You can do the job while you're in town


    Surely enough The Lover is on his bookshelf. I'm pleased and displeased. I, too can wear a hat on a boat I think. The rule is Be a creature unlike any other.


    Duras herself was surprised by the breathless praise The Lover received; she dismissed the book, even going so far as to rewrite it, in the form of notes to a film, as The North China Lover. And Laure Adler, in her unauthorized biography Marguerite Duras: A Life, writes that the author had harsh words for it, international acclaim or no.

    “The Lover is a load of shit,” she told Annaud when the two were collaborating on the film adaptation. “It’s an airport novel. I wrote it when I was drunk.”

    --excerpted from the Paris Review


    Charming sun-filled day. Love. Airy, air. Every time I step out into the street and walk into town I regret that I am here. I've long since peeled away all the layers of social responsibility. Audio books in my apartment is what I do, what fills the face of the clock. When I think back on this time I know it will come back to me as a shiny black street with a car racing by and my heart sinking like a stone. I don't care if you don't like me saying it. Complaining is an addiction, and yet. The fishermen-cabbies told me everything I need to know about hardship, and I'll miss them most of all.

    The loss of a person is a soul loss, the loss of whatever you thought was your past. --Cris Kraus speaking in Calgary, Sept 2017

    A sharp elbow
    Divining rod
    Beat Bobby Flay

    As dumb as a plumb. As dumb as an ankle. -- Lisa Robertson

    Spending money like I'm making it and feeling numb to the shame of Winners and idleness, because the answer isn't here yet.

    Frog man and the Candy Apple (ongoing draft)


    Part one: Frog man as a gateway to the self

    I decide to tell him it's over while at the salad bar. Taking a seat near a large window I follow his curious path around the buffet, already missing his inablity to stay on course and well-read goodwill. The best thing about Frog man is how his brown eyes look different whenever he steers a conversation to something that fills me with joy. I've used him for his warmth and for his vision of me that I liked more than my own. The problem is that I'm unhappy and unhappiness coats the iris of the eye like caramel coats an apple. Even people who say they like candy apples never want to eat the whole thing. What happens is a person ventures a few bites only to discover that it is just an ordinary apple dipped in lacquer.

    I wait for him so we can eat together. Where did the change occur? Who knows why the tides change as they do? One minute you're sharing drinks with someone and the next minute they're asking you to remove a previously communal image from your Instagram. This must happen all the time. When it happened to me I laughed at the sacred and profane spirit of such a request: a request laced with desire for purity of association. Delete.

    Frog man lands in the seat facing me, and, gathering up to the moment, I reminisce aloud about the guy on Chopped who said he would use his prize money to buy his mom a dishwasher. We laugh because the amateur Italian chef had roused in us our own sense of charity and given us time to think about our own mothers in peaceful television-on silence. "It was the Firefighter episode," says Frog man, an eldest son and people person, just like the Italian fireman we watched cook chicken-fried steak. "Hat's off to mamma's dishwasher chef," I reply in a horrendous Italian accent that ends in a fingerkiss. And hat's off to the Frog man.

    He doesn't wilt. None of his edges curl when it's agreed he'll come over later and grab his meagre belongings to take away with him for good. Frog man and I relax as two people off the hook in the short term. I don't mind sitting with him as he finishes small foothills of food. When he's done there's nothing left to do but step out into a new threshold of not sleeping together and whatever our individual lives will bring. He holds the door for me on the way out and we check our phones in parting.

    Frog man is now ancient history.

    Interlude: Newfoundland

    In my room I ask questions of an innerliness gone quiet while being fed by what is not fulfilling. I feel how it's possible to continue living the final years of my 21st century young adulthood surrounded by indecision and bad weather. I feel I've been introduced to ageing. My dreams in this place are situations of chaotic exile drenched in vile self-absorption.

    What are the true disgusting pupae of misunderstanding? I was told to my face by a friend that "I didn't try hard enough to understand." What was to be understood was the entirety of a culture. My friend's assessment of my efforts as failed opened up in me a boundless and etherizing sadness and venom. How did I err so unexpectedly? Was it wrong to try? Did I have to smile back all the time to make things work? Making sense of my burning detestation of her in that moment is still beyond reach. It's true that I could have tried harder. But what does she know. Scrolling Instagram I consider Blocking her, but decide that this action is worth nothing. I realize in a state of downcast clarity that I know nothing about her and that she knows nothing about me.

    Interlude ends

    Frog man knocks at my door exactly when he said he would and collects his toothbrush and a grey sweatshirt. As I close the door an ill will towards my recent life as an exercise in painful exposure, self-pity and ageing flood the room. At least I've spares Frog man, a mere stranger, the moraine of my not trying hard enough. I lock the door and decide that I'll do room service chicken fingers for the next three nights until Frog man leaves town.

    "Don't look stunned as stone now, jazz bird. All the rocks you throw gonna land somewhere."


    Rock talk
    Geologic Time
    Banff Centre for the Arts

    Leisure: a Canadian artist/curator collective


    Title:'Leisure: a Canadian artist/curator collective'
    n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal
    vol. 40 Ends and Beginnings (July 2017) pp. 89-93
    PDF contains images and text

    Abstract: This essay charts a course through the collaborative practice of Leisure, the Montreal-based, artist-curator duo Susannah Wesley and Meredith Carruthers. For more than a decade their self-identified feminist practice has taken on many forms of curating, exhibition-making and art production including exhibitions, installation, performance, symposia, and texts. Difficult to navigate and define, Wesley and Carruthers describe their research-based practice, as ‘a long conversation’. Curator Andrew Hunt’s article 'Minor Curating' (2010) provides a secondary road map by which to explore non-linearity as a radical dimension of Leisure’s extended two-way exchange. In order to examine feminist implications of Leisure’s musing-as-methodology, I follow Leisure to three places, real and imaginary: the ragged blueberry fields of Newfoundland, revolutionary modern window arrangements in London, and the white fur-lined fin de siècle bedroom of a 19-year-old bride. Arriving at questions of agency, Leisure provides a compelling example of future-oriented curatorial and artistic practice set in a subtle scaffolding of restlessness, emotion and disorientation.

    The search for the blue flower


    They're nervous like the hands of a moneylender.
    ~John Berger on Titian's hands in Portraits, John Berger on Artists

    The search for the blue flower is an attempt either to absorb the infinite into myself, to make myself at one with it, or to dissolve myself into it.
    -Novalis, eighteenth century German mystic, quoted by Isaiah Berlin in The Roots of Romanticism

    When I was 21, I visited Eastern Europe to do student research. Every city looked like the setting of a Disney fairytale. In Slovenia, I climbed up a steep forested hill. The hump of earth was the slow interment of a stone fortress. At the top there were beehives and a view of the regular world with its Communist apartment blocks down below. I remember the woods smelled like honey on the way back down. The honey part I've embellished, but that's how the memory is now.

    The Devil and Jerry Ropson


    Jerry Ropson
    to kiss a goat between the horns
    The Rooms
    May 27 2017 - September 24 2017

    Canadian Art Online feature review

    Imagine going to sea in those cockleshells


    The streets are narrow, cobbled with rough stone. The harbour has a wharf-breakwater and inside this sheltering arm half a dozen boats lie. Fishboats? Not anything like the gillnetters in B.C. These are more like dories, motor-powered but open. Imagine going to sea in those cockleshells. ~ Margaret Laurence, The Diviners, pg. 409


    The ordinary place is sufficient


    The ordinary place is sufficient
    new drawings and etchings by Stephanie Weirathmueller and D'Arcy Wilson

    7 May - May 28 2017
    Closing reception Friday May 26th 5-7 PM

    (a pre-party for the EVAs) All welcome!

    "I name the plants, I name the fish, and every name to me feels triumphant. Every leaf and quick fish remarkably valuable. This ordinary place is sufficient. Everything here is touchable and mysterious."
    -Alice Munro

    The Dayroom is pleased to present new work by Stephanie Weirathmueller (Fredericton, NB) and D'Arcy Wilson (Corner Brook, NL). In 1974 The Weekend magazine supplement published an essay by Alice Munro titled "Everything here is touchable mysterious." Munro writes about a river in her hometown called the Menesetung, known as the Maitland. The river flows through what she calls the non-part of town. She describes a wild flood in the spring and a childhood belief in deep holes at its centre. For Munro, a riverbed is a place, a thing, a recollection with distinct life and worthiness. As she walks alongside it, or as she revisits it in words, it is the Maitland's quality of familiarity that overflows into parable. A small stretch of river can provide whatever myths you want. Wilson's etchings of wilderness as isolated groupings of trees, shrubs and flora are studies in finespun taxonomy and apologue. Weirathmueller's charcoal drawings ask quietly after family, places and objects distilled through the soot and gauze of personal meaning. Like Munro's riverbed, these images bring forth a sense of wonder in the concealed by never straying too far from what is known and nameable.

    ~Penelope Smart, The Dayroom

    The Dayroom
    177 Water St. (third floor) St. John's, NL
    Saturday and Sunday 1-5 or by appointment

    Rossetti and the post-postmodern music festival


    Poem for girls of festival season

    When you're getting ready
    The 90s
    Pre-Raphaelite hair
    That's all you need
    Pre-Raphaelite hair

    Sea Chest


    In the 18th century, the sailor's sea chest would have been one of the owner's most important possessions. The crew on sailing ships typically owned little property -- perhaps only what would fit into a little chest like this one. Not only did the chest store her personal belongings, but it served as her table, her chair, her bank, and her bureau. These chests also gave the sailor an opportunity for personal expression through carvings, paintings and decorations.

    ~altered text from "Sailor's Sea Chest" (

    exhibition essay, Will Gill: A Foundation of Ash, Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, April 17 - May 11 2017


    A Foundation of Ash
    Will Gill
    Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival
    Dylan Ellis Gallery, Toronto
    April 17 - May 13 2017



    B A Vasiliev*


    *ongoing research

    The armpit of Newfoundland (Pollard's Point, NL)


    Jerry says everyone's welcome to do push ups in the snow

    Jerry says Don't kill Penny around Dead Man's Turn

    Jerry says he didn't want to wash her scent out of his pillowcase

    Jerry says Ghost Cat was in the driveway when he got home

    Jerry says we can include homemade wedding fans and tutus in The Turnip Republic

    Jerry says they put horses in boats

    Jerry says he took Thai cooking lessons in Bangkok

    Jerry says there's two stone graves on the little island

    Jerry says the lane where all the Pentecosts live is called Pentecostal Lane

    Jerry says it's best not to talk to him for two hours after he gets up

    Jerry says the internet will go out if I stream the radio

    Jerry says Do you think that house is painted Dusty Rose?

    Jerry says nothing because it's headphones, a shovel and the snowblower

    The Gifts and the Raft (Fogo Island)


    Feb 20, Farewell, NL. Ferry moves through landscapes of ice. Watching it crack and break, splintering a perfect surface. Then the ocean is just a slush puddle we wade through. Jane takes my picture looking out the window and texts it to me later. There's nothing like an island to make you feel like a visitor. A visitor is not the same as a guest. Still, on guest behaviour until it's made clear one way or the other.

    Upon your shores I learned to split fish.
    Cry like a child, curse like a sailor
    And when necessary, be a lady.

    ~excerpt from "To Newfoundland" by Alice (Keele) Mahood

    Sad Songs and Strange Birds



    Canadian Art Online

    "In Some Far Place"
    Curated by Mireille Egan
    The Rooms Provincial Gallery and Archives, Newfoundland
    January 4 - April 23 2017

    Newfoundland tosses you around a bit but that's part of the appeal


    Interview with Emily Pittman from The Gathered Gallery. Thanks for taking interest Emily! Next time I will just say The Dayroom is a form of escape.

    Here is link to the full chat:

    HUNGRY VALLEY | Sarah Burwash | Opens Thursday, September 22 7-10 PM | The Dayroom, St. John's


    Opening reception
    Thursday, September 22, 2016
    7-10 PM
    All welcome

    The Dayroom is proud to present Hungry Valley, a new body of work by Sarah Burwash spanning watercolour, silks and sculpture.

    I held the handle bars and again I recited the most pertinent advice:

    “Ok, she’s in neutral now
    now pull in your clutch
    and remember your front brake is on the right
    and the clutch is on the left - your left
    pull your throttle gentle
    and rev her up to about thirty five hundred
    kick her down into first gear and let your clutch out gentle.
    Don’t be afraid, she’ll feel it!

    … I am right here”

    There have been a handful of times when I’ve recited these well worn lines to a new rider. My 1974 RD350 sits low and snug to the inner contours of those with narrow hips and slender frames.

    You need trust if you want to be any good at teaching someone how to ride. First, you need to trust them, so that they can trust themselves, and in turn, trust the bike. It was the experience I had when my father first taught me how to ride a motorbike, an exceedingly heavy, aggressively wide, and masculinely powerful bike. And yet, generously absorbed in his embrace of confidence, I had no hesitation. No anxiety induced fears.

    I would like to think my mother felt the same way when he taught her to ride. But then, it’s also unimaginable. How she felt when she was letting the clutch out for the first time. When she revved up the bike and spat out in first gear. At that time, bikers were proud to self-identify as existing within a misogynist society. Women were bitches or ol’ ladies, a mere accessory for a sissy bar toted around on the back of a motorbike. The remnants of this society still exist today, in leather patches that exclaim “if you can read this the bitch fell off” and in garages adorned with stolen pages from mechanics’ catalogues advertising exhaust pipes, nestled among irrelevant backdrops of cleavage.

    Talking with Sarah Burwash, I hear about Babes in the Dirt, a weekend-long campout, oriented around dirt biking, hosted in the American badlands, and exclusive to those that self-identify as women. Of course I would hear about this from her. After all, she’s the woman I met in a basement, wielding a high powered demolition hammer, dressed in a pale pair of carharts, her hair slung back in a slick pony tail. Burwash is the type of woman who won’t be told no, or at least won’t listen if you dare project her interests or typecast her gender. Of course she would travel off alone and seek out this oasis of assertive femmes roaming on two stroke bikes. Sensibly, these women are just like Sarah, gentle in their assertion of authority but confident about their confidence.

    Sometimes, it’s not about being included in a dialogue, it’s about making your own conversation. Perhaps this explains why Burwash chooses to paint motorbikes and also accessorize with soft silk, an obvious reference to femininity. After all, it’s time we get off the back and make this all our own.

    Text by Nicole Westman.

    Couple on the Beach | FINAL WEEKEND | Saturday Sept 17 & Sunday Sept 18 1-5 PM


    Couple on the Beach | The Dayroom | opening party | July 13 | 7 -10 PM | St. John's NL


    Gallery Penelope Smart is delighted to announce the opening of The Dayroom, a contemporary art studio and showroom. Located on the top floor of an historic 1883 ships brokers and merchant building in downtown St. John’s, The Dayroom is the Atlantic region’s newest contemporary art gallery.

    Wednesday, July 13 2016 7 - 10 PM
    177 Water Street | St. John's NL | third floor

    readings by Chloe Edbrooke + Allison Graves
    with special thanks to Quidi Vidi Brewery

    Couple on the Beach

    Stella: Maybe one day she'll find her happiness.
    Jeff: Yeah, some man'll lose his.
    --Rear Window (1954)

    Alyssa Matthews (Brooklyn, NYC)
    Sarah Sands Phillips (Toronto, ON)
    Hazel Eckert (St. John's, NL)
    Walter George (Conception Harbour, NL)

    The Dayroom is proud to present artists Alyssa Matthews, Sarah Sands Phillips, Hazel Eckert and Walter George as part of our inaugural exhibition and public opening. Couple on the Beach takes its name from the iconic 1954 painting by Alex Colville (1920-2013). In the painting, a woman lays on her side, the curve of her body forming the contour of the horizon. Her face is hidden by a straw hat. A man, crouched at the knees, faces the woman, his back to the viewer. Both the male and female figures possess independence while occupying a space of unfeigned intimacy. In typical Colville fashion, the languor of a day at the beach is offset by invisible, hovering disquiet: a private scene simmering with danger and violence. Couple on the Beach takes note of the richness of Colville's composition and re-positions the figurative painting through discretionary references to hot sand, threat, closeness, emptiness, man and woman, fields of vision and desire.

    --Penelope Smart, The Dayroom

    The Dayroom
    177 Water Street (Third Floor)
    St. John's NL
    Saturday & Sunday 1-5 PM, or by appointment