A message from CAFKA Executive Director, Gordon Hatt
CAFKA.16, CAFKA’s 11th exhibition of art in public spaces, has come to an end. Together, CAFKA and its Curatorial Partners produced a total of 30 interventions, installations, projections, and performances for the 29-day biennial exhibition. Most of the program is now history, although a few pieces will be on view through the summer.
There are many, many people and organizations to thank.
Twelve volunteers took the time to comb through the 84 Open Call applications to CAFKA.16. For their commitment to the process of selecting the artists in the exhibition, I would like to thank Rex Lingwood, Michelle Purchase, Cherie Fawcett, Victoria Kent, Steve Lavigne, Mike Ambedian, Kristen Antaya, Sam de Lange, Barb Hobot, Pat Cull, Lauren Weinberg, and Brian Hawthornthwaite.
CAFKA’s curatorial partners helped make CAFKA.16 a Region-wide contemporary art event. Thank you to Greg Oh and the Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound, which in addition to their great program of contemporary music, produced five projects, including three stunning pieces by Tristan Perich, and a program of animated GIFs projected on the cube, curated by CAFKA’s own former Artistic Director Karie Liao.  We want to thank Ivan Jurakic and Bojana Videkanic of the University of Waterloo Art Gallery and Department of Fine Arts, who produced five artist performances and were co-organizers of the CAFKA.16 Symposium. Many, many thanks go out to Marcel O’Gorman and the Critical Media Lab for their production of the amazing video “Everyday I am a train,” and for their sponsorship and facilitation of the symposium. Thank you to Sheila McMath at the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery for developing four projects for CAFKA.16 and thank you to Crystal Mowry at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery for making Ron Benner’s garden installation, “Trans/mission 101,” part of CAFKA.16. Thank you to Judy Major-Girardin at the Cambridge Sculpture Garden for hosting Meg Harder’s debris huts for her extended work “Civilization of the Wild,” and thank you to Iga Janik (another CAFKA alumna) and the Idea Exchange Art and Design for bringing Zhaoyi Kang’s remarkable performance “The Well” to Kitchener.
CAFKA’s sponsors provided the funding to make it happen. CAFKA.16 could not have happened without Christie Digital’s tremendous support as the biennial’s presenting sponsor. Christie’s financial and in-kind support has been critical in establishing CAFKA as a place where artists working in digital media can realize big dreams. We extend a special thanks to Christie’s President and COO Gerry Remers, whose support for CAFKA over the past nine years has done so much to make these dreams reality. And we thank Charles Fraresso who has been CAFKA’s Christie liaison and fixer for the past five years. Charles’s support for CAKFA’s vision has been constant. We wish the best to both these great supporters in their future endeavours.
CAFKA was born at the Kitchener City Hall and since its inception, has been privileged to have had the financial, logistical and moral support of the City of Kitchener. CAFKA is indebted to Emily Robson, Arts & Culture Coordinator and Eric Rumble, Downtown Marketing & Program Coordinator and everyone at the City of Kitchener without whom very little of CAFKA.16 would have been possible.
After CAFKA’s first five years, in 2005, there were questions as to CAFKA’s future viability. As CAFKA transitioned from being an annual exhibition to a biennial, we were extremely fortunate to have the support of the Musagetes Fund of the KWCF and for the last ten years Musagetes has been an important building block of the biennial exhibition. For their support we would like to express our deep appreciation to the Musagetes board and founders and to especially Valerie Hall, for her encouragement, support and keen interest in the CAFKA vision.
Since 2010, CAFKA has received support from the Assistance to Major International Exhibitions program of the Canada Council for the Arts. The emergence of this program significantly helped CAFKA achieve greater financial stability. We look forward to working with the Canada Council’s new funding model this coming year. The Ontario Arts Council has supported CAFKA from its early years and CAFKA values its continued support. Immediately following CAFKA.16 we will embark on a strategic planning exercise, which has been funded by the Compass program of the OAC.
CAFKA’s many individual donors and volunteers make the biennial possible. We thank Rex Lingwood and Wendy Mitchinson for their generous support. As a founding member of CAFKA, a dedicated volunteer and a donor since CAFKA’s establishment in 2001, no other individual has had such an impact on the character and the success of the biennial. In Rex’s image CAFKA has come to embody the “barn-building” spirit of artists and lovers of contemporary art in this community. Artists from across Canada and from around the world have been able to realize their visions with Rex’s help. This year, as the project manager for the fabrication and installation of Jaime Angelopolous’s “Swoon” for CAFKA.16, Rex again invested many, many hours in every aspect of the project, helping to make “Swoon” a unique sculptural event. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s still in place in Victoria Park Lake.
We thank Peter Schwartz of Laurence Capital, who when asked if he could sponsor a biennial installation, said simply, “Sign me up.” We thank the Good Foundation, whose support helped make “Swoon” possible and we thank the Kitchener Downtown BIA for its support of Jimmy Limit’s “Photos for Windows.” We thank Dan McCormick, whose generous donation this year was matched by his employer Adobe Systems. Thank you to Civilian Printing for printing our distinctive blue T-shirts and to Little Mushroom Catering for supporting our opening reception. Thank you to TWB Co-Operative Brewers for rolling out its barrels at our opening reception. Thank you to Open Sesame, CMG Entertainment, UC Vape, New City Supermarket, Laird Robertson, Encore Records, The Commons Studio of the Working Centre, and The Yeti for giving us their storefront windows on which to mount Jimmy Limit’s “Photos for Windows.” Thank you to Toronto Glass Film for producing Jimmy Limit’s “Photos for Windows” and for producing our A-Frame signage. Thank you to Whitney Commercial Real Estate for stepping up early to support the biennial. Thank you to Scott Lee for his beautiful logo design and branding work. Thank you to Melissa Durell and Durrell Communications for their support of our media strategy. Thank you to Matt McKinnon at the Apollo theatre for running Lise Birke's trailer for her CAFKA video "Bombshell." Thank you to Sherwood Systems for their technical support and expertise in the installation of Mary Ma's "Wind Water Wave," Ed Pien's "Staging," at the Kitchener City Hall and for Lisa Birke's "Bombshell" projected on the Mayfair wall in downtown Kitchener. And thank you to Bernie Nimer, without whose generous donation of space at 260 King Street West, we could not have produced the spectacular “Wind Water Wave.”
Thank you to Sandra Dunn and her crew at Two Smiths, who went over and above the call of duty to design, engineer, build and develop the logistics to make “Swoon” happen, and thanks too, to Cory Zurell, of Blackwell Structural Engineers for going over Sandra’s work and giving it his stamp of approval. Thank you to Mary Catherine Newcomb and Andrew Goss for sharing their expertise and time on “Swoon.”
CAFKA has so many generous and committed volunteers. Thank you to Mike Ambedian for the long evenings on the scaffold spent getting Mary Ma’s fabric to hang just right. Thank you to Trent Bauman and Mark Resmer for building the pergola that brought Scenocosme’s “Akousmaflore” to life. Thank you to Emily Traichel for helping with the installations and for providing French translation for Anaïs met den Anxt and the Acapulco Collective, and who also worked with Barb Hobot on the public survey portion of DodLab’s “To the Synanthropes.” Thank you to Ji Luo for preparing technical drawings for Ed Pien’s “Staging” and for Mary Ma’s “Wind Water Wave.” Thank you to Linda Janszen, Zoe Janszen, Shannon Figuerero, Sarah Goldrup and Michelle Purchase for helping Mary Ma in our marathon sewing session to create the giant fabric for "Wind Water Wave." Thank you to Samantha Mellick, Maria Chowdhury, Kristina Foster, Shantal Meyers, Carolyn Dawn Good and Rachel Dang who opened and closed and provided security for Mary Ma’s “Wind Water Wave.” Thank you to Robert McNair, for his precise and thorough documentation of the show.
Thank you to CAFKA Education Committee volunteers Kate Carder-Thompson, Allie Brenner, and Joanna Wroblewska, Lissa Beaucage and Melika Hashemi for their work developing programs and making the school tours, Pub Crawls, Coffee Crawls, and the Ally Cat Rally so successful. And thank you to Jack Burger, Bobby O'Brien's, the Adventurers Guild, The Boathouse, Ziggy’s Cycle & Sport, Black Arrow Cycles, Cycloworks for their support of the our education program.
People in our community know that artists make the best house guests. Thank you to Brian and Donna Hawthornthwaite who provided deluxe lodging for the Acapulco Collective, to Catherine Bischoff and Tom Zehetmeier for accommodating the electrostatic Anaïs met den Anxt of Scenocosme, to Krista and Norman Blake for hosting Claire Ashley and to Melissa Doherty and Kirsten Watt for welcoming Ed Pien and Johannes Zits.
CAFKA is able to do what it does because it has an amazing board of directors who are actively dedicated to making CAFKA the best that it can be. When I was stuck by myself and had a scaffold that had to be dismantled, it was CAFKA’s President and Board Chair Graham Whiting who dropped everything and came to help make the problem go away. After having made arrangements with the Kitchener Market and then having our planned program fall through, Board Secretary Michelle Purchase stepped up and developed and ran CAFKA Family Days. Cherie Fawcett, who left the Board in March, stayed on to help with volunteer management, ensuring that every day there was someone to open and close “Wind Water Wave.” Victoria Kent and Graham Whiting organized the CAFKA.16 Artists’ Party, helping to cement CAFKA’s reputation for putting on the best dance parties in town. Thanks also to Victoria and the Yeti Café and Brian Hawthornthwaite for their sponsorship of the party. New board member Jessie Lacayo provided logistical support for the Artists’ Party, for the CAFKA Family Days, for Summer Lights and for emergency gallery sitting, and another new board member, Tom Nagy, became our go-to guy for all our A/V needs. Steve Lavigne, on top of managing the Education Committee and Programming Committees organized CAFKA.16 School Tours, Pub Crawls, Bike Tour, Alley Cat Rally and the Coffee Crawls. Treasurer Patrick Keen does the bookkeeping and manages CAFKA’s money like it’s his own, only better. Directors Catherine Bischoff and Jen Love maintained a steady stream of social media posts keeping CAFKA.16 in the public eye, and thank you to Krista Blake for proposing the theme that says it all: What we do together that we can’t do alone.
At the beginning of 2016 I was looking at the daunting task of producing CAFKA.16 under circumstances that were much different from CAFKA.14. Our brilliant Artistic Director Karie Liao, who managed the installations in 2014, was no longer with CAFKA. But we were extremely fortunate to receive Sarah Goldrup’s application to complete her UWO Arts Administration Practicum with CAFKA. Shortly after, Sarah Johnston at the Working Centre contacted me about a two-month placement for Marijana Vorkapic. I was extremely fortunate to have the support of these two young women during the run up to and during the biennial. Marijana and Sarah worked on CAFKA’s social media together, with Marijana gathering images and video for posting. Marijana did a great job recording interviews with the artists and her scrapbook of biennial images on CAFKA’s Facebook page tells the story of the biennial as well as anything.
Sarah Goldrup began working at CAFKA on April 4 – the Monday after the CAFKA/Open Ears joint launch at Cork Hall. I asked her to help manage, promote, install, and deinstall the fourteen pubic art projects and to assist with the delivery of the ancillary programs of CAFKA.16. Sarah took an active role in the management of the volunteers, scheduled tweets and Facebook posts, helped to develop the CAFKA Family Days workshops, distributed publicity, opened and closed the Mary Ma installation, took the Working at Heights training and became an indispensable part of the installation/deinstallation team and she did all of that way more competently and enthusiastically than I ever had a right to expect. So to Sarah, many, many, many thank yous to you. We couldn’t have done it without you.
CAFKA.16: WHAT WE DO TOGETHER THAT WE CAN’T DO ALONE was a community effort. We at CAFKA are going to take some time to reflect on this past biennial and plan for the future. If you would like to play a role in making contemporary art happen in the Waterloo Region please sign up to volunteer, become a spoonsor or make a donation to CAFKA. We can’t do this without you.
Gordon Hatt
Executive Director