Border Crossings

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Sarah Nordean plays with media to find the best ways to make the monumental out of the mundane and to discover the power of repeated gestures

“The boundary between various art forms is hazy for me,” says Sarah Nordean. “I think things can slide back and forth between different modes of expression to get an idea across.”

The boundaries for the Calgary artist include the ones between painting, drawing, sound, video and sculpture. She is fascinated by repeated gestures and strives to create the extraordinary out of the ordinary. She’ll map her walking journeys via GPS coordinates, turn these into a continuum of related shapes that sashay across an exhibit wall to a hypnotic sound loop she has also created for the occasion.

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Ways of the Weeks

Holiday wrapping illustrated for Soapbox Design. Copywriting: Doug Dolan.

Holiday wrapping illustrated for Soapbox Design. Copywriting: Doug Dolan.

Ben Weeks preaches compassion towards clients. “You have to have empathy for people who work in corporations, ad agencies and marketing departments. You need to understand the pressures on them.”

You look at the face of the 34-year-old Toronto illustrator for signs that he is putting you on.

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Art for Government’s Sake

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I’ve completed projects for two Calgary clients that underscore the truth that a thing’s value isn’t found in its price tag.

Or, as Oscar Wilde said famously, “What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

The cynic in this case is the government, whose financial support of art, art education and public facilities more and more depends on proving adequate returns on investment.

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Annual Reports Aren’t Dead

Left: Scott Thornley + Company’s annual report for the University of Toronto Scarborough. Right: The Works Design’s annual report for Corby Distilleries.

Left: Scott Thornley + Company’s annual report for the University of Toronto Scarborough. Right: The Works Design’s annual report for Corby Distilleries.

After working 15-hour days for a month to meet deadlines for two annual reports, I can say that the market for ARs isn’t dead, though I may be.

I had heard from many designers that AR work had dried up with diminished budgets as the reports went online, reducing print runs dramatically. What once had been a design stable with eye-popping budgets had become a pain in the ass no longer worth the nail-biting deadline pressure.

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‘G’ is for Giffen and ‘E’ is for Earth Voices

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Above we see ‘G’ for Giffen, as created by one of my best friends, Lisa Burroughs. She is an artist who now divides her time with husband Tom between their home in Ohio and property in New Mexico. With its dramatic interplay of light and shadow, and the sculptural effect of the found materials shot on sand, the letter is part of Lisa’s Earth Voices, a 26-image series that takes the letters of the alphabet and imbues them with spiritual significance.

 “The theme of the series is a transformation of symbols, a healing and reclamation, a reminder of the true power available to us through our native symbols – a power that is personal, cultural and spiritual,” explains Lisa. “I was engaged in a tender meditation suggested by the natural world while witnessing the voices appearing in the sculptures. Glimpses of near perfection occurred, some recorded and some not. The sun, rain, wind and trees all had their say in composition, texture and light.”

In her former life, Lisa acted as an award-winning creative photography director at Newsweek and other magazines. She then made the transition from working with photographers to create arresting images, to stepping behind the camera herself and doing her own art work, of which Earth Voices is the most recent expression. (Visit Lisa’s site.)

See the following video of her work, set to trance didjeri music by Inlakesh, in a meditation on symbols, sound and language, and the land:

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Remembering Theo the Great

Published on Friday, January 20th, 2012 on the  blog.

This is how I remember Theo Dimson, an elegant and accomplished  designer, known especially for his posters. I was waiting for him for lunch at a suburban Toronto restaurant, in the 1990s, with business types in suits sitting all around, chowing down on the catch of the day. Theo walked in and all conversation stopped and all eyes followed as he walked to my table. He was dressed in black leather, black hat, his fingers and ears heavy with silver jewelry. A man of unique personal style, he was oblivious, or pretended to be, to all the attention focused on  him throughout the meal. The men in business uniform would have related better to Theo’s conversation, often about his beloved Buffalo Bills football team.

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