This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

The City of Orillia is doing a study about public art. While it’s not happening because of what happened last month with the awarding of 6 installations to out of town artists, (the funds for the study come from the same pot as the money to pay for the art) it certainly was a topic of discussion at the last group forum.

The intended point of the study is to create a strategy related to public art. The strategy is long-term plan which includes buying art, where it’s located, what kind of art, and various other aspects.

The study is being conducted by Cobalt Connects and Jeremey Freiburger is the study lead. Cobalt has done studies like this before and also manages arts events. Jeremey is a good focus group leader. At the last one he had his template of what to discuss, but when the issue of the awarding of the art installations came up, he let the discussion go that way, and asked some good questions of the group about our views.

There is another opportunity for you to participate in the study happening January 19 at Creative Nomad Studios from 6 to 8 p.m. In my experience artists have opinions, lots of them, but they don’t always voice them in the right places, at the right time, or succinctly. This is your chance to practice your pitch so it gets heard and recorded. It’s not just about an issue you have, but could include solutions you have in mind.

Paul Baxter’s Temporary Mural at the Orillia Public Library, Summer 2021

I hear good ideas all the time from our creative community. I don’t hear them being voiced to the people who have the ability to do anything when opinion is being requested. I know this because I go to these information gathering affairs.

Sometimes I end up relaying messages and I am a poor Memorex machine for your ideas. To begin with numbers of people on hand saying something beats one talking for others, every time. I also can’t speak your mind as well as you do.

These kinds of things often focus on visual arts (paintings, murals, sculpture). Music and literature get left out of the discussion and shouldn’t, so if you are of that type you should go too. Especially important are viewpoints from those who have ideas involving more than one genre. I’m thinking of the various groups like Mariposa (arts and festival) the Orillia Performing Arts Forum, Arts Orillia, ODAC, OFAA, Downtown Orillia, the chamber, the youth center and others. Anyone who has ideas needs to show up and get your event/idea on the radar.

What comes out of this study will affect what the City gets behind, how involved the municipality becomes and how much money is invested.

Rolling Downhill

When I was younger Rolling Stone was it. They had all the dope on musicians and music and some really good general interest stories – plus Hunter S. Thompson and P. J. O’Rourke’s stuff.

Then Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner started the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and took 30 years to induct Rush. Meanwhile the Supremes, the Bee Gees and the Moonglows were admitted decades ahead of Rush.

In 2016 they came out with their list of the 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time. They named John Bonham, Keith Moon and Ginger Baker in order as the top 3. You see the problem, I hope. Neil was 4th. Worse, Buddy Rich was 15th one step below Ringo Starr. I think your list is screwed when the one who should be at the top, Neil, organized a benefit concert for the other drummer who should share his pedestal (Buddy) saying, “I did always consider him the best drummer in the world.”

Last week they came out with the list of the 200 Greatest Singers of All Time. The list it looks like a hodgepodge of singers, dead and alive, from all kinds of genres who essentially became mainstream; the hodgepodge includes many names I never heard of before, so not all mainstream.

Gordon Lightfoot, not one of the 200 Greatest Singers of All Time

Here’s who is not on the list Celine Dion, Gordon Lightfoot, Nat or Natalie Cole, Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, Josh Groban, Michael Bublé, Minnie Ripperton, Phillip Bailey, Al Jarreau, Lenny Williams or Larry Bragg (of Tower of Power), Terry Kath or Peter Cetera or Robert Lamm (of Chicago), none of the Bee Gees, Tony Bennett and so many others of note.

I don’t know what you think, but that’s’ some list of great singers, which took less than 5 minutes of calorie burning to come up with. I’m not a fan of Celine Dion, but you’d have to beat me over the head with a shovel for a few minutes to get me to say she’s not a great singer, maybe the greatest.

Leonard Cohen is on it, Michael Stipe, Ozzy Osborne, and El Debarge are too. I think I’d be embarrassed if I were them in light of who was left out. They even put John Lennon (12) ahead of Paul McCartney (26) and left George Harrison off the list. Do you recall Lennon once saying Ringo isn’t the best drummer in the Beatles? I’d wager Lennon would say he is third in the pecking order of the Beatles.

They put Michael Jackson at 86 ahead of Janis Joplin (78) who likely would also say she doesn’t need to be on the list.

The whole list strikes me as a bunch of writers trying to out-hip and out-cool the other contributors to the list by picking the most obscure or counter intuitive names they could come up with. Alex Rose, really?

We have better singers here in Orillia than half of the Rolling Stone list. Hi Liz Anderson.

So my point of going on this rant is twofold. Rolling Stone lost its relevancy when Y2K fizzled. Second, what passes for journalism these days is utter crap. Venerated names have given up their journalistic mission to the chase of digitally enticed eyeballs. Writing to an algorithm is more important than informing people. There are good journalists out there, you just have to search for them because they don’t appear on Google’s top ranking.

The Rolling Stone list is still on the main page of Google News, along with 4 stories about Miley Cyrus, 4 stories about a Newfoundland dog kicked out of puppy school because it sits on the other puppies, and nothing from Orillia in the local news section (though they do have stories from Lindsay and the Kawarthas).

Such is the culture we made, or got sucked into. It’s no wonder we are fighting with each other over trivial things. Somehow we need to fix this. I don’t know how, but mainstream information and news publishing is broken.

Being independent of the machine is not the road to success. Every independent media website is surviving on limited local advertising, sponsorship and subscription revenue, even the ones with good traffic (SUNonline/Orillia had several months in 2021 and 2022 with more than 100,000 pages served). Independent media is more valuable to you these days than a pot of gold. You can help by supporting independent media (have you joined SUNonline’s email list? Or made a voluntary subscription?).

You can also bookmark this website, or your other favourite news sites, and bypass the algorithms. Rolling Stone shouldn’t be taking up all the oxygen with made up garbage while important stuff gets buried.

The bottom line is, unfortunately, if you really want to be informed, you have to do some work, not much, to find information you need.

The Shorts

lance anderson
Lance Anderson at the 2018 Mariposa Folk Festival
  • The Mariposa Folk Festival’s February Blues happens Feb. 4 at the Opera House. Lance Anderson is once again the center of gravity and with him will be Bobby Dean Blackburn, Verese Vassel-Brown, Thomas Nelson and Mike Sloski. You can get tickets (better hurry, it sells out every time) online.
  • Roots North has their first artist locked up for April’s festival and it’s Juno Award winning Michael Kaeshammer. You can get festival passes now online.
  • Arts Orillia has three events happening soon. Dancer/choreographers Emma Kerson and Jane-Alison McKinney will do Hard Wire a the Opera House Jan. 19. BoucharDanse performs Tres Loin Jan. 26 at the Opera House.  On Feb. 4 at Creative Nomad, they have the dance film Reduced by Aliyah Beckles-Gaines who will be on hand to talk about the film and read from her book, We Are Here: Stories From Southern Georgian Bay BIPOC Women. You can find tickets for all three online.
  • Express Yourself Performing Arts is putting on a play, James and the Giant Peach, in June. They are holding auditions for kids 8 and older now. Their women’s and children’s choirs performed at ST. Paul’s Centre’s benefit for Ukraine concerts. The theatrical program is a learning program and there are registration fees. You can find more detail and registration info online.
Medusas Rage by Amanta Scott
  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has Ian Chaplin in to play Jan. 13; Will Davis and Chris Robinson do jazz Jan. 15; Wilverine spins vinyl Jan 19; Reay is playing January 28, it’s a fundraiser for the Sharing Place Good Bank and tickets are $15… Quayle’s Brewery has Ron Whitman in to play Jan. 6 and Steven Henry is in Jan. 7… the  Hog N’ Penny has Mighty Lopez playing Jan. 7.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Sculptor Timothy Schmaltz and Gordon Lightfoot admiring some public art.

Rants & Raves

Support Independent Journalism