Thompson and friends' Masquerade event to transform Westboro's Wall Space gallery

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Stefan Thompson will produce live digital art similar to this on Friday night at Wall Space.


Post by Tony Martins

“This city is starving for stuff like this,” explains visual artist Stefan Thompson.


Arguably, Westboro may be particularly starved for the kind of urban art/dance/theatre mash-up that Thompson and friends are bringing to Wall Space gallery on Friday, July 19.


The event, called Night Light Masquerade, will push some boundaries, particularly at Wall Space, a place not known for flashing lights, pulsing beats, and spontaneous art performance.


“It is a bit different, isn't it?” said Wall Space curator Cynthia Mykytyshyn, who acknowledges the youthful “cool” factor of the event was appealing to the gallery.


“It's crucial, especially as a gallery, to keep in-tune with, and be inclusive of, diverse styles and approaches to art-making,” explains the curator. “I wouldn't say that we are moving in a decidedly new direction, but more that we are expanding our current direction. We want to remain relevant to different age groups and to see more young people in Wall Space.”


Mykytyshyn gives the lion’s share of the credit for the event to Thompson, however, who is highly regarded for his eco-friendly paintings of stylized creatures. Thompson wanted to bust out with an atmospheric event that would push him and his collaborators.


“I enjoy dance music and live art, and I’ve seen the two put together in a few venues, but nothing that was really a full experience, by that I mean totally captivating,” Thompson said.


He and DJ Caitlyn Pascal (who performs as CPI) held a smaller “night light” event at Raw Sugar last year that was encouraging, but crowded.


“Last year we had a number of musical acts including local RAAS DJ Memetic, me on the live digital painting, and Carmela Maresse doing a huge canvas, and all that we crammed into Raw Sugar, it was super fun,” Thompson says. “For masquerade we wanted to step the fun up a notch.”


For that a bigger room was required and conversations began with Wall Space.


“I’ve been getting a lot of support from the lovely folks at Wall Space over the last few years, and when I talked about the idea with them they were excited and that’s the main ingredient of this event,” said Thompson.


The artist/organizer proceeded to pull out all the stops, including the creation of his 40-foot mural in the gallery, an undertaking that challenged him in a good way. In recent years, Thompson’s work have been mostly small in size.


“I definitely do enjoy working big and having the wall to myself here for a week and a half has really let me open up and learn how to paint again,” said the artist.

A section of Thompson's mural at Wall Space.


The event is a fundraiser for Third Wall Theatre and 100 Watt Productions, an aspect that will amp up the masquerade theme. Guests are encouraged to don a mask or face paint to contribute to the theme.


“The masquerade theme actually reflects a recent production by 100 Watt called Wild Life,” says Mykytyshyn, “that revolved around animal themes and imagery and masks were a major component of the performance.” An installation of masks from the production is on display at the gallery currently and will also be incorporated into the event on Friday night.


Thompson is excited about the range of talents that will be involved.


“We are really, really, really lucky to have the members of one of—in my opinion—the world's best graffiti crews ... WZRDS GNG from Montreal,” said Thompson. “They had roots in Ottawa, so if you don’t know them, now is your chance to see some of the best street artists ever to come out of this city.”


“And if the event weren’t already fun enough, Samuel Arsenault-Brassard will do our lighting and lasers for the night, so expect sights and sounds,” said Thompson.


There’s a $5 cover charge and art at the event will be for sale.


“Stefan will have a selection of pieces available for sale, plus panels from the mural will be detachable and available as well,” said Mykytyshyn.

But for Thompson, the overall experience will be more important than commerce. “This is the kind of event you can disappear into some dark corner and be entertained or get on the floor and dance,” concludes the artist. “We’re just gonna be painting and having fun, so you can too.”