A Night for Art and Pechu Kucha

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Late November Gallery Walk – Victoria,, BC

Late afternoon, late November. The forecast is for temperatures to rise through the evening and night, so I head out for a walk. About a 6 km loop from our neighbourhood into downtown Victoria and back.

Early winter snow is melting, the streets and sidewalks liberally salted and gritty underfoot. Coming from the Canadian prairies, where it’s -35C and the snow will stay till until, oh, March or April, I have no weather complaints. I head for View Art Gallery and pick up a Gallery Walk Passport:  visit them all and win some art! I wouldn’t turn down a prize but mainly I need a stretch and some stimulation.

This will be a tip of the iceberg tour. Any city worth its salt can offer multiple art walks throughout the year. Here in Victoria, only seven of the city’s dozens (hundreds?) of galleries and studios are in on this event. Back in the summer I did the Fairfield neighbourhood art walk (the majority of those at artists’ studios in their homes) and know of at least two others.

So: seven stops, each offering a tasteful sampling of creative works and seasonal refreshments. A few with live piano or cello ambience. Art that ranges from art cards and small sketches, to sculpture, tribal and aboriginal art, imported artifacts, large canvases and blown glass.

Is it just me, or does the warmth of the human element decrease as the gallery’s prices go up? There must be a certain tension in running a gallery that exhibits works in six digit price ranges – it certainly feels that way. At each I ask permission to take a few wide-view shots for the blog. One refuses, and two others give reluctant permission. OK. I thought this event was about gaining publicity for galleries, but perhaps I’m wrong.

Overheard, staff-to-staff: “He’s taking photos for a blog.” “What’s a blog?” “Sort of like a diary.”  Staff at another gallery: “I don’t get it. People come in, get their cards stamped, twirl around once, then head out.”

Making a living off culture is a struggle. I have no historic reference point but this event has generated a steady stream of lookers. The demographic skews to middle aged and affluent, with a few Gen Y and younger attendees. Couples, mostly, and clusters of women friends. Groups of guys don’t seem to take up gallery walks as their favourite social outing.

Art galleries - Broad St. area - Victoria, BC

My last three galleries are clustered on or near Broad St.. West End Gallery always seems delightfully inviting, with its ample windows and vibrant glassworks.

Colour! This is what a person needs in the grey of winter.

A few steps away, Madrona Gallery is buzzing and welcoming.

MadronaGallery.jpgThen up to my last stop, Legacy, where the reception is probably the warmest of the evening. Yes, it’s a quick tour but it served my purpose: fixing the galleries’ locations and style in my mind, for potential return visits where the art itself will get a more deservingly long look.

On the downtown streets, there’s an off-season feel. I peek into a pub (Cowboys miss a last minute field goal, lose to Saints) and see that it’s about 10% capacity. The sidewalks are steady with pedestrians but not exactly crowded. In the stores I pass, I sometimes see a bored staff standing in wait of customers. Here in late November the tourist traffic is long gone and the locals’ Christmas rush hasn’t hit. (Or hasn’t hit here – perhaps there are crushes of cars and humanity out at suburban malls.)

Still, the streets are comfortably alive. No lonely empty blocks. My route takes me past Chapters so I (natch) grab a coffee and tour the stacks. I am by nature what Barbara Sher calls a scanner and love browsing titles. Titles so full of possibility: Started Early, Took My Dog; Full Dark, No Stars; Those Who Save Us; A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Mordecai and Keith

Mordecai and Keith

Interesting to see two smokers side by side on the best-selling biographies shelf: Mordecai and Keith. Two creatives guys – and the new books appear worth a read. Later

Having seen Rosanne Cash (@rosannecash) tweet about it, I sit with Patti Smith’s award winning Just Kids for a few minutes – and end up reading the last 40 pages or so. Evocative and moving. On my library list

On to the Victoria Event Centre, where I join a lineup outside. Am I in the right place? This wouldn’t be a club lineup, would it, at 7:15 pm? I’m clearly the oldest dude here. The attire is Gen-Y-night-out: organic cotton jackets, ironic tweed hats, scarves. Scarves are big in Victoria. Like the rediscovery of hats, too: grand-dad stuff. Layers. Tight jeans, just a bit distressed. T-shirts big on irony. Those knitted gloves with the fingers poking out.

For some reason I flashback to the leather wrist-band I wore when I was 20. What was that about? Trying to make my spaghetti wrists look substantive? Yes, trying to look substantive, trying to look real. We all hope that we won’t be found out for who we really are. Costumes.

Through the door and up the creaky wooden stairs, jammed with trendy footwear. One step up, then stand and chat. Discover various Twitter connections: amazing how many new connections, live connections, those tweets lead to.

Inside the room is buzzing: more energy than most gatherings where I’m among my boomer peers. Little do I know that Janis Lacouvee and Jaryd Zinkewich will be talking about improving generational connections and knowledge transfer. I’m doing my bit – just hoping to learn a thing or two from the youngsters.

Pechu Kucha format

Pechu Kucha format

Like many others, I know more about Pechu Kucha format than I do pronunciation. The name still gives me a brain cramp and comes out sounding more like Machu Picchu. And having typed that does nothing to retrain my brain in the right direction

Here, courtesy of Lisa Preston (@yetanotherlisa) is a clip that might help you and will probably do me no good.

It’s an evening of presenters who each are allowed 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide, on a topic of their choice. You gotta love a presentation that takes the timing out of the presenter’s hands. 20 seconds then, boom: next slide. Great for scanners.

In the spirit of PK Night I’ll attempt 20 word summaries of the speakers. Links and Twitter handles included where I could find them. Kudos to Missie Peters (@missie_p) for keeping everything moving with high energy ‘Mastery of the Ceremonies.’

Robert Randall (@rwrandall):  Artist and community activist. Art of the common house, the landscape of what is plain, and what plainly we don’t see.

Sarah French: Artist / performer. Creates characters that appear in her images. Playful and provocative.

 

Street Portraits photo © Derek Ford

Street Portraits photo © Derek Ford

Derek Ford (@derekford): Photographer. Street Portraits: the simplicity and complexity of the human face. Images of passers-by, against white backdrop – a great look. (sample image here, courtesy Derek.)

Leigh Sifton:  Rails to trails and rails with trails. The most orthodox presenter, scoping out the promising future of Island bike/walk trails. 

Daniel Ferguson (@eikonos): Philosopher, photographer, programmer. Globe shaped landscape photos, digitally bent. Astounding.

Joey McDonald: Print maker. Handed out a sample & showed the steps in print making. Impressive skills.

Skyler Luke Punnet (@skylerpunnet): Artist with a thing about He Man vs. Gorillaz. Questioned our mix of marketing and mythology.

Jeremy Herndl: Painter. ‘Conversations with a place:’ intriguing images with deep-thinker commentary (hard to process in 20 seconds).

Javan Kerby Bernakevitch: Beekeeper and permaculturist. ‘Vanishing of the Bees’ with a local twist: the Vancouver Island scenario.

Janis LaCouvee (@lacouvee) & Jaryd Zinkevich (@jzinkewich) How to grow the wisdom of community through generational knowledge transfer. They are living it.

Richard Hatter (@hiredguns): Hired Guns graphics out of Nanaimo. 3D presentation. Advocated for starting design with pencil & paper: cheers!

An invigorating evening, topped by a free round from the bar – sponsored by a local company whose name I unfortunately didn’t catch (update: Phillips Brewery, serving Victoria Gin cocktails). Then it’s a leisurely, reflective, walk home along streets that are still pleasantly populated.

Mind abuzz, I won’t be sleeping soon.


Editorial notes: Street Portraits photo © Derek Ford, PK Night image of Daniel Ferguson presenting courtesy of Glenn Letham – many thanks. Other photos by LD.

And a reminder: you and all your friends can sign up to receive the blog by email – all we need is your email addy on the form at www.lornedaniel.com/blog

 

Comments

  1. You reviewed the PK night far better than I could have. What a great way to sew up such a rich evening! I’d wanted to hit the Gallery walk as well, but had too much going on to make it in time.

    Love the juxtaposition of the two book covers! Good eye.

    I want to hit more gallery events now that I’m here. I loved the whole Vernissage culture in Montréal. There’s seemed to be a great deal more food and wine at those events, though. I was pretty shameless about being drawn by that, sadly, but hey, I really did get some culture exposure and felt enriched for it.

    I was in Chinatown on Saturday with my son and happened past a ‘wee black and white photography exhibit in a little upstairs gallery on Fisgard street. Had a great conversation with the hostess there. She told me about another friend of hers who is having an opening of something similar, somewhere in Victoria, sometime soon. Sounds vague, I know, but I’m still getting to know the area and the people here. Anyways, all this to say that I find it very exciting when activity and creativity is taking place, and when people are genuinely sharing.

    Which is what I love about your blog!

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