Friday, November 11, 2005


Hello everyone and welcome to Art In Newfoundland. I've been wanting to have a blog about the St. John's arts community for quite some time and am glad I've finally gotten my act together enough to do so. I'm not, of course, limiting this sucker to St. John's visual art, the community just isn't big enough for that, but will be covering a number of topics pertaining to creative endeavor from everywhere with an emphasis on Atlantic Canada.

Because the community is so tiny in St. John's, I've noticed in my two years here that not everyone involved feels comfortable enough to express their true opinions about gallery shows, performances, books, screenings etc., due to fear of personal or professional retribution from those being critiqued. So here's your chance to engage in an actual dialogue, to voice your opinions and/or reservations about what's happening here anonymously.

The first post will be up in a couple of days, as it will take me some time to wrap my head around maintaining this blog. I'm pretty new to this sort of thing.

Thanks, and feel free to introduce yourselves.


Anonymous Chubby said...


3:15 p.m.  
Blogger Zeke's, the Montreal Art Gallery said...


Cool, congrats, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.

11:15 a.m.  
Blogger Ya-Ling said...

Great Job, Craig. I am glad you created this site. What a great idea. I will put the words out for ya. Hopefully it will get use lots.

10:15 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Now!!

Good for you. It's been a long time coming.

You haved earned a link on my Newfoundland news and photo blog.


8:56 a.m.  
Blogger Tara Bryan said...

Thanks for setting this up- it is long overdue. I think it's great that not everyone likes my work, I value frank comments (when I can get them) and have always found it strange that artists in this community are so reluctant to express their opinions openly. Honest discourse makes the community stronger and keeps us on our toes, rethinking and hopefully improving as we go. Let 'er rip!

9:18 a.m.  
Blogger Jennifer B. said...

Hi all,
I like the idea of this blog too, I hope it really takes off. I started a little artist collective (TADA) and a blog (more recently) myself, mainly for the purpose of having a way to discuss/critique our art. We're forced to do it so much in art school that it becomes taken for granted (in my experience, anyway). I guess people around here are less likely to openly and honestly critique artwork because they want to be polite. They don't want to step on any toes, either, since there aren't really very many toes around. The fact is, just saying someone's work is 'nice' is not helpful at all - it's kind of frustrating.

10:01 a.m.  
Blogger craigfrancis said...

Thanks everyone for responding. I (obviously) hope this takes off as well.

I had a show at Eastern Edge one year ago and while everyone who saw it was perfectly nice to my face, the comments book told another story completely. One comment went: How is this art?

What was frustrating was that I knew I would never have a chance to respond to any negative comments because no one would ever be that frank in person. I suppose you could call it polite, but you could also call it two-faced.

So please, everyone, hang out, be honest, be critical. It makes us all better at what we do.

10:54 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great work! As an over-educated CFA, I find it frustrating just how closed the NL arts community is, both to outsiders and their ideas. Seems to me that if our goal is to be truly world class, we should engage with the world a bit more...

3:30 p.m.  
Anonymous Andrew Collins said...

Heard your interview on Weekend AM. I think it's a great idea. Anything to generate discussion and interest in the arts scene here is always welcome.
Anonymous is a shield that people can use if they feel they must, but the arts scene here shouldn't feel that it's so small that we're all stuck in glass houses.

6:21 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

rock on baby!
looks like its a whoppin success so far.
congrats and i agree with all the comments above but do remember, yes critical response to work helps it evolve but just being plain mean doesn't. remember the rule, if you have nothing nice (or helpful - i might add) to say keep your mouth shut? Might hold true in some ways...lets hope the comments are really open for discussion and not just a nasty outlet.

12:50 p.m.  
Anonymous Frank Holden said...

I heard Craig's interview with WAM last Sunday morning, and immediately e-mailed CBC inviting them to convene an on-air debate, (ongoing preferably), on the need for real criticism in the St.John's, the NL arts scene. It would be the best thing CBC could do for the arts community.
I'm not a visual arts expert myself, but a writer, actor, singer/ musician. The particular aesthetics differ, but the ethics are the same.
To the problem of "stepping on toes, " as someone put it: Real criticism is not personal, it's communal.
If a community cannot discuss the effect and worth of what is done within it,for fear of stepping on toes, then it ain't a community; it's a congregation of narcissistic egos, groping and poking along, afraid to find out where they're going, afraid to find out what they're work is worth.
Plato said the unexamined life isn't worth living. I wouldn't go that far, but I will ask why is anything worth doing if it isn't to be examined , " critically. "
What is art ? It's the ongoing and open discussion of: who are we, how do we live, how should we live, how may we live, etc, etc, carried on in words, pictures, music, whatever.
Why even do it, if we can't talk about it honestly, openly and in good faith ?...In NL, we need all the glastnoss we can get....Frank Holden

4:44 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Craig. Thoughtful points about Clem's show. I am not familiar with his disembodied women, but I love his faces and his impasto. I wasn't as impressed with the drippy trees with voilet backgrounds as the "bird rock" piece which was free and had interesting colours. You are right about the daunting effect of Gerry Squires' landscapes on Newfoundland art, especially since they were both launching shows the same week. As for your own piece in the Eastern Edge's members show I found it funny, which is very important to me, since I hate pretentiously serious conceptual art. But I was disappointed in two things. I thought that given the context of this application that your letter would be making a political point, instead you made a sexual one about orgies which, while funny, is kind of ho-hum these days, not as edgy as political satire would be. Everyone tries to shock people with sex, it's like Punch and Judy in improv, too easy. I also believe that conceptual art should be rigorous in it's execution. I would have wanted you to have played with the abstract qualities of your presentation, like graphite covered in encaustic wax. Something minimalist, but able to withstand scrutiny. As it was it had the rushed feel of a highschool assignment slipped in to make the deadline. A couple of years ago I started a crit session at St. Michael's but the majority of people who showed up lacked the art theory to say anything really constructive. A good crit requires at least a half a dozen people who are committed to being honest, and coming out to every session. I'd love to have an honest crit of my own work, which I think is bogged down in my own love of drawing. I know better, but I'm doing old fashioned stuff. :) Jennifer Morgan, I'm going to sign in as Anonymous, since I can't seem to figure out how to get a Username in blogland.

7:08 p.m.  
Blogger craigfrancis said...

Hi Jennifer.

Thanks for your comments. It's too bad the crit session didn't take off, sounds like a great idea.

3:52 p.m.  
Blogger janfebmarch said...

I'm glad I've finally found this site. I heard about it on the CBC Weekend Arts Magazine.......very interesting, will be checking back.
In reference to Jennifer Morgan's comment..... I was hoping for a place to get critique on my paintings etc... maybe an online version of the St. Michaels idea would get more response. Any thoughts?

2:29 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tripped across Scott Keatings website in progress and was very impressed. He seems to be one of the most talented graduates to come out of Grenfell. (not that I'm aware of all of them.. I'm sure there are many others out there.) Can't wait to see what he will post under his fine art section. Is Scott currently represented by anyone?

9:48 a.m.  
Blogger craigfrancis said...

as far as i know, he isn't represented by anyone. i do know however that he's involved with TADA, a collective of artists who've recently graduated from Grenfell.

11:26 a.m.  
Blogger John Mutford said...

Hi there, I appreciate such a site as yours and the motives behind it. I'm new to the blogging world but am finding it interesting and ones such as this will keep me coming back.

9:08 p.m.  

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