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MAINSTREETERS: TAKING ADVANTAGE, 1972-1982

Paul Wong, 2015

Mainstreeters: Taking Advantage, 1972-1982 was an exhibition, website and publication that took a close look at a self-identified collective of socially and artistically motivated men and women who came of age on Vancouver’s Main Street—once the dividing line between a predominantly Anglo middle-class west side and a multicultural working-class east side. The exhibition at Satellite Gallery contributes to the larger project of bringing to light an under-recognized chapter of Vancouver art history.

The Mainstreeters—Kenneth Fletcher, Deborah Fong, Carol Hackett, Marlene MacGregor, Annastacia McDonald, Charles Rea, Jeanette Reinhardt and Paul Wong—were an “art gang” who took advantage of the times, a new medium (video), and each other. Emerging from the end-stage hippie era, the gang drew from glam, punk and a thriving gay scene to become an important node in the local art scene. Their activities connect the influential interdisciplinary salon of Roy Kiyooka in the early 1960s with the collective-oriented social practices that emerged worldwide in the early years of the 21st century.

Like the current “digital natives” generation, the Mainstreeters were the first generation to grow up with video cameras. The resulting documents bring into focus a decade of their lives, including forays into sex, love, drugs and art.

Mainstreeters: Taking Advantage, 1972-1982 was curated by Allison Collins and Michael Turner and was a coproduction of grunt gallery and Presentation House Gallery. The exhibition was presented by Satellite Gallery. Mainstreeters launched with the December 2nd (2014) release of a video documentary chronicling the lives of the group. On January 8th (2015) the exhibition opened at Satellite Gallery along with the launch of the website, featuring selected images, videos and texts. Throughout the exhibition, Mainstreeter videos were presented in storefronts along Main Street, and the project is complemented by a publication featuring photographs and documents to be released in summer 2015.

Exhibition Catalogue
Catalogue Essay
Camp Potlatch
The Mainstreeters Drag Balls


Drag Ball 2015 Promo
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DRAG Ball 2015
The Fox Cabaret
Visuals by: Paul Wong and Patrick Daggitt.
DJs: HEAVEN record-spinners Trevor Risk & Patrick Campbell.

After a 30-year hiatus, the legendary Mainstreeters Dragball that transformed Mt. Pleasant is back, featuring Vancouver’s best drag queens, DJs, performers, and Vera Wong as the outrageous Mistress of Ceremonies. Co-presented by The Grunt Gallery.

From 1977 to 1985, the Mainstreeters’ Dragballs began as intimate studio events, developing into elaborate art parties with spectacular décor, performances, and DJs. Shaping an important chapter in Vancouver’s history, the Mainstreeters were an “art gang” of East Van rebels who were fearlessly open about their work, sexualities, and lifestyles, helping to build a Warhol Factory-like scene that still resonates today. The Mainstreeter’s Drag Ball (2015) was a showstopping night of old and new-school gender-bending drag queens, kings, and everything in between. There was special performances, homages, and awards for Best in Drag. House rules were to come in drag, or not at all. This event was part of the Mainstreeter’s: Taking Advantage.

Main Street Walking Tour

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Curators Bios

Allison Collins is a Vancouver-based curator, writer and researcher. Her independently realized curatorial projects include Moveable Facture, (VIVO Media Arts Centre, Vancouver, 2012), Suspicious Futures: Selected works of Susan Britton, (Vtape, Toronto, 2011; DIM Cinema, Vancouver, 2011; PLATFORM, Winnipeg, 2012) and Hold Still Wild Youth: The Gina Show Archive, (Or Gallery and VIVO, Vancouver, 2010). From 2011-2012 she published ARCLines, a series of historical profiles documenting the origins of Vancouver’s artist-run centres, and was also Event Manager for Institutions by Artists, a three day, international event regarding contemporary artist-run centres and initiatives (Arcpost.ca). Her writing has been published across Canada, including Stride Gallery, Calgary; PLATFORM, Winnipeg; Or Gallery, VIVO Media Arts Centre, Republic Gallery, C Magazine, Fuse, ARTSlant, and with Publication Studio, Vancouver. Collins has a BFA in Visual Art from the University of Ottawa and an MA in Curatorial Studies from University of British Columbia.

Michael Turner has contributed essays to Intertidal: Vancouver Art & Artists (Belkin/MuHKA, Vancouver/Antwerp, 2005), Vancouver Art & Economies (Artspeak, Vancouver, 2007), and Ruins in Process: Vancouver Art in the Sixties (Belkin/grunt, Vancouver, 2009), which he co-curated. In addition to monographic essays on visual artists such as Geoffrey Farmer, Julia Feyrer, Brian Jungen and Ken Lum, he curated “to show, to give, to make it be there”: Expanded Literary Practices in Vancouver, 1954 –1969 (SFU Gallery, Burnaby, 2010) and Vancouver/Vancouver (ON MAIN, Vancouver, 2011). More recently he co-curated Letters: Michael Morris and Concrete Poetry (Belkin, UBC, 2012). His reviews, interviews and conversations have appeared in magazines such as Art Papers, Art on Paper, Canadian Art and Modern Painters. He blogs at this address: mtwebsit.blogspot.ca

 

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