Windsor is Forever: A Short Documentary

With Portland-based artist-in-residence, Jason Sturgill, we reframed his previous project, Art is Forever, as Windsor is Forever  – a community-driven art and tattoo project that gave Windsor residents an opportunity to make a permanent commitment to the city. Participants chose from a flash tattoo set created in collaboration with local artists and illustrators to receive as their free tattoos, which were offered free of charge by Dave Kant of Advanced Tattoo, and Jon Jimenez and Steve Jones of Flying Dagger Tattoo.

During the event, Andrew Frickey captured the tattoo artists at work and conducted interviews. The results were compiled into a short documentary which can be viewed above.

We’d like to thank everyone who came out for the sketch night and to everyone who helped make this project possible.

Tattoos by Dave Kant, Steve Jones & Jon Jimenez.

Short Film Directed and Edited by Andrew Frickey ')}

A Proposal for Making It Easier to Stay Here: On Economic Development, Tax Policy, and Youth Retention

I sat down with a couple of different people over the last few weeks to discuss the possibility to rethink how we collectively address youth retention in Windsor. It’s an incredibly pressing (and yet somehow invisible) emergency. As a faculty member and collaborator with many recent graduates, it’s a professional and personal challenge to see people move away from Windsor. And yet, it’s so rare that recent grads do stick it out that it’s impossible to imagine how huge of an impact they could have on the city.

And, of course, it also begs the question — why do people move?

The draw of a bigger city, their experiences here in Windsor, and job prospects are all often cited for packing up at the end of an undergraduate degree, and for good reason. These things can weigh heavily on a decision of staying in Windsor after graduation, as the city itself cannot offer much in lieu of them. However, I have to wonder what ‘the thing’ is that might help recent graduates decide not to move away. What about this city might be able to draw people to stay and even bring people back?

It started with cheerleaders. Or more specifically, an idea for a guerrilla cheerleading squad. that went something like this: What if we paid unemployed recent graduates to show up to political events — city council, funding announcements, town hall meetings — to advocate for more resources being put towards youth retention? The guerrilla cheerleading squad would show up, make some noise, and hopefully draw attention to the lack of ambition and absence of real work being put towards keeping young and creative talent in this city.

But, that conversation led to an honest assessment of potential impact. A cheerleading squad might make the paper once, it might draw some attention to the issue, but ultimately, we wouldn’t be arming ourselves to have a conversation about what should be done, or what could be done with some imagination, to address the issue. The long-term impact would evaporate.

So, that led to another conversation. How could we enact a kind of long-term impact towards addressing the lack of initiative put towards youth retention at the regional level? It’s a conversation that I’ve been having for two years (and probably even longer), and yet it feels like the exact same conversation over that entire time.

There’s a reality here in Windsor that always seems to surprise people from away when we tell them about it. First, commercial property taxes are really, really high. But that’s not the surprising part. Second, there’s a lot of vacant commercial spaces and a lot of need for affordable space. But, that’s not surprising either. The third and surprising part is that if you own a commercial property, and it’s vacant, you can fill out a two-page form and get a property tax rebate. So, naturally, there’s little incentive to reduce the rent to reflect the realities of the market and economy here. And in turn, there are few opportunities for a young start-up of any kind to get into a space and get to work doing whatever great thing they might want to do.

Long-term impact will be driven by some radical short-term changes here in the city. These changes need to be developed specifically for Windsor, they should try to solve a couple of parallel problems (but not attempt to solve every problem), and they should be something that might be able to make national headlines. With that in mind, there’s a preliminary plan. It’s early, it’s naive, but it’s going to be further developed and researched. And, it goes something like this:

Instead of a tax rebate just for vacant space, that same rebate should be extended to allow (actually, to encourage) landlords to make their space available free of charge for new businesses, artists, and non-profits operating in their first year and still access the rebate. Businesses, sole proprietors (artists), and non-profits would all register to verify that they were indeed a new startup and they would find the appropriate vacant space and interested landlord — perhaps in collaboration with the area’s BIA. The landlord would fill out a very similar to what already exists two-page form, while noting their request for exemption of the necessity for 100% vacancy for supplying space to one of these startups, and ultimately receive the same tax rebate while supplying vital and incredibly necessary space for young creative people. In the second year of such an arrangement, the startup renting the space could pay a graduated fee (perhaps 50% market value in year 2, 75% market value in year three, and full market value in year four if they could stick it out), or perhaps they would just enter into a normal lease agreement. The bottom line is that the vacant space is filled, there is wealth and job creation, and most importantly, a young creative person sticks it out in the city. And, hopefully, we can tell the world that the city is doing this.

As I noted, research on this is really, really preliminary. There might be a huge number of hurdles or there might already be plans underway to do this, there could be a thousand examples of similar programs elsewhere or it might be a truly unique take on municipal action on youth retention and economic development. We’ll find out as time goes on.

In the meantime, if you have any links, resources, or research to share, please post it in the comments. More soon.

More Great News: We’re the Recipient of a Windsor Endowment for the Arts Grant!

We’re thrilled to announce this, and very flattered to be in such great local company!!!

Honouring leaders in Windsor’s arts community, the Windsor Endowment for the Arts (WEA) will officially present the WEAs, winners of the WEA Arts Leadership Awards and WEA Arts Grants on Saturday, May 5 at Windsor Music Theatre.  Ten recipients will be honoured including the recipient of the first Elizabeth Havelock Grant in the Arts.

Windsor Endowment for the Arts offers four Emerging Artist Grants to support the professional and creative development of emerging artists. Grants are awarded every second year to successful applicants. Artists who meet the eligibility requirements are invited to apply.

Outstanding nominations, from the public and recognized leaders in the arts culture community identified the seven winners of the WEA Arts Grants. Three arts organizations and four emerging artists will be recognized.

Arts Infrastructure Grants

Community Arts Nancy Johns Gallery & Framing
Performing Arts Chris Rabideau
Visual Arts Media City Film Festival

Emerging Artists Grants

Community Arts Broken City Lab Artist Collective
Literary Arts Kate Hargreaves
Performing Arts Crissi Cochrane
Visual Arts Amy Friend

Elizabeth Havelock Grant in the Arts

Visual Artist Shirley Williams

Huge thanks to Windsor Endowment for the Arts, and to Jennifer Willet and Rod Strickland for the nomination. We’re looking forward to celebrating on Saturday! See you there!

We Made the “2012 Sobey Art Award” Ontario Long List!

We’re really exited to post this … just found out today! We made the 2012 Sobey Art Award Ontario Long List! It’s incredibly flattering to have made it to this stage of the competition, and we owe a huge thanks to Srimoyee Mitra for the nomination.

And, in case you didn’t know, we’re not the first Windsor-based artists to have been included — Zeke Moores made the short-list just last year!

Ok, more soon, but in the meantime, here’s the official news from the press release:

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the Sobey Art Foundation are pleased to announce the long list for the 2012 Sobey Art Award, the pre-eminent award for contemporary Canadian Art. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Award. Following a three-month nomination process, the Curatorial Panel has announced the 25 artists vying for the 2012 Sobey.

The long-listed artists for the 2012 Sobey Art Award are:

West Coast and the Yukon
• Sonny Assu
• Julia Feyrer
• Gareth Moore
• Kevin Schmidt
• Corin Sworn

Prairies and the North
• Amalie Atkins
• Paul Butler
• Jason de Haan
• Robyn Moody
• Elaine Stocki

Ontario
• Broken City Lab 
• Aleesa Cohene
• Annie MacDonell
• Nicholas Pye & Sheila Pye
• Derek Sullivan

Quebec
• Olivia Boudreau
• Raphaëlle de Groot
• Julie Favreau
• Nadia Myre
• Ève K. Tremblay

Atlantic
• Mark Igloliorte
• Stephen Kelly
• Eleanor King
• Lisa Lipton
• Graeme Patterson

The 10th Anniversary shortlist of the Sobey Art Award will be announced in late June. An exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) in Toronto will feature select work by the shortlisted artists from October 24, 2012 to December 30, 2012. The 10th Anniversary Sobey Art Award winner’s announcement will take place at a Gala event at the MOCCA on November 16, 2012.

The 2012 Sobey Art Award Curatorial Panel consists of:

• David Diviney, Curator of Exhibitions, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia;
• Louise Déry, Directrice Galerie de l’UQAM, Université du Québec à Montréal;
• David Liss, Artistic Director and Curator, Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art;
• Ryan Doherty, Curator, Southern Alberta Art Gallery;
• Bruce Grenville, Senior Curator, Vancouver Art Gallery.

For more detailed biographical information on the 25 long listed artists and members of the Curatorial Panel please go to: www.sobeyartaward.ca

In Store: A Series of Documentary Shorts on SRSI

We’re incredibly excited to be able to post this trailer for the forthcoming series of documentary shorts, In Store, produced, directed, and edited by the astoundingly talented, Daragh Sankey. Here’s the background from the In Store website:

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m finally posting stuff from my work in Windsor. It is a series of documentary shorts called In Store. It’s stuff I shot during Broken City Lab’s SRSI Project. SRSI stands for Storefront Residencies for Social Innovation, and it involved artists from across the country doing residencies in three vacant Windsor, ON storefronts.

I’ve got a trailer up now, and the shorts themselves will start showing up in a week or two. To stay on top of it, you can follow the sitethe twitter feedThe RSS feed. Or, if you’re reading this from the main Angry Robot site, the posts will show up there too. Or you can wait for me to just beam the stuff into your brain, which I’m sure will be available as a delivery platform any day now.

What can you expect from this? There will be about 10 films total. Most follow an artist as they do their thing on the residency, but they’re not all summaries; some single out moments. A longer one will be about Broken City Lab, the organizers of the event, and will be a bit broader than just the SRSI event. One will be about Windsor. I’ll be releasing a new one every week or two.

What’s it all about? Surprisingly, many of the artists used the space less as a gallery, and more as a base camp for engaging with the city. They produced art that was questioning, playful, exploratory and thought-provoking. You will see: disco balls, transplanted plants, fictional security guards, roving libraries, Detroit, gambling, a long street of vacant houses. If there’s a theme, it may be the challenges facing post-industrial cities like Windsor, and the role of art in articulating and helping face those challenges.

Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it.

Keep your eyes here: http://angryrobot.ca/instore/ ')}

“Alive & Well” viewable on Google Maps

Alive & Well, screenshot from Google Maps, colour-balanced

Our project for the 2011 Windsor Biennial, Alive & Well, was created with the hope that it would be captured on Google Maps to make a monument or announcement of sorts to the rest of the world about Windsor as we near the end of the year and ahead of being torn up for the new Aquatic Centre. We did the project with full expectations that the timing might not be right to ever have it appear on Google Maps, but this morning on a random search, I found out that there was a little update — Alive & Well is now on Google Maps, when you zoom into Windsor’s downtown core.

We created the work with this in mind:

The city appears to have survived the lowest lows of the economic crisis and our social, cultural, and political realities seem to hold some sense of hope and possibility. Even while the auto industry continues to hold precarious sway over the future of the city, the opportunity to own our history and commemorate it should, appropriately enough, be explored in a vast parking lot. In celebration of our community’s continued survival, we propose to demarcate the launch of a cultural future for the city, as demonstrated by the starting date of the 2011 Windsor Biennial along with IAIN BAXTER&’s curatorial role, and the very fact that the city has, despite any hardships, not yet imploded, with the following text, “AS OF 2011.09.21, WE ARE ALIVE & WELL.

Huge thanks to the Art Gallery of Windsor, MacDonald & White Paint, and Google for making this possible.


View Larger Map

Towards a New Collectivity: A Declaration of Principles (for artists, cultural workers, & supporters thereof)

Above, some things I’ve been thinking about lately.

It may or may not be useful to you, but feel free to share, post, tweet, email, photocopy, etc. with a larger image or pdf.

HFBC Book Ready for you to Explore (& get a copy for your collection!)

Remember a couple of weeks ago, we received some copies of our How to Forget the Border Completely book? Well, there were a couple of print issues that have now been resolved, so if you’ve been waiting to get your hands on a copy, now’s the time! HFBC was an 8-month research project that looked at the ways in which we might actually be able to forget about the border between Windsor and Detroit. Whether through small-scale micro-grants or large-scale infrastructure proposals, we imagined these two cities as one big community across 150 pages.

You can purchase the book through Blurb. It should arrive within a couple weeks tops. We’re going to get around to offering a soft cover version too, soon. In the meantime, you can also read through a PDF of the entire book (p.s. it’s 72mb). It’s probably not as fun as having a book in your hands, but the content is there for your perusal.

This book is actually phase 1 of a larger HFBC project — think airplanes, scale models, and a few other things that will take a lot longer to complete than we ever anticipated. For now though, we’re just really happy to see this in print!

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUY a copy!!!

How to Forget the Border Completely is generously supported by the Ontario Arts Council.

 

Cross-Border Communication: We’re In This Together

Last night we projected a message from Windsor to Detroit. It was a message we’ve been meaning to send for a while. We wanted Detroit to know that we know that, “We’re In This Together.” And we mean that, in every way.

Broken City Lab: Cross-Border Communication from Windsor to Detroit

This message is part of a project that we started working on in the spring with students from Vincent Massey Secondary School called Cross-Border Communication. We had previously imagined the potential in sending a message to Detroit in a strategic plan we invented last winter.

Broken City Lab: Cross-Border Communication from Windsor to Detroit

With the help of the students at Massey and their teacher, my brother, Mr. Langlois, we did the math to figure out the size of the letters to make them visible from Detroit.

Broken City Lab: Cross-Border Communication from Windsor to Detroit

Then we wrote a proposal for the 2010 Rhizome Commission cycle and we were finalists, but ultimately we didn’t get the commission. So the project stayed in the background, and slowly we were able to gather the support we needed to secure the equipment to make this happen.

Broken City Lab: Cross-Border Communication from Windsor to Detroit

Thanks to the generosity from the University of Windsor’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Research Leadership Chair and Spectrodata, we were able to project our first message to Detroit last night. We’ll be attempting to project at least two more messages this week, as long as the weather holds out.