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Mashup at the VAG

Cool, possibility of rain for the next few days. No complaints – when it’s nice out, impossible to stay inside, so weather like this is helpful. I worked till nearly 1 a.m. last night, got through the manuscript, will fiddle some more before sending it to readers.

In the afternoon, a treat – the Vancouver Art Gallery’s massive show, which takes up the whole building, called “Mashup – the birth of modern culture.” As the ad says, “371 artworks, 156 artists, 30 curators, 3 years in the making.” Of course, some of those artworks are very small, like a tiny book of poetry called “Cunt Norton,” somehow taking the Norton Anthology of Poetry and linking it with erotica. And some are huge, taking up an entire room. It starts with Picasso – what doesn’t? – and Braque incorporating bits of newspaper and wallpaper into their work, and proceeds to show that melange and collage – mashup – changed the face of art through all genres: film (Jean-Luc Godard, Quentin Tarantino); music – rap, hip hop, John Cage and others; dance (Merce Cunningham and others); literature – including “The Wasteland,” T.S. bringing in all sorts of bits from elsewhere. And of course the visual arts, Warhol, Keith Haring, endless others.

Notable: many, perhaps as many as half, of the artists represented are women. It felt as if a concerted effort had been made to make sure this was the case. Because it’s 2016.

To me, the exhibition showed artists saying, This is great – how can we break it? How can we smash it up and stomp on it and put it back together? There was tons of humour; it’s not often I laugh out loud at an art gallery, but I did in this one, including this:

By John Baldessari, entitled “Pelicans staring at human with nose bleeding.” Deep. There were lots of teens there with their schools (including a class where one young girl was there with her baby in a stroller.) I bet this is the most fun they’ve had at the art gallery. Hope it gave them some ideas.

This is the huge entrance hall, by Barbara Kruger:

Photos can’t do this stuff justice. It was not soul-stirring the way classical works of genius are to me, but it was greatly entertaining and even inspiring, to see the way artists reassemble what’s there, transform mundane objects, use their febrile imaginations to create something completely new. It made me feel conventional – my memoir: and then this happened and then this. Next one, I’ll toss the stories up into the air and see how they land.

Afterward, headed to Chris’s for our usual champagne aperitif. On the way, everything looked like it belonged in the exhibition, including this:

It made me smile yesterday. Perhaps not so much today.
A few more random shots:

Taken from the bus as it sped along East Broadway near Main. That little brown house is where I lived, on the top floor – at the top centre was my window – from 1978 till I moved in with Edgar in 1980, in a tiny attic apartment I called Cosyland. And it was, too. Amazing it’s still there, has survived the relentless, ruthless developer onslaught that is Vancouver real estate.

 Rhodos, a bush around the corner. Enuf said.

English Bay beach at sunset. I live a block from here. Have I said that before? How will I go back to no view, no ocean, no sea breezes, no tankers waiting in the bay?

The answer in a few words: Eli and Ben, Anna and Sam, my house, neighbours, Toronto friends. Two more weeks. Very happy here. Can’t wait to go home.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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