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Reviews of fine art, classical and opera music, and all things cultured

Top 5 examples of reality pre-empting the movies

San Andreas is going ahead despite the deadly coincidence of a Nepal earthquake. Other films had to be changed when real-life intervened

Dispatches from Abroad: Miro Museum will be happy to see you

Jay Stone stops to smell the flowers, and use the washroom, en route to the Miro Museum, where he was greeted by the likeness of E.T. with an erection By Jay Stone Barcelona, Spain -- There's a mountain on the west side of Barcelona that would probably be the signature site in most cities, but is kind of afterthought in Barcelona. It's called Montjuic, and all it has is a castle, the Joan Miro museum, the stadium from the 1992 Olympics (the one where Ben Johnson almost won a medal), a terraced park filled with flowers and wild parrots, and the Catalan art museum, with its attendant waterfalls and dancing fountains. At the bottom is the old bull ring which has been converted to a shopping centre now that bullfighting has been banned in the city on the grounds of animal cruelty. We say "olé!" to the city fathers, and award them two ears and a tail. Oops. Wait a minute... Montjuic means "Mount of the Jews" for reasons I can't easily determine. However, it seems that Jewish ...

Dispatches from Abroad: The Picasso Museum

  Jay Stone pays a visit to five stone mansions filled with sun-faced ceramics and sunburned tourists taking in once-outré art, now made safe by fame By Jay Stone Barcelona, Spain -- Among the many things the savvy traveller must do, once he has wiped the tapas crumbs out of his beard, is to tour the Picasso Museum, situated in the colourful El Born neighbourhood. El Born is reminiscent of Old Montreal: cobbled streets, ancient buildings, gentrified restaurants, the same duality of language. In Spain, Catalan is the language of the oppressed minority, and Spanish cereal boxes come with instructions in both Spanish and Catalan. My morning museli has "5 frutas" and "5 desecadas" and everyone's happy, especially me. But you were asking about Picasso. The artist (1881-1973) lived in Barcelona during his teenage formative years, and the museum, spread across five old stone mansions linked with cool courtyards, traces his early history. There's also a lot of stuff he did ...

Rod Mickleburgh has a Burroughs flashback

The Beats go on in North Vancouver: Presentation House Gallery mounts visual chronicle of the era as witnessed by Allen Ginsberg   By Rod Mickleburgh I met William Burroughs once. It was during my magical year in Paris (sigh). I’d read in Libération that morning that the legendary icon of the Beats would be at the City of Light’s annual Salon du Livre at the Grand Palais. I thought ‘what the hell’, and went down to catch a glimpse of the famous man, who had been such a part of the Kerouac/Ginsberg Beat generation of writers. In On the Road, the book that changed my life, Burroughs appears as Old Bull Lee. An insatiable consumer of drugs, Burroughs fatally shot his wife during a crazed William Tell re-enactment in Mexico, hung out in Tangiers where the less said about his proclivity for underage boys the better, and found time to write such underground classics as Junkie and Naked Lunch, turned into a movie by the strange David Cronenberg. (My parents ...

Ai WeiWei: the unapologetic revolutionary

Vancouver Biennale Ai WeiWei Film Retrospective Never Sorry, The Fake Case April 13,  20, 26, Rio Theatre, 6 p.m.     By Katherine Monk In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre and subsequent mass rallies in the name of free expression, it would seem the artist’s role in society has never been more at risk. Then again, none of us lived through The Spanish Inquisition. Or, for that matter, has any real recollection of the black suit soap opera called the House Un-American Activities Committee. Artists have a habit of winding up in the crosshairs of history because if they’re any good, they make us question the world we take for granted and see anew. “A revolution in form is a revolution in essences,” said Jose Marti, the Cuban poet, novelist and political activist immortalized in Guantanamera, a song made popular by famed protest singer Pete Seeger. Marti’s words apply just as readily to art as it does to politics, and society as a ...