Jump to: navigation, search

Calgary Herald (17/Sep/2009) - Artists working in Hitchcock's shadow

(c) Calgary Herald (17/Sep/2009)

Artists working in Hitchcock's shadow

Charity auction features scenes inspired by film

Maybe it was Bird Dog Video's name, or the surname of Jolie Bird, the store's co-owner.

Whatever the case, Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 film, The Birds, starring Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor, seems to be a favourite among artists who have submitted works to Bird Dog's show and silent auction, "Frenzy".

But what's in a name, anyway? Jolie Bird is an effective task master. For three years running, the 38-year-old artist has issued a call for works to be auctioned off for a good cause. And every year the call has specified a certain form, size and theme.

Year one, artists worked with standard blank sets of Matryoshka or nested dolls, year two it was movie posters. This year, the artists have 10-inch by 10-inch by two-inch shadow boxes in which to create a diorama based on a Hitchcock film or the master of suspense himself.

"They had the choice to recreate an existing scene, or create a new scene, or just use Hitchcock as their subject," says Bird, who expects to have 35 to 38 works for tonight's auction.

Bird's own submission shows Cary Grant running for his life from a crop-dusting plane in the famous the scene from North by Northwest (1959). Grant is a flat cut-out image looming up on the glass cover of the box, while the menacing crop-duster is a little plastic plane behind him.

Filmmaker Gary Burns is doing something with North by Northwest too, but had not brought it in yet. Ditto on both counts for CJSW station manager Chad Saunders, who is submitting under his alias Jett Thunder. Musician Matt Masters, who Bird says is being "tight lipped" and bringing it in at the last minute, is also doing something.

Bidding on each box starts at $65. Based on past auction results, Bird hopes to raise about $5,000 for this year's recipient, Elephant Artists Relief or EAR, an organization founded in 2007 to build and maintain support for artists in need of assistance because of health, economic, housing or other issues. EAR will be holding its own fundraiser on Sept. 30 at the Arrata Opera Centre.

Mark Dicey, an artist and cofounder of EAR, has interpreted The Birds, in a piece called Calm Tippi/ready gull, with the juxtaposition of a human eye and a bird's eye. Jennifer Jette shows a blond with raised arms being swarmed by avians.

Other Hitchcock films come into the picture too, notably Chris Bashford's interpretation of Lifeboat (1944) with the trappings of a board game, Jim Laing's vertical diorama of a colourful autumn landscape, complete with tiny corpse, for The Trouble With Harry (1955), and Sofia Alacron's square red field with a turning, falling figure for Vertigo.

The variations-on-a-theme idea produces interesting and sometimes surprising results.

"In some ways it's very restricted. But in other ways you can do whatever you want," says Bird. "I like putting those boundaries on the project before I hand it out. I think it's really interesting to see 35 or 40 variations on the same theme, to see what people do.

"It really upsets a lot of them while they're doing it. They hate the restrictions. They don't want to be bound to the one idea, but I really love it in the end. It really forces invention. I think in the end they love it, too."