If only updates to this long—very long, ancient landing strip of a newsletter/blog that lies beneath here were easy to make, I may have made them more frequently. For now, check my Tumbler page for updates of the last few months and future ones to come.
This site will remain for paintings and personal arts archives. But as always, my other website for any design and photo related projects.
One week from today, The Tour Bus makes a stop in Vancouver. On October 27, 2010 please stop by The Cultch at 1895 Venables Street from 6-8pm for the opening of my recently expanded photo series, The Tour Bus. First exhibited at the Isabella Egan Gallery in 2008, it also gained some attention with a lengthy photo spread in subTerrain Magazine #49. Showing her work Altared Triangle, Valerie Arntzen will be exhibiting her work in the front room of The Cultch.
The summer ends. It's fitting that summer would feel over on the last day of August and a deluge of rain falls on the same day. Six months since my last posting so I can officially call this a non-blog. This website has been around for quite awhile and has still survived even though it's built in frames. Tinkering with the idea of changing it, all efforts went instead to my other site. Now I wonder what to do with this place. It feels like a deserted playground.
Is painting dead? I know, I know...the question keeps getting asked but I must wonder aloud now (does one wonder aloud with text on a web page?). Paint on canvas or wood panel seems a dying art. Painting on bizarre and uncommon surfaces to be clever seems the rage. In the last few years I've been seeking other opportunities in photography and design to get my work out there yet can't stop painting. My last exhibition (see below) was the first time I've shown painting, photography and video together. Although I felt the paintings were the stronger element, the photographs gained the most attention. I liked them and they were an important inclusion to the theme but felt they were more the icing on the cake, while the cake was being left uneaten. Having the sense my paintings might continue to go [somewhat] unnoticed, I've moved onto bigger canvases. What the heck am I going to do with a 12' painting when it's finished?! Where is this commentary going? Just letting you know I've updated the painting section of this site. Still a few more in progress at my studio but send the word out: LARGE PAINTINGS FOR SALE. Contact me.
Busy spring and summer. Some work, some art, some good times and some bad. I've worked some amazing design projects like the 2010-11 season guide for Ballet BC in addition to creating a new logo and brand identity for my favourite [re]new dance company. A new book design project for Anvil Press, A Room in the City with photographs by Gabor Gasztonyi is now officially on the shelves. Powerful images from a talented guy. subTerrain magazine launched their first double-issue (#54) with my photos on the front and back cover plus a bunch of commissioned editorial photo-illustrations on the inside. I also did a photo shoot with The Sadies while they were in Vancouver. Check out some highlights here.
Coming up...I'll have work included in Timeraiser 2010 and the Arts Umbrella 2010 Splash Art Auction. My fingers are currently whipping around in a few creative pots and reigning in some of them soon with be a thrill. There's also a number of interesting art submission calls that have peaked my interest so hopefully more excitement looms in the future.
I must confess: As a full time artist, photographer, graphic designer (Job Stack, Career Pile, Occupation Heap, you get the picture) plus a family, maintaining a solid momentum is difficult. Maintaining ones own website is even more difficult. That includes the Wurking Artist E-newsletter which is around 300 [willing + unwilling] subscribers though none have received one for at least six months. Wurking on it. If you got it, you would read all about everything posted below (for the last six months), maybe some art links, usually an announcement or two...for instance...
My upcoming exhibition Topographic Flux showing at Leonardo Galleries (133 Avenue Rd, Toronto, in Yorkville) from March 22 April 17, 2010. Yet again I'm struggling with time to update both my websites with images from the exhibition. Not a chance! So I took the easy route and created a Facebook event page. Join it to remind yourself you want to come to the opening on April 1, 2010 from 7-9pm.
The Vancouver 2010 Olympics had their moments, that's for sure. Though I still don't understand the need to spend so much money on a presentation of sports, the buzz in the city was quite outstanding. People were having such a GREAT time everywhere I went. Mind you, I didn't stand in a single line-up as I chose to merely wander around plus have little patience for waiting in lines. Outside of the sports, there were protests and rallies, which I'm sure we've all discussed to pieces, there was street entertainment up the yingyang, art shows, light shows, light bars, barnone the most activity Vancouver has ever experienced. I heard about far more than I actually witnessed but it sounds like most walked away happy and fulfilled. But all that money. Sigh. I support athletes, I support the presentation of competitive sports, I especially like a really good show...but the juggling of priorities that goes on, the lies and half-truths of budgets, accessibility, accountability, all that the Olympics encompass--it just seems a tad exclusive. Except for being part of the 150,000 people walking around and watching the other 149,999 people walking around because that was free. Then of course there was the ending: Canada vs USA hockey which drowned out anything negative from the 17-day experience. I admit, yes, I was swimming in excitement at Canada's win. But I was also wondering how long the thrill will last. How much and when are we going to pay for this? Have we already? Will we? Who has the money? How would the sports-loving public feel if all levels of government and corporate investment spent 6 billion dollars on an arts festival for which they got to watch on tv?
So much to do! Busy, busy, and freaking out with a growing To Do List. But I need to tell you--yes YOU, about my upcoming exhibition Topographic Flux showing at Leonardo Galleries (133 Avenue Rd, Toronto, in Yorkville) from March 22 April 17, 2010. It'll be the first time I've created an exhibition with paintings, photography and video. Topographic Flux captures that moment of change when a place becomes a new place. Not a before and after snapshot, but the glimpse in between. More later...
The Vancouver 2010 Olympics come to town shortly before that. Buckets of cash spent on putting that little jig on. It sucked the life out of the city for the last few years and who knows what we'll be left with. A lot of displacement, frayed nerves, charred tempers, and changes taking place in my hometown. Growing a city at the rate they've done is certain to bring problems later. Rome wasn't built in a day. It seems they want Vancouver to be. There's been need for changes here long ago and it's a shame that few of those needs have been replaced by wants for the sake of the Olympics. The funding cuts to our city and province were atrocious, but as it turns out the money/funding was there (tenfold)...but only for the Olympics. Just imagine junior asking why there's no lunch money for him when papa just bought a bottle of scotch. And they wonder where the bitterness comes from.
I should write updates more often. Too much time passes then I forget I have a website. Maybe it's all the work I do that creates this vacuum of time...
I've had a lot of design work in the last few months. I love painting, photography and other creatively blissful ways to spend my time, but lately I've come to love design again. It doesn't hurt to have a multitude of great projects while working with amazing people I count in my client base.
On the literary front...I finished designing a few book covers, including two more with Anvil Press: Dennis E. Bolen's Kaspoit! which also contains my back alley photo on the cover. Philip Quinn's The Skeleton Dance is about to launch and that one turned out excellent. I tried a faux hologram effect with the skull on the cover but the overall design really excited me. Published through Ekstasis Editions, Heather Haley's Three Blocks West of Wonderland came together nicely with a city/forest montage of photographs I'd taken. I also shot a portrait session with Heather and she's unbelievably stunning with a commanding presence so I was guaranteed great results. Another edition of subTerrain Magazine (#53) which I designed and shot the cover images for came out in September and though noted then, I forgot the link. Probably the most colourful one to date! And lastly, out last month was the cover I shot for the autumn edition of WordWorks, the member magazine for the Federation of BC Writers.
This autumn was especially busy with all of the above but a few new projects came my way including the design of an invitation to The Grand Dame Has a New Song to Sing -- the grand reopening of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre which also coincided with its 50th Anniversary. The party was GREAT! Sometimes I wonder if I do these things to make a living or to make sure I get invited to the party.
Around the same time I worked with Ballet British Columbia's new artistic director, Emily Molnar to design a poster for their fall performance, Surfacing. Ballet BC were my longest running client years ago with almost eight years as their designer and dozens of full design campaigns promoting their shows under my belt. I hadn't worked with them in awhile and they'd recently undergone some major shake-ups, but as soon as I heard Emily was their new A.D., I knew things would look up for them. All their shows sold out too!
Currently, there's a multitude of projects on the go...some recent work with Goh Ballet, some artwork published in Quarry Books' 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse, more photo series coming up including a portrait series I've been working on for awhile, but before all that, there's a painting exhibition coming up in Toronto that I'll make sure and give updates about soon.
This just in... my photo-essay for the Vancouver Public Space Network in their new publication PubliCity is launching on Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at Centre A Gallery. The big surprise however, will come in the form of a looping slide show I've created called Property of the City of Vancouver. It includes photographs of over 50 Vancouver public spaces, from streets, parks, beaches and gathering places that aren't necessarily on the beaten track. The event starts at 7pm.
Summer is over. At least today it feels that way. Pre-Labour Day pains of unfinished projects are fueled by post-Labour Day enthusiasm to work. So onwards...
On September 24th, 2009 I'm a participating artist in Timeraiser 2009 in Vancouver. Timeraiser is an excellent organisation that matches prospective volunteers with agencies in need. Timeraiser buys my art (yes, very supportive folks) then auctions it for volunteer hours. The agency wins by obtaining a volunteer, the volunteer/art buyer wins from receiving the art by only giving their time (and hopefully feeling good about it), and lastly the artist wins by having sold their work for its real value. There's lots of organisations to choose your volunteer time with this year. Registration and information is online at Timeraiser.ca
A slew of new reviews on A Verse Map of Vancouver including the Georgia Straight and Globe and Mail newspapers. The Globe: "Photographer Derek von Essen is at his best when he has the sharp geometrics of large-scale urban or industrial architecture to work with, as with Vancouver General's forlorn walls, the red framed lines of the airfield's lights, or the grids of bars on East Hastings' closed-up shops." A great review of Marguerite Pigeon's book of poetry, Inventory published this very day, also in the Globe. The reviewer writes a great literary review but since I designed the cover..."From the font to the cover design to the paper grade, it is a stunning object, which is a fitting irony, given the book is entirely about objects. It's just like Anvil press - the press that comes closest to being Canada's answer to Brooklyn's Soft Skull fiction line - to care about the book as art object time and again."
Lots of new projects on the horizon, including new book cover designs, a photo-essay for the Vancouver Public Space Network and a bunch of new [big!] paintings.
Onto the evening news...So what the heck are you doing Gordon Campbell??? The Premier of British Columbia believes that funding cuts to the Arts and Culture sector of BC will be a cost-saving measure. Doesn't he realise that the Arts community actually makes money for the Province of BC coffers? For every dollar spent in the Arts, $1.38 is collected in tax revenue. I think my favourite quote is from WWII when Winston Churchill was informed arts funding would be slashed for the war purse: "Good God, man, then what are we fighting for?". If you're in Vancouver, gather at 12 noon this Wednesday, September 9th, at Robson Square to make your point. Dress in grey.
One Night Only! The Wee Show on Saturday, August 15, 2009 at Box Studios (1622 Franklin Street). It's the first opportunity to view LIVE in person [and purchase] a Be A Quitter art objets extraordinaires! No reallyBe A Quitter was created from discarded cigarette packs filled with concrete, painted, drawn upon and varnished. The resulting art pieces are each unique and intended to emulate the heavy sensation in the lungs of a smoker.
Lots of other news coming soon! Too little time [to write] right now...
The first ever Canada Day [I wanna be an] Art [patron] Sale! is coming to a driveway near you. Mine, in fact! Loads of paintings from 1999-2008 will be selling at door-crashing, grosssly reduced and obscenely low prices. Ranging in sizes from 8" to almost six feet, some on canvas, others on wood panel, almost all ready to hang, the work is going to sell fast so come early. Starting at 10am on July 1st, 2009, the driveway will open! Email me for details or search Facebook (Vancouver Events) to preview some of the work.
Finally, some new paintings have been uploaded to my site after about two years of yapping about working on them. See, I wasn't lying and there's more to come. These aren't part of the Canada Day sale so keep the noise down.
The photos from my project Horizons and Intersections III will be showing at Vancouver Special later this month. Currently, they sell the H+I dvd and exhibition catalogue amongst their super hip design and architecture books, knick-knacks and other very stylish wares.
Bid on one of my photos, from Tour Bus: New Orleans at the Unite with Art silent auction. It's a benefit in support of UNICEF Canada's Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign. The Art Auction & Gala will be held on June 3, 2009 at the ol' Storyeum in Gastown (Vancouver) and you can bid till your heart's content. There's lots of great art to score and help in a good cause too. You can view their auction items at Unite with Art or the complete Tour Bus series on my photo site www.derekvonessen.com
Earlier this year I was a Juror for the 2009 Ma Murray Awards for the BC and Yukon Community Newspapers Association (BCYCNA). Luckily I like to read newspapers because there were a lot of them to read.
Last week I kept my Juror hat on for The Vancouver Public Space Network (VSPN) Where's the Square? competition. Over 100 design teams contributed their work, plans and ideas to propose a city square in Vancouver. Those that live here may notice the lack of a large, public gathering space and the VSPN has fielded many queries as to why we don't have one. In answer to this, they've created the competition with a People's Choice and Jury Selection to be awarded. You, yes YOU can view and vote for the People's Choice selection online at www.wheresthesquare.ca. I was honoured to round out the Jury pool amongst some heavy-weights in urban planning, architectural and landscape design, and civil liberties. Who did we pick? It's a closed-door secret until May 27th when the VPSN makes their announcement.
I really should update this section more often. I have so many things to write but by the time I get around to it, they're either irrelevant, already passed, forgotten or too trivial to mention. Time is such an untamed, unkind beast.
Initially, I thought to give a play by play of designing the book, A Verse Map of Vancouver from Anvil Press. That might've been a bit of a yawn for those who don't care much for the process. The launch is tomorrow. I assume the book is printed but it's in transit and I won't see it until everyone else does. Now that's anticipation. As with every project, I find there's no on/off switch to the creative ideas that fall under woulda/coulda/shoulda (WCS). I expect it'll be no different with Verse Map. I shoot every day and have new ideas constantly. I'm currently preparing a slide show for the launch and as I view it page by page, keep having WCS moments. I even changed up a photo the day before I sent it to press. It's hard to put it to rest and just move on. The launch tomorrow will be Day 1 of moving onto new creative projects.
That doesn't mean I've had nothing but Verse Map to work on the last year. There's been a multitude of things...my daughter and I combined our drawing skills to create artwork for the Vancouver International Children's Festival kite. The Kite Tent is a nice shady spot for kids to hang out and colour their kites before launching them into the clouds -- err, I mean the sky. I photographed and designed the cover art for Marguerite Pigeon's book of poetry, Inventory, plus some spot illustrations inside. I met her last fall to take the cover photo but ended up taking a couple nice portraits too. She was so sweet and accommodating even though clogged with a cold and weighed down by pregnancy. Buy her book -- she's good people. And get a massage from Thin Thin at Footprints Healing Arts on Granville Island. I met her through a friend and shot some photos for her. She's a miracle worker with my perpetually aching back, not to mention my twitching mouse hand which now works fine again. While you're taking me up on all these referrals, make sure and pick up a copy of I Am A Monument (on Learning from Las Vegas) by Aron Vinegar. He wrote an excellent essay for the Horizons + Intersections III catalogue and this is his new book from MIT Press.
The paintings from the last two years are DONE! Yes, finished! This body of wurk was terrifyingly difficult to complete. Painting came so easy years ago but now there's self-induced pressure to do something completely different. I realised I paint in a particular style that's hard for me to change. It naturally expels itself from my hand. I feel a real detachment from mind and body (hand) when I paint, which is one of the reasons I do it. It's meditative and calming. But lately I'm thinking for more than I usually do when I paint and it's really getting in the way of my creative flow. I suspect the next series of painting will break new ground for me. However, that's the future and who the hell can tell the future? For now, I'll start getting the new painting gallery for 07/08 prepped and posted shortly.
Lately, self-promotion has been the last thing on my mind. It shouldn't be as food has to make it onto the table somehow and the only way I know of is to keep working. Folks spend their whole lives working, some tirelessly contributing to the better good in addition to their long working hours. One such person I'm bursting with pride about is my aunt, Angela Rebeiro, recently awarded The Order of Canada. As publisher of Playwrights Canada Press and executive director at Playwrights Union [Guild] of Canada plus her years volunteering, and personal letter-writing campaigns to politicians and CEO's about changing their ways she deserves every ounce of metal in that medal. Congratulations!
Also with Anvil Press, A Verse Map of Vancouver. Due spring 2009, up to 100 poets have contributed to this anthology of mapping Vancouver's streets and neighbourhoods through literary and photographic means. Editor George McWhirter, Vancouver's first Poet Laureate honours his title with an incredible collection of poetry by some notable and word-savvy writers. I've spent all of 2008 shooting the images to accompany each poem and am now in the midst of designing the entire book. As it comes together, I find it difficult to curb my enthusiasm for this project. I've discovered more of Vancouver in the last year than in the last ten years. While traveling through the seasons to photograph the neighbourhoods, I'd often return months later to discover it looked better with the seasonal differences or the light was preferable or it just depicted the poem with more truth. I'll be posting updates as the publication date moves closer.
Due out on Yep Roc next month is CD and LP (yes, real vinyl!) of Country Club, the new recording by John Doe and The Sadies. I designed all the packaging for the teaming of Canada's country rock sensations The Sadies and X/Knitters frontman John Doe (did you know he was on an episode of Law & Order and CSI? I love Wikipedia).
The big news is my solo exhibition at the Isabella Egan Gallery from September 25 - October 14, 2008. I'll be showing Tour Bus, a photo series recreating new travel memories from old experiences. In addition to the ones posted at my photo and video site, I shot a few new ones including Tour Bus London in honour of Isabella with that fine British accent you'll hear while at the gallery.
Pick up the new issue (#50) of subTerrain Magazine this month as it's their 50th Issue and 25th Anniversary all rolled into one. They've taken British Columbia's slogan The Best Place on Earth and have featured a selection of artists with their own take on it.
Arts Umbrella's 2008 Splash Art Auction is coming up. I've contributed a piece to the silent auction which can be previewed at the HSBC Building (885 W. Georgia St, Vancouver) from September 15-26. The auction is held at a big gala on October 4, 2008. Click for details.
Time to recap the summer...Horizons + Intersections debuted in China at the Today Art Museum in Beijing. Following that it showed from July 21 - August 8th at International New Image Art Festival at the 809 International Art Residencies near the Three Gorges Dam in Yichang City. It's an old military base that has been converted to over 800 artist studios for local and visiting artists. Also happening this summer was the Cheaper 8 Show. Thousands of people showed up, well more like lined up to get in. I got in with my official artist badge but had to leave my troupe curbside, much to their chagrin. All three of my paintings sold to three mystery buyers since those Cheaper folks decided it was something I didn't need to know -- much like the invisible tax receipt I never got which might've shown me the inflated tax deductions. Bitter? Yes. I don't like my queries to be ignored. No Cheaper 9 for me. They put on a great show but their post-show artist relations need some work.
Paintings? Yes I have them. But I'm riding the wave of suspense and have two more to finish before I consider pulling the bunch from the studio. Portrait photography? Yes, working on it! It's my new thrill.
Opening the night after on Saturday, June 21.08 I'll have some new work showing/for sale at Cheaper 8 -- best described in their own words:
150 ferociously talented Artists! 300 pieces of pure Geniusness!
5000 square feet of Wallspace! 16000 square feet of Gallery Space!
ALL ART SELLS FOR $200 ADMISSION IS FREE ONE NIGHT ONLY! Saturday, June 21, 2008
142 Water Street (old Storyeum building) Vancouver BC
More photo news but this crosses over into design as Anvil Press has just published Pamela Stewart's book Elysium. I recently designed the cover but shot the images during a trip to New Orleans in 1991 and was thrilled to use them for this project.
A must-see art show coming up is The Town Without Pity showing at Elissa Cristall Gallery from May 23-June 15.08. Creator/organiser Jim Ramsay has gathered 24 of the most fabulously creative people on the globe to collectively bring his town together. Each building constructed by Jim was designed and transformed by each artist. Since Vancouver often seems a little dry of painting, my gallery -- yes, The Town Without Pity Contemporary Art Gallery (TWPCAG) will feature some of my lesser seen work. The opening reception is Friday, May 23 from 6-10pm and it's going to be raging fun.
The Vancouver Folk Music Festival artwork is finally completed and should be seen splashed around town soon. A photo I shot at last years festival is used on the poster with a heavy monotone treatment to sink it in the background. I love designing posters. They have to be my all time favourite design platform to run my mouse around. This years Folk Fest poster is tops in my opinion -- of course I'm biased but so what.
I've been super busy wurking on numerous projects while battling a nasty cold so my updates have been somewhat lacking lately. My new photo site at www.derekvonessen.com is up and running with the expert creative [and definitely technical] skills of Odette Hidalgo at Gravity Inc. She's the mighty fine, and I mean superfine designer/web mistress of both Don Pyle and Val Nelson's web sites among many others.
Recently opened Isabella Egan Gallery (212 Abbott St in Gastown between Water & Cordova) features the group show For Instance which includes a few of my photographs. The gallery itself is brand, spanking new and a recent addition to a new community of galleries in Vancouver. You'll see more of my work there soon.
I've been shooting a lot lately which is fortunate as I've been pulling images to use in some design projects. Two book cover designs in the works right now, plus an update on the Vancouver Folk Music Festival graphics and more illustration work coming down the pipe. Painting has been...uhhh, waiting for me. I've five huge (6'+) oil paintings I worked on all last year drying over the winter but I'm pretty sure when I revisit them I'll want to do finishing touches. Soon, very soon.
Something stinks in Vancouver and it's not last years garbage strike. Through the Seismic Mitigation process, the province and VSB have determined that the majority of Heritage-stamped public schools have got to be replaced. I lean towards keeping these landmarks as Vancouver's history is constantly being erased, but the cost of refitting exceeds their budget. Now if it was only the money I'd be disappointed but the schools they're proposing to replace these architectural gems with are so far below substandard, so far off from meeting some basic needs and miles off the mark on aesthetics that I'm beyond disgusted. The environmental effects of taking down buildings of this size, disposing of all the elements then rebuilding with new materials is so wasteful that that argument alone should pressure them to reconsider. Proposing schools with a ceiling height of most apartments, with no after school care facilities, with no covered play areas and here's a kicker: a life-span of 25 years!!! Have they lost their minds? Do any of these people remember what school was like when they were younger? Can you picture hundreds of students scrambling through the halls in such cramped quarters? I'm ranting now. Anyway, if you want to know more, Think City is holding a conference on Sunday, April 6/08 to explore these very issues.
The Horizons + Intersections III installation at the East 3rd Gallery (1898 Main St @ E.3 rd) has been up for a week now. The opening last Friday was well attended (blah, blah, blah...the things artists without representation have to go on about). Rather than post anything here, I've uploaded some images to my Flickr page at wurking artist. I've been sitting the gallery since it opened [another thing artists w/o rep do] and have encountered all sorts of colourful characters. I've also been able to ponder the whole gallery experience and accessibility issues some folks have with art spaces. The East 3rd Gallery is a corner space with two sides of windows. In addition to photography, I'm showing a [10 min looped] video projection which passersby including those in cars can see from outside. I've observed an endless stream of people in the last week who stop to watch the video but would prefer to stand outside on windy, wet and noisy Main St than come inside for a few minutes. Not only would they be able to experience the sounds of Don Pyle's score but they'd warm up for a bit! Mind you, the projection is about 10' high by 16' wide so visibility isn't much of a problem outside but the indoor experience is far more rewarding.
The exhibition is up until Thursday, Feb 14th or rather the 13th since it comes down on the morning of the 14th and it's a night show. Tonight (Friday) and Saturday night the gallery will open at around 5pm and stay open late...likely until around midnight. Lots going on there after 9pm too so drop by. Mon-Wed it'll open around 5pm until 9pm.
Countdown to installing the Horizons + Intersections III exhibition for February 1st (E.3rd Gallery, 1898 Main St @ E.3 rd). Lots to prepare for including the a topic which prompts this posting. Too bad I don't have a comments feature as I'd be curious as to the response.
Part of launching one's own exhibition is the publicity including trolling the internet for places to post info and find publications and writers to help spread the word. It's dead-boring, time-consuming, extremely hit and miss with more failure rate than anything else. A lot of work for nothing most of the time. The objective is to get folks to see it, hopefully enlighten someone to anothers perspective in life. It certainly can't be sell anything as barely anything is for sale. Today I remembered a certain local art critic and looked him up, thinking he might be interested in the project. Afterall, he's an art-critic and writer, presumably one who enjoys art and likely in his chosen profession. If not, well, it's not difficult to get out of it -- just stop writing about art. I visited his blog today and discovered his displeasure with artists sending him info about their shows. Forgive me if I don't have all the details but from my standpoint I don't quite understand it. Does he only want to know secondhand info about the artist? Is he being stalked by artists? Does he prefer to discover the artist himself? Maybe he's directing his comments at someone in particular? Who knows. All I know is he's not on my list now and I'll be one less artist bugging him this week. He'll be pleased. That's it for my Monday gripe. The sun is out. Lucky me.
Upcoming... Horizons + Intersections III has an exhibition space! Opening February 1st at 6pm at the E.3rd Gallery (1898 Main St @ E.3 rd) and running until February 14, 2008. The projected video will be showing [in a loop] accompanied by my still photography with sound by Don Pyle. The gallery will be open to the public on Feb 1, 2, 8, 9 from 5pm - midnight while the other days will have the video streaming inside for Main Street passersby to watch through the window. The place is all windows so it should give off a nice glow. But I recommend you come during one of the open nights to hear the accompanying score by Don Pyle. For those who just can't wait that long, view the video below [but not 3 metres wide like a projection!]
And there's going to be some changes on this site soon. For one, photography is coming off as a new home at www.derekvonessen.com is being developed exclusively for it. Also, the painting sections need an overhaul especially with the work from 2007 being added to it soon. Lots of soon going on but projects are more of a focus right now.
My new video project, Perambulations is now complete. After a recent car accident, I found the need to finish this video now.
Similar to the walkabout but closer to the driveabout.
To keep going even when it's too dark to proceed.
Don't get lost. Look both ways. Listen carefully.
It can be seen here:
One of the photo projects I've been working on recently is Tour Bus. It's based on travelling photos I took while around and abroad. Tourists were always in the way - the people I waited to leave my viewframe as I'd patiently linger with camera in hand (as a tourist). Upon returning home, my images gave an impression of the location but didn't always support the memory I had of it. The missing element was the lack of tourists. Using the original photo prints as a backdrop, I photographed new images bringing it closer to the memory and experience initially observed. See my Flickr page at wurking artist to view. (The most incredible web designer in the world is now working on a photo site for me. Meanwhile, my Flickr page is the photo dumping ground.)
Geist Magazine #66 is on the stands now. It's an exceptional magazine and often a potent read so I'm pleased to have my photo as this issue's current cover image. Photographed at Toronto's YYZ, it's part of an ongoing series. Also on the news stands is issue #47 of subTerrain Magazine, another must-read for those who like their written-word with a bite. This issue is not only adorned with my cover photo but some manic doodling and the cover design as well. In addition, my design for the Lush Triumphant Literary Awards Competition -- which you should enter if the pen is your sword, graces the back cover. Lastly, I did a few illustrations [here's one...and another] for Mike Christie's surreal story, Goodbye Porkpie Hat.
Visit the Yaletown Gallery at 1208 Homer Street in Vancouver and see their new show, Art Under the Tree. All sorts of art sized perfectly for gift-giving (5"x5" - 10"x10"). I have some photos up: 9"x9"...didn't want to over-extend myself.
I've been messing about with an old Polaroid ColorPack IV lately. Messing about being the key words. There's a ton of waste involved with taking one picture, making it a difficult and somewhat unenjoyable photographic experience. But in the end some of the results were interesting, especially when ignoring the actual print and playing around with the negative.
Lots of painting going on these days. I'm working on some big pieces and due to their size [and this cold], I wonder if they'll be finished. It seems the larger I go, the more I paint over it again and again and again, never satisfied with what exists from the session before. They'll be some mighty thick paintings when they're done. But at least it's keeping me warm in the studio.
For a few months I’ve been in a drawing frenzy, working on Doodled at the Big House. It’s the title of my donated art piece with proceeds from an auction-win benefiting the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice in Vancouver. It is among ten huge playhouses (4' tall, 3' long, 2'+ wide) that have been creatively transformed by local artists. The playhouses can be viewed at BC Place Stadium during the Vancouver Home + Interior Design Show from October 11-14. The auction runs during this time and can be done in person or online at the Canuck Place Children's Hospice website. Please consider bidding on my playhouse and in turn helping out some kids who really need it. Follow these links to view some pics of it... Front View, Rear View, Detail View.
Horizons + Intersections III - the video portion - is finally online to view. I've heard from many folks who were unable to play the Quicktime files of H+I #1 & 2 (on this site). In light of that, H+I #3 is now posted at YouTube.
Recently, I've posted a few photo sets at Flickr.com. Medium format and 35mm sets, along with a whole set dedicated to pure, unadulterated camera smut. Yes, photos OF cameras - MY cameras, considered by some to be far too many in number, but never enough in my mind. All that chrome and glass and steel, levers and dials and shutters, bellows, boxes and black leather WOAH, it gives me shivers! Check it out here.
A new t-shirt design is out now: The Unravelled Brain of the Two-Faced Man available in red, black and natural mens, ladies and infant creepers and even a thong, if you dare to wear [yuck, but that's just my opinion]. View them all here and place your order today.
This past month had exciting times and more house guests than ever. The new Mr & Mrs are in recovery mode and grasping at a normal life of 12 hour wurk days. Many thanks to all involved! A more personal response is coming in the mail.
As Labour Day approaches so does the fuel for creative fires. I get an insane motivation to wurk post-Labour Day and this year is no exception. Plans are underway for more projects, some to gain closure after the months invested, others spawned from fresh ideas.
Horizons + Intersections III received a bit of attention recently. The Vancouver Review printed Frame 343 as part of their art centrefold in this summer 2007 issue. The NFB's Citizen Shift website has a 'where-are-they-now' update of past contributors and posted a blurb on H+I. Upcoming is an outdoor screening at Cathedral Park (Richards/Dunsmuir) in Vancouver on September 7th as part of the New Forms Festival. It'll be nice and BIG, so come check it out.
The camera collection continues to grow...awhile back I picked up an Ansco Rediflex, a somewhat cheap plastic camera that takes the old 620 reels. I happen to have a roll of Verichrome Pan 620 from 1979 and gave that a whirl on my favourite subject: Kitsilano High School.
Months ago I purchased, then forgotten about a 35mm Ilford Sportsman which for the price and undesirable aesthetics was deemed expendable, so I brought it to the beach last week. And what are those folks looking at? The coast guard hovercraft glides onto Spanish Banks delivering another wounded Wreck Beacher to awaiting paramedics.
Back to cameras...the Ansco Viking 6.3 [the one with bad karma] isn't all that bad, but when the result is a 6x9 negative, one hopes for an exceptionally clean image. Not so with this sucker. The lens is way too soft making little use of the extra large neg, except to size it down for better printing. Anyway, I brought it to the beach too. Lowtide is a real spectacle at times.
The Agfa Synchro Box Camera on the other hand takes surprisingly good pics for a box camera. This image may not be the best example but I like the sparseness of an otherwise busy airport. Plus it's amusing walking around an airport with a box camera. Security always does a double take.
Lastly, for today at least, is my new favourite 35mm [sorry Solina!], the Zenit-E. With a massive and crisp viewfinder, fast lens and shutter click that truly reminds you that a photo has indeed been taken, the Zenit-E takes the case for Inexpensive Classic Camera Acquisition of the Month (ICCAM...join now!). It's also a huge and weighty beast that can easily be mistaken for medium format. Anyway, the strap left a nice cutline in my neck after a full day at the PNE while battling one of Jason's Argonauts. But what photographer carries just one...I also had the Ensign Ful-Vue box camera with me and shot my first roll of colour film (Fuji Superia 100) through it. The results were wickedly good.
The Vancouver Folk Music Festival was soooooo much fun. Incredible music, people, good times, some yummy food, highly recommend it to anyone. But for days I was aching from the unnecessary overload of cameras I brought. Not wanting to miss anything, I moved about rather encumbered with my old Nikon and its weighty 28-200mm lens, my fave [but now stuck!!] Zeiss Nettar 517/16, the Tengor Box, the little Cybershot digital and Holiday Brownie with 127 film [July '78] in it that no one will develop for me. Nothing exceptional to post from the Nikon, but the Nettar was great. The Tengor Box had an ancient roll of Kodacolor II [when will I learn?] and the results were interesting but far less than hoped, while the smallest and lightest of the bunch, my Sony Cybershot gave the best photos. Always a good one for night shots anyway. Should've just stuck with that and the folding Nettar.
Summer has been stolen right from under our feet. Vancouver suffers, but hopefully not for long. Perfect time for web updates...
Horizons + Intersections III had its first showing last month at the Bau-Xi in Toronto. After wurking on a project for 18 months, letting go can be difficult. I went everyday for a week to visit it but it was well taken care of. There were some catalogues and DVD's left over if anyone is interested in purchasing [either or both], feel free to contact me[at]derekvonessen.ca.
Though I grew up in Toronto, I'm certain to be a true Vancouverite as I pine for mountain views and ocean breezes while strolling the downtown streets of my former hometown. Much has changed there, especially the waterfront view. Off-time was spent strolling around Kensington Market, suburbia, the old, deserted CNE automotive building and tripping over bricks on the sidewalks, urban cemetaries and meeting up with family and friends, old and new. Including the fine and dashing Don Pyle, who did the music/soundscape to all three Horizons + Intersections and pictured here at The Beaver on Queen Street where he had his own photo exhibition. I arrived at YYZ with too much time to spare so had a little one-on-one photo shoot with the largest parking lot (12,600 spaces!) in Canada.
Back home with the crows perching in our backyard, it's time to fluff up the garden. Before and after pics are better for that so I'll post in a couple months.
I'm now listed on the Northwest Artist Registry, go for a visit. It's me, honestly. Not like another [unnamed] site where someone has appropriated my name for their own self-publishing needs. His poetry leaves much to be desired. Don't buy anything from there. It's not me, honestly.
There was a short one in 2004, another in 2005 and now approaching two years of creation, Horizons + Intersections III gears up for its debut in Toronto at the Bau-Xi from May 5-19 as part of the Contact Photography Festival. In addition to my photos and video projection, included will be paintings and drawings by Val Nelson, sound by Don Pyle and an in-depth essay written by Aron Vinegar. Horizons + Intersections III has opened up an interpretive response I only dreamed of capturing. The video, created from hundreds of still photos taken in Vancouver, Toronto, Portland, Hamburg, Berlin, Barcelona, London and a multitude of locations in between, depicts our surrounding environments in a state of constant transition. Please join us upstairs at the Bau-Xi for the opening on Saturday, May 5th from 2-5 pm where you will be treated to a screening of Horizons + Intersections III, and view the photos, paintings, drawings and soundscape which were inspired by it. An exhibition catalogue, featuring images, DVD and Aron Vinegar's essay will be available for purchase at the gallery.
More cheapo camera purchases with interesting results like the simple Kodak Rainbow Hawk Eye No. 2C box camera. I've discovered folding cameras like the Zeiss Nettar 515/2 6x9 and the 6x6 Nettar 517/16, are brilliant but have a tendancy to arrive with 50 year old solidified lubricant, similar in effect to cement, which jams the lens and sometimes shutters. A recent find, an Ansco Viking 6.3 was listed as mint condition but as always, buyer beware of wolves in sheeps clothing. A solid month of cuts and lacerated fingers trying to pry apart the lens elements, with soakings in everything available [various solvents and lubes totaling over $20...hmmm, make any sense?], it finally came apart the other day. I was in total shock but relieved as it has potential to be a great camera. I suppose I could've returned it, but fixing this particular problem isn't normally that difficult. Too bad the person it came from has now plagued it with such bad karma. I must now use to only shoot under the most hostile circumstances.
More pics from more cameras, next update. Including a 6x9 Voigtlander Bessa and a Jubilar, Agfa Super Solina and a Silette, and a few more box cameras like the Zeiss Tengor 54, Agfa Synchro, Ansco Shur-Flash, and a Rediflex that uses 620 film - which I found a 30 year old roll of! We'll see how that turns out.
A bunch of design projects complete and some just beginning. Also, I was back in the studio painting last week. First time in months as my focus was elsewhere, but it certainly felt good. All this and more next time...
Happy [Chinese] New Year! Some art happenings to report...
Coming up next week, Thursday February 22, I'll be showing video for one night only at the Battersby and Howat designed Tight Lounge (aka: 1181 Davie Street) in Vancouver as part of the DJ's set.
Another show in Portland opening March 1st at Working Artists with a party on March 3rd put on by the kind folks from Artist Auditions. I'll have a rather large photo installation there and possibly more. Pics will get posted in due time.
A new photo gallery, Wredcked has been added to the site. With practice, pronunciation is a breeze. As with my approach to painting, happy accidents happen all the time, often with a positive effect. I found this error in judgement produced a great series of photos. Shot with a medium format Agfa Isolette I on Fuji Reala 100, the film was exposed during shooting and much to my surprise, loved the results. Shows the neighbourhood in new light.
Someone asked what kind of camera I use...weighty question considering I'm a bit of a camera slut. Some samples of recent shoots: King Cita III awesome lens but transport lever literally exploded in my hands after the second roll. Fixed it, but extremely sensitive therefore an indoor camera only now. Braun Gloriette is easy to use though no rangefinder. The quality is superb for a $10 camera. Zorki 6 which I raved about before still gives me quality images. Sharp lens on those Leica copies. The banner image of foggy trees on my home page was also shot with the Zorki, on Tmax 3200 -- still one of my favourite films since the 80's. Dacora Dignette has a screwed up film advance which causes the frames to overlap. That particular image has got to be one of my all-time favourite photos though, so I guess it's not all bad. Again, the land of happy accidents is my playground. The Warwick Box Camera produces 6x9 negs, excellent for printing ultra large however, I believe the lens is just a piece of glass so sharpness doesn't come first. My Nikon 2020 from the 80's still shoots crisp images with its 50mm lens but on this occasion an old roll of film was discovered at the bottom of a box of batteries and all the negs are burnt magenta on the top and bottom. Most of the roll was toast but the effect wurked well on a number of frames. Again: LoHA (Land of Happy Accidents). And the latest addition, an Ensign Ful-Vue once more a camera with a chunk of glass for a lens but the design is so cool I want to take it everywhere and just look at it. It's setting, the only one, is F9 at 1/25sec and it focuses on a few meters away so circumstances have to but just right if you want a decent pic.
There's another one of my illustrations in the current subTerrain magazine on the stands now. It accompanies John Moore's All the Marbles story.
Last month I was a presenter for the S.E.A.R.C.H. program at the Alliance for Arts & Culture in Vancouver. What an inspirational day that was. Too many folks in the Arts can't seem to get by on what they do best. I was there to give insight as to how to be a self-sustaining creative individual but walked away feeling motivated for my own projects too! The attendees enthusiasm was tenfold what I expected and I wish them the best in their future endeavours.
Happy New Year 2007. To start the year off on good footing, I have a number of photographs exhibiting in a Portland group show, Artist Auditions: Phase III opening today at the Brian Marki Gallery. Artist reception is this Friday, January 5th from 5-9pm at the gallery. Some nice folks down there in Portland, with a cool art scene worth checking out.
Since the last update, Vancouver was deluged with rain, floods, tainted [brown] water, snow and wind storms but escaping an earthquake which all the weather anomalies seemed to be foretelling. I was in Toronto fighting stormtroopers during the boil-water advisory but returned just in time for the snow and the days that followed. blech. But then a wet Christmas isn't very festive either.
During a few different outings, I stopped in an alley to shoot a beautifully lit wall and now I'm psyched on walls. This idea has potential to keep me busy for awhile.
Before the holidays I spent some meditative time on a weighty assemblage that has hogged up too much space while it was in progress. Now that's it's complete I'm stuck with where it should go since it's too bloody heavy for normal hanging apparatus. Anyone want to buy some art?!
Horizons + Intersections III update... the video, with sound by Don Pyle, is now complete while the next phase of creating large photo montages for print is just beginning. Val Nelson has completed five paintings so far, and Aron Vinegar is writing his essay. I'm still seeking exhibition venues other than Toronto's confirmed Bau-Xi date in May 2007. Ideally a west coast location, preferably in BC where many of the images are based. The web journal, Unlikely Stories has featured the first video on their site. Endless material to peruse there, have a click.
There was a recent art emergency at Blake's Gallery Cafe [or Blake's Blood Alley Bistro is how I heard it referred] at 221 Carrall Street in Vancouver, steps from Gassy Jack. They needed art, like right now, and I had some art to hang, so check out 14 medium to large paintings and slurp some coffee while surfing this very website on their wireless network.
A new photo section, Passing Place, has been added as well as a selection of paintings from 2006. More paintings to come soon as I've a bunch drying while others in very confrontational positions lay waiting for attack. Speaking of... those Republicans down yonder sure got it good. Now if only we could do a number on the blue crew up here.
I've been out shooting some pics this week with my new 35mm Zorki-6 rangefinder. It's a weighty thing but so worth it now that I've seen my first prints. Crystal clear, sharp lens with a bit of a strange, yet very cool effect in short depths of field. Instead of blurring what's out of focus, it seems to be vibrating! Last weekend I bought a 120 Agfa Isolette that I was so excited to use but discovered the focus ring was jammed tight. Taking a bit of a gamble, I took the lens apart, cleaned it all out, greased it up and put it back together and voila, wurks great now. Took some shots today but I suppose I'll find out how great it is once I see them developed. Bizarre weather these days makes it impossible to ignore photo ops with sun blazing through blue/black doomsday cloud formations. Ya, I know, we did it to ourselves. But a long term plan needs to be shortened to immediate action.
I'll be announcing some art news in the coming weeks. Lots going on, lots more coming up. Busy, busy.
A couple of weeks ago I attended the Edward Burtynsky lecture/slide show at a downtown theatre. He's a captivating speaker with stories (and pictures) reflecting a sincere optimism that things can change for the better. He expressed unrestrained opinions and a volume of statistics from memory that truly impressed the need for intervention worthy of saving our planet. Without preaching or ranting, he presented his photographs from twenty years of shooting humankind's ever-evolving footprint in our developing world. Viewing the images on a movie screen, the most part shot with a large-format camera, allowed viewers to almost step into crystal clear and long depth-of-field imagery. View his wurk here
Soon after that I went to the PAINT exhibition opening at the VAG. It's about time contemporary painting plays a role there however I was somewhat disappointed with the results. Is that why local painting hasn't been showcased at the VAG in twenty years? The 80's were a hot time with canvas being energetically attacked and redefined - though not without influence from previous decades. However, the 70's stretch was a bit of a sleeper with all that minimalism and geometric op-art being dropped in the middle of the 50/60's abstract expressionists and 80's painterly expression. I breezed through that section. The current wave of painters selected (does one need to study at Emily Carr to be chosen?) only had two that jumped out: Etienne Zack whose style and ideas continually evolve and Holger Kalberg whose wurk inspired from modern architecture always sits well with me. Just as a footnote...I think attendance at the VAG would greatly improve if they added more imagery to their website. Many folks like to see what they're in for before shelling out museum prices.
Above, two creative outlets are presented: painting and photography. Without a doubt, I'm passionate about both in addition to other creative projects. Lately, photography has held much of my attention (even though a new body of paintings is almost complete!) mainly due to revisiting my old 35mm Nikon. I'm shooting new images for Horizons + Intersections III, which has taken on a new dimension in recent months. Not limited to my photos/video with Don Pyle's soundscapes, it now encompasses an installation concept which includes wurk by painter Val Nelson accompanied by an essay from Ohio State University professor Aron Vinegar. Due for completion by year-end, a May 2007 exhibition date has been confirmed at the Bau-Xi in Toronto with other tentative galleries TBA. This project, ongoing for three years, with location, landscape and our global impact integral to its theme needs to be shown in multiple locations if not only to demonstrate our intercontinental connection but illustrate how four artists living in three different cities can unite their mediums under one roof.
Check out The Quiet Life Camera Club for a variety of photos, depicting just about everything under the sun, including my own night time pic.
A couple of weekends ago we had a groovy time in Portland with a belated Thanksgiving for the Canadian pals living there. Approaching the US border on the other hand a bizarre fog engulfed us in the last 100 metres. Creepy. Closer to home, a Sunday drive took us up to Mount Seymour for some fresh air and picture-taking by the whole family. We looked as if the tour bus just dropped us off.
While in Barcelona last spring, we picked up an awesome CD by Abdelâziz Stati heard playing at a Moroccan shop across the lane from our place. A bunch of guys were crowded around the speakers miming Bollywood musical theatre while the shopkeeper sat amused. As a former record store clerk, I was digging the scene but struggled with the language barrier until my galpal intervened - much to their delight. I looked up Abdelâziz Stati when I returned and found a ton of references online including this swanky video.
In local news...
Woodward's in Vancouver has so much history that'd it be easier to just go here and read about some of it. The last ten years have been the loudest part of its history being weighted in controversy regarding its future use. Oh well, onwards goes the progress... I, among many, photographed the destruction on September 30. Bizarre new activity catches on at Granville Island!
Has anyone else noticed the view from that part of town becoming more and more cluttered?
It's that time of year - post-Labour Day, when the insatiable need to create overtakes everything. Leftover from school days when one knew the time had come to buckle down, it's ingrained in me to GET TO WURK!
The Grudge show is over and although my excuse was a lost cat, a fat lip and a couple kids temporarily stranded out of town, I wish I could've seen all those Grudges elbow to elbow. Here's mine
I recently finshed the book cover design of Dennis Foon's collection of plays, New Canadian Kid + Invisible Kids. Yes, that is my painting Be Left Alone the cover art. I view my own painting from a different perspective now.
The Found Bugs Project is not dead! The bugs are, but the project isn't. Our sunroom window ledge is a mecca for a variety of participants however the other day, one of the living stood its ground against me. We discussed the relative success of the Beelieve merch line and how he may become involved in the next creative concept. Speaking of merchandise, our consumer youngsters have a new obsession. At least they're small.
Out and about over the last couple weeks. My new vice are fresh blackberries from an undisclosed, very secretive, beautiful and serene berry patch. Success is not had until blood is drawn. After awhile there's no telling the difference between the berry juice and the blood trickling down my forearms. And you should see what those thorns do to feet when one forgets the closed-toe footwear. Safer trips within city limits were a spectacular afternoon in Chinatown, which is taking on a new look and my new favourite street: Wall Street. Not really a great view of the street, more like a view from the street. How about a view under the floorboards? Click to view some house intestines.
One night only, why not treat yourself to a cheap night - Cheaper Than a One Night Stand 7, will be your Saturday night destination. Happening this Saturday, September 9 from 7 - 11pm at 1755 West 3rd Avenue, Vancouver. All artwurk from 56 different artists will be hung salon style and sold cheap, cheap, cheap...including my own! Music provided by My! Gay! Husband!
The original plastinator comes to town. Dr Gunther von Hagens' Body Worlds is coming to Vancouver's Science World (I refuse to use the new name). I wrote to him in 2000 after seeing some images from an exhibition in Europe. His institute promptly replied with a 100-page catalogue, brochure and posters in two sizes. What a swell guy. There's a [body] donation page on his site with a photo of him and his team up to the elbows in, well, someone's stomach. ewwww. It's all very sci-fi. I understand he has imitators popping up all over the planet. That, in itself is very weird.
A new t-shirt design is available now from my shop. INC: Industry Needs Compassion. It certainly does.
The latest subTerrain magazine is on the stands featuring a new illustration of mine accompanying the short story Flush by Madeline Sonik. Also featured in this issue is Maurice Spira, a damn fine artist from BC. To get an eyeful, check out his personal/political wurk in the painting section.
Has anyone ever called you a quitter? Being labeled a quitter may have negative connotations on the most part, however that's about to change. Have you ever quit smoking? How many times? Do you smoke a bunch and feel like your lungs are filled with concrete? Enter my new art project, Be a Quitter. Concrete-filled, discarded smoke packs - rock solid, weighty and if I might add, quite decorative. They wouldn't look out of place on any coffee table, mantel, glass display case perched on a pedestal in any given art collectors home. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to purchase one.
Do you have a grudge? If you want to hang out with other folks with grudges, come to The Answer at 42 Kingsway Rd in Vancouver on August 25th at 7pm. Show is on til the 27th and features among others, my grudge, which I'll post after the show For more information, go to the Grudge website.
Last but not least, thanks to The Tyee for adding me to their blog listing and inadvertently giving it the perfect title without even realising it: von Essen Strasse, which is of course von Essen Street in English.
Anyone else deeply bothered by recent media reports? How about last week? Or the week before? Do we move from crisis to crisis, never making any actual headway? Are we accelerating our own demise on this planet? Why does it seem like the majority of folks go through a day without realising their impact in this world? Isn't this a distressing - more like, infuriating thought? The 1900's may be the century marked as the beginning of the end, but will the 2000's be remembered as the time we tried to reverse it? With all our media be likely owned by one individual (eventually); will we even know the truth? The facts, a reality check, truth - what is it and who owns it now? Why does our Prime Minister look as if he's made from plastic? Is there a recycling programme in Parliament? Don't let me go on about plastic.
And so I continue to paint a new body of wurk, inspired by a European trip months ago but with only war, famine, destruction, and the annihilation of our natural resources on my mind. To focus on sights and experiences from months ago with current affairs as they are is challenging, especially when the objective is to reflect my creative musings into a tangible medium. My thoughts [somewhat] go as they please and continue to steer towards unpleasant yet important issues.
I recently caught some of Vancouver's Dancing On The Edge and was thoroughly entertained, somewhat enthralled by Rob Kitsos' Thought for Food performance. Not only was the dancing and perfectly timed lip-synch captivating but the music was from The Books recordings Thought for Food and The Lemon of Pink - two must-have CDs which you can order directly from their website.
Having just returned from a camping [lite] experience at Golden Ears with The Family, we perused our trip photos to discover a shocking truth. We had only heard tales of the Golden People of Ears but reality struck us blind when they appeared in our pictures! Rumoured to be dressed like tourists and roaming the forests of BC, they're apparently direct descendants of the wood nymphs and faeries of yesteryear. Wild.
Lots happening since last post... würking back to front:
I've recently designed the cover for Darren Greer's Strange Ghosts and now that it's in print, had the fortune to read it cover to cover. It comes highly recommended reading material which I purposely tried to stretch out to enjoy longer. It's a series of essays that gather steam from his life-experiences to create a whole [or almost complete] picture of him. Though he claims not to be a visual artist [not without wanting], his characteristics, theories on life, discriminate eye for details and thought processes all seem to scream artist. I know - I relate. I finished reading the book and thought we'd make swell friends. Here's hoping his recent challenges don't overcome him.
In art wurld news, sculptor Angus Bungay loses his heads to thieves! I've seen and admired each and every one of them, now someone else has decided his talent was worth incarceration! Click to view the heads and if you have any information, take it to heart these heads meant a great deal to the artist and he could use your help.
Earlier this month, my partner and I went on an awesome trip to London, Hamburg, Berlin, Barcelona and some small towns. After a ten hour, knee-busting flight to London, we immediately went sightseeing and adjusted to the time difference with a six hour walk and falafal dinner. Over our stay we went to the Tate Modern, National Gallery, an inspiring Mimmo Paladino exhibition, ran across Richard Serra's Fulcrum, saw endless architectural greatness and realised I'm too old and bored with the studded leather and punk rock ethos of Camden Market where 'alternative' types will find a consumer's paradise made just for them. We also had a grand time with friends, went to an engagement party, and took a stroll thru Jack the Ripper's old haunts.
Off to northern Germany, we stayed with family who brought us on excellent day trips to Travem¸nde where we ate fish and dipped our feet in the Baltic Sea, visited one of Germany's oldest towns, L¸beck and ate the best marzipan of my life at Niederegger. Again on the autobahn (!!!), we ventured to Flensburg and traced the family lineage, which of course included eating the BEST rumball I've ever had. At a family gathering to meet cousins I've only heard about, my tongue was loosened with K¸mmel for the first time. Yumyum, though it didn't help my German any better.
Off to Hamburg with another uncle who showed us the sights and gave us history lessons along the way. In fact, both uncles we stayed with were so full of interesting information. We happened to be in the city during the celebration of the harbour's anniversary. A spectacle to be seen, at least a hundred vessels ranging from ancient viking ships to full naval ships came into harbour at once. That's when the local news station snagged me for a shot of a tourist. A stay in Hamburg isn't complete without a visit to von Essen Street where I desperately tried to flash my ID to unconcerned locals. As with every other place we went since London, we found the architectural details astounding. Leaving Hamburg, we were awestruck with the train station as well.
Lately I've forgone renting movies to park myself at You Tube watching videos of everything from my latest kick, parkour to Nina Hagen and Stiff Little Finger clips from the 70's. Parkour looks like so much fun! I wish I had the energy. For now, the videos are highly entertaining.
For over a year I've lived and wurked with four construction sites on three sides of my home. Nail guns, power tools, BUZZING sounds at 7:30am sometimes lasting past dinner. Having my breakfast in 'the pit' of my home -- the dining room in the middle of the main floor catching every reverberating power chord on every 80's hair band blasting from the classic rock station on the other side of the window, I couldn't help but ponder a solution that may turn this negative into a positive. Holy cripes... preach, preach, preach... The photo series Deconstruxiety is on the way.
ON, ON, ON... the only true wurds that come to describe a brilliant Destroyer show last night in Vancouver - they were so ON. I did hear anothers comment about being off, off, off but it's all subjective, right? Dan Bejar and company, and what a company of players without a doubt, successfully wring their sounds through fibres of my being so in need of poetic repositioning. That venue bites though. Sound was destroyed on output and listening over the gargle was a bit of an interpretive experience but still enjoyable. Buy Destroyer's Rubies.
I have to mention a case of the seriously wierd: the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency -- SOCA? Not to be confused with NSSOCA, the Not So Serious Organised Crime Agency or the DSOCA, the Deadly Serious Organised Crime Agency. What's in a name? Quite a bit actually since it's the identifying source people would relate to.
April Fools Day.06
To blog or not to blog? Why spend time pondering the thought when I can just as easily start blathering on. Besides it gives me yet another outlet for an endless creative flow that constantly needs addressing. Wurds, wurds, wurds... I can say it with a picture sometimes but wurds can say so much more. I went through the whole broohaha of starting up a Blogspot account then realised it'd be yet another Thing to figure out in a life filled with figuring out Things. I've always kept these updates pretty 'safe', not very personal and all to do with art. That's about to change. Being an avid Notetaker and Listmaker, there's a possibility a blog might keep all the information I need in one place. Then again, public list-making and grandstanding are extremely low on my list of things to do. So many things worth mentioning and no one to interrupt me while I put my foot in my mouth time and time again. This blog will be another lesson in life, I'm sure of it. It was my elevated post-exhibition stress-level that prompted all this emotive meandering. There's no way in hell I can paint after having an exhibition. Not only am I filled with an unexplainable dread but I'm dead tired after putting a show together and need a month or so to clear my head.
Might as well cover some of the latest creative projects... The Leonardo Gallery in Toronto has launched its website and features some of my paintings. The exhibition at The Kleinsteuber Gallery in February had a couple blog reviews. I have a new studio space and just began a new series about...about...I'll figure it out. Also, some 3-D wurks I did last year have inspired me to do more. Photography has pulled me back in too. I can never stay away long as so many ideas can materialise almost instantaneously with a camera as opposed to painting. But painting is so much more contemplative. I suppose it can depend on the mood. Lots of design jobs coming in lately. Ballet BC's 2006/07 season design concepts, Darren Greer's Strange Ghosts for Cormorant Books, the swell folks at Turtle & Hare Creative and super rock dude Mike Webster -- all projects still going strong.
Some recent music purchases are all being overshadowed by Destroyer's Rubies. Dan Bejar is a bloody miracle to music. Buy it. And while I'm on local talent... Pink Mountaintops and Frog Eyes play on April 5. That Pink and Black Mountain family and Destroyer have collectively restored my faith in 'a local scene'. Though I refuse to grow a beard. Neko Case's Fox Confessor has also recently turned my crank and her new site is up and running beautifully. Vancouver painter de la grandeur Val Nelson has her opening at the Bau-Xi on April 8th at 2pm.
Happy New Year! The Small Works show is finished, however The Leonardo Gallery [133 Avenue Rd, Toronto] is currently showing three paintings from my Home series this month. The gallery looks great with a variety of abstract and contemporary artists represented. Highly recommended for an afternoon art stroll.
Opening Saturday, February 4, 7-10pm is my solo show of paintings and drawings from 2000-2005 at The Kleinsteuber Gallery [88 West Pender, 2nd Floor, Vancouver] . Some of the wurk has shown before but much of it will be exhibited for the first time, including some larger new pieces. On til March 2, 2006. Click HERE to view/download postcard.
My latest design project for Ballet BC is their presentation of Company B, running from February 16-18 in Vancouver. A ton of other projects with new [and previous] clients are in progress with more on the horizon. Busy, busy...
The latest art news...
The Leonardo Gallery [133 Avenue Rd, Toronto - website in progress] now has paintings from my Home series and in addition, some new and not-so-new small pieces. Those are part of their Small Works Show from November 22 - January 4th, 2006. The opening reception is this week, Thursday December 1st.
The Jennifer Kleinsteuber Gallery [88 West Pender, 2nd Floor, Vancouver] is having the Super Duper Christmas Art Extravaganza which will have small wurks of mine as well. That runs from December 1-31 with opening reception this Saturday, December 3 from 8-11pm. On Saturday December 10, I'll be facilitating a wurkshop on collage. It's more for kids but adults are welcome too [RSVP to gallery].
Resfest came thru Vancouver a short while back and it was incredible [for me!] to see Horizons + Intersections SO BIG! I can see why filmmakers become so obsessed with doing MORE films! The One Minute Film & Video Festival also screened it last week to a packed house at the Bloor Cinema in Toronto. There, it won a prize for "Thematic & Conceptual Integration". The third, longest and final installment of H+I is well under way, but more information on that to come. And the 2005 Painting section will be added within the next week - check back.
In design news...
Cormorant Books is releasing Darren Greer's book, Strange Ghosts: Essays and not only is my painting Tides and Rain the cover art, but I'll be designing the book jacket as well.
Mike Webster, wickedly talented songwriter in Vancouver [and helluva nice guy], is releasing his new CD Steering Wheel Confession in the new year. I've done all the photography and design for it and must add - it looks fantabulous.
The photo exhibition, 88: Rock Photography from 1988-93 has reviews and more from its Vancouver showing, click link at left to see pics and read about it. Currently the exhibition sits at the Rivoli in Toronto til November 6th. I just returned from there and even though I spent most of my days wurking, found the time to revisit my rock photographer past. Vancouver bands Ladyhawk, Blood Meridian and the ever-incredible Black Mountain played Toronto's Lee's Palace [either I shrunk or someone raised the stage a few feet from 15 years ago]. The next weekend and thankfully the day BEFORE bloating on turkey, Toronto's The Deadly Snakes, The Hidden Cameras and The Sadies played to a packed-like-sardines crowd at The Silver Dollar. Click names for pics.
Horizons + Intersections II has been picked for not one, but two film festivals. Resfest which is a touring festival of experimental film and video projects has added a Canadian component, coming to a city near you. Toronto: October 27-30, Vancouver: November 11-12, Montreal: November 25-27. Toronto's One Minute Film & Video Festival, with this years theme of Intersections [couldn't have asked for a better theme!] takes place at the Bloor Cinema on November 24th.
Some painting news in the wurks, but I'll elaborate next time.
And finally... some fine and wholesome sites have recently added my site to their links section: ARKITIP, ART DORKS and FOUND MAGAZINE. All worthy sites you should pay a visit to - often.
Why can't everyday be summer? 88: Rock Photography from 1988-93 is up and if I may say, looks fab! I've been looking at these pics for so many years but never have I printed them so LARGE and hung so many together. Only one month left at Zulu Records in Vancouver then onto Toronto at the Rivoli for another month. If anyone in Montreal, New York, Seattle or Portland are interested in hosting it for a spell, let me know.
Wurking on web updates over the next few weeks. Paintings for 2005 will be added since I haven't posted any this year. Quite a few large pieces too. I realised I made a photo/video section but forgot to add the photos [*blush*] so I'll tackle that too.
One of my paintings will be part of Hive: A New Works Show from Thursday, Sept 8 - Friday, Sept 16 at Blue Cobalt Studios 1-901 Main Street, Vancouver. Check curator Wynne Palmer'ssite for details. And don't miss SOUNDPROOF, a wall of sound by artists who are also musicians and musicians who happen to be artists too! Monday, Sept 5 from 1-8pm at 175 West Hastings @Cambie, kiddycorner to a day-long rock show at Victory Square.
Awhile back, an interested Entertainment Weekly in New York contacted me about the Dinosaur Jr photos I shot in 1989. An upcoming issue will feature a couple of those never-seen-before images. It couldn't happen at a better time as I'm getting ready to launch two exhibitions: . The first will be at Zulu Records in Vancouver from August 6 - September 28, then onto the Rivoli in Toronto from October 2 - November 6, 2005. Featured will be previously unpublished LARGE pics of Nirvana, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Jesus Lizard, Afghan Whigs, The Gun Club, Lydia Lunch and some CanCon favourites like Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet and Ray Condo among others. Everything is beautifully framed and for sale! More on both those exhibitions later...
Design is busy as usual... Ballet BC are getting ready to launch into a new season and so is Vancouver's Arts Umbrella - both of which have me designing their 2005/06 season calendars.
Web updates within the next couple weeks... new paintings, new photo section developed and a new Drawings link to replace the Wurds section at left.
Design projects have kept the cirriculum almost completely full these days. Ballet BC's The Rite of Spring campaign was just completed and the designs for next season are well under way. The Rite of Spring was an intense experience in photo manipulation; with the dancers on a grey backdrop [photo by David Cooper], I photographed and added cherry blossoms overhead and grass beneath them [6 photos in total] to create new surroundings for the dreaded couple. I've designed another book jacket for Playwrights Canada Press as well. This Night The Kapo also has my painting Home Fires Burning as the cover art.
Paintings are currently hanging at the Engine Gallery in Toronto (1112 Queen St W) and a new series of small wurks should be added to this site next month. There has been some interest in the Home series so it'll likely be coming to a gallery near you [depending on where you live!]. The Found Bugs Project has been added to the site as well as given its own merchandise line [see link at left]. Also recently added is a new bio by writer Nancy Lanthier.
Horizons + Intersections is moving along with hundreds of photographs taken and incorporated into their new home in iMovie. I'm getting a deeper sense for this project and could easily spend all my time on it, however Time has never been a close friend.
A new year brings new projects. In December, I created a video based on photographic images for a new project entitled Horizons + Intersections. This however is only a taster of what is to come for 2005 as the final installation piece will encompass not just video but painting and digital photo-manipulations. Currently, the 90 second Horizons + Intersections has been shortlisted in the Zero to Sixty film contest. There's a juried vote but also a people's choice award so make your vote count!
On January 11th, CBC's nightly program ZeD TV aired an episode featuring my wurk in a video collage, Wurker, plus critique by The Toronto Star's Peter Goddard who states: "Derek von Essen - he's from Vancouver - a terrific artist". Do you live in Toronto? You'll soon be able to see my wurk in a Toronto gallery. I'll be posting updates soon.
Design work has also been busy with the Ballet British Columbia Nine Sinatra Songs print materials and the launch of a new ballet The Rite of Spring coming up in April. New book jacket designs using my paintings are also in the works - details to follow. Let me just say it pays off being a painter who designs and a designer who paints. Busy, busy, I LOVE this time of year when I can throw myself into a vast array of creative projects!
The paintings remaining from my 2003 exhibition, Scrinked will be on display at the Jericho Arts Centre starting November 18th running til December 12th. It'll be the last thing you see before "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"... of course you will have to buy a ticket first! Opening November 27th from 2-10pm, [one night only] is the ART KAR Electrik where Jim Ramsay has converted a 1949 Mercury into an electric car of 2004 proportions. As well, he has commissioned 30 artists to 'do their thing' to a scale model he has supplied. I've only just finished mine but am sworn to secrecy til the opening! Exhibition is at Joe Blow Glassworks, 1191 Parker St, Vancouver.
Check out the November issue of the online magazine Xenoyoke on recycled art. Images of some older assemblages of mine dating back to 1997 as well as an angst-ridden statement about the wurk are included. A few months ago Veer magazine featured some paintings of mine from 2003 plus wrote "The paintings of Vancouver artist Derek von Essen combine a Sagmeister-ish, graffiti-ish typographic sensibility while embracing chance and abstraction. Beautiful." Wasn't that kind of them? While surfing, visit the Afghan Whigs fansite where folks were gushing and wigging out over my photos from 1993. If I may quote from it, "Ye gads .. that has got to be the best photo ever. I don't think that this forum has an emoticon to describe it. Dammit, that photo is hot."
I'm still wurking on the virtual store, as well as some new paintings, photo-based projects and finding a home for Home.
Fall is here... leaves are everywhere, the best colour combo of red and orange is surrounding my every step. Time to get to it. First on the list is my quest to find a home for Home. I'm actively seeking representation or a space to exhibit my latest series of paintings. Based around the one consistent space in my life: home - a place I live, wurk, paint, create and love. The paintings follow a path of frustration, indecision, reconciliation, passion, fear, desperation and emptiness. Yes I know, sounds bloody happy doesn't it? The next body of wurk will hopefully have a bit of lightness in its step but I doubt it, haha. There's a few exhibitions in the wurks (Scrinked returns!), which I'll announce upon confirmation. I'm always available to discuss new and old wurk so please email me for more information.
Next on the list is the new store! Virtually a shopping emporium, and I mean virtually. Check back for a new presentation of vintage music photos, all for sale. Included will be The Collection Series featuring package deals on original prints of such acts as Nirvana, Soundgarden, Iggy Pop, Gun Club, Jesus Lizard, Redd Kross, The Fleshtones... to name only a very few off the tip of the iceberg. A price list and shipping information is being confirmed soon.
Design wurk is back in its usual fall swing. Just recently, I've updated my original Faerie Queen design for Ballet BC to create something better than the original. The best part of having my client relaunch a performance is having the chance to improve upon the first printed material from 2000. Now I can sleep again. Ultra-talented photographer Laura Jane Petelko has relocated to Toronto with an armload of her brochures I designed to illustrate her incredible eye for detail, uber sense of style and eclectic mood for unique concepts.
How many art movements can YOU name in 10 seconds? Well don't leave out Found Bugs! Based on the ideology behind artists wurking with Found Objects, I stooped and picked up a bee that
was undeniably the furriest little creature I'd seen. I wanted a closer look and did a high-resolution scan, partly because I wanted to see how orange that orange stripe really was!
I was moved [emotionally, not off my chair] to discover the Bee in what could have only been the fetal position. Not to mention the fur appeared so lush, one would need a brush to coif it.
Do you Beelieve me? I've initiated this on the Zed
site, partly because I don't have to dwell long on the tech-side of posting new images but mainly due to the necessity of other's involvement. My hopes are for Found Bug contributions from all
over the globe [further would be INCREDIBLE but too much to ask]. So if you're interested: Found Bugs
On the painting front, March was the re-opening of Studio Blue on Granville Island
where you, yes YOU could purchase any number of original paintings. I'm exhibiting alongside artists Mike Schertzer, Kevin Snyder and gallery owner Nancy Blanchard
through the summer. Earlier this spring was the good karma-inducing exhibit I Am Grateful,
for those wishing to express their gratitude for... whatever they're grateful for, of course. Following that I participated in
Cheaper Than a One Night Stand, an awesome feeding-frenzy of an art-party at the
Elliott Louis Gallery. A good night out for the few hundred who attended.
Then the Hot 1" Action: The Button Show... was a great night of art-button trading and
hob-nobbing plus a basement rock show! One exhibition I wish I could've attended was the Is Mail Art Dead? in Northampton, UK.
Not only did the fabulous artist Emma Powell put it on,
but one of my postcards was included [image #38 in link above].
Currently, I'm still wurking on a body of wurk that has me falling over myself with excitement during every sitting. Just wait...
After my photography career, came an art and design career and now the modelling career!
Friend and sculptor Angus Bungay did a full body cast of me in January but during
his recent show at The Conehouse he demonstrated his casting prowess on me in front of a live audience. He also used his fine editing skills
to produce this self-made [HIS self, not mine] short film... Plastered (5mb short Quicktime film)