Graphic Underground: London 1977 – 90 sure to be cultural event of the season
I recently came across the poster shown here for a Demics’ concert at the Cedar Lounge circa 1979 in a box in my basement after trying to find it for the past few years. It’s the one piece of local poster-art I own from that era.
Not sure of the circumstances of its acquisition. Mint condition. No tape marks or rips so it obviously wasn’t torn off a street pole downtown. No thumb-tack holes in the corners so I didn’t get it courtesy of a record store.
No matter. The image has always stayed with me. I’m not sure who the artist was but I liked the way ‘Demics’ and other words were painted in that dripping-blood style popular with the lay-out artists at ‘Famous Monsters of Filmland’ magazine. The band itself was a heart-on-their-sleeves and bleeding bunch so it fit. Like many of their peers, they may not have been the best musicians in the world, but they played like they believed that they were.
So imagine my surprise to learn that this very poster is likely to be framed and hanging on a wall as part of an exhibition in a real art gallery. Curated by Brian Lambert, Graphic Underground: London 1977-90 from McIntosh Gallery of the University of Western Ontario – is on display at Forest City Gallery from October 26 to December 15. Maybe I’ll even be able to learn the identity of the artist responsible for my own piece of art.
A poster designed just for this exhibit (shown here) gives a good idea of the wide range of styles and influences – Pop, punk and pulp culture. References range from Junk-TV, film and music icons and MAD magazine.
Interestingly enough, my Demics’ piece is possibly the least representative of the gig poster-art, fanzine covers and record sleeves in the show. But it does have one thing in common with the rest of those posters – an evocative and vibrant quality – meant to capture the eye of anyone who glanced at it taped to a telephone booth, streetlight pole or window of an empty storefront while walking downtown. As such, much of this work was never intended for posterity. Time-sensitive because of the best-before date and exposed to the weather and vandals, gig posters were the ultimate in disposable art – ripped down or taped over the day after the show.
It also has something in common with the music this art celebrated and promoted. A Do-It-Yourself attitude when it came to promoting our local ‘punk’ music scene. It was labour of love stuff often done by young ‘serious’ artists as a way to help out their friends in the local music scene. And like many songs by those bands, dashed off quickly.
I remember interviewing one of those artists at the time about a one-man show he then had at Forest City Gallery and asked about his work on gig posters and such. He downplayed it. “Well, if you don’t mind, don’t make a big deal about that stuff in the article. Maybe just mention that I did a lot of free work for friends who were in bands.”
Although many of these works were often unsigned and anonymous, the fact is that this particular artist and many of the others went on to careers in the art world and other directions. Artists in Graphic Underground include Lyndon Andrews (probably best known for his work on the Demics’ Talks’s Cheap EP,) Dan Rudball, Chaz Vincent, Dave Clarke, Darren Merinuk and many others. All of these cats are on a first-name basis with Art.
In addition to the gig posters, the show includes album art as well as cover art for zines such as London’s own WhatWave.
In honour of the exhibit, WhatWave’s Dave and Rena O’Halloran have compiled a special 104-page new issue with an extensive history of that period accompanied by a 90-minute cassette featuring 27 bands of the many profiled in this issue.
In celebration, on Saturday, October 27th, the night following the opening, a live music event featuring a few of the original bands is booked for Call the Office. It is being billed as a one-time only reunion for such local bands as The Zellots, Uranus, N.F.G. and the Enemas.
Without a doubt, it will be the cultural event of the season.
Robert Pegg is a published author, currently working on his autobiography, “Living in the Past.” Visit sonnydrysdalepresents.blogspot.com for more of his musings.
Fiddler on the Loose: The Show Created for the Talent
Fiddler on the Loose
Directed by David Rogers
Choreography by David Hogan and Adele McKenzie
Musical direction by Mark Payne
Performed by Jess Grandmont, Stephanie Cadman, Diane Chase, Janelle Murray, with Alex Baerg, Dan Baerg, Klinger’s lix, Mark Laidman and Mark Payne.
Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia
May 15 to June 2, 2013
Fiddler on the Loose is billed as “Country, Celtic and a Dash of Classical” – and yes, it’s all that and more. They could have added Broadway, jazz, and comedy. With regards to other musical revues, I’ve said in the past “There’s something for everyone” but in Fiddler on the Loose, it’s definitely true.
Six Funny Ladies: A trilogy of dramatic stories
Six Funny Ladies
By Paul T. Gantt, Maud Merritt and Betty Smith
Produced by Heather May
Presented by Maybles' Productions
Directed by James Wybrow
Set, Lighting, Sound Design: Heather May
Costume Design: Diane Haggerty
With Diane Haggerty, Shelley Levi, Liz Marra, Heather May, Edie Nemeth, Catharine Sullivan
The ARTS Project
Until May 18, 2:00 & 8:00 p.m. show Sat.
As a tribute to the courageous women who kept the North American economy and way of life going during the Second World War, while their husbands, sons, and fathers were off fighting for freedom, this trilogy of one act plays works. I encourage audiences for today’s shows to go and enjoy Six Funny Ladies on that basis but it does not work as a comedy trilogy.
Sullivan & Gilbert: A Story Celebrating Balance Lacks Balance of Its Own
Sullivan and Gilbert
By Ken Ludwig
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Lyrics by William S. Gilbert
London Community Players
Directed by Ceris Thomas
Played by Phil Arnold, Joel Dell, John White, Monica Maika, Rachel Sherret, Dean Gregory, Rod Culham, Duane Woods, Andrew Richardson, Grace Barnhart, Kristina Baron-Woods, Hillary Greet, Ted Winter, Moria Gray, Tricia Colvin, Becky Lenko, Dale Hirlehey and Jamie Kim
During one scene in the London Community Players’ production of Sullivan & Gilbert, Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh (portrayed by Matt Stewart) attempts to right a painting that’s hanging askew. The painting stubbornly refuses to stay level, which ends up being an apt metaphor for this “play with music.”
Guys and Dolls: Rolling the Dice
Guys and Dolls
Written by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
Music & lyrics by Frank Loesser
Directed by Tadeusz Bradecki
Choreography by Parker Esse
Musical direction by Paul Sportelli
Performed by Elodie Gillett, Kyle Blair, Jenny L. Wright, Shawn Wright, Thom Allison, et al
Festival Theatre, Shaw Festival, Niagara on the Lake
April 12 to October 12, 2013
The action begins in Guys and Dolls with a plethora of characters moving around the stage in all directions. You don’t know where to look first – the bum drinking out of his flask hidden in a paper bag? The bobby-soxers giggling? The lady tossing her fur stole over her shoulder? The big musical dominating the stage this year at the Shaw Festival promises lots of action in the exciting opening number.