#Exnovation – Collective Identity Call for Artists

Innovation has been a major characteristic of Waterloo Region and how things get made here. In a process of innovation, a team creates change within a product, process, item, or service. This has marked every industry of the region, creating a spirit of inventiveness, and an ever changing and diverse economic backbone. An exnovative process is a little different. In an exnovative process, a person from outside of the team creates changes.

In this show, we will be asking artists to enter into unusual collaborations that could take different exnovative shapes. An artist can:

  • begin a project on their own, but with finding a partner with whom they can hand off the project for this person to finish.
  • collaborate with an artist with whom they have never worked with before.
  • two artists from different disciplines working in tandem to create a new work.
  • pertaining to a theme of interrupted process.

The work can take any form, any shape, but the spirit of collaboration and interrupted process is thoroughly encouraged in the ideas presented. Individual artists will not be turned down for solo projects conducted in a spirit of exnovation but consideration around projects that show interrupted or collaborative process will be given higher priority.

Artists from Waterloo Region, or who have lived in Waterloo Region, as well as artists living in the counties touching the region at its borders are encouraged to submit ideas for consideration in this show which will take place in January 2017 at THEMUSEUM.

Compensation will be made to artists based on fundraised amounts. We work hard to draw sponsors and donors to the show so that we can pay artists.

To apply to this show, please include the following:

  • Your CV and the CV of the artist you are collaborating with
  • A description of the project (500 words or less)
  • A description of how exnovation will be used in your project
  • Supportive documentation will be accepted if included in the package (not more than 5 files)

All files must be submitted with your name and the title of the file as the save name (ei: yourname_filetitled.pdf). We will only accept text (.pdf, .txt, .doc), image (.jpg, .png), video (.mpeg, .mov, .mp4), and sound files (.mp3, .wav) as the formats indicated. We will accept applications until the 7th of October 2016 at 5pm.

Media submitted outside of the package will not be considered in the application (websites).

Email all submissions to terre@mycontention.com

Ableism in practicing art – how to create a healthier practice

There’s a cliche that tells us to set off as we intend to carry on. As a woman with a disability and lately, some pretty dire health issues, I thought that in creating art, I would have a pretty good perspective on how to build an instance with a collective where our disabilities and health would be something that isn’t negated. This isn’t just important to me as a person whose disabilities and health requires some consideration, but also important as a person who cares about the people I work with.

Under the pressure of creation, we can fall into ableist patterns – we find ourselves in a place where the consideration is on the deadline, the creation, and not on the creators in the project. The health and abilities of everyone can be a priority, but must be considered in advance.

Here’s some things I learned. I’m sharing for others who wish to consider their own ableism in the function of art building. This is from my own point of view – that of an aspie artistic director of a feminist, diverse, mixed gender, age, race, discipline collective. I do think these can translate to any collaborative practice. This is by no means exhaustive, but for the health and ability of a group of strong creators working together:

  1. PREPAREConsider ability and health at the outset, long before you start working. When you get into the middle of a creation, things move so fast under the tension of deadlines and the aspect of losing yourself in the zone that health can become problematic without even noticing. Do this in your team-building if you can – in those meetings where you are facilitating relationships.
  2. Keep water in the room in which you are creating. If you are working with a collective, keep a jug of fresh water in the space – for yourself, whichever container floats your boat. Keep cups/glasses, wash them daily. Foster a policy of respect around water and the pause to rehydrate. This bleeds out into the routine of water getting, and the deliberate short breaks that the mind needs in intense intervals. Respect that the call for a break for a drink may be a way for someone who needs a moment for their body or mind to ask for a pause while they stay in the energy of the room or activity without outing themselves or asking for sympathy. Also, a water break may just be a water break. Either way…
  3. Country-805222---Water-Pitcher-3-Pint-White-BG-High-ResMaintain a healthy, caffeine free alternative tasty beverage that your collective can agree on – whether this is juice, tisane, lemon or lime water – you get to be creative and inclusive… And maybe also fun : ever try warm pineapple and passion juice? Also keep caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, mate) to keep personal budgets intact. But really, consider that not everyone can or should have these and at the same time, they are a bonding piece between people. If you can, a wee fridge may be your best friend.
  4. Arrange ahead of time potluck and brown bag lunches for your collective – make it fun by planning daily menus and themes. Consider dietary restrictions and allergies – be open and honest about the ingredients in the food. It’s wonderful to carry on the energy of a new creation over lunch, but having that lunch not be cheese covered nachos, fries, or other restaurant foods are better for your body, and better on your wallet.
  5. Build timelines with lots of testing time front loaded if you can. For some, renting of equipment can only happen on a tight schedule. If this is the case, test the equipment as soon as it’s delivered. Remember that the tech people in your show are a part of your creation. Also, this could take some serious pressure off of the last minute. Able bodies and minds find the last minute pressures hard. Disabled bodies and minds are taxed beyond coping when the details wrapped in stress overwhelm the final ability to push.
  6. list.2Make lists and order them according to priority and time. These will help to allow the flexibility in a timeline, and can also breakdown something like “Tech Setup”, “Strike” into granular, and orderly parts. These lists can and should be built with the consultation of the people involved, and then they can be built into being a checklist for the larger, complicated tasks. I know this one seems so elementary and project manager 101 – but when things get tight, being able to hand these off to a stage manager makes their life easier, and it keeps you, the collective, and the creation in a headspace where complicated process is in simple black and white.
  7. If someone discloses a health requirement to you, take it seriously. Ask them what you can do to accommodate them and then work your hardest to do so. Try to have this conversation before you get into heavy creation and deliberately build accommodations into your process. If done right, maybe you stand a chance to make the whole process not focus on what limits people, but allows every strength to shine within a disabled context.
  8. bf1Some people will not want to disclose to a whole group but will tell the director – make sure you understand the privacy concerns around what they live. Some people are happy to share much of what they live. Many want to be able to work in a context where things just work for them enough so that they can contribute in the meaningful way that they were asked to be in your project – maybe this means that you do research, and ask them to help you understand. Remember, the one who lives a disability is an expert in their own lives, treat them as such. Remember to listen, and truly pay attention. Disabilities can sometimes impede the ability to communicate needs but with even small effort, modifications, accommodations can be made to make a process more disability-friendly.
  9. Never, ever assume you know someone’s needs. Someone may require a ramp for a mobility device, but do you know if the bars in the “accessible” washroom are placed in the right location for your fellow artist to be able to help themselves? Are they needing/wanting additional assistance and how can you provide it? There is nothing wrong with asking an entire group of creatives if they would be willing to have a conversation about what they require in a space or creation. Leaving open several options for how people would like to communicate is critical – from email to open forum, it should entirely up to the person disclosing on how they want to go about this.
  10. Scarcity is an unfortunate part of art making. From unheated, dusty, and sometimes unhealthy spaces, to lack of time, we all have to push too hard. Remembering that even the most able and well person is more likely to succumb to illness or injury when they are stressed and tired is a most basic and simple consideration.
  11. SpoonsBecome familiar with Spoon Theory.  Use it if you need it, and advocate for the understanding of spoons.
  12. Take the time to find accessible space that is suitable to the needs of everyone. It’s so much easier if you find a building or space that is good, but have the ability to work with the owner to create even better access.
  13. Keep a roster of who you have worked with, and who is above the board for building accommodation. Share this list widely.  Tell other companies and artists about good places and good people for access. Do you part in creating a culture of better space.

A bonus ten to consider:

  1. Zero imposition on yourself and others when not directly at work in studio. Having firm hours with little-to-no homework beyond work hours allows the mind and body to rest easier. People will still come up with ideas over washing dishes, but having the off times as brain wandering, other life task times will add strength to everything. It also allows for better nighttime sleep which benefits everyone and everything.
  2. Using meditation techniques and visualisation as a group to deliberately leave the work behind may be an amazing way to separate off time from creation time.
  3. Deliberate mental health breaks. There is nothing like pizza on a night of stress – everyone has to stop and eat, even if they don’t eat.
  4. Open continuous communication on the wellbeing of everyone in the creation for the entire creation. Foster acceptance, and trust. Kindness, sincerity go a long way.
  5. Treat health emergencies with sincere concern. The lives of the creators you work with is more important than the creation.
  6. If you are directing a creation, keep a notebook near you at all times while in creation. Unload everything into the notebook. Separate ideas for the creation, from personal, from operational elements. Take an hour before you start in the morning (or an hour in the evening, whatever floats your creative boat) to code these things and determine if the are important enough to consider.
  7. Make sure every aspect of a project has an owner. I mean this. Those lists I was talking about? Make sure that the items that make the cut are assigned to someone.
  8. For goodness sake, if anyone has a health emergency, delay the outcome. We squeeze by so often. I would hate for anyone I know and love, or any creative person who is loved by anyone, including themselves, to have any of the worst things happen because they prioritised a creation over a life. A call to a granting officer, or a co-presenter can often go a long way to building understanding around delays.
  9. More of a clarification to the last point: Your definition of a health emergency may not match someone else’s. Someone with arthritis or fibromyalgia may not be able to function on a day. A person with depression may require a month off.
  10. Take all of these seriously and for heaven’s sake, do continue to work with people with disabilities. Our unique experience adds so much to a creation. We have a different way of working that requires us to push our own limits daily in the ways we can, never mind the limits of a creation. Not only will the projects be stronger and more meaningful, but everyone who works with a person with a disability will find themselves in a place of diversity and strength by adding and respecting our voices.

Please, do comment on this. My considerations are not comprehensive, and I am learning on my feet. I would love to know what you do to consider health in these heavy and stressful times!

 

Text from my talk Monday 14th of December to City Council

Here’s the text from the talk that I couldn’t give in its fullness due to finding out a change in funding to the CEI. It is still pertinent. The CEI should not use another pinch of money to close its doors.

Presenters from the arts community included Janice Lee, Martin de Groot, Robert Linsley, Duncan Finnegan, and Gordon Hatt.

City of Kitchener Council

Thank you councilors for allowing me and my colleagues to come and speak to you on a matter that is near and dear to us as a functional, organised, and very active sector in this city.

I want to start by expressing my respect for both Roger Farwell, and Debbie Currie as two hard working, well intentioned, and great people in the city. They have tried hard to build something meaningful, and it wasn’t without successes, but at this point, the successes are over, and belabouring the closure of this organisation with the building out of two unwanted initiatives is only directing money away from where it most necessary: back into the arts.

Thanks to the CEI’s own work we realised that the arts sector is short by up to 5 million in funding based on 50 arts organizations – not just the 5 pillars.

Thanks to the municipalities for recognising the need and moving money to the arts.

The dollar per capita amount was critical, but it didn’t help the entire sector. In going strictly to the pillars, the real needs of those who animate the city: the creators and innovators were left to starve. In the past years, dozens of artists have moved away from this community, and we have seen next to no growth in new organisations that create art.

As a sector, the makers of culture, the makers of art are more than ever critically underfunded, and underresourced. And the CEI’s current priorities do not address any of the critical priorities or needs facing our sector. The new priorities are entirely duplications of other services (as they have said themselves), or are not repairable (in the sake of Grand Social) in the budget and timeline indicated.

So, what do we need?

In the formation of the CEI, We were promised access to private sector and increased funding through capacity around this access – Many arts organisations had private sector funding prior to the CEI that was diverted to the CEI through their closer business connections.

Most of the money given to the CEI did not see its way to the small to medium arts organizations. Some organizations saw support, but the ability to build new, and grow became completely absent. The lack of transparency, and the determination of who was funded and why became a point of contention. There was the “hot dog cart” fund, but of $750k, this represented only $53k. Access to private sector is critical. This is a dire need for any organisation to assemble a good financial portfolio to build sustainability.

We desperately need space. My colleague Majdi spoke to this matter so eloquently just last week. I must, however, add that every single practice in the arts from film, to the individual visual artist, to the musician looking for a jam hall is desperate for infrastructure to build, to practice, to create. Artists are not culture industries, artists are not content creators, their work often lies in a different business model that cannot sustain the increasingly high costs of space in Kitchener.

Money could be used to create a space building initiative, like ArtScape in Toronto – a very successful model of public and private funding to create permanent and meaningful infrastructure.

Lastly, we need more funding into sustainability and innovation. The Arts Fund and similar ventures are best suited to making decisions about the arts. We have experimented with good intentions over the past five years without artists active in decision making around things that concern them most. And it shows.

We see successful models of peer-based decision-making in funding in other cities, at the provincial level, and at the national level. We need support around innovation. We need to be able to identify good practices and get money to them to increase the capacity of their practices. We need to give talent an incentive to stay here, and create a vibrant arts scene. We need to build increased sustainability around the organisations that mentor, and create opportunities for other artists – such as Neruda, Inter-Arts Matrix, MT Space, and hopefully, one day, my own.

When it comes to these other two initiatives, do we give money to build another org that duplicates place-making like CAFKA, only to hand it off? Who takes on that initiative when it is half built? Are they required to follow a model that they haven’t built? And the website, as a tech professional who has a 20 year history in web, and online communication, I can attest that 15k and 1 year isn’t going to help Grand Social.

Communitech is an excellent model. The reason why it worked is that it was built by tech for tech. It was built by the people who understood the business of making a productive sector from the inside out. They maintained a status as tech association until they realised that investing in innovation in startups could be a benefit to the entire sector.

They built a culture of practice and have made Kitchener one of the most desirable places to start a tech business. But only they could do this themselves. Traditional business does not face the challenges of tech. The same goes for the arts. The CEI is not an arts organization, nor has it ever been. It is a business organization imposed on the arts.

With the shuttering of the CEI at the end of this year, I urge you to hold this last pocket of funding instead of pouring so much money into unnecessary, unwanted, and dysfunctional final projects. We, as artists, have been organising around building a new council that will be purpose driven to help the arts where they need it most. It has a clear mission, a clear function, and has been built on two years of community consultation across the disciplines in the arts – there is no need to spend another dime in hiring external consultation. I urge you to take a sober second look and put this money where it will make an enormous difference instantly for an entire sector – back into the arts.

 

Call for submissions – Blues themed show downtown Kitchener

Call for Submissions

Call open from Tuesday June 23 – Tuesday July 7, 2015

The Blues has been a foundational music of Kitchener’s culture. Kitchener has developed it’s own unique Blues community and distinct sound. Our downtown music studios have been the fertile learning ground for talent and skills to be passed through generations of outstanding Blues musicians. 

From its grassroots start, to its main-stage presence, the Blues continues to live and breathe in our city’s post-industrial pulse.

In this pop up show and sale, BarnRaising Associates are seeking submissions from artists who represent some part of the Blues through their work. This can be reflected in the culture, the music, the sensation, the lyrics, the instruments, the personalities, the beat, the Dust Bowl, or the pulse of this gritty genre. The Blues is the key. We are seeking original work from professional artist on canvas, in photos, wall hanging or in small sculptural pieces for display and sale. There will be 25% commission on all sold works. 

The show will have a fundraising component in which funds raised will be donated to the Button Factory Arts Centre in Uptown Waterloo.

This show will be installed from August 5th to August 16th during the Blues Festival in downtown Kitchener. Please apply with a proposal, and your c.v. or bio at: barnraisingassociates@gmail.com

BarnRaising call for art show and sale PDF

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Open call for submissions – Waterloo Region show – EXTENDED

COLLECTIVE IDENTITY

OPEN CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS – Extended to the 20th of JULY

Collective Identity is a new open collective of professional artists in Waterloo Region established for the purpose of mounting a show of original professional arts with a regional focus. The hope of Collective Identity is to revive a regional annual, or biannual to build solidarity and celebrate our talented and committed community.

From Wednesday September 17th – Sunday October 4th, 2015, artists will take over a premiere downtown space for a show named Fast Forward Waterloo Region. This loosely themed show is focused on the future: the future of us as a creative community. We, the creative community, are the lifeblood of the culture of this region. Some of the themes that are being worked on are:

  • Transit and transportation
  • Urbanity and landscape
  • Food, food security
  • Culture and multiculture

Whether you build something that fits into these ideas, or your work reflects a concept outside of these, we call on you to submit a proposal.

We are looking for submissions from professional artists who live currently within the boundaries of Waterloo Region. In this we are looking for work that lives on the wall, off the wall, performance, pop-up theatre, music, sound and noise installation, makers, inter-arts, digital arts, film… we want to hear what you want to build.

As a professional artist-run collective, we recognize that our peers in the arts need to make a living. We will be running fundraisers and finding sponsorships to build compensation packages for your submissions. There is no fee for submission. Submissions will be accepted until July 20th, 2015 July 11th, 2015. (Call extended due to popular request)

Proposals and either a one-page bio, or CV no longer than two pages can be submitted to: terre@mycontention.com 

Theatre and tech – a must see, must attend presentation by Carey Dodge

I don’t usually place a press release on my blog, but this is a really great event that fits into the fabric of our city like few others. As a part of the Tech + Text events from Pat the Dog, technical director Carey Dodge from Boca Del Lupo is in a residency here in Waterloo Region.

Dodge is going to be working here in a residency, and also will be presenting at the Felt Lab in St. Jacob’s on the 17th at a lunch and learn – there will be a registration, and I will post it here, and on twitter when that comes about. Art and tech lovers: Don’t miss out on this event.

 

From Pat the Dog:

Pat the Dog Theatre Creation’s Text + Tech Visiting Artist Residency begins today as Carey Dodge, Technical Director for award-winning Vancouver-based Boca del Lupo visits REAP at the Felt Lab through to October 19.

Text + Tech is the only project of its kind in Canada. Both creators of theatre and technology are brought together at the point of creation with the intent to improve and deepen the integration of technology into the fabric of text in Canadian theatre creation. The Visiting Artist Residency grants a national theatre artist the opportunity to visit Pat the Dog Theatre Creation for an extended period. This project is in partnership with REAP (Research Entrepreneurs Accelerating Prosperity). Coming out of the Canadian Centre of Arts and Technology at the University of Waterloo, the REAP initiative supports student, faculty, and professional projects that foster the intersection of Arts and Technology through its ‘digital sandbox for serious play’. Housed in the Felt Lab in St. Jacob’s, REAP focuses particularly on interactive display environments and applications.

Pat the Dog Theatre Creation is thrilled to host Carey Dodge of Boca del Lupo to Waterloo Region. Boca del Lupo is one of Vancouver’s most innovative and dynamic theatre companies, specializing in experimental theatrical productions and spectacular outdoor presentations. They are widely known for their free, outdoor, all-ages, roving spectaculars. These large-scale productions have drawn thousands of audience members high into the rainforest canopy of Stanley Park, deep into the forgotten regions that lie under Vancouver’s monolithic city bridges and out onto the rain-slicked streets of Gastown. The company has received numerous awards including Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards for Outstanding Design, Outstanding Production, Significant Artistic Achievement, Outstanding Performance, along with the Critic’s Choice Award for Innovation and the Alcan Performing Arts Award. Carey is a multidisciplinary artist and technologist who works in sonic arts, interactivity, installations, sound design, projections systems and performance. He specializes in developing novel sound design systems for performance and installation work. These systems often include custom-made software, algorithmic composition, live processing, surround sound environments and interactivity.

During his visit high-tech equipment such as MicroTiles, responsive technology by GestureTek, Augmented Reality applications, and 3D projection mapping will be implemented and explored.

The Text + Tech Visiting Residency is funded by The Ontario Arts Council and the City of Waterloo.

Award winning international architect Alison Brooks to lecture at PI – #BuildWR

Living in Waterloo Region does present gems… very soon, we will be introduced to one of the most important architects in the world. Alison Brooks is lecturing at the PI on July 30th from 7:30 – 10:00 for free – as a part of Building Waterloo Region.

Brooks finished her studies in architecture at the University of Waterloo in 1988 when she soon after moved to the UK to work with Ron Arad. She became a partner in Ron Arad Associates. Brooks established her own practice in London UK in 1996. Showing spectacular design and innovation, she has won several awards.

Being fond of architecture, but not the most educated about the names of the people who create spaces that matter, I had to look into her more. Among the several exquisitely designed spaces I found this:

Alison Brooks - Tribeca

Alison Brooks – Tribeca: from http://www.alisonbrooksarchitects.com/

There is such a challenge in taking on the old, and building around it. The older structures must be respected, and shown in all their beauty. Complicated window casings, interesting roofline, and even flourishing details that matched the aesthetic sensibilities of the time. Brooks takes on an incredible challenge in creating new buildings in a modern aesthetic.

There is the challenge of respecting a pre-existing space with all the voices and histories, but also adding a new voice. Much like any language, the visual language is tricky – relying deeply on metaphors, impressions and cues. It would be so easy to create buildings that ignore their surroundings. The countless cinder-block rectangles in every city speak to this laziness in design. This grouping in Tribeca, however, maybe be in an updated, even avant-garde language, but the voice of the new buildings speak in a common tongue. The older building in the centre is sharply accentuated by buildings of a similar feel. The flourish doesn’t exist in the modern buildings, but their roofline draw attention to the old, showcasing it. The older building is turned into the equivalent of a gemstone in a stunningly tasteful surround – where nothing is garish but all working in harmony.

Beyond building design, Brooks has designed density housing. Using design to focus on healthy lives in dense spaces, Brooks’s spaces receive accolades for being spaces in which grass-roots communities thrive. The neighbourhoods encourage pedestrian movement an interaction between neighbours. The streets are often used for street socials. These are safe, lived-in, and practical spaces designed around the needs of community.

Waterloo Region could use a dose of her design.

Photoblog – Downton Abbey to That Seventies Show: Fashion, architecture and design collide #BuildWR

Street Style

The Waterloo Region Museum (with partners Fashion History Museum) is currently exhibiting Street Style –  focusing on fashion and architecture in the Region of Waterloo. The exhibit is on of the many shows presented as a part of Building Waterloo Region – a festival focusing on architecture and design excellence.

The floor opens with a show film, morphing a dancing from decade to decade, changing the music, fashion and architecture behind them. The style of dance is also made to match the decade of design.

Following is a lineup of mannequins dressed in costume from La Belle Epoque to The Trench.

Compositionally, the exhibit is exquisite, featuring clothing design juxtaposed with architectural design. In spaces that would normally serve as negative space, the gallery wall images of Waterloo Region buildings echo the structure in the costumes themselves. The result is uncanny: a concert of geometries and flourishes orchestrated in symphonic harmony. Even if you are uninterested in women’s fashion or architecture throughout the decades, this exhibit presents some tantalizing eye-candy for the lover of design.

Fabric swatchesThe opposite wall of the exhibit has a timeline, contextualizing women’s fashion, architecture, art movements, world events – drawing parallels between radical changes and design itself. Someone the later leading the former. Also for the tactile types, there are mounted swatches of fabric for the express purpose of touching.

Now wait for it: There are also shoes.

The image below are presented in an order – first are general images of the costumes, second are images of juxtapositions that I found particularly interesting. Finally… there are shoes.

Details down to the complex undergarments

Details down to the complex undergarments

La Belle Epoque etais belle

La Belle Epoque etais belle

Regal coats and bustles

Regal coats and bustles

Trains and geometrics

Trains and geometrics

Glamorous gowns, and hats.  Elaborate design.

Glamorous gowns, and hats. Elaborate design.

Details down to gloves, umbrellas, hats and shoes.

Details down to gloves, umbrellas, hats and shoes.

A last breath of bombastic Edwardian matched with downtown fronts

A breath of bombastic Edwardian matched with downtown fronts

Downtown ladies. Laces, velvets, frills.

Downtown ladies. Laces, velvets, frills.

The Late Edwardian lady - simplicity with stunning detail.

The Late Edwardian lady – simplicity with stunning detail.

Decades of transition. Late Edwardian, First World War to 20s Swinging.

Decades of transition. Late Edwardian, First World War to 20s Swinging. In a few decades, hemlines went up. Emphasis on gender goes down.

Simple 30s Depression to the Second World War working woman.

Simple 30s Depression to the Second World War working woman. I need to re-photograph this one… Apologies for the poor quality. It may be my favourite transition.

Wartime simplicity. Austerity and heavy geometries.

Wartime simplicity. Austerity and heavy geometries.

Forties and Fifties formalities and frivolities.

Forties and Fifties formalities and frivolities.

Clean lines, sharp design.

Clean lines, sharp design.

Lovely late Fifties and Sweet Sixties colours and lengths.

Lovely late Fifties and Sweet Sixties colours and lengths.

60s minidress polyester crimplene and heavy geometrics.

60s minidress polyester crimplene and heavy geometrics.

Patchwork peasant Seventies.

Patchwork peasant Seventies.

The Trench. And a slick silk.

The Trench. And a slick silk.

The following are photographed considering the negative space with the costumed mannequins. 

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And finally… Shoes.

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Those of you who made it this far deserve a final treat. Detail from the Late Edwardian lace bodice and the back of the lace Edwardian coat. These is are exquisite pieces.

Late Edwardian Bodice -Lace Detail

Late Edwardian Bodice -Lace Detail

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Building excellence. Building Waterloo Region.

If you follow me on Twitter, you will notice that I have been raving lately about a new festival this year.

Waterloo Region has a demonstrated excellence in architecture. With several award-winning buildings, to a strong history of reuse and settlement, this Region tends to be more of a gem than how it’s generally perceived. Building Waterloo Region hopes to change this and cast a spotlight on architecture and design excellence through a series of events.

The calendar is ambitious. From walking tours, to a grand list of participating venues, you can engage in the festival for the entire summer. Certainly I have some highlights:

  • First builders is a walking tour that will wind us through the 10,000 years of settlement in Waterloo Region. It culminates with three sites that all have displays about different building styles in the Region focusing on the Longhouse, the traditional settler building, and modern eco-sustainable techniques.
  • Ex Industria is a particular tear at the heartstrings. If you go up to the top floor of Kitchener City Hall – into the cafe, you can see up to a dozen factories in the city centre. Ex Industria is an exhibit that focuses on the industrial development of Waterloo Region using maps, drawings, models and digital reconstructions. This one will be at Design at Riverside/Ideas Exchange.
  • No Small Plans: Award winning buildings in Waterloo Region 1982-2014 will take a look at award-winning buildings in Waterloo Region. The site says it best: “Waterloo Region is home to more major award-winning buildings than any other municipality in Canada save the three largest metropolitan centres: Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. This concentration of design excellence is one of the hallmarks of the Region and is increasingly important in maintaining its position as an attractive community with an active culture, a lively urban environment and an excellent quality of life.”

The best things is that you can walk into just about every museum or cultural space in the Region and they will have some offering. The festival will also be bringing speakers and lectures including renown architect, Alison Brooks.

Their calendar features events throughout the summer, including ones for the kids. Even if you don’t try to make it to this festival, you are likely to stumble upon it somewhere. However, I do emphatically recommend getting to their Gaukel Street hub: A Christie Digital projection will feature a special exhibit on the virtual plane – and from what I hear, it will be exceptional.

More than music and sound, Open Ears is a full calendar of art

My favourite festivals are soon to start. We are right around the corner from CAFKA and Open Ears.

I will be running photos and reviews about the art of CAFKA as I stumble upon it in my journeys through downtown.

Open Ears is a less simple event to describe before seeing. When I try to talk about it, I like to describe it as a full orchestra of intrigue presented in a calendar of events related by brilliant curation.

Sound is all around us. From the droning of in-building HVAC and fans, to outdoor constancy of cars, wildlife, winds, we are constantly tuning out by being constantly tuned in.

From June 5 – 15 we will be asked to open our ears and tune back in. The full calendar will include a trio of new Canadian operas. Think of it… when was the last time you heard a new opera.

Another highlight is a presentation of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit. This play was written by Iranian author Nassim Soleimonpour. Up until recently, he had never seen the play that he had written. This play is presented in a novel format: The readers of the play are not given the script until they are ready to go on stage. There they see it for the first time as they read it live. The nature of this transcends the disconnect of a playwright who for years was never able to see his creation. The echo of the unrehearsed voice mirroring the voice of the censored writer… a truly revolutionary piece of theatre.

Open Ears will be presenting it read by Majdi Bou Matar – multi-talented artistic director of the MT Space, Nora YoungCBC tech culture personality, Mike Farwell – radio host, Kitchener Rangers announcer and local philanthropist, and Grace Lynn Kungactor from the cult film Hypercube, and starred in Being Erica and InSecurity.

I will leave you with a final highlight. What is sure to be a pleasing presentation is by artist Shary Boyle. This outstanding artist was featured at the 2013 Venice Biennale. Boyle will be bringing new work to Open Ears, but here’s a taste of a previous work.