Friday, October 21, 2011

Eco Art: Community Installation Creates World's Largest Paper River

A fascinating collaborative community environmental art installation created a "River of Life" in a Missouri town last year.

The installation started at the "grass roots", with elementary schools collecting paper to be recycled.

The paper was then converted to a pulp and dyed blue with a biodegradable dye. On the big day, people from the entire community got involved to create the impressive "river", which wound through area parks and fields.

The pulp created was biodegradable, so the entire river would return to the earth.

The kicker was that the pulp was also impregnated with non genetically modified winter wheat seeds, which would sprout and grow in the spring into a river of wheat! Therefore the project's full name, "River of Life - Bread of Life"!

The entire project was conceived and supervised by eco and fibre artist, Shirah Miriam (Mimi) Aumann. Photos can be seen on the artist's facebook page.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Montreal Art Center Attracts Cultural Clout to Thriving Griffintown District

One of downtown Montreal's last frontiers is "Griffintown".

Nestled along the north side of Lachine Canal between the Old Port, Old Montreal and Little Burgundy, At one time this area was the industrial heartland of an entire country. Where there used to be barges lined up waiting to go through the Lachine Canal locks loaded with chain and grain, now you are most likely to find aspiring actors and actresses lined up hoping to get on as an extra with one of the area's film studios or shoots.

One of the latest arrivals into this storied scenario is the Montreal Art Center. Located in a former engine works, the Montreal Art Center is already home to approximately 30 artists and will be adding more in the coming months up to a maximum of about 100 once the second stage is completed next year. The artists work in open concept studios and all have the opportunity to hang their work in their own spaces and in the main gallery. The Montreal Art Center is a private venture that neatly complements the condo developments and general atmosphere of the area, which also includes the Notre Dame St. antique dealers, the Lachine Canal National Park and cycle path. Also quite nearby are cultural features such as the Parisian Laundry art gallery and the reborn New City Gas complex, home to such events as C2-MTL, a "creative commerce" conference planned for May, 2012, in the structure, originally built in the 19th Century to provide light for the streets of Montreal.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Artprize: Making Art an Economic Force to Be Reckoned with

The third Artprize just wrapped up in Grand Rapids MI a couple of days ago.

ArtPrize 2010 Retrospective from Paul Moore on Vimeo.

In case you haven't heard of it before, Artprize is the unique visual art competition that takes over an entire city and awards a $250,000 prize for the winner. The winner is selected American Idol style by the general public from amongst 1,500+ artists.

This year's winner was Mia Tavonatti, who entered a monumental 9'x13' stained glass mosaic entitled Crucifixion.

A powerful example of the economic impact, consider: one restaurant alone was planning this year to increase its sales by more than $300,000 over the course of the event. That is, one single restaurant brings in way more than enough from the event to pay the cost of the grand prize.

Last year, estimates of the total economic impact were in the range of $7 million. This year a more detailed study will be done.

No doubt these studies will only graze the potential benefit of converting this mixed economy city, known for furniture manufacturing, Amway and religious publishing among several other industries, into a high profile cultural center.

Back in the early '80s, Chemainus on Vancouver Island showed how a small town could leverage art and creativity to literally turn its fortunes around with its innovative mural program. That success spawned dozens, if not hundreds, of copycats. Most likely the same will hold true for the Grand Rapids Artprize.

Before you know it, there could be an "Artprize" type event in every state and province. Hey, the more the merrier!

This event has proven a novel experiment in many ways. Not only is it a wake-up call for the many detractors who fail to see art and culture as an economic engine - people who would rather spend money building jails - it has also been a lesson in humility for the art establishment, many of whom see themselves marginalized in all the hoopla, as they are left on the sideline to whimper about what they call the "poor quality" of the work in general, or the final 10, etc.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

You Can't Be Rich on Shattered Land

This song about fracking by Alex Hickey is pretty self-explanatory. Sad song and beautiful singing...

Alex is enroute from her home in NS to a tour of a few stops in Ontario after appearing in Montreal last night. You can check out the tour schedule here.