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September 21, 2013

Oshawa’s downtown core is invaded by artists. The inaugural Oshawa Space Invaders (OSI) saw huge crowds for yesterday’s ARTCRAWL. Hundreds of visitors came through selected spaces replete with visual art and home-grown studio production cultivated in Durham Region. Well over a hundred artists are featured in vacant commercial spaces and storefronts in downtown. OSI covers the full range of artistic involvement as only a community event can. The event embraces established artists, professional designers, arts enthusiasts, collectives, college and high school students.

Professor McQuay with  Silver Elvis

Professor McQuay with Silver Elvis

Hats off to Steven Frank, Gary Greenwood and Will McGuirk for their visionary leadership. The trio was supported by a committed team of enthusiastic volunteers and like-minded community players and artists.

The Schembris and I

The Schembris and I

Yesterday was a real homecoming. Lives converged, trails crossed. Juno Award winning bluesman, Jack de Keyzer rocked the stage and Silver Elvis mingled around his scintilating space craft. What a terrific verve–the Invasion lasts for another week. Share your experiences and comments below…

Garfield Ferguson and Me

Garfield Ferguson and Me

Check out:

September 6, 2013

There’s a special feeling of anticipation right before an issue of Surfacing Magazine comes out. If you follow arts and culture in the Durham Region, you’ll know what I mean. We’ve had this feeling for the sixteenth time as we came up to the 5th year anniversary issue, which came out yesterday. Surfacing became woven into the fabric of our lives in Durham. It became a tangible record; a beacon of renewed enthusiasm around the arts in the region.

With the 5th year anniversary issue comes the news that this is Surfacing’s last. Publishing duo, Dave and Laura Schembri round-out an incredible half decade run. And what a ride it’s been! The launch at Station Gallery, the record-breaking “Off the Pages” exhibition exactly a year ago, the DACTA nomination, reading insightful articles and creative writing, engaging a plethora of visual experiences….

Laura and Dave uncovered hidden talent in our community and celebrated friends we know so very well. Personally speaking, they’ve expanded my worldview to include poetry, music, performance… and a renewed vision of the visual arts in the region.

Dave and Laura are extraordinary professionals: considered, exact, genuine, opened, soulful. They infuse a grace with everything they touch. Now based in Aurora, The Schembris continue to be ex-pat champions of the Durham Region art scene. They’ve made an indelible mark and ever-lasting presence with Surfacing. Congratulations on your anniversary issue! Thank you for sharing the view through your periscope…

Dave, Laura and Me at Surfacing show opening.

Dave, Laura and Me at Surfacing show opening.

October 21, 2011

Today’s media-savvy youth have a unique approach in understanding non-traditional art. We recently found this out at Station Gallery. For the past month, the gallery hosted groups of grade sevens and eights from across Durham Region. These students exceeded our expectations. The students toured the exhibition featuring works by Richard Ibghy and Marilou Lemmens. The duo’s non-traditional approach to artmaking made sense to most students. They got it. It was interesting to see how they interpreted the graphics presented by the artists. Charts, bars, diagrams, text and video; these non-pictorial strategies communicated to students in ways we didn’t expect. Today is the last day for these curriculum-linked tours at the gallery. The generational differences of how art is consumed and understood continues to surprise and fascinate.

Arts Infused discussion

Affected by Effects Exhibition at the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington


August 27, 2010  

There is a famous ancient Greek legend of two competing artists. The competition: Who can paint the better painting? One painter creates a beautiful still life with fruit so realistic, that birds attempt to pick off the grapes from the surface of the painting. Satisfied with his painting, the proud artist calls upon his rival to unveil his painting hidden behind a curtain. “Which curtain?” the contender asks, “that is my painting!” The artist who tricked birds conceded defeat to the artist who tricked his fellow artist.    

The age-old tension between illusion and reality are at play in an exhibition I recently saw at the Visual Arts Centre in Bowmanville. Chances are you’ve already seen the work of special effects artist Gordon Smith in the films for which he’s produced sculptures and prosthetics. X-Men, JFK, Platoon, The Shipping News, Salvador, Alive are just some of the films that Smith has worked with his crew.  

The show is filled with an array of gory remains, death masks and super-heroic appendages. The work that Smith and Co. have produced over the years is spell-binding. For instance, the antelope and excoriated leopard hanging on the gallery wall are so hyper-realistic that it’s uncanny to observe. Each hair follicle is carefully sutured exactingly in place. These amazing sculptures, really trick the senses. This is the final weekend for the show, so check it out. 

No animals were harmed during the writing of this blog. 

The following is a Guest Curator blog posting from Sarah Beveridge, a long time friend, fellow artist, independent curator and educator.

A Surprise Visit with Artist Cesar Forero

I had a wonderful surprise visit with artist, Cesar Forero this afternoon while at Station Gallery. I was at the Gallery preparing for the eXcel Juried exhibition (which I juried along with Durham West Art Centre’s, Andrew Hamilton). I had not met Ferero previously, but was so pleased to be introduced and to reminisce with him about his time and exhibition experience here at Station Gallery. 

For those of you that are not familiar with Forero’s work, check out his website for to view the colour, energy, consciousness and creative explosion that encompasses his installation and performance work. 

Cesar Forero exhibited at Station Gallery in the Spring of 2006 in an exhibition titled Carnival, Image and Duality. For those of you in the community that were apart of this exhibition and experience, it is one that you will never forget.

Carnival, Image and Duality was an exhibit based on the traditional public festival and street parade known as Carnival, celebrated throughout the world but perhaps best known for the yearly celebration that occurs in Rio de Janeiro.

For Forero, Carnival – a festival in which masks, music and dance are central elements – represents an avenue for people to change their appearance and thus assume a new identity, all so as to “portray what they have been hiding inside of them.” In this new world, Forero argues, we can “accept fantastic images as a new reality.”

But Carnival’s opportunity to forge a new identity is not merely some short-lived bit of fun. For Forero, it has meaningful social and political repercussions. In politically repressed societies, Carnival represents perhaps the only chance people have to “freely speak out without any coercion”. (Station Gallery Curator Files 2006)

Carnival, Image and Duality "Mich, ces, perform pose" Station Gallery, 2006

As Station Gallery embarks on its 40th anniversary it only seems fitting to travel down memory lane, highlighting great exhibition programming here at Station Gallery over the years. I hope you enjoy your own reconnection with Forero’s work, I know my eyes have been opened.

To learn more visit:

November 7, 2009  (posted November 9, 2009)

Taras Shevchenko Museum - Monument Theft

Taras Shevchenko Museum - Monument Theft

As the sun was setting yesterday, I quietly witnessed the end of something. It’s rather hard to pin-point what that “thing” was, but its quietus was very distinct.

I was in Oakville yesterday and recalled an incident, which happened almost three years ago. A historic bronze monument in the Taras Shevchenko Museum and Memorial Park went missing. This heritage site was marked with the first monument to Taras Shevchenko in North America. Likened to a poet-bard, Shevchenko is to Ukrainians as Shakespeare is to the English or Goethe to Germans. The eleven-foot bronze figure of Shevchenko was hacked off at the ankles sometime over the Christmas holidays in 2006. Copper prices soared and the bronze sculpture was stolen from the park and peddled for its intrinsic material value.

The incident compelled me to return to the Memorial Park, having last visited the place several years when the statue was intact. The two visitations were markedly different experiences. My initial visit was at the height of summer with the grounds well tended and flowering. It was a peaceful Sunday afternoon and I can recall feeling a deep solace that day. I remember thinking this place had a unique quality—the tree-lined alleys, the classical landscaping, the historic monument, the cornfields that surrounded it all. Oddly, to be there was to be in another time in some other place.

Late 2009, all has changed. The property is now derelict, slated for residential development. Amongst thistles and overgrown brush stands a defaced and disembodied granite base where the Shevchenko statue once stood. A pair of bronze shoes, weeds, mature trees marked for cutting—these are the vestiges of something’s end.

September 25, 2009

Newly launched "The Art of Transition" web page.

Newly launched "The Art of Transition" web page.

Yesterday marked the launch of the Art of Transition website. It has a fresh, well-considered look. Its bold, clean and colourful design is an effective branding tool for the event which it advertises. Most importantly, the site is a great way of galvanizing thought and energy in a way that will have positive spin leading up to the November 12 symposium at the Ajax Convention Centre. Such a cross-disciplinary and inter-vocational convergence is rare to see in Durham Region; happening most frequently during election time at town hall meetings. The Art of Transition meeting of the minds should help bring cultural, educational and heritage sectors, as well as many other marginalized players, out of the periphery and to the creative forefront. Although the symposium is about a month an a half away, the site has stakeholders thinking about sustainable and adaptive change in our community. The website is a perfect forum in which to initiate discourse in advance—a kind of virtual mind-mapping exercise prior to the actual brainstorming session the morning after Remembrance Day.     

To learn more visit

September 11, 2009

Unparalleled terrorist attack on New York City - September 11, 2001

Unparalleled terrorist attack on New York City - September 11, 2001

Mornings are inherently unmemorable, even fugitive.  We can all remember where we were and what we were doing in the morning on this day in 2001. Over the past eight years, I’ve shared my story verbally dozens of times and this is the first time I’m writing about that beautiful autumn dawn, a day before my 29th birthday.

I had marked my first year working at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in my hometown. The day began like any other with checking e-mail, maybe a coffee was at my side, I can’t recall. The daily routine was shattered with a cell call from my older brother at a quarter after nine that morning. Gasping for air he said, “There’s going to be a war!” He had just witnessed, with his own eyes, the second plane crash into the South Tower. At the time, my brother was working in 1 Liberty Plaza, one of the seven buildings in the WTC complex. He had just narrowly escaped death. My brother knew that the horrific news would shave years off our mother’s life not knowing if her eldest was alive. Shortly thereafter, there was no way of dialling out of Manhattan—all communication lines were jammed. His directions to me were simple: I had to tell my mother that he was safe and out of harm’s way. I asked my boss to drive me to St. George’s church where my mother was teaching kindergarten kids in the basement. I interrupted the class, took my mom aside and let her know that our family was intact.

June 30, 2009

Durham is replete with creative energy, but few attribute this area with the arts. We’re more known for our industrial base, power plants and sports complexes (I’ve seen some great creative responses to these phenomena). The 905 belt around Toronto has been identified as a chronically under-funded region for arts development. But the tide is turning. The area is a microcosm for a variety of high-quality cultural production and people outside the arts are recognizing this. I think that we are well-poised for a shift to a more creative economy in the foreseeable future. This will be a subject which will be further explored later on this year, when we anticipate a visit from Richard Florida in mid-November.

Richard Florida, coming to Durham Region this September!

Richard Florida, coming to Durham Region this September!

Florida has written on the rise of the creative class in North American and European cities. The scheduled event with Richard Florida might galvanize interest in creative endeavours—it’s kind of possible.