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John Chan, Gallery Visit

John Chan

Art Shanty Visit

The first thing I noticed as I went though the shanties was how friendly and approachable everyone was. Some, like the Quebec Sovereignty Movement / News Stand and Map Shanties were happy to elaborate on the theme of their projects, while others, like Kooosh Chillyart Shanty, didn’t have so much of a theme other than just being a comfortable respite from the cold. But everyone was exited to share their work with the visitors and they seemed to belong to a pretty close knit community.

Shortly after arriving and having given up on trying to keep walking, I slid over to the Confessional to read people’s secrets. My favorite was one guy’s confession about lying to his girlfriend about walking the dog because when it was too cold, because I do the exact same thing. I have to admit though, as I read them I was hoping to find a really good one, someone who was really just a train wreck, but nothing caught my eye. Perhaps I was out too early and the real debauchery was still to be put up. Nevertheless, I put in my own two cents and it felt pretty cathartic.

Over in the Map Shanty, there was a large grid map of the Minnesota where the theme for Valentines Day weekend was to put push-pins at the location of a good date, bad date, first kiss, or break up. There seemed to be a trend that, in the metro, towards the North West there were more first kisses and good dates, and as one went South East there was a slight gradient going towards bad dates and breakups. I would have been interested to see if, at the end of the weekend, the trend held and if there were any particularly good or bad places that had a lot of pins clustered around them, like common locations where people dumped their significant other.

The Quebec Sovereignty Movement was probably the oddest of the shanties, even if it was only half of one. I wasn’t sure if the guy behind the desk was serious about running a proxy stand for a resistance cell, or if that was just the theme he thought up for the shanty. I questioned him about the silhouettes targets peppered with 5.56 rounds (in poor shot groupings) that were proudly displayed, and he said he had others for aiming mines at knees. It all seemed very un-Canadian, which I suppose was their point. But really, who dislikes Canada that much? It seemed to be a pretty trivial cause compared to say, the conflict raging in Palestine, were plenty of suffering people would likely jump at the chance to live in a nice place like Montreal. However, given how nice everyone had been all day, it seemed against the spirit of the event to get into a discussion like that, so I got some newspapers and moved on.

Before I left I made what ended up being my favorite stop of the day, at the Koooshh Chillyart Shanty, on the periphery away from the rest of the shanties. There wasn’t a clear theme, which perhaps explains why Ephraim and his wife didn’t get their grant approved. That was disappointing hear, because I felt they executed what they were going for quite well; their place wasn’t busy and didn’t try too hard, it was just relaxing and warm and comfortable. They were very hospitable people, and it was a nice change from shuffling and climbing around in the cold.

I probably would not have made this visit on my own if it hadn’t been for the assignment, but I ended up really enjoying meeting all of the different shanty owners and seeing how exited they were to make their projects involve the people who were visiting. I look forward to seeing what is out next next year.