Wednesday, August 22, 2012

182nd Annual Port Hope Fair


Critical Mass is thinking outside the Jam Jar and inviting artists to join in as exhibitors at a traditional fall fair. Feel free to enter an item in any category you’d like: i.e., Baking, Canning, Handcrafts, Needlework, Fruits and Vegetables etc.: any category except art or photography!

As you’ll see here, rules for the entries are extremely specific. You can choose to break the rules for materials and/or dimensions and your entry will be exhibited anyway but marked DISQUALIFIED, the rural equivalent of a Salon des Refus├ęs. (One year, a local man entered a beautiful wooden quilt. He was disqualified. We've got a precedent to live up to!) Alternatively, you can challenge yourself to make art while remaining within the prescribed guidelines for dimensions and materials.  Or, if you are feeling nostalgic (deluded?) and think that your pumpkin pie or glazed lemon loaf has any hope in competition with Mrs. Brown’s, by all means, go traditional and bake it straight.

Judging is blind so it won’t be until after the winners are chosen that your name and your affiliation with Critical Mass will be revealed. The entry fee is $7, which will automatically make you a member of The Port Hope and District Agricultural Society (great for your CV!!!) and give you free entry to the fair all weekend long.  All Ontario residents are eligible to enter, but as is typical at regional fall fairs, submissions are usually very local. We've been in touch with the Board of Directors of the Port Hope Fair, and have been welcomed with open arms.  The Judges know that there will be some new entrants, and we are all excited to see what might happen when Critical Mass artists engage with the Port Hope community for the first time.

Click here for information on the exhibition categories, and to print off your entry form. Be sure to include CRITICAL MASS after your name on all forms.

For those who cannot bring your work to the fairgrounds on the prescribed dates, there will be a location in Toronto for drop off on Sept.13. However, we need to hear from you ASAP so that we can be prepared. Send us a note with "Fall Fair" in the subject line. We'll add you to our subscription list, and keep you updated on plans (which may include an Artist's Pot Luck party on the final night).

ALSO: "Pumpkinfest" is the theme of this year's Fall Fair. Critical Mass has been offered an indoor space and a budget of $75 to create an installation, or performance, or workshop...anything at all as long as it somehow relates to pumpkins. Ideas, anyone?

We've sent a Call for Submissions for this event to artists within our Critical Mass networks, near and far.  The more the better, so please:
Pass this invitation on for greater critical mass!

Contact us: criticalmassart(at)gmail(dot)com
Follow us on Twitter: @criticalmassart

Click here to read about the Critical Mass Vision and Mandate.

About the Port Hope Fall Fair:
This  fair is entering its 182nd year, making it one of the oldest continuously running agricultural fairs in Ontario. It is the Real Deal and everything that should be there, is there: prize ribbons for baking, canning, crafts and needlework; shows of goats, poultry, horses, cattle and pets; 4-H Clubs; demolition derby, tractor pull and vintage cars: honey exhibits and field crop displays, musicians and jugglers and of course, the midway. Port Hope is on the shores of Lake Ontario and is one hour east of Toronto by car or VIA Rail.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What is the C.M. Curatorial Mandate?

Here's a general answer to that question, in the form of a brief Curatorial Statement.

 Critical Mass will address community engagement and socially-aware contemporary visual art practices across a range of media and methods. We will tend to show work which has an emphasis on labour-intense and process-oriented methods. Humour and play are important to Critical Mass.  We are committed to serving the diversity of our region through programming which includes issues of gender and identity politics, our agricultural and industrial heritage, contemporary art practices of First Nations people, and more.

If and when we manage to become a bricks and mortar entity, with a permanent home, our goal is to have exhibition space, a multipurpose studio, and a prinmaking studio.  We have been offered the use of a Vandercook Universal III and a Heidelberg Windmill press as well as basic bindery equipment, and so printmaking, letterpress and book arts will likely become a significant component of our programming.

Until that prospect becomes a reality, we will pursue projects and exhibitions which use existing community resources, and which involve collaboration with a range of community stakeholders and groups.

Vandercook Universal III

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

OCA Summer School in Port Hope, circa 1924

This wonderful photo from the archives of the Ontario College of Art and Design University shows  students gathering at Molson's Mill in Port Hope in the summer of 1924.  
The mill, located on the banks of the Ganaraska River, was the site of 
O.C.A.'s summer school from 1923 until 1941.

Here is the mill as it appears today. Molson's Mill is now owned and beautifully maintained by the Benson family of Port Hope. It is used by Christine Benson and Mike Woods of Journey Through the Arts for a children's summer arts daycamp. Lucky kids!

Historic Canadian artist and O.C.A. professor J.W. Beatty (1869-1941) was the founder and principal of the Ontario College of Art Summer School in Port Hope.

Walking trails along  Lake Ontario in the Port Hope area look much the same today as nearly a century ago:

            John William Beatty: Lake Ontario, Near Port Hope, oil on board, 10" x 14"

Port Hope and the City of Toronto have strong historic ties.  Then as now, the village and the metropolis may feel worlds apart, but are separated only by a short and leisurely train ride (or these days, if you prefer to drive, a one hour eastbound commute on Highway 401)

J.W. Beatty's summer school students described their time in Port Hope as restorative, formative and inspirational. One of the goals of Critical Mass is to see ties with the urban arts community restored, for the mutual benefit of artists and art supporters in downtown Toronto and in Northumberland County alike.

Click here to read more about the Critical Mass vision.

Contact us at criticalmassart(at)gmail(dot)com