Supernova gets to lift off - actual flight was something else. After two outstanding success a small set back is not a disaster.

artsblue 100x100By Pepper Parr

September 20, 2015


The crowds they had hoped for did not materialize but the weather did hold. There were more people at No Vacancy’s Supernova this year than there were at the Cirque event held at Village Square last year.

NV body part - foot

Perhaps outside some comfort zones.

Let’s look at what was good. The Art Market was good – some of the exhibits stunned people a little – others were a pleasure to look at. Art is supposed to take you out of your comfort zone.

The Teresa Seaton/Tomy Bewick event and the Kune Hua event were superb – illustration art at its best.

Hua was a last minute entry – 36 hours before the opening he was still working through his concept – it turned out to be one a very emotional event for many people.

NV Wishing Forest - close up Sophia

Several thousand ribbons were draped over the branches of the trees in the Wishing Garden.

Set in a lot that was once a gas station the Wishing Garden was a collection of birth tree branches planted into pots with small white lights strong along the branches.

Visitors were invited to take a ribbon and write a wish and then tie it to one of the tree branches.

Hua believes that with all that energy; all those wishes collected in a single place – change was inevitable. Only those who tied a ribbon will know if there was a change – one can say however that there was a mood in the darkened space where you could smell the lake and not feel you were being intruded upon by the noise from Emmas Back Porch just yards away.

NV Seaton and Bewisk

Tomy Bewick intoned in a strong passionate voice while Teresa Seaton spread the feathers about the ground “feathers spinning in the downdraft”

The Seaton/Bewick event was more of a performance – and for those that listened there was a sense of trance as Bewick spoke ans Seaton moved around the space placing feathers fashioned out of stained glass on the ground while Bewick chanted

she’s walking down that road again
flying off the fumes
this highway life on a long enough stretch wears thin

Seaton would gently place a few stained glass feathers on the ground while Bewick continued …

watching the freebirds float above
feathers spin in the downdraft
wind kicks sand across face releasing strained tears
the rain makes the asphalt seem slick
the sheen of blacktop coated hopes slippery
you see the machinery from a distance
silhouettes like soldiers along a long abandoned flightpath
from a thousand miles the towers look like flamingoes
stilted sun refracts rainbows in cracked glass

It wasn’t dramatic but it drew you in as the Bewick voice continued to intone and the feathers took their place on the ground as Seaton stepped around gently

NV Seaton event audience

The audience didn’t move while Bewick and Seaton performed – they stood silent for a few moments when the performance ended – it was that kind of event.

she’s walking down that road again and the fumes are getting stronger
the feathers falling faster
there is disaster on the horizon, stretched like the skeleton of industry

It was a fine performance given every hour.  If you missed this – you really did miss something.

The problem areas – getting crowds out means promotion – some thought there wasn’t enough done. The location was very good – did the organizers create too much space?

They were able to set aside basically all of the Old Lakeshore Road but there weren’t enough artists to take up the space which left the event feeling it was a little thin on the contents side.

There were a lot of people at the event – it was hard to appreciate just how many because there was acres of space. At Village Square everything was crowded in – which made it seem very busy.

There could have been more artists – it takes time for this type of event to gain a foothold. This was the third event put on by the No Vacancy group.

NV Electric quilt

It was electric – it had energy and it had three dimensions – you left feeling better after looking at this piece of work.

One of the problems they might want to give some attention to is the identity of the event. No Vacancy is the sort of umbrella name with each event given a different theme name each year. That gets a little confusing for the casual visitor.

The organizers do something few other events of this type do – they ensure that the artists are paid – and that can be a real grind when other than the beer garden and perhaps some revenue from the art market there is no revenue stream. There were sponsorship’s and the city did kick in some money – there may not have been enough.

The Poacher Ukelele Band and the jugglers didn’t seem to fit into the art theme – but there were people who enjoyed both. The juggler was determined to make the event pay for him – which was outside the boundaries set by the organizers of the Supernova

There was security that wasn’t needed – this was a very tame crowd that mixed well with the people that troop into Emma’s Back Porch.
But there was something missing – and the organizers are going to have to take some time in a month or so and think through what the recipe needs. A little more spice? Perhaps. More interesting artists and a program with a map of who was where. There apparently was a map – we didn’t see it until after the event.

Printing a program means getting advertisers – and that requires time which the organizers just didn’t have.

NV art shop

The Art Market was in a smaller space this year and it had the crowds that in retrospect were what people missed overall.

There was a very cruel, uncalled for comment from an artist who said ‘this was probably the last No Vacancy event. The artist who made the comment had submitted an event but was turned down and is reported not to have been prepared to make revisions to what was a collection of paintings that were for sale. Supernova was not at art sale – it was a collection of art illustrations – an event that you interacted with.

It was an uncalled for comment from an artist currently looking to the community for financial support.

After two outstanding successes the turnout this year is a bit of a setback. The arts are fickle – it doesn’t always turn out the way people hope it will
What the arts community has to do is be mature and stop going on about how great the event was – it wasn’t great. This year something was missing – the people who did all the grunt work will work it out.

NV Beer garden

The Beer Garden was well situated – the band was loud – by the time this reporter was ready for an ale – the gates had closed – it was after 11 pm.

The arts community has to call a spade a spade and work towards improving the event – what was great was the close to incredible support from the volunteers – who don’t get as much as a dime.

Be kind to Selena and Dean Eckersall – they put their hearts into this and deserve an opportunity to put the event on next year

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5 comments to Supernova gets to lift off – actual flight was something else. After two outstanding success a small set back is not a disaster.

  • Diana Zimber

    Poacher Ukulele Band would like to say a big Thank You to Kelly Robinson, and the other organizers of Supernova. We were thrilled to be included in the line-up, and to make our debut outdoor performance in downtown Burlington. We will be pleased to come back next year – with a few adjustments to our scheduling. By the way we were completely aware of the sound issues – and appreciate that the performers on either side of us were very deserving of the audience they had as they were excellent! Next time we would schedule shorter sets in between their acts. It is an easy fix.
    We would also like to thank our audience for their very generous donations to our favourite charity Carpenter Hospice. We play and sing for charity ( at no charge). If anyone has a charity event that could use a lively group please feel free to contact us – Check out our Facebook page to see some videos from Supernova.
    Cheers to all involved! Diana

  • While I appreciate the accolades ( and loved the piece I did with Tomy ) I agree with Jim. Video instalations are 90 % preparation and 10 % installation. Many miss the hours of preperation that goes into them. I thought Ben’s performance was wonderful. For best viewing you need to stop and watch and maybe even chat to the artist. My understanding is that he will be performing again this Friday. Projecting on City Hall for Culture days.

    I do agree that the venue was a little large in scale. But was very happy with my location. There was a last minute accommodation for me due to the wind during the times for set up. Wind and glass do not mix well. But found the organizers very helpful.

    My hat goes off to Dean and Selina and Kyle for all their hard work.

  • JoanTurbitt

    I went to this event just before 7pm and there was nothing there, no art whatsoever. The beer table was open, the band was warming up but no art.
    I waited until about 7:15 or 20 but dark was approaching and I feared the rain as I was walking home with parcels purchased before. I went to see the art event before going home in order to have enough light to walk. Unfortunately this was not to be the case as it darkened before there was any sign of the art work. I would not have enjoyed loud music either in such a small space, art is to be enjoyed in more quiet reflection.
    I was very disappointed and wonder could this not happen either in an afternoon with a covered tent in case of rain etc. As well I hope in future that all is ready in the times announced. I have been to No Vacancy before and will definitely go again but need to know art will be there. Some of us are seniors now and not up to going too late at night especially if walking.

  • Jim Riley

    OH…I lost my last part never transferred.
    CONGRATULATIONS to Selina and Dean!! Supernova flowed smoothly to the viewer. Good on ya and your crew.

    I know how difficult this is and you are to be commended.

  • Jim Riley

    This was my first year to participate in No Vacancy “contemporary installations” as completely a viewer /audience. It was my choice. I wanted to experience Supernova as an audience member. I also believe that it is better to vary where you exhibit from year to year. It is hard for me to compare the previous two years as I was in the trenches for the first two. I will try.

    I would say that the installations were professionally done but the thesis is less clear to me. Maybe, labelling the event with a title theme is not needed? It does need something though as No Vacancy does more than this September event. Just a supportive though. Maybe, September 2013, September 2014, September 2015 etc.?

    What I noticed was that there was more space and less crowding. I loved that. I don’t think that more installations etc. are needed. I was twice in the first few Supercrawl Hamilton early years as well. Supercrawl and Toronto’s Nuit Blanche have both become an over done and overcrowded events. The art is not important in Nuit Blanche as much as the spectacle that Pepper may be wanting.

    Contemporary installations should take you out of your comfort zone but also create awe and visual stimulation. Supernova had some very good installations. As a video artist, I did find the media arts interesting as well as the foot installation (forgot the artist’s name).

    The performance presented by Ben Robertson (And All Was Bright) was innovative and Versa looks promising. Reg Moore again shows his skills at projection mapping by twisting and bending projections around corners on Emma’s wall. These three represent the more contemporary edgy mixing of alternative music and visuals by young media artists mashing up their art. This is often presented in bars with a strong alternative innovative use of visuals and sound.

    It could be my bias but I think that No Vacancy does a very good job of presenting media arts installations.

    There continues to be some technical and Best Practices that need to be implemented better on dealing with the artists. I noticed outdoor performances such as the ukulele and Seaton/ Bewick could be planned better for the time that they performed. One drowned out the other when they performed at the same time. I suspect that they were unaware of it. I have heard that No Vacancy may use the same space next years. That may help the counter sound issue by being aware of such pit falls.