Disability Art Fills 401 Richmond with Strange Beauty

April 9-25, 2015
401 Richmond Street West
Opening night: Thursday, April 9, 6-9pm
Closing night: Saturday, April 25, 8pm at the Imperial Pub, 54 Dundas St. East

Free

17 days, 10 venues, 11 artists, 3 performances.

Every Tangled Arts Festival is unique. Over the years, our festivals have featured an ambitious and eclectic range of theatre, visual art, media, dance and every conceivable combination of all of these. Each festival takes its cues from the art and artists we’ve encountered over the previous year or two. This year’s edition, Strange Beauty, began with an exceptionally strong group of submissions to our 2014 artist in residence programme: we knew we had to find a way to showcase much more of the exciting work we were presented with. And that brought us to our annual dilemma – where would we find accessible space for all that work? In the absence of a gallery space of our own, securing accessible venues is one of the most challenging, time-consuming, expensive and yes, infuriating parts of our work. Why couldn’t more of Toronto be as accessible as 401 Richmond, we wondered? And then… why not hold our 2015 festival right here in our home at 401 Richmond? We turned to our partners – 401 management itself and this wonderful gathering of galleries, performances spaces, even a cafe; and invited them to bring our festival into their spaces.

401 Richmond is more than a building. It’s a visionary re-thinking of art, commerce, and culture in the City of Toronto. For those of us fortunate enough to have a berth here, it’s a multi-dimensional neighbourhood where all our varied, passionate preoccupations have room to live, overflow, engage and intersect. That kind of dynamic, engaged transformation is what Tangled— and especially Strange Beauty – is all about.

This year’s edition of Canada’s leading disability arts festival invites audiences to rediscover and re-invent their notions of beauty as they wander the hallways, galleries, cafes and public spaces of the excellent Toronto arts hub at Richmond and Spadina. To quote Francis Bacon, There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.

Check out Conversations with Strange Beauty: Artistic Director, Eliza Chandler

The program:

jes walking on a beach with a pile of oversized strawsjes sachse
Freedom Tube 
Sculpture
Artist talk: Thursday, April 16th, 7pm
The 401 lobby

Freedom Tube is a work in progress, developed in its exploratory form during (and courtesy of) the inaugural Intergenerational LGBT Artist Residency at Artscape Gibraltar Point, Toronto Islands.

For me, my queerness enters my art through my grotesque body; being queer has always been about more than sexuality, it is about embodying a retaliation from the structures in place around us. As a visibly disabled artist, I am in constant conversation with what it means to inhabit a freak body. Through a combination of digital and tactile media I aim to reveal that in order to destroy Disability; the ever-ubiquitous denial that all life is in constant oscillation between decay and renewal, disability as culture must itself be seen.

Turning a tarmac into a stage, one warm September evening became a platform to make visible the architecture of an inclusive design. Walt Whitman once said, “to have great poets, there must be great audiences.” I don’t think he was merely being humble – I think he was pointing out the supercilious human tendency to leave context uncredited. We call the lack of empathy people possess for experiences outside of their own ‘ignorance’, and suggest instead that people be ‘tolerant’ of difference. However, so rarely do we engage willingly with the magnificence of this unique terrain. With difference and abjection.

Check out Conversations with Strange Beauty: jes sachse

Bio:
jes sachse is a visual artist, writer and curator obsessed with disability culture, public art, the post-industrial malaise of twenty-somethings living and breathing in Toronto, and puns. Foremost a storyteller, they use sarcasm and contradiction to juxtapose disability archetypes with self- representations, to pervade public and private spaces and present audiences with the invitation to look. Through the use of an interdisciplinary array of media, sachse has presented work on the international stage, including their recent curating of a unique disability arts program Criptonite for Peterborough’s Artsweek in 2012, and 2011.


A colorful and circular abstract embroideryJanna Brown
Still Echoes Resound 
Mixed media
Artist talk: Saturday, April 11th, 2pm
VMAC Gallery, Suite 452

Still Echoes Resound, is inspired by my lived experience but dwells in the echoes—the stories that have become a story.

Working in abstract and representational forms using textile pieces rendered on leather and fragments of a childhood quilt, mixed-media, poetry, audio and moving images, I use my body as an artifact—sharing tender confirmations from hollows of loss.

My process began with a longing for that irretrievable something while exploring concepts of time, body, trauma, and unfolding of memory.

This series is durational in time and miniature in size. For eight months, I carried it with me everywhere working on it daily in all the spaces of my life and heart.

Of the twelve original works created for Still Echoes Resound, eleven survived. Like a human-bird, one of the pieces ventured into the city on its own. I hope it continues its flight.

Check out Conversations with Strange Beauty: Janna Brown

Bio:
Janna studied Literature (B.A., Mount Allison University); and Disability Studies (M.A. Critical Disability Studies), and, Visual Arts (OCAD University). She was the Tangled Art + Disability Artist in Residence in 2014.


Colourful collage of faces and bodiesBarbara Greene Mann
Perfect World 
Painting and drawing
Artist talk: Friday, April 17th, 3pm
The Roastery Coffee House

My Art comes from subconscious thoughts, dreams, and unseen possibilities. I paint in watercolour and love the flowing qualities of this medium. Sometimes by adding collage I increase the novelties I may discover. Guided by My Muse, I can transform these images into new attainable achievements, discovering the tales I am here to tell.

Like a great invisible force, I want to conquer and save our world from destruction, to save our animals and all the inhabitants on the planet from extinction, and manifest, transform a world, to one that is harmonious.

So with my paintbrush in hand, I enter the battlefield to reorganize and design planetary goodness. Humour and imagination offset the harshness of this captured existence. Elevated resistance fuels my ongoing stubbornness to the things I want to change. It seems like I have fought these battles before but the years bring on new challenges. Harmony and peace are seeking a rebirth. These are my dreams and my truths; I hope you enjoy a new look at life and the world through my eyes. Enjoy.

Check out Conversations with Strange Beauty: Barbara Greene Mann

Bio:
Barbara Greene Mann graduated from Wayne State University (1973) with a Masters degree in Fine Arts, majoring in printmaking. She worked as an independent artist for over 14 years exhibiting her art throughout the Detroit area and across the U.S.A, including the Detroit Artists Market, the Willis Gallery, Alpena Art Museum, solo exhibit and Watercolour USA, prize winner.


Abstract drawing on yellow paper with the words "we must always our best workGeoffrey McMurchy
Time Lapse 
Mixed media/sculpture
Artist talk: Friday, April 10th, 2:30pm
YYZ Gallery, Suite 140

These images, mostly stolen from my distant past, are a contemplation of things that have strongly affected my life; a year spent with my family in London, England at the age of seven and breaking my neck in a diving accident at the age of twenty-one.

It would be understatement to say that breaking my spinal cord was the most life-changing event of my existence. Though not superstitious, I find it interesting that the accident happened on the 27th day of the 7th month in 1977. Rehabilitation was like growing up all over again, learning everything from sitting up without falling over, to getting dressed, to writing and drawing. Corrections takes me back to learning how to write and draw the first time around (aged seven). My teacher’s insistence that I do it again may have helped the printing, but didn’t do a thing for the drawing!

My teacher’s admonitions – provoking my rather fawning response, Best Work – served me well, in rehabilitation and in life. I still cling to a few lofty ideals like doing your best, being mindful, true love, etc.

I extracted the cock robin (Erithacus rubecula) element to represent two ideas that remain critical to me at an age of almost-sixty. First, the nascent nationalism that compelled me to insist that I was not an American, but Canadian, to my English schoolmates. Then, a feeling just as strong today as our country is increasingly sold off to our neighbours to the south.

And what of Cock Robin’s Demise? Did he fly into a window? Was it loss of habitat? Climate change? Or the CIA?

As with robins, whether American or European, all things must pass. Hanging Up My Wings is just about knowing, and choosing, when to stop.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the following people for volunteer technical assistance: Calvin Cairns, Christy Gain, Steve Keane and George Landrecht.

Bio:
Geoff McMurchy developed an appreciation for community arts through an active role in the early years of the Public Dreams Society in Vancouver. In 1998 he became Executive / Artistic Director of Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture, and presented original dance, visual art exhibits, music, theatre as well as the very successful Kickstart Festival. After curating the 2010 edition of the Kickstart Festival in Vancouver, Geoff retired to Victoria, BC where he is pursuing his interests in assemblage and multimedia work.

Check out Conversations with Strange Beauty: Geoffrey McMurchy


Image of Carrie Perreault for her project Impossible ConversationsCarrie Perreault
Impossible Conversations 
Performance Art
Performance: Thursday, April 9th, 8pm
Performance and artist talk: Saturday, April 18th, 3pm
Musideum, Suite 133

Impossible Conversations comes from the idea that sometimes you want to have a conversation with someone but you’re so scared the words won’t come out right, or they’ll misinterpret your intent, or they won’t hear you the way you want to be heard. And sometimes when you’re playing this conversation over in your head, you want the other person to say certain things – to reply in a certain way, so that you can forward the conversation in a particular direction. Maybe it’s a conversation about how much they mean to you, or how growing up was so hard; Or maybe it’s a conversation to try to explain why you’re sad all the time, and how you think your insides are so rotten they’re actually black; Or maybe you have something else on the tip of your heart that begs to be whispered, it could be about any number of things, perhaps even about how there is comfort in the uncomfortable.

Perreault’s performances will consist of multiple conversations between various real and fictitious characters who discuss common and repetitive themes including love, suffering, coming of age, fear, courage, and happiness.

Check out Conversations with Strange Beauty: Carrie Perreault

Bio:
Carrie Perreault holds a BA from Brock University, St. Catharines. Her varying social and political environments influence her work. She is an advocate for human witnessing, which translates into research in meditative gestural acts that counter and speak to discrimination and hardship. Her multidisciplinary work includes video, installation, sculpture, performance, and audio works. She thanks and acknowledges the on-going and integral support from the Ontario Arts Council.


Close up image of a metal ring with a stairway sculpted insideMark Brose
Attract/Connect 
Jewellery/Sculpture
Artist talk: Friday, April 24th, 5:30pm
Musideum, Suite 133

My work in metal often involves an exploration of tension, connection and movement. These concepts are tools. I use these tools to help me explore and articulate my emotional interior.

My work in metal is about question and perception and story. It’s about metaphor and self-portrait. It’s about laughter and surprise and pain; the contrast of precious and non-precious. Is any material, or person, more valuable than another? Can a coloured elastic replace a ‘precious’ gem? Should it? What does a suspended piece of steel attracted to a magnet mean? What does it mean when the commitment breaks? Is it appropriate to ask questions in jewellery? Or valuable?

My relationship to my working with metal has at points been difficult. Due to increasing disability because of multiple sclerosis I eventually lost the ability to work at the jeweller’s bench. There is a joy to be found in coming home to a place one feared one could never revisit. I am once again able to return to the bench. I am once again able to explore fluid expression made from cold metal; to animate sheet and wire and coax it into life. Once again I have the opportunity to work with metal to question and inspire.

Check out Conversations with Strange Beauty: Mark Brose

Bio:
Mark Brose, a graduate of the Ontario College of Art, is a multi-disciplinary artist and disability-rights activist whose creative explorations include jewellery/sculpture, photography, film, dance, and theatre. Among other accomplishments, he was co-creator of the short film in.clu.sion and the soon to be released short 29,200. He played Gordie Howe in the award-winning heist comedy Oops!, and danced in Peggy Baker’s Geometry of the Circle as part of the Vancouver Olympiad. Mark has exhibited his jewellery/sculpture both nationally and internationally. He has performed/exhibited in a number of Tangled events including the Toronto: Street Level photography exhibit and The Neat Strange Music of Ahmed Hassan.


Photo dytich of a man sitting in a wheelchair wearing clothes on the left and naked on the right.Steve Kean
Spina Bifida: Front to Back 
Photography
Artist talk: Saturday, April 25th, 3:30pm
Gallery 44, Suite 120 and
Abbozzo Gallery, Suite 128

Body image remains a relevant topic in many different contexts. “Front to Back” focuses on the context of disability. Spina Bifida often results in the necessity of using a wheelchair. People look down on us literally and figuratively. We have historically suffered great indignity, even for sake of medical education. Being the subject of treatment and learning is an experience many of us share.

“Front to Back” was a true collaboration between me and those I photographed. It was a path to a sense of dignity and control over what happens to us. Audiences for the images in this project will see people first. People whose lives have meaning and are beautiful.

Check out Conversations with Strange Beauty: Steve Kean

Bio:
Steve Kean is a photographer living in Toronto. He recently completed a Masterclass where he continued his work that focuses on how people with disabilities inhabit their bodies and how it may differ from everyone else. Influenced by the Henri Cartier-Bresson and W. Eugene Smith, Steve seeks to capture the moment(s) that can define his subjects and their place in society.


Scratched Lens Collective
Urban[eyes] 
Photography
Artist talk: Friday, April 24th, 7pm
Urbanspace Gallery

This show connects the work of five disabled photographers who have been watching, living and documenting urbanization through a disability lens as well as a photographic one.

Urban[eyes] runs the gamut – from a study of the revolutionary city planning in Detroit that couldn’t have foreseen the economic devastation, to the conflicts between progress, gentrification and homelessness in Toronto. The exhibition illustrates diverse viewpoints being brought into focus by five artists dedicated to their craft.

About the Scratched Lens Collective:
Scratched Lens is a collective of five photographers: Mark Brose, Allan Cullen, Steve Kean, Peter Owusu-Ansah and Kathy Toth. We came together with several other photographers as part of a master class with Vincenzo Pietropaolo, in 2012. That master class resulted in Street Level, a group show which was presented in September 2012 and has since had several other presentations both in Toronto and elsewhere: most recently at King’s College, in London, Ontario. After the conclusion of that master class, the five of us were invited to a participate in an advanced master class with Pietropaolo which allowed each of us to further refine our skills and develop our first solo exhibits. The focus of this second master class was the urban landscape.

It also significantly allowed us to discover our strengths as a group of artistic colleagues. This development led to our decision to work together as a collective.Urban[Eyes] is our first group exhibit. The show will present three photographs by each collective member.

Check out Conversations with Strange Beauty: the Scratched Lens Collective

Silhouette figures at water-sideAbout Peter Owusu-Ansah:
“I am in my 30s, I am deaf and the system for a deaf is not great in the world. It is too much darkness. I am not complaining and all I know is that I am walking to my death. However, before the end of me, I want to create my light and make piece of history of my existence and what I do as a person like me.” -Peter Owusu-Ansah

 


Photograph of an abstract square structure in a winter landscapeAbout Kathy Toth:
Kathy Toth was born and raised in Toronto. She was a realist painter before she discovered photography. She currently maintains a practice of painting, photography and more recently sculpture. In 2013 she published Hidden Toronto, a book on graffiti art hidden in the landscape to great acclaim.

 


A woman in sunglasses smoking a long cigaretteAbout Steve Kean:
Steve Kean is a professional photographer based in Toronto. Steve seeks to capture the moment(s) that can define his subjects and their place in society. His work is driven by his passion for art, music, people and food. Steve is most at home holding a camera.

 


A woman lounging on front steps of a house with a big dogAbout Mark Brose:
Mark Brose, a graduate of the Ontario College of Art, is an artist, musician, performer and a disability-rights activist. He co-created the film in.clu.sion, played Gordie Hull in the award winning heist comedy Oops! and performed in Geometry of the Circle as part of the Vancouver Olympiad.

 

 

 


A homeless man in a wheelchair on the streetAbout Allan Cullen:
Allan Cullen is a disability activist. He is an award wining graduate of the art centre, a three year arts program at Central Tech where he studied Fine Arts. His work documents social issues particularly homelessness and disability. He has had his work shown at numerous galleries over the past decade.

 


The Mighty Rhino standing on stage in a white suit and pointing his mic towards the audienceThe Mighty Rhino in Concert
Hip Hop
Performance and closing night dance party: Saturday, April 25th, 8pm
The Imperial Pub, 54 Dundas St. East

This event is in a barrier-free location. There will be ASL interpreters and attendant care on site. We request that you help us to make this a scent-free environment. For any other accessibility arrangements or questions about accessibility, please contact Jeremiah at jeremiah@tangledarts.org.

Rhino is a game-spitter par excellence, with a knack for that special turn of phrase that cuts to the quick and makes you scrunch your face up like, ‘Damn!’. Building on that reputation, He Whom The Beat Sets Free Is Free Indeed, intertwines the sacred and the profane, with Rhino’s persona equal parts restless intelligence and foul-mouthed insanity. The live-wire charisma of his stage show is present, but here Rhino’s mandate (as outlined by the galvanizing opener (“Mission Statement”) is to “contribute [a] particular vision of truth and beauty]”, and so there’s an exquisitely tender kiss-off to an ex (“Company Policy”), melancholic tone-poetry (“Slow Rollin’”), political fury (“I Can’t Call It”), and a searing meditation on existential angst (“Tryna Make A Life Out Here”) alongside the high-octane Les and Rittz collabo “Whaddup Witcha” and the hilarious “Putcha Ankles In It”. It’s joyous, life-affirming rap music, and it’s tons of fun. No matter who you are, you’ve never heard anything quite like him. There are folks who rap, and then there are those who rip mics to shreds as if their lives depended on it. Rhino doesn’t just rep for this set — he hoists the banner aloft.

About The Mighty Rhino:
Hailing from North York, the Mighty Rhino was first known for his performances at Never Forgive Action’s riotous monthly Hip Hop Karaoke nights. Rhino’s explosive debut album, ‘He Whom The Beat Sets Free’, arrived in 2012 to stellar reviews from Exclaim!, UGSMAG and elsewhere. He’s been nominated for a Toronto Independent Music Award and was a finalist at the International Songwriting Competition.The Mighty Rhino’s sophomore album, ‘Good Evening My Name Is The Mighty Rhino’, is due for release in 2015.

For more information and media inquires, please contact:

Jeremiah Bach
Festival Coordinator
jeremiah@tangledarts.org