Art Metropole is excited to announce the launch of a new edition Circle Jerk.The new fundraising edition features 16 artists who each created a new poster for Art Met. As the name implies Circle Jerk is an ad hoc group of queer artists lending each other a hand. What began in 2007 with an original group of 13 artists has grown to 16 participants. Each artist has contributed a work from their current production. There is no specific curatorial premise; nonetheless the works connect with a shared attitude.
Participating artists include Andy Fabo, Brendan Fernandes, Bruce LaBruce, John Greyson, Daryl Vocat, Glenn Ligon, Stephen Andrews, Luis Jacob, David Altmejd, Chris Curreri, John McLachlin, Micah Lexier, Peter Kingstone, Will Munro, Ed Pien, and David Grenier.
The posters will be clandestinely distributed on the streets to coincide with Art Toronto 2009 in late October. There is no didactic component to the street campaign. The posters will find an audience by chance, provoking questions or reactions.
A signed, limited edition is available for purchase as a fundraiser for Art Metropole. The set is packaged in a custom-made portfolio carrying case printed with artistsâ€™ names and the title Circle Jerk 2009 displayed in pink text.
The edition has been produced in a very limited quantity of 50 sets of all 16 posters, full colour offset printed, signed and numbered.
Circle Jerk, Toronto, 2009
16 posters; 33 × 48 cm, signed & numbered edition of 50, full colour offset.
Packaged set of 16 signed posters.
Several AP’s remain available for sale.
Andy Fabo is an artist, critic, curator and activist living in Toronto. Born and raised in Calgary, he attended the University of Calgary and the Alberta College of Art before he moved to Toronto in 1975. He has also lived in Paris, France (1972-73) and New York (1984-86) where he held the residency of the Canada Council studio at P.S.1. He first exhibited at Toronto’s A Space in 1978 and has since shown extensively locally, nationally and internationally. He has received numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council.
Andy Fabo first became known as a painter, in association with ChromaZone, the collective that spearheaded Toronto’s figurative painting movement of the early eighties. Since the mid-eighties, however, he has made a shift in media and is now working primarily in drawing, installation, video and digital imaging. He considers drawing and collage to be the central pillars of his art practice. His work has always dealt with personal identity, often in a social context, focusing on his position as a gay man in this society.
As an art writer he has published in Parachute, Mix, Fuse, C magazine, Lola, Parallelogram, M5V, and Dance Connection in addition to numerous commissioned catalogue and brochure essays that have accompanied exhibitions by various artists. Most recently he wrote Parachute’s cover feature, The Meaning of Flux in the Art of Tom Dean, about the artist chosen to represent Canada at the 1999 Venice Biennial
As one of the co-founders of ChromaZone (1981-85), Andy Fabo co-curated several exhibitions with other members of the collective. Most notoriously, Tim Jocelyn and Andy Fabo collaborated as the curators of monumental Chromaliving, exhibiting more than 250 artists in 10,00 sq. ft. of retail space in the Colonnade on Bloor Street. While a board member of Mercer Union (1987-91) he curated several exhibitions including Horror Vacuii, Belief Structure and Discordia Concors. In 1984 he mounted a survey of Toronto drawing (Desire ) for Gallery 101 in Ottawa. More recently he curated Declarative (1997) as part of the Ghostwriter series at Mercer Union and Spirited Away (1998), in collaboration with Michael Balser for A Space in Toronto.
Andy Fabo, in collaboration with his life partner of fifteen years, Michael Balser, has recently exhibited two digital data projection installations: Blue Convergence (2000, Eyelevel, Halifax, Nova Scotia) and The Motion of Light in Water (2001, SWG Gallery, Cornerbrook, Newfoundland). His last solo exhibition was Time Machine, a series of 24 silkscreen and acrylic paintings (the film for the screens was made from digital files) that reflected the collapsing of personal memory and media nostalgia in our media-saturated age.
Born in Kenya of Indian descent, Brendan Fernandes immigrated to Canada in 1989. He completed the Independent Study Program of the Whitney Museum of American Art (2007) and earned his MFA (2005) from The University of Western Ontario and his BFA (2002) from York University in Canada. He has exhibited internationally and nationally including exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Museum, Museum of Art and Design New York, the MusÃ©e d’art contemporain de MontrÃ©al, The National Gallery of Canada, The Art Gallery of Hamilton, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Mass MoCA, The Andy Warhol Museum, the Art Gallery of York University, Deutsche Guggenheim, The Bergen Kunsthall , Manif dâ€™Art: The Quebec City Biennial, The Third Guangzhou Triennial and the Western New York Biennial through The Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Fernandes has participated in numerous residency programs including The Canada Council for the Arts International Residency in Trinidad and Tobago (2006), The Lower Manhattan Cultural Councilâ€™s Work Space (2008) and Swing Space (2009) programs, and invitations to the Gyeonggi Creation Center at the Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Korea (2009) and ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany (2011). He was the recipient of a New Commissions Project through Art in General, NY (2010) and was the Ontario representative for the Sobey Art Award (2010). Fernandes is based between Toronto and New York.
He is represented by Diaz Contemporary, Toronto and Seven Art Limited, New Delhi.
Bruce LaBruce is a Toronto based filmmaker, writer, director, photographer, and artist. He began his career in the mid eighties making a series of short experimental super 8 films and co-editing a punk fanzine called J.D.s, which begat the queercore movement. He has directed and starred in three feature length movies, No Skin Off My Ass (1991), Super 8 1/2 (1994), and Hustler White (1996). More recently he has directed two art/porn features, Skin Flick(2000)(hardcore version: Skin Gang) and The Raspberry Reich (2004)(hardcore version: The Revolution Is My Boyfriend), and the independent feature Otto; or, Up with Dead People (2008). After premiering at Sundance and Berlin, â€œThe Raspberry Reichâ€ took off on the international film festival circuit, playing at over 150 festivals, including the Istanbul, Guadalajara, and Rio de Janeiro International Film Festivals. He was also honoured with retrospectives at the end of â€™05 at the Madrid and Hong Kong Gay and Lesbian Film Festivals. Otto; or, Up with Dead People also debuted at Sundance and Berlin and played at over 150 film festivals, culminating in a screening at MoMA in New York City in November of 2008. His new film, L.A. Zombie, starring French star Francois Sagat, premiered in competition at the Locarno International Film Festival in August, 2010. It will have itâ€™s French premier at the Lâ€™Etrange Film Festival in Paris and its North American premier at the Toronto International Film Festival in Septemer. 2010. The hardcore version, L.A. Zombie Hardcore, will be released at Halloween, 2010.
LaBruce has written a premature memoir entitled The Reluctant Pornographer, from Gutter Press. The Plug-In Gallery in Winnipeg, Canada published a book on LaBruceâ€™s work, Ride Queer Ride, in 1998. In the past several years, LaBruce has written and directed three theatrical productions. Cheap Blacky (2007) and The Bad Breast; or, The Strange Case of Theda Lange (2009) were both produced at the Hau 2 and featured Susanne Sachsse and Vaginal Davis. Macho Family Romance (2009), commissioned by Theater Neumarkt in Zurich, also featured Ms. Sachsse and Ms. Davis. LaBruce was a contributing editor and frequent writer and photographer for Index magazine, and he has also been a regular contributor to Eye and Exclaim magazines, Dutch, Vice, the National Post, Nerve.com. and Black Book. He was also formerly a frequent photographer for the US porn mags Honcho and Inches, and has recently contributed to Butt, Kink, Jack, Currency, Kaiserin, and Slurp. As a fashion photographer he has contributed stories to such magazines as Dazed and Confused, Bon, Tank, Tetu, Fake, Attitude, Blend, Tokion, Purple Fashion, and the National Post.
LaBruce had his first solo show of photographs presented by the Alleged Gallery in New York in December 1999. He has had subsequent solo exhibits of his photographs at the Pitt Gallery in Vancouver, MC MAGMA in Milano, Italy, Bailey Fine Arts Gallery in Toronto, Peres Projects in San Francisco, and at John Connelly Presents in New York. His show Heterosexuality Is the Opiate of the Masses opened on July 16th/05 at Peres Projects in Los Angeles. In July/06 he mounted Polaroid Rage: A Survey of Polaroids, 2000-2006 at Gallery 1313 in Toronto. He has also participated in numerous group shows. In October of 2006 he was the featured artist at the Barcelona International Erotic Festival. His latest solo shows include Untitled Hardcore Zombie Project, which opened at Peres Projects in Culver City, LA, on May 23rd, 2009, and L.A. Zombie: The Movie That Would Not Die, which premiered at Peres Projects Berlin on January 30th, 2010. LaBruce has also made a number of popular music videos in Canada, two of which won him MuchMusic video awards.
A video artist, filmmaker and writer, John Greyson emerged on the Toronto video art scene in the 1980s. Much of his early video work is concerned with gay rights, AIDS activism and censorship. His unique polemical and witty style have made him a force to be reckoned with by the mainstream, straight society, parÂticÂularly as he creates tales that are unabashedly gay in style and content. Even after moving into feature filmmaking, Greyson remained true to his activist roots.
Greyson studied visual art in London, Ontario, and in 1991, attended the Canadian Film Centre (CFC) in Toronto. At the CFC he directed The Making of Monsters, a satirical Brechtian musical that won best Canadian short at the Festival of Festivals in 1991 as well as the Teddy Award at the Berlin Film Festival.
His first feature, Urinal (1988), which also won the Teddy Award, in 1989, melds narrative and filmic elements, and like many of Greysonâ€™s films, intertwines fictional and historical figures from various periods. His internationally exhibited agitprop musical Zero Patience (1993) features the ghosts of Sir Richard Burton and Gaetan Dugas, the Patient Zero who allegedly spread the AIDS virus in the early days of infection.
Greyson’s adaptation of Michel Marc Bouchard’s play Lilies (1996), a prison drama that deals with guilt, homosexuality, priests and young love, won a Genie for best picture in 1996. Lilies marked Greysonâ€™s move into adaptations, which continued with his film The Law of Enclosures (2000), based on the novel by Dale Peck, for which Brendan Fletcher won a best actor Genie.
Along with his feature narrative work, Greyson continues to produce more overtly polemical work such as Uncut (1997), a playful, yet powerful, interweaving of images of Pierre Trudeau, circumcision and copyright law. Greyson was also a member of the Blah! Blah! Blah! collective and participated in documenting the trade summit in Quebec, producing the video Packinâ€™ (2001). In addition to his film and video work, Greyson has directed numerous television episodes for series such as Made in Canada, Queer as Folk and Drop the Beat.
Through both his filmmaking and writing, Greyson has established himself as a key figure in the queer film and video movement. He is the co-editor (with Martha Gever and Pratibha Parmar) of Queer Looks: Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Film and Video (Routledge, 1993) and the author of Urinal and Other Stories (Power Plant/Art Metropole, 1993). He has taught at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia and at the Ontario College of Art, Toronto. He has served on innumerable boards, juries and committees and was awarded the Toronto Arts Award for media arts in 2000.
Daryl Vocat , born in Regina, Saskatchewan, is a visual artist living and working in Toronto. He completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, and his Master of Fine Arts degree at York University in Toronto. His main focus is printmaking, specifically screen printing. He works out of Torontoâ€™s Open Studio.
He has had solo exhibitions at Torontoâ€™s Thrush Holmes Empire, Open Studio, and York Quay Gallery. He has also had solo exhibitions at SNAP gallery and Latitude 53 in Edmonton, Eastern Edge Gallery in St Johnâ€™s, James K. Bartleman Art Gallery in Elliot Lake, The Wilfred Laurier Gallery in Waterloo, and Malaspina Printmakers Gallery in Vancouver. He has participated in several group exhibitions both in Canada and beyond, including an internationally touring exhibition titled Further, Artists From Printmaking at the Edge. Most recently he had work in the New Prints exhibition at the International Print Center New York.
His work has been acquired by the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives, The Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop in NYC, The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery permanent collection in British Columbia, The Saskatchewan Arts Board permanent collection, and the City of Toronto Fine Art collection. His artwork has been published in YYZine from YYZ Gallery in Toronto, Briarpatch magazine from Regina, and Printmaking at the Edge by Richard Noyce, published in Great Britain.
Glenn Ligon was born in 1960 in the Bronx, New York. He attended the Rhode Island School of Design for two years beginning in 1980, and received a BA from Wesleyan University in 1982. In 1985, he participated in the Whitney Museum of American Artâ€™s Independent Study Program. Combining painting, photography, and conceptual practices, Ligon has addressed issues of racial and sexual identity in his work. He first attracted recognition for his paintings in which texts are written in black against white backgrounds, such as Untitled (I Feel Most Colored When I Am Thrown Against a Sharp White Background) (1990â€“91). In Notes on the Margin of the Black Book (1991â€“93), Ligon juxtaposed reproductions of Robert Mapplethorpeâ€™s photographic images of black men with his own textual critiques of the images. His Stranger in the Village paintings (2000) use coal dust to lend a racial signification to seemingly abstract paintings. For his Colored series (2000), the artist asked children to color pages from Black Pride-themed coloring books of the 1970s and then silkscreened the results onto large canvases. Annotations (2003), Ligonâ€™s first web-based project, expands on his earlier works about family photo albums, such as A Feast of Scraps (1994â€“98); in this later work, ambiguously assembled photographs of the kind one would find in a family albumâ€”group photographs from dinner parties, studio portraits, informal snapshots taken in living roomsâ€”are linked to texts, other photographs, and audio clips to explore the creation of personal and familial histories. In 2005, Ligon began to create works in neon writing which employed quotes from historical figures like Sojourner Truth and Gloria Steinem; to directly engage with the art historically laden medium, he covered the visible side of the glass with thick coats of black paint and left the part of the tubes facing the walls exposed to create a luminous haze of light behind the inscriptions.
Ligon has had solo shows at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. (1993), Brooklyn Museum of Art (1996), Saint Louis Art Museum (2000), the Studio Museum in Harlem (2001), Dia Center for the Arts in New York (2003), and The Power Plant in Toronto (2005), among other venues. Group shows in which he has participated include the Whitney Biennial (1991 and 1993), Biennale of Sydney (1996), Venice Biennale (1997), Kwangju Biennale (2000), Documenta 11 (2002), Moving Pictures at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (2002 and 2003), Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self at the International Center of Photography in New York (2003), and Learn to Read at the Tate Modern, London (2007). He has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1982, 1989, and 1991), Art Matters (1990), the Joan Mitchell Foundation (1997), and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2003). In 2006 he was awarded the Skowhegan Medal for Painting. He lives and works in New York.
Stephen Andrews was born in 1956 in Sarnia, Ontario Canada. Over the last twenty five years he has exhibited his work in Canada, the U.S., Brazil, Scotland, France and Japan. He is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Belkin Art Gallery, the Schwartz Collection, Harvard as well as many private collections. His work deals with memory, identity, technology and their representations in various media including drawing, animation and recently painting.
Luis Jacob was born in Lima, Peru, in 1970. Lives and works in Toronto.
Luis Jacob is a Toronto-based multimedia artist and curator concerned with notions of collectivity, and, increasingly, with acts of looking and meaning-making. Jacob studied semiotics and philosophy at the University of Toronto in the early 1990s, and he soon became immersed in local politics and club culture, as well as the art world, all three coming into play in his first decade of output, which often included experimentation with relational aesthetics. In 2005, Jacob showed Habitat at the Art Gallery of Ontario; this, among other things, piqued the interest of then-visiting Documenta 12 curators Ruth Noack and Roger Buergel, who included him in the 2007 event. Since then, Jacob has shown internationally and with great variety, focusing on found objects (his Album series, for instance, part of which is now owned by the Guggenheim Museum in New York) and the nature of the image. A touring retrospective of his work was hosted by Montrealâ€™s Darling Foundry and Torontoâ€™s Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in 2010 and 2011.
David Altmejd is a Canadian artist (born in Montreal in 1974) who lives and works in New York.
In 2001, he completed his Masters of Fine Arts at Columbia University. He also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the UniversitÃ© du QuÃ©bec Ã MontrÃ©al, in Montreal, Canada. Since graduating with his MFA, he has taken part in many high profile group shows at important spaces as impressive as Artists Space and Deitch Projects, both in New York City. In 2003, he was curated by Dan Cameron into the 8th International Istanbul Biennial. In 2004, he was included in the Whitney Biennial of American Art. In 2007, he represented Canada at the Venice Biennale; his installation The Index, curated by Louise DÃ©ry, was subsequently purchased by the Art Gallery of Ontario.
David Altmejd’s sculptures mix seemingly random objects such as decapitated werewolf heads with graffiti-style Stars of David, towers made of mirrors, plastic flowers and faux jewelry, to create sculptural systems loaded with what he calls â€œsymbolic potentialâ€ and open ended narratives. Werewolf heads have appeared so frequently in his work that in the contemporary art world, they are widely recognized as being closely affiliated with this artist.
Kara L. Rooney writes of The Vessel (2011), the central piece in his March 2011 showing at Andrea Rosen Gallery:
Like Altmejdâ€™s figurative giants, ‘The Vessel’ contains a myriad number of small universes that lodge themselves like secrets in pockets of flesh and plastic. Lengths of fine gold chain, Plasticine hands and ears, shards of mirror and quartz, spools of multi-colored thread, seahorse and insect casts, as well as abstracted references to Avian gods, such as cranes and other airborne creatures, swarm the Plexi castle in a cacophony of frozen movement.
Altmejd is represented in New York City by Andrea Rosen Gallery, Xavier Hufkens, Brussels and Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London.
Chris Curreri is a Canadian artist who works with film, photography and sculpture. His work is premised on the idea that things in the world are not defined by essential properties, but rather by the actual relationships that we establish with them. Recent exhibitions include: Surplus Authors at the Witte de With, Rotterdam (2012); Beside Myself at Daniel Faria Gallery, Toronto (2011); Something Something at the University of Toronto Art Center (2011); An Unpardonable Sin at castillo/corrales, Paris (2010); and Perceptions and their Arousal at the Agnes Etherington Art Center, Kingston (2008). Recent film screenings include: Image Forum Festival, Japan; Festival Internacional de Cine de Mar del Plata, Argentina; and the Toronto International Film Festival, Canada. He holds an MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School for the Arts at Bard College.
Born in 1960 in Winnipeg. Lives and works in Toronto. Micah Lexier is a Toronto-based multimedia artist whose many-tiered practice includes sculpture, installation, photography and text-based work, as well as curation. Lexier graduated with an MFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1984. His practice is consonant with the sensibility of that institution, revolving largely around conceptual acts of enumeration and demarcation. A well-known photographic work of Lexierâ€™s, David: Then and Now (2005), reworks his Portrait of David (2004), spanning 10 years, and showing the effects of aging on 75 men named David, each a different age from one to 75. Lexier has had more than 100 solo exhibitions, participated in some 200 group exhibitions and produced numerous permanent public commissions. Recent publications include Call Ampersand Response, a collaborative bookwork made with Michael Dumontier, which was co-published by Artexte and Nieves in 2012, and Iâ€™m Thinking of A Number, a 30-year survey of Lexierâ€™s ephemera, published by the Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 2010.
Peter Kingstone is a single channel and installation video artist. He lives in Toronto, Ontario Canada. Kingstoneâ€™s work has been exhibited across Canada and throughout the United States. He won the Untitled Artist Award in 2005 for his installation The Strange Case of Peter K. (1974-2004). His most recent installation, 100 Stories About My Grandmother has been exhibited in Toronto at TPW (2008), Eastern Edge, St. Johnâ€™s, Newfoundland (2009), Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, New Brunswick (2009), Latitude 53, Edmonton, Alberta (2009), Ace Art, Winnipeg, Manitoba (upcoming, 2009). Kingstone holds a Philosophy/Cultural Studies Degree from Trent University in Peterborough (1997), and a Masters of Fine Arts from York University, Toronto (2004).
William Grant “Will” Munro (February 11, 1975 â€“ May 21, 2010) was a Toronto artist, club promoter, and restaurateur known for his work as a community builder among disparate Toronto groups. As a visual artist, he was known for fashioning artistic works out of underwear; as a club promoter, he was best known for his long-running Toronto queer club night, Vazaleen.
Born in Australia, Munro grew up mostly in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, and moved to nearby Toronto to study at the Ontario College of Art, graduating in 2000. Influenced by such artists as General Idea and the queercore movement, he received critical attention for his work with men’s underwear, a medium he used eventually to create collages of colourful performers he admired such as Klaus Nomi and Leigh Bowery. He created silkscreen posters to advertise Vazaleenâ€”his monthly nightclub party that was unusual for being a queer event where punk and other rock music was prominently played, and for being one of the first to exist beyond the confines of the gay ghetto. The party was known for attracting a diverse crowd, and at its peak brought in such performers as Nina Hagen; international “best-of” nightclub lists took notice.
Munro died of brain cancer in May 2010. Posthumous exhibits of his art work included a 2010 show at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and in 2011 he was the first male artist to be featured in the feminist Montreal art gallery La Centrale.
Will Munro was born in Sydney, Australia in 1975. Later that year his family moved to Canada, just outside of Montreal, and then lived in Mississauga, Ontario from 1980 onwards.
Despite his involvement in nightclub events, Munro did not consume alcohol or recreational drugs. He was a vegan from a young age. For many years, he volunteered as a peer counsellor at the Toronto Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line, where an annual award was established in his honour after his death.
Munro was diagnosed with brain cancer and underwent surgery to remove a tumour in 2008. A second surgery was performed in October 2009. He entered into palliative care in April 2010, and died on May 21, 2010.
Munro moved from Mississauga to Toronto after high school, to attend the Ontario College of Art (OCA). From early on in his career, his signature medium was pastiche work with men’s underwear.The origins of this work date back to his Intro to Sculpture class at OCA, where his professor asked the students to “bring a special object to class that isn’t really functional, but is special to you.” Munro had long had an affinity for special underwear, ever since his mother had refused to buy him Underoos superhero underwear when he was a child; regarding white briefs, he said, “They were clinical and sterile. They weren’t very sexy. It just felt very repressed. I wanted Underoos so bad.” For the sculpture class, Munro decided to bring in a pair of underwear that he had stolen from a high school friend on whom he had a crush. He put the grey underwear on display in a Plexiglass cage, complete with air holes. In his subsequent work he decided to use white briefs as a medium “because they were so accessible.” The summer after his sculpture class, to keep himself busy on a road trip, he made a quilt out of white underwear. In 1997, his first show involving underwear was held in a gallery supported by his college. The show received publicity after conservative columnist Michael Coren, in the Toronto Sun and on the radio, criticized Munro and his show, in particular for having said that it involved “boys’ underwear” (although Munro had simply meant guys’ underwear). Coren asked the public to bring dirty diapers to the exhibit, but no one did.10 Munro went on to have many showings of his underwear art, mostly “rescued” from second-hand Goodwill clothing outlets, including at Who’s Emma, HEADspace, and Paul Petro Contemporary Art. Actor Selma Blair bought one of Munro’s underwear works when she was in town for the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival.
Munro’s influences included the work of General Idea, and the queercore movement.Speaking about the confluence of his music events and his art, Munro said in 2004, “This is where the music scene and gay underground come together. We’re at a time when all kinds of shifts are happening. The structure of artists’ galleries are changing. Magazines are changing. There’s more different kinds of artist activity that’s happening. All this is having an impact on my visual work. And my visual work is more and more going into performance.” Galleries exhibiting his work have included Art in General, in New York City, Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown, and Toronto galleries Zsa Zsa, Mercer Union, YYZ Artists’ Outlet, Paul Petro Contemporary Art, and the Art Gallery of York University. Munro was named on the longlist of finalists for the Sobey Art Award in 2010.
A posthumous exhibit of his work, “Total Eclipse”, was presented at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2010.Works included collages, made from underwear, that depict Klaus Nomi and Leigh Bowery, both of whom Munro admired.Reviewing the show in Canadian Art, critic Sholem Krishtalka wrote that Munro’s work is “insistent on the necessity of self-made culture and buttressed by an encyclopedic knowledge of queer underground cultural history.”
Other posthumous exhibitions of his work include a 2011 show at the feminist La Centrale gallery in Montrealâ€”a first for a male artist in that spaceâ€”and in 2012 a major retrospective at the Art Gallery of York University.
Munro started the monthly party Vaseline (later renamed Vazaleen) in Toronto at a time when most gay clubs featured house music or other types of dance music. His hope was to draw a more diverse crowd: he said at the time, “I’d like to do something that’ll encompass all the freaks out there, myself included.” In addition to its stereotype-countering incorporation of punk and other rock music, his club night was also noted to be unusual for being located outside of the Church and Wellesley gay neighbourhood. It was atypical as well for having about 50 percent women attending the event. Munro said, “I was determined to get women to attend and I did it in a really simple way. I put lots of images of women and dyke icons on the posters and flyersâ€”groups like The Runaways or singers like Nina Hagen and Carole Pope. I wanted women to know instantly that this was their space as much as anybody else’s.” It began in the downstairs space at El Mocambo in late 1999, moved to the upstairs space in January 2000, and in late 2001, when El Mocambo was threatening to close, to Lee’s Palace, where it continued as a monthly event until 2006.
In a lengthy article about Vazaleen in Toronto Life, critic R. M. Vaughan wrote, “In its lewd, spontaneous, hysterical and glamorous way, Vazaleen defined a new Toronto aesthetic, a playful and endlessly inventive mode of presentation that encompassed everything from lesbian prog- rock to tranny camp to vintage punk revival to good old-fashioned loud-mouthed drag.” In an editorial in C magazine, Amish Morrell wrote, “At [Vazaleen] it was not only okay to be gay, but it was okay to be other than gay. One could be just about anything. The effect was that it completely destabilized all preconceptions of gender and sexual identity, in a hyperlibidinous environment where everyone became a performer.” Benjamin Boles of Now wrote, “These days itâ€™s normal in Toronto for hip gay scenes to flourish outside of the queer ghetto and to attract a wide spectrum of genders and orientations, but that didnâ€™t really happen until Vazaleen took off and became a veritable community for everyone who didnâ€™t fit into the mainstream homo world. For too long, it was too rare to see dykes, fags, trans people, and breeders hanging out together, and Munro changed that.” Vazaleen became a launching pad for such musical acts as Peaches and Lesbians on Ecstasy. Other bands performing at Vazaleen early in their careers were The Hidden Cameras, Crystal Castles, and The Gossip. At the height of the event’s popularity, Munro appeared on the cover of Now magazine (made up to look similar to David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane album cover), musical guests included Carole Pope, Tracy + the Plastics, Vaginal Davis, and Nina Hagen, and Vazaleen appeared on “best-of” nightclub lists internationally.
Munro produced other Toronto club nights such as Peroxide, which featured electro music, No T. O., which showcased No Wave, Seventh Heaven Dream Disco, and the amateur stripper party Moustache. In 2006, Munro and his friend Lynn MacNeil bought The Beaver CafÃ©, in the West Queen West neighbourhood. Arts columnist Murray Whyte of the Toronto Star wrote, “Willâ€™s virtual status as hub took bricks-and-mortar form: The Beaver quickly became that cozy, everyone-in-the-pool house party, a sort of community hall/mini dance club, and an alt-culture oasis”. “Love Saves the Day” became Munro’s dance music night at The Beaver, which he continued to organize even as his illness began to prevent him from leaving home. His final night of DJing in person was at a special Halloween Vazaleen party at Lee’s Palace in 2009.
Bruce LaBruce wrote of Munro’s impact on Toronto, just prior to his death: “As we all know, Toronto can be a cruel and unforgiving city. What makes Will Munro so extraordinary as an artist and as a person is that he has not only remained true to such a harsh mistress, but that he has also contributed so substantially to the fabric and heft of this often maleficent metropolis. His dedication to community work (including volunteering for a decade at an LGBT youth crisis hotline) and to creating social and sexual stimulation for the queer community outside the decaying gay ghetto (namely, his wonderfully raunchy club night, Vazaleen, and his participation as a founding partner in revitalizing the Beaver CafÃ©) is unmatched.
Ed Pien is a Canadian artist based in Toronto. He has been drawing for nearly 30 years. Born in Taipei, Taiwan, he immigrated to Canada with his family at the age of eleven. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from York University in Toronto and Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ontario.
Ed Pien has exhibited nationally and internationally including the Drawing Centre, New York; La Biennale de Montreal 2000 and 2002; W139, Amsterdam; Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Middlesbrough Art Gallery, the UK; Centro Nacional e las Artes, Mexico City; The Contemporary Art Museum in Monterrey, Mexico; the Goethe Institute, Berlin; Bluecoat, Liverpool; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; as well as the National Art Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.
As an art instructor, Ed Pien has taught at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and the Ontario College of Art and Design.
He currently teaches part-time at the University of Toronto.Pien is represented by Birch Libralato in Toronto, Pierre-FranÃ§ois Ouellette Art Contemporain in Montreal and Galerie Maurits van de Laar in The Hague.
1984 Master of Fine Arts, York University. Toronto, Ontario.
1982 Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts, University of Western Ontario. London, Ontario.
1981 Queens University, Art and Architecture. Venice, Italy.