The spotlight shines on fine arts faculty and alumni

York University fine arts faculty and alumni have been busy over the last few weeks with performances, exhibitions and research endeavours. Here is a sampling of their activities:

The David Liebman/Mike Murley Quartet performed Oct. 30 at Hamilton’s Pepper Jack Café and again on Nov. 1 at Toronto’s Hugh’s Room. Legendary saxophonist David Liebman (former sideman with Miles Davis and Elvin Jones and leader of the acclaimed Tenor Summit group with Joe Lovano and Ravi Coltrane) performed with York music Professor and renowned saxophonist Mike Murley as well as bassist Pat Collins and drummer Ian Froman.

Right: Mike Murley

Music Professor Jacques Israelievitch performed Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on Oct. 30 and Nov. 1 at Roy Thomson Hall, and again on Nov. 2 at the George Weston Recital Hall in North York. On Nov. 16, he will return to the concert stage when he conducts the Koffler Chamber Orchestra in works by Holst, Bloch, Vaughan Williams, Handel and Barber at Hart House at the University of Toronto.

Music Professors David Lidov and Bill Westcott performed a concert of their own music on Oct. 31 at  Toronto’s Gallery 345. Fine arts cultural studies Professor Marc Couroux and other artists joined them in the performance which featured a mainly string repertoire composed by Lidov and Westcott, along with “an uproarious bit of Halloween frenzy” by Charles Ives.

Art history Professor Shirley Ann Brown recently spoke at an international conference at the British Museum in London dealing with new research on the Bayeux Tapestry, an 11th century visual witness to the Norman conquest of England. Brown’s paper, "Documenting Operation Matilda 1939-1944", presented the initial results of her Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada-supported research. It explores the Nazi appropriation of the Bayeux Tapestry, normally considered to be a French/English historical monument, and the tapestry’s potential as nationalist propaganda. Brown was also featured in an article about the Bayeux Tapestry published in the BBC History Magazine.

Dance alumnus and Fine Arts Cultural Studies faculty member Sashar Zarif (right) (MA ’07) was a featured choreographer in the SoorRyu Dance Festival during the third week in October. He performed his solo titled Grief, a new work reflecting on the unknown and lost in the present moment. York dance Professors Susan Cash, Carol Anderson, Terrill Maguire and Toronto interdisciplinary artist Katherine Duncanson performed his work Anar, which is dedicated to his cousin Azarmidokht, a teenaged political prisoner who was executed in Iran.

Music Professor Rob Bowman’s Canadian adaptation of the popular music book Rockin’ Out (American version by Reebee Garofalo) was released by Pearson Educational on Oct. 31. The text and associated listening guides break new ground with a comprehensive social history of popular music in North America. Coverage ranges from the invention of the phonograph to the promise of the Internet, from the heyday of Tin Pan Alley to the present day sounds of singer-songwriters, pop country crossovers, rock and contemporary hip hop. The inaugural Canadian edition of this much-admired text features Canadian content added to each chapter, including material on such iconic artists as Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, The Band, The Guess Who, Rush, Feist, Jully Black and many more.

Left: Rob Bowman

Set and costume designs by theatre Professor Teresa Przybylski are featured in Nightwood Theatre’s production of Wild Dogs, based on the novel by Helen Humphreys and arranged for the stage by Anne Hardcastle. The show is receiving great reviews including four out of four stars from the Toronto Star and a “must-see” designation by the Toronto Sun. It plays at the Berkeley Street Downstairs Theatre Downstairs until Nov. 8.

Visual Arts alumnus Pete Smith (BFA Spec. Hons ’98) has a solo exhibit called "Proverbs for Paranoids" at Elissa Cristall Gallery in Vancouver, BC until Nov. 15. His work investigates the visual noise that congests and consumes the contemporary urban landscape. Appropriating and remixing various aspects of visual detritus such as graffiti, paint spills, billboards, newspapers, spam e-mails and street signs, Smith reworks these neglected signifiers into a highly personal and energetic response.

A memorial exhibition commemorating Laura Ciruls is on view at Toronto’s Loop Gallery until Nov. 16. The exhibition offers highlights of her career. Ciruls’ multi-layered abstract works explore how natural things are affected by global warming and urban development. The images stand as a metaphor for our unconsciousness as a society toward the environment, and larger issues such as memory, identity, emotional fears and empathy to things outside ourselves. Ciruls, who graduated with her BFA in visual arts in 1982, passed away this summer at the age of 49 after a long illness.