Yes, it’s that time again!
My illustrations and fine art photography prints will be on exhibit at Neighbour to Neighbour’s (N2N’s) Art in the Garden and Children’s Food Literacy Festival. This year’s outdoor community art show will be:
Saturday June 22nd from noon to 5:00pm
Neighbour to Neighbour Centre
28 Athens Street, Hamilton, ON L9C 3K9
I hope to see you all there.
Since 1986 N2N’s Community Food Access programs have fed over 18,000 Hamilton Mountain families. The Community Garden program was implemented three years ago to provide healthy, culturally appropriate fresh fruits and vegetables while ensuring that their clients have access to growing their own food.
Initially functioning as a food bank for Hamilton Mountain residents, N2N expanded their services and programs in response to the needs of their clients. Today, their Food Access Program assists over 1,100 families each month; their Kids Can Succeed Tutoring Program helps over 200 school-aged children improve their reading skills, and their Resource Counseling Program provides housing support, advice on settlement and employment issues, health, education and advocacy.
Open Garden Week began in 1992 as a national effort by a gardening magazine. The concept faded away elsewhere but became The Hamilton Spectator Open Garden Week in 1995.
Responding to The Spectator’s call for 100 open gardens for the 20th Annual Open Garden Week (2007), N2N rallied local artists and musicians to showcase right in their Community Garden located at the Centre’s head office. Art in the Garden has been a growing annual tradition ever since.
For more information about Neighbour to Neighbour Centre and Art in the Garden please call 905-574-1334.
I thought I’d take a shot at this week’s challenge by WordPress. Click HERE for the story.
I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had much time for blogging; getting a post or two in each month about something artistic. Quite recently, I received a rebuttal to Part 9 of this series. I’ve already responded to it there, and you can certainly go there to read it but I’m using the fact that it’s high time that I made a new post as an excuse to reiterate my reply.
I stand accused of putting down the work of a Montreal tagger who goes by the street name of Neski. My accuser Jay Johnston has also appointed himself my judge, jury and executioner.
Mr. Johnston believes that sneaking around and vandalizing private and public property “without getting arrested” is about artistic “skill” and “willpower”, and admonishes me for being so lacking. Here’s where he’s correct. I don’t do graffiti, and won’t try. As much as I actually appreciate some of it, something he fails to realize, it’s never been a visual art that I’ve been inclined to pursue. The closest thing to it is graphic design, and while I’ve done plenty of that in my time I deliberately reduced my reputation as a graphic artist to push my original pursuit of expressing myself through illustration and photography.
Mr. Johnston doesn’t realize that Illustrated City is a street photography/urban photography project on street art and graffiti. The resulting output is this ongoing blog series in which I get to share my photography and considerations of these arts with others freely. This is especially since I am unable to take all readers to the places I go to in order to discover the work in real time.
Oh yes, there’s also that childishly impudent bravado Mr. Johnston expressed about me possibly being afraid to condemn Neski’s tags in person while it takes, after all, bold “skill” and “willpower” to “sneak” around vandalizing other people’s property “without getting arrested”.
Yes, I did repeatedly think to myself that it may be downright stupid of me to even respond to Mr. Johnston but he wasn’t unbearably juvenile in his quarrel with me, so I’m willing to oblige him with the fair, knowledgeable and logical discourse of art theory that I can only hope he’s looking for.
One of the things that I actually pity Mr. Johnston for is his perception that graffiti and the associated violence is a defining aspect of Hip Hop. I grew up on Hip Hop. I beg to differ.
Firstly, of course Hip Hop belongs in the art world. Secondly, I’m afraid that Mr. Johnston missed the point of that post entirely. Part 9 is NOT a criticism of Neski’s or anyone’s art; I even point out the quality of Neski’s work. Part 9 is an objective examination of the thought processes of certain – not all, individuals associated with graph-writing subcultures in many cities around the world, not just Montreal. Primarily the senseless killing and dying in the name of graffiti, and secondarily the vandalism aspects of some of it, which I explore more deeply in other posts of Illustrated City.
I must disagree with Mr. Johnston’s argument that the violence is a necessary aspect of Hip Hop subculture and; therefore, also graffiti subculture. I suspect that I’m older than him. I can, therefore, say that Hip Hop is only slightly younger than I am (I was born in 1970), and that it is a cultural extension of rap music which is older than me (rap has been around since the 60’s, there are still a lot of people for and against rap that don’t know this, and really don’t care). Violence has never been an ingrained cultural characteristic of Hip Hop. It has increasingly imbued Hip Hop since the early 80’s due to negative influences merely assumed to be part of the subculture like street gangs, inner city African-American and Latin-American organized crime syndicates, racial stereotypes from narrow-minded North American suburbanites and music moguls who financially capitalize on the marketing of these negative stereotypes in rap.
Additionally, not even graffiti is a fixture of Hip Hop. It is an anthropological fact that graffiti and Hip Hop are separate subcultures. Graffiti is much older. It is an artistic genre that has been in existence for thousands of years and has inadvertently given rise to subcultures. It would do a lot of artists a lot of good to understand this much of their art history (see Part 11 just for starters). Today’s graph-writers are actually putting a contemporary spin on a very old practice that could become, if adequately honed, an artist tradition (maybe a movement if they’re lucky). Those who accept the violence as just the way things are in the subculture are not doing graffiti, their individual work or themselves any favours.
There is a long list of Hip Hop artists; both visual and performance artists, who have tried to keep the legitimacy of Hip Hop alive through their art. It has not been easy as there is far too many who buy into the negativity and shallow-mindedness and ruin Hip Hop. Some of the abusers dare to tout that they are celebrating Hip Hop. They’re liars. They aren’t helping anyone or anything but themselves, frankly. They’re cheating everyone else, and the biggest victims are the Brian Kachur’s and killers who fail to separate the stains on Hip Hop subculture from the legitimacy of Hip Hop.
I do hope that Mr. Johnston takes the time to re-read Part 9, hopefully this time without being automatically adversarial and assuming that the post is about cutting Neski’s work down. If Mr. Johnston does, seeing that Neski is still amongst the living, Mr. Johnston should come to realize that I would love to say to Neski’s and any other’s faces that I personally want to see them remain alive, healthy and nurturing their God-given talent for the visual arts. Not be senselessly murdered off like Kachur was, or convicted of the crime like the accused have been. As Mr. Johnston indicates that he is an advocate for Neski, I imagine that this must make sense to him.
Seeing that Mr. Johnston likes to issue challenges, I challenge him to go to Brian Kachur’s mother and sister, and the families of the accused (I suspect that Mr. Johnston is in Montreal), privately tell them about Neski and his personal thoughts regarding Hip Hop subculture, and ask them if they think that killing in the name of graffiti is a proper way of life and death for Neski. I imagine that they’ll say “NO” and if they do, then would Mr. Johnston really dare to argue with them? For crying out loud, in different terrible ways, these families have lost their children and siblings.
Finally, I’m repeating the question I ask of all taggers at the end of Part 9, as they’re on the frontline of the calamity. What do they suggest should be done about preventing the violent infighting in their art?
Okay, so it’s been quite a while since I’ve made a post on this art blog due to the house moving that Kim and I have been knee-deep in. I’m actually taking some time to compose this post, and I have to say that it too isn’t much about art. I need to make this post seeing that May is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, and that May 29, 2013 will be World MS Day. Please continue to bear with me . . .
Anyway, life is full of unexpected outcomes. Yeah, everybody knows that, I hope. Here’s one:
Decades ago when I was a kid in grade 2, here in Ontario, the MS Society of Canada worked with provincial public schools to raise awareness about Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I can remember that a leading drive was the “MS Sleuthing” campaign in which we cute, small elementary school kids were deployed en masse each year to canvass neighbourhoods for donations toward MS research.
I don’t know if this is still done in schools; I don’t think so, but the campaign featured a cartoon bloodhound dressed like Sherlock Holmes, and carrying a large magnifying glass as he looked for clues to solve the MS mystery. We too were “MS Sleuths”.
I canvassed but the effort really didn’t have an impact on my young brain. I never knew anyone with MS, and never gave it any thought that I might someday, or even that I may have the disease myself.
Today, I can happily say in my forties that I have never had MS; knock on wood. I have; however, become linked to a number of people who have contracted it.
When I returned to Ontario in ‘89, after living in British Columbia for nine years, I got a small apartment and my cousin Tony and I would play chess there for hours. Me in my late teens, him in his early tewnties; between checkmates and sarcasms, we’d talk about girls, sports and athletics, future careers, politics, family, music, his incessant bragging about having an IQ of 130 and the gradual progression of his symptoms. Tony is the first person I’ve ever known to have MS. He died when he was 28.
Linda is a beautiful girl in BC that went to the same high school that I did, and associated with my small circle of friends. Unfortunately, I never knew her in high school. The first time I met her was in ’99 when Kim and I went out to BC to see my best friend Gaston get married to Charlene. We met Linda’s family and we, especially Kim, have had sporadic correspondence with Linda ever since. I think it was shortly after meeting Linda back then that she was diagnosed. She’s still fighting the fight.
Laurie has been a very close friend of mine and Kim since the late 90’s but we didn’t meet Laurie’s parents until several years ago. By that time, her mother Renata was mainly getting around by electric scooter. Laurie took great, great care of Renata until she died a few years ago. She misses her mum so very much.
Last year, a man came to a Flying Low art sale and bought one of my prints. The art collector asked if we were collecting for MS research. We explained that we were only accepting donations for a local food bank N2N but we did consider raising money for the MS Society of Canada in Tony’s honour. That got the collector talking to us a bit more because his wife had passed away from MS the year before.
We know Trish and Mandy through Kim’s brother Marty. Trish and Marty have been together for I don’t know how many years now. They have two beautiful daughters, Ashley and Olivia. Trish and Mandy are sisters. I guess it was in 1975 that their mother Sharon was diagnosed. Sharon lived with MS for thirty years until her fight ended in 2005.
Statistics on how many people in a specific population have MS are important but I’d rather skip the stats here, especially seeing that the stats vary from country-to-country. I will say again; nonetheless, that I had no idea that I would be connected in some way to five people who have had to directly or indirectly deal with this disease.
It was Mandy who organized a group effort in her mother’s name (Team Sharon) to participate in the May 5, 2013 MS Walk at Confederation Park in Hamilton. Fighting MS is one of those circumstances of which “tears are not enough”. It requires action, and it was high time I did something realistic about the real problem. With Kim, I joined Team Sharon. Thanks Mandy!
This was our first walk to raise money for the MS Society of Canada. Team Sharon’s goal was $600. We managed to rake up $707. Kim and I raised $220 of that on our own; not too shabby for this old “MS Sleuth”.
There must have been a few thousand participants in the 22-year old event from hundreds of other teams. When the afternoon was done, a grand total of $175,000 was accomplished. Thank you to everyone who supported the cause. If we are to use that figure as an average for every other city around the world that holds an MS Walk this year, imagine the amount of money that will be gained for researching a cure, providing treatments, caregivers, scooters, elevators and a wide range of other necessities for patients who need them.
For more information on Multiple Sclerosis, what you can do to help fight this disease, how to help a patient cope with it and even what your donations are used for get in touch with the MS Society in your part of the atlas. Here are some websites:
You’ll also find direct links to just about all MS organizations around the planet if you just click HERE!
Tell ‘em TheMOFMan sent you!
Now this is an art blog after all, so here’s a link to the MS Society of Canada where they showcase the artwork of some artists who are patients and/or supporters of the cause. I hope the society does more of this.
Keep hope and fight a good fight! All the best to you!
WordPress couldn’t have posed a timelier theme for this week’s photo challenge.
What you see above is the result of months of serious, arduous planning between my wife and me. We had been contemplating it for the past two years, began more meticulously strategizing for it in the spring of 2012 and set to work pulling it off right from the beginning of 2013. It has consumed us almost entirely. It’s almost a miracle that I was able to pull of a wedding photography contract in the process.
Our efforts to obtain this very key is even the leading reason why I have not blogged as much or as informatively as I did last year. It is the overall plan that I deliberately did not mention with any specificity in my 2013 resolution but is the basis for all of the other goals I listed.
This is the key, acquired 16 hours before this post hit the Internet, to our new place. This place will not just be our new home but the new headquarters of Modes of Flight.
It’s a bigger place with better style in another great location. Although we’re already moving in slowly, we don’t officially move in until a couple weeks time. I want to; nevertheless, thank all of those who have supported MOF in the last year in any way possible as you have helped us reach this milestone.
I was doing street photography in Port Dover one summer, and this was one of the last shots I made there that day.
The situation was so colourful, family oriented and reminiscent of a moment captured in a Norman Rockwell painting, especially with that big Coca Cola vending machine, that I was inspired to apply a painterly digital filter to the picture in post production. It’s not something I do a lot with photographs. When I want an image to look like it’s painted, I usually prefer to get out my oils and hand paint it. I, nevertheless, thought it was worth it to go digital here.
I think the effect may be too strong. I might try it again with the filter settings reduced to bring out a little more realism.
2D visual artist specializing in illustration, photography and graphic design.