Wednesday, August 7, 2013



Oh. It seems as though I haven't updated this blog since uhhh April. How embarrassing for me. Well, don't panic guys, I haven't died or given up and moved to a shack in the woods. I'm still here, fumbling my way through life in dusty old Toronto, and man alive do I have some updates.

Lets start with the past!

I participated in this  ^ super duper fun even on June first. The Commonwealth is a new collective, started by Marishka Anne, Kelsey Stasiak and my gurlz over at GO HOME Print, Emma Sharpe and Shanley McGuire. Intending to bring together Toronto's small press artists and publishers, they hosted a kind of night market at the Sterling lofts. It was a hot and sweaty affair, ram jammed with vendors and folks who were kind enough to squeeze through the tiny space to purchase and appreciate everyone's prints, zines, publications and what have you. And to everyone's delight there was a SWEET bonfire to get drunk around outside and after people stopped caring about selling and buying things. It was great, lets do it again!

Also I should probably mention that an old drawing of mine was featured in issue 3 of GO HOME Magazine! The third issue looks SO GOOD, features awesome design work by Jenn Kitagawa, an interview with Mac DeMarco by Laura Lynn Petrick and a feature on my pal/ fave barista/ artist Shakeel Rehemtulla. Wowee zowee that's impressive.

Poster by Ben Jensen

Next on the list, I was asked to participate in a really sweet poster show at OZ Cafe in Ottawa as part of the Ottawa Explosion music festival. I got to show some work alongside some of my favourite Ottawa artists and pals and to top it off Vanessa, the lovely curator of the exhibition, not only bought both of my prints framed, but asked me to do a solo show later in the year! I was so flattered, I think I probably blushed and said 'thank you' too many times. The show will be in December, which is great because Christmas means people buy things. Isn't that how that works?

I'm honoured to be asked to do this and to show work at one of my fave spots in my rocking hometown. Whoever said Ottawa is boring doesn't know how to have fun.

Alrighty then, lets move on to the present. I have two kewl window installations going up this week! Isn't that nice for me?

The first will be at Gallerywest, located at 1172 Queen St. West. I've been curated into the east window space by my friend Brette Gabel. Brette is a multidisciplinary artist based out of Toronto but originally hails from Regina. I love Brette because she's funny and smart and kind but also because she was the first artist I befriended when I joined the White House over four years ago during my first year in the city.

I had heard about the White House through multiple channels and my friend Victoria Cowan was a member at the time. She contacted me that May of 2009 (or was it June?) to say that they were looking for new members and did I need studio space. Honestly, at the time, I didn't. I was making small illustrations that I could easily finish in my own tiny apartment. But, I was curious, and desperate to make friends within the artistic community (or at all, because at the time I think I knew all of 5 people in Toronto). So I agreed to go check it out. The old White House was located at College and Landsdowne, tucked away down a long driveway far from the street. It was really messy and I couldn't ever have imagined anyone using that place as a space to live in, but I was enchanted by it's weird crusty vibes, strangely sized rooms and creepy ass basement.

However, I was scared shitless of everyone. When I arrived to see the space, they were having a meeting about an upcoming exhibition at Gallery 1313 and a fundraising yard sale. Sitting through the meeting, I felt invisible and intimidated, and Victoria I think even felt the same way, even though she had been a member for at least a few months. I started to wonder what I was doing there, if I could ever feel accepted in this group of people, why I had the audacity to think I even needed a studio, and really generally just wanting to leave.

But in comes Brette! My friend Brette. I don't even remember what you said to me that day, but I just remember that you were the only person who actually talked to me. You probably have no idea, but you helped me to maybe think that I did belong there, mostly because I don't think you had any reason to doubt that I did.

It's just so funny to remember that day, being so scared of joining a community of people that now are actually all very good friends of mine. Vanessa, Jonny, Xenia, Cameron, Tomas, Alex... I can't even remember who else honestly but I just remember that before I broke the ice with everyone else, you were the first, Brette, and I was really grateful for that. It's incredible how being kind to someone, probably without even knowing how much that person was doubting themselves, can help give them the confidence to take a chance. And joining the White House was one of the best decisions I've ever made, truly.

Anways, go look at her blog! She also has a HAND TATTOO which is pretty bad ass if you ask me.

And, here is an instagram photo of the piece (almost completed) that will be featured in the window. Once it's hung and the vinyl lettering (oooOOoooOO) is up I'll take some proper documentation but just for a tasty...

Next we have the big one: a piece in the Window at Xpace Cultural Centre, my old workplace and one of my favourite artist run galleries in the city. I'll be recreating this piece (but with some new surprises!) that I made for the GO HOME Issue 2 magazine launch.

My artist statement for the piece, entitled 'Don't Go':

Don't Go is part of an ongoing process involving Dickens' attempts to face a specific fear formed from both personal experience and observations of changes within her community due to gentrification. The spaces we consider homes, both physically and emotionally, are constantly subject to upheaval and displacement, often unwanted. In this work, the phrase "Never Leave" becomes a simultaneously affectionate and threatening plea, based in a desperate desire to halt the linear trajectory of time, from which the loss of what we cherish the most will inevitably ensue.

The opening is Friday the 9th and if you are around I'd sure love to see your smiling face! Cheap cheep beers and pals and Amber Landgraff is curating a group exhibition in the main space featuring guess who? No one other than my friend Brette Gabel. She will be showing some of her beautiful illustrative quilts, including one that was shown in that very first White House show I participated in at Gallery 1313 back in July 2009. It's funny how things come full circle, huh?

I should also mention that my good friend Kirsten McCrea, artist and head honcho at Papirmasse, is doing the write up for  my piece. We had a lengthy interview to talk about it on Monday and wow is it ever cool to discuss ideas with friends, amirite? All the write ups for the exhibitions at Xpace are catalogued and included in a publication at the end of the year. I can't wait to see what she's written and I'm sure it will be more brilliant than my actual piece ;)

That's all for now! Next update will include documentation and probably I'll make a PDF of the writeup and oh yeah guess what I'M GOING TO LONDON ON SATURDAY. Nana nana boo boo, smell ya LATER Toronto!