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.
Mozart's Requiem a collaborative effort
Orchestra London will have lots of musical company for Mozart's Requiem, its Masterworks Series concert this Saturday, March 8 at Centennial Hall.
Joining conductor Alain Trudel and the orchestra will be soprano Frédérique Vézina, mezzo-soprano Sophie Roland, bass Theodore Baerg, young tenor Isaiah Bell, and the Amabile Chamber Choir under the direction of Carol Beynon and Brenda Zadorsky.
In addition to the Requiem, the orchestra and its guests will be performing Mozart's Symphony No. 41 "Jupiter."
Register now for March Break, Spring and Summer pottery classes
The London Potters Guild is accepting registration for its Spring Session of pottery classes for adults, teens, children and parent/child which begin the week of March 17 and run for seven weeks. Registration for March Break, March 10-14, and Summer Clay Camps, which run in July and August, is also now open. All classes are held at the London Clay Art Centre at 664 Dundas Street.
Nooks n’ Crannies: Have You Heard of Willie Royal?
It’s not every day I’m asked to write a children’s book – about the Korean War.
The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum, located in London’s historic Wolseley Barracks, is a hidden gem that, unfortunately, many Londoners have never visited. One could easily spend hours inside, learning the history of local soldiery from the War of 1812 through to the Afghanistan Conflict.
Somewhere in all these exhibits on cannons and campaigns, there is a photograph of a kneeling soldier and a smiling child. This is the touching story of an orphaned Korean boy who was, at least for a while, adopted by the Second Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment, then seeing action north of Seoul. His actual name was Nong Joo Noh, but to the soldiers who looked after him he was “Willie Royal.”
The Hub comes to Old East Village
Followers of social media have probably noticed a new entry on their computer screens in the last couple of weeks.
Home to a large number of artists, performers, multicultural dining, the Western Fair Farmer’s and Artisans Market, unique shopping experiences, services and several arts and culture venues, Old East Village (OEV) is quickly becoming a vibrant and rapidly growing cultural district.
Thanks to the efforts of Old East Village advocates like the Palace Theatre's General Manager Faith Coates and long-time OEV resident Jo-Anne Bishop, an exciting new initiative -- the Old East Village Hub (OEV Hub) -- has been established to raise awareness of and provide information about "What's Good in the 'Hood.'"
Faith Coates and Jo-Anne Bishop recently spoke with The Beat Magazine Online about the OEV Hub and its mission to help make OEV London's art and cultural centre.