café for contemporary art

Shohreh Ghanbary: counter-revolution, inside-out

Posted in Uncategorized by tyler057 on April 11, 2011

counter-revolution, inside-out
a Shohreh Ghanbary solo exhibition
April 9 to May 22, 2011
Café for Contemporary Art
140 East Esplanade Ave
North Vancouver, BC
Opening Reception: April 15, 2011, 7-9pm
with a musical performance by Hermin & Bahman

Shohreh Ghanbary is an artist, a woman and an activist whose artistic practice, spanning nearly 30 years is interwoven with and interrupted by experiences of imprisonment, flight, motherhood and the demands of everyday life. It is a practice that arose first from the unsightly guts of a crushed late 20th Century counter-revolution and has continued in exile. Ranging from painting an…d drawing to embroidery and video, Shohreh uses whatever medium is at hand to process and convey.

In the very early 1980s, in the wake of an Islamic Revolution, a wave of discontent overwhelmed Iran’s youth. Women who had come to enjoy a significant degree of equality were suddenly viewed by the state as worth no more than 50% of a man. The mouths of men and women who had embraced a revolutionary moment rich with political debate and religious freedom were suddenly forced shut with the reliable threat of prison, torture and/or execution.

At the time Shohreh was a young student at the National University of Iran and along with many of her friends she was unwilling to tolerate the extremes of the Islamic Revolution and took to the streets. Her subsequent arrest was nothing more than a factor of probabilities. Locked in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison for nearly 7 years she was subjected to horrendous conditions, the constant threat of execution and the steady disappearance of fellow prisoners.

The imprisoner’s intent, certainly, was to crush her cultural urges and force her to convert and conform. Shohreh had none of that. And despite the least tolerable circumstances imaginable she not only refused forceful conversion, but also found place for beauty and love.

In the middle of the night when all was quiet, alone in the bed of her cell with a single needle and gathered threads she would embroider images of hope, commemoration and normality to the inside of the pockets of her chador. And each year as her parents were permitted to bring a change of clothes, her messages of hope were smuggled out.

Finally in late 1988, at the time of a brutal five month long mass execution of political prisoners, Shohreh was released. Her survival nothing more than a factor of probabilities. Shortly thereafter she escaped Iran with her prison treasures in hand. And, after 10 years in Montreal she finally settled here in North Vancouver. But like many in the lower mainland who have never really left the freedom crying souls of their youth Shohreh continues to cry for freedom. In addition to attending to the demands of everyday life she works tirelessly as an activist with the Neda for Freedom Society, a North Shore based human rights organization, and continues to produce art works that, exiled from a counter-revolutionary struggle, cry for freedom, reflect on exile and imprisonment and from time-to-time celebrate beauty.

Her works are special. They emerge out of unique experience and are not coloured by formal training or excessive theory. Reflecting on Shohreh’s pocket embroideries I often think of the Koreans of the March 1st movement of 1919, non-violent heroes who struggled for freedom and dignity but were brutally repressed by Japan’s Imperial regime. I wish I could give some meaningful reference to artwork that emerged from the prisoners of that moment. But I haven’t done the research and know of no one who has. I imagine however, contortions of the imprisoned soul in spring, through un-air-conditioned summers and under-heated winters writhing with hope and loss crafting, like Shohreh, something of their dreams and fading friends.

But there may be reference for Shohreh’s work in more recent times. Because of her prominence, Shirin Neshat’s name often comes up, when speaking about Shohreh’s work. But Neshat was a privileged Iranian woman who left Iran for art school before things got nasty in 1979. A woman who, after gaining a minor foothold in the New York art system, traveled to Iran for a short stint in 1990, returning to the US to comfortably craft reactions that spoke in a language amenable to a scene she was becoming a part of. Shohreh’s work doesn’t rest so comfortably in the milieu of Neshat. Rather, in terms of a relationship to internationally recognised art, Shohreh’s practice probably finds its most profound kinship or friendship with that of artists like Parastou Forouhar a fellow Persian woman whose intimate experience with the oppression of Iranian regime has resulted in exile, ongoing activism and persistent artistic production. Forouhar’s parents, prominent critics of the Iranian Regime spoke out for human rights and were consequently massacred in the intimate setting of their private residence. Forouhar’s work which grapples with political violence and the position of women in contemporary Iran is, sadly, probably more of a sister to Shohreh’s work. One can only hope that, as the urges of a new generation erupt across the Middle East and a rugged muzzle remains on the democratic movements in Iran, the works of these women find no more kin.

Today, at the café for contemporary art it is an absolute honour to have these priceless works on display and as a precious democratic election looms, it is a profound privilege to be able to reflect on these works so generously presented in Shohreh Ghanbary’s solo exhibition/mini-retrospective: counter-revolution, inside-out.

Exhibition Curator: Tyler Russell
Exhibition Designer: Roya Changizi
Technical Assistance: Bahman Ghadimi
Special Thanks: Mehran Amiri, Shirin Mehrbod and Hermin Eshghi

Sound/Proof: an exhibition of sound art by Frederick Brummer

Posted in Uncategorized by tyler057 on February 12, 2011


Sound/Proof: an exhibition of sound art by Frederick Brummer

February 11 – March 13

café for contemporary art
140 East Esplanade
North Vancouver, BC
Canada, V7L 4X9
tel: 778-340-3379





Café for Contemporary Art is proud to welcome “Sound/Proof: an exhibition of sound art by Frederick Brummer” to our main gallery.

Frederick Brummer makes one-of-a-kind sound machines.

Playfully combining musical instruments, sensors and effects devices with everyday objects he offers a tactile, analogue, experiential approach to electronic music. With a down tone aesthetic that may be considered somewhat Canadian (in a wool sweater, pastiche kind of way), the objects themselves combine various electronics with materials that are often second-hand or well used, making for approachable, comfortable space-mates with unique abilities.

The artist himself is deferential, polite, not wishing to impose, but at the same time, a witty, playful perfectionist who is willing to experiment and make some noise; a fun guy to hang out with who you wouldn’t be shy about bringing over to your grandma’s house. And this is clearly understood when experiencing his art.

Brummer grew up in a material environment full of guitars, four-tracks, distortion pedals and kind creative music making people. He was later altered through the influence of a seven years long experience in Japan where along with various differences in social norms, due to spatial and material constraints all he had room to create musically was digital. In large part, we have these constraints to thank for invigorating him, upon his return to Canada, to create an extensive series of hybrid, interactive sound sculptures that meld the digital with the analogue, the rustic with the electronic and return music making to a tactile experience of the body.

A relatively young artist, musician, interactivity designer and co-organiser of Vancouver’s premier electronic music festival, Square Waves, Brummer has exhibited at various venues including W2, The Vancouver Art Gallery, The Surrey Art Gallery and Telus World of Science. Meanwhile his music has taken him up and down the West Coast of North America and throughout Asia and Europe. His is an exciting practice and hopefully this exhibition will help to bring further attention to his work and help propel him on his way.

In addition to the sound sculptures being on display and available for play until March 13, they will be used in the following series of musical performances featuring friends and associates of the artist:

Saturday, February 12
Jesse Gentes, Destanne Lundquist

Saturday, February 19
Julian Gosser, Keenan O’Connor

Saturday, February 26
Control Voltage, Spectrum Interview

Saturday, March 5
Kristen Roos, Josh Hite, Corner, 30stone

***all music events begin at 8pm***
***entrance is by donation***

For more information contact:



Posted in Uncategorized by tyler057 on November 11, 2010

café for contemporary art proudly presents:

Tips Blues

A Film Project by Mark O’Krafka
November 6 – 28, with a Live Concert/Reception on Friday, November 12 at 7pm
@Café for Contemporary Art, 140 East Esplanade, North Vancouver (map)

After 3 years of filming, young filmmaker Mark O’Krafka exhibits an intimate portrait of Mount Currie musician and storyteller Tip-Ta.

Originally from Ontario Mark O’Krafka had the childhood dream of moving out the backcountry of British Columbia and living off the land.  Now, having lived up and down the West Coast for the past eight years, Mark, currently attends the Vancouver Film School’s Writing for Film and Television Program, where he pursues his interest in people and the intersection of humanity and the natural environment. For this exhibition at the café for contemporary art he presents the first installment of an ongoing film project portraying the life, stories and music of Mt. Currie bluesman, Tip-Ta.

In Tips Blues we get our first introduction to this modern-day minstrel who fulfills Mark’s boyhood dream: to move into the backcountry and live off of the land.  Along the way we learn about far more than just the forest and trees, but through Tips’ quasi-monastic quest to inspire a betterment of inter-human and man-nature relationships, he teaches us about the mechanics of a culture’s melding with its ever-changing surroundings and struggle to persevere in the face of immense loss and adversity.

Tips or Tip-Ta is a seventy one year old elder of the Lil’wat First Nation, who after a long stint of city living decided to return to the land, and began living on a property just outside of the Mt. Currie Reserve; a property he inherited from his grandfather.  One of the few remaining people in the world who speaks the Lower Lil’wat sub-dialect of the predominant language of the Interior Salish Peoples, St’at’imc, Tips often travels between the reserve and the communities of Pemberton and Whistler performing his unique form of blues.

A work-in-progress, this exhibition begins on November 6th with the installation of part one of the film where we are introduced to Tips and his world.  This will be on loop in the gallery until the following Friday when at 7pm, the public will be invited to enjoy Tips’ Blues as he makes a rare journey to the city to play a concert for the people of North Vancouver.  From the following day the footage recorded at the live show and accompanying reception will be integrated into the film and this extended version will play for the duration of the exhibition. Come join us for what will surely be an unforgettable experience.

Live Concert By Tip-Ta
November 12, 7pm
Entrance by donation.

The exhibition runs from November 6 – 28th
@Café for Contemporary Art (CAFCA)
Weekdays: 7am-7pm
Weekends: 8am-7pm

For More Information Contact:

Tyler Russell,

cafca style

Posted in exhibitions, Uncategorized by Robyn P. Yager on May 17, 2010

Some of you may know that Cafe for Contemporary Art has a lot of merchandise for sale.

I would like to introduce you to some of t-shirts available at our cafe.

The designs of Afshin Sabouki, Adrian Boston, and Carla Trevisi are all available at our cafe!

Afshin Sabouki’s designs were created last year as a reaction to the elections in Iran.




A Website

Posted in Uncategorized by tyler057 on February 6, 2010

Hey everyone.  Sure, this posting is a tad delayed…  Anyhow, now, thanks to the great work of John Giannakos of Crema fame, we have a proper website.  Check it out.  And do not fear, this blog will stay alive.  We may even make more frequent posts!!

Café Myriade

Posted in Coffee, posts by Tim, Recent Complicities, Uncategorized by Tim on September 27, 2009

So I made the trek out to Café Myriade today….It was indeed a trek, but definitely worth it. Chatted with Anthony and the two baristi on shift about their machine, coffee in general, business, you name it. It made me miss making coffee and interacting with people in that way.

With regards to that last post, the main issue brought up there has been fixed….
Photo 2

Recognize the bag, anyone? Café Myriade’s roastery is none other than 49th Parallel! That bag is the Tanzanian Karmaro Microlot…can’t wait to try it tomorrow morning 😀

Anthony treated me to a delicious espresso and the very talented (and very lovely) Cici – spelling unknown – made me a fantastic cappuccino. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me, so I couldn’t take any photos of the café (or the space). Next time, I promise!



Musings of a Gingerkid

Emiliano Sepulveda has installed a little show…

Posted in architecture, art, dance, exhibitions, Recent Complicities, Uncategorized by tyler057 on September 6, 2009

In the little gap between the young architects/artists/sign-makers’ workshop that resulted in the Terminal Visions exhibition and Seung Young Kim’s upcoming exhibition (opens Sept 19) we are very happy to welcome an experimental installation/environment by Emiliano Sepulveda.  It doesn’t have a name yet, and maybe it never will, but it is lovely.

When Matthew, our beloved Matthew, learned that there was going to be a little gap between shows he said, hey, the other night I met this interesting guy, an artist, I don’t know exactly what it is that he is doing, but it seems really interesting, engaged in a sort of probing and translating of urban space.  What has resulted is a dance of urban light and form.

Emiliano’s show will be up for the duration of next week, closing on Sunday the 13th.  Come check it out if you get the chance.

Comments From an Uber-Regular

Posted in Uncategorized by lvoisin on August 27, 2009

This morning I asked, “So, who’s posting to your blog now that Tim’s gone?” Well… this evening, I am giving you my first post. Things happen pretty fast around here. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I love this place so much.

Who am I? I’m a CafCA regular. My name’s Lisa, and I’ve been writing a novel at CafCA for the past four months. Something about the energy, the art, the spirit of the people makes CafCA one of my favorite hang outs. So, this morning, the idea of contributing to this blog came to me. After all, it joins my two pastimes: drinking coffee and writing.

I don’t want to write too long for my first post, but I wanted to leave you with this:

The Flat White. With Holly’s return to New Zealand, there was a misconception floating about that CafCA wouldn’t be serving them anymore. This is simply not true. The Flat White is in my thoughts because it made the news today in England’s Daily Mail.

If you haven’t tried one, well, CafCA still serves them and they’re still great. Holly taught them well! You can even raise a glass in her honour if you like.



As the sweat beads trickle

Posted in Coffee, Uncategorized by tyler057 on August 26, 2009

Vince and Lindsay

Oh the horror.  Sweat beads trickled as the grand masters of espresso took their sips.  Nervous barista texts flew as we were honoured with a visit from 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters’ gang of incessant cuppers.  The man with the golden tongue took the photo.

Eastern Canada Barista Championships

Posted in Coffee, Uncategorized by tyler057 on August 11, 2009

Coffee Guru/Techno Geek, Les Kwan has forwarded the link to the video of the Eastern Canadian Barista Championships. Check it out.  If you are into that sort of thing…