The call for 2014 submissions will be announced soon.
The call for 2014 submissions will be announced soon.
blog post by Julie Cruikshank
Dan Martelock gets the community involved in art making
Dan Martelock never holds still. He’s always thinking about the next project, and his enthusiasm is catching. When it comes to Chinatown Remixed, he’s found a way to channel that enthusiasm into some incredible interactive works that invite people to not only observe the art, but to take part in it as well. If you were in the Shanghai parking lot during Chinatown Remixed on Saturday, no doubt you saw an impossibly tall man in an impossibly large straw hat bounding around like the happiest golden retriever as he presided over four huge art boards. This was Martelock’s 2013 Remixed project, inviting members of the public to pick up a brush and add their own contribution to the boards. I caught up with him the night before Remixed to ask about his plans for the big experiment.
Those who are familiar with Remixed and Dan Martelock will know that he’s got a special fondness for interactive outdoor artworks. “Last year I did two canvases, so I had one canvas that I painted on and then another canvas for the community to paint on,” he says, explaining his 2012 stint outside Kowloon Market. “I was a little worried that nobody would do it, and at the end of the day – I had people writing their names down throughout the day as they were writing on it – and I counted 80 names.” The community was clearly taken with the chance to flex their creative sides, and Martelock was blown away by the enthusiasm of the participants. “It was huge,” he says. People young and old jumped at the chance to take part in the work, and afterwards Martelock hung the finished pieces at Kowloon Market.
When 2012 proved to be such a success, Martelock knew he had to continue with the project. This time, though, he went bigger. While last year’s work comprised two 30” x 40” canvases, this year he provided four 4’ x 4’ boards for folks to go to town on. Initially he considered providing ballpoint pens, but decided that paint was a wiser choice given the size of the boards. Martelock plans to show the four finished pieces at the Shanghai in June, inviting everyone who participated to come out and see their work. “It’s a community built art show made by the community for the community, and it’s just letting people have an opportunity to show their work and get a feeling for what it’s like as an artist to have work on the wall.” Martelock will send participants who wrote down their email addresses a message letting them know when the show will be. “It’s kind of like, extending Remixed,” he explains.
Martelock planned his colour scheme very specifically, providing black, white, and red paints for people to use and blend. “This year I decided to just minimize the colour and keep it down to something very simple,” he says. “Even if it does turn into pinks and greys, it’ll still all blend in well and look good.” The colours have the added benefit of matching the paint job at the Shanghai, which wasn’t planned by Martelock but worked out nicely in his favour. He also changed the size of his painting boards this year, going from a narrower shape to a square in order to encourage people to fill the space. The initiative was largely inspired by En Masse, a Montreal multi-artist drawing initiative known for their black and white murals.
Martelock initially came to Remixed as a participating artist, showing his work in venues and putting it up for sale. But then he changed his approach. “I had sold art and I’d had it up for sale, but then I just really realized that’s not what this festival’s about and I stopped selling art three shows ago, and I just had it up to look at.” 2012 was his first community art endeavour, but certainly not his first experience with outdoor art. During one memorable year, he installed a large triptych painting in the parking lot at Booth and Somerset. Overnight the piece vanished – possibly hauled away by the city, or maybe (Martelock prefers to think) by an enterprising art-lover with a very large vehicle. “It was up for three days, and then it just disappeared and no-one knows where it went,” he says.
Martelock made the change from showing his own work to more participatory art-making mainly because he loves interacting with people. “I really enjoy having people around, working with them and just having fun and I love watching kids enjoying themselves like that. When they start painting they just get happy and really excited,” he says. He’s also experienced the odd local celebrity getting in on the action. Last year Derick Fage of Rogers TV’s Daytime stopped by and added his contribution to the piece, as did Tony Martins of Guerilla Magazine. Martelock also finds that people will devote a lot of time to the pieces, really getting into what they’re doing. And their subject matter is also very telling. “People love to paint trees,” he says. “Trees are the most popular thing of the day. Trees and hearts.”
While you might expect Martelock’s big group painting projects to appeal mainly to children, over the years he’s found that’s not the case. It’s the kids who typically get things started, but pretty soon the adults start painting too. “The parents will just be standing there and the kids will be going to town, they’re having so much fun, and then the parents kind of get that, you know, ‘I’m too old for this’ at the very beginning and then within about a minute of it they’re right in there, they’re painting, they’re loving it,” he says. “Because once you actually pick up that pen or that brush and you start laying it down, that’s when they just start getting back into being a kid again and enjoying it.” In short, people start getting excited about art – which is exactly the spirit of Chinatown Remixed. “To accept art, to understand art, to feel art, to do art. That’s what the whole idea is.”
Those who participated in Martelock’s group paintings at Remixed this year can see their work up at the Shanghai in mid-June. If you were one of those folks, come out and bring your family to an art show that is truly by and for the community.
Blog post by Julie Cruikshank
Electro-pop artist brings their special blend of music to Chinatown Remixed
Remixed Main Stage, 7pm. After-Party, Shanghai Parking Lot, HighJinx Lounge & Kichesippi Beer Garden.
In Ottawa, someone always knows someone. This is especially true in the arts community, and it’s something that has been a contributing factor to the success of Chinatown Remixed year after year. Beyond the regular call for submissions, there is always someone whose friend is a DJ, or whose neighbour teaches graphic design. Ottawa’s creative grapevine is always working, connecting people with resources and with each other. Which is how Montreal-based electro-pop musician Rae Spoon came to be playing the Chinatown Remixed main stage.
Spoon, it turns out, is good friends with Ottawa’s own DJ CPI. At her wedding they met Chinatown Remixed founder Don Kwan and the seeds were sown. “It seemed exciting to me – the idea of having that section of town so animated for the day,” says Spoon. Their appearance will be part of a new initiative for Chinatown Remixed, with the evening performance extending the party into the later nighttime hours. Like everything at Remixed the performance is free, and folks can pick up a drink at the Kichesippi Beer Garden while they enjoy the show.
Originally from Calgary, Rae Spoon began their musical career in true prairie fashion: playing country music. “Country music is everywhere in Alberta,” they say. “When I started making country music I was trying to reclaim it a bit, you know? Because I think there are a lot of people who like country music who aren’t necessarily like, really right wing. […] Being queer but also from Alberta I just decided to kind of take it as my own.”
Since that time Spoon’s sound has developed. A stint living in Germany exposed them to more electronic music. “When I moved there I was playing country music a lot and touring a lot in Europe playing country music and after a while it started to feel a bit weird to be playing country music in Europe – I don’t know why. I met a lot of people who were making computer music which, like, previously I would’ve never thought I’d move into that.” Using a computer is a huge part of Spoon’s music now, and is even an important element of their live shows. They will frequently take to the stage with their laptop, using it to play pre-recorded beats and alter the sound as they perform.
“It’s easy to kind of dismiss electronic music if you don’t know a lot about it,” says Spoon, explaining how the fact that so much of the process happens away from the audience can be difficult to grasp. “I think it’s because people don’t see someone playing something, like when you’re playing guitar and singing.” Spoon composes the electronic components beforehand and assembles the sounds using a program called Ableton Live. “I kind of figure that since I do play guitar and sing, I can kind of play with it live and play off my voice and my guitar sounds.”
Spoon’s most recent album, I Can’t Keep All Of Our Secrets, deals with the experience of grief. They composed it in the wake of the sudden death of a close friend. “I just find it very interesting, the process of how around death a lot of people kind of… it’s usually given as a very low thing but I think it has highs and lows, so I thought it would be interesting to do with electronic music.” While this may seem an unexpected choice, Spoon explains that it was actually much less challenging than one might think. “I think that having a background writing folk music helped lyrically. If you listen to it you’ll kind of just think of a pop song, but if you actually really listened you’d realize that it was sort of like a folk song.”
Spoon has another album coming out this summer that will mix more folk and grunge influences, inspired largely by their time in Alberta. Although their experience of growing up queer in Alberta was challenging, Spoon doesn’t harbour a lot of resentment for the province, and listening to their music it’s easy to pick up on a sense of nostalgia. “Growing up there wasn’t probably the easiest thing. It’s sort of like that idea, though, that even though it was hard to grow up in Alberta trans or whatever, doesn’t mean I’m not from Alberta, so that’s kind of what I was exploring.” The album is called My Prairie Home, and will serve as the soundtrack for a National Film Board documentary about growing up in Alberta. “It goes into the idea of like, home, and what that means. You don’t exactly belong where your home is.”
Spoon also has a long history of live performances in and around Ottawa, everywhere from the NAC Fourth Stage and the Tulip Festival to the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield. For their set at Remixed, Spoon plans to perform songs mainly from their last three albums with their guitar and laptop. “I never really mind it if people aren’t like, sitting in chairs and if they’re more milling around having fun, that doesn’t really bug me,” says Spoon. “I think it’s good when people are just out and if they’re seeing stuff they haven’t seen before then that’s always fun.” So feel free to stop by the Kichesippi Beer Tent and grab a beverage, and then settle in to enjoy a laid-back evening with Rae Spoon. You couldn’t ask for a better way to end the day at Chinatown Remixed.
Ottawa Velo Vogue & Chinatown Remixed bike portraits.
This Saturday come in your best red outfit on your bike and have your photo taken at the arch for Chinatown Remixed 11:30 – 1pm.
For all you bike enthusiasts, be sure to check out, Ottawa Velo Vogue’s own, Zara Ansar’s show at Co-Cham Restaurant ( #47 on the map ) Then pedal up to Orchid Restaurant and take in the art of Natali Leduc’s giant playful animal sculptures made of bike inner tubes. ( # 41 on the map ) If you don’t have a bike & want to be part of the action, don’t worry, Bixi Bike’s got your back. You can pick up a Bixi Bike, just one block east of the Gateway, across from Kowloon Market. Wheel it over, and lights, camera, smile, click! your portraits done!