Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Felix Kalmenson: Hot Air (Instant Nationalism)

Critical Mass: A Centre for Contemporary Art was pleased to present an installation by emerging artist Felix Kalmenson earlier this month.

Kalmenson was born in 1987 in St Petersburg, Russia.  Now a Toronto based artist,  Kalmenson works in a variety of media including installation, film, photography, and collage, within public space, as well  gallery settings. His work engages in conversations surrounding publicness, memory, myth and how these are mediated by complex social, economic, and urban landscapes.

Kalmenson's installation, Hot Air (Instant Nationalism) was specially commissioned to coincide with Canada Day celebrations earlier in July, 2013. The installation was part of our ongoing project titled "Identification Papers",  which consists of an evolving series of installations in storefronts along Port Hope's main street, all exploring various aspects of "identity".

Photo Credit: Felix Kalmenson

Hot Air is composed of two hot air hand dryers that are activated by motion sensors. As pedestrians pass the storefront, the hand dryers turn on and wave the adjacent Canadian flag. Hot Air invites the viewer to consider the meaning of citizenship and patriotism in the context of contemporary democracy. Without some kind of interaction from onlookers and passers-by, the flag quite literally will not wave.

Photo Credit: Liz Parkinson      

Identification Papers is made possible by a grant from Ontario Arts Council. Additional funding for Kalmenson's installation was provided by Critical Mass supporter, Charles Wickett.

Visit Felix Kalmeson's website.

Gil McElroy's Akimbo review of Part 1 of Identification Papers here

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Call for Artists: Port Hope Fall Fair, 2013

For the second year, Critical Mass is inviting artists to intervene in
 The Port Hope Fall Fair.
 Last year’s entries were warmly welcomed by Fair judges and Visitors 
they want us back! 

Here's what you need to know if you'd like participate in 
 Critical Mass Fall Fair Artist Interventions 2013

This year’s Fall Fair theme is Brought to you by the letter “B”

Think outside the Box and enter in any category: 
 Baking, Handcrafts, Fruits, Vegetables, Canning, etc.
But NOT Art or Photography! These categories are for non-professionals only.

Challenge yourself to make Better Art 
while remaining within, or Breaking, the Fair rules.
Or, embrace nostalgia, go traditional and Bake it Beautiful!

(Check out the artist interventions at last year's Fall Fair)
 here and here
Cost: the Fall Fair exhibitor fee is $7.00, which
-grants membership to the Port Hope & District Agricultural Society 
(Put that on your resume!)
-allows you to enter as many categories as you want
-gets you into the Fair for free all weekend long! 
(Regular daily adult admission $10)

For more Fair information, exhibitor categories and regulations click here: 

Let Critical Mass know by August 22 if you’d like to join us: 

Critical Mass will collect your completed Fair entry form, your non-perishable entry and your $7.00 exhibitor fee. There will be one drop-off location in Port Hope, and one in Toronto. Let us know which drop-off location you'd prefer when you RSVP, and we'll send details by return email. Drop off deadlines will be Thurs. Sept. 5 in Toronto and Mon. Sept. 9 in Port Hope.

We’ll do the legwork for you. We will go to the Fair secretary on your behalf to obtain your exhibitor’s number and your entry tags for Critical Mass to fill out. We will also deliver your entries to the Fair to be judged on Thursday evening. Fair Judging is blind. We will label Critical Mass entries with your name and our logo for the big reveal after judging. 

In addition to the artist interventions, Critical Mass will be presenting The Mountain School Bookhouse  with Toronto-based artist Shannon Gerard, and her associates from OCAD University. They will be working with local middle school students, and Fall Fair visitors, creating a temporary press club to publish newspapers about the Fair. Look for The Mountain School Bookhouse in the patchwork tent at the Fair beside the Boy Scouts, across from the Blacksmith.  

As the oldest Agricultural Fair in Central Ontario (1822), Port Hope Fair has lots to offer—farm animals, dog trials, agricultural demonstrations, a chainsaw museum,  blacksmithing, tractor pulls, vintage cars, a demolition derby, music, a midway, wrestling…
 ....and Critical Mass: A Centre for Contemporary Art.

Be there!

Monday, July 1, 2013

New Installations for Canada Day in Port Hope

If you are planning to come to the Canada Day Parade in Port Hope,
be sure to check Critical Mass's current storefront installations
all of which are a part of our on-going project 
Identification Papers.

Felix Kalmenson: Hot Air (Instant Nationalism)
at 105 Walton (Ganaraska Frame)
Kalmenson's installation is a special commission for Canada Day and will only be up for two weeks. Don't miss it!

Heather Nicol: A Fine Specimen
at 93 Walton

Yvonne Singer: I do, I undo, I redo (homage to Louise Bourgeois)
at 65 Walton (Furby Books) and Walton Hotel (corner of Walton and John)

A walkable, free "gallery", accessible to all, day and night.

Identification Papers is made possible by a grant from:

And by the generosity of private donors and volunteers
including the following

Special Sponsors:

Peggy Dalla Rosa
Simon Clements
Charles Wickett

Community Partners

Imagelink Studio (Michael Wallace)
The Design Firm (Luke Despatie)

To learn more about the artists, go to their websites:

Monday, June 10, 2013

You are invited to attend

                     "Louise Bourgeois and Me: An Imaginary Conversation"

                                                 with artist Yvonne Singer
                                             and curator Aurelie K. Collings
                                              7 p.m., Tuesday June 18, 2013
         Meet in front of Furby Books and/or the Walton Hotel to view the installations
                                 before proceeding to the location* for the talk
                                          Admission is free for students                                          
                                     Suggested donation of $5 for adults

                            Please register for this event by Friday, June 14, 2013

                     (*Secrets, and the effects of their ravelling and unravelling,
                                   will be a theme of the evening)
                      Yvonne Singer is a distinguished Canadian artist and educator.
                               She has an international exhibition record,
                     and is a professor in the Faculty of Fine Art at York University.

       Singer is the inaugural artist in Critical Mass's latest project, "Identification Papers".
Over the next  everal months, a series of contemporary art exhibitions will be installed in storefronts   in downtown Port Hope, creating a walkable, free "gallery", accessible to all, day and night.

                                "Identification Papers" is made possible by a grant from:

                              And by the generosity of private donors and volunteers
                                         including the following special sponsors                                                      
                               Peggy Dalla Rosa, Charles Wickett, Simon Clements                                                                                                                                 

                                                               "Art is a privilege, a blessing, a relief.
                                                               Privilege means that you are favoured,
                                                       that what you do is not completely to your credit,
                                       and not completely due to you, but is a favor conferred upon you."
                                                                   Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010)


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Thank you, Ontario Arts Council!!!

Thanks to a Project Grant from the wonderful Ontario Arts Council, Critical Mass is now able to move forward with our second project, in which art will be made accessible to the public by using storefronts as our "gallery". We hope you will find the coming installations and related programming to be both enjoyable and thought provoking.

The Project Grant has been awarded to Critical Mass to animate selected storefronts along Walton St. with cutting-edge contemporary art.  This project, entitled "Identification Papers", will feature a series of installations by 4 professional artists with national and international exhibition records. In addition, the artists will be involved in community engagement activities such as artist talks, book signings, film screenings and the like. "Identification Papers" will run from spring 2013 through winter.  

We'll post information about each artist,  the installations and the related activities, as each project rolls out. The artists we plan to bring to Port Hope include Heather Nicol, Sean Martindale, Daryl Vocat and Lauren Nurse. The grant will also allow Critical Mass to bring  a vitrine exhibition of artist books to the Port Hope Library in early 2014. 

One great side effect of receiving this grant is that it has spurred several local art lovers to make private donations to Critical Mass, and as a result, we've been able to add two additional artists to the "Identification Papers" line-up: Yvonne Singer and Felix Kalmenson.

Although the installations will be presented in series, that is, one after another, rather than as a single show,  the work is curated around a core theme of Identity and all of the art displayed will involve a strong element of paper as medium, and/or text.

Critical Mass also hopes to use the infrastructure we'll be developing for "Identification Papers" for a second storefront gallery project: "DoubleW", with the mandate of showcasing the work of more local/regional artists. Be on the lookout for more information about this project, and about how to submit, in the future. 

Critical Mass depends on generous donations of volunteer time as well as in-kind and cash donations from patrons and sponsors. We are off to a great start.

Speaking of volunteers, a number of Critical Mass members and supporters built the backdrops that are now installed in the windows of the currently empty "Walton Hotel". Many thanks to Will Ryan for allowing us the use of the space, both as one of our on-going storefront galleries, and as workshop space.

The volunteers for this build included a great group of local high school students:
Cheyenne Mifsud, Gaelan Welch, Tracy Vousden- Welch, along with the able assistance of Chai Duncan, Paul Welch, Dennis Landwehr, Denis Desjardins, and Bohdan Madaj...and two CM board members: Liz Parkinson and Fiona Crangle. 

You'll also notice that a new backdrop has gone up in the west window of Furby Bookstore. That, too, is destined to be one of our storefront gallery spaces. Many thanks to Lou Pamenter for giving up precious retail space to the cause of Fine Art!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ever wonder how much public money...

Ever wonder how your province or territory stacks up against other Canadian regions in terms of per-capita spending on the arts?

Here's your answer, courtesy of a just-released report from Canada Conference on the Arts:
(source: cca-publishes-its-2012-2013-analyses-of-provincial-and-territorial-budgets/)

 The winner of the race to the bottom is British Columbia ($54 per capita) with Ontario coming in at a close second ($63 per capita). Here in Ontario, public spending on the arts is half that of our neighbours in Quebec ($125 per capita). Arts support in the territories far outranks that in any of the provinces, with Yukon coming in at a very nice $628 per capita.

Newfoundland and Labrador are doing well relative to the other provinces, at $156 per capita.

The arts are a major contributor to social well being and community cohesion. Many economic studies conclusively demonstrate that the arts also make a substantial contribution to economic development.  The regional disparity in arts spending is far wider than I realized, and it was a surprise to me that Ontario ranks so low on this list.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Foodart Interventions at Fall Fair

A few more pictures of entries by Critical Mass members at last weekend's 
Fall Fair in Port Hope. 
Here are some of the "proudly disqualified" in various food categories.

 Eyes, and zippers... DISQUALIFIED

 Needlework or decorated cake category? Doesn't matter, DISQUALIFIED either way!

 mmmm...BUTTER tarts

 a zipper does not compensate for the lack of seeds in the Hubbard Squash category.

 Canadian Mint jelly

 plate of onions, three kinds, two each... amazing feat of needle felting

whole canned tomato