Friday, June 27, 2014

MEDIAVORE ~ TV: THE WIRE (SEASONS 1-5)

The Wire premiered on June 2, 2002, and, after a 60 episode run over five seasons on the American premium cable network HBO, ended on March 9, 2008. It wasn't exactly a ratings success, and it failed to pick up very many awards during its run. However, among the show's many evangelical fans - including top rank writers and performers, world-class novelists and the occasional public intellectual - it was championed as one of the finest dramatic series in the history of television.

Because I don't watch much television anymore - and because I'm not much of a fan of cop-centered series in general - I didn't get around to watching this show until February, 2014. I have now seen every episode - many of them multiple times - and I have zero problems fessing up to my previous obstinate idiocy. I was a fool.

So yes, basically, if you're one of the few serious-minded mediavores left who still have yet to take in this incredible show, allow me to be the latest to tell you that everything you've heard about The Wire is true. It really is one of the finest dramatic series in the history of the medium. And you really do need to see it. Like... right fucking now.

In future MEDIAVORE blog entries, I hope to chronicle my media consumption, sharing some opinions on books, films, TV shows, music, graphic novels, videogames, etc. I also hope to occasionally provide longer think-pieces on some of these topics, if and when I feel the material merits it, and if I feel that I have something worth saying.

In the case of The Wire, it just so happens that omnipresent British media curmudgeon Charlie Brooker took up an entire episode of his (excellent) TV review series ScreenWipe to explain exactly what it is that makes The Wire required viewing. And, lucky you, that episode just so happens to be freely available on Youtube! Which means I can just link to it here, urge you to watch it immediately, and consider my good deed for the day as having been accomplished. So sit back, relax, hit PLAY and let Charlie and his guests tell you everything that I would have liked to tell you about The Wire, only a hell of a lot better than I could have, in roughly half the time it would have taken me (circuitous and loquacious bastard that I am).

YOU WATCH NOW!!!

Monday, June 23, 2014

LEFT / RIGHT ~ A POEM

Right
The Cain-Hand 
Abel slew. 
Left 
Behind. 
Left 
Holding the bag. 
Right 
The thing that Might makes. 
Right 
Not asked for. 
Taken.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014

THE "TORONTO ART FOR PEACE" EXHIBITION OVERVIEW

On Thursday, May 22, I was fortunate enough to attend the gala opening of Toronto Art for Peace, the premiere exhibition of the newly minted Canadian branch of the international Society for Art of Imagination, at the prestigious Moniker Gallery in the heart of Toronto’s Fashion District. Organized by two of Canada’s most vital artistic scenesters – the elegant Marina Malvada and the ebullient Bhat Boy – it was obvious to all in attendance that this blockbuster showcase for over 50 international artists was nothing less than an unmitigated triumph at every level. And if you’re lucky enough to be reading this before June 4th, then by all means make every effort to get yourself to Moniker so you can experience this wonderful exhibition as it should be experienced: as a sumptuous, psychedelic, multi-course feast for the soul.


THE SOCIETY

The Society for the Art of Imagination is a global organization dedicated to a style of art that has gone by many names over the years. Whether you call it “Fantastic Art”, fantasy art, spiritual art, or surrealism, what most of the works have in common is a vital engagement with the imagination of the viewer. This engagement goes far beyond the decorative, often to a point that approaches dramatic – or even narrative – levels. Depending on your point of view, this can be either a strength or a weakness. For instance, most dentists probably wouldn’t purchase a mural-sized painting of an Apocalyptic mushroom cloud for their waiting room. So it does pose some challenges, both to the artists, as well as to the galleries who would like to showcase their work.

Hence the need for a support group like the Society for Art of Imagination, which “promotes imaginative and spiritually based art that transcends the ordinary, to help bring like-minded artists together in shared exhibitions and create opportunities for Canadian artists at home and abroad”. INSCAPE is the society’s bi-annual, glossy full-color magazine. The first Society was created in the UK in 1961 by Brigid Marlin, a protégé of Ernst Fuchs. There are now branches in the USA, Japan, Africa and, as of 2014, right here in Canada, thanks in large part to the efforts artists Jean Pronovost, Russ Paquette, and  the aforementioned Marina Malvada and Bhat Boy, who is himself a protégé of Brigid Marlin.

For anyone reading this who doesn't live in or near Toronto, fear not! There are three upcoming exhibitions in Ottawa in September 2014, and one at the Ecomuseum in Montreal in October 2015, with more shows in the works. And considering the almost uniformly excellent quality of the pieces on display at Moniker’s Art for Peace exhibit, one couldn't help but be filled with optimism about the near-term future of Fantastic Art in Canada and, indeed, globally. It really did feel as though we were witnessing the launch of an artistic movement whose moment has arrived.

THE SPACE

Just northwest of the busy, bustling intersection of Spadina and Richmond in Toronto’s historic Fashion District, Moniker Gallery provided the Society’s 50-plus artists with a gorgeous, wide-open space in which to showcase their work.


There’s also something to be said for the gallery’s ease of access. Four steps up from the sidewalk, through the front doors and BAM, you were immediately surrounded by incredible art. Simultaneously intimate and expansive, it really is an ideal gallery experience, both for the artists and for the viewing public. Moniker also generously provided ample, strategically-located seating for those (like me) who have trouble standing for long periods of time.

I didn't partake of the wine, so I can’t comment on it other than to say everybody seemed satisfied by the choices on hand. Toronto's own Sunshine Pantry generously donated handmade regular and vegan cheeses to nosh on. But nothing could distract from the visual banquet on display, accompanied by aural enhancements courtesy of DJ Nicodemus the EvilRoBo, who filled the air with ominous, pulsating, binaural throbs, punctuated with the occasional square-wave “skwawk”. He did a great job, and I’m sure the inspiration provided by REX, the giant, metallic man who lurched menacingly over his booth didn't hurt things, either.


The great turnout had the artists and organizers in a happy, gabby mood, and all artists present were happy to discuss their work.

THE ARTISTS

I’d like to start by pointing out that there is no way that I’ll be able to do justice to all the wonderful artists who had work on display at this exhibit. There were dozens of artists displaying well over a hundred pieces, and I only had a few hours to take everything in. With a few exceptions, I will be concentrating on those artists with whom I was able to converse during the show. Also, I will admit up front that there are certain subjects that attract me more than others. For instance, art that deals with occult themes. Therefore, the exclusion of any artist from this article should NOT be taken as a slight against their work.

I. THE BIG GUNS

Part of the exhibit included prints by three of the Society’s honorary members: the aforementioned Brigid Marlin, metaphysical artist Alex Grey, and the Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger, whose recent passing was commemorated by a small black table placed in front of his only piece at the show: an untitled signed, limited edition print. A nice touch.

II. TICK TOCK TOM


Ottawa-based artist Tick Tock Tom had three impressive pieces on display. The previously mentioned “REX”, who loomed over the DJ booth, is an impressive and weighty beast. But it was his moving pieces – the mechano-tantric “Lungs” and “Bleeding Heart”, with its gushing crimson fluids – that were garnering the most attention. Humble and smiling, Tick Tock Tom confessed that it was “great to get out of the basement” and witness the powerful effect his mechanical creations were having on the crowd. He also described how the auditory element of “Lungs” became an important part of the piece almost by accident, or "organically"... which is mighty paradoxical when you think about it. Personally, I was struck by the yoga-like nature of his heavy metal breathing machine. It was emblematic of the very labor of life. You can see more of Tick Tock Tom’s work at his website.

III. VALERIYA KHOMAR


Of all the work on display at this show, the paintings of Montreal based, Ukrainian born artist Valeriya Khomar were perhaps the most unselfconsciously decorative. There is, of course, no shame in this. With light-dappled swaths of folding, tactile shapes, her work reminded me of an otherworldly Georgia O’Keeffe, and it functioned nicely as an aesthetic palate-cleanser of sorts; a pleasant and welcome respite from the heady, dramatic excesses of neighboring pieces. Valeriya shared a number of amusing anecdotes about her inspiration with me, but I was most struck by her statement that, in her 2013 work “Awakening”, she had sought “to compress Five-D into Two-D.” Find out more about Valeriya’s work at her website.

IV. DAEVE FELLOWES

Local Toronto artist dAeve Fellowes calls his incredible 3D paintings “Biomorphs”, and they include disturbing elements and such diverse textures as eyes, tongues and real human hair. Some of his pieces look like something an adventurous gastronome might serve for dinner, if he was hosting guests from another planet, another dimension, or one of the lower rings of Hell. For my own tastes, dAeve’s works were among the strongest of the entire show, and I urge you to find out more about his work at his website.

V. DAVID DAVIDSON


Another artist whose work, for me, vibrates with a particularly powerful intensity, is David Davidson. Although he only had three relatively small pieces on display at this show, they generated a great deal of interest, and it’s easy to see why. I've been following Davidson’s work for the better part of two decades now, and in that time I've watched him grow from a technically proficient if occasionally derivative draftsman into one of the most unique and intriguing visionaries working in Fantastic Art today. You can see more of his work at his website.

VI. STU EDWARDS


Perhaps one of the most difficult things for an artist to do with a piece of static art - as opposed to film, theater or music - is to evoke fear or dread. With both his statue “Niflheim” and his beautifully-mounted painting “Anathema”, Stu Edwards managed to evoke those emotions in me. That’s why it came as no surprise to me when Stu revealed one of his primary inspirations to be Poland’s premiere Apocalyptic visualization specialist, Zdzislaw Beksinski. Explore more of Stu’s provocative, disturbing work at his Facebook page, or check out his Canadian Alternative Arts Collective.

VII. ELVIRA RAJEK


From morbid, dark and sinister, we come full circle to the cheeky, fun and playful creations of Austrian artist Elvira Rajek… or do we? Because, while her candy-colored weapons are delightful to behold, isn't there something more than a little bit sinister to the stories they tell? Even in her ongoing project, “What to do with These Old Shoes”, Elvira manages to effortlessly fuse danger, beauty and violence, and in so doing suggests the existence of a secret, coded fascist language hidden in the heart of High Fashion. Especially impressive is how Elvira was able to combine bullet casings and demolished revolver parts to create a gleaming, metallic high-heeled shoe. From my brief discussion with her about her work, I can also report that Ms Rajek is one hell of a wit. Find out more about her art at her Saatchi Art profile page, where you’ll find her indulging her dark side quite nicely, thank you very much.

VIII. JEAN PRONOVOST


I doubt anyone’s feelings will be hurt if I state the obvious and declare that Montreal-based artist Jean Pronovost’s “Sphinx” served as an unofficial centerpiece for – and was a widely-acknowledged highlight of – the entire Art for Peace exhibition. The idea for his “Sphinx” first came to Pronovost during a visit to Europe, where he kept coming across Sphinx statues everywhere he went. Sensing a cosmic message, he set about creating a Sphinx of his own… only his Sphinx was a protector of the people. That's why she's crouching atop "the personification of an unjustly empowered greed and corruption” who, in attempting to answer the eternal riddle, can only vomit up fistfuls of currency. By the way, Pronovost wants everyone to know that any resemblance between his sculpture and our own fair city’s trouble-plagued Mayor is purely coincidental. The Sphinx has a presence that is difficult to describe and even harder to shake, but one thing is certain; it heralds the arrival of a huge and important new talent on the Canadian art scene, and I, for one, can’t wait to see what else Pronovost has in store for us. Keep your eyes on his personal website for updates.

Also, admirers of dark, Lovecraftian horror should do themselves a favor by checking out the website of Provonost’s friend, partner, and fellow Montrealer, Syl Disjonk, an extremely talented video artist in his own right.

AND THE REST…


A few other works that piqued my interest were Lia Fail’s Warholesque canvas entitled “Joseph Campbell’s Follow your Bliss Soup”, the enigmatic Rosmarinus Stehlik’s “Snake Priestess”, and Miguel Tio’s “Dreaming in Montana”, a wonderful piece that would look magnificent in an oak-paneled room with decadent velvet décor. Show organizer Bhat Boy’s “Orbit of a Golden Age (aka Toronto Fish)” was quite beautiful, as well.

Chris Thomas’s Tarot-inspired tableaux featuring lone Templars dwarfed by iconic fantasy locales were very intriguing, as were Clara Blackwood’s ephemeral series of bird portraits. Fantastic without falling prey to whimsy, “Winter Owl” was particularly beautiful. Nadezna Illan’s elephant portraits were well done, and Lina Faroussi’s unnerving tableaux teem with paranoid faces Steve Ohlrich’s beautifully realized fantasias and Gaia Orion’s politically progressive pieces both featured a commanding hand and enviable graphic clarity.


France Garrido’s mosaic-like “Persephone and Demeter” was impressive, as were Russ Paquette’s sparkling “Process of Becoming” and “In Search of the Yellow Brick Road”. The pieces “Man or Mouse” and “Breath” both featured magnificent realism on a large scale… though unfortunately, I lost the artist’s name.

Finally, I was tickled by the number of people who were using their SmartPhones to take snapshots of show organizer Marina Malvada’s wickedly funny panorama, which itself portrays a group of people photographing an apocalyptic mushroom cloud with their SmartPhones.

CONCLUSION


It was obvious to everyone present that the Art for Peace event has the potential to be a springboard for even bigger, better things in the very near future. I’ve never seen so many happy, smiling, downright contented people at a gallery show. The atmosphere was electric with positive vibes. Goths mingled freely with rocker dudes and heavily muscled artists whose media include engine blocks and human blood. People decades apart in age gabbed away contentedly with each other while artists mingled and kibitzed with one and all, regardless of whether or not you looked like the kind of person who was likely to drop five grand on a piece of original artwork.  It was a wonderful night, and I think the Canadian arts community has been waiting for something like this for a long, long time. Now that it has, it’s time for everyone to gather their wits, assemble their tools…and get to work!

Friday, May 30, 2014

MONSTER MAYHEM THURSDAYS!

Bit of a cheat this week - three images of a single character from a potential traditional, three-panel'er comic strip that I'm working on called WINGNUT versus MOONBAT. Three guesses as to which one this handsome character is!
PS - You're probably also gonna want to click on the image to see it in its "original" size. It looks a lot better that way!

Friday, May 23, 2014

MONSTER MAYHEM THURSDAYS DOUBLE CREATURE FEATURE!

Seeing as how I chintzed y'all out last week by giving you a bunch of old monsters that I'd drawn last year rather than the "absolutely 100 percent fresh new monster goodness" that I'd promised, I hereby present you with two all-new, wholly original creations from my sketch-book.

First up is the Meandering Flapper. He stands atop four spindly legs that end in cloven hooves, and his mostly-mouth of a head is ringed by a quartet of obviously useless wings, with the whole assembly being topped by prehensile bi-pupiloid eye-stalks and a scent-sensing nasal prong (pat.pend).


This week's second entry is the dreaded Chupa Kadavra. He appears in a short story I'm working on that's kind of like, what if instead of getting into crystal meth production, the high school teacher from Breaking Bad got into trouble by dabbling in the Black Arts? Say he cast some sort of half-assed spell, thereby imbuing decades worth - nay, generations' worth - of chewing gum with a malevolent sentience. The end result? The Chupa Kadavra! Stupid? Yes, but I like it, so you have to look at it.

Friday, May 16, 2014

MONSTER MAYHEM THURSDAYS: A COUPLE OLDIES

I got caught up in a bunch of drama today so I couldn't come up with a fresh monster for y'all, so I figured I'd give you a threesome of monsters that were originally pencil-sketched by my buddy Dave Starr, which I then inked, scanned into the computer, colorized a bit and am now posting here for y'all's enjoyment! So behold SASQUATCH, LIZARDO and FLOATING TENTACLE BEAST! And sorry if you've seen these before...


Also, as an added extra bonus, here are a couple more angles I came up with - a "glamour pose" and an "action shot" - featuring the 'SQUATCH!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

MONSTER MAYHEM THURSDAYS: ENTER MOONFACE!

...aaand I'm just slipping in under the wire with this week's entry: MoonFace. Or MoonHEAD, as the case may be. This is a creature design for a short film script that I am currently working on with my writing partner Marc Roussel, of Remote and The Last Halloween infamy. You can see his director's reel here. Anyway, if you'd like to see MoonFace appear in a short film some time soon, send me a shitload of cash via the donation button on the top right-hand corner of the screen! Come on! Don't be fuckin' stingy, mate! Ah, I'm just kiddin'. When the time comes, we'll set up a proper begging plate via KickStarter or whatever. For today, however, enjoy... MOONFACE!



Sunday, May 4, 2014

FREE PDF DOWNLOAD FROM THE DISCORDIANS!

The Historia Discordia blog is very kindly offering the historically valuable and highly entertaining Goetia Discordia: Kerry Thornley’s Illustrated ‘Book of the Demons of the Region of Thud’. I am re-posting their post, complete with links, here at the Daily Dirt Diaspora blog because I've always had a soft spot for Discordianism (hint: it's in my skull), as well as for the sometimes goofy, occasionally profound scribblings of half-mad draftsmen. Enjoy! - YOPJ

"In the mid-1980's, Kerry Thornley began collaborating with a Canadian graphic artist and musician, Roldo Odlor, an association that culminated in an illustrated version of Thornley's Book of the Demons of the Region of Thud, aka Goetia Discordia, which we share with you now in its chaotic entirety as a PDF file.

Our forthcoming book, Historia Discordia, will feature more Roldo-created Discordian treasures, not to mention one of the most mind-blowing book covers you'll ever see!

Roldo has a presence on Facebook and his music is available on Bandcamp.

All Hail Roldo!"

Thursday, May 1, 2014

MONSTER MAYHEM THURSDAYS, FIRST EDITION!

From here on out, every Thursday evening I will be scanning and uploading a new monster drawing. You probably won't be seeing many vampires or werewolves or zombies in this space, however. These drawings will mostly be in a Lovecraftian vein, with plenty of tentacles and pseudopods and asymmetrical limbs sticking out every which-a-way... you know, the kind of thing you'd expect to see in silhouette, lurching and teetering across the horizon, barely visible in the wan corpse-like light of a glowering gibbous moon, accompanied by the keening sound of otherworldly pipes and whistles and the choking stench of a moldering charnel pit.

Because I'm in a generous mood, I'm going to kick off this new weekly tradition with a two-fer!

First up, we've got this "Lovecraftian Sea-Creature Study" that I sketched last week (Thursday, April 24, 2014). I tried to incorporate a number of incongruous elements from various sea-beasts, including not only the usual and obligatory tentacles - a whole mish-mash of them in this case, including some wormy ones, some snake-like ones, and an architeuthis dux feeding tentacle with hooking club - but also various sucker-feelers, spiny fins, a weaponized crustacean claw and a distressingly vaginal gaping maw borrowed from nature's ugliest fishy, the Goblin Shark.

I call this one DRIPPY the QUIMBEAST!


Now, for the second half of today's Creature Two-Fer, here's another strange, chimerical beast, this one combining the flap-like head of a skate/ray, the hairy hooves and hindquarters of a Satyr, a double row of giant fingers running down its spine, a poisonous clubbed tail and a three-way gaze all its own. Drawn today, Thursday, May 1st, 2014...

I call this one DER FINGERLING!

Check back with yer old pal Jerky in one week's time for even more hideously heinous monster renderings in a jugular vein!