The Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency

Photo: Henri Robideau, 2019.


The Blue Cabin floated into Vancouver’s False Creek in summer 2019. In the fall of 2019, the Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency launched Skeins: Weaving on the Foreshore, the inaugural program of artist residencies, open houses, talks and workshops. Situated in the unceded lands and waters of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, the Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency offers a vantage point from which to consider the city differently. International in scope but deeply rooted in the histories and narratives of this place, the Blue Cabin offers a unique opportunity to learn, explore and engage with the foreshore.

The Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency brings forward a desire and need for alternate modes of living and working, and expands our understanding of what constitutes public space.

Despite Vancouver’s international reputation for producing exceptional artists, inflated real estate prices make it challenging for arts organizations to offer visiting artists spaces for research, experimentation, innovation, and exchange. Artist residencies exist worldwide, and the experiences of those who have been lucky enough to take part are often described as life-changing and transformational. Recognizing this need for such a generative space, the Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency presents an opportunity that is unique to this region while global in its reach.

The Blue Cabin sat between the low and high tide lines at Cates Park in North Vancouver since 1932 and has resisted ownership for nearly 100 years. It was home to maritime labourers and families – and since the late ‘60s was a place of creative respite and subsistence for Vancouver artists Al Neil and Carole Itter. Representing the last vestiges of a cultural tradition of artists and others living in squatter shacks along the foreshores of this region’s waterways, Al Neil and Carole Itter’s Blue Cabin was one of many structures that dotted the shores of Burrard Inlet. In 2014, the land adjacent to the cabin, McKenzie Barge and Marine Ways Co. Ltd., was sold to Polygon Homes for redevelopment, initiating the remediation of the foreshore and the small cove the Blue Cabin was nestled within. To avoid demolition, the cabin was moved five kilometres west to a secure storage lot, then later to Maplewood Farm in North Vancouver where it underwent a full remediation, completed in February 2018.

Skeins: Weaving on the Foreshore is a celebration of Coast Salish weaving practices that have developed in these territories since time immemorial. As such, it is anchored by the participation of weavers from the three local nations: Debra Sparrow from Musqueam, Janice George and Buddy Joseph of Squamish, and Angela George from Squamish/ Tsleil-Waututh. Skeins also includes a residency with Australian Indigenous artist and activist Vicki Couzens (Gunditjmara) produced in partnership with the Australia Council for the Arts. Rooted in the local, and spanning the international, these artists bring a long history of cultural, ceremonial and community involvement, organizing and reclaiming, aesthetics and activism.

Since 2015, grunt gallery, Other Sights for Artists’ Projects, and Creative Cultural Collaborations have been committed to ensuring the cabin’s legacy continues, and that its use as a floating artist residency will benefit both artists and broader public alike.

Learn more at thebluecabin.ca

For general inquiries please contact info@thebluecabin.ca 

 


 

Skeins: Weaving on the Foreshore has been assisted by Vancouver Foundation, the City of Vancouver Public Art Boost program and the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

The Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency is grateful for the visionary support of Vancouver Foundation, the City of Vancouver, Heritage Canada’s Cultural Spaces Program, British Columbia Arts Council, BC Museums Association Canada 150 Program, BC Collaborative Spaces Program, District of North Vancouver, Wayne Saunders, Fred McMaster and Larry Carrier of Vancouver Pile Driving Ltd., Carole Itter, Marko Simcic of Simcic + Ulrich Architects, Australia Council for the Arts, Canadian Metropolitan Properties Corporation, Maplewood Farm, Polygon Homes, Canexus Corporation, Jane Irwin and Ross Hill, PM-Volunteers, Harold Kalman, Andrew Todd Conservators Ltd, Ian McMurdo, Wayne Poole, Lisa Muri, Clint Low of Bush Bohlman & Partners, Carlo Elholm of Advisian Engineers, Jeremy and Sus Borsos, Germaine Koh Studio Ltd., The Audain Foundation, Lehigh Hanson, Harris Steel, Inform Interiors, Native Shoes, Brent Comber Originals, K. Joseph Spears and Monica Ahlroos of Horseshoe Bay Marine Group, European Touch Hardwoods, Rick Erickson and Donna Partridge, Heritage BC, San Cedar, Robinson Lighting and Bath, Fasteel, Standard Building Supplies, ShapeMeasure, Fine Art Framing, Vancouver Renewable Energy Cooperative, Ames Tile & Stone, Australian High Commission, The Hamber Foundation, Port of Vancouver North Shore Waterfront Liaison Committee and our other generous supporters and donors.

The volunteer team that continues to work to develop the Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency consists of Glenn Alteen, Program Director of grunt gallery, Barbara Cole, Director of Other Sights for Artists’ Projects, and Esther Rausenberg, Co-artistic Director of Creative Cultural Collaborations.

Join our Blue Cabin Newsletter list here. 

Please consider donating to the Blue Cabin project. Your support is important in achieving our mission.

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Jeremy & Sus Borsos – The Blue Cabin Exhibition

Jeremy and Sus Borsos – The Blue Cabin Exhibition

ARTISTS: Jeremy and Sus Borsos

CURATOR: Glenn Alteen

OPENING RECEPTION: June 14, 7 – 9 PM

EXHIBITION DATES: June 15 to July 28, 2018

THE BLUE CABIN SPEAKER SERIES:

Wednesday, June 20 at 7:00 p.m.
Artist talk with Jeremy Borsos
Artist Jeremy Borsos will give a talk describing the restoration of the small 1920’s building known as the Blue Cabin. The talk will focus on possible translations of the cabin’s history.

Thursday, June 28 at 7:00 p.m.
Daniel Francis | Squat City: A Brief History of Squatting Around Burrard Inlet
Author and historian Daniel Francis will speak about the history of squatter villages on the region’s foreshore.

Saturday, July 7 at 2:00 p.m.
Carole Itter in conversation with Krista Lomax
Artist Carole Itter will present an informal talk about her artwork and writings during her 35 year-long residency at the Blue Cabin. She will be joined by artist and editor Krista Lomax.

Thursday, July 12 at 7:00 p.m.
Other Sights for Artists’ Projects, The Foreshore
Artist Jen Weih and curator and artist Vanessa Kwan will speak about The Foreshore, a project produced by Other Sights, in collaboration with Access Gallery and the Contemporary Art Gallery.

Thursday, July 19 at 7:00 p.m.
The Blue Cabin Project
Blue Cabin founding partners Glenn Alteen, Esther Rausenberg, and Barbara Cole will discuss the Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency project.

*To keep up to date with The Blue Cabin, please sign up for a separate newsletter online here.


When Jeremy Borsos and his wife, Sus, took on the remediation of the Blue Cabin, we at grunt never expected what would eventually come out of it! Using historical materials, they took the structure apart, methodically cleaned every inch, and replaced the rotted out bits. They insulated the walls and fixed the floor. Essentially, they treated it as an archaeological site, collecting its history in scraps of newspapers and mouse nests and, in an archival process, painstakingly saved what remained. The humble structure revealed itself slowly over the six-month period of the restoration and culminated – when they took up the floor – in the discovery of almost 40 posters that had been put there in 1927 to prevent the floor from squeaking.

In this exhibition, the Borsos’ present a body of work that documents this journey, while providing us a history of the cabin before Al Neil and Carole Itter’s tenancy, and offering us new insights into the earlier inhabitants— squatters, and marine workers on the foreshore.

Jeremy Borsos attended Emily Carr School of Art and the Art Students League in New York. His practice is multidisciplinary and includes writing, photography, installation, painting, and video. He has exhibited nationally and internationally. Together with his partner, Sus, the Borsos have developed a meta-historical use of salvaged architecture, constructing multiple dwellings and ancillary structures.

Sus Borsos was born in Denmark and studied statistics and computer sciences at Copenhagen University before managing Scandinavian Stage Design, where she oversaw the creation of stages for major events in Europe. After relocating to Canada in 1992, she worked with her husband, Jeremy Borsos, on constructing their Mayne Island home created from salvaged architectural fragments. Sus has also worked in digital film editing and design, and image output for reproduction.

Together, Sus and Jeremy have constructed a number of buildings using period architectural salvage. They have most recently completed a full remediation of the Blue Cabin, the studio component of a soon to be launched floating artist residency in Vancouver, Canada. Among Jeremy and Sus’s current creative projects is the redesigning and rebuilding of a studio and living space in Athens, Greece. They live and work on Mayne Island, British Columbia, and in Athens, Greece.

The Blue Cabin project is led by grunt gallery, along with Other Sights for Artists Projects, and Creative Cultural Collaborations (C3). This program has been supported by the Hamber Foundation.

Download the PDF of the catalogue and essay by Scott Watson

 

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The Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency

Photo: Henri Robideau, 2019


The Blue Cabin floated into Vancouver’s False Creek in summer 2019. In the fall of 2019, the Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency launched Skeins: Weaving on the Foreshore, the inaugural program of artist residencies, open houses, talks and workshops. Situated in the unceded lands and waters of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, the Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency offers a vantage point from which to consider the city differently. International in scope but deeply rooted in the histories and narratives of this place, the Blue Cabin offers a unique opportunity to learn, explore and engage with the foreshore.

The Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency brings forward a desire and need for alternate modes of living and working, and expands our understanding of what constitutes public space.

Despite Vancouver’s international reputation for producing exceptional artists, inflated real estate prices make it challenging for arts organizations to offer visiting artists spaces for research, experimentation, innovation, and exchange. Artist residencies exist worldwide, and the experiences of those who have been lucky enough to take part are often described as life-changing and transformational. Recognizing this need for such a generative space, the Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency presents an opportunity that is unique to this region while global in its reach.

The Blue Cabin sat between the low and high tide lines at Cates Park in North Vancouver since 1932 and has resisted ownership for nearly 100 years. It was home to maritime labourers and families – and since the late ‘60s was a place of creative respite and subsistence for Vancouver artists Al Neil and Carole Itter. Representing the last vestiges of a cultural tradition of artists and others living in squatter shacks along the foreshores of this region’s waterways, Al Neil and Carole Itter’s Blue Cabin was one of many structures that dotted the shores of Burrard Inlet. In 2014, the land adjacent to the cabin, McKenzie Barge and Marine Ways Co. Ltd., was sold to Polygon Homes for redevelopment, initiating the remediation of the foreshore and the small cove the Blue Cabin was nestled within. To avoid demolition, the cabin was moved five kilometres west to a secure storage lot, then later to Maplewood Farm in North Vancouver where it underwent a full remediation, completed in February 2018.

Skeins: Weaving on the Foreshore is a celebration of Coast Salish weaving practices that have developed in these territories since time immemorial. As such, it is anchored by the participation of weavers from the three local nations: Debra Sparrow from Musqueam, Janice George and Buddy Joseph of Squamish, and Angela George from Squamish/ Tsleil-Waututh. Skeins also includes a residency with Australian Indigenous artist and activist Vicki Couzens (Gunditjmara) produced in partnership with the Australia Council for the Arts. Rooted in the local, and spanning the international, these artists bring a long history of cultural, ceremonial and community involvement, organizing and reclaiming, aesthetics and activism.

Since 2015, grunt gallery, Other Sights for Artists’ Projects, and Creative Cultural Collaborations have been committed to ensuring the cabin’s legacy continues, and that its use as a floating artist residency will benefit both artists and broader public alike.

Learn more at thebluecabin.ca

For general inquiries please contact info@thebluecabin.ca 

 


Skeins: Weaving on the Foreshore has been assisted by Vancouver Foundation, the City of Vancouver Public Art Boost program and the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

The Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency is grateful for the visionary support of Vancouver Foundation, the City of Vancouver, Heritage Canada’s Cultural Spaces Program, British Columbia Arts Council, BC Museums Association Canada 150 Program, BC Collaborative Spaces Program, District of North Vancouver, Wayne Saunders, Fred McMaster and Larry Carrier of Vancouver Pile Driving Ltd., Carole Itter, Marko Simcic of Simcic + Ulrich Architects, Australia Council for the Arts, Canadian Metropolitan Properties Corporation, Maplewood Farm, Polygon Homes, Canexus Corporation, Jane Irwin and Ross Hill, PM-Volunteers, Harold Kalman, Andrew Todd Conservators Ltd, Ian McMurdo, Wayne Poole, Lisa Muri, Clint Low of Bush Bohlman & Partners, Carlo Elholm of Advisian Engineers, Jeremy and Sus Borsos, Germaine Koh Studio Ltd., The Audain Foundation, Lehigh Hanson, Harris Steel, Inform Interiors, Native Shoes, Brent Comber Originals, K. Joseph Spears and Monica Ahlroos of Horseshoe Bay Marine Group, European Touch Hardwoods, Rick Erickson and Donna Partridge, Heritage BC, San Cedar, Robinson Lighting and Bath, Fasteel, Standard Building Supplies, ShapeMeasure, Fine Art Framing, Vancouver Renewable Energy Cooperative, Ames Tile & Stone, Australian High Commission, The Hamber Foundation, Port of Vancouver North Shore Waterfront Liaison Committee and our other generous supporters and donors.

The volunteer team that continues to work to develop the Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency consists of Glenn Alteen, Program Director of grunt gallery, Barbara Cole, Director of Other Sights for Artists’ Projects, and Esther Rausenberg, Co-artistic Director of Creative Cultural Collaborations.

Join our Blue Cabin Newsletter list here. 

Please consider donating to the Blue Cabin project. Your support is important in achieving our mission.

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The Blue Cabin: Reports and Resources

Photo courtesy of Michael Jackson, PM Volunteers

Representing the last vestiges of a cultural tradition of artists and others living in squatters’ shacks along the foreshores of this region’s waterways, Al Neil and Carole Itter’s Blue Cabin was one of many structures that dotted the shores of Indian Arm.

Recently, the land adjacent to the cabin, MacKenzie Barge and Shipbuilding, was sold to Polygon Homes for redevelopment. Under their agreement with Port Metro, Polygon must remediate the foreshore, including the small cove the Blue Cabin was nestled within. To avoid demolition, the cabin was moved 5 kilometres west to a secure storage lot for repair and remediation.

Along with Other Sights for Artists’ Projects and Creative Cultural Collaborations, grunt gallery has a vision to save the cabin and continue its use as an artist residency on the waterways of the Lower Mainland. The following documents were produced in consultation with a number of stakeholders in the community to aid in planning and solicit support for the Blue Cabin’s future.

Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency: Preliminary Feasibility Report by Barbara Cole, Cole Projects

A Plan for the Conservation and Re-use of the Blue Cabin by Harold Kalman with Andrew Todd Conservators Ltd.

Blue Cabin Partner Information and Bios

Blue Cabin Project Support Letters

 

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TIDAL VOLUME:  Sound-Based Indigenous Exchange Residency

Tidal Volume is a digital artist residency featuring Indigenous artists from Vancouver and Melbourne, Australia. Tidal Volume is designed as a ‘call and response’ residency that creates an opportunity for Indigenous culture-bearers and artists to work with sound, song, language, spoken word and text to connect across distance. Produced in the context of the pandemic, Tidal Volume asks us to consider what presence means when we can’t be in physical spaces together. How might we communicate — and listen — differently?

The waterways and coastlines of Vancouver and Melbourne set the basis for exploration: both ocean and river represent rich history, complex currents, exchange and deep knowledge. It is also a contentious place, a defining factor in increasingly urgent discussions around nationhood, access, jurisdictional boundaries and climate change. As we seek to revisit, explore and nurture histories of the foreshore, we also seek to provide a space and a support network for artists to interrogate and expand our understanding of the land and waters around us.

Artists Salia Joseph (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Snuneymuxw) and Orene Askew (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh) will participate in this 4-week exploratory sound-based exchange with Maya Hodge (Lardil & Yangkaal) and Jarra Steel (Boonwurrung & Wemba Wemba) from September 27th—October 24th, 2021. Learn more about the artists here.

Join the artists on November 19th, 2021, at 6pm PST for the closing event of Tidal Volume! This event will include a world premiere of new works created during the 4-week exchange residency and a live Q&A with the artists. The event will be presented on YouTube Live, with auto-captions and ASL/Auslan interpretation. Click here to access the event.

Tidal Volume is presented by grunt gallery and The Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency (Vancouver, CA) in collaboration with Footscray Community Arts Centre (Melbourne, AU).

Funded by the generous support of the Australia Council for the Arts and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Image: Jarra Karalinar Steel, 2021.

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grunt gallery Founder Glenn Alteen Retires as of May 29th, 2020

As of  Friday May 29th 2020, grunt gallery’s founder Glenn Alteen, who served as the gallery’s Program Director for 37 years, has retired. The staff and board of grunt are incredibly grateful for the energy, ingenuity and spirit Alteen has given grunt since the very beginning; he has fostered an extraordinary community of artists, curators, and cultural workers that extends from Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood across Canada and internationally.

Since grunt’s inception in 1984, Alteen has recognized the value in platforming diverse voices and supporting artists through their creative processes, and has been committed to providing resources for artists to exhibit work that might otherwise go unrecognized. His boundless generosity and bold approach has been instrumental in building the vitality of the gallery and relationships with many exceptional artists and curators, including Rebecca Belmore, Dana Claxton, Margaret Dragu, Aiyyana Maracle, Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Carole Itter, Adrian Stimson, Tania Willard, and Tarah Hogue. Throughout his career, Alteen has pushed boundaries with projects such as Queer City (1993), An Indian Act: Shooting the Indian Act (1997) by Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, and the co-founding of LIVE Biennial of Performance Art in 1999. Showing no signs of slowing down, in 2019 Alteen and grunt launched three of their most ambitious projects to date: Wordless: The Performance Art of Rebecca Belmore, the Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency, and the Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen.

His connections to artists is truly unique, and his commitment to long-term creative relationships has built a community around grunt that spans generations, cultural communities and disciplinary boundaries. Dana Claxton recalls:

“I think I first met Glenn at the Pitt Gallery on Water Street in the late 1980s. Early on in the realm of programming NDN’ art work, he was committed, supportive, made enormous space and provided guidance in a way, he may not even be aware of the guidance he gave. Our early morning talks for many years, as he would dream up projects…he makes ideas become concrete. And it was never about him, but always what can happen for other people.”

Alteen has championed intuitive, organic and artist-driven creation, while simultaneously ensuring the continued growth and stability of grunt itself. By developing grunt’s programming archive, securing a permanent space for the gallery and the creation of an endowment fund, Alteen has cemented the longevity of grunt and contributed to the sustainability of artist-driven culture in Vancouver. He was awarded the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2018 for his decades of exceptional contributions to the arts in Canada. Glenn Alteen has been a visionary for grunt gallery and Vancouver’s visual arts communities, and has left an enduring mark on the ways we work through, with and around art.

His unique perspective will carry forward into grunt’s future, and will continue to shape the organization. Incoming Program Director Vanessa Kwan, who has shared the role with him since last June, says:

“In so many ways, Glenn embodies what we hope for in a more compassionate art community. His leadership has taught so many of us about the importance of both resistance and care. His work proposes something no less than a revolution in how we understand a successful (dare I say legendary?) career in the arts: that ambition can be expressed as generosity, and that capital–cultural, financial and otherwise–is best shared widely rather than being kept to oneself.”

As grunt honours Alteen’s remarkable career and contributions to the art community, we are also proud to announce the re-naming of our endowment to the Glenn Alteen Legacy Fund, and we invite you to contribute to the future of the organization, and the furthering of its unique vision. More information can be found here.

Thank you so much, Glenn, for your audacity, persistence, disgruntlement and care.

 

Photo: Portrait of Glenn Alteen by Henri Robideau, Jaunary 1987.

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grunt gallery Program Director Glenn Alteen is Retiring!

grunt gallery’s Succession Plan for the transition of Program Directors

Program Director Glenn Alteen has worked with grunt since its inception in 1984 and in May of 2020 will retire after 36 years in the position. In early 2018 the board and staff of the gallery began activating our Succession Plan designed to provide as little disruption to the organization as possible during the transition of Program Directors. Our informed and active Succession Committee consisting of current and former board members and staff were tasked with addressing hiring in relation to leadership succession. After extensive work, the Committee has unrolled a timeline and hiring process for the transition. The Committee continues to refine this process on an ongoing basis and will address any succession planning issues as they arise.

A year-long transition period is being planned for the new Program Director in order to provide a seamless changeover and to download grunt’s programming and funding processes and allow for introductions to long-term artists, supporters and funders. grunt incorporated a Management Transition Reserve Fund into annual budgets since 2016 to facilitate this transition.

Formed in 1984, grunt gallery has built a reputation on innovative and dynamic programming: exhibitions, performances, artist talks, publications and special projects that showcase work by contemporary Canadian and international artists. grunt focuses on work and artists that would otherwise not be seen in Vancouver. We are proud of our ability to act as an intersection between various cultural groups based on aesthetics, medium or identity. With emerging programs such as the Blue Cabin Residency and the Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen grunt is expanding and developing its range, providing artists with new and exciting opportunities and audiences with unique and important experiences.

The Program Director job call will be released on Friday, January 18, 2019. You can access information from grunt gallery’s website grunt.ca and follow grunt gallery news through our monthly newsletter and social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Contact Us:

Meagan Kus , Director of Operations

email: meagan at grunt dot ca
phone: #604-875-9516

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Projects

CURRENT PROJECTS:

Mount Pleasant Community Arts Screen
grunt gallery’s Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen (MPCAS) is an outdoor 4×7 metre LED screen featuring art-only content by and for the Mount Pleasant community, located at Kingsway & Broadway in Vancouver on the east side of the Independent building. The MPCAS launched on December 5th, 2019.

The Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency
In 2015, two celebrated Canadian artists, the late Al Neil and his partner, Carole Itter, were evicted from their studio home, a small cabin that had been sitting in a secluded cove on the Tsleil-Waututh territory foreshore near Cates Park since 1932. Over the course of 4 years, a consortium of arts organizations came together to save the cabin and transform it into The Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency. The Blue Cabin floated into Vancouver’s False Creek in the summer of 2019. In fall 2019, the Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency launched Skeins: Weaving on the Foreshore, the inaugural program of artist residencies, open houses, talks and workshops. Situated in the unceded lands and waters of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, the Blue Cabin is international in scope but deeply rooted in the histories and narratives of this place, offering a unique opportunity to learn, explore and engage with the foreshore.

Wordless – The Performance Art of Rebecca Belmore
A beautiful new print publication examining the performance work of Canadian artist Rebecca Belmore, that brings together documentation of Belmore’s 30-year career, as well as generating a series of new work based on her past performance. This project feeds into grunt’s long-term interest in performance art, archives and support of Rebecca Belmore’s work. This project also included an exhibition of new photographs by Belmore, nindinawemaganidog (all of my relations), and the re-deisgn of Belmore’s website. Wordless: The Performance Art of Rebecca Belmore is now available via our online bookstore.

Spark: Fireside Artist Talk Series
January 2016 – Present
A series of informal artist talks hosted by the Native Education College (NEC) in partnership with grunt gallery.  These informal talks feature Indigenous artists whose work spans media from the two-dimensional to live performance and beyond.  Their works fuse traditional cultural knowledge with contemporary art forms, pose urgent political questions, and push the boundaries of how we think about art, history and culture more broadly.  Join us over the lunch hour to be inspired by these artists in the NEC’s longhouse!

Together Apart
A loosely formed collective of 2S/Indigiqueer artists, writers and performers that followed out of the Spring 2019 Together Apart, Queer Indigeneities 2S/Indigiqueer Symposium, inspired by the Two-Spirit Cabarets held at grunt during the early 90s. With a flexible format of membership, Together Apart uses itself as a mobilizing point to pool skills and resources that can be adaptive to ideas, projects and partnerships as they come.

Digital Stories
grunt gallery and EastVan Digital Stories join forces with Mount Pleasant and Vancouver residents who wish to create short videos around the theme of PLACE. Artists Lorna Boschman and Sebnem Ozpeta host free workshops at grunt gallery that walk participants through the process of digital story making!

Recollective: Vancouver Independent Archives Week
A series of free public events, panels, conversations, performances, and screenings that highlight artist-run centre archives, artists working with archives, and the intersections between contemporary art practices and social movements in Vancouver and beyond. Partners: 221a, Artspeak, The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Rungh Magazine, VIVO Media Arts Centre, and Western Front.


PAST PROJECTS:

2019

Particles: Seoul to Vancouver
Particles continues grunt’s partnership with organizations and artists in Seoul, South Korea. This international program began in Seoul in 2018 with Instant Coffee’s project Pink Noise Pop Up and continues with an artist residency, an exhibition and a curatorial tour in Vancouver this May. Event information is below.

Together Apart 
Together Apart was envisioned as a way of making and holding space for 2SQ/Indigiqueer folks to come together and to be in dialogue with one another so that we might centre the conversations we’d like to hear or that we feel have been absent in our communities. However, our intentions were also simple: to celebrate and enjoy one another’s creativity and dedication to our practices, and to recognize one another in such a way that speaks across the distances we experience in our living and movement through our worlds.


2018

Pink Noise Pop Up
March – April 2018
A series of events that expands the relationship between the arts communities in Vancouver and Seoul, Pink Noise Pop Up seeks to highlight the ways that art interacts with the often complex social and economic conditions of the city. Based in the work of Canadian arts collective Instant Coffee, this exhibition includes installations, artist editions, performances and other collaborations that will take place in South Korea.

The Making of An Archive
Summer 2017 – Spring 2018
Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn’s project, The Making of an Archive, seeks to collect images of everyday life photographed by Canadian immigrants, in a direct, collective and exploratory approach.


2017

Journey to Kaho’olawe
May 25 – 30, 2017
Journey to Kaho’olawe is an artist publication by Hans Winkler and T’uy’t-tanat Cease Wyss. The book is the result of a four year process centred on the Hawaiian Island of Kaho’olawe, a sacred site to the Hawaiians in recovery after being occupied as a practice range by the American military. Returned to the Hawaiians in the 1990s, the island is being remediated and returned to its natural state. In conjunction with the launch of the publication grunt gallery and the artists present a week long series of events celebrating Kaho’olawe and the Kanaka presence in BC.

Spring Fever: Vancouver Independent Archives 2017
March 18 – April 8, 2017
This spring season, Vancouver Independent Archives will offer a series of free public talks, screenings and community workshops that foreground local art and art history by drawing on the archives of Vancouver’s independent arts community. Building on the success of Vancouver Independent Archives Week 2015, Spring Fever invites new partner artists, scholars, and organizations to share their approach toward and practice within the archive.

Intertextual
What’s At Stake? Intertextual Indigenous Knowledges is an afternoon of talks, panels and a spoken word performance which examines knowledge, power, authority, and sovereignty in the construction of artistic practices. The event follows from Intertextual: Art in Dialogue, a roving reading group that was held at participating galleries over the last year.


2016

Shako Club
A series of workshops in the Tonari Gumi kitchen and studio space around concepts of wellness, care and food where culinary “sculptures” were constructed, incorporating aspects of stories, ideas and wellness philosophies. By artist Cindy Mochizuki and members from Tonari Gumi.

Past and Presence: NEC Mural Project
The Native Education College and grunt gallery are partnering with Vancouver-based First Nations artists Corey Bulpitt, Sharifah Marsden and Jerry Whitehead to create a mural celebrating NEC’s 30 years in Mount Pleasant.

Cutting Copper: Indigenous Resurgent Practice
A collaborative project between grunt gallery and the Belkin Art Gallery, aiming to bring together a cross-disciplinary group of artists, curators, writers, educators, scholars, students, and activists to explore the embodied theory of Indigenous resurgence and cultural representation – both from the perspectives of their own disciplines and one another’s.


2015

Terminus: Archives, Ephemera, and Electronic Art
This workshop was a part of the 2015 International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA).  Organized by the Ethnographic Terminalia Collective in collaboration with Tarah Hogue and Glenn Alteen.

FutureLoss
Space, on Main Street and in Vancouver, is currency, and artist Zoe Kreye’s practice reaches through the overarching narratives of real estate, gentrification and speculation to consider the poetics of an individual’s connection to place.


2014

MAINSTREETERS: Taking Advantage, 1972–1982
The history of a gang of Vancouver artists who lived and worked together in drama, excess, friendship and grief.

30th Anniversary
Thirty years is a long time.  A retrospective of all that is (and was) grunt gallery.

Play, Fall, Rest, Dance
The artist works with children with disabilities to emphasize the state of making and being, the pursuit of uninhibited creative exploration that is void of rules, structures and concepts of ‘right or wrong’ and ‘perfection vs. mistakes’. Children are enabled with artistic autonomy and the artist thoughtfully guides them to explore their creative processes.  By artist Valerie Salez.

gruntCraft
A youth engagement pilot program developed to bridge the creative work being done by youth in the popular online video game Minecraft and artistic inquiry at grunt gallery.


2013

ThisPlace Vancouver
Rethinking ideas about Vancouver’s identity and history, this project attempted to compile a collaborative archive in order to expand the collective awareness of the city’s narratives.


2009

Vancouver Art in the Sixties: Ruins in Process
A digital archive of artwork, ephemera, and film.


2008

Nikamon Ohci Askiy (songs because of the land)
In December 2008, artist Cheryl L’Hirondelle made daily journeys throughout Vancouver and “sung” the landscape she encountered.

Beat Nation
Hip Hop as Indigenous culture.

The Medicine Project
Aboriginal notions of medicine and how they influence the lives of First Nations people and artists today.


2006

First Vision
Two worlds – curated by Tania Willard.


2005 – 2009

Brunt Magazine
Showcasing the artists exhibited at grunt gallery, brunt magazine is a complement to the exhibitions and a closer look at the artists, their processes, and the ideas that inspire their work.

 

 

 

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BLOG: Beyond basic, base and a little repugnant: the evolution of grunt gallery

Please enjoy this deep, but short chat between Director/Curator Glenn Aleen (GA) and Curator Vanessa Kwan (VK) presented in short form.
For our first blog, we thought it was crucial to set up the site lines for both the beginning of grunt and where it currently stands today. These views are differently expressed through two generations of curatorial practice here at our artist-run centre and are the focus of this back and forth email conversation between our two curators. 

 

VK: I think this is a nice opportunity to talk about the curatorial priorities/ thoughts about grunt, and how it has evolved and continues to evolve. Maybe that’s a good place to start.

First question: Every time I introduce to a tour group or someone who has never visited the gallery before, I always start with the historical details: the gallery was founded in 1984, and the impetus at that time was to be a place for artists who were not, for whatever reason, being shown or recognized in Vancouver. This led to an emphasis on many practices and subjectivities being represented here – many from traditionally marginalized communities; artists of colour, queer artists, Indigenous artists and performance artists all found a place to show their work and build community. Does this work with your own thoughts/recollections of those foundational years?

VK: And as a follow-up question – how do you see this mandate having evolved?

GA: I understand the introduction we give but these days it often gets read solely through the lens of identity politics which doesn’t really tell the whole story. Not to say that identity politics wasn’t there at the time, it was, but it also included other marginal practices that get left by the wayside in the retelling sometimes. The art scene was a lot more siloed then in all kinds of ways and galleries and artist centres fit inside of these silos in ways that don’t happen so much now or at least not like that. And that marginality back then wasn’t just Indigenous, queer, feminist, or POC artists’ communities but included outsider artists, graffiti artists, comic artists, performance artists, etc.  Also, contemporary artists doing serious work in ceramics or printmaking or textile work. grunt was really about breaking down the silos or working across them in many ways. I guess intersectional really–though that word wasn’t used at the time. Because of this plurality, people had a hard time categorizing what we were doing because it didn’t fit any of the reductive lenses they were looking at us through. They thought of us as all over the place, scattered and maybe a bit unfocused. In hindsight, I think that was really the point, but it took a while before some people got it.

The nature of the community that got created was really based in diversity. You knew going to grunt that you would have conversations with people who weren’t like you and see art that wasn’t like yours. The people who felt the most comfortable were the ones who didn’t feel that comfortable anywhere else. It was a community of loners in many ways. I remember Aiyyana Maracle saying after she made her transition that without grunt it would have been a much harder experience. It was the one place she felt normal and nobody was judging her.

How did the mandate evolve? I think mostly in response to the art world itself. It changed and we changed in response. In the 1990s few galleries would show Indigenous contemporary art. There were places to show if you were doing traditional work but it was much harder for contemporary work. Especially if you were an emerging artist. So, many would apply at grunt because they had so few other choices and we had to respond. You would show one and six more would apply. This is no longer the situation. Indigenous emerging artists are everywhere now – as they should be. As you know the last part of our curatorial process is asking if we didn’t show a certain artist or body of work would it get shown in Vancouver? That question we have been asking since the beginning but the nature of what work fits that category is always changing. But it wasn’t just oppositional though. I think grunt’s success is that the larger art world recognizes how important that mandate has been to a healthier art community.

In your court!

VK: I like this clarification of how things took shape in the early years. I think my tendency is to put a lens on what grunt did back then so it aligns with a particular cultural or political context, but you’re right – it was about a true (and uncategorizable) diversity of forms and personalities coming together. Paul Wong once said to me that he thought grunt was the “gangly nerd” of the Vancouver arts community, and that phrase has stuck with me ever since – maybe because the idea of a nerd is that there’s a weirdness there that resists a clear picture of what the future holds: the archetype (can you say a nerd is archetypal??) of the nerd is that they grow up to be something you probably didn’t expect, and possibly underestimated.

Now we say in our “About” blurb that grunt focusses on practices “that challenge and problematize existing hierarchies of cultural value” which is another way of saying we try to remain responsive to what’s happening culturally. I really appreciate this aspect of how grunt works. I think it’s typical in the art world to look at what has currency and try to get ahead of that curve (it is a speculative market economy after all) and I would say grunt has another kind of investment philosophy. You and I have talked a bit about non-proprietary approaches to cultural capital, and also about what it might mean to disseminate rather than accrue resources. This is ranging dangerously close to navel-gazing, but I wonder what you think about capital and how it has been disseminated over the years through the gallery and what it does. I say this knowing that grunt has also engaged wholeheartedly in financial capital expansion (we own the space we’re in, we have worked and continue to work with for-profit developers to gain stability, etc), and it’s important to be clear that a flexible approach to cultural capital comes from the privileges of having a sustainable place to be and operate.

And then, with all this in mind, how do you see the new things on the horizon playing into these ideas? The Blue Cabin, the Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen are all big new projects for grunt, and represent unknown directions for the gallery. How do you think these new projects will expand or evolve our mandate? Will they?

GA: Paul is right we were the gangly nerd on the scene and in some ways we still are. We certainly weren’t hip or happening or trying to be. The real reason we called it grunt was because it wasn’t cool or clever. It was basic, base and a little repugnant. And despite the fact there was incredible diversity among us in hindsight it wasn’t very politically correct back then; people didn’t watch their tongues and got called out on it all the time. That said in hindsight, also those were gentler times before social media and there was a sense of humour about it that there isn’t now (and I’m not suggesting there should be now!). But in that flux, a lot of things could happen and did. So instead of a highly negotiated space, it was more like a barely negotiated space and lots of alliances, friendships, and collaborations emerged, some still continuing. And the clashes weren’t hostile – they were enjoyed for the most part. They took us places no one else was headed. When you throw personalities into the mix things happened. And there were some big personalities all who left their marks. And they formed and informed what we were doing.

I appreciate what you’re saying about our cultural capital approach. It is non-proprietary but that’s only part of it. Our ability to take cultural capital from one place and move it into a different arena is essential to grunt’s history and something it still uniquely does. We have been very successful in taking our credibility in one area and using it to open up opportunities in a completely unrelated area where frankly we should have no credibility at all. This plays out in all kinds of ways. One of the reasons we were able to purchase our space 20 years ago was we had done the Mount Pleasant Community Fence the year before and worked pretty much with the entire community, so we had incredible word-of-mouth in the community at that moment. That paid out directly with the development company we eventually worked within a marketing deal that enabled us to purchase the space. They were looking for the community credibility we had, but it was definitely a big part of that project. The year before it probably wouldn’t have worked. Recognizing that opportunity was a big part of it though.

Those shifts have been essential to our growth. I notice we change modes every 6 or 7 years. In 1999 we started LIVE and left it in 2005, We spent the next six years producing websites and then in 2011 started into grunt archives. Now in 2018, we are taking on Residencies and the Urban Screen. Again though, we are using our credibility in certain areas to move into other areas. It always means we are moving into areas where we have no expertise and we need to learn new skills and best practices. In many ways, the work we have done in the last few years around institutional structures and how we look at them has made us more resilient and able to take on these challenges, but it’s still a tall order. But we were ready to expand. We paid off our mortgage so had very cheap facility costs so The Blue Cabin didn’t look so onerous. It’s an exciting project that mixes cultural production and heritage in ways we haven’t seen before and I think it will open up space for artists and create a unique public monument. The Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen was really more opportunistic. We were offered an urban screen to program media art and in many ways to take it at face value would have been problematic. By turning the curatorial focus for the screen on the community we have an opportunity to take this to places urban screens have never really gone before.

What ties our work together, though, is working out of a sense of a larger community, and that word “community” has evolved in meaning over the past 35 years. Along with collaboration, these two really have been present through all the stages. Also what has evolved, I think, is grunt understands its role in the ecology now more then we did at the beginning, how we fit in and what we need to do. Will these projects live up to their potential or our vision for them? I hope so, but they are both important to do even if we fall flat on our faces. What they become will be interesting to watch and develop. I think looking for successes and failures is not as interesting as watching the paths they will take us on. The work is the reward. I’m not sure they expand our mandate as much as evolve it. They will definitely give artists opportunities they never had before. That’s always good. 

Please come back for the next blog to be released soon at grunt.ca
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