This is yet another long-overdue post. My life since joining the Mendel Art Gallery has been a little busy. Things are settling down a bit, which is part of the reason I have time to write this post. Plus I’ve gotten a few other projects mostly out of the way. Regarding the Mendel, shortly after I started as Communications Assistant I became Communications Coordinator, and did both jobs solo for about six months. Read on for a summary of what I’ve been doing.
If anyone has been wondering what happened to my online presence, a full-time day job found me and has taken over a large proportion of the time I would otherwise spend in the studio. Any scraps of free time have gotten parceled out between family, a prior commitment for me to repaint the exterior of the house we’re renting, and daily necessities. Studio time ranks fairly low on the list of priorities, and blogging time is even lower.
But you’re wondering about the job. As of August 8, 2007 I am the Communications Assistant at the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon. This means that I work on such things as maintaining the web site and blog at www.mendel.ca, doing print design for invitations, posters, Folio magazine, and other stuff. I also do assorted proofreading, editing, and copywriting, interface with the media, and work on press releases.
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.
Parenting while trying to establish or maintain a professional practice as an artist—in any medium—is a challenge. Artist Margaret Pezalla recently wrote a guest post one of the blogs of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis about the challenges of maintaining an art career while parenting. The post is an interview with two other women artists who have—or are about to—juggle this kind of lifestyle.
I’m tinkering with the site, specifically an upgrade from WordPress 2.0.x to 2.2. I think I’ve got everything back to normal except for the date and comment info on the front page post listing and a few idiosyncrasies with the recent post listings on the sidebars. This is all in preparation for the testing and possible addition of a shopping cart, a new search function, and an integrated email announcement system.
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.
This article was originally published in the July-August 2007 issue of the CARFAC Saskatchewan Visual Artists newsletter under the title “Creative Connections: Mapping Culture and Identity in Saskatoon.” Please note that I’ve added new information that I received after the article was published.
Creative Connections: Mapping Culture and Identity in Saskatoon was a panel presentation given in Saskatoon on June 1, 2007. It was part of the Canadian Cartographic Association’s annual conference which itself was part of the University of Saskatchewan’s Congress 2007. According to the promotional literature, “Creative Connections is one component of the Cultural Capitals Program. Its purpose is to promote Saskatoon’s potential as a creative city and to foster the conditions necessary for creativity to thrive. The project is a partnership among the Saskatchewan Arts Board, the City of Saskatoon, and the University of Saskatchewan.”
The panel consisted of four presenters: Greg Baeker is an urban development consultant, Bill Holden and Nancy Bellegarde work for the City of Saskatoon Planning Department, and Elise Pietroniro is affiliated with University of Saskatchewan GIServices, a provider of mapping and consulting services.
Given this context, the session was fairly data- and tech-heavy and made me wonder if I could write about the project in a way that was of interest to visual artists. In fact, when I first heard about the panel and looked at the list of speakers, I wondered how much of the presentation would be of interest to the cultural sector in general. However, even though the people involved seem to have very little to do with the arts, I found that the project does create optimism for the future of cultural activity in Saskatoon.
This post is a series of outtakes and rants that I wrote in tandem with my article “SAA focuses on funding cuts to the arts: Meeting comes up short on strategy” in May 2007 for the June 2007 issue of the CARFAC Saskatchewan Visual Artists newsletter. I had gone to the meeting organized by the SAA (Saskatchewan Arts Alliance) on assignment from my editor, to report on the outcome of the plan “to develop a strategy for improving the dismal state of provincial funding for artists, arts organizations, cultural industries and heritage.” Thinking about the meeting and what was discussed caused me no end of irritation for two weeks, until I finally decided to write everything down. Then I edited. Below is the stuff that didn’t make it past my politeness filters, in all its pugilistic glory. The article that I submitted to my editor is posted here. You might want to read it first, for reference.
I didn’t see the discussion as having been terribly effective in achieving the stated goals of the meeting. It was more of a bitch-and-brainstorm session than a constructive strategic meeting. As such I have no concrete strategy to report on because none was decided upon.
In my opinion the SAA needs to develop a set of desired outcomes rather than spend energy on reactive strategies to the chronic underfunding of the sector. In this way the desired outcomes will drive the strategy. At the meeting I talked about finding champions within government who could carry our torch without dropping it, of developing a culture of conspicuous consumerism of arts and culture as has been done in Britain, of adopting strategies from other sectors where lobbying is successful, of the uphill battle in trying to gain credibility in a demographic which is suspicious of “high culture” to begin with: peasants and protestants.
This article originally appeared in the CARFAC Saskatchewan Newsletter in June 2007. It was titled “SAA focuses on funding cuts to the arts: Meeting comes up short on strategy”, and billed as “commentary by Ed Pas.” The headline was assigned by my editor and to my mind is a bit inaccurate. But it’s difficult to encapsulate everything I cover in my rant/report so I’m willing to cut him some slack.
On May 1 the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance (SAA) hosted a general meeting of the arts community at The Refinery in Saskatoon. The SAA is a non-profit coalition of arts organizations whose mandate includes advocating on issues such as public funding of the arts, freedom of expression and artists’ working conditions.
The meeting was held in “response to the inadequate and demoralizing allocation for the arts in the [March 2007] provincial budget.” The goal of the meeting was “to develop a strategy for improving the dismal state of provincial funding for artists, arts organizations, cultural industries and heritage.” (Note that in the context of this article, I’ll use the terms “arts” and “artist” broadly to include visual, literary, performing, and media arts.)
Lia and I have had our proposal to create a chapbook accepted by Saskatoon-based JackPine Press. We’ve been sitting on this information for a few weeks now, and have already told a number of people about it in person, but due to overwork and a certain amount of inertia hadn’t gotten around to announcing it on either of our blogs. Here’s the scoop.
The working title of the book is Cryptic Species, and will consist of Lia’s1 poems and my drawings. Thematically, we plan to integrate the anatomical- and body-centric themes of Lia’s recent work with some of my drawings that have a macabre and less metaphysically-serene quality than the work most people usually expect from me. That’s right: dark, moody, and a bit clinical.