Tidal Mass makes waves

All-night art event brings together community collective

Artist Don Maynard stands with the titular piece from his community art event, Tidal Mass.
Artist Don Maynard stands with the titular piece from his community art event, Tidal Mass.
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A few blocks north of Princess, on a street with no sidewalks and cracked pavement, a massive brick building stands in a romantic state of decay. It’s a space where it’s easy to imagine the ghosts of the past standing near, in a somehow more authentic way than Kingston’s history usually delivers.

The former grocery store and warehouse which has become NGB Studios on Cataraqui Street is now home to a growing community of artists. For 24 hours this weekend, the building will be home to a sensory art project. Tidal Mass is an all-night and all-day event featuring sculpture, film and music.

The location for most of the events of the all-night soiree is NGB’s third-floor, complete with leaky roof and strange graffiti, which keeps account of a “Suckers List” and boastful claims on graduation “with honours 1940,” on its walls. Don Maynard is the curator of Tidal Mass, but the event’s focus—from making the promotional posters to the musicians to the sculpters—is on collective work.

The inspiration for Tidal Mass came from a massive installation by the same name, a piece Maynard began working on in May that required work every day for two and a half months to reach its current state.

“Tidal Mass” is an arrangement of used fluorescent bulbs that came from an old box store. The bulbs rise and fall into waves, evoking the connections between water and light.

“I had the idea that I wanted to basically flood the floor,” Maynard said. “Underneath the bulbs are another 250 lights, so when it’s on, it doesn’t look like fluorescent light but more like pools, or puddles of light.” Two other sculptures are displayed in the room, creating a sort of triangle of focus. Kingston artist Maggie Hogan’s piece, “Party Dress,” stands shyly in the corner—the form of a young woman’s disembodied dress, made from flattened bottle caps. From a distance, the caps’ metal sparkles, reflecting light that seeps through the warehouse’s dusty windows. Upon closer inspection, the bottle caps bring a stark sense of the everyday to an otherwise Cinderella-like scene, further emphasized by the works’ back drop of dirty tin and brick. The piece is a sort of reverse fairy tale, in which the happy ending comes from realizing the messiness of the world.

“It’s about a young woman going out into the world, and she perceives social constructs, and the dress becomes like armour,” Maynard said.

The other sculpture, titled “Prop Master,” is by Colm McCool, who spent many years working in Toronto as a prop maker and arranger for television commercials. The sculpture is of a large, yellow “dollop”, as McCool calls it—sculpted maple shaped something like a Hershey Kiss—that looks as though it’s fallen onto an old wooden desk, which is bent in the middle, because of its weight. The desk is on top of a circular, concave dais that appears to be falling through in the middle.

“We’re catching it at a dramtic moment, at which it’s about to go through the floors,” Maynard said.

“Prop Master” brings to mind the famous line from W.B. Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming”: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” As with Yeats’ poem, there is something apocalyptical about the strange scene in “Prop Master”—the idea that somehow, the bottom is falling out.

In July, Maynard contacted local musician and concert promoter, Greg Tilson about adding a musical aspect to the evening. From there, Tilson assembled a crew of about 15 local musicians who for the past six weeks have been using NGB as a collective practice space for jam sessions, almost daily Tidal Mass rehearsals and creative collaboration. Although working with so many musicians can be challenging in terms of coordinating schedules (the rehearsals are often late-night to accommodate) and finding focus, Tilson said access to the space has been really rewarding.

“It’s been really exciting forming a collective as opposed to specific bands taking their turns. … There’s been lots of room for experimenting,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for musicians to get together who haven’t together and there’s the possibility for more collaborations in the future.” The musical collective will be playing at Tidal Mass, starting at midnight on Saturday, until dawn on Sunday morning. The music is centred around a seasonal theme, following the earth’s revolutions around the sun from winter to fall.

“Matt Rogalsky has this ambient, experimental piece that he works with from live radio stations,” Tilson said. “We’ll start with that low-energy for winter, and then Magic Jordan are very much the summer sounds, it’s higher energy. And then we’ll bring it back down again towards dawn, when Andy Love is going to be doing a song.”

Tidal Mass will also feature a silent film display on a floor below the main exhibit. Beside more strange graffiti—this one announcing “Taylor likes soils,” and within earshot of the bands, Troy Leaman, a board member at Modern Fuel and self-described “slacker dilettante and film buff,” will be projecting films from the golden age of cinema. In order to avoid overwriting anything a film’s maker may have intended with sound, all of the films shown will be silent, with the Tidal Mass collective providing the soundtrack from upstairs.

“Silent film’s soundtracks are open to interpretation for the most part,” Leaman said. “We’re free to do that again. … The music and film might work together, and sometimes it might clash.”

Like the music, the films shown will also have a seasonal theme.

The idea of rotation and cycles is a concept central to Tidal Mass, from the seasonally arranged music and films, to the waves of Maynard’s title piece, to the length of the 24-hour long event.

“I wanted to do a 24 hour cycle because of the rotation of the earth,” Maynard said. “It creates an edge about when to see the art, there’s a sense of urgency.

“It appeals to people who can choose when in the day they go to the event. We expect two or three waves of people who wouldn’t normally be out to the same event.”

the bottle caps bring a stark sense of the everyday to an otherwise Cinderella-like scene, further emphasized by the works’ backdrop of dirty tin and brick. The piece is a sort of reverse fairy tale, in which the happy ending comes from realizing the messiness of the world.

“It’s about a young woman going out into the world, and she perceives social constructs, and the dress becomes like armour,” Maynard said.

The other sculpture, titled “Prop Master,” is by Colm McCool, who spent many years working in Toronto as a maker and arranger of props for television commercials. The sculpture is of a large, yellow “dollop”, as McCool calls it—sculpted maple wood shaped like a Hershey Kiss—that looks as though it has fallen onto an old desk, which is bent in the middle, because of its weight. The desk is on top of a circular, concave dais that appears to be sagging in the middle.

“We’re catching it at a dramatic moment, at which it’s about to go through the floors,” Maynard said.

“Prop Master” brings to mind the famous line from W.B. Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming:” “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” As with Yeats’ poem, there is something apocalyptical about the strange scene in “Prop Master”—the idea that somehow the bottom is falling out.

In July Maynard contacted local musician and concert promoter Greg Tilson about adding a musical aspect to the evening. Tilson assembled a crew of about 15 local musicians who for the past six weeks have been using NGB as a collective practice space for jam sessions, almost daily Tidal Mass rehearsals and creative collaboration. Although working with so many musicians can be challenging in terms of coordinating schedules (the rehearsals are often late at night) and finding focus, Tilson said access to the space has been really rewarding.

“It’s been really exciting forming a collective as opposed to specific bands taking their turns ... There’s been lots of room for experimenting,” he said.

The musical collective will be playing at Tidal Mass, starting at midnight on Saturday and continuing until dawn on Sunday morning. The music is centred around a seasonal theme, following the earth’s revolutions around the sun from winter to fall.

“Matt Rogalsky has this ambient, experimental piece that he works with from live radio stations,” Tilson said. “We’ll start with that low-energy for winter, and then Magic Jordan are very much the summer sounds; it’s higher energy. And then we’ll bring it back down again towards dawn, when Andy Love is going to be doing a song.”

Tidal Mass will also feature a silent film display one floor below the main exhibit. Beside more strange graffiti and within earshot of the bands, Troy Leaman, a board member at Modern Fuel and self-described “slacker dilettante and film buff,” will be projecting films. In order to avoid overwriting anything a film’s maker may have intended with sound, all of the films shown will be silent, with the musical collective providing the soundtrack from upstairs.

“Silent films’ soundtracks are open to interpretation for the most part,” Leaman said. “We’re free to do that again.”

Like the music, the films shown will also have a seasonal theme.

The idea of rotation and cycles is a concept central to Tidal Mass, from the seasonally arranged music and films to the waves of Maynard’s title piece to the length of the 24-hour long event.

“I wanted to do a 24 hour cycle because of the rotation of the earth,” Maynard said. “It creates an edge about when to see the art, there’s a sense of urgency.”

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