Limeflower Heterodoxy by Sharona Franklin: June 6 — July 3, 2020

Limeflower Heterodoxy
Sharona Franklin
June 6 — July 3, 2020
Window viewing hours at grunt gallery: Tuesday – Saturday 12pm – 5pm

Limeflower Heterodoxy is a new exhibition by artist Sharona Franklin featuring the slow decomposition of one of her signature gelatin sculptures. With this work, Franklin takes the viewer into an exploration of healing methodologies, contrasting the different approaches of psychedelic and plant based medicine intertwined within the pharmaco-industrial complex. The installation centers the experiences of childhood rural illness, contrasted with the alien and often dehumanizing experiences of cytotoxic and pharmaceutical systems. Referred to by the artist as bioshrines, the sculptures embody tensions and contradictions held for those whose treatments include both natural medicine and—sometimes ethically controversial—biopharmaceutical care.

Decomposition is an integral part of Franklin’s process, as she invites visitors to come back and revisit her sculptures over the course of an exhibition, witnessing their transformation in space, as time and organic matter collide. For the first time, a livestream video will grant the viewer real time access to the transformation at any moment of the day or night. The artist will also record the decomposition of her work, creating two time lapse videos over the period of 30 days.

The livestream and videos are available through Printed Matter, more information can be found here. The work comes at three different tiers: an unlimited livestream access, a 30min time lapse video filmed on Hi8, and a high resolution 60min video with textile edition.

This installation is organized by Printed Matter (NYC), hosted at grunt gallery and produced with the support of Vivo Media Arts Center.

Downloadable PDFs:
Limeflower Heterodoxy Recipe
Let’s Talk About Disability

Sharona Franklin b. 1987 is a Canadian multidisciplinary artist, writer and advocate.

Her work explores radical therapies, cybernetic craft, ecological systems, bio-ritualism, pharmacological and social inter-dependency disseminating mythologies of class and biocitizenship within disability.  Franklin’s visual media practice can be viewed through social media platforms @paid.technologies, @star_seeded and @hot.crip. Through ontological study and utilizing natural, salvaged, biodegradable, edible, print media and digital mediums, her psychedelic works invite the viewer into facets of biopharmaceutical investigations and educational community practice.

Recent exhibitions include Kings Leap, NYC, Unit 17, Vancouver, Canada, G44 Center for Contemporary Photography, Toronto, Canada, New Image Art Gallery Los Angeles, CA, and Flux Factory, New York, NY. Recent publications include Injustice in Biopharm, 2019, Cassandra Press and Rental Bod, 2016, Peace Library Publications.

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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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Update on submissions process due to COVID-19

The following is an update on grunt gallery’s submissions process this year:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant closure of our gallery space we have been forced to reschedule a number of planned exhibitions. The impact on our programming schedule is such that we have made the decision as a staff to suspend our annual Curatorial Committee as we do not feel it makes sense to review and jury work for future exhibitions that we are not able to confirm. The substantial delays forced by the pandemic have made this a necessary decision in order to uphold our values of high quality service to artists and providing them a platform that facilitates actualization in practice.

While we will not be accepting submissions until further notice, we understand and regret the timing of this announcement, especially for those who have already submitted work this year. Out of respect for your labour in putting together a proposal we will hold your material on file until a time when we are able to restore our submissions and jury processes. You are welcome to modify, update, or replace work in your file at any time: the ongoing development of artistic practice has been another key consideration in our decision. We offer our humble apologies for any inconvenience or disruption this may cause you.

Our submissions call for the Mount Pleasant Community Arts Screen, a 4×7 meter outdoor public art display at Kingsway and Broadway, remains open and accepts proposals on an ongoing basis. If this is of interest to you we encourage you to apply — full details can be found here.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us via submissions[at]grunt[dot]ca. We appreciate your patience and understanding as our programming model navigates a shifting landscape.

Take care,
the grunt gallery team

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grunt gallery COVID-19 Closure

To the grunt community,

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, grunt gallery will be closed to the public until further notice. All events including SPARK, our artist talks and hosted events will be cancelled until further notice as well.

We urge you to take care of yourselves, your loved ones and your communities, especially those who might not have equal access to resources for physical and mental well-being.

We will continue to support Meagan Musseau’s exhibition pi’tawkewaq / our people up the river online and in print.

Programming will continue via the Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen.

Our staff are continuing to work remotely, and are available on email to answer any questions. Staff contact info can be found here.

Love,
the grunt team

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We’re Hiring an Engagement Coordinator for the Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen

Position: Engagement Coordinator
Project: Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen
Reporting to: Program Director
Hours: $27/ hour, 12 – 14 hours per week. Some evening and weekend work. Flexible schedule.
Start date: TBA

Project Description:

The Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen (MPCAS) is a 7m x 4m outdoor urban screen located at the intersection of Kingsway and Broadway in Vancouver. The screen is maintained and programmed by grunt gallery, and aspires to enrich and engage the public through the presentation of media art that reflects the diversity, historical richness and creative capacity of the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. Through commissions, exhibitions, co-productions and partnerships, the screen features works for and about Mount Pleasant and the people who live here alongside programming that connects these local issues to global practices, ideas and concerns.

About the Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen and grunt gallery

The Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen is a place for media and interactive content both home-grown and far-flung, presented through the distinctive lens of the neighbourhood. Working with neighborhood producers and filmmakers MPCAS mirrors the community it calls home.

Programming the video screen on the new Independent building at Kingsway and Broadway is an exciting opportunity for grunt. We plan to develop the screen to encourage collaboration and represent the area in ways that showcase the cultural and community organizations in the neighbourhood and support the work they do.

grunt gallery has been a part of the Mount Pleasant community since 1984 and has seen tremendous changes over this period. During the past 36 years the area has gone from one of Vancouver’s poorest neighbourhoods to one of its richest. This transition hasn’t been easy and the social costs of thirty years of gentrification have been intense. The MPCAS has been born of this tension, and we seek to acknowledge both the Mount Pleasant that is fading away and the new communities  coming into being.

General Description of the Position:

The Engagement Coordinator works with staff and community partners to develop contacts, programming and strengthen relationships between the MPCAS and its partners in the community. This is a professional position that reports to the Program Director and associated staff.

The Engagement Coordinator is a planner, implementer, and relationship builder who is responsible for developing this new initiative in conjunction with the multiple and diverse communities in Mount Pleasant. We are looking for a candidate with deep roots in the neighbourhood who has knowledge of the diversity of its residents, businesses, community organizations and art communities..They will work with grunt staff to  develop strategies around programming, commissioning, and interactivity that engages the community and brings their visions to the screen. This is NOT a fundraising position.

The Engagement Coordinator will work within the communities in Mount Pleasant making connections and strengthening bonds between stakeholders and increasing visibility and access. The Engagement Coordinator is expected to work independently, but will play a key role in the MPCAS team, alongside the Program Director, curatorial staff and the technical manager.

Required Competencies:
Collaborative
Reliable
Committed
Independent
Community Minded
Tolerant
Creative
Flexible
Social
Resourceful

General Responsibilities:

  • Work with staff and committees to develop strategies and enhance contacts within the Mount Pleasant community in conjunction with the MPCAS’s vision for programming and the neighbourhood.
  • Design and implement an outreach plan that builds strong, long-term, and loyal relationships with audience members, supporters and communities.
  • Develop programming for the MPCAS engaging the heritage and cultural communities as well as community groups, seniors, youth and more.
  • Continue to develop relationships with partners and collaborators from the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations as well as the wider Indigenous communities of Vancouver.
  • Assist with content creation around community engagement that is aligned with MPCAS’s social media, website and newsletters focusing on their respective membership and activities.
  • Collaborate and communicate with neighbourhood organizations to develop activities that promote the MPCAS’s presence (eg. community events and festivals).
  • Work with grunt staff and established partners to bring local content to international networks.

Required Skills and Education:

  • Awareness of and experience working within the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood.
  • Strong knowledge and commitment to bridge-building within diverse community frameworks.
  • Good understanding of artist-run culture.
  • Post-secondary education or experience in community engagement, public programming, communications, activist organizing or arts-related disciplines is an asset.
  • Some knowledge of media art practices and production requirements.
  • Experience with youth/adult education programming an asset.
  • Ability to perform well in a team environment and collaborate with others.
  • Strong written and oral communication skills; ability to target outreach materials to varying audiences and age groups.
  • Strong organizational skills, able to identify and prioritize tasks with minimal supervision, work independently, and take initiative.
  • Working knowledge of Social Media, e.g. Facebook, Twitter and mass email systems;
  • Resourceful, hands-on and pro-active.
  • Proven ability to act in an assertive but professional manner and to represent oneself and an organization in a positive manner.
  • Ability to work flexible hours.

Business Ethics and the Workplace:

  • Must promote and set the example for ensuring a friendly, courteous, respectful and professional work environment.
  • Must maintain confidentiality of all personal, private, and professional information obtained within the course of employment.
  • Must not accept any gifts, loans or anything of value from any individuals with whom contact is had during the course of employment.

To apply: Please send cover letter and resume to Meagan Kus by email at meagan@grunt.ca

Application Deadline: Friday, April 17th, 2020 @ 5:00pm

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Merle Addison

Artist Merle Addison has been showing his own work and documenting the work of others since the early days of grunt. His sharp eye and gentle presence have witnessed some amazing moments of performance art in Vancouver over the last three decades and we can’t overstate the value of his contributions to the grunt archive. We have prepared an introduction to Addison’s practice as a research resource and tribute to his work. Thanks Merle! For research inquiries or more info about grunt’s archives please contact Dan Pon, Archives Manager, dan[at]grunt.ca

Merle Addison first came to grunt in 1985, soon after we started. He worked as a member of the volunteer collective that ran grunt at the time. He worked in administration and communication in the late 1980s. His greatest contribution was his documentation of our performance program from 1990 to 2010. From 1990 – 2005, using black and white photography, Addison would create amazing documentation in difficult settings in low light creating an amazing archive of Vancouver Performance over the period. During the LIVE Performance Biennials from 1999 – 2005 Addison documented over 150 performances.
— Glenn Alteen, grunt gallery Program Director 1984-2020

Merle Addison is a graduate of the Experimental Arts Department of the Ontario College of Art. He received his official artistic license there but has been scribbling and making things as long as he can remember. Back then he thought the best job to have would be a TV news announcer. They worked 15 minutes a day and got to keep the pencils and paper. He started working with grunt in 1988 and has been doing so ever since.

He is best known for his photographic documentation of performance art but his personal work utilizes any medium that you can use to make a scribble, from photo processes to soapstone on fine sandpaper to his favourite, a pencil on paper.

His performance art photos were taken in the kind of small spaces where the intimacy of the space allowed a close up of the artist’s piece. His drawings and abstract photo pieces are more of his own journey, that personal experience that defines us.

Merle Addison Artwork & Performance Documentation.

Image: Merle Addison, Quiddity, February 22, 2003.

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Wordless: The Performance Art of Rebecca Belmore

Wordless: The Performance Art of Rebecca Belmore

 

grunt gallery is proud to present the legacy publication Wordless: The Performance Art of Rebecca Belmore, focusing on her remarkable performance career. Wordless features full-colour photos and stills, including the new photo series nindinawemaganidog (all of my relations) and essays by Richard William Hill, Curtis Collins, Kathleen Ritter, Wanda Nanibush, Jessica Jacobson-Konefall, Glenn Alteen, Jen Budney, Dan Pon and Florene Belmore. Edited by Florene Belmore.

As a part of this project, grunt gallery commissioned a series of five new photographs based on five of Belmore’s previous performances. The new series, nindinawemaganidog (all of my relations), includes, witness, matriarch, mother, madonna and keeper.

Wordless is available for purchase via the grunt gallery online bookstore.

A member of the Lac Seul First Nation (Anishinaabe), Rebecca Belmore is an internationally recognized multidisciplinary artist.

Rooted in the political and social realities of Indigenous communities, Belmore’s works make evocative connections between bodies, land and language. Solo exhibitions include: Facing the Monumental, Art Gallery of Ontario (2018); Rebecca Belmore: Kwe, Justina M.Barnicke Gallery (2014); The Named and The Unnamed, Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, (2002). In 1991, Ayumee-aawach Oomama-mowan: Speaking to Their Mother was created at the Banff Centre for the Arts with a national tour in 1992 and subsequent gatherings took place across the Canada in 1996, 2008, and 2014.

In 2017, Belmore participated in documenta 14 with Biinjiya’iing Onji (From Inside) in Athens, Greece and Kassel, Germany. In 2005, at the Venice Biennale, she exhibited Fountain in the Canadian Pavilion. Other group exhibitions include: Landmarks2017 / Reperes2017, Partners in Art (2017); Land Spirit Power, National Gallery of Canada (1992); and the IV Bienal de la Habana (1991).

Belmore received the Jack and Doris Shadbolt Foundation’s VIVA Award (2004), the Hnatyshyn Visual Arts Award (2009), the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2013), and the Gershon Iskowitz Prize (2016). She received honourary doctorates from OCAD University (2005) and Emily Carr University of Art + Design (2018).

Presented by grunt gallery and the Audain Art Museum. Published by Information Office. Wordless was funded through Canada Council for the Arts 150 Program, New Chapter and the Audain Art Museum. Wordless is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Art’s New Chapter initiative.

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Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen


grunt gallery is proud to announce the launch of the Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen (MPCAS). The MPCAS is a 4×7 metre outdoor urban screen showing art-only content by and for the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood of Vancouver, and officially went live on December 5th, 2019.

The MPCAS reflects its neighbourhood through artwork by local and commissioned artists, with a special focus on works exploring the area’s history, its current vitality and its future. This art-specific urban screen brings new digital technology to Mount Pleasant and the City of Vancouver with an inaugural year of non-commercial programming around the theme of PLACE, presenting a diverse range of visual and media art by over fifty artists, community members, and community festivals reflecting on what it is to live in a changing Mount Pleasant neighbourhood.The MPCAS will feature new commissioned work by Paul Wong, Amanda Strong and Kevin Lee Burton as well as special curated content by Justin Ducharme, Sebnem Ozpeta and Lianne Zannier! The screen will also feature original Digital Stories created by local residents specifically for MPCAS through a series of workshops led by artist Lorna Boschman. With over 6 hours of digital art, photography, video, time-based media, animation, performance, interactive art, GIFs, super 8 film, storytelling and more, our community programming further includes work by: Elizabeth Milton, Emilie Crewe, Margaret Dragu, John Allison, Russell Wallace, Hank Bull, Steven Thomas Davies + Jeanette Kotowich and Cheyenne Rain LeGrande. Learn more about the MPCAS and its inaugural programming here.

The MPCAS is produced by grunt gallery and generously supported by the Vancouver Foundation, RIZE Corporation, Canada Council for the Arts, Creative BC, and the City of Vancouver. The MPCAS is part of the City of Vancouver’s Public Art program.

Location: Intersection of Broadway & Kingsway, Vancouver, on the east side of the Independent Building
Screen Hours: Sunday to Thursday: 9AM to 9:30PM / Friday & Saturday: 9AM to 10:30PM

For more information:  visit mpcas.ca or email communications(at)grunt(dot)ca

Follow the Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay in the loop!

Image: Amanda Strong, Ghosts, stop-motion animation, 6 minutes, 2018.

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Blackberry and Hedy

Dear readers, 

The time has come, the final installation of Hedy Wood’s Pet Peeves is here. Now, dry your tears and read on as Hedy turns her investigation on her own pet, Blackberry. 

After about a year of talking to the pets at grunt, and seeing all those lovely relationships between pets and people, something dawned on me. It seemed like the only place I was truly going to find any complaints, or peeves, was probably right in my own home. I’ve noticed Blackberry sometimes has quite a peeve-ish little look on her face… not that she isn’t the nicest cat in the world, because she is. Still, I felt I could likely uncover something

The two of us often go for quite a long time without talking too much. I might ask,

“How about some lunch?”

And she’ll say, “Yes, I believe I mentioned that three hours ago.”

Or, I can say, “Isn’t it about time we trimmed those claws of yours?”

And she’ll respond with “I’d better go and hang out under the bed for several hours…”

We can go on like this for ages. But I liked the idea of interviewing her. We have a cute story about when we met that people might like to hear….

Me: Remember, Blackberry, when I rescued you from that cage at the PetSmart store in North Van? Was it 10 years ago now?

Blackberry: Aren’t you kind of leaving out the part where you were online dating another cat!? And then you went to meet up with that cat, and she bit you?

Me: Oh right, yeah, I forgot about that…

Blackberry: Then she got a bad case of diarrhea! And you were all scratched up! And it was about then that you saw me, and realized how great I am… and since we’re talking about it, why exactly do you always tell this story as though YOU rescued ME? More like the other way round in my opinion… and what actually is it that makes you think this apartment is so much larger than that cage anyway? Ha ha ha. Ha.

Me: Gee, I’m so glad we’re doing this.

Blackberry: Ha. Snort. Heh heh…

Me: Okay, okay, don’t cough up a hairball! Let’s try talking about something nice… Or at least not too diminishing for me…

Blackberry: Sounds good. What did you have in mind?

 

Me: Well, how about if you answer the age-old question, why do cats follow people into the bathroom?

Blackberry: Well, ha! It’s just so FUNNY! You’re in there with no proper litter box, only a bit of paper and a big flush-y thing! Ha ha ha!!!

Me: Hmm, I see, I may never go again now that I know that. I mean, I don’t laugh at your litter box.

Blackberry: The flushing!!! The paper!! HA!

Me: Well, try not to lose control completely… none of the other cats I talked to mentioned any of this.

Blackberry: Did you ASK them?! Oh my big aunt Betty! What a hoot.

By this time I was sort of struggling to achieve an interview with some dignity while Blackberry continued rolling around on the floor and giggling. She was acting like a person with a bad case of the sillies, and I feared that any subject I mentioned would only bring on more hysteria. But I still had a couple of questions on my list.

Me: And what is it with cats and toenail trimming anyway? Why not just sit quietly and get your nails clipped? What’s the big hairy deal with that?!

Blackberry was using her paw to wipe a tear from her eye. Remember when I BIT you so hard when you tried to trim my claws?! The BLOOD?! Ha ha ha!!!

Me: Right, so funny I forgot to laugh. I’m beginning to realize why we don’t always talk that much!

Blackberry: Ok, ok don’t get your fur in a knot. I’m just trying to have some fun. What is actually on your mind anyway?

Me: I’m just trying to find out if you have any complaints, you know, anything we could improve on around here.

Blackberry: So glad you asked! For one thing, what’s with the nicknames? Is there a being on the planet who would enjoy being called Bumblebooby? Or Boobleberry? Or Binkybumbles?

Me: Got it, I thought that was kind of cute.

Blackberry: Fudge! It’s about as cute as the complete and utter lack of FOOD around this place!

Me: Well, there IS food, and the vet said…

Blackberry: Vet, shmet!

Me: The vet said that 15 pounds is too large. He said you were registering in at a nine on the cat obesity scale, which, by the way, only goes to nine…

Blackberry: Nonsense. I am a full-figured cat, and I have big hair, period. And that reminds me, have you actually been cutting my treats in HALF?! Who DOES that?

Now, I do that, and had been doing it for months because of the cat obesity thing, but I wasn’t ready to admit it…

Me: Of course I’m not doing that! Who would do that? You must be paranoid.

Blackberry: Maybe, but at least I don’t go to the bathroom in a big vat of water.

Me: You’re not being very mature right now.

Blackberry: Ha! That’s probably because I am starving to DEATH around here. How about doling out one of those miniature treats? I hear that when other cats are interviewed, they get treats by the handful, like the actual sized ones…

Okay, I couldn’t really lie about that to her. So I gave her a few half treats, and then we stopped talking. We just went back to our regular amount of talking, and that seemed for the best. I still had a few unanswered questions, like why SIT in the box of pieces when I’m working on a jigsaw puzzle? Or, what is so great about burrowing under the bed covers and staying in there for hours? But maybe those were best left for another day, Blackberry seemed to be trying very hard to subdue her fits of giggling… and I had to go to the bathroom…

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Pet Peeves: Jackson and Nellie

As we near the end of the Pet Peeves series, Hedy Wood introduces us to Jackson, a blue-eyed bad boy, and Nellie, another grunt curatorial intern.

I met up with Nellie and retired bad boy Jackson Pawluck at their place, and I have to admit, I was so taken with the apartment, it hardly registered how thoroughly Jackson was ignoring me. It is a beautiful apartment. It really made my apartment look like a bunker in a ghetto… the windows! The light! The fireplace!!!! But, professional that I am, I tried mightily to stop staring at the claw foot bathtub, and focus on the interview at hand.

Now, Nellie had told me about Jackson’s badass past and his history of aggression. I mean, he’s basically under house arrest these days and not allowed to go outside due to the damage he does to other cats. Apparently, he would chase them across the street in an attempt to get them hit by cars!! You can imagine how tentatively I was rattling the treat bag, I was expecting to be assaulted by a snarling mass of aggressive cat fury.

The thing is, Jackson really is retired these days. At 15, he’s a senior cat. It was easy enough to see this when he finally emerged from under the bed wearing the cat equivalent of old brown slippers and a white cardigan with little pill-y balls on it. (See pictures.) He also has a couple of habits that made me wonder if his hearing is going a bit. He did not respond at all to the treat bag rattling, and he had a tendency to YELL when he was talking. Before he emerged from his napping area in the bedroom, I could have sworn he was hollering about “not wanting to meet any more goddamn PEOPLE, because what is the POINT of them?!” But of course, I could be wrong… And he did greet me in a friendly enough fashion.

 

Me: Hi there Jackson, treat?

Jackson: HELLO. YES, I’LL HAVE ONE, JUST HAVE TO BE CAREFUL OF MY TEETH!

Me: Oh, of course, we all do really…

Jackson: CRUNCH CRUNCH

Me: So, I hear you’ve got a bit of a reputation as a badass? Bit of a brawler? You can tell me anything you know, this is a completely non-judgemental environment right here.

Jackson: HA! If I did ever beat anyone up, and I’m not saying that I did, they certainly would have deserved it. Allegedly, of course… ANY MORE OF THOSE TREATS? They are a lot better than I thought they’d be.

Me: Yes, yes. Oh, I hear you’ve also been known to attack people as well. Do you have anything to add to that?

Jackson: BALONEY!! PROVE IT!!

Hey, those treats are making me thirsty, get Nellie to turn on the bathroom sink, will ya? I don’t like drinking out of that CAT FOUNTAIN! Whose idea was that thing anyway?! It’s so SILLY.

Me: Well, Jackson, of course, I have no proof whatsoever that you attacked other cats. I just met you and you seem a lot less cranky than most of my friends….

So, tell me, it’s my job to discover if you are having any problems at all, living here, in this beautiful apartment that is so much better than my place. Any problems with Nellie at all? Or her mum?

Jackson: I do not have a single problem! Everything here is just peachy keen, Nellie is wonderful. However, I fail to see why the pate cat food is doled out in such skimpy portions. Cats in retirement need to keep their strength up! And, frankly, since I’ve given up my alleged brawling, eating is one of my main pleasures… you look pretty old, so I’m sure you can understand… got any more of those treats on you?

Me: Of course.

Jackson: You want to know what else I think?

Me: That’s why I’m here…

Jackson: Any couch or chair is ALWAYS improved by a bit of cat scratching! That’s where I do some of my best artwork… I think people are just too uptight about keeping things in the same condition they bought them in…

I began to realize that anyone that ages and matures is bound to have a lot of opinions. Jackson is no exception to this rule. Over the course of our brief visit, I heard his take on many subjects before he returned to his nappy area.

This is some of what he had to say.

First, and foremost, any violence done by him to other cats or humans is ALLEGED. Period.

Also, why did Nellie have to go to university for FIVE years?! Too long, and STUPID.

Paté cat food is far superior to that chunky stuff.

And, last but not least, why do they plant large trees on top of buildings? Stupid!

Jackson followed all this up with the quintessential cat complaint, where is the FOOD?

Me: Well, now Jackson, you look quite well-fed, what exactly is your complaint about the food?

Jackson: Well, girly, WHERE is it?! Don’t you try to tell me that I’ve already eaten a bowl of cat food today! Or that I may or may not have short term memory loss! Bananas! You think I’m standing by that food bowl yelling for absolutely no reason? Phooey! Don’t sass me.

I hated to leave that lovely apartment, I really did. But I had begun to fear that Jackson might return to his bad boy ways, and I was slightly worried he might chuck a slipper at my head…

Me: Jackson, this has been great, but I’d better get back to my own cat now. Would you like a treat for the road?

Jackson: Yeah, yeah, I could use a bit of a nap now anyway… don’t forget to talk to Nellie about leaving the bathroom sink running for me. I’m not standing in there screaming for my health ya know…

Me: Of course, great to meet you… I’ll tell my cat Blackberry you said hi…

Jackson: Why the hell would you do that? I don’t like talking to strangers… you shoo now! Don’t make me take off this slipper!!

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