Highlights from Shaping Our City: Brainstorming Session

Walter and Victoria

Last Friday,  a group of us gathered by the fireplace at Civic Space for some continuous conversation and had a great time discussing and sharing ideas, even creating new ones together! With Edgar’s suggestion, we dubbed the night ‘Tertulia’, a word used to describe any kind of social gathering of intelligent or artistic thought.

The group

Walter lead the discussions, modelling it much like the success of our City Counseling Session in 2011.  Our talk  began with a project Walter worked on in the summer time called WE Data Glow.  Though he created small prototypes and tested installations, the group aided in giving suggestions on how he could take it further, including install locations, new design, and possibly ‘sponsorships’ from local companies for materials. That discussion lead to each of us agreeing that we wanted to see more art pieces like this one around the city,  but not just limiting to visual arts. Jessica, a lover of music (especially opera) hopes for more musical events that cater to classical-lovers.

Another thing that came up were the city’s priorities. Where  do we want to see money going into? What would certain spaces look like if artists took it over and had their say? What places do we want to keep, what places to we want to work on, and what places can we do without? (looking back to Sites of Apology/Hope.)

The notes.

We want to see art happening in places we don’t expect! Or, places we once expected. Like the old band shell inside Jackson Park.  Wouldn’t it be great to see a big band play in that big, beautiful park, Jess? Or, free outdoor movie nights in an old abandoned lot.

At the end of the night, we decided everyone wanted to continue this discussion again. We’re hoping for a monthly meet-up, perhaps in different locations. The more people that come out to join, the more conversation and a chance to build connections and make some of our wishes happen! What’s important here is that we’re talking, whether it’s with three people or twenty people.

Any info on an upcoming Tertulia will be posted so you can come out.

Notes from our City Counselling Session in 2011.

Street Installations by SpY

SpY - Balloons

SpY is an urban artist who has been practicing forms of intervention, mostly traditional graffiti, since the mid-1980s. More recently, he has chosen to work within the confines of urban elements, often playing with their intentions and using them as a “palette of materials”.

I suggest checking out this book for a nice overview of urban intervention art like this. Much of it has a strong element of humour, wit, or playfulness. To me, the strength of this type of work lies in its ability to ambush your everyday life, disrupt your routine, or at the least, make you reconsider what the things around us are made of.

Image Above: Balloons (2008)

via: Colossal

SpY - 0 Likes

SpY – 0 Likes (2013)

SpY - Live

SpY – Live (2012)

Lisa Lipton Discusses Her Neighbourhood Spaces Residency Plans

Visual artist, musician and director, Lisa Lipton a.k.a. FRANKIE, kicks off the 2013-2014 artist-in-residence line up for Neighbourhood Spaces (NS), Windsor & Region’s Artist-in-Residence Program.

During her residency, Lisa will be developing a ‘Windsor-based Scene’ at Atkinson Skate Park for her docufictional film, BLAST BEATS. Each scene is being constructed as FRANKIE travels across North America, inspired by the people, places and situations she encounters. Community members often become participants, collaborating and influencing various ideas, musical and visual elements within the work.

Neighbourhood Spaces (NS) is an initiative of Arts Council Windsor & Region (ACWR), Broken City Lab (BCL) and The City of Windsor that will locate ten chosen Canadian artists in community sites throughout Windsor and Essex County in Ontario, for 4-6-week artist residences. Supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, this new program will allow artists to work in non-traditional spaces in non-traditional ways, by embedding artists in community sites to discover, explore and respond to the stories, triumphs and challenges of the community.

To learn more about the program, visit: http://www.acwr.net/ns

Broken City Lab in Conversation with Julian Montague at Videofag

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Friday, February 1st, 7:30pm – 187 Augusta Avenue, Toronto, Ontario

This Friday, Cristina Naccarato and Joshua Babcock of Broken City Lab will be heading to Toronto to participate in a discussion at Videofag with Julian Montague. The discussion will revolve around the repurposing of space in “North American Rustbelt Cities”. Julian will be discussing the topic from an American perspective while Joshua and Cristina will be discussing their work in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.

Julian Montague is a Bufflo-based artist whose work frequently draws upon the socio-political ecologies and aesthetics of the American Rustbelt. His acclaimed projects include ‘The Ruins of 270 Sherman Ave North’, ‘The Shopping Carts of Eastern North America’, and ‘Abandoned House Project’.​

“​Videofag is excited to be hosting these three artists in discussion on the ways in which artists cities with an abundance of space – specifically in so-called ‘North American Rustbelt’ – are innovating new functions for disused buildings/public spaces, and in the process reinventing the possibilities of neighbourhoods, community, and the artist’s role within a city. Specific examples will be drawn from BCL’s own repurposing of Windsor storefronts and empty ad space on city transit.”

CUTMR Panel: Evolution – Design Conversations in a Collaborative City


Justin heads to Toronto this weekend to participate in Evolution — Design Conversations in a Collaborative City on Sunday, January 27 at 1pm in the Gladstone Ballroom at the Gladstone Hotel. We were there earlier this year for Nuit Blanche, it’s going to be fun to return! Here’s the overview from the curators:

In celebration of Come Up To My Room‘s 10th year, we are asking some big questions about design in Toronto, exploring how far we have come and where we are going.

This panel discussion brings together a diverse group of designers, theorists, critics and writers, this panel will offer a unique look at the intersection between art, design, urban planning and architecture that can and should inform the basis for a collaborative city.

Andrea Carson Barker – Editor & Founder, View on Canadian Art
Christina Zeidler – President, Gladstone Hotel & founding co-curator of CUTMR
Justin A. Langlois – Founder, Broken City Lab
Pamila Matharu – Visual Artist, Arts Educator, and Cultural Producer & founding co-curator of CUTMR
Zahra Ebrahim – Principal & Founder, archiTEXT

Come Up To My Room (CUTMR) is the Gladstone Hotel’s annual alternative design event. CUTMR invites artists and designers to show us what goes on inside their heads. Coming together in dialogue and collaboration, participants are limited only by their imaginations, making CUTMR one of the most exciting shows in Toronto.

As this is an important anniversary for this ever-expanding show, the tenth installment will emphasize the idea that formed the basis for the very first CUTMR — occupying and altering a space in a dramatic, conceptual, or experimental way.

Founding curators Christina Zeidler and Pamila Matharu return this year and are joined by Noa Bronstein and David Dick-Agnew.


Call for Participation: Regret & Resolve


With the start of the new year, we wanted to take stock of the regrets we have about the city or our roles within it, and the resolutions we might make to change this place for the better.

We want to ask two questions: What are the things that we know we should be doing, or wished we would do, or find ourselves scared to do, but never get around to actually doing? How can we take responsibility or ownership over our actions, or lack thereof, and find a way to be honest with where we should go next?

We’re wondering what citizenship looks like in a city like Windsor, and how we might be able to publicly and honestly articulate it.

Regret & Resolve  is a new project where we’ll be turning a series of resolutions and regrets into t-shirts. We’ll take online submissions from residents of Windsor and create a limited edition series of 50 shirts. Each selected submission will be made into two shirts — one for the author and one for our gallery exhibition. We’ll release all the shirts on the same night (January 31st) with an exhibition and exchange at Civic Space that will be open to the public.

We want these shirts to capture a moment of tension and hope in the city as we know it today and hope for it to be tomorrow. We feel like there may not be a venue to collectively articulate the responsibilities shared across this city, and that a t-shirt might be a good place to start. Printing these regrets and resolutions on t-shirts allows for a distributed conversation, a series of positions that we might take at the beginning of a new year, and a way to publicly talk about what we’ll do next. We’re really interested in an honest assessment of the things gone wrong, and the ways in which we might commit to righting them.

Interested? Fill out an online form between January 7-25, 2013 with your statement of regret or resolution. We’ll select 50 submissions and print them for the opening at Civic Space on January 31st from 7-9pm.

Submissions are now closed, see you on January 31 at 7pm!

Exploring Philadelphia & Public Talk with Mural Arts & Philly Works

We’ll  be visiting Philadelphia to explore the development of short- and long-term projects in collaboration with the Mural Arts Program and community organizations in the city. During our visit, Mural Arts and Philly Works will be hosting a public presentation of our work, and a stimulating conversation about how artists can engage people in conversations and collaborative actions that build stronger awareness of, connection to and investment in our community fabric.

The details, if you’re in the area:

Monday, November 19, 6 p.m.
City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program
Lincoln Financial Mural Arts Center
at the Thomas Eakins House
1727-1729 Mt. Vernon Street

Presented in collaboration with Philly Works.

Exploring North Bay (prep for Surviving North Bay)

We’re in North Bay for a residency in preparation of an upcoming exhibition. White Water Gallery is our gracious host (and for the first half of the day, our introduction to North Bay).

Much of the day is on foot, with cameras.

We record what we can about the city’s history and get a read of the direction the city moves towards — though this movement, or lack thereof, already feels central to the things we want to take up here.

We break at the edge of Lake Nipissing.

Throughout our roaming, we documented a lot of the signage around the (very tidy) downtown core — trying to get a read of how residents, business owners, and the municipality itself negotiates communication strategies — and certainly, what they’re trying to communicate.

And on that note, the night winds down with some very preliminary sketching around ideas of emergencies (or, again, lack thereof) in North Bay. Tomorrow, more exploring as we prepare for the evening’s psychogeographic walk, starting at 8pm. It’s feeling late, but it’s early in the project — much more tomorrow.

Single-Use Camera Tests: Captioning the City

	Documentation with single-use cameras: Putting letters up in city spaces (1)

Kevin and Josh ventured out with a single-use camera to test what the temporary installations would look like, as we continue to prep for Thursday’s launch of the Letter Library here at CIVIC SPACE.

Also, film is fun.

	Documentation with single-use cameras: Putting letters up in city spaces (2)

The letters look great and the photos aren’t too bad either. They definitely have a colder tone to them, but it works!

	Documentation with single-use cameras: Putting letters up in city spaces (3)

This shot was excellent — love how visible this is from a distance.

	Documentation with single-use cameras: Putting letters up in city spaces (4)

Recycling containers = excite.

	Documentation with single-use cameras: Putting letters up in city spaces (5)

Strange undulations in the wall = excite.

	Documentation with single-use cameras: Putting letters up in city spaces (6)

Blank walls = excite.

	Documentation with single-use cameras: Putting letters up in city spaces (7)

The conversation these texts have with other tags, signs, etc. are really interesting.

	Documentation with single-use cameras: Putting letters up in city spaces (8)

The prints. 4×6. We’ll need others.

	Documentation with single-use cameras: Putting letters up in city spaces (10)

Hiba starts to arrange these test photos as we figure out how we’ll design the exhibition space.

	Documentation with single-use cameras: Putting letters up in city spaces (9)

Also, on the to-do list — pick up our postcards today!

Grades for public infrastructure


Has this already been done somewhere? The idea of creating grade sheets for things in the city and then a space for comments or something? Might we take it on too?

This photo is of a page in the book Waking Up from the Nightmare of Participation, I think it’s a template of an evaluation form for an academic paper, by Melanie O’Brian of Meissen’s thesis, The Nightmare of Participation.