Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Adventure in Ottawa: Nuit Blanche

Please note:  if text appears in gray (or grey, or gris), it is a link to a website.

We arrive in Ottawa for the "Nuit Blanche" celebration.
I'm doing a video installation and Frank is showing his
"Homage" series where he takes paintings by John Singer Sargent or Winslow Homer, 
like the one below...

("Undertow" by Winslow Homer - internet picture)

and paints a new, improved version:

Brenda Warner, the gallery director, had taken two of Frank's Sorolla-based
paintings on CTV for a recent interview.  (My son Andrew Keeley Yonda and his wife Jennifer
and I had dressed up in 19th-century beach garb to pose for these, which are the only
two paintings in the Ottawa show suitable for TV viewing!)

The Ottawa airport is crammed with people arriving for the event!

Everything in Ottawa is almost the same, but not quite.
This "ABM" machine spits out Frank's Chase card as not worthy.

All signs are in French and English.
And as comedian Steve Martin said:  "Those French, they have a different word
for everything."

Except when they simply misspell a perfectly adequate English word.

In the hotel room drawer we find that Mitt Romney has been here.

It's raining!  Rain is predicted for the next week.  Rain, rain and then rain.
Looking good for the outdoor Nuit Blanche activities.

We will probably not visit the Bare Fax Gentlemen's Club,
but we do visit the Empire Grill where we find our first meal.

Chad Vader might want to open an Empire Grill next to his Empire Market.

Speaking of masked men, near the National Gallery of Canada is a lone man in a purple mask,
reading in the rain.
And here's our favorite "walk" man.

The National Gallery is hosting a wedding featuring bridesmaid dresses that
are less than slimming.

The museum won't let me take pictures, but I manage to snap one
of a little boy holding up his stuffed giraffe in front of 
Piero di Cosimo's "Vulcan and Aeolus" from 1462 that is
"thought to represent the dawn of civilization, with man's discovery and utilization of fire...
and the domestication of a animals."

Although giraffes have been domesticated in stuffed form only, I believe.

(photo from internet)
The Gallery is known for Benjamin West's famed 1770 painting
"The Death of General Wolfe" where the general dies dramatically, poignantly on the battlefield
with his men and an Indian looking on.  
(Funny how in this particular war, most of the Indians actually sided with the French.)

(photo from internet)
The Wolfe painting is often compared to Giotto's 14th century "Lamentation,"
 except in West's painting, patriotism trumps religion, 
and the British trump the French.

There is a stark, Gothic drama to the National Gallery of Canada...
appropriately framing majestic views of Parliament in the distance.

The Gothic style was, of course, developed initially in France.

We wait and wait for all the annoying people and cars to disappear
to get an unobstructed view of Louise Bourgeois's "Maman" sculpture, 
which is Gothic in a kind of "Goth" way.
We finally triumph.

Friday night finds us at the fabulous "Restaurant Eighteen" where I have
"Salt roasted beet salad with house made lemon herb ricotta, pine nuts, artisanal lettuces."

Or in other words:
Salade de betteraves rôties au sel, 
ricotta aux herbes et citron fait maison garnie de pignons de pin et de laitues artisanales.
Clean plate club!  Even the petals are gone.
On our way home we see a street musician, Bobby Lavigne
whose music vibrates into the misty night streets.

Saturday brings us to Galerie 240 for Frank's show and my installation.  

The show, part of the Nuit Blanche celebration, opens at
sundown on the autumnal equinox and goes until well into the wee hours!

Above the Heritage Hand Drummers lead the parade.
Below, the crowd never stops coming -
there are still people arriving at 3 in the morning!

Frank talks and talks about his work...
explaining how he takes a picture like Homer's "The Lookout"...

and makes it his own:

I take lots of "scrim shots" of my video installation
which features "Voyage of the Panther" videos from two projectors.

Brenda Warner, gallery director, above,
Val Roos, artist, below.

A winged Bhat Boy, above,
 and below is Michele of 

Wenna, artist and Nuit Blanche volunteer (seen below),
 has a blog where she posted a great report of her night at Nuit Blanche.
Check it out at:

Wenna's partner Jonathan Eagan took the next two photos with his iPad -
the first of the singer Laura Lea McPherson for the band Rocksmith that played for the event...

 Jonathan let me put down my Nikon for a minute
while he did his iPad magic:

Nikon back in action:  above is José, below is Paramjit.

You can see more "Voyage at Nuit Blanche" on my website.

The next morning, Frank and I chill and read the paper - 
full of news stories about environmental issues, 
like the melting of sea ice being much faster than expected, along with the Greenland Ice Sheets.  
(Soon water will lap at my feet when I walk out my door in Brooklyn.)
There's also an article on tree poaching in Canadian forests, 
mostly ancient maple trees that are used in musical instruments.
It seems nearly everything is compromised in some dark way these days. 
There's a more traditional kind of poaching in Africa as elephants and rhinos disappear
for ivory and ground-up horns that make men more virile - NOT!
And last but not least, the paper reviews the "oil sands" phenomenon,
 where massive tracts of Canadian forests are stripped away,
taking an oxygen-creating carbon-trapping system
and turning it into a barren Mars-scape, 
so people can pump more carbons into the air and melt the ice sheets even sooner.
But here's a twist - corporations are now thinking that this project might not be "worth it"
since it's costing $40 per barrel to produce oil that's worth $45.
Nothing about how much a vital, living forest is worth vs. a dead landscape, of course.
Along with hydro-fracking, oil and gas corporations are taking us all for a ride to somewhere
between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Speaking of water, Ottawa is a beautiful city on the Ottawa River,

full of elegant Gothic spires like these on Parliament Hill.

The structure below, however, looms on the horizon like...well... a nuclear power cooling tower?
Like something rejected by the Borgs?
Can you guess what it is?
The Embassy of the United States of America, perhaps?

But back to Parliament...a more appealing place altogether...

 The last time we were in Ottawa, the Painted People (Les Gens de Peinture) visited Parliament also.

Red took photos of Dawn and the babies under a statue of Queen Elizabeth the Second.
And below, Ronni had tea with the suffragettes.

Workmen are doubly warned about what to wear in the Parliamentary danger zone.
I can't help but wonder about the significance of English first, French second
on all the that part of why General Wolfe lost his life?

Here is a couple, whatever their language or futures, enjoying the moment - 
if you look closely you can see them in the foreground, kissing amorously.

Ottawa, city of White Nights, city of love.

la ville de la Nuit Blanche, la ville de l'amour.

On the way home, we meet fellow travelers who have been to the 
Who knew?
The voyage continues with interesting conversations with animators Pilar Newton,
who were all at the festival.

Above, Pilar in middle, Nick on right,
below, Emmett and Pilar.

(photos courtesy of Pilar Newton)

Ottawa rocks!
Ottawa est merveilleux!!!


  1. Fun trip!! Love the photo of the spires and reflection.

    1. Thanks, Andrew. You are the expert photo guy!