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Jess Dobkin

January 12, 2012

Jess Dobkin’s performances, artist’s talks and workshops are presented internationally at museums, galleries, theatres, universities, and in public spaces. For five more Monday afternoons (from noon to three) in Toronto, she presents the Artists’ Soup Kitchen at The Raging Spoon Café. Each week is hosted by different artists who will apply their creative practices in producing a free hot lunch. Her other recent projects include Commitment Issues, Everything I’ve Got, and The Lactation Station Breast Milk Bar (which will be presented in Montreal in May 2012). She has just completed two short performance/film projects (Being Green and Flowers), is the 2011-2012 Guest Curator of Harbourfront Centre’s HATCH residency programme, and is a Fellow at the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto. She is also a collective member of the 7a-11d International Festival of Performance Art.

1. Coming After

While you’re waiting for Toronto’s galleries and artist-run centres to awaken from their holiday slumber, go to The Power Plant and see this brilliantly curated exhibit by Jon Davies. If you go on the free night (Wednesdays, 5 to 8pm) arrive early – you’ll want to drink every drop of the time-based work and installations that command attention. It is so well curated, you’ll feel like Jon is right there with you: a remarkable gallery guide inviting a discussion of ideas and emotions as he ushers you through his carefully crafted path. I came home with an Onya Hogan-Finlay photo-collage 2012 Periods calendar (available at both The Power Plant and Art Metropole). A great way to start marking the new year!

2. Toronto City Hall

Site of “the good” (architecture of handsome curves and majestic arches), “the bad” (council chamber goings-on), and “the ugly” (Rob Ford). Take yourself on a cheap date to Nathan Phillips Square for skating (you can borrow my women’s size 8’s, if you need!) and be there to rally on Tuesday, January 17th at 5:30pm for the final budget showdown. Toronto arts funding is at stake.

3. The greenhouses at Allan Gardens

The cheapest winter get-away to melt the January chill. You’ll break a sweat just sitting on a bench in the cacti greenhouse. Gaze up at the banana tree. Contemplate the goldfish pond. Find inspiration in living things and the city workers who tend to them. But please don’t carve your initials on an aloe plant. That’s what the guest book is for.

4. Being Female

I read this piece by Eileen Myles when it was published last year. She smartly describes a system of barriers and obstacles facing women artists. I’m afraid it will continue to be relevant for a long time to come. I often find myself referring to it in conversation and keep it tucked under my proverbial pillow. The piece is affirming, urgent, and honest, and Myles speaks to my favorite subjects: passion, pussy, feminism, and love.

5. Hocus pocus and all things magical!

I’m excited by all things magical. Bring on the astral spheres, parallel universes, mythical creatures, afterlives, and past lives. More potions, pentacles, and pendulums, please. I believe in the timeless magic that is carried in artists like Will Munro (opening at the AGYU) and artist/activist Dara Greenwald, who passed away this week. Everything that we can’t possibly understand but must embrace and choose to celebrate.



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