NAC Member of the Moment / Katie Mazi

Katie Mazi is an interdisciplinary artist based in the Niagara region. Her installation work immerses viewers into subversive domestic environments, while her photos illustrate vivid and deceptive scenes. She also uses painting and drawing to communicate fluid and immediate ideas. Mazi is most interested in using everyday objects to represent the absurdity of human behaviour, especially in relationship to non-human animals and the natural world.

To see more work visit: katiemazi.com

 

  1. When did you become a NAC member and why?

I became a NAC member around 2014 while attending Brock for Visual Art because I quickly began to realize that if I wanted to start exhibiting my work, organizing my own shows & being a part of a larger arts community that this was an absolute must. The NAC offered a great space to do all of these things with just a yearly membership ($45)!

  1. Are you an artist, an art appreciator or both?

Both!

  1. What’s the best thing about being an artist in Niagara?

The best thing about being an artist in Niagara is that it doesn’t take long to get an overall impression of the community and the opportunities that are offered here, but in the same respect there are always new exciting things & artists emerging.

  1. Name a Niagara artist whose work knocks your socks off.

There are just too many to name. But I guess if I had to choose in this moment, I would say Jenn Judson. Jenn is a great artist and has become one of my very good friends. We recently have started some collaborative projects and working with her is great!

  1. Tell us about a memorable NAC experience.

There have been lots of memorable NAC experiences. Shows run by the Brock Art Collective while I was in school, group exhibits, film screenings, music, dance parties! I would say the most recent stand-out events would be Small Feats 2017 and Daniel Romano’s Modern Pressure record release party.

 

  1. What’s the number one reason to become a NAC member?

I think that becoming a NAC member is essential for all types of artists, art appreciators, or just anyone that generally likes cool and fun things. If you are attending Brock for Visual Arts, I am sure this will help you navigate as an emerging artist. It keeps you in the know for so many interesting happenings affiliated with NAC and other exciting things that go on in the Niagara community. Since becoming a NAC member I have planned/curated shows, my work has been included in numerous NAC shows, I have seen many fantastic shows, met lots of great artists and art appreciators and now I am renting the NAC studio space!

Become a NAC member and be part of the Niagara arts community in whatever way that suits you OR buy friends/family a membership if you’re already in. TODAY!

NAC Member of the Moment: Geoff Farnsworth

June is membership month at the Niagara Artists Centre. In our NAC Member of the Moment series, we ask NAC members about art in Niagara and the number one reason to join NAC. Artist and NAC board member Geoff Farnsworth tells us about the good tiiimes and being part of NAC’s shared studio / shop at 433 St. Paul Street.

Geoff’s paintings explore a relationship between figurative and abstraction in order to meld unconscious probing and stylistic innovation with a meditative figural base.  Geoff’s paintings work well as collections of shape, colour, texture, and energy, while also building a compelling image.  Working with people and motifs from his personal world, Geoff focusus continuously on maintaining a balance between plan and accident, known and unknown, restraint and exuberance.  His figures look out as much into mindscape as landscape.

Geoff’s paintings have been shown in New York City, Washington DC, Minneapolis, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, the Niagara region, Thunder Bay, Vancouver, Sweden, Norway, and Trinidad.

When did you become a NAC member and why?
I became a NAC member 4 years ago because I HAD to in order to join the first NAC initiated communal studio. But glad I did with also getting into the know n’ flow of the local Niagara art scene. Goood tiiimes!

Are you an artist, an art appreciator or both?
Both.

What’s the best thing about being an artist in Niagara?
A flourishing art scene locally, with close access to Toronto and Buffalo. We are lucky with so many venues here now like NAC and the PAC, Brock and Niagara College, and the cafe and restaurant scene that’s helped with the confluence of a really vibrant and connected sharing of art, influence, and ideas.

Name a Niagara artist whose work knocks your socks off.
William Griffiths, Chris Pew, Amber Lee Williams, Bruce Thompson, Shawn Serfas, and so many more.

Tell us about a memorable NAC experience.
Lots. But the big winner for me lately is the newly incarnated NAC-initiated communal art studio on the upper end of St. Paul: 14 artists working in the back, good energy, gallery space at street level shared with Roly Poly.

What’s the number one reason to become a NAC member?
Membership really keeps you updated and invited to a lot of cool events and exhibitions where you meet many interesting artists, musicians, and arts appreciators. Really fleshes out the experience of this rad community. Super dope!

Sign up for your very own NAC membership online or stop by NAC at 354 St. Paul Street in St. Catharines during gallery hours to get your membership in person.

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NAC Member of the Moment: JFM

JFM – looking for fun since ’81!

It’s membership month at the Niagara Artists Centre! In our NAC Member of the Moment series, we ask NAC members about art in Niagara and the number one reason to join NAC. Artist and NAC Studio Manager Jesse Frank Matthews tells us why he got involved with NAC and about some memorable NAC experiences

JFM is a sound and collage artist who recently moved back to the Niagara Region. He’ll playing THIS Saturday 10 June at NAC’s Summer Rooftop Kick Off Party. Check out his EP Return to the Garden City here.

1. When did you become a NAC member and why?

2000. Fresh outta high school, very confused and looking for like-minded weirdos.

2. Are you an artist, an art appreciator or both?

I make collages of found materials, sometimes with paper but more often with sounds.

3. What’s the best thing about being an artist in Niagara?

Since I returned to Niagara last year it has been the scents that inspire me the most.

4. Name a Niagara artist whose work knocks your socks off.

Phyllis MacFrugal

5. Tell us about a memorable NAC experience.

Playing while on mushrooms with The Strag on Bond Street, sweating so much I couldn’t see.

6. What’s the number one reason to become a NAC member?

See answer to answer to question 1.

RatTail ‘sicko
‘ladies night’ VHS treated by RatTail’s Jesse Frank Matthews

NAC Member of the Moment: Tamara Jensen

It’s membership month at the Niagara Artists Centre! In our NAC Member of the Moment series, we ask NAC members about art in Niagara and the number one reason to join the NAC. Artist and NAC board member Tamara Jensen tells us why she got involved with NAC and about some memorable NAC experiences.  

Tamara is a practicing visual artist and entrepreneur in St. Catharines, Ontario. Co-founder of pioneering gourmet food truck El Gastronomo Vagabundo, Tamara was an early adopter of mobile marketing tools and has become a leader in digital marketing strategy. Driven by a passion to help Niagara’s entrepreneurs succeed, Tamara is a Digital Strategist with Form & Affect, where she helps local and global brands gain traction through advanced digital media strategies. Tamara is a volunteer small business mentor with Futurpreneur Canada, and a Starter Company mentor with the St. Catharines Enterprise Centre. The painting studio above her garage is underused, but makes for a pretty nice place to nap.

When did you become a NAC member and why?
I signed up at Small Feats in 2015 because I wanted to be a part of the show in 2016. I had put my art practice on the back burner while starting up a business with my husband, so I thought it would be a good reason to dust off my paint brushes.

Are you an artist, an art appreciator or both?
Both.

What’s the best thing about being an artist in Niagara?
The art community here is very welcoming and inclusive; from students to dabblers to professionals, I’ve found the Niagara art scene to be humble and supportive.

Name a Niagara artist whose work knocks your socks off.
I want to be Mel MacDonald when I grow up.

Tell us about a memorable NAC experience.
So many! All of the Strutt / Voix de Ville performances; a fire-swallowing magician entertaining guests at a NAC fundraiser at Kwong Chow; the mad rush of Small Feats VIP previews….

What’s the number one reason to become a NAC member?
You get the inside scoop on all of the amazing events, shows, and exhibits that are going on in Niagara, all while supporting one of the oldest artist-run centres in Canada!

Sign up for your very own NAC membership online or stop by NAC at 354 St. Paul Street in St. Catharines during gallery hours to get your membership in person.

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NAC Member of the Moment: Ariadni Harper

June is Membership Month at the Niagara Artists Centre, which means there’s no better time to sign up or renew your membership. In this Q&A, Ariadni Harper talks about being an artist in St. Catharines, creating work for the STRUTT Wearable Art Show (more on that soon!), and bringing her kids to NAC to check out the shows. Ariadni’s work will be on display in the Dennis Tourbin Members Gallery beginning Saturday 9 July at 7PM.

 

1. When did you become a NAC member and why?
I’ve been a NAC Member for more than 10 years … I think?!


2. Are you an artist, an art appreciator or both?

I’m an artist. It’s all I can remember doing lots of as a child and pursued it in school. It brings me peace and adrenaline all at the same time. Also I have a great appreciation for the arts and the artists that  express themselves in a variety of mediums.

3. What’s the best thing about being an artist in Niagara?

The best thing about being an artist in Niagara, is that there are so many creative people in this area. It’s appreciated and there is a great deal of exposure throughout the cities with call for submissions, events and cultural venues.

4. Name a Niagara artist whose work knocks your socks off.

A Niagara artist that knocks my socks off is William Griffiths*. Met him at Small Feats after I purchased one of his paintings. Love his style, the layers, the colours, the texture. I’ve been experimenting with abstract, and it’s not easy as some may think. I have a great appreciation for artist that can create on what seems to be a freer level.
* William Griffith’s show is on at NAC until Friday 8 July in the Dennis Tourbin Members Gallery.

5. Tell us about a memorable NAC experience.

I have many memorable NAC experiences, the staff is so friendly and inviting…but STRUTT was pretty AMAZING!! To be involved with such a great event. The vibe that evening was something you wouldn’t expect in St.Catharines. I was thrilled and honoured to be part of that, so thank you!

6. What’s the number one reason to become a NAC member?

The number one reason I became a NAC member was to become more involved with other artist and connect with the art community. Before I became a member I would always pop in to see latest exhibits and after having my daughters I would bring them in the stroller and ask them to show me which piece they liked and why. That’s when I knew I needed to get involved.

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NAC Member of the Moment: Geoff Farnsworth

June is Membership Month at the Niagara Artists Centre, which means there’s no better time to sign up or renew your membership. In this Q&A, one of NAC’s newest board members, Geoff Farnsworth, talks about how he became a NAC Member, who’s work inspires him, and the good vibes around the region.

When did you become a NAC member and why?
I became a NAC member when I moved to downtown St. Catharines three years ago. I was drawn here for the growing art scene and wanted to take the opportunity to become a part of a NAC initiated group studio. You had to become a NAC member to do so, so I was forced into it!  🙂  But loving the community and all of the events at and around the NAC lately, so allll gooood!  😉

Are you an artist, an art appreciator or both?
I’m an artist, art appreciator, art addict, art educator, art pusher, all of it, yep.

What’s the best thing about being an artist in Niagara?
There’s a growing scene in Niagara that’s been great to be a part of for the 8 or 9 years I’ve been here.  It’s small enough to really feel a part of a cohesive and sharing community. I started off in the Falls and relocated to downtown St K 3 years ago, and so am really feeling the vibe of the collaboration in the whole region. And it’s great to be so close to both Toronto and Buffalo. 

Name a Niagara artist whose work knocks your socks off.
There are lots of artists in the region who inspire and excite me, both in their work and approach to making it. One of the ones I most relate to in philosophy, aesthetic, and process is William Griffiths who’s exhibition of new work at opened at this past weekend.

Tell us about a memorable NAC experience.
There have been a lot of memorable NAC experiences for me with showing my own work both solo and in a group setting, seeing the work of both artists I’m familiar with and new surprises, and great music events. The last couple of Small Feats shows have been a blast especially.

What’s the number one reason to become a NAC member?
Becoming a NAC member really plugs you into this art scene that has really taken off in downtown St. Catharines and the rest of the region. NAC’s really helping to showcase so much of it and drive it forth. There’s such a strong unity and collaboration between the NAC and the rest of the scene too, that being a NAC member really has one beccome more involved in a full sense beyond just on St. Paul in downtown St. Catharines. And so many more exciting projects are brewing riiiiight nowww!

NAC’s Member of the Moment is Chris Illich!

June is Membership Month at the Niagara Artists Centre, which means there’s no better time to sign up or renew your membership. In this Q&A, NAC’s Volunteer-of-the-Year and editor of The Sound Chris Illich talks about all the artists who inspire him, why being a part of Niagara’s art community is so great, and that time he got to ring the bell at Small Feats. Pick up your anniversary copy of The Sound today to get to hip to what’s what around town this month.

When did you become a NAC member and why?

I became a NAC member about five years ago because my honourary membership that Steve Remus said I had from high-school co-oping ran out. I’m glad it did. I wanted to support all the wonderful programming that the NAC provides.

Are you an artist, an art appreciator or both?

I think there’s a lot of ‘art’ in the things that I do and participate in, but I would never consider myself an artist. So, I guess I’m somewhere between an artist and an appreciator.

What’s the best thing about being an artist in Niagara?

The immense amount of talent that we have in the region really stands out. I’ve seen so many exhibitions/performances that have been absolutely captivating. It’s in those moments that you realize how special we are to live in such an artistic community.

Name a Niagara artist whose work knocks your socks off.

There are so many to name. I love the sensation of seeing a friend/peer/acquaintance’s beautiful work. Geoff Farnsworth’s work has such great style. Amber Lee William’s Blind Contour drawings are amazing to witness, and I also love Dylan Zdrobov’s Runt-inspired cartoons. I could go on and on… So I’ll stop here.

Tell us about a memorable NAC experience.

Again, there are just too many to name. But, most recently, I felt so much pride for the artists and the NAC when I rang that bell at Small Feats (and it was fun and obnoxious) this year when a piece of work sold. I could go on and on about this question too.There have been so many memorable moments that I’ve been around for and I’m very grateful for those experiences.

What’s the number one reason to become a NAC member?

Aside from all the great programming, there is such a great community surrounding the NAC. As a NAC member, I can’t believe how much support I have received from the team there and everyone surrounding them – and I know that I’m not the only one who feels that way.

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NAC’s Member of the Moment: Bart Gazzola

In our NAC Member of the Moment series, we ask Niagara Artists Centre members about art in Niagara and the number one reason to join the NAC. In this interview, Bart Gazzola talks about recent exhibits at the NAC, his visual arts radio show on CFBU and why signing up for a NAC membership was one of the first things he did when he moved here from Saskatchewan.

Sign up for your very own NAC membership online or stop by NAC at 354 St. Paul Street in St. Catharines during gallery hours to get your membership in person.

Bart Gazzola has published with Canadian Art, FUSE, Galleries West, PrairieSeenHamilton Arts & Letters, BlackFlash and Magenta Magazine. Past curatorial projects include REGION (Contemporary Saskatchewan Painting) and Personal Geographies (an overview of The Photographers Gallery collection). Currently he’s collaborating on his first international exchange exhibition.

Bart hosted and produced The A Word on CFCR 90.5 FM in Saskatoon for nine years, with guests as diverse as Steve Loft and David Thauberger. This was just relaunched / reconfigured here as A Word Niagara, and he recently chatted with Elizabeth Chitty and Stuart Reid. These will air on CFBU 103.7 FM, but are also at his blog right now.

His work has been shown at the Mendel Art Gallery, Platform, Kenderdine, Alternator, paved, Forest City Gallery, Gallery 44 and other spaces across Canada.

For three years, Bart was Editorial Chair of BlackFlash Magazine, and for twelve years he was the visual arts critic for Planet S Magazine. For more than a decade, he taught at the University of Saskatchewan, specifically digital media. He is a founding member of paved, and he has served on boards and worked at galleries in Saskatoon (aka, Kenderdine, Mendel, Video Verite) and Windsor (artcite, AGW).

After nearly two decades on the prairies (in 2011, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix called Bart a “Civic Art Star”), Bart is excited to return to St. Catharines, especially at a time when so much seems to be happening. He is pleased to be part of such a dynamic community.

Currently, Bart contributes to The Sound, and you can see some of his reviews of art and artists there.

When did you become a NAC member and why?
I’d been back in St. Catharines less than 24 hours, after moving here from the Prairies, when I got a NAC membership. I’ve been involved with lots of cultural spaces (in Windsor and Saskatoon), and in researching my move to St. Catharines, I knew that NAC would be one of my first stops, as a focal point of this community’s arts / culture scene. So I showed up right away and got a membership and made it clear I wanted to be part of that. Its been an excellent portal to the visual arts community here.

Are you an artist, an art appreciator or both?
Both: I’ve shown at Gallery 44, Alternator, Mendel, Platform and most recently was in a two person show at paved.

But these days I’m primarily an arts writer for a variety of publications, sometime curator, and a few other things, which you can see in my bio.

What’s the best thing about being an artist in Niagara?
This is a site that has its own identity, but also has the advantage of being situated very close to a number of exciting centres (whether Hamilton, Buffalo or Toronto). This makes it a place that has a variety of influences and ideas that permeate and mix together in new ways, with a diversity of ideas and forms.

Name a Niagara artist whose work knocks your socks off.
I can’t answer this right now, as I’m too new. I’m still researching and finding my feet here…but I should say that one of the things I’m doing here is a visual arts radio show that has launched on CFBU (I’ve already chatted with Elizabeth Chitty, whose Confluence project was a great point of entry to STC, as issues of history and communities both privileged and ignored are all part of her work. I’ve also chatted with Rodman Hall’s Director Stuart Reid in recent show), so I’ll reverse this question and say I want to hear / see / get emails and information from any artist who’s showing and doing here in St. Catharines and beyond in Niagara.

But the recent exhibition of Babeltech IndustriesTM presents…The Assembly Line of Babel by Eric Schmaltz really impressed me, and by the time you read this I will already have written down some thoughts about it at my blog. Excellent show. Language IS a virus.

Tell us about a memorable NAC experience.
Seeing Dave Gordon’s works in Excelsior! that referenced former Ontario Premier Mike Harris – who was premier here when I left Ontario for the Prairies – was a very nice bit of synchronicity. And it was creepy, too, as I left here when it was a Neo Con government that was unfriendly to arts and culture, and now have left Saskatchewan as it’s in the grip of a Neo Con regime that all but destroyed the film industry and seems to be facilitating the Saskatchewan Arts Board toward closure….

What’s the number one reason to become a NAC member?
If you saw Kaie Kellough perform at NAC, the same evening that Babel opened, and were blown away by his peformance both in terms of concrete poetry but also in speaking of contemporary issues with an empathy and intelligence that is rare, then you know you must support a space that facilitates that quality of work. NAC often presents works that are engaged and engaging with the larger STC community, in terms of visual arts but also with readings and other events: this is a form of fostering change, and change is a good and necessary thing that can be supported by your membership.

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NAC’s Member of the Moment: Gregory Betts

June is Membership Month at the Niagara Artists Centre, which means there’s no better time to sign up or renew your membership. In this Q&A, poet and NAC Board member Gregory Betts talks about an artist who knocks his socks off, why it’s difficult to be an artist in Niagara, and why NAC is the “forum for the best conversations on art in the region.”

When did you become a NAC member and why?
I became a NAC member in 2009, as soon as I realized it existed. I could not resist joining in the most dynamic arts community and hub in the region. It really has become the heart of the city for me.

Are you an artist, an art appreciator or both?
I am a poet, a writer, and an art appreciator. My dark secret is an occasional flirtation with art making: I have collaborated with a number of visual artists, and even had one solo exhibition of my own at a cafe that shut down shortly after. Ahem.

What’s the best thing about being an artist in Niagara?
I hope you will forgive me, but I actually think it is rather difficult to be an artist in Niagara. As a writer, there is no institution or business dedicated to the support or enhancement of literary cultures in the region. There are used bookstores in the downtown, but nothing that sells new and recent books—and there is not even a single store that sells local authors! The lack of support makes NAC all the more important for creating a home for writers through their regular reading series and literary events. In fact, because books are always sold at the NAC events, they are de facto the biggest book store in the city.

Name a Niagara artist whose work knocks your socks off.
Duncan MacDonald continues to amaze me with the wealth of thinking in his projects. To highlight one of his projects, “Piano Tusk” (2015) involved collecting free old pianos that people now just give away for free. He has poached the ivory from these rugged, beautiful beasts and sculpted the keys into a to-scale elephant tusk. The project uses art to return the material to at least a memory of its original form. To complete the tragedy embodied in this acknowledgement, the discarded corpses of the denuded pianos were then burnt, as is commonly done with poached elephant bodies and confiscated ivory. 

Tell us about a memorable NAC experience.
I take my four-year-old son to the NAC whenever there is an opening. We walk around and talk about the art. He tells me what he sees, what captures his attention, and we usually end up laughing at something or other that is strange. After he has seen all of the art, and decided on his favourite piece, we head over to the snack table for cheese and a cookie (or popcorn or other goody). The last thing he likes to do is tell the artist which one was his favourite. This usually leads into a little conversation, and sometimes even discussions about how the art was made (materials, methods, etc). It is the openness of the NAC that allows for such moments. What a delightful education!

What’s the number one reason to become a NAC member?
For you? I don’t know. For me, it is the fact that art almost always improves when it is shared or built in a conversation. The NAC is, bar none, the forum for the best conversations on art in the region.

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NAC’s Member of the Moment: Maud Rostaing

June is Membership Month at the Niagara Artists Centre, which means there’s no better time to sign up or renew your membership. In this Q&A, photographer, teacher and NAC Board member Maud Rostaing talks about Niagara artists, her problems with socks, and how the NAC helped her love St Catharines.

When did you become a NAC member and why?
It must have been 10 years ago, I think. I was still fairly new to this town, not liking it too much, missing the big city, the museums, galleries and plays. And then bang! NAC was introduced to me. A huge artistic door opened into my St Catharines life.

Are you an artist, an art appreciator or both?
I am definitely an art appreciator. I need art around me. Any sort. Visual, music, plays…. As for being an artist? Well, I do love photography. I don’t feel the need to differentiate who’s an artist and who is not. I just need to be surrounded by it, appreciate it, and create when I feel like it!

What’s the best thing about being an artist in Niagara?
There is no limit, no “not good enough” or “wtf”. Whoever wants to create does, in their own personal way. No snobbish looks. Or if there are, it does not affect the artist. It gives them more steam to do more. I love it. Niagara’s artistic scene has a good self esteem, feels confident. It’s fantastic!

Name a Niagara artist whose work knocks your socks off.
That’s a hard one. One, because there are too many choices. Two, because I don’t like wearing socks.

I’m always very impressed with Brittany Brooks and her delicate drawings, storytelling, and talent. She seems to have some kind of magic at the tip of her fingers!

Tell us about a memorable NAC experience.
Oh, there are lots. But I think it’s got to be STRUTT 2013, where I had my first piece on the runway. My piece was called “Trapped”. The Sadies were playing. The WS Tyler venue was outstanding. I danced all through the night. I loved every minute of that night.

What’s the number one reason to become a NAC member?
Being a NAC member keeps me in touch with every artistic environment that is happening in this town and region. And this town is full of talent. I say it loud and clear: NAC helped me love this town.

 

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