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Sue Carter Flinn
Writer, Editor

Halifax, Toronto
February 10, 2011

Until recently, Sue Carter Flinn was the Arts & Deputy Editor of Halifax's alt-weekly The Coast and the city's Akimblog correspondent. She was also the editor of Visual Arts News, the only nationally distributed magazine dedicated to Atlantic Canadian art, but last week she packed her husband and cat for Toronto to take a new job as Web Editor at Quill & Quire. Although she may be talking books by day, expect to see her in the galleries very soon.

1. The Khyber by Khyber Compilation

For those who haven't been paying attention to Halifax's music scene since Sloan was underwhelmed, the city formerly known as "The Next Seattle" is doing more than fine. In the last couple of years a new sound has emerged: noisier, dirtier and darker than its pop predecessors. The new Halifax sound is more likely to appear on blogs like weirdcanada.com than on mainstream radio. Many of those musicians found each other in the halls of NSCAD and their sweaty audiences in the Khyber's Ballroom Gallery. Bands like Cousins and Duzheknew, soon on their way to SXSW, and Soaking Up Jagged, starring charismatic fanned Byrne-esque painter Mitchell Wiebe, are popular with the skinny jeans crowd. And now those musicians are giving back to the famed artist-run centre. For $4, get a digital download of nineteen songs from some of Halifax's most popular bands. For $7, the postman will deliver you a limited-edition tape with artwork designed by musician/artist Adam O'Reilly, which comes with a free digital download.

2. Ray Fenwick's Mascots

Proving that Haligonians are a portable bunch, artist/illustrator Ray Fenwick moved to Winnipeg, but is in Toronto this week for a show at Katharine Mulherin (opening February 10, running until March 6). Mascots is a series from Fenwick's recently released book of the same name, a collection of painted book covers he began while living in Halifax. Fenwick's handpainted typography is only matched by his sly, subversive wit and handle on contemporary anxieties. After Toronto, Fenwick's off to a month-long artist residency at Struts in Sackville where he'll be working on a new audio-based project.

3. Canada Games

This is more of a hit in a punching way. Originally when Halifax was awarded the 2011 Canada Games, there was talk of a major cultural component accompanying the event, but that seems to have been whittled down to daily music shows and a high school mentoring program. As I think the Vancouver Olympics proved, this could have been a fantastic opportunity to showcase local talents in less-athletic disciplines, including contemporary art. At least those Haligonians who've had their fill of synchronized swimming can check out two sports-related art shows at Saint Mary's University: Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno's video installation, ZIDANE, A 21st-Century Portrait, and Robin Peck's transparent sculpture, Shallow Podium. Check it out and let me know what you think. Both shows run from February 12 to 27.

4. The Gatekeeper's Lodge

For the next four months, mixed-media artist Aimée Brown will be Halifax's artist-in-residence at Park Lodge in gorgeous Point Pleasant Park. A crucial ocean-side defensive location for Canada's military, the most action the south-end park sees these days is the occasional dog scrap. Brown is researching old maps and other documents, reinterpreting her findings into a series of planned and impromptu performances, studio tours and installations. Follow her research (she has some great archival photos) here. I'm going to miss this place.

5. Austra

Tasseomancy twin sisters Romi and Sari Lightman (more former Haligonians) accompany Katie Stelmanis on her new dance-music project Austra. Stelmanis' opera-trained pipes are chilling, especially backed by the ethereal lightness of the Lightmans' harmonies. A very wise friend turned me onto this and, though I hope that's not the end of Tasseomancy, this will get a lot of play alongside Diamond Rings.

 

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