Monday, July 19, 2004

Peterborough's Artspace is flooded -- Help!

Another culture crisis that needs your attention ....

Dear ARCCO Members and Friends,
On behalf of Artspace, ARCCO requests your help!

Due the flood and sewage backup in downtown Peterborough, Artspace, which
had recently relocated to a basement space in the downtown area, is
currently a disaster zone. If you have anything that you can donate such as
office supplies, energy/expertise or can help in anyway please email David
LaRiviere at artspace@nexicom.net or leave a
voice-mail at (705)748-3883.

Your help is appreciated!

Sincerely, Jewell Goodwyn ARCCO Executive Director
Below is the release from David LaRiviere, Artspace Director

Michael Davey at Canada Quay -- N. Post July 17, 2004

Carin terriers are known for their firm little legs and butts, their spunky personalities and tenacious habit for digging trenches in front lawns. Occasionally, they are also known for being natural acrobats at catching balls. Angus, a 10-year-old Carin terrier who lives on Toronto Island with owner and artist Michael Davey, is definitely a ball catcher. He can leap three feet in the air and snag a flying tennis ball mid-arch. He is also a superb ball finder, and on the island there are hundreds of lost balls that wash up daily along the shorelines. At last count Angus had something like 3,000 balls in his collection.

He has lent over a thousand of them, including algae-covered golf balls and waterlogged soccer balls, to the creation of a giant ball mosaic that is shaped in his own leaping likeness. "Inter Species" is on display for the rest of the summer at Canada Quay at Harbourfront Centre. Davey and another ball collector, Danny O from Boston, created the 16-foot long mosaic using close to 3,000 recovered balls, or "dead balls" as they are sometimes called.

Angus is considered a full collaborator in this artistic triumvirate. But this is not a doggy mosaic designed just to keep Harbourfront Kids happy while playing on the nearby jungle gym. Inter Species, the world’s first and biggest human- and dog-made ball mosaic, is also the third time Davey has made art with Angus, and he takes the collaboration as seriously as William Wegman does his Weimaraners.

Their first team effort three years ago produced a wildly colourful series of totem poles made out of plastic "floaters." Angus sniffed out the materials beached along the shores and lagoons. Davey did the assembling. Most of the totems feature balls and half balls that have petrified after being waterlogged and sunbleached for so long. Davey has also cast Angus’s balls and other flotsam into elaborate bronze sculptures. They are tree-like forms made out of beaver-chewed logs and footballs all bronzed into one.

Naturally, there’s an ecological message attached to this kind of art made from the plastic world that is swimming around in Toronto’s harbour. But there is also a populist-minimalist-folk art irony in giving such classical art treatment to mass-produced objects. Once bronzed, some of Davey’s works look more like Brancusi sculptures than old tennis balls displaced into new context. It’s a been-done aesthetic but Davey seems to come by it with a certain honesty and unwavering curiosity that works.

Inter Species is definitely more goofy than bleeding-heart art theory, though turning a micro-activity, like ball collecting with your dog, into a micro-art project has its own particular merits, along the same lines as building houses out of coke crates or making celebrity portraits out of noodles. The art is the obsession.
O, who collects balls without the help of a dog, says balls are different to other tossed items. "The circle is a perfect form, he says. "It mimics the moon, the earth. It’s pure joy. When I bend down and grab a ball it’s like I’m re-igniting it with fun. Square objects aren’t the same, and triangles are severe to me." Davey agrees (and probably Angus would, too) that there’s a heightened state of awareness when catching a ball. "It’s a perfect form in both art and sports," says Davey, who is also a former competitive track athlete. "You learn about freedom playing with a ball, and catching a spiral in an arch. It’s poetic." There’s also that human-head connection, the kind that made Tom Hanks pin his survival on a basketball named Wilson in Cast Away.

O’s collection has been built up over the years with long walks along Boston’s railway corridors where he’s been known to find as many as 310 balls in a single day. "I’ve developed ball radar," he says, describing his passion for ball finding in almost spiritual terms. "I now maintain a certain equilibrium of finding and not finding balls," he says. And: "I feel like I was chosen to do this, more than I chose to do it."

He has close to 16,000 balls of every size and shape stashed away in a barn at the moment. The entire collection has recently been bought and will be used to make a ball-covered rooftop on an artist co-op in Boston.

Davey and O are both surprised there aren’t more artists collecting balls. In fact, when Davey came across one of O’s "ball walks" in a catalogue for the exhibition Game Show at MASS MoCA in 2002, it was first time he had found another artist using balls. Davey called up O and after sharing a bit of ball-lore O invited Davey down to North Adams to add a new ball-art component to the exhibition. Davey loaded up boxes of balls and took the train down. He arranged all his balls in a trophy case and titled the piece The Great Lake Ball Vitrine.

And there are indeed cultural differences between Canadian and U.S. balls, says Davey. "We have balls here that they don’t. In Canada, we make more balls with dogs in mind." Kongs and foxtails, for instance, are not sold in the U.S., and cricket balls are more common in Canada. But the U.S., Davey says, make "stupendous" basketballs.

Inter Species by Danny O, Michael Davey and Angus is viewable 24/7 until September 19 at Canada Quay at Harbourfront Centre (Westside window).