Conversation with Freda Guttman, artist & activist in support of Palestine: May 23, 2021 @ 16:00 EDT
Artist Statement for the work by Susanna Heller "Eyes in a Bleak World" for the ECH's inaugural online exhibit Hiding in Plain Sight launched on October 30, 2020: “Eyes in a Bleak World “ is a recent painting completed in 2020. The sky and earth in this oil painting are dominated by the intensity of two eyeballs wrenched from some creature and which soar comet-like through a scorched and haunted landscape. The power of sight in this painting is menacing and speaks to the destructive state of the world which we are witnessing.
The Embassy Cultural House (ECH) is pleased to announce that award-winning Indigenous journalists and activists, Mary Lou and Dan Smoke have joined the ECH Advisory Circle. They recently received the Atlohsa Peace Award for their work on truth and reconciliation. You can listen to their interview with Chris dela Torre on the CBC here.
Mary Lou is also well-known for her performances and was recognized by the London Music Hall receiving an award in 2019 for her traditional and contemporary singing. She is a member of the Ojibway Nation, from Batchawana, on Lake Superior, and Dan is Seneca Nation from the Six Nations Grand River Territory. They met in 1972/3 and were married in the Onondaga Longhouse in a traditional Indigenous Haudenosaunee Wedding Ceremony in 1977. They have been happily married for 43years.
Working together they have hosted "The Smoke Signals Aboriginal Radio Program," since 1990 and continue with this Western University campus-based radio program offering interviews with Indigenous cultural workers and advocates from across Turtle Island. They have collected an extensive archive and books over the years related to their decades of working as journalists and advocates. From 1999-2019 they worked with the London CTV Station.
ECH co-founders Ron Benner and Jamelie Hassan said, “Dan and Mary Lou Smoke have dedicated their lives to building bridges between the peoples of Turtle Island. We are honoured to have Dan and Mary Lou’s friendship over the years and look forward to collaborating with them on future ECH projects.”
Dan and Mary Lou Smoke said, “Ron and Jamelie have stood in solidarity with Indigenous communities through their art work and activism for decades, and we are pleased to join the ECH Advisory Circle and contribute to this innovative digital arts and cultural project.”
You can visit their page on the ECH website here.
Other members of the ECH Advisory Circle include: Samer Abdelnour, Wyn Geleynse, Fern Helfand, S F Ho, Lorraine Klaasen, Judith Rodger, Ruth Skinner and Lucas Stenning.
The Embassy Cultural House (ECH) family and community are grieving the loss of Tyson Haller who passed away recently in Ottawa. He was a strong supporter and advocate of the ECH both during its original program at the Embassy Hotel between 1983 - 1990 and its present online format.
Tyson's parents Helen and Egon owned the Embassy Hotel from the late 1970s until it was sold in 2001. He was a huge part of the running of the hotel and organized the music program in the hotel bars. Tyson went on to study film at Ryerson University in Toronto. Our heart goes out to his family and all his friends in London, Toronto and Ottawa and around the world who are mourning his untimely death.
Please visit Tyson's page to see some of his film work and photos.
We are happy to share the news that ECH exhibition alumnus and 2019 Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts recipient Stephen Andrews is included in the 50th-anniversary group exhibit at The Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris, France. This exhibit opened on September 17 and runs until October 16, 2020. Andrews also has an upcoming solo exhibition at Paul Petro Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto, Ontario in which he will be presenting his recent night sky paintings and a collection of ceramic Moon Jars. The opening reception for FIRMAMENT is on October 16, 2020. Stephen was part of the group exhibition The Body and Society at the Embassy Cultural House showing from November 10th to December 9th, 1988. Visit the recently added artist page for him on our site.
Many thanks to London musician Paul Aitken, who has made available his personal archive of posters, promotional pamphlets, and press clippings that he received from Eric Stach almost 30 years ago. Eric was a huge influence on Paul as a developing musician, and Paul went on to run similar music projects of his own over the intervening years. Paul's current project is influenced by Eric's free improvisation is the trio Aitken | Clark | Peacock, which you can learn about and listen/watch here. To see the full collection of posters visit Eric Stach's page.
A big thank you to Esther Vincent for sharing with us drawings by her father, Don Vincent, from his sketch book done circa 1990 at the Embassy Cultural House. The drawings were done during Eric Stach's regular Free Music Unit performances which were held weekly on Thursday nights.
Don Vincent, (1932-1993), a graduate of H.B. Beal Art and husband of London artist Bernice Vincent (1934-2016), worked as a graphic designer at London Life, but he was well-known for his documentary photographs of the art scene in London, Ontario. Don’s photographic archive is in the collection of the McIntosh Gallery, Western University, London, Ontario.
Bernice and Don were avid supporters of the Embassy Cultural House and regulars at Eric Stach's Free Music Unit events. These drawings capture the energy and dynamism of these musical events and the Embassy Cultural House era.
In March 2018, Canadian artists Spring Hurlbut and Wyn Geleynse received Governor General Awards in Visual and Media Arts. Both Spring and Wyn have connections to the Embassy Cultural House community.
Spring Hurlbut exhibited at the ECH in 1987 and her permanent installation in the Beaver Room of the Embassy Hotel became an iconic part of the hotel for years to come. Wyn was an active member of the board and was involved in many aspects of ECH's programing from its tabloid newspaper to curating exhibitions.
Including Spring and Wyn at least eleven artists and curators, who were involved in the Embassy Cultural House between 1983 and 1990, have received Governor General Awards. The recipients include: Jamelie Hassan, Liz Magor, Murray Favro, Wyn Geleynse, Spring Hurlbut, Michael Fernandes, Shelagh Keeley, Andy Patton, Jayce Salloum, Robert Fones, Stephen Andrews and curator Marnie Fleming.
That’s an impressive list and something to celebrate and make London proud.
It is with the sad news, that our good friend and independent curator and writer, Bob McKaskell died on June 30, 2020. ago from cancer.
He was living between Port Dover, Ontario and Oaxaca, Mexico. While in Oaxaca he decided to study Spanish and he had just initiated a program of curating exhibits of Oaxacan artists in his apartment located in the centro historico of Oaxaca. He was a great cook, an excellent gardener and his pursuit of knowledge was startling wide-reaching. Anyone who knew Bob, understood that his sometimes stubborn nature contributed to his ability to intensely focus in a very particular and detailed way to whatever subjects grabbed his interest.
Bob taught Contemporary Art History for many years at Western University. He was a huge supporter of both Canadian and international artists and had a commitment to challenging art practices including conceptual art, performance works and independent artists' projects. While in London, he was involved in programming at The Embassy Cultural House, the Forest City Gallery, Museum London and the McIntosh Gallery.
He was one of the curators at the Windsor Art Gallery He also worked at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and and the Glenbow Museum in Calgary where he built strong friendships and made contributions to the arts community across Canada.
There are so many fond memories of Bob - especially close to our hearts is the survey exhibition he curated Embassy Cultural House - 1983 - 1990 at Museum London in 2012.
Updates on the London Arts Community