The Chinatown Remixed Collective is proud to introduce this years poster.
This month-long art festival kicks off with a day-long vernissage at various locations along Somerset Street West, between Bay and Preston Streets.
From 1pm to 5pm wander around Chinatown admiring art and enjoying free visual and performance art, music, child-friendly workshops, live food demo by Chef Caroline Ishii and a whole lot more!
Thanks to our Jade sponsor, Porter Airlines, a contest has been added to this year’s festival. The grand prize is 2 ROUND TRIP TICKETS anywhere PORTER AIRLINES flies. The contest rules are fun and simple – explore the neighbourhood and visit the work of over 40 different artists in Chinatown and get your passport stamped. For every 3 stamps, your name will be entered in the contest. Pick up one of the Chinatown Remixed Passports at any of the participating venues or click on our website Passport & Contest for a printable copy and the contest rules.
Here’s a teaser of this years bird!
Specially designed for Chinatown Remixed, by local artist Guillermo Trejo.
Stay tuned for more!
by Adrian Di Giovanni
Gung hay fat choi! Today is the first day of big new things for me – I have got to hold on to the reigns and hang on tight for the ride!
Facebook Friend, Status update
Gung Hay Fat Choi Remixed-cionados! I hope that Chinese New Year has provided a good reprieve from the winter’s cold. Don’t worry I’ll spare you any pithy one-liners about making your own warmth to melt the cold, or finding strength in facing the polar vortex head on. And, no, no mention of groundhogs here, for this is the Year of the Horse, and we have much to celebrate.
The Horse Year is a lucky one, I discovered thanks to a quick and dirty Google search, and promises to be full of “adventure and movement, delightfully delving into new ways and practices.” And for all of you lucky Horses out there, well, like your namesake, you are “animated, active and energetic” creatures, who “love being in a crowd.”
Thanks in part to Chinatown Remixed, celebrations to kick off the New Year started early. Those of you brave enough to stir from your mid-winter slumber a few Friday nights ago (January 24) were treated to a whimsical and brash party, truly fitting of our equine enchanters, and no other.
Picture a four-story loft, with hopping dance floors on each level, but also a castle looking out onto the bright lights of the city. No, this wasn’t the east side of Berlin before the whole world descended on Prenzlauer Berg, or Tribeca in the ‘80s. This was a museum, the Museum of Nature, on a Friday night no less. Props Ottawa, no one puts the hip in square quite like you. And, damn, you sure clean up nice for a frigid -30C (+piercing wind) night!
nature museum by night.
The event, themed “Horsing Around,” was a collaboration between Chinatown Remixed and Nature Nocturne. When asked for his impressions, Remixed leading light Don Kwan remarked how excited he was to see the yearly arts festival get such great exposure, which he regards as yet another sign of Remixed’s continued growth, now building up to its 6th edition in May. Kwan also expressed how fantastic it was to see – in true Remixed form – so many members of the community come out and experience the museum like this; interacting with it as a public space in new and different ways. Call it Remixed Transplanted.
When pushed to step out from behind his media persona, and press release one-liners, Kwan confided that Horsing Around was a bit of a childhood dream come true. As a kid, his parents would send him and his siblings off to the Nature Museum whenever they wanted them out of the house. You could see the delight in his eyes, as Kwan vividly recalled running around the old building with its once wall-to-wall carpets. And now the chance, all grown-up, to party in the museum at night!
Without a doubt, Remixed’s line-up of activities had enough fancies to tickle and tease the inner child of every grown-up there. And what a diverse if stylish mix of grown-ups it was. On relatively short notice – about a month – your tireless Remixed Collective threw together a program big enough to fill the fourth floor and parts of the third. On offer, was a wide assortment of games like Ping Pong, Twister, and giant sized versions of Jenga, Battleship and, my favourite, Snakes and Ladders, as well as candy (all courtesy of Monopolatte).
Local celebrity China Doll was also in the house hosting a karaoke lounge, all decked-out in a glamorous yellow dress (complete with leopard fringes). And there was no shortage of (sober?) songsters in search of glory here. Thanks to furniture provided by vintage store/social enterprise HighJinx, this enthusiastic roller coaster ride of musical highs and lows – both in talent and taste – could be enjoyed from the comfort of a tastefully decorated retro-lounge.
(Thankfully, My Sweet Tea set up a table to sell their yummy bubble tea, as Nocturne continues to live-up to its infamous reputation for painfully slow, never-ending alcoholic drink lines.)
In the throws of a Snakes & Ladders game China Doll on stage
As for the dancing: great all-around. Tunes pulsed from all corners, but without competing with one another, and offered up a solid dose of something for everyone (electric, ‘80s pop, house, hip hop etc.). The dance floor in second floor atrium, aka the Lantern, was especially popular with this crowd. So popular that dancing at one point spilled out, all the way up onto the overlooking staircases. A special highlight was a tightly stitched mix of hip-hop hits from across the decades, between the hours of 11 pm and midnight.
Second flooratrium dance floor, before and after.
The Earth Gallery proved an unexpected treat, with its sparkling, almost otherworldly array of gems, rocks and minerals. My charming companion and I stumbled on the Gallery in search of a quiet sanctuary, away from the frenzy of games and dancing. It turns out we weren’t alone. This was apparently the place to be for anyone on a date at Nocturne. A steady procession of couples streamed eagerly by, lost in gentle conversation, and pausing only to ooh and aah some of the sparkling wonders. Many radiated with the nervous excitement of a first date. Others, the wistful energy of new love. Sigh. Who knew rocks could be the source of so much handholding, dreamy-eyed fun. Then again, with objects on display such as the Lover’s Crystal (or was it mineral?), maybe it’s no wonder.
Lover’s Crystal (or Mineral?)
All in all, what better to way to gallop into the New Year? More to the point, what better reminder than Horsing Around that Remixed is a celebration we carry inside us all-year around, and not just one month a year on Somerset Street. What’s that… too many pithy one-liners for you? Don’t worry, I’m done, go back to sleep sweet one and see you in May in Chinatown for the real deal.
The Call for Artists Submissions is officially closed.
Save the date – Saturday, May, 17th 2014.
For those of you that applied, we’ll get back to you with our decision no later than March 1st. 2014.
In the meantime stay connected with us on:
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.
Chinatown Remixed 2013 sizzle reel highlights, created by the wonderful and talented May-Jun Li.
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!
Blog Post by Julie Cruikshank
Photo courtesy of Google Street View
We have liftoff! Shanghai Restaurant’s parking lot will be the home of our Chinatown Remixed Main Stage & Kichesippi Beer Garden. The Special Events permit has been obtained and the noise bylaw has been bypassed. It’s full steam ahead for Chinatown Remixed 2013! This year we’re trying something a little bit new – an After Party that is FREE and open to the public. After the main events of the day are done, boogie on down to the Kichesippi Beer Co. Main Stage and tent area in the parking lot of the Shanghai Restaurant. Special Kichesippi ginger beer and Harvey & Vern’s cream soda will be on offer, as well as harder stuff for those who want to put a little zip in their evening. As always, the lovely China Doll will be there to make sure the party stays hopping. Cold treats by Pascal’s Ice Cream and Hot eats by Shanghai’s back door kitchen will be available.
While you’re at the main stage, don’t miss the chance to see Ottawa indie-rockers SILKKEN LAUMANN bring the groove. Also performing is Calgary-born transgendered singer-songwriter RAE SPOON. Rae’s mellow croon will have you swaying, and their upbeat electro-pop numbers will make you want to dance! And dancing is always encouraged at Chinatown Remixed.
Be sure to also check out the HighJinx lounge, where you can take a load off, and maybe take something home with you – all furniture will be for sale, so keep an eye out for that awesome vintage chair or the rug you never knew you always wanted. The HighJinx gals will also be flexing their creative sides, dressing up the stage as the set of Laverne & Shirley. This will definitely need to be seen to be believed.
Be sure to stop by the Bling Tent for all the Chinatown Remixed goodies your heart desires – shirts, patches, jewelry… we’ll have it all and then some. You can go home with a new treasure, not to mention the knowledge that your hard-earned dollars have gone towards bringing Remixed back again for another year.
So come on out on Saturday and check out the festivities!
Guest blog spot by Adrian Di Giovanni
These are just two images that have helped inspire Cynthia O’Brien’s upcoming Chinatown Remixed exhibition at Wah Shing Store. The exhibition will feature a triptych of clay sculptures: shrines to honour O’Brien’s father, who passed away two years ago.
O’Brien’s interest in shrines dates back as far as 15 years ago when, during travels through Singapore and Hong Kong, she encountered everywhere the small wooden boxes that families put out to commemorate family members who have passed on. Small offerings are placed in the boxes, like oranges and incense. The idea is that the honored family member, often represented by a photo, then acts as a go-between, between the family and Tu Di Gong a Chinese Earth God.
O’Brien loves to explore graveyards whenever she travels somewhere new, she explained to me, when speaking about some of her many worldly wanderings. A couple of years ago, during a visit to the South of France, O’Brien discovered hundreds of mausoleums littering the hillsides. The mausoleums are little buildings that can house generations of families, sometimes with little benches to sit and visit, or the added charm of stained glass windows, allowing you to peek inside. For O’Brien, the mausoleums represented a real “slice of life” – some beautifully and scrupulously kept up, while others, with the passing of time, and disappearance of families, were slowly decaying, covered in moss, eventually to be retaken by nature.
O’Brien has dealt with themes such as loss and death in the past, with exhibits like Loss at the Ottawa City Hall Gallery in 2008. In a slightly different way, she also confronts these issues on a regular basis at the Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre where she works with the elderly as part of the Centre’s Arts program. There is a real grace and openness in how they deal with end of life issues, O’Brien remarked, and their happy outlook really puts things in perspective. O’Brien’s ideas about shrines and cemeteries, however, only fully crystallized with the passing of her father, when commemorating the loss of a loved one became truly personal.
O’Brien sees her shrines at Wah Shing, which will be complete with their own offerings and incense, as a way for her father to look over her family. She had a few ideas for the offerings when starting out the work. A first visit to Wah Shing, though, took her in new and unexpected directions, which will help more fully to evoke her father (“totally Dad”), while tailoring the work to the store’s surroundings.
The first offering, from Wah Shing’s abundant aisles, is a tin of mackerel, in honor of her father’s birthplace of Prince Edward Island where, according to O’Brien, you can literally get the mackerel off the boat in the summer. The second is dried mushrooms. “Dad was a real fan of Chinatown,” O’Brien recounted, remembering fondly how he loved to go for Dim Sum at Chu Shing on Christmas Eve. (Apparently his favourite dish was ‘garbage pails’, gooey buns stuffed full of tasty goodness.) He would have gotten a real kick out of Wah Shing with its many exotic ingredients. The mushrooms are precisely the type of unfamiliar thing that would have snatched up, and later thrown into the pan.
O’Brien is a true Chinatown Remixed vet. She has helped organize the festival since its inception, but this year was happy to step back and participate as an artist only, and apply through the regular peer jury process. O’Brien particularly likes how Remixed pushes people in new directions, to try something new each year. The best exhibits, according to her are those that incorporate a bit of Asian flair into their work. (In her case, her works will include the iconic Chinese red and gold and will be engraved with the Chinese character for love.) Remixed exhibits don’t have to be a lot of work, O’Brien noted, and can be enough to develop a new idea, and possibly chart a much larger reflection or set of works.
The triptych of sculptures was still very much a work in progress when O’Brien and I met up over coffee at Umi Café. It was Sunday morning, that first perfect spring weekend this year – early enough that Somerset’s regular denizens had for the most part yet to rise, lending an uncharacteristic serenity and sense of renewal to Chinatown. O’Brien had started with three small clay buildings that were beginning to morph at that point. A tree appeared to be coming out of them – perhaps meant to evoke a family tree, or the cycle of life. The third sculpture was almost entirely tree, with the base of the building still there.
How it will evolve by May 18? How will the shrines fit in to the already busy Wah Shing shelves? Will they stand out? Add to an existing sense of clutter? These are all questions that Cynthia O’Brien left me with. If, like me, you are dying to get the answers, make sure to stop in Wah Shing Store during Remixed. You won’t be disappointed. And while you’re there, why not pick up something new and exotic to throw into the pan!
- For more on Cynthia O’Brien and her work, check out her website: http://www.cynthiaobrien.ca/. She will be hosting a vernissage on May 31st, 2013 at Blink Gallery for a new exhibit entitled “This is the path I took.”
Postscript. In an uncanny coincidence, my own mother died unexpectedly in her sleep while I was still writing this post. I had seen my mom in Montreal just two days before, on the Saturday, the day before I met up with Cynthia O’Brien. O’Brien’s shrines have since taken on a meaning for me like never before. My mom also loved dim sum and introduced me to so many tasty wonders, especially Asian. She loved music and the arts, and kept clippings of almost everything I had written dating back to elementary school (we found them all last week while cleaning out her place). This blog post would have been no exception. So, Chinatown Remixed fans, no matter the ebb and flow, our Moms are precious. Don’t forget it. And if you haven’t gotten around to calling your mom for Mother’s Day, don’t put it off any longer, pick up the phone!
Blog spot by Julie Cruikshank
Chinatown Remixed presents fifth annual arts festival on Somerset Street West
2013 festival to feature inflatable street sculpture, yarn bombing, and special curated exhibition spaces
One-of-a-kind Ottawa arts festival Chinatown Remixed launches its fifth annual outdoor street celebration from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 18. Taking place along Somerset Street West between Bay and Preston streets, the 2013 festival includes visual and performance art, live music, workshops, and food from local vendors and restaurant owners including Kichesippi Beer Co., ZenKitchen, Kowloon Market, Aline’s Hair Salon, The Daily Grind Café, Raw Sugar Café, and others. The month-long festival runs until June 18, and a special vernissage day after-party will be held at the Shanghai Restaurant from 5:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on May 18.Photo by Sarai Strikefoot
Chinatown Remixed features visual art, sculpture, and performances presented in unconventional spaces such as restaurants, medical offices, laundromats, grocery stores, and hair salons. There is a strong focus on incorporating the local business community and celebrating the uniqueness of Chinatown, one of Ottawa’s most vibrant neighbourhoods.
“We love Remixed!” State HighJinx owners Karen Nielsen and Leigh Reid. “It’s a wonderful showcase of local creativity and brings so many diverse people to Chinatown. We are always excited to participate as we have such a fantastic time, get to meet talented artists, and share the love of art with our neighbours.”
Photo by Jennifer Churchill
Highlights of the 2013 festival include a life-sized textile sculpture of China Doll, Chinatown’s resident drag performer, created by fibre artists Justy Dennis and Jasmine Vesque; Charcoal drawings by artist Samuel Jan at Panda Vacations; the thenwedieatron, a bicycle-powered inflatable sculpture by artist Natali Leduc and Matthew Gorgol; and The Machine Project, a video installation by Christine Mockett presented at Tang Coin Laundry.
Musical performance acts include transgendered indie electronic musician Rae Spoon and Ottawa experimental band SILKKEN LAUMANN, who will perform at the Shanghai Restaurant and Kichesippi Beer Co. Main Stage.
A brand new venture in 2013 is the inclusion of special exhibitions developed by invited curators. Each curator was asked to put together an exhibition featuring the work of an artist or artists, allowing them to flex their creativity while reflecting on and exploring the space they were given. Curated exhibitions include Denis Bradette’s installation, ‘Pearly Gates’ at HighJinx, curated by Bill Staubi, and an exhibition of SPAO student photographers’ work at Bubblicity, curated by Randy Innes.
Guest blog spot by Adrian Di Giovanni
Chinatown Remixed fans, this year more than any, you’d better do everything in your powers to conjure the sun on opening day. Because if you can make it happen, we are in for a real treat: the Thenwedieatron. This will be one of two exhibits by Natali Leduc, who will be arriving all the way from Houston, Texas to take part in Remixed.
The Thenwedieatron (that’s Then-we-die-a-tron, co-created with Matthew Gorgol) is an outdoor and interactive installation. Picture two giant inflatable tent-like balloons made of thin clear plastic, with a pyramid on one-end, a cube on the other, and a tunnel connecting the two (or check out the pictures right below). All together, the Thenwedieatron is big, Texas big, clocking in at about 50 to 60 feet long in total (the pyramid is 16’ tall, with a 20’x20’ base and the cube is 10’x’10’x10). Here is where it gets interactive: A stationary bicycle with a large fan attached to it is hooked up on one end. The bike powers the fan, which keeps the whole thing inflated. Members of the public take turns on the bike powering the fan. But if the pedaling stops, the whole thing falls down. As if Remixed wasn’t already interactive enough!
The Thenwedieatron plays with ideas of trust and dependency between strangers – the bike rider and the person walking through the giant balloon. The installation is also about flipping the notion of a pyramid on its head. Instead of preservation or permanence and death, the putative haunts of the pyramid, the Thenwedieatron is ephemeral or fleeting. It remains constantly in motion, new life literally breathed into it with each pedal, but at any moment prone to collapse or being blown away by an unexpected gust.
With works like the Thenwedieatron, Leduc sees herself as playing the role of amateur inventor. Her works tend to be mechanical and kinetic – “things that move” – and usually involve altering outmoded objects or technologies, like fans and bicycles, in order to create new and innovative uses for them. Leduc describes these as “antiquated innovations.”
That makes me think. Natali, if you are reading this, can I get a type-writer to help me blog better?
Leduc predicts that the Thenwedieatron installation will add to the already festive spirit of Chinatown Remixed. But there’s one catch: the Thenwedieatron doesn’t withstand the wind or rain, so start working on those good weather vibes for May 1.
A healthy dose of absurdity for Remixed
Rain or shine, Leduc will attempt to bring the outdoors inside with a series of wooden animal sculptures, in her second exhibit called the Anthropomorphism-o-tron at the Orchid Restaurant. Leduc’s plan if for the animals to interact with the space where they will be displayed – Orchid’s playroom – as if it were their normal environment. Example: a coyote sitting on a chair and reading a story. As its name suggests, the Anthropomorphism-o-tron looks at our relationship with animals and how people tend to project their own ideas and emotions onto them.
The world we live in is full of absurdity, according to Natali Leduc. A lot of the time this leads to violent and dangerous results, she explained to me from her studio in Houston, as we caught up over Skype. With her work, however, Leduc tries to turn absurdity upside-down, in the hopes of extracting its counterparts of joy and humour. In a sense, Leduc tries to disarm absurdity’s too frequent misery, so that people will be drawn to think about the lighter things, and maybe laugh a little.
The Anthropomorphism-o-tron is no exception. Leduc is straying slightly from her amateur inventor role with this exhibit’s animal fancies. Not to denied, though, she still managed to feature some part of the bicycle in the sculptures, by using inner-tubes to craft and give expression to the animals’ bodies. The result is both playful and stunning. I can attest to this based on a couple of sneak preview snapshots Leduc sent me. But sorry no pictures for you all on this one. For the full effect and surprise of the Anthropomorphism-o-ton, you will have to come out to Orchid during Remixed.
Chinatown Remixed Homecoming?
“I’m very geared towards bicycles,” remarked Leduc (not realizing the richness of her pun), who owns and rides a fleet of strange bikes of different shapes, sizes and vintages. In displaying at Chinatown Remixed she is in many ways coming full cycle (ouch, couldn’t resist one of my own). Originally from Ottawa, Leduc has been based in Houston, Texas since 1997. She is a Chinatown Remixed first-timer, and is proud and excited to be putting on her first exhibit in her hometown, in the more than fifteen years since leaving.
Well, that might not be entirely accurate. It turns out that Leduc’s Remixed roots are much longer and stronger than might at first appear. When I asked her how she learned about Chinatown Remixed all the way down in the deep south of the United States, she told me that she and Remixed organizer Don Kwan go way back… all the way back to 1996. Back then, she remembers putting together an art party with Don and a motley crew of fellow artists in the parking lot of Shanghai Restaurant. Call it Art in the Parking Lot. Or maybe ‘Chinatown Remixed in diapers’? Sigh, they grow up so fast.
- Chinatown Remixed will fall in a busy period for Leduc. She will be landing in Ottawa just days after taking part in the 26th Houston Art Car Parade, billed as the biggest of its kind in the world.
- On June 4, 2013, she will be performing a puppet show in Victoria, BC, which later this summer she will make her new hometown.
- For more details on Natali Leduc’s work, check out this YouTube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0LG7HCQxYU
(The Thenwedieatron starts at around 7:42 minutes. There is an excerpt of the launching ceremony of the Giant Multitron (a wooden satellite), as well as an excerpt of the Underwater Live Shrimp Puppet Show, a few pictures of bicycles and Natali Leduc as Stormy, the friendly but unpredictable bike mechanic.)
We want YOU to volunteer for Chinatown Remixed 2013
Starting today, you could:
GET the word out
TALK UP this one-of-a-kind ART Festival
PUT maps & brochures about
STROLL Somerset St. W.
On May 18th, the day of the festival, we need you to:
HAND OUT maps to likely—or even unlikely—suspects BLOW UP balloons
HOST info table
TALK UP this amazing ART Festival
SELL Chinatown Remixed Bling
Email for more info:
Chinatown Remixed Collective (CRC) is excited to introduce our 2013 Festival poster. The idea to ask artist Guillermo Trejo to design this year’s poster dawned on us in May 2012 after seeing his hand printed works of Mexican wrestlers in full on attack with the texts BBQ PORK vs. BBQ DUCK at the Wah Kiu grocery store.
An accomplished artist & printmaking instructor at the Ottawa School of Art, Guillermo has exhibited his work in Chinatown Remixed since it began 5 years ago. Inspired by our bird logo, as well as by Chinatown, he decided to use the well-known centre town bird, the ubiquitous pigeon.
With the help of Algonquin Media & Design student, YuJu Lin, we have created two types of posters. The first features 100 limited edition hand crafted prints using old fashioned machinery – cranks, wheels and ink on paper – that will no doubt become a collectible. For the second, YuJu has created a funky digitized version providing the festival details – dates, sponsors, the website, etc. We’re delighted how she was able to simulate Guillermo’s hand crafted look with such precision, not to mention that she even managed to make the paper look old and crinkled!
Besides the posters, the CRC’s trademark bird has had a makeover. Thanks to graphic designers YuJu Lin & Lana Bateman, our old bird now has a new bubbly personality! Check out the banner on our website.
For more information on our designers, visit their websites:
Guillermo Trejo: http://trejoguillermo.
And for YuJu visit : http://linyuju.com/
The Results are out. We received 101 submissions & are VERY excited about this years line up of Artists!!! For those of you who submitted, please check your emails for our response. Huge thank you’s to everyone for supporting the arts in Ottawa & stay tuned for more. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek of our #ChinatownRemixed 2013 Poster designed by local artist Guillermo Trejo & Algonquin Design Students, YuJu Lin & Lana Bateman.
The 2013 Call for Artists Submissions is officially Closed. Thanks to everyone who submitted to Ottawa’s one of a kind annual Art Festival, CHINATOWN REMIXED. Artists & Performers who submitted will be contacted with the results no later than March 25th. Thanks for Supporting the Arts in Ottawa #ChinatownRemixed
Early morning and nothing’s open down in Chinatown. Except for Umi with a sole customer inside—me. The girl who’s serving me tells me that her name in Korean means beauty. Yes, when she smiles, a whole world unfurls.
I step outside and notice Mary sitting on the stoop. With her wide face and almond eyes, she might be Asian, but isn’t. She looks girlish in her tee—I’M HAPPY R U?—and long khaki shorts, except she’s got the crow’s feet eyes. She looks pensive—or is it vacant? I say good morning, her eyes light up, she smiles temporarily. Then she withdraws again.
I look down to see scuffed chalk marks on the sidewalk: INA OW IX. The Sunday shopping Somerset is now coming to. At the lights a rough looking low-life bends down. “Hey Zeus, yeah hey,” he murmurs as he gently scratches his red dog’s ear. A couple, girl pencil-thin, guy lardy-fat, glide by on bikes, gawking admiringly at the magnificent blues and golds of the Chinese arch. Across at Yangtze, a slicked-back Vietnamese in windswept shades—how’s he awake this early?—screws up his face. Whether because of pulling one long drag from his Player’s or because he’s trying to make out the meter’s teeny-tiny letters, it’s hard to say.
A spindly-faced woman glances at my passing, still nodding at her girlfriend’s never-ending sagas of sad love. At the window of Wa Kiu someone’s hanging a side of crackling roast pig; a box each of mangos and oranges are brought out front. Cambodian owner Chhay steps out and we have a few words about the dirty great crowd here Saturday.
Then reaching Empress, I look up the deserted avenue—not even a parked car. At the sidewalk are overflowing garbage cans desultorily waiting for collection, two curled green ribbons trailing on the ground. The white wind-scattered petals remind me of confetti which then reminds me of well-wishers descending. This brings me to yesterday.
Not that anyone was getting married then, or at least no one I knew. But that Saturday, after a lazy, leisurely lunch, came the swooping blast of a tuba and ta-ta-ta-tat of a snare drum. And then the afternoon was off and running. And it seemed that everyone and their dog had stormed upon the by-now thoroughly awakened neighbourhood. For Chinatown REMIXED had come to town for its day of opening and day of reckoning. The whole band, all the horns and drums, wended down the main street, snaked in and out of the parking canopy, then marched across to Empress, one pink girl in her ribbon-shot party dress at their tails. Up the side stairs they came, to be released onto the stage. The people below, still stunned, weren’t sure if dancing was appropriate this early in the day.
Then all of a sudden, it was late. This is after grinning inanely at the roving red China Doll. (A bulging-eyed five-year-old was terrified of this frightening being with her flaming hair desperately in need of a makeover. “Don’t worry,” I said,”She’s only a clown, and look, she’ll give you a wonderful fortune from her fortunate teapot bag.” And China Doll pulls out a ticker-tape which reads ‘Don’t forget to floss your teeth.’) This is after Yvon Villarceau, looking so nobly elegant in his whites, collaged with cut sections of newspaper, as he pasted even more—Chinese-language The Epoch Times—on the long strip of paper outside Wah Shing. This is after marvelling at Marisa Gallemit’s sunburst sea urchin forms made out of white zip ties up at HighJinx. This is, too, after too many pork dumplings and samples of bubble tea, quince cheese and queso fresco were already unfortunately downed.
After all this, this late in the afternoon, you’re tired. Brain drained. The crowd’s thinning and you trudge home, weary.
Just before you turn the corner though, you hear the rockin’. The rockin’ out—wha? Eh, wha? Emerging from an alley, there’s cool DJ 2 Creamz spinning bad. In spite of the impassively set face, he’s jiving on top of the hip-hop-house.
And there’s Mary, tooling on her bike in her tee—WICKED—and long yellow shorts. She disembarks and starts shaking and moving in with the stream. Grooving to the uh-uh-uh-UH yeah. Twirling, then bended knee to eeeee-ah, the innyuh-uh-innyuh-uh-unh, yeah. Eyes closed, in the zone. Grinning in heaven. Her friend on the bike pulls up behind, leans to the curb. “Mary,” he calls, “Mary, c’mon, we gotta go.” But she’s not there.
Because Mary’s right here and she’s right now.
Words & pics by Cindy Deachman
So, turns out you’re one of the lucky few whose art will be shown in the Chinatown REMIXED festival in May and June. Not that you get to choose where. That’s the jury’s duty, fixing you up with a venue—the jewellery store, soap-making venture, laundromat.
Pumped, you fly down Somerset Street West to investigate. You draw open the great wide door of India Grocery Store, a corner store not on a corner, but a convenience store with a Chinese video rental and pizza joint either side. You like this spacious place with its high ceilings.
You walk the aisles, inhaling an exotic mix of cumin and rose incense. You see milk and butter, pappadums and lentils, along with jalapeños and Peruvian purple potato pudding mix. Plastered on three walls above the shelved goods are movie posters of cool Hindi dudes with shades. (“Two brave men battle each other . . . and paradise burns.”)
This is the spot where you’ll show the world what you’re made of. After introductions, you follow owner Chit Singh as he points toward the front. The narrow strip above that great wide door is the only free spot. There’s no hope your just-finished large paintings will fit.
Thus Shannon Willmott’s involvement as artist with Chinatown REMIXED began.
Shannon’s painting comes out of the classic modernist traditions of, for example, Robert Motherwell—one of the New York School in the 50s and 60s—and fellow American and, slightly later, scribbly-scrawly artist Cy Twombly. Works from others, too, give Shannon “strength and feeling through the representation of what? Some colour and some line.” These more recent influences are the calm, water-suffused paintings and drawings of Meredith Pardue from Austin, Texas, and those of Philly-born Mary Ann Wakeley, scritchy-scratchy and nervous.
Back to the one long strip at the India Grocery Store. Not exactly the virginal pure-as-snow gallery in your mind’s eye, is it? But Shannon revels in the unexpected. And now, she’s excited. Because now, she’s returning home to paint new paintings. A whole new series to fit in that rather odd and oddly-shaped exhibit space on high.
At her apartment, she digs out her brushes and paints, unwraps her new wood panels, then sets up a kind of studio. From her makeshift atelier, Shannon reports, “Well, now there’s no more living room for a while. But better for me to work. Otherwise, I’m always dreaming.”
Chance, perhaps even luck, has worked its way with Shannon. However, it’s that out-and-out doggedness of hers that turns mere possibility into the real done deal.
- Donald Kwan , Chair
- Cynthia O’Brien , Vice-chair
- Grace Xin, Treasurer
- Tom Evans, Secretary
- Emily Watkins, Communications
- Pamela Lawler
- Natasha Beaudin
- Donald Kwan
- Cynthia O’Brien
- Tom Evans
- Pamela Lawler
- Natasha Beaudin
- Thanh Lapha