the genesis of the EBA: herstory
[ about the building ]
here is the rumor she once heard
Whatever it is, it's here at the EBA. There's that unmistakable
buzz, that kick of funk inspiration, experiment, struggle,
community, that spin of joy that somehow adds up to the real deal
- living culture
in the making. In a city where the codes of faith run
to statistics and policy, it's worth noticing just how this little
system of art-related
people actually got rolling. If only you could get
this stuff into a data base:
Cell #1: the Spring afternoon.
Cell #2: the old building up the hill on Gladstone
Cell #3: the seed of action nestled in the inner life of
a young artist, Laura Margita.
Cell #4: the incredible talents who came here to work.
when she went walking to read the signs
Take Laura Margita, 1991 version. Walking up Preston Street
with that "what's up" stride of hers, her long wild hair and
that weird sailor's cap she likes. Curious young artist. Whimsical.
Cogent. Funny. Alive to signs. Even visible signs. Like the "For
Rent" sign on that old industrial building over the bridge and
up the hill.
over the bridge and up the hill
Up the hill she goes, carrying her dreams of a space to
work. Boyfriend 1991 is with her. But just at this moment
he lets go of her hand. He's not into this 'check-out-the-warehouse-for-rent'
me a boost," says Laura. She's got to get a look inside. "Come
on," says the boyfriend. "Let's get out of here."
Artistic curiosity has its pain-in-the-ass side. I mean if you or I had
been standing on that same wretched fire escape back in 1991 we'd want
to be heading back to the café too. Face it, this place would not
assume the halo of "promise" in the eyes of just any passer-by.
Pigeons streamed into the third floor through the broken windows. Down
below, a couple of architecture students were giving warehouse life a
go. But the space was way too awkward for mere architecture.
the future tells her plans
Laura though … Laura is tuning in all these big feelings - full
blown physical symptoms of vision. Notice that her pupils are wildly dilated.
Her pulse is racing. She is breathing hard. She is in fact seeing the
future; a heady stream of personal and public art-related events that
goes right to the moment you and I are calling 'now'.
she knows she's destined to make many phone calls
When the feeling fades she finds she knows certain things:
for sure, she knows the guy standing impatiently down
at the curb, Boyfriend 1991, is history; also, she knows she's going
to have to make some phone
calls. A lot of phone calls.
First there was the problem of getting nine friends to pick up the beat
of this vision and lay down actual dollars. The right friends. The second
group of friends as it turned out. Then came leases, and shovels and brooms
and thousands of green garbage bags and negotiating deals about everyday
stuff like sharing telephone and toilet paper expenses. And somehow all
these things got worked in the old kitchen office with the little desk
and the big couches and the fridge full of water because nobody quite
trusted the stuff in the taps. Laura's dad helped. Other people too. Even
the City helped out with a $7,500 grant.
dial in big talents
There was something unexpected at the core of the EBA
right from the start. Something many of Ottawa's best young talents
to - no hesitation. There was Alexandre Castonguay,
with his inimitable spark and promethean appetites - up for a space
to weld and record dance
hall tracks and cast plaster ladders and twenty other
things, always good, juicy, exciting. Chris Mackay came in with that
he wears like a comfortable old coat. Judy Poole found
a space to make her paradoxical scenes of secret places. Tom White
became a solid presence
in this scene too, holding down his framing and mounting
business up in the front rooms. There were Donna Eichel and her chunks
Jill Umbach, Florent Viau and his photographs, and
Kim and her batik. And Mark MacGuigan - straight-up and dedicated
with an original streak
a mile wide.
Laura's dream lives on
The heart of the EBA is still beating. It's the artists
- sticking together, helping each other, keeping the
pulse of the place alive and active. Come feel the buzz for yourself!
Join us at the opening
of our annual open house.
Adapted from "Fall in Love at the EBA", an article written
by Andrew Muir, first published in The Daily Bread, a tabloid produced
for the EBA's 3rd Annual Open Studio Exhibition in 1995.