Category Archives: Uncategorized

Lame Vandalism Never Wins

Last month some obviously drunk and confused person tagged our door. We don’t know wither is was some failed joke or a negative slur but it was poorly executed. At the top left corner you can see they misspelled the word “red” and ended up crossing it out.  There was little to no skill in the can-handling and a weak letter style. They covered people’s artwork and they even sprayed out faces on a photo. If you’re gong to spray paint in Kensington market at least bring your A-game.

Maybe they confused us with another, more famous…  “White House”… totally unrelated to our studio project.  We started calling this project the “other” White House studios, because our original location off Lansdowne Avenue was the only white house in a courtyard of houses… and so when giving directions for people to get to our studios… we all would say “walk down the alley, and it’s the White House”.  Turned into a bit of a joke among studio mates.  So that’s where the name came from.

Anyways, sucks we got tagged but it’s just paint and we got tons of that in our studio so gave our door a fresh coat of stencils and art. We figured out a cool way of using a milk crate as a stencil too! We’re very happy with the results.

We just want to point out that we have a non-discrimination policy and don’t tolerate any form of hate in our creative space! Thanks!

Spy on us!

We’re getting into twitter cams….
and are going to be starting a White House sitcom.
Until then,
spy on us at this address!

Savage Bios

Over the next few weeks we’ll be releasing information on all the artists involved in Savage: Cult of Personality, Pure Media + the art of Macho Madness.

Hailing from Papillion and weighing in at 210 pounds,Eggman (known outside of the ring as Mike Scheef) is the great-grandson of the Middlewight Catch-as-catch-can Champion of Nebraska, circa 1911. Mike dropped out of grad school at Boise Stat and started drawing pro wrestlers. His book “1000 Wrestlers” was featured on Slam! Wrestling and in the movie “The Wrestler.” His current project is publishing the zine EMZ. Issue #2.5, out this month, is dedicated to the art of the foreign object.

Sonja Ahlers is an award winning visual artist and poet currently living in Whitehorse, Yukon. An autodidact without formal training, Ahlers both makes use of and has expanded upon the notion of the artist’s book as a way to challenge the often closed system of the art gallery. Ahlers pushes the envelope of what an artist’s book might be, in both her published work and her book-inspired installations that fill entire rooms.  Delicately fusing collage and text with a diary-like sincerity and contemporary social analysis through a feminist lens, Ahlers pioneers what could be called the ‘highbrow zine’, utilizing a style and voice developed in the North American west coast underground. With three published books Temper, Temper (1998), Fatal Distraction (2004) and The Selves (2010 by Drawn And Quarterly), she has honed the revolutionary DIY form into a mature and nuanced voice. Sonja Ahlers has exhibited her work in galleries across Canada and internationally. She was recently long listed for the Sobey Art Award.

Emily Holton is a writer and artist based in Toronto. Her drawings and short stories are collected in “Little Lessons in Safety” and “Dear Canada Council/Our Starland”, both from Conundrum Press. “I’m taking a Tree of Life approach to Macho Man.”

Michael Holmes writes fiction, poetry, cultural criticism and literary journalism. His books of poetry include Parts Unknown, James I Wanted to Ask You, Satellite Dishes from the Future Bakery, and Got No Flag at All. He is also the author of the novel Watermelon Row. His current project, Beer League, chronicles (among other things) the on- and off-ice exploits of both the Oshawa Bulldogs and the Hotheads. Holmes wears number 7. Since the early 1990s he has edited more than 150 titles for a variety of presses. He is now Senior Editor at ECW Press, where his imprint unleashes a half dozen or so new literary misFits on an unsuspecting world each year. He lives in Whitby with his wife and son.
“Well, in Macho Man’s honour, I’ll be reading the 10 bell salute called “10 Bell Salute” from Parts Unknown….
Here’s a simple definition/explanation of the tradition for folks:
In professional wrestling, a ten-bell salute is given to honour a wrestler that has died, especially when that wrestler is a current member of the promotion or a distinguished former member of the promotion. It is the professional wrestling equivalent of a 21 gun salute. It is typically given at the beginning of a card, with the current members of the promotion either in the entranceway, in the ring or around the ring. Both wrestlers and audience observe a moment of silence during the tolling of the bell.”

Sherwin Sullivan Tjia has written 5 books. Forthcoming in October 2011 is a choose-your-own-adventure style book told from the point of view of a housecat entitled, You Are a Cat! In his spare time, he organizes Slowdance Nights, Love Letter Reading Open Mics, Crowd Karaoke singalongs, and Strip Spelling Bees. “I watched wrestling growing up. My favourite was the Ultimate Warrior, but Miss Elizabeth and her legs always caught my eye. The piece is meant as a kind of alternate universe where she decides to become the Macho Man after Randy Savage is killed in the “squared circle”, where she works out and trains and becomes a kind of Wonder Woman amazon super-hero and carves out a place for herself in that world wrestling constellation. His death gives birth to a new kind of life for her. If Batman dies, Robin will take on his identity to keep Gotham safe. This is similar, I think.”

Greg Oliver is the author of the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame series – The Canadians, The Heels, and The Tag Teams. He has been writing about professional wrestling for over 25 years, starting with The Canadian Wrestling Report newsletter when he was still in high school. Alas, the Macho Man was one that got away, and Greg never did interview him – but he did assign one of his SLAM! Wrestling staffers to talk to Savage when his rap album came out.

Alexandra Leggat is the author of the short story collections Animal (short listed for the 23rd Annual Trillium Award), Meet Me in the Parking Lot, (nominated for the 2004 Re-Lit Award) Pull Gently, Tear Here (nominated for the Danuta Gleed First Fiction Award) and a collection of poetry entitled This is me since yesterday. Her articles and reviews have appeared in Toro, Shift, The Globe and Mail and her poetry and fiction has been published in journals across the U.S., Canada and the U.K. She teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.
“This subject matter really inspired me. Because I paint on glass, I wanted to take an opposite and abstract approach to the theme of Macho Man and when I saw a picture of his late ex-wife/manager Miss Elizabeth she became my focus, her perspective. I saw her as the macho man, the strong one, and Randy Savage as the more abstract element of what macho symbolizes.”

Stay tuned for more info on the artists involved in Savage: Cult of Personality, Pure Media + the art of Macho Madness. RSVP on Facebook here.

Love in the Time of Macho Madness

One boy-man’s journey from the  sycophantic purgatorial dungeon of maudlin syndication of self to the freedom of fandom afterlife

“Heck you hurt my friends and you hurt my pride, I gotta be a man, I can’t let it slide” – Real American (Hulk Hogan’s theme song circa 1988)

I’m not going to lie to anyone: 1988 was a big deal to me. I was the undisputed champion of my own childhood, relishing the completion of my Late French Emersion Program at Cosburn Middle School, awarded with a brand new 18-speed banana yellow and electric blue Norco mountain bike, heading into the summer with my best friend and cottages and bike rides and slumming around our well manicured neighbourhood until the onset of me beginning high school lay blurry ahead in the hazy summer weeds, something intangible,  false and unreal.

As I handed my yearbook around for signatures that late June afternoon, I knew with acuity, I was one of the most watched, talked to and rotary phoned thirteen-year-olds of all time.

For the era, I was extremely cute, reddish-brown Ferris Bueller style hair, rosy cheeks, preppy clothing, and I had impeccable taste in Top 40 music (as well as some oldies such as The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel and Alan Sherman) television and film properties that churned in my ears, eyes and cerebral viaducts while Mountain Dew / Cream Soda blend 7-11 Slurpees churned in my stomach. In my mind it seemed, I was an invincible champion, socially flawless.  And in the magnificent magnet of popular culture, my two top-tiered glam heroes were poised to continue to dominate 1988 the way they had since January:  George Michael’s faith album was burning up the charts and reducing the grade six girls to tears as they signed their yearbooks and cleaned out their lockers on the second floor, his fourth single One More Try pouring down the hallway through the canvas of two hundred pairs of converse high tops, treetorns or leather sandals, while Randy “Macho Man” Savage had captured his first ever WWF championship at a tournament at Wrestlemania IV in March with the help of former champion and his new best friend, Hulk Hogan. He was sitting high on life, in a spread in WWF magazine, sitting pretty beside his big belt, tye-dyed shirt, bandana, sunglasses, jeans and cowboy boots as the sun set on the beach, with the caption “His first 100 days as champion” in distinct yellow font.

About a week before school finished, a few of the local schools met up for a track meet, and my classmate Juan Miranda, who I called The Juan Man Gang (cribbed from The One Man Gang) began to toss me around in front of a few of my friends. Suddenly I heard a big crash on the fence. Juan stopped shaking me around.

It was Andrew. “You better stop that,” he said.

In my mind of course, remembering it now, or even a few weeks after it happened, there was grand posing, there hand handshakes, and thousands of screaming fans and interviews after the fact.

It breathed life into the skeleton of my fantasy friendship with Andrew. He was aware we were friends, just not how I saw our friendship. The cracks however, were months away from showing themselves.

The summer of 1988 and all its pastel possibilities presented itself before me as I stepped down and pumped the pedal and crank of my new Norco bike and headed over to the park with Andrew.

In WWF wrestling storylines earlier in the year, Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan had formed a hyperbolic union of ego, body and soul called The Mega-Powers, and since I was shorter and dark-haired and Andrew was taller and blonde, I started to refer to our friendship as The Mega-Powers, Macho Madness and Hulkamania coming together to overcome all odds.

The timing seemed perfect: though I had partially outgrown my affection for wrestling, (I had seen Savage face Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat at a house show at Maple Leaf Gardens in the summer of 1986 with my brother and father, which included an appearance by Jake “The Snake” Roberts, the Junkyard Dog and the Elvis-inspired Honky Tonk Man) Randy Savage’s WWF title win and his subsequent friendly and highly enchanting interactions with Hulk Hogan set things up for to dive right into celluloid altitudes and sugary excitement, glancing at glossy photos of Hogan and Savage at the corner store while loading up on over-processed supplies. When Savage announced his tag team partner for Summerslam he said “I’ve got me a tag team partner. Andre The Giant and Ted Dibiase, I got me a tag team partner, and he’s the greatest tag team partner that anybody in the world could ever have. And here he comes right now…”

Hulk Hogan’s music played and he came out with a big nodding smile, and I was so grateful the little red REC dot was on my groaning VCR.

Continue reading

FINDING ONES PLACE : The retelling of myth in the work of Jamie Callum Ross

By Stephanie Fielding

Sight, Jamie Callum Ross 2010, Still image

Stephanie Fielding

Our thirst for the exotic and fantastic remains unquenched, humanity has created an amazing array of unseen or rarely seen creatures, forces and entities to populate the world and describe animate its mysteries. Taping into this thirst, weaving tales of myth and punk-rock absurdity, artist and writer Jamie Callum Ross presents a stream of videos that enter into our unconscious and conscious desires. Curated by Xenia Benovoski, Cold Cold Water: A Screening of Complete Works by Jamie Ross, gives us a view of the artist’s video work from the last five years.

Ross has a particular interest in the personal and psychological geography of land and place. The ways in which people establish connections and meaningful relationships with location, their link to landscape and topography, and to specific spirits who inhabit such landscape drive his art practice. There is a clear sense in his work of someone claiming their identity through their history and personal mythology.  Ross asks who has written his history, his identity? In Ross’ videos the supernatural is expressed in the vernacular of the everyday, recognizable locations and members of his social network link the work to actual people and events. His sequences, edited together rapidly and layered with streams of dialogue and imagery present striking but obscured narratives. Vivid, visually textured dreamscapes, shot primarily in super-8, are layered with sharp DV sequences, lending the videos an elusive poetry, especially to their most debaucherous scenes.

Ross’ films place great stress on sexuality, each film is punctuated with at least one cum-shot. The more perverse the sexuality, the more it strays from the norms of society, the more potent it is liable to be, and more disruptive of though patterns inhibiting the non-conformist. Sex and violence are used as forms of access to the spirits of chaos. As sex can, humour has the power to unlock the unconscious and release spiritual forces through its sudden associations of what the rational mind keeps separate; through its wild, anarchic amateurism and tongue-and-cheek, a certain sacredness is induced.

This body of work echoes the punky-transgressions of historically underground Queer filmmakers such as Kenneth Anger and Gregory Markopolous; each sharing a rebellious appropriation of ritualistic and humour-filled symbolism. Much like many of Anger’s films, Ross’ works are heavily influenced by esoteric systems of belief and the sacramental, although here there is a strong sense of a unified and affirmative self that isn’t necessarily present in his predecessors’ work. These rituals invoke vital forces that are sometimes symbolized and sometimes embodied in gods and goddesses; in this case, the figures are drawn from the artist’s Ojibwa and Scottish heritage as well as Nigerian and Greek folklore. As film historian Richard Dyer remarks, ‘Queer cinema often co-ops narratives involving supernatural forces of chaos and disruption, joyously celebrated but also actively employed to cause change in conformity.’ In The Bakkhai, 2008, Ross adapts the gruesome Euripides tragedy describing the vengeful return of the God Dionysus to the kingdom of Thebes. Like all of his work, the actors in the film are friends and the setting is specific and recognizable- in this case the Leslie Spit in Toronto’s east end. The video, part gruesome bloodbath, part hedonistic love-fest, retells the mythic story but also gives a mischievous real portrait of Toronto punk-subculture.

More recent work explores Jamie Ross’ personal genealogy, tracing his own connections to the myth and paths of his ancestors. Biboon Geamhradh, 2010, presents an earnest search for ones place in the lineage of oral storytelling. Cras Valde Facessite, 2009, created in collaboration with Derek Muehlgassner, combines myths of both filmmakers’ cultures, creating a hybrid tales of two fathers. By deconstructing the two myths, Muehlgassner and Ross re-claim their heritage and place their own visions within its rich history. Ross’ work is a cry for us to engage with our storytelling pasts and develop our own personalized sense of our heritages.

Cold cold water: a screening of complete works by Jamie Ross is tonight, at The Whitehouse. 277.5 Augusta Avenue, at 8 pm.