” in the provincial art scene, we’re kinda screwed. No offense to AKA Gallery or its peers but I hardly consider it to be the gatekeeper of work that has “made it” in any kind of state- or commercial- or academic-approval sense. Of course, it’s easier for people to label all organizational forms of arts culture as establishmentarian (in the Church of Art context) than it is to grade them on such criteria. But I think in the sliding scale between informal, grass-roots, diy arts culture and crypto-fascist mercenariality of same, AKA leans heavily to the former side. And well done, btw.

    I’d also like to mention that there’s a similar project in Ontario that’s been running for a number of years called Alley Jaunt. I’m pointing this out not as a comment on the idea, but as a comment on the mechanism and the fact that this kind of thing has happened before to the point where cities perpetuate it (or at least allow it to be perpetuated).

    Of course, cities in Ontario are different from cities in Saskatchewan, and that’s part of the point too–I have no idea what, if any, red tape awaits Jeff and Sheila. Hopefully none–Regina isn’t the same city as Saskatoon, either. And given that Rob Bos was able/”allowed” to run his Art Projects Gallery space for a good three years, with the full knowledge of the city (he received a “Mayor’s Arts Award” for, in part, his guerrilla gallery space), I imagine they won’t hit much of a stumbling block on that front.

    To speak about this in more general terms, however, I do have to admit a certain degree of trepidation when it comes to CARFAC and its ilk. Namely, that an organization can purport to speak “for artists” is troubling; realistically (and ethically), it can only claim to speak for a majority of its own members. It will do itself even greater disservices if it attempts to speak _to_ or even _at_ artists.

    On a riskier scale, though, is the question of whether Arts Organizations can or should interfere with members’ (or non-members’!) art practices, and I think that for my part that comes as a resounding “no.” If an artist is engaged in illegality–note that that isn’t synonymous with unethical behaviour–then we might just be stuck with the postmodern response of leaving them to their own devices and reading into their motives. If I appropriate films for my video work, then you should by all means ask me why I do it illegally and why that’s important, and feel free to criticize me for my methods–bring it. But I’d be choked if you called Warner Bros. to narc on me.

    This is not a dismissal of the need for professionalism or certain protocols, but as artists I think we should also be questioning presumed defaults like business and legality. Isn’t that the point of us–to destabilize, interrogate, subvert and revolutionize the expected, the status quo, and the norm?

    As organizations age, they build “legacy”… while we use this term to describe the long-term benefits of a shorter-term thing, this is also the term programmers use to refer to code that was part of an earlier version of a software but no longer serves any purpose in the current version…in fact, it often results in the current version being bloated and sluggish. I bring it up because the legacy that served an organization at one point in time may no longer serve it currently, while the organization finds itself unable (unwilling?) to quickly adapt.

    I worry that CARFAC often finds itself in this position, and its difficulty in understanding alternative forms of exhibition, practice, and professional standards (in this case or others) seems to me to be a key symptom of a buildup of organizational legacy code.

  7. Well my dear, since you bring it up (and I’m afraid this will probably be my last word on this matter), to sum it up; speaking of professionalism, ethics, and motives: the fact of, or for that matter the very potential for any artist or organization to tattle on their fellows to any perceived authority gives me pause to question that artist/organization’s professionalism, ethics, and motives.

    And a feeling of serious rising bile.

  8. Note from Ed: I’ve edited this comment to remove the email addresses. In these cases I’ve replaced the addresses with a note in square brackets like this: [email address removed]. I’ve also re-ordered the quoted emails so that they appear chronologically. Patrick originally posted them reverse-chronologically.

    Hi Ed, Cindy, Lee

    I am mystified by comments publicly posted on this blog which allege that CARFAC SASK in some way attempted to “shut down” the AKA ARTWALK/ garage art project, or “to threaten to have a group of artists who may or may not be licenced taken down… “ or “if the project went ahead, CARFAC might just make certain that the city WOULD find out about the project…a veiled threat.”

    This is simply not true.

    At no time and in no way did CARFAC SASK make any of these statements or make threats against anyone.

    CARFAC SASK replied to a proposal questionnaire from AKA in a respectful and professional manner, to assist AKA in planning the event and in minimizing any risk to AKA, the artists, the Oilspots, the garage owners and the public (please see the e-mails pasted below).

    In a follow up phone call, we related further information, including some cautionary examples about dealing with cities and bylaws.

    Cindy, it appears that you have confused several of the elements of our telephone conversation…

    -the examples I gave you were of an artist who threatened to report other artists to city authorities regarding issues over business licences in another city … as I explained to you, it was that artist who exhibited the “F.U. attitude” which you mention

    -the police were never mentioned in our conversation…

    -we never insisted that the city would consider the garages to be businesses, we only asked that you investigate the matter before proceeding.

    I have no difficulty clearly recalling the conversation or the elements of our discussion in detail.

    I am concerned with what appears to be a gross misrepresentation of the facts.


    [Note from Ed: This quoted email originally appeared at the end of Patrick’s comment.]

    —–Original Message—–
    From: AKA Gallery INC [email address removed]
    Sent: Wednesday, May 10, 2006 12:44 PM
    To: AKA Gallery
    Subject: AKA ARTWALK

    The AKA Gallery Programming Committee is planning an ARTWALK for September 23rd 2006. It will be a tour of exhibitions in garages (yes, that’s right….garages!). If you’ve always wanted to have an art show in a garage then we’d love to include you!

    In order to help us with our planning we would appreciate it if you could answer the following questions and return the survey to [oilspots email address].

    1. Are You an Artist who would like to participate in this project?

    2. Do you have access to a garage you would wish to use to host your own or another artists work? If so, what neighborhood do you live in?

    3. If you answered no to the first two questions, would you be interested in participating in some other way?

    Feel free to forward this notice to anyone that you feel might be interested – everyone is welcome. We appreciate your help!

    Contact: [oilspots email address] for more information.

    [Note from Ed: The following quoted email originally appeared before the above-quoted message in Patrick’s comment.]

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Patrick Close – CARFAC SASK
    To: [aka programs email address] ; [aka admin email address] ; [oilspots email address]
    Cc: Carol Samuels
    Sent: Wednesday, May 10, 2006 2:42 PM
    Subject: Re: AKA ARTWALK

    Cindy & Clark

    CARFAC SASK has some concerns which we would like to share with you regarding your proposed ARTWALK.

    Our comments do not reflect on the exhibitions, or their merits, but raise issues of risk management and fees which we believe to be of great importance to your proposal.

    The first of these concerns arises from of discussions and experience which CARFAC SASK and the Saskatchewan Craft Council have had with municipal authorities in Saskatoon.

    We respectfully suggest that AKA investigate the following:

    – bylaws and zoning regulations regarding the use of garages for this purpose (the City of Saskatoon has comprehensive bylaws which govern residences and acceptable uses of garages)

    – whether or not sales will be made

    – bylaws and zoning regulations regarding garage sales, sales in residential areas

    – bylaws and zoning regulations regarding home occupation / home businesses (studios)

    – liability and insurance issues with respect to the safety and well being of artists, works, organizers and visitors involved in the exhibitions

    – any possibility that garage owners or participating artists may be subject to municipal fines or penalties

    In our experience, it often helps to have a supporter at City Hall (councillor or staff) who can assist you to research these issues.

    We strongly suggest that artists who agree to participate in the exhibitions be made aware of the information gathered above.

    Our second concern regards artists fees paid to participants…
    artists fees are not mentioned in your announcement…
    as this appears to be an off-site group exhibition of AKA, it will be subject to exhibition fees, and we offer our assistance to you in determining the level of fees.

    Please call me if you would like to discuss our experience or our concerns further.


    Patrick Close – Executive Director [email address removed]
    206-2314 11th Ave, Regina SK S4P 0K1
    T 306.522.9788 F 306.522.9783


  9. Hello Everyone,

    I’m going to jump in here as the host of this discussion and say that I’d like the conversation to stay constructive. I’m really happy to be able to provide a forum, but I’m worried that it could devolve into a he said/she said situation.

  10. Lee,

    I’ve been meaning to write this for awhile but have been busy with my new duties at the Mendel. I take issue with your statement:

    This is not a dismissal of the need for professionalism or certain protocols, but as artists I think we should also be questioning presumed defaults like business and legality. Isn’t that the point of us–to destabilize, interrogate, subvert and revolutionize the expected, the status quo, and the norm?

    The questioning of defaults seems to be the dominant trope of contemporary art practice, especially among academics and academically-trained artists and arts-workers. But I don’t believe that it’s a system that can be applied as universally as you imply. I’m not sure what I’m advocating for, but I’m definitely opposed to an unquestioning questioning of the status quo. Such an approach can—and has—led to a culture in which the destabilization, interrogation, subversion, and so-called revolutionization of the staus quo is the status quo.

  11. Lee, I completely agree with this point:

    I worry that CARFAC often finds itself in this position, and its difficulty in understanding alternative forms of exhibition, practice, and professional standards (in this case or others) seems to me to be a key symptom of a buildup of organizational legacy code.

    Since we’re talking a bit about CARFAC, I’ll continue using it as an example, but I think you could substitute most organizations. I believe one of the core challenges CARFAC faces is the fact that the membership has become somewhat self-selecting. It was founded to do certain things, has its own history and legacy, and is attractive to like-minded people. So rather than attracting artists working under within contemporary contexts, it attracts artists working in the contexts of its founding and legacy. As a result, rather than speaking for all artists, CARFAC speaks for all artists except those served by the IMAA (which, funnily enough touts its 25-year legacy) and those artists served by other organizations, and those who have yet to form organizations. In the absence of deep pockets, it’s much easier for organizations like CARFAC to continue serving its own members incrementally rather than to take risks by expanding into other markets, so to speak. I guess the big question is: how does one recruit new members without pissing off the majority of the existing membership, while maintaining a secure funding base, and without taking over someone else’s turf?

    Or, to put the question another way: if “people like us” join the organization, how do we keep the organization attractive to “people like us” while reaching out to “people not like us.” How “not like us” should those people be? What if they don’t want/need us?

  12. Lee,

    A few thoughts on the “legacy” issue…

    One of the greatest challenges for any organization is to avoid the negative aspects of what you have called the “buildup of organizational legacy code ” (I prefer the term “codified overgrowth” myself).

    CARFAC deals with many organizations, authorities, agencies and levels of government, all of which have profound influence and effect upon the lives of artists. These other entities sometimes exhibit extreme rigidity in terms of their understanding and appreciation of art practice and artists. They may also have complex codified structures…including laws, rules, regulations and requirements.

    One of the most important roles for organizations like CARFAC is as a carrier of information and a “translator”. We try to collate and distribute information, and to de-codify or translate the information so that it can be of use in our sector. If that proves to be impossible, it is important to then try open up routes which circumvent the problem.

    At this point, confusion can occur … when a person is confronted with the massive wall of codified overgrowth they may react by shooting the messenger.

    It is vitally important to understand the differences between message and messenger, and not to attribute the content / intent of the message to the messenger

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