Karg-Elert, Caprice #2
Don’t you just want to hug these socks?!
Last chance to view a unique neon installation, One Sided and Small Minded, by my friend Orest Tataryn on display at the Stantec Building at Spadina and Wellington: i.e. ye olde MacGregor sock factory. I was afraid I had missed this installation, but the show has been extended through the week and is definitely worth checking out.
The old MacGregor Sock is one of my fav buildings in the city. Or at least it was, while it was in limbo for years as an outlet store for amazing sock bargoons. I’m not sure what the deal was there, as there seemed to be manufacturing going on in the main space behind the small retail area, but the machines seemed to be sitting idle more often than not. Never one to question the reasons behind good value for socks, especially when they were so unique and beautiful!
MacGregor Socks is to Canada as apple pie is to America – it seems like MacGregor socks have always been around and are part of our national heritage: you know, Voyageurs, beaver pelts, Hudson’s Bay outposts….and MacGregor socks…it all goes, er, hand in hand!
At the time of recording, I felt my playing was super-bad…and, uh, not in a good way; however, as I have stated before here, purists should check their baggage at the door when they arrive at Urban Flute Project! With only a few minutes on the parking meter, and the weather very chilly despite the bright late-March sunshine, I was frozen and short on time. And not to mention badly under-caffeinated!
And in fact, even though my playing might leave something to be desired, and the outdoor acoustic basically sucked, there were some distinctive elements to this soundscape that make it noteworthy: first of all there is the distinctively Toronto sound of a Spadina streetcar at the outset, different in tenor than even other streetcars around the city – maybe something to do with their speed and the broad expanse of the boulevard that Jane Jacobs helped preserve for posterity?
If you listen carefully, the other remarkable element is about halfway through.This is a short Caprice, so as I started in a second time at a quicker tempo, the sound of very fast walking can be heard passing on the sidewalk behind me. I was amazed to observe that, as I played, the footfall was exactly in time with my faster eighth note pulse…I even automatically adjusted my tempo to match what was happening on in the landscape around me…really, what’s with that?!
This kind of synchronicity does not surprise in the least. It is yet another example of the phenomenon that is even evident in the two previous posts: the timing of those walls at coming down at National Rubber Industries creates a natural cadence in the music, and seems oddly aligned to the ebb and flow of the particular pieces that I happened to be playing.
What does one play for a neon installation? Perhaps Give My Regards to Broadway, or some Psychedelica, would be in order, you know, like maybe some Purple Haze? I did a quick Google-search before leaving the house to see if there was some composer who had even a vague neon reference, but instead of sheet music, I came across this unique flute-related Neon Kokopelli!
Eureka! For order info, try the link above…and only $200 USD for a most amazing conversation piece at your next social gathering!
The featured composer here, Karg-Elert, continues to spark synapses for me, 30 years on. He is one of those progressive composers who can still electrify especially the younger player. His obvious background as an organist, as evidenced by the many diverse and quicksilver shifts of character in his Caprices and Sonatas – from ‘Elfin’ one moment to ‘Volcanic’ the next – align him immediately with a modern sensibility…and this almost eighty years since he penned these ‘progressive studies’ for the ‘modern flutist’!
I’m not sure when neon made its first appearance in cities across North America and Europe…oh, wait, here it is: NEON, and check out the dates here, which back up my hunch that Sigfrid Karg-Elert would have borne witness to some of the earliest neon signs during his lifetime, around the same time that he wrote his 30 Caprices for solo flute.
Get yourself down to Front and Spadina, before these lights are dimmed to make way for the next installation…and, hot off the press, here is the link to discount sock-shopping, assuming you might be heading out west on the Queensway. As the saying goes, it’s worth the drive to Acton Etobicoke, that is if you’re into socks!
This is not the last you will hear of my friend Orest…your local, neighbourhood arc-welder fire captain neo-neon artist! And here is what the artiste has to say for himself:
One sided and small minded
winter solstice – spring equinox
One sided and small minded was a statement made in a mild state of disgust by the architect / artist Kurt Schwitters of Hanover, Germany regarding the use of a limited number of materials to make art. Although he was part of the dada group of artists he was considered a bit too bourgeois for their comfort and thus thrived as a willing outsider.
I was thinking how this building was dedicated to the singular production of socks and how it has transformed into a house that now deals with the production of architecture. And then I was thinking about how I am dedicated and somewhat entrapped by my own artistic expressions, primarily in neon, regardless of what embellishments surround it.
In this sculpture I stabilize and conceal a colour field behind three horizontal, white, sanded acrylic boxes. Over these I shall be suspending an array of antique sock stretchers made out of white neon over which fit patterned socks and stockings.
Orest Tataryn has been a high steel worker, a professional firefighter (captain), a founding member of the collective Skunkworks/Outlaw Neon, and is currently a Light Sculptor interested in tranformation — how light can transform space, create optical illusions, project afterimages, and alter perception.
The Stantec Window is located at Spadina and Wellington.
Produced with the support of the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council. Support of Stantec Architecture and Stantec Consulting is gratefully acknowledged.
The installation One sided and small minded is a public art project of the convenience curatorial collective.