Archive for the 'Ottawa Art' Category


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


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.


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.


Art Show images…

Well, new developments are always afoot around here. I know I’ve been promising you these for a while, so here are some pictures from the Elmaks/MEEN/AZDEAD show at La Petite Mort Gallery… The show was a smashing success, and if you’re interested in any Elmaks artworks I’d advise you to check out the La Petite Mort Gallery at Cumberland & Murray Streets, Ottawa. Even if you’re not, check out the gallery anyway. It’s worth it.

One more quick update coming before I take a bit of a hiatus from the world. But when I get back from Burning Man, there will be more pictures…

edit: new streetart, from last night.


The Swap Box Project in Spacing!

I recently did a bit of an interview with Evan Thompson of Spacing Ottawa, and the piece can be found right here.

Spacing is a great magazine which focuses on urban issues, particularly those which relate to public space. You can check it out here.


New Stuff from Ottawa

’cause anyone can throw sneakers up over a phone line. This one’s part experiment, part tribute to ABOVE and his arrows. Maybe next time I should follow the Elmaks crescent-moon up with a whole solar system.


Bring the Piano back, Hartman’s!

A downtown Ottawa landmark recently disappeared, and the decision to do so has got a lot of people riled up.
Zoom of KnitNut says it best…

“It used to be that when you walked into the Hartman’s grocery store at the corner of Bank & Somerset, the first thing you’d see was the cozy seating area arranged around the piano.

The Hartman’s Piano was a free, accessible community instrument. Usually someone would be playing it, very often an accomplished musician who couldn’t afford a piano of his or her own. The music was lovely. I blogged about it once myself (The Happiest Woman at the Grocery Store).

The Hartman’s Piano disappeared on January 5th, along with the cozy seating area. Overnight, without warning, a floral department sprung up in its place.

Now, instead of the strains of piano music welcoming you to Hartman’s and setting the mood for your visit, there’s a machine welcoming you to Hartman’s in its cold computerized voice. ”

It always used to put a smile on my face when I’d go into Hartman’s and there’d be kids playing the piano. It was that kind of space which quite literally anyone could use. It was a rare thing in the day and age of big-box stores.

And that feeling led to this… I’ve been making street pieces out of cardboard and paints, and I brought a few with me to Ottawa this past weekend.
larger version here

As often happens when I start making streetart, other ideas for street pieces have popped into my head. Downtown Ottawa’s got a real problem with Poster Nazi, a crotchety old man who walks down Elgin tearing down posters and handbills from street poles at seemingly all hours of the day.

I’ve been wanting to make some Poster Nazi-themed streetart for the next time I’m in Ottawa. Alas, I haven’t got a picture of what Poster Nazi looks like… so if anyone out there has a picture of Poster Nazi, post it here. It’ll be used for a good and funny cause….