Robert Langen Art Gallery opens with Egoyan and Rokeby

Laurier - Robert Langen Gallery opening Oct2016 032 - Copy

Two weeks ago, the Robert Langen Art Gallery opened the first show within its new home at the Laurier Library. The capacity crowd enjoyed a performance/installation by the duo of Eve Egoyan and David Rokeby. I particularly liked that it was a cross-disciplinary mashup of visuals+music+tech.

I took a few photos, but before we get to that I’ll remind you one last time (ok, maybe a couple more times) about my photo exhibit in the Laurier Library with Stefan Rose and Stephen Orlando. Reception is tomorrow night, Thu/Oct20/7pm/free-no-pay. Join us. And be sure to check out this piece in the Gallery after you catch our photography.

Click through for a quasi-reasonable number of photos and light reading…

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Artist Steve Lavigne on tape

Steve Lavigne reception - Oct 2016 003

My friend, artist Steve Lavigne is giving a talk on Wednesday night (Oct 19, 7pmf) at Open Sesame. I took a few shots at the opening reception for his In Finite Spaces exhibit last week. You can register here for the talk, which is a totally decent thing to do so the nice people at OS can anticipate how many chairs they’ll need.

This piece, Partial Cubic Unit, is made from tape. Yes, tape. Mad skills. You should go ask Steve questions about all this. I did.

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Steve, jacket and all.

Click through for a few more pics, but most importantly get out and hear his talk about his work. Oh, and then you can head two blocks across King to The Berlin where Ellie Anglin and Co are hosting a show upstairs they’re calling ART BLOC.

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A thank you that reaffirmed my work

UW Mech Eng prototyping class 133

Every once in a while, I get a thank you, so heartfelt that it stops me in my tracks and makes me remember why I started makebright back in 2010: to contribute something positive to the community, to have made a constructive difference through what I’ve done.

This is UW student Sameen Waseem. I included her in a story back in February when I visited Prof. Andy Trivett’s ME101 class while they tackled low-fi prototyping. At the end of the summer, I received this comment on makebright from Sameen:

“I am a Mechanical Engineering student at Waterloo University. You wrote a little about me in one of your articles and its been on my list all summer to thank you for using such kind words about me. It meant so much to me and the excitement of sharing it with my friends and my family was truly such a heart warming experience. I cannot explain how much of a difference it made, I actually had more motivation then ever to work hard towards my goals. I exceeded my expectations even if they weren’t the best in the eyes of others. So I would like to say thank you and that your work makes so much of a difference, maybe more than you realize.”

Here’s an excerpt from that Feb 2016 post:

This hand is made by Sameen and her group. Andy introduced Sameen as the maker who sorted out all 3D printing in WATiMake on a co-op workterm. She figured out all the optimal procedures and settings and documented the whole thing (though she laments that “nobody reads the documentation”). I asked what the big takeaway was from that experience and she said: use the laser cutter whenever possible. She said one of the best uses of the 3D printers was to make custom superhero cookie cutters.

I talked to her quite a bit about her experience as a woman in the predominantly male class. This is top of mind for me as my daughter Arden has her sights on UW Engineering in two years. Sameen said it’s important to just believe in yourself and what you want to do, even if your friends are doubtful of your choice of studying engineering. She added it was doubly hard as a woman from Pakistan to go into engineering, but she had a lot of encouragement from her dad. Yay dads! Sameen is hoping to land a co-op job at Formlabs (who make that awesome SLA printer we saw earlier in this post). I hope the folks there are paying attention because Sameen is a maker’s maker.


It feels a little self-serving to post this, like I’m going thank-you fishin’. But that’s not it. I’m not given to whinging on social media, but some days this community investment work is unfun and I smirk at myself and say, “Self, you signed up for this.” This day is not one of those days. It is, rather, a great day. Sameen, you’re very welcome. All the best in your studies and career.


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Curator Suzanne Luke on Laurier Library LIFT Series


This is Suzanne Luke, Curator, Robert Langen Art Gallery and Laurier Library LIFT Series. Since she put together this whole mechanism through which I can exhibit my photos along with Stefan Rose and Stephen Orlando, I thought it might interest you to hear a few words on the vision. You are invited to join us at the Laurier Library for the LIFT launch (whoa, alliteration) on Thursday 7pm, free-no-pay/cash bar where you can hear some of this in brief and in person. RSVP here. If passive reading on the internet is more your thing, well that’s alright with us, too. Read on…

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3 photogs with sustained attention–Thu night @ Laurier Library


Hey, *this* is the week: Thursday, Oct 20 I’ll be hanging out with photogs Stefan Rose (left) and Stephen Orlando (right) at the Laurier Library for the reception of our show f/1.4 The Changing Face of Contemporary Photography. That’s part of the LIFT Series developed by curator Suzanne Luke.

We are so keen to have you join us that we met up on Saturday night in front of the library and held very still so I could take this long-exposure promo shot in the dark. Ideally, we’d ask you to RSVP, but don’t let that get in the way of you dropping by to say hello. From 7-8pm we’ll be upstairs on our respective floors chatting about our work and answering questions. At 8pm we’ll come down to the Langen Gallery just inside the front doors and hear a few words from Suzanne and continue the conversations. It’s free-no-pay with snacks and cash bar.

I asked my fellow photogs a few questions.

DW: What has your experience been like, putting this show together?

Stephen Orlando: The experience has been great so far. It’s been nice meeting everyone in the arts community in Kitchener-Waterloo because I don’t really meet too many people in the arts community.

DW: Anything you hope to get out of the show?

SO: Just to meet more people like you guys in the community to come up with new ideas and collaborations in the future.

DW: Stefan, why did you decide to participate in the LIFT Series?

Stefan Rose: I thought it would be a great opportunity to have work up for a longer term than usual exhibitions. To have it up for almost a year. And then to have as many students as come through the library to see the work, to get it into people’s heads in a different way. That was really exciting for me.

DW: Anything you’d like to add?

SR: I really enjoy the fact that the works, in a sense, become multiplied by the transition from the upper floor with Stephen’s work, with three very large images, to my fifteen medium sized images then to your explosion of multiple images.

DW: For myself, I’m always very interested in bringing the art to the people. I’ve supported efforts that do this like BOX Art, Art Allies and the Tri-City Stopgap show. Any time we’re getting art outside of a traditional gallery, it has an amplification effect to reach a broader audience and especially a crowd that may be new to the visual arts. Somehow art became separated from daily life and I’m optimistic that we can remedy that through shows like this one.

At Albert and University, this is Waterloo.


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My photos up at Laurier Library–yer invited…

Laurier LIFT photo installation 017

I am super-delighted to be exhibiting my photos at the Laurier Library for their LIFT Series.

The TL;DR: the show opens with a Thu/Oct20/7pm-9pm/free-no-pay reception at the Laurier Library (map) on Albert south of University in Waterloo. You are most warmly invited, dear reader, to join us. Free street parking on Bricker. Please RSVP. My stuff is on the 4th floor.

Our most excellent curator, Suzanne Luke, wrote of the show:

f/1.4 features three local artists who explore the landscape of contemporary photography in very diverse, creative and technical manners to ask much wider societal questions. The narratives presented in each body of work invite viewers to re-evaluate their understanding of the meaning and function of the world around us. Together these artists communicate the nature of the photographic – focusing on the making of the image, rather than the taking of a photograph.


That’s right folks, you get three photographers in this one show. Photography is often a solo pursuit, so we gotta band together where and when we can. I am further delighted to be joined by…

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my friends/photographers Stefan Rose and Stephen Orlando, exhibiting on the 5th and 6th floors respectively. Stefan shoots large format film cameras and Stephen does long exposures at night with programmable RGB LEDs. Cool stuff on both counts. And they’re both really nice guys.

There’s more! The Robert Langen Gallery was reborn into a beautiful new home on campus inside the Library. You can check out a heavily instrumented (ahem) piano + projected sound-responsive visualization installation by artists Eve Egoyan and David Rokeby. They lit that up just this past week on Wednesday.

I gotta give a shout out to Suzanne Luke who curates the Langen and created the LIFT Series. I first met Suzanne in 2011 when we were helping out with the BOX11 Art Show in Rumpel Felt. She’s a tireless worker in the art-o-sphere here, doing very difficult and necessary work as a curator. I am grateful to her for this opportunity.

I’ll also thank the Laurier Library under the stewardship of Gohar Ashoughian with a great team including Gord Bertrand and Nick Dinka as they extend and evolve the mandate and work of the library. Just a great bunch of folks there.

So please come to the reception on Oct 20. Come hang out with all of us. It’s a party. There will be food and drinks and good conversation. And please please RSVP.

Click through for a very few more pics…

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Kick-ass photog Ed Burtynsky in WR at KWAG

Ed Burtynsky show at KWAG - Sept 2016 053-2

Earlier this year, I resolved to attenuate my superlatives. You know… everything is “awesome”, “terrific”, “greatest”, etc. Well, I gotta suspend that modus operandi for just one post so I can tell you about Edward Burtynsky’s show “Infinite Change” on now at KWAG and the talk given last night by the man himself.

My hair is blown back and my brain is still crackling as I can’t stop thinking about: the work, the talk, the fact that this giant Burtynsky collection second-only-in-size-to-National-Gallery-of-Canada is now in the permanent collection of our Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery right here in Waterloo Region. This is a big deal. A huge deal.

Interlude: if you dig my community-building work through these stories, please support it with your pocket change. Shout out to my patrons who get what I’m doing.

The TL;DR: go see this show right away. If you missed the talk last night, I can’t help you (I tried on Thu, but you gotta believe me when I put this stuff on facebook/twitter/coffee shop), but you will definitely want to see the work, which now lives here. Like us.

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The gallery was happily jammed with hard-core fans (there’s my friend Nik, bottom right, who described himself as a Burtynsky fanboy and brought along a book of Ed’s work in hopes of getting an autograph).

I didn’t know what to expect in the talk. What we got was a most succinct walk-through of Ed’s path in his work/life that I found completely inspiring as a photographer and human. Particularly appealing is his utter lack of pretense and down-to-earth, super-chill comportment. From an early start in photography when his father purchased an entire darkroom setup and installed it in their St. Catharine’s basement, to his studies at Ryerson and then a serendipitous wrong turn and epiphany in Pennsylvania that revealed “manufactured landscapes” in coal mining country; Ed’s course seems fueled by curiosity. You can read wikipedia to learn that he founded Toronto Image Works, was inducted as an Officer of the Order of Canada, is an integral part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, and more.

Most interesting to me were his thoughts around the human condition and our impact on the planet. He wasn’t soapboxing; just offering images of what is. He talked of a moment on a 4-month cross-continent photo journey, when stopped at a gas station he realized everything from his plastic raincoat to the fuel in his car comes from oil. The origins of that oil were opaque to him. He started tugging on that thread back in the ‘80’s and 30 years later he observes that we can’t have this (the comfort-filled conveniences of modern life) without that (the horror of, for example, a plastic dump in China).  He noted that “inverted pyramids” created by quarrying stone deep into the earth in Italy are what turn into our kitchen countertops here. The insatiable extraction of copper from a vast mine in Chile is rooted in our cycling of smartphones every 18 months. He talked about the mechanical advantage of the internal combustion engine facilitating change of our planet on a scale not seen since a giant meteor slammed into the Gulf of Mexico, wiping out about 70% of life. Ed noted that, beyond oil, he discovered in his series on water that every major river in the world is now dammed. That causes dustbowls in old riverbeds, lifting heavy metals from their bottoms and floating it in the air across Los Angeles. He discovered that the Ogallala Aquifer beneath North America, one of the world’s largest, has been depleted of water from ten Lake Erie’s worth to only seven.

When I type all this, it reads like a mission, meant to convince you of something. But the way Burtynsky put it across was more along the lines of sober reflection, reminiscent of Noam Chomsky describing global politics and conflict. You had to be there.

Click through for more pics…

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I helped meta-make this: Maker Expo 2016


It’s been almost two weeks since we delivered another Maker Expo for Waterloo Region. Even when the show was over, there was still a lot to be done like thanking sponsors, returning gear, capturing lessons-learned, submitting expenses, surveying everyone and more.

We had a solid turnout at Kitchener City Hall, our maker-grant program for funding installations went well (in part resulting in this wicked balloon sculpture above by Drew Ripley and his crew of Lisa McIntire and Derek Wong). We had a great raft of sponsors who really understand our mission of inspiring people to make things with their hands. The makers came through for the community, delivering a wide variety of hands-on stuff to do. There are many dozens of volunteers who give their time to the Expo and the City of Kitchener provided a home for us for a second year in a row. It was a success by any measure. Thanks to all.

Sometimes I think my community investment on big projects is fueled by a certain amount of selective self-delusion. “It should be *easier* this year, because…” is usually how it goes. Those who create/run events know exactly what I’m talking about. There were a thousand details to run down and a few hair-raising snags to surmount, but we got it done and that’s all credit to the team. Now that I’ve had some regular sleep and reintroduced myself to my family, I myself am thoroughly jacked to dive back into my own making. That’s why we do this.


What follows is a wholly unreasonable number of photos I shot through setup/event/teardown. I missed a bunch of stuff because there were a number of things that needed my attention through the day, but I caught a cross section.

I know I say this all the time: this is one of my favourite buildings in WR.

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1shot #263-Rejoice Waterloo: pavement markings on King St S

Construction - lines on King at Allen 006-Edit

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Pavement markings are sparkling in the morning light on King Street South at Allen. This makes me disproportionately happy. Excelsior!

Uptown, this is Waterloo.


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The key to Doors Open Waterloo Region

48 Ontario N - DTK 002

The TL;DR: Doors Open Waterloo Region is on tomorrow (Saturday, Sept 17) and you should check out some of the 48 locations around WR that are opening their doors for you. This time around 19 sites represent the 2016 theme “Into Science + Tech”. Visits are free-no-pay and run 10am to 5pm. Here’s how it works: you look at the map, go to the location, take a tour, repeat.

I had a chance to check out one of the locations in advance, so hopefully this photo set will get your feet on the street, because after all, that is the key. Silvia Di Donato and Emily Robson with Arts & Culture at the City of Kitchener made it possible to get inside the old Legion hall at 48 Ontario Street downtown.



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48 Ontario between King and Duke. The city owns this building. Silvia and Emily are interested to get some community input on an arts centre and this vacant building is a good conversation starter. I suspect that you’ll find more info around that on-location tomorrow.

Karl_Kessler  Jane_Snyder  


I’ve gotta give a shout to my good friends who work hard on Doors Open for you. Karl Kessler and Jane Snyder have been doing this for a long time and the work stretches around the calendar. While these two are typically happier to be behind the camera (or nowhere near a camera), I’ll suffer some gentle chastising to once again point out that nothing here happens by magic: there are always people doing the legwork, making the phone calls, sourcing volunteers, promoting the event and a whole lot more. Thank you.

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