Archive for the 'My Creations' Category

10
Sep
11

Write a letter today…

It’s a cliche, but it’s true. In the age of Facebook chat and iphone instant messaging, people just don’t take the time to write letters to each other. I try my best to, and I just love receiving letters from friends. The scribbles on the paper, the anticipation as to what’s inside… a handwritten letter is like a flat present.
That’s why I made this.

It’s hanging on the construction perimeter fencing right by the Starbucks at Bank and Third and is packed full of nice envelopes and paper…everything one needs to write letters to friends or loved ones except for a pen and a stamp. Then again most people are bound to have a pen on them. I’m an artist, and bump up the average by having 6 or so in pockets and backpack.

I got the box from Zoom of Knitnut fame, and when I saw it I knew it had to be a mailbox. The thing must have weighed close to 2 kilos when I was done on account of the wood I had to bolt to the back to give the lid enough clearance to open. Go check it out. Take some time to write a few letters. Love each other and the city we live in.

My lovely assistant

What happens when you spend time retracing details on streetart instead of shaving

06
Sep
11

RIP Jack. The Struggle Continues

I went to Parliament Hill to file by Jack Layton’s coffin that Thursday, and it was the makeshift memorial full of cans of Orange Crush, letters of thanks and encouraging messages for the future that left me choked up and wiping tears off my cheeks. The idea of an Elmaks street art memorial piece crossed my mind and didn’t leave. It had to be done. Like most of my ideas, its birth came about in the form of two images. Layton’s mustache and NDP orange. I went looking for material and knew things were looking up when I stumbled upon a half-sheet of 1/2″ plywood behind the local trip mall. This would have to go from idea to finished product in 36 hours- my version of a no-huddle offense.

The most frustrating part of this was laying down Krylon indoor-outdoor gloss finish on top of Montana Black. The latter’s a proper artists’ paint and has a powdery finish, while the former’s gotten worse in terms of its consistency in recent years and sports a ‘tamper proof’ unremovable nozzle that sprays a blotchy wedge pattern which requires at least 2-3 coats even if you’re painting wicker furniture (Even though its cans are useless to proper street artists, Krylon’s cheap and that makes it a good friend of taggers). I laid down 3 coats of orange (10 minute drying time my ass…I spent 1 1/2 hours waiting for each coat to dry) before it hit me that Weld Bond glue could be used as an improvised primer.

Jack Layton wasn’t just a politician, he was an activist and an advocate. He was a tireless fighter for the rights of GLBT citizens, the homeless, immigrants, wounded soldiers and just about anyone else whose voice wasn’t being heard. He was an honest politician who sought to bring civility to Parliament. As his state funeral showed, he was a man who touched many lives.

He was also a powerful rallying figure for those who know that this country of ours is being steered in the wrong direction and want to turn the wheel sharply away from its present course. The enthusiasm of many who’ve vowed to carry on his tasks of activism and advocacy hasn’t quite hit me. It’s been patchy. But I’ve been also thrown into a bit of a worry-and-frustration-induced depression. Reality-induced funk, I guess.

It’s not just the slashing of Environment Canada jobs, the lack of whistleblower protection, the justification of $1 billion in expenses for the Toronto G8 summit and excusing of horrible police violence and unconstitutional mass arrests, the elimination of the Canadian Long Form Census, the blatant lie that crime rates are increasing being used to justify the construction of US-style megaprisons, the exorbitant expenditure on overpriced and untested single-engine fighter jets (I’ll say that what this country really needs in terms of home military equipment spending is a modernized Navy and Coast Guard), the “it’s the economy, stupid” claims of economic success in a petrostate with booming oil-prices (Canada’s economy has become a resource-extraction-based one), the refusal to answer media questions, “But That’s Simply Not True…”, the massive expansion of the tar sands and invite to foreign oil companies to make a mess they won’t ever have to clean up, the abyssmal conditions of Native reserves, the slashing of social spending, the falsifying of documents by a senior minister, or the Canadian Taliban-esque social conservatism that occasionally bursts through the background noise like a demented SETI signal broadcasting “Screw you all! We’re not only content with wrecking the environment but we’ll wreck all of your sinning, criminal lives to boot because that’s the way things were intended”

No, it’s not just that. It’s also the media’s cowardice in failing to press Harper even when he restricted them to five questions per day. It’s the chilling political climate this country’s taking on. It’s the rise of right-wing politicians who gut city and provincial treasuries like human locusts by slashing their tax base and handing out unscrutinized contracts to their friends.

It’s also the anger these politicans turn into a carefully directed hate and rise to power on, and it’s the fact that many among their electorate are cheering them on the entire time.

The other side never takes a day off from steering the reins in their direction. The struggle continues. We’ve got our work cut out for us. Thank you Jack. We lost a great fighter, rallier, inspiration and human being. Vires in Numeris. Let’s roll.

28
Aug
11

The Mustache lives on!

I’ve made and hung up a Jack Layton tribute. I’ll write a longer blog post with pictures and my thoughts on this past week in a little while, but for now here’s a teaser for you folks.
The Stache

The Mustache is a worthy deservant of its capital M.

23
Dec
10

Children’s Book Illustrator, my newest hat.

Just when I said I wouldn’t take on any new work, a friend and colleague asked me to put together some drawings for a small kids’ book he’d written. The book is called “The Shop at the End of the High Street”, and is a whimsically surreal tale (complete with odd beasties and the stores that cater to them) about a family’s quest to visit the shop at the very end of Montreal’s Mont-Royal Avenue. The author felt that Montreal just does not have enough place-specific kids’ books that tell a tale and show off the city at the same time…and so I was recruited to the task with 40 hours’ notice.

Here are some of the results, which you can check out in larger size at Flickr



20
Dec
10

En Cas d’Amour…


A piece which I installed in front of a vacant lot on St. Laurent Boulevard in Montreal, near the St. Laurent/Fairmount intersection. The fronting of the lot with several 1/2″ plywood panels to create posterable space that hides the lot from view is a design feature I’ve seen in several other places around the city.

I’m really interested in the idea of creating variations of safety and public awareness posters, signs and installations along the line of the “IN CASE OF FIRE BREAK GLASS” or “IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SUSPICIOUS, SAY SOMETHING” that are ever-present in certain areas to the degree that we simply tune them out.

02
Dec
10

A preview of things to come…


19
Nov
10

Big News, Everybody!

My blog detailing my grad-school project to study post-disaster tent cities in Port-au-Prince, Haiti is now online. Visit it right here at http://www.mcgilltohaiti.com

As part of the whole project I’m selling a limited run of prints to raise funds to pay off the costs of the trip and additional supplies/travel vaccinations. More info can be found on the blog. or you can check out the Etsy link right here. Only 40 will be sold, so get ‘em while you can and help fund what will be a great initiative.

The print, which is totally awesome, looks like this:
ART PRINT

And a closeup of the linework looks like this:

28
Oct
10

Urban Planning Adventures

I’m at the point in my grad-school experience where I have to put together and carry out a supervised research project. The SRP, as it is more simply known, is a sort of ‘thesis lite’, with less writing but more hands-on work. Having worked in disaster relief and reconstruction in the past, I have decided that I will be going to Haiti for several months to work on a research project related to urban planning and disaster relief.

My planned departure date, at this point, is less than two months away and the amount of work which I still have left to do is considerable. I’ve narrowed my potential field of research down to two ideas… The first has to do with how new technologies can be used to facilitate communication on the ground in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster between local planners and emergency responders, area residents and international experts, while the second relates more to how pre-disaster planning can incorporate the identification of sites for refugee camps, relief and aid infrastructure, and temporary supply warehousing. The aid influx which followed this year’s earthquake wound up bogging down quickly in part due to the lack of up-to-date maps of Haitian cities, plans for the removal and disposal of rubble, and a somewhat haphazard and impromptu establishment of scattered ‘tent cities’ throughout much of Port-au-Prince.

Of course I’m also thinking of carrying out a side project on streetart and graffiti in Haiti. I’ve really been starved for time streetart-wise since this semester began, and the idea of documenting and writing about Haitian street art fascinates me. Then there’s the possibility of a collaboration or two…something to help bring attention back to the situation on the ground.

I’m also planning on setting up a bit of a donation drive to cover project expenses (including transportation costs and vaccinations). I’ll likely be producing a limited-edition small-run multicoloured stencil print (possibly a run of 30 or 40) and putting it up for sale. More updates on this project will follow as things unfold.

e: This is why I love Roadsworth

I’m also hoping for a Posterchild response to Rob Ford’s election

19
Sep
10

Burning Man, Part Three

At its widest, Black Rock City is close to two miles wide. It is located out on the inhospitable Black Rock Desert, an alkaline lake bed eleven miles north of the small town of Gerlach and 120 miles northeast of Reno. As an urban planner in training, I’ve come to learn to care about the facts and figures. Then again, by going to Burning Man you’re heading out into a desert environment where you have to care about the important numbers- namely a 30 degree celsius differential between night and day temperatures and a recommended intake of 1-1.5 gallons of water daily.

As an urban planner in training and someone who has been wanting to attend Burning Man for several years running, I found this year’s theme of The Life of the City too enticing to resist. If there is one thing that has always amazed me about Burning Man, it’s the degree to which it seems to showcase the most incredible aspects of human creativity. (Even before attending, I’ve compared it to what would happen if one gave LSD to MacGyver, and that description seemed the most accurate one once I settled in there). Ever since I found myself working on the post-Katrina relief and reconstruction effort in New Orleans, I’ve found myself interested in post-disaster situations and the possibilites for improvement therein. Burning Man seemed like it would present a challenging situation in terms of water conservation and management, and so I decided that documenting innovative methods of DIY water management and use would be one of my goals out in the desert. It could have a practical and useful application in terms of a reapplication to temporary settlements elsewhere in the world…after all, Black Rock City is one of the world’s largest self-contained temporary camps. And if all else fails, when one is heading out into a Hunter S. Thompsonesque fantasy world for eight days it’s good to have a project to keep one’s self grounded.

Reno, the fourth-largest city in Nevada, is a curious entity. The Truckee River, which flows through the heart of Reno’s downtown, is surrounded by a gorgeous linear park which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding hills. Yet the city itself seems an interlinked web of strip malls, a giant, sprawling construction where the only buildings higher than five storeys are the hotels of the casino district. I arrived in Reno in the early morning of August 30th, and the city reminded me of so many others I’d passed through in Greyhound rides through the American South. Yet, on the other hand it seemed different- more pristine, friendly and welcoming. The first association that entered my mind was with Birmingham, Alabama’s downtown core, where nothing seems to have been built since the 1970s and the city’s Modernist concrete office towers all bear a similar shade of dusty brown. However, in Birmingham the streets give off a distinct feeling of repressed, deep-seated anger and frustration.

The second image to enter my mind was Vegas. Years ago, I sat on a smoky North York bar patio in the late hours of the night with a beer in hand listening to a tattooed late-20s former Las Vegas resident tell stories of robbing tourists just off of the Strip in between his pulls on a blunt. There’s something about Las Vegas that frightens me, and that something goes beyond the sky-high crime rate and Stephen King’s post-apocalyptic epic “The Stand”. While we as a society may look to the space program, the Human Genome Project or the United Nations as an example of what Western thought can bring about, it seems to me that the ultimate achievement of North American consumer capitalism is more like Las Vegas.

more to come….



12
Sep
10

New interview, and Burning Man Photos 2

Well, I’ve been the feature of another journalistic piece, this time by Carleton University’s The Charlatan. Find it here.

…and more from Burning Man…





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