Novella’s Art Guide February 2018

Untitled by Yannick Anton. Showing at “Of Ourselves” this month.

Our art guide rarely has a unifying theme. Normally, we trowel through the galleries in town to find what looks the most promising and relay it here, but for February, for Black History Month, we have compiled a list of solo and group art exhibitions and festivals solely featuring Black artists. We invite you to take note of these events, as a member of the Black Community an ally, to further your understanding and education on their perspectives.

BLACK ART AND LIBERATION: A PANEL DISCUSSION (FEBRUARY 16TH)

Our first pick is not a show but a panel, taking place on the 16th of February. While we’re always about appreciating art through individual viewing, we also need to showcase an event such as this, where art, identity and inclusion intersect beautifully. The panel features four Black artists: Dainty Smith, Ekow Nimako, Samson Brown and Rania El Mugammar. Each artist will discuss how they build inclusion and liberate themselves within their respective mediums.

Find more information here.

MICHAEL CHAMBERS (JANURARY 25TH — MARCH 18TH)

At BAND, their aim is to present works by Black artists, both in Canada and from around the world and connect them to a large audience. This month, their gallery will host a retrospective this month for acclaimed photographer Michael Chambers. Curated by Pamela Edmonds, the show will feature Chamber’s stunning photographs of nude bodies, which touch on themes of sexuality, desire, diaspora and belonging.

Find more information here.

HERE WE ARE: BLACK CANADIAN CONTEMPORARY ART (JANUARY 27TH — APRIL 22ND)

Beginning in January, the Royal Ontario Museum has put on a new show featuring the works of nine contemporary Canadian Black artist. Artists featured in the exhibition include Sandra Brewster, Michèle Pearson Clarke, Chantal Gibson, Sylvia D. Hamilton, Bushra Junaid, Charmaine Lurch, Esmaa Mohamoud, Dawit L. Petros and Gordon Sadrach. Each artists works in multi media, so the installations will vary from sculpture to painting to film, but each will evoke powerful images of the presence and history of Black people in Canada.

Find more information here.

OF OURSELVES (FEBRUARY 1ST — FEBRUARY 24TH)

The Gladstone Hotel’s February exhibition features works by Toronto-based photographers Yannick Anton, Curtiss Randolph, Nathalia Allen and Neva Wireko. The over-arching theme of the show is Black identity as it was described by writer W.E.B. DuBois, describing the Black person as having two selves: their true self and the one forced on them by the outside world. The artists engage with this concept in their own ways, creating portrayals of Black identity from the perspective of the portrayed.

Find more information here.

TORONTO BLACK FILM FESTIVAL (February 14th — 19th)

Film, in and of itself, is a  visual art form. Though it is far more commercialized than other media and collaborative by nature, it is visual storytelling with the ability to initiate debate and evoke emotion. While we don’t normally put film festivals in our guides, this month we’re making an exception for a festival that needs to be written about. Now in its fifth year, the Toronto Black Film Festival (or TBFF) aims to showcase some of the best Black films from around the world and act as a platform for independent Black filmmakers. The festival has everything from full-length documentaries and narratives, to shorts, to animated films, so there will be something of interest to even the most dubious of viewers.

Find more information here.

Bands Spotted: February Edition

Welcome back, friends. February is a strange month: Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, Family Day. And yet it’s the shortest of the year, leap day included. But as these mundane holidays washed over us, we had a chance to dig into a variety of sounds. To help you #turnup, power down or just sit and stare, here’s this month’s Bands Spotted:

SOLIDS

solids 35mm-45
Photo courtesy of Hive Mind PR

Solids are from Montréal and their sound is something of a mix between shoegaze inspired grunge and indie pop. Coming off their debut LP, Solids are looking towards a more articulate approach to songwriting. This is reflected in their latest single, “Blank Stare”. It’s almost abrasive in its sonic conviction and rhythmic repetition, but hooky enough to warrant some pensive head bobbing. With steadfast drums and vocals that are almost burdened by the weight of the guitar, “Blank Stare” creates a space for fixation, placing oblivion among scenes both familiar and estranged. There are a lot of bands trying their hand at the nostalgic grunge pop sound, but Solids stand outside of the cliché.

BREVNER

Photo by Trevor Brady
Photo by Trevor Brady

You probably know Vancouver rapper Matt Brevner from his Mad Child diss track and that’s pretty cool. But Brevner’s new single, “All We Know” pairs the usual rap showboating with an aspect of humility. “Getting money’s all that we know. Being broke won’t cut it. Riding ‘round with that blow, got my chain on, but I tucked it.” The track’s got a low key synth-laden beat, as is the current trend. But closer to the end, Brevner switches tone and it sounds something like Kid Cudi’s earlier, more psych-influenced material. Regardless, it’s a banger for sure. 

Plazas

Photo by Lauren Ray
Photo by Lauren Ray

Plazas is an electro-pop artist from Vancouver with a knack for ethereal sounds. Her latest single, “Silent Empire” is equally joyous and contemplative. Internet aesthetic in tow, Plazas communicates with a romanticized sense of space, using strange synth sounds to build a pillar of sentimental longing. “Take me to silent empires with you.” And it’s really well crafted. Vibrant, honest and wonderfully weird pop music. Check it out.

PET SUN

Photo by Laura-Lynn Petrick
Photo by Laura-Lynn Petrick

I’m really excited about this band and it’s pretty easy to understand the appeal. Pet Sun are from Hamilton/Toronto. According to their soundcloud, they’re a “deaatth garragge” band and I think that’s a pretty good descriptor to start from. “Web of Man” hits on all points of fuzzy pop gusto. Infectious riffs. Pervasive melodies. A proclivity for psychedelia and overall vibes. Check, check and check. Here, listen for yourself.

VULVA CULTURE

Photo by Jordan Blackburn
Photo by Jordan Blackburn

Hydromorphone isn’t for the faint of heart. With vibes both spooky and similarly articulate, Vulva Culture plays music for the melancholic and spiritually charged. And it’s pretty powerful. Channeling the atmospheric voodoo of Canada’s east coast, the group speaks with wavering guitars, hesitant drums and beautiful vocal melodies. But it all comes together with a grain of dissonance; tempting and simultaneously combating a more direct sense of aggression. “Hydropomorphone” comes from their recent release through Craft Singles. Listen here.