Tag Archives: Featured

A Sound Relationship (The Noise of Silence)

While a varied array of patrons wandered amidst the still-life paintings from European expressionists like Cézanne and Pissaro, music played, dance erupted, and silence permitted the city-sounds outside to take on new meaning in the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG). The latest installment of  FUSE entitled ‘The Noise of Silence’ was a mix of old and new: it was unabashedly loud, yet imperfectly quite.

View from the VAG Rotunda during a performance of Michael Red and pianist Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa

“Should we be honest about why we came –  or professional,” Troy McNemara questions his friend Ryan Nelson with a devilish smile.

Both McNemara and Nelson are architects who admittedly came to FUSE so they could check out the models. Of buildings. One of the VAG’s current exhibits entitled Material Future hosts a selection of miniature models designed by the Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron.

Patron examining exhibit ‘Material Future: The Architecture of Herzog & de Meuron and the Vancouver Art Gallery’

Without any double entendre, the pair of FUSE patrons went on to explain their love of the projections during their evening at the gallery. McNemara and Nelson noted that social media allows visitors to interact and engage with the changing projections of the new exhibition Beyond the Trees: Wallpapers in Dialogue with Emily Carr on the forth floor’s walls.

“It took me by surprise,” McNemara says. “I suppose that’s the next step in visual art exhibition, then it goes out on social media and promotes itself.”

Away from the crowds wandering through the projections, the gallery’s top floor lounge which overlooks downtown became a silent sanctuary. The noise was restricted in the lounge and listening to the city’s score became an exhibition of its own.

View from the 4th floor lounge of VAG

Meanwhile, just outside the ‘listening lounge’ Kara Nolte and Delphine Leroux from First Dance Vancouver gave willing patrons the chance to quickly learn an impromptu dance, and then perform it for their unsuspecting peers on the first floor of the rotunda.

Delphine Leroux teaching a impromptu dance class @ FUSE
Delphine Leroux teaching a
impromptu dance class @ FUSE

“We love to throw random dance parties at awkward inappropriate locations […] and bring first dance experiences to people” Delphine explains.
“This was the perfect opportunity for that–when you find yourself in a crowd of art lovers, they’re so open to join in and do anything.”

And dance they did. Line-ups formed to learn the choreography, and patrons then happily rushed downstairs with smiles to become part of the night’s celebrations.

Yet, on the foyer of the second floor partially sequestered from the swirling crowds (at a desk up against a wall), James Maxwell was busy at work meeting patrons. After greeting them and getting a sense of their personalities, the composer then spontaneously created a short musical phrase. The music was then passed-off and played nearby on a glockenspiel by musician Katie Rife.

James Maxwell composes a musical phrase for a FUSE patron

“I think (curator) David Pay wants to get composers more into the public consciousness and show people still compose — it’s not a dead tradition,” Maxwell says.

According to him, the idea for ‘spontaneous compositions’ translated itself into existence from other projects, but led him and his colleague Jocelyn Morlock to improvise compositions for patrons on the spot. Being comparable to a musical palm reading, line-ups formed around the lobby to get a chance for the musical self -encounter. Throughout the evening the compositions echoed in the air–as if someone’s personality was ringing though the gallery.

“Composing is a practise that can happen in silence, but at least symbolically it is music at some level,” Maxwell explains.

Close up of oil painting
Close up of oil painting

With the gallery’s four levels and countless paintings, exhibits, and happening throughout the evening, visitors could also take a break and sip an alcoholic beverage in the FUSE lounge while listening to a DJ’s stylings. Maybe not same level of composition Maxwell had in mind, but nonetheless analogues to a fashionable outing of new ideas, performance, art, music, and culture fusing together.



Underneath Lab Art Show

According to sculptor Ron Simmer, Vancouver’s art scene is a little lacking in upscale clientele.

“I’m just here for the money, basically,” he says.

“People in Palm Springs buy these things but in Vancouver it’s different because we have a different demographic here.”

Simmer is 73 years old and uncandid about his reasons for attending the LAB ART SHOW—the sculptor has created installations for the Burning Man Project in Nevada, and also enjoyed the cathartic experience of watching them smolder in ashes while a party raged around him. LAB is definitely not Burning Man, but it does try to offer an immersive and captivating experience for its audience.

Body Paint

This was the sixth installment of the multidisciplinary LAB: a series of showcases which started running semi-annually in Vancouver in 2012. Since then the roving exhibit which features local and international artists has changed venues and found space in Yaletown’s Roundhouse. The sold out evening offered much more than just visual art, but also gave audiences and artists alike the chance to network and develop relationships in the community.

“Vancouver had so much art and so much going on, but everything was in niches” says Gloria Bernal, LAB’s founder and organizer.

According to Bernal, after graduating from Vancouver Film School she decided to form a company that would try and unify the arts community in one event. She founded Glitz Entertainment and then began producing the multidisciplinary LAB hoping to make art and artists in the community more accessible and less exclusive.

“[LAB] brings an art gallery to life,” Bernal explains. “We wanted to educate people in that you can come to an art show, buy art, have fun, and not be pretentious.”

LAB features art, but also encourages artists to paint while dancers perform, musicians play, and the audience interacts with each other –and other interactive exhibits.

Still Life



“It’s not always dance” says Emily Long of Subscura.

A good example of the melding of minds at LAB, Subscura is a troupe of dancers who also feel their work dives into performance art. They can become living statues who interact with their environment and audiences as they slowly make their way to perform choreography on stage.

“I call them scenarios. We create an environment or mood, so it’s not always a stage piece—we could be working in the corner,” says Long.

Long and the other members of the group utilize on their individual backgrounds and training to create their work. So far their accumulative style of performance has been paying off with bookings to appear at Bass Coast, and Shambhala Music Festival in Nelson.

Peter Forde

And then there’s the interactive exhibits which can captivate audiences at LAB. Peter Forde is an Irish born Vancouverite who moved from London for his wife. His insightful art installations draw on technology and seek to engage their audience.

“You can play with it,” Forde says about his exhibit called Post, Post, Post.

A projector set up to display on a wall captures the people who walk by and loops them in a video it creates—which then slowly fades away.

“It’s kind of inspired by Alvin Lucier’s: I am Sitting in a Room. It has to do with visual resonance in the space […] you can make visual sculptors using your own repeating image,” he explains.


With over 800 people in attendance throughout the night, all of the artists from Vancouver and beyond hopefully left a positive impression on their audience. With so much under one roof, you wonder how events such as LAB will impact the growing artistic community in Vancouver.

For more information of the event produced by Glitz Entertainment, please click here.



World Wandering in Moscow, Russia

Check out our first episode of Street Level to get a small glimpse at what Russia currently has to offer its visitors.

Moscow, Russia has a past that spans half the world and over a thousand years. But with the current drop in the value of the Russian Ruble, what was considered one of the worlds most expensive cities could finally be in your budget (if the cost of flying  doesn’t make you wince).

For me, traveling there was a concern. I was uneasy about a country and people I knew little about — outside of history books, television dashboard cameras, and movies like James Bond. I guess these did well for establishing stereotypes in us ‘Westerners’ but I guess that’s what Cali-fornication does to a degree. But once in Moscow my fears subsided as my experiences grew — I met people and explored the main areas and outlying districts of Russia’s capital city.

The city is a contradiction of sorts, a place of beauty and decay where an old political ideology and way of life has been left asunder to a new form of capitalism (to put it lightly). Of course nothing happened during my trip to make me believe any negative stereotypes were true. Russia is just a different place (and yes,  a little wild), but for many reasons that cannot be explained simply. It’s also the biggest country in the world, and albeit, one that I have yet to fully experience.  However, no matter where you go fear and stereotypes are always an issue with travel —  it’s the anxiety of going somewhere unknown, somewhere you’re ignorant about, somewhere where you are the foreigner that scares you. But this is why you need to travel.

In brief, Moscow is  home to numerous heritage sites like Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin, and Red Square while also boasting things like the highest skyscraper in Europe in its Business District.  Also, with numerous Estates and Palaces waiting to be rediscovered in various districts of the city, it makes anyone’s inner child become dazed in wonderment. How did I not know some of these places, people, and stories ever existed? How? And to be honest, I still can’t properly explain what kind of foods they eat. It’s where Slavic dishes mesh with Asian I suppose. It’s crazy.

Russian history and culture have deep roots, making its society what you can experience today — in my opinion, looking past stereotypes  and politicians is half the battle. But now with redevelopments happening in Moscow in recent years in places such as Gorky Central Park, coupled with the rebuilding of the once lost historic sites (The Temple of Christ Our Savior and the wooden Palace of Tsar Alexi the First at Kolomenskoye), Moscow is hoping to keep its past alive while re-imagining its future. And this means even more to take advantage of for the traveler, if you can afford to make the journey.

Basically, by the numbers, if you book ahead, tickets could be as low as $900-1000CAD in the summer (Momondo.com, Skyscanner.com) And with hostels and other inexpensive options opening up (Airbnb, Booking.com, Tripadvisor), Moscow is now a better destination for cheaper travelers. *Remember you’ll need a VISA ($300-400CAD) to get into Russia, so apply far ahead of when you plan to travel* So yes, getting to Moscow is still expensive, but how many people do you know who’ve been to Russia?

–Ben Dextraze