SOUNDTRACKING: A Few Thoughts On The Sudden And Unfortunate Closure Of “John”

May 23, 2013.

461331_589692514383751_426646141_ophoto credit: Dave Pullmer

by Daniel Colussi | There’s a ridiculous amount of top notch music created in Vancouver and much of it exists on a slim periphery of the city’s entertainment industry. We’re blessed to live in a city that’s willing and able to incubate some fairly cerebral stuff (I think, for example, of how Nu Sensae were long-nurtured here and are now embraced way beyond our borders). For a lot of music-folks, it’s the city’s capacity to accept and nurture weirdo art projects that makes Vancouver such a supreme city to live in. That it’s undeniably beautiful here doesn’t hurt either.

I do not partake of any No Fun City-type whining and I’m not framing this in terms of a partisan culture war between art and commerce, but there are indeed occasions when it feels like spaces for Vancouver’s marginal goings-on don’t have a chance to operate, let alone grow and develop. This is all to say that I was very disappointed to hear that an especially promising new gallery/studio and show space was recently shut down without warning. As many readers are already well aware, this space was called John, and for a two-month stretch that passed by all too quickly it was home to 13 artist studios, a performance space, a gallery, as well as a printing press and video/photography studio. There was also to be an accompanying John magazine, a kind of party organ for artists, writers and performers, however closely or loosely involved they were within the space. Alas, one of John’s organizers informed me that he arrived at the space on April 29th to find an eviction notice and the locks changed, the landlord apparently having received pressure from the city to shut the space down.

I had the pleasure of taking part at one of their first events and I was duly impressed by how well organized (and so discreetly!) John was operated. Art spaces are rarely run with such care and efficiency, and so this space really struck me as something different. Its organizers were pretty ambitious and received a lot of good reaction to their initial efforts which all took place in a very short time.

Simply put, John showed a lot of potential as a multi-purpose space, a spot where music, art and print could cooperatively interact. It’s too bad that it’s gone, but its organizers are planning on relocating and rebuilding in a new space. For John, and for the city as a whole, I hope that this the closure was just a bump on the road of a briskly maturing city.

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Daniel Colussi is the Music Editor of Scout Magazine and a contributing writer to Ion Magazine. A veteran employee of Zulu Records and tuneage aficionado, he DJs on an infrequent basis (about four times a year) and is a musician around town who plays in several ensembles.

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