CATHY BUSBY Cathy Busby at Art Metropole (788 King West), to September 8. 416-703-4400. Rating: NNNN
In this era of relentless, corpo rate-driven entertainment and product placement, a few of us remain staunch supporters (and veterans) of the underground coffee house/barroom gig.
Armed with raw talent, wheat paste and a DIY graphic design sense, just about anyone can whip up a crowd of friends and neighbours for an evening of entertainment, all without the benefit of celeb endorsement.
In her new show, The North End, Cathy Busby meticulously archives and documents this underground culture of rock gigs, DJ nights, political rallies and art events with a massive collection of flyers and posters from events that occurred during a year in Halifax's north-end neighbourhood.
As a whole, it makes a powerful statement about the extent of the creativity of an entirely homegrown subculture that lives just under the surface of most North American cities.
It's also a history of a fleeting, barely visible culture. Highly anticipated and maybe attended by a few dozen on a good night, the small gig is a deeply personal event that touches the lives of a specific few. The sheer graphic inventiveness of these posters becomes that much more impressive when you keep this in mind.
They look so pretty, it's hard to believe they've been referred to by some supposedly civic-minded folks as eyesores. They remind us that grassroots aesthetics and humour easily trump the slickest billboard.
This exhibit will also be available as a book (in a limited edition of 10), while individual flyers have been printed on T-shirts. Wear one proudly to your next gig.