Lola was a Toronto art magazine that lived from about 1997 to 2003, when the editors shitcanned it. (That was widely reported at the time, but online mention of the magazine’s closure now seems to be limited to Ryan Bigge.) I actually loved the little scamp, despite its bad type; it reminded me somehow of Diseased Pariah News.

‘Lola’ covers

I came across a cache of old Lolas. What have they taught me, or, more accurately, what have they reminded me?

  • The original OCA tabletop was supposed to be burnt orange.

  • Later issues Peter Principled themselves into “full-length” feature articles, sometimes written by Gerald Hannon or Ryan Bigge or other established names – a delusion of grandeur at odds with the magazine’s ethos. If there’s one thing Toronto culture never needs, it’s another venue for Usual Suspects.

    Lola’s signature feature was its set of dozens of shotgun art reviews – 150 words max – sent in by whomever felt like writing one on any topic they considered art. And an artwork or an exhibition could have more than one review.

  • Just going by the various photographs, clearly artfags need to go to the gym. I kind of hate artfags, actually (a tiny evolutionary step above Project Runway Canada maladaptives), so maybe I don’t care whether they go or not.

  • Great piece on a Toronto Police forensic artist (“Cop Art,” Howard Akler, Spring 2003), whose entire job seems to be transforming a session of active listening with a relative of a crime victim into an accurate portrait of a person the artist had never met.

  • Why, I totally forgot that R.M. Vaughan (of whom I’m a fan) had massacreed the public art in the new Sheppard subway.

    Robin Collyer’s “Dwell” exhibits the worst sort of create-and-run thinking…. “Dwell” is as ill-matched to its environment as it is potentially ill-making. No one in this car-centred neighbourhood is going to sit around Collyer’s ersatz Kumbaya circle and tell ghost stories, although they may have something ghastly happen to them, because the low-to-the-ground bronze sculpture sits directly in the line of pedestrian traffic, waiting to be tripped over. The sculpture is pleasant enough in itself… but its placement is foolhardy and negligent…. [Collyer] replied, rather peevishly, “Why does everything have to be safe?” […] Collyer drifted away in a huff as I watched another journalist pick a chip bag out from under the pointy logs.

    On the dullsville photos at Bessarion: “Bélanger cheerfully admitted that when she thinks of subways, she thinks of ‘people on the go.’ Well, that accounts for the first four seconds of her process.”

  • Separately, Vaughan asks an art critic “Do you have a lot of art at home?” “Of course. Would you trust a skinny chef?”

  • Something else I totally forgot: Just how much I loathed, to the very core, the pretentious advertisements for habitat (sic), “the brutally tough new postgrad new-media lab at the Canadian Film Centre.” (I cleaned up their punctuation.) Each of these bullshit advertisements featured a pretentious Film Centre grad with a bruise or a cut on their forehead or something equally nonsensical that is meant to evoke toughness. You couldn’t so much as defrag a hard drive, cupcake.

    I’ve been up to CFC and, after I tried to talk to these elite intellectuals about accessibility (you know, something that grads will be legally required to provide), I was referred to a certain person at the University of Toronto. I then responded that I’d known that person for ten years. Brutally tough? How about wall-to-wall Flash animation and a sense of self-importance?

  • The Letters page is a bit of a bore, a relic from another century. A journalist writes a story, outraged letters flood in, followed up by dismissive responses from the original writer, who always gets the last word. Or not! Ian Carr-Harris: “Philip Monk has a wicked sense of black humour and his inspired remarks on OCAD are in character.” Monk: “I can imagine with what sense of baroque intrigue Ian Carr-Harris proposes his ‘light’ research project to me.” But wait – there’s a counter-response from Carr-Harris: “I believe it would be in OCAD’s interests for this to happen, and perhaps something other than baroque intrigue can be arranged that would surely include Philip.”

    Wake me up when these effete popinjays start to sound like people.

  • Why am I not close personal friends with Alan Belcher? “If anyone can tell me a single decent thing about the Canadian art world, I’ll make art again. The art scene here is both rinkydink and poisonous…. ‘Peer’ assessment is false [and] corrupt and only exists to stroke correct politics and quotas. Basically I refuse to be a state artist in a Soviet system…. When I first moved back here, the weasels whispered I came home only to die of AIDS, as if that’s all Toronto’s good enough for. Let’s just say I’ll never forgive or forget.”

  • Jennifer Matotek: “If I ever do something really evil to piss off the art gods… I know, after visiting Bruce Mau’s works at the Power Plant, that the art hell I’ll get sent to will prominently feature Bruce Mau whispering sweet nothings into my ears for the rest of eternity.”

  • Issue 10 (Fall 2001) actually presages LOLCATS in its use of the word “Halp!” And every third issue seems to include a Mac OS 9– (“System 9–”) era screenshot.

  • How did Ryan Bigge describe himself on various Contributors pages?

    • “Ryan Bigge is standing in the nine-items-or-less line”
    • “Ryan Bigge will not be undersold”
    • “Ryan Bigge is glad you asked”
    • “Ryan Bigge wrote A Very Lonely Planet and you can visit his egoshrine [provides URL] for more details
    • “ ‘I am Ryan Bigge,’ I said. To no one there. And no one heard at all. Not even the chair”
  • Lola won my heart forever by publishing, in Issue 10, how much it cost them to make Issue 9 ($39,945.80) and how much it earned them ($39,945.80, including $6,020.87 from their $50K line of credit). Issue 9 sold 222 out of 600 printed copies.

What are its editrixen, Catherine Osborne and Sally McKay (also John Massier), doing now? I’m going to find out.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2008.06.22 14:30. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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