Reprint: Christopher Regimbal, "A Fire at the Embassy Hotel," Fuse Magazine vol. 33, no. 3, summer 2010
From the archives: July 2012 London Free Press article written by James Reaney about the Museum London survey exhibit on the Embassy Cultural House (ECH). Independent curator Bob McKaskell (1943-2020) based the exhibit on his research of the ECH archives and conversations with the artists associated with the collective.
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.
In 1978, the owner of the Embassy Hotel, Helen Haller, commissioned her sister, artist Jamelie Hassan, to paint a series of watercolours related to the Embassy, its workers, and residents. The watercolours, a tribute to life in London east neighbourhood, were on display in the hotel lounge for many years. Helen donated these historic watercolours to Museum London's permanent collection in the summer of 2019.
One of these watercolours, Embassy at Nite, will be featured on one of the facade wall of Indwell's new affordable housing project on the site of the old Embassy Hotel (744 Dundas Street) named the "Embassy Commons" in tribute to the location’s past cultural history. The new name was officially announced at the Hope@Home Virtual Gala on June 12, 2020. Hassan Law was a sponsor of the event. For more information, please go to Indwell's page on the the project.
Uncovering of the foundation of the former Embassy Hotel, August 26, 2020 - the site of Indwell’s affordable housing project the Embassy Commons.
Photo Credits: Graceview Enterprises Limited
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