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photo of Rock by Warren Ahmed Vivian

I don’t think other artists think as cynically I do in such matters, but I’m a person who believes the dairy queen and macdonald’s and ruby’s roadhouse and the decorations in the yard are as much culture as is the a.g.o, which means that culture was here before the first local native aboriginal fashioned a drum in say the late seventies or the first peasant skirt made its way north of apsley. I left the meeting CREATIVE COMMUNITIES Cultural Planning in North Hastings / OCTOBER 8th, 7pm ~ Village Playhouse other night wondering rather what that meeting was all about really though… what was specifically being offered to “cultural workers” (and in my book we are all cultural workers etc.), other than google mapping and advertising for galleries, and vague offers of wine and cheese grants to venues, and the cultivation of spin-off benefits for local businesses from the efforts of a few generally low pay creative types. I gathered that perhaps after years of marginalization here for their efforts, now artists are seen as a resource to be exploited gratefully by the same types who have deplored original architecture, pillaged resources, ineptly courted industry, uglified my town and now wish to vivify it on a model repeated in so many little villages it is said one can see the condo porch gingerbread, prettied up peasant food of other lands and vaguely irish historical barnyard pageantry from outer space. I felt rather insulted by their assumption that I am to be grateful for their interest now and their hopeful assumption that I am stupid enough to trust in their powers to manage “self consciously artistic culture” let alone a normal cross walk or a swimmable riverfront.
And between you and me my gut reaction is to retort a genial fuck you to the man with the slide presentation and to the lady who seemed to think that culture was a matter of tidying up car hulls (which I rather like to paint) in yards in coe hill and that lifestyle or taste did not precede her committee’s inspiration to brisker housekeeping, and I grew eager to withdraw further into my own studio, lock the doors, and ship paintings and writing elsewhere, so as to remain anonymous here with studio closed to prying eyes and decorating tip hunters on autumn colour studio tours.

I stood on the front stoop of the old courthouse, now the theater district, listening to a gentleman explaining earnestly to another listener that Bancroft was the most talented town in Ontario in perpetuity, by decree of tvo, as if it was no matter who lived here, talented, ham-fisted hack or no, and I walked off into Kafka’s night telling myself perhaps I am too old to be lured by the bandwagon, let alone to endure the leap onto it or the bumpy ride. Perhaps best to have nothing further to do with broader cultural matters.

3 thoughts on “creative communities

  1. Ooh! I hear you and must admit to feeling in a similar way. Still, though, every now and then I get sucked back into the vortex of community arts volunteering. The most recent entree was to design a unit of instruction on cross-cultural and contemporary ephemeral art for the local school district and public gallery. Already i’m feeling my skin flay. ” My students don’t have the ability to deal with art conceptually… this is too esoteric”, says one local educator of senior high school students. “Who has time for making art that disappears quickly,” says another educator. What a dull and joyless world these folks live in, and introduce youngsters to live in, oh MY GOD! Nevertheless, nerdy polyanna that i am, I persist. Even if 10 people pick up on the value of such work, my work shall not have been in vain. Still, the reaction most natural is to retreat and hunker down inside my bits of pleasure. to hell with the lot of au courant types and those who want to place generic murals around my little town! G

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    1. So paint a unique mural in your little town. Take a few buckets of latex paint and paint an intersection. Speak your piece with your art. It will be called vandalism and the local fire department will be called in to wash it off the streets. Contemporary ephemera at its best.

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