Art Battle Canada: Calgary

An exciting event took place down at Contemporary Calgary on Saturday night.  Doors opened to an art battle of a different sort from what I’ve experienced before.  This one involved on-line voting for three separate rounds; six artists competing for twenty minutes for two rounds and the top two of both of those competing in the final round.    I found it interesting that the playing field was a level one, based on the consistency of media, colours available and size of the canvas. Silent auction, live auction, a very compact space and bumping into (in a true sense) old friends and new, all features of this particular night out.

I didn’t have the real sense that the works were resolved at the end of twenty minutes, but this event was an opportunity for audience members to observe the variety of approaches /techniques that artists use.  I enjoyed the time out with my daughter and certainly felt proud of my artist-friends who had the courage to take this on. Congratulations to Mark Vazquez-Mackay who won the Calgary event, one of 250 artists in over 20 locations across Canada, battling it out in preparation for the National Art Battle.

It was nice to end the evening chilling at a backyard fire pit with good people.

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Thoughts on Being Ousted

Definition of OUST

transitive verb
1 a : to remove from or dispossess of property or position by legal action, by force, or by the compulsion of necessity b : to take away (as a right or authority) : bar, remove
2: to take the place of : supplant
 
Ousted from a commercial art gallery this past week,  I am exploring some ‘stuff’ on a Sunday night.  Now, I don’t mean that I was being ‘a crazy’ in their midst and the owner had to physically disarm me and boot me off the premises; I mean I was ‘let go’ in a most insipid fashion.  I continue to be represented by the most amazing people at The Edge Gallery in Canmore, Alberta and I have to say that I’m so honoured to have my work showing with such artists as they represent! You will never find two more professional people.  But, given the ousting, I am at a place in my life where I am left to think about everything that ‘that’ means.  There is a particular place in the ego where one relishes the attention of being represented by a gallery.  If you’re a writer, I imagine that it is the same thing once published.  For a dancer, it means that you’ve been chosen for the solo part.  In theater, you have the lead in the play.  Galleries have as much difficulty ‘getting attention’ these days as artists do. 
 
So….just recently, I really HAVE been thinking about two notions…firstly, that of ‘being ousted’ and secondly, what is it with a world where everyone is competing, not only in the area of the fine arts, but in all areas of life, to ‘get attention’?  I’ve googled the words, “getting ousted” and following are the first ten stories that came up.  If you peruse these stories, you will notice that one of the concerns that comes up for those being ousted is the notion or fear of being replaced.  From what I can understand, this is just another nuance of what was known in the 1920s as the Age of Anxiety…today, most of us do not fight a war in the literal sense, but we certainly do face a battle of identity each and every day.  We are afraid that we can be replaced.  And, in fact, we can be replaced.  The helpful way of viewing this is, ‘so what’.  It is such a liberating process to unhook from the expectations that others have always had of you and especially from the identity that was your facade for, sometimes, decades.  Now, I’m not suggesting that this is easy; I am only saying that it is, in fact, an opportunity. 
 

Ousted Profs People's World February 4, 1949.

Image borrowed from Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project.  The University of Washington fired three tenured faculty members after the Canwell committee called them Communists. (People’s World January 28, 1949)

Leaping down past my initial google search results for ‘being ousted’, I am going to explore this need, however briefly, that we have for ‘getting attention’.