Category Archives: kwawesome

Mark your calendars.

A Certain Light Series
A Certain Light Series by Melissa Doherty

Two upcoming KW art happenings of note are Melissa Doherty’s Open Studio, April 29-30th, and Jennifer Gough’s FUEL on May 14th at 7:30 p.m.

Doherty’s Open Studio is a great opportunity to meet the artist and see the inner workings of her Tannery workspace. I am always amazed by the near photographic quality of her work and the gorgeous colors. The Open Studio at 121 Charles Street West, Studio 430 B,  runs from 10am-5pm on April 29 & 30th. Check out her website for more info on her work and studio.

Local artist Jennifer Gough of Minds Eye Studio Art is curating FUEL, a show that brings together nourishment for the mind and the tummy. In celebration of her studio’s 5th anniversary, Gough invited area artists to submit work for the group show which also benefits the Food Bank of Waterloo Region (exhibiting artists to be announced).  Sponsors are providing door prizes and attendees are invited to bring a donation for the food bank. Billed as an evening of “art, community and enlightenment” FUEL on May 14th at 7:30 pm should be a fantastic gathering of local artists and aficionados. Find out more here>


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Doers and Makers

Steel Rail Session 2010

Steel Rail Sessions 2010


This post is going to sound like a love fest, and it is. This week I have once again been struck by the sheer force that is the doers and makers of KW. They come in all forms and attack and create all manner of things. But they DO things that make this community what it is and what we want it to be – an exciting, interesting, welcoming, challenging, slightly bizarre and dynamic place.

In a recent conversation, I was, as I often seem to, defending KW’s honor. Someone was poking fun and I wasn’t having it. I started to list all of the amazing people and events that I had encountered since moving here a year ago. Had they heard of the Steel Rails Sessions? How about TEDxWaterloo? Could they take a great idea, and because of intense support from community players make it happen in a month or two? No. Well there you go. I can. And many do.

Gabrielle Clermont, who in addition to engaging in creative spacemaking via Treehaus, is a serious  serial doer. Hilary Abel of RQ Magazine and the Steel Rails Sessions (#2 coming soon) always seems to be plotting something amazing. Urbanely Urban’s Terre Chartrand is convening an Art Space Round Table discussion on April 14th. The KW Awesome Foundation just launched to support others who want to do cool things in the community. The Cute Gecko folks are involved all over town lending their expertise and time to numerous groups that do things for others. Jennifer Gough of Minds Eye Studio Art is organizing FUEL, an art show that melds local art with the Food Bank. Diane and Lisa AKA Those 2 Girls launch MeFest 2011 this Saturday and last month Ramy Nassar, Amy Vandenberg et al. ran a very big do, TEDxWaterloo. And that’s just a small sample of what’s “going on” in KW which is in addition to all of the other stuff that happens via organizations, municipalities, etc.

Bully for us KW. Anything is possible, if we really, really want to do it. Enough said.


UPDATE: More doers and makers that you should check out: Kwartz Lab an amazing hacker/maker space,  makebright a maker who writes about it all, MonsterFarm who is working with me on a serious “make” (details soon), THEMUSEUM who does and does and does, Little Mushroom Catering who does and makes a ton for the community on her own dime and BearfaceDesign that makes things that I love (have you met Bon Mot?).


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Something BIG

The Tannery, Kitchener

We realized that we’d become regulars when the barista asked us if we wanted “the usual”. Her question surprised us. We hadn’t thought that we’d been coming here often enough for her to remember us and our order. Perhaps we should have figured out that we were heading down this path earlier. We were, after all on a first name basis with Meaghan, our barista and days when we couldn’t get to Balzacs inspired a morning sulk that lasted through to lunch.

We tried to quantify what it is that draws us to this particular spot. We tended to not be creatures of habit, meaning that there was something beyond the coffee, no matter how great, that inspires our daily trek.

It could be our appreciation for old spaces finding new life – the past, present and future gelling.  Or perhaps it is the ethereal energy generated by the massive collection of creative brains inhabiting the Tannery that result in the feeling that “something”  BIG is in play, drawing us in.

It doesn’t hurt that BIG companies like Google and Desire to Learn have taken up residence here. Or that the Communitech Hub, a digital media accelerator, has opened 30,000 square feet for start-ups and their allies. They are all doing BIG things in a BIG way. However, arguably more exiting are the myriad of small BIG idea companies that have found their perch among the the creaky floors and open beamed ceilings.  Some have already achieved BIG status themselves or been bought by other BIG BIG companies. Some are just starting out, as evidenced by their Scandinavian-ly bare spaces. But all have come this far, amassing their dreams into a terra firma piece of office space, and that takes guts.

This week I visited a very BIG company that is doing VERY BIG things in Liberty Village, Toronto. They are and have been a very BIG part of shaping the Village and developing similar creative spaces in other communities. The energy of their space and their staff is virtually kinetic  – perhaps a natural result of the fact that they take the BIG risks that often accompany BIG ideas. Like the Tannery, a sense of awesomeness is a veritable part of the walls in Liberty Village and, despite the encroachment of the very shiny, new condos that are a result of the success of the  area’s revival, you can feel a mix of history and future-making emanating from every corner.

Walking through the adapted buildings, sipping my Balzacs Liberty Village latte, I felt the same sense of excitement – something on the cusp of happening – that draws me to the Tannery in Kitchener. Is it my brain finding telepathic purchase with a greater like minded community, or is it just the omnipotenet power of my Balzacs latte that makes my adrenalin kick into overdrive? Do BIG ideas produce an air borne by product that stimulates passers-by, or is it the idea alone – that people can create something BIG from something very small- that acts like a very effective drug?

So what brings us to the Tannery? Perhaps it is the combination of the vision, innovation, talent and the masses of raw guts it takes to turn all of this into something BIG permeating the place, which inexplicably drawing us there for our daily dose.

Liberty Village at sunrise

Liberty Village at sunrise

PS- We also love Mon Ami’s pizza and can’t wait for the pub (which is now hiring) to open its doors for another kind of daily dose.

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Blue collars and coffee beans

Yes it is a jumbled title – but reflective of life as of late. Between my professional project, The Groundhog Day Meet Up at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery (more about that tomorrow) and keeping up with the amazing opportunities that friends are creating within our arts community, I am running low on words and energy! Here are a couple that I hope will steer you in the right direction during February.

Self Portrait by Jennifer Gough

Local artist  Jennifer Gough has opened a month long show at Kava Bean Commons “From the inside, Out”. I’m certainly an unabashed fan of her and her work  and recently helped celebrate her birthday at her Kitchener studio, which is evocative of a really cool martini lounge hung with great art. Anyone is welcome to visit the studio, just book with her in advance  – don’t forget your check book though, it is hard to walk out without something in hand. Of her current show Jennifer says:

” Most of my work is inspired by life experience and human emotion.  Taking those feelings and expressing them through art, I examine and depict a range of attributes and emotions that I think we all experience and strive to achieve.  The result I believe is a collection of pieces that people can relate to in their own lives and experiences.”

I always love to tell people that I’ve met almost everyone I know in Kitchener on Twitter, and Jennifer (@MindsEyeStudio) is no exception. Her social media involvement is a great example of local artists using Twitter, Facebook and blogs to really build themselves as a brand. “From the inside, Out, will culminate with a Gala Dinner on March 5th. Connect with Jennifer on Twitter or via her website for more information. BTW, Jennifer is also responsible for the great windows at THEMUSEUM  and she covers the Searching for Tom opening here.

So that covers the title “coffee beans,” how about the “blue collars”? Another highly anticipated show.

Late Nights and Blue Collar Mornings

Late Nights and Blue Collar Mornings Invite

I met David, aka Kosta, at one of Hilary Abel’s Cinq a Septs (@angrycelery). Local social media icon and super connector Lisa McDonald introduced us and I spend an enjoyable night talking to him about his work. His passion and energy really is contagious and I very much look forward to his show on Saturday, February 19 from 6:30pm – 11:30pm at 51 Borden Ave South in Kitchener. You can RSVP on his Facebook event page here. It think that David’s invite on the event page really says it all. He is a seriously cool guy.

“hey everyone,
i dont know about yourselves but in the depth of the winter i dont like to be outside for extended periods of time. so if you share the same, or perhaps you like art, or perhaps you hate art but like having a chill drink with friends you havent seen in a while, or perhaps you just like having a drink? either way this is an invitation to come check out what ive been working on in my top secret laboratory. i miss you all very much and hope to see you in the very near future. much love.
your boy kosta”

Yup so beans and collars with a dose of social media love thrown in. Sounds like a post to me.


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Weekend Clues

big crossword puzzle

I love knowing truly creative people. Jennifer Gough, aka Minds Eye Studio is definitely one (see our Box 10 interview), pair her with two of my other favorites THEMUSEUM and TEDxWaterloo and I don’t know what to do with myself. Luckily, they do.

This Saturday Jennifer’s massive TEDxWaterloo Speaker Smarts Crossword Puzzle will be revealed at THEMUSEUM. From 1-5pm we are all invited to check out the clues and paint in our answers. If painting isn’t your thing, tease the crowd by tweeting incorrect hints – they will  show up on the tweet wall if you use #TEDxWaterloo.

Aside from just being really fun, (who doesn’t like giant puzzles?), the crossword will introduce newbies to the TEDx world.  More than just a speaker’s series, audience members must apply for a spot (applications are due February 1st) and be prepared to be a part of the conversations that happen in between each presentation. It’s a truly unique, interactive experience. The actual TEDxWaterloo event takes place on March 3rd at the Centre in the Square from 1-8p m with an afterparty to follow.

Of course, this is all taking place in the midst of THEMUSEUM’s 36 hours of Titanic, a crazy undertaking which brings the exhibit to you for – you guessed it – 36 hours straight- 10 am on Friday to 10 pm on Saturday. Night owls are rewarded with $10 Titanic admission from 10 pm to 10 am.

It is going to be a busy weekend. Thursday night is the talk with artist in residence Michelle Allard at KW|AG followed by Friday night’s Opening Reception, also at KW|AG (both are free and open to all). Saturday you’ll find me puzzling out the clues for Jennifer’s TEDxWaterloo crossword puzzle at THEMUSEUM and Sunday I am going to take in the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery‘s newest exhibition – most likely with some sushi thrown in.

So, to sum up my feelings about this weekend:

#6 across: What’s a seven letter word for really excited – starts with a “p” ?
Hint: Rhymes with biked


p.s – If you haven’t checked out Jennifer Gough’s new blog find it here>

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Effort and Ease

I´m a big fan of Moksha yoga. The combination of heat and the flexible series of poses really agrees with my body which is more often than not subjected to high impact activities. The heat and the effort of the series also make it hard to think about anything other than what I´m trying to do, a godsend for an overactive mind. But beyond all of that there is something about Moksha that I find really addictive.

“Experienced yogis find the balance between effort and ease,” my instructor intoned amid the efforts of 58 bodies in dancer´s pose. “Come back to your breath and you´ll find it,” she encouraged. Right, I thought.

But then, as I focused on my breathing and let my preconceived notion of never getting this pose right go, I found the ease – I created it. With this realisation came a huge sense of accomplishment, a pride at having worked through the pose and, despite the struggle, finding the ease within it all.

Therein lies the addiction. We all struggle to find a balance in life – between work and home, personal and professional goals and friends and personal time. Often, it is a balance that we never really find. Moksha reminds me that it really isn´t about finding the perfect balance, in poses or in life. It is finding the ease in the effort that really matters, learning to approach adversity with grace.

So although I´m not sure if I´ll ever achieve a fully expressed dancer´s pose, I know that it really doesn´t matter. It is the challenge of the balance that will keep me coming back. That, and one heck of a workout.

Try it for yourself.

– Check out the Moksha website for locations and classes (I go to Waterloo, but started in Guelph and a new Cambridge location has just opened.)
– Do read the About Us and What to Bring sections before you go. You really do need a bath towel and clothes that allow you to sweat, because you will.
– Drink lots of water and do go on an empty stomach as they suggest, especially the first class.
– Take advantage of their into offer, it will allow you to try a number of classes so that you can identify instructors and times that work for you.
– Don´t give up after one class. I tried hot yoga years ago and really hated it. Go to more than one class before you make up your mind.

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´tis the season for new exhibitions

Michelle Allard, Highlife, 2007, multicoloured office paper, cardboard, 11' x 9' x 7', courtesy of the artist.
Michelle Allard, Highlife, 2007, multicoloured office paper, cardboard, 11′ x 9′ x 7′, courtesy of the artist. Michelle is in residence at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery to Jan 20 creating Materialscape.

January is the ideal time for you to become acquainted with our Region´s public galleries.  Not only are all of the receptions and talks on the following list free, but all are welcome, no art experience is required. So come as you are, have fun and connect with other would be enthusiasts. The best part is that you don´t have to go far to find amazing experiences.

In an effort to help you navigate the tangle of opening receptions, artist talks and special events at KW´s public galleries – I present THE LIST. Though certainly not exhaustive, I hope that it will inspire you to get out there and experience something new.

Openings & Talks

to January 23 | Titanic Continues
THEMUSEUM: Titanic continues to Jan 23, check their website for hours and specials. Details>

to January 20 | Michelle Allard in Residence
The Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery: Vancouver artist Michelle Allard works in residence with community volunteers. Their efforts, 50,000 rolls of paper will then be used to create Materialscape> (Watch for coverage by WLU students on the Gallery’s blog Free-Admission.)

January 8 – 2:30 pm | Opening Reception
Cambridge Galleries Queen´s Square: Dianne Bos´s Reading Room. Details>

January 9 – 2pm | Artist Talk
Cambridge Galleries Queen´s Square: Dianne Bo speaks about her exhibition Reading Room. Details>

January 9 -2-4 pm | Opening Reception
Homer Watson House & Gallery: Forest Heights Collegiate graduating Class Exhibition 3 Seconds! Details>

January 11 – 7 pm | Alliance for a Grand Community Arts & Culture Rally
Conrad Center, Kitchener: Follow the rally live from your arm chair. Details>

January 13 – 5-8 pm | Opening Reception
University of Waterloo Art Gallery (UWAG): Balint Zsako´s Works on Paper and Susy Oliveira´s Your face, like a lone nocturnal garden in Worlds where Suns spin ´round. Details>

January 16 – 1-5 pm  | Opening Reception
Canada Clay and Glass Gallery: Opening of Brash Sophistication: Two American Pop Artists Redefine Minimalism. Details>

January 19 – 6:30 pm | Opening Reception
Cambridge Galleries Preston: Opening of Richard Nixon´s Impossible Things. Details>

January 20 – 7 pm | Artist Talk: Michelle Allard
Vancouver based artist Michelle Allard talks about her new exhibition Materialscape which is being created at the Gallery from January 5 to 20 with the help of community volunteers.

January 21 – 7 pm | Opening Reception
The Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery: Opening celebration of Michelle Allard´s Materialscapes, Robert Linsley´s Geomorphic Fantasy and Colwyn Griffith´s Something About Time. Details>

January 25 – 6:30 pm | Opening Reception
Cambridge Galleries Design at Riverside: Opening Reception of Next North. Details>

Save the Date

February 2 – 7 pm | Groundhog Day Meet-Up (free)
Presented by the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery & Wonderful Waterloo. See the facebook event teaser>

February 25 | BMO Studio 54
THEMUSEUM´s annual fundraising bash, get NAUGHTYcal at 2011´s party of the year. Details>

March 15 | Gala
Cambridge Galleries: Arti Gras! Not to be missed annual fundraiser. Details>

Definitely Cherries…

The Rotunda Gallery at Kitchener City Hall features a new exhibition monthly>

THEMUSEUM continues its evolution as the place to be. Check their site often for impromptu parties, special events and the Opening of Finding Tom>

The Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery opens up  space to the community for special events, partnerships and experimental stuff with co|lab>

The Waterloo Regional Museum will open its exhibitions in late 2011. See what´s coming here>

Centre in the Square has opened up their studio space to performers on a revenue sharing basis. Check out the deets on RQ Magazine>

Amazing groups and venues like Neruda Productions and The Registry Theater are also offering a wide variety of performances.


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