The Libby Leshgold Gallery is once again becoming a space activated by live events. With Art Rock Summer, the gallery at Emily Carr University of Art + Design is presenting musical performances, music videos, sound art, artists’ records, and band merchandise.
Co-curated by Kay Higgins and Casey/KC Wei, Art Rock Summer explores the crossover between music and visual art. This has a long tradition in Vancouver. For example, high-profile artists such as Geoff Wall, Rodney Graham, I Braineater, and Kathy Slade recording music at different times in their careers.
“Vancouver’s visual artists, like their counterparts around the world, have been engaging with music for decades now,” Higgins said in a Emily Carr University news release. “My co-curator Casey Wei calls this music ‘the popular esoteric’—something that uses familiar forms but lurks around the margins of what is ‘popular’.”
It’s the sixth installment of the Libby Leshgold Gallery/READ Books Summer School for Artists’ Publishing. It examines the impact of music making in creating artistic communities.
“We’re both going to enjoy giving visitors a look at this world through videos, recordings, and live performance,” she continued. “I hope people come to love artists’ music, ‘art rock’, and records by visual artists as much as I do.”
The exhibition includes performances by various musical artists this weekend. They include Strawberry, House Wind, and ArtiArtiArti, starting at 6 p.m. on Friday (July 7). That will be followed from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturday (July 8) by Kamikaze Nurse (Wei’s band), as well as Puzzlehead, TJ Felix and the Fiddleheads, and YEP.
Art, music, and scholarship
Higgins is a member of the Vomit Fraud duo along with sound and visual artist and writer Brady Cranfield. It will perform an afternoon recital at 2 p.m. on July 15.
Meanwhile, Higgins and Wei are co-authors of the poetry collection Friend Poems, which Wei edited. In addition to playing music and writing poetry, Higgins is the head of gallery publishing for the Libby Leshgold and editor of ECU Press.
Wei, a PhD candidate in the SFU School of Contemporary Arts, is curating this weekend’s events. They are a continuation of her art rock? shows that ran mostly at the Astoria Pub from 2015 to 2019. She also made a film, art rock? The Popular Esoteric, which addressed the effects of gentrification on DIY cultural spaces. Her band, Kamikaze Nurse, recorded two albums: Bucky Fleur in 2019 and Stimuloso in 2022.
Following Vomit Fraud, the next Art Rock Summer performance will be at 2 p.m. on July 22. Robert Dayton (and the Beach Boys) will be joined by The Canadian Romantic—a melodramatic character of faded glamour created by Dayton—as a special guest.
The exhibition concludes from 2 to 5 p.m. on August 12 with a show called Dog Day Afternoon: Mason Rezazadeh and Jesse Fernandez. The two musical artists are planning a marathon jam—past the point of exhaustion—of the 1969 song “I Wanna Be Your Fog” by the Stooges.
All performances are free to the public and will take place in or around the gallery at 520 East 1st Avenue in Vancouver.