Wednesday, May 26, 2010


...and promised is part two....the 2 photos above are the whole work...type tray n' all!!!

See, there still are good people out there. Good, creative people who were (almost) as royally pissed -off about this ludicrous censorship as I was!!! Again, Chris Mitchell, the Visual Arts Manager for Workman Arts
, along with the Gladstone Hotel's President Christina Zeidler come to the rescue.....kinda like Mighty Mouse...HERE THEY COME TO SAVE THE DAYYYYYYYYY!!!!

I got this e-mail from the lovely and talented Ms. Mitchell a week ago...

"Your banner is up at the Gladstone and it is installed on the 2nd floor in the public washroom – that may sound weird but there wasn’t really another space due to other bookings and I liked the idea of the “gorilla install” presenting the work to a “captured audience” so to speak – it looks really good – you should check it out. I’m putting together some signage to send them to give context to the work..."

The Washroom...where trash/crap like this belongs DAMMIT!!!!!! Love it...have a gander at the sign......


Stroll along Queen Street West during the month of May and you will see PROPOPSYCHOGANDA! A series of street banners created by Workman Arts artists for CONTACT Photography Festival. Mark Belvedere, Joey DAMMIT!, Peter Mulcair, Denise Parent, Helen Posno, Annette Seip, Susan Spagnuolo, Jordan Stone have created photo-based artworks in response to the festival theme Pervasive Influence. Each banner presents a message of purposeful persuasion relating to issues of mental illness and addiction. PROPOPSYCHOGANDA! is installed along the south side of Queen Street West between Shaw Street and Dovercourt.

However! This particular banner created by artist Joey DAMMIT! is installed here at the Gladstone because the City of Toronto’s Transportation Services Street Events Permit Office expressed “content concerns” regarding this artwork which depicts Albert Einstein’s famous quote “great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds”. This banner will eventually be reunited with the other seven in future installations (which will not require City of Toronto permits).

Joey DAMMIT! Is a mixed media pop artist and three time winner of Toronto’s NOW magazine’s “Best Visual Artist” award.

Thank you to the Gladstone Hotel for providing space for this work.

To find out more about Workman Arts visit

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


If you're anything like me, you like a good, juicy censorship story. Especially when it's one of them David and Goliath battles. Ya know... David is a local artist, and Goliath happens to be some person or department from some Big City Government!!!! Entertaining, if nothing else...but,'s all fun n' games until someone loses an eye! And it's not so much fun when it's me that gets to play the part of the artist/David, and Goliath in this case is my own hometown, Toronto. So gather 'round kiddies, 'cus I gots me a helluva tale to tell. No names have been changed to protect the innocent, 'cus, c'mon...who the fuck is innocent anymore????

First of all, some pertinent details...if ya don't already know, I'm a fairly well known visual arteest in this fine city of Toronto. I've been branded a pop artist, a mixed media/collage pop artist to be exact...and since I am a big fan of said artistic genre, I have no problem with this branding. Yes, I have been known to push the proverbial envelope, but (and this is important), only when called for. Oh...and because this is important to our tale, and I am, incidentally, on a mission to eradicate the damn stigma surrounding mental health, mood disorders, etc., you should know that I have suffered, at times greatly, from depression for over 18 years.'re not a "real" artist 'til you've been diagnosed with some form of mental's just... "sexier"!

I have volunteered for the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, for years, and am now also on their committee for organizing their amazing, annual art event, Touched By Fire, which gives very talented artists with mood disorders, a chance to exhibit and sell their work in a large gallery setting. I have recently also become involved with Workman Arts, another terrific and important organization who do great work with artists of all stripes, also with mental health and addiction problems, and help tremendously with their craft and their career. Working with the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH to you bub), they're probably best known for their Rendezvous With Madness Film Festival, but they do so much more!

I am not a photographer, nor have I ever claimed to be, so it came as quite a pleasant surprise when the Visual Arts Manager for Workman Arts, Chris Mitchell, asked me to join seven other creative types and do something for the 2010 Contact Photography Festival. Hey, I mean, from what I understood, it's the worlds largest photography festival, bringing with it famous, infamous and not so famous photographers, and all sorts of creativours (yes, I did just make that word up...why?) from around the world together to Toronto... I thought to myself, "Hey, genius... it will take you one step closer to that elusive goal of yours. No...not the Dallas Cowboy cheerleader fantasy, but to one day be considered a Renaissance man." Yes...a Renaissance man...that IS what I said!!!! Ever since watching a Leonardo Da Vinci documentary when I was 8 or 9...I've been on a quest for that title. What did the great artist Francis Bacon say? "It is all so meaningless, we might as well be extraordinary", 'nuff said bubba!!!! I still wasn't sure I could pull this Avedon gig off when I walked into that first meeting. But, by the end of this little get together, I was full of confidence, already had a great idea, and, what the Hell, had even given our group show it's name...PROPOPSYCHOGANDA...I thought it was a good/odd/catchy title considering our theme were Pervasive Influence, being the 30th. anniversary of Marshall McLuhan's death, plus, of course we wanted to add our mental health angle as well. One of the few things I have always been credited with is coming up with good titles and slogans ( I had a ball in college during my 3 years in the Advertising and Graphic Design course...Don Draper/ Darren your hearts out!), and it passed my rigorous album title/t-shirt test! It has to sound good as an album title (check), and look cool on the front of a t-shirt (check). So...yeah... I WAS IN...BIG TIME!!!!

I was, at the time still working on my next solo show that I was gonna exhibit at the Gladstone Hotel...and I was still a long way from having enough pieces completed...but hey, I loves me a good challenge. Now, I could have, and maybe should have, just aimed my camera at what ever caught my fancy, something interesting...and... Walla....signed, sealed, printed and delivered...photographic magic!!!!! But noooooooooooooooooo, that wouldn't be like me, would it? No...Joey fucking DAMMIT! had to try to re-invent photography as we know it! DOOFUS!!!! Like a handful of contemporary artists that I admire, I've noticed that, like me, we are for some odd reason, fascinated by those somewhat creepy, vintage baby dolls...especially their big, bulbous heads. I had one of these little buggers crazy glued onto one of my larger paintings in my studio. I wanted to photograph this doll, especially because what was hand painted on it's old, cloth body, "violent opposition from mediocre minds". What the hell does that mean DAMMIT???? Hold your horses there Duke...I'll tell's the second half from my favourite quote of all time. One given to us by that rather intelligent chap with the accent, Albert Einstein. Heard of him??? The whole quote reads, "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." See, those words really hit me where I live. It's got a biographical significance to me, both as an artist who has had his share of controversy, but also as a person that has lived so long with the fiendishly evil disease, wrongly titled, depression... and the ignorance of those around me. Thus, my quest to eradicate that stigma that continues to be a bitch to kill!!!

Step one: Borrow my good friend, Monkey Head's beautiful, and (gulp) expensive camera, get that there doll in focus...and shoot! Step two: White out that half of the quote, and paint on the first half of it... focus...shoot! Step three: Enlarge the two photos to 8 x 10" (looks great). Step four: Enlarge the two 8 x 10's even more...about 3 feet tall. Step five: Get this...tear and cut this enormous doll photo into little pieces...and then, using various types of tape...put the whole thing back together, in a haphazard way. Step six: Add some rough painted brush strokes, paint splashes, and some collage to it. Step seven: Now...I grab an antique type tray that I own, and carefully tape the roughed up, re-taped , giant doll photo to it. Step eight: I now take objects like pills, x-rays, toys, found objects, etc. and glue them into any pockets from the drawer that are not covered by the photo. Step 9: Take Monkey Head's camera, and shoot this structure that I created. I call them MEDI@CATION: Part 1 & 2.......
Now, why two separate photos??? Because my work, plus the works of my fellow Workman Arts artisticons (yup, made that word up too...why?), are gonna be printed on 5 foot vinyl banners...double sided (that's why 2 photographs)....and hung from street light posts in front of CAMH on Queen St. West. Problem...because of the dimensions of said banners (60" x 22"), when the specs are applied, and banners cut and don't really see that antique print drawer that I lovingly filled up with "stuff"! Still...I love the finished pieces, very striking, very powerful, very DAMMIT! Couldn't wait to see it hanging above Queen West for the whole month of May!!!!!!

Ahhhh...NO! THIS IS THIS WHERE THE STUPID HITS THE FAN!!!! One afternoon, just before the banners are suppose to be hung, I get a call from Chris Mitchell, "Joey, we seem to have a problem"...NOW WHAT??!!!..." The city has some concerns about your pieces, and may not let us hang your banner." WHAT??!!! CONCERN?! ABOUT WHAT??!!! There is absolutely nothing wrong, or controversial with the photos!!! I mean I went out of my way...REALLY OUT OF MY WAY, to make sure Workman Arts would not encounter any trouble with my evil ways!!!!! Chris said they never gave a good reason aside from their "concerns"!!!! And, I know Chris, she fought hard for me! So...come hanging day..and yup... I AM FUCKING CENSORED!!! Look I'm not stupid, and if you know me, you know that I'm more than just a little media savvy. I certainly realize that there is no such thing as bad publicity...I mean...where would Madonna be without controversy? I mean, like I said, I've thrived on it myself in the past...BUT!!!!!...I AM NOT A BIG FAN OF CENSORSHIP!!!!!!! I WORKED SO DAMN HARD ON THIS PROJECT...ONLY TO BE CENSORED BY MY OWN FUCKING CITY!!! To be exact, the City of Toronto's Transportation Services Street Events Permit Office. In the end the only reasons I got were, "Content Concerns"...and they were a little disturbed that the word "violent" was on the banner. WHAT?????!!!!!! YOU DO SEE THE IGNORANCE, STUPIDITY, and THE MAJOR IRONY HERE, RIGHT??????? Einstein's quote, painted plainly on the doll is, "GREAT SPIRITS HAVE ALWAYS ENCOUNTERED VIOLENT OPPOSITION FROM MEDIOCRE MINDS"!!!!!! HELLO???!!!!! YOU GUYS ARE DOING EXACTLY WHAT EINSTEIN IS PREACHING ABOUT!!!!! WHAT HE'S WARNING ABOUT!!!! When this quote and this irony was brought up to these cretins, these bureaucrats attention...they just scratched their heads and shrugged. You decide. The 2 photos are at the top of the page..."CONTENT CONCERNS"??? WHY THE CENSORSHIP????? PLEASE! TELL ME!!!!!! And to answer the question, that so many of you, who know about this have asked. DAMN RIGHT I'M GONNA TAKE IT TO THE MEDIA!!!!! I think the ridiculous irony alone makes for a great story...but the media of all people understand the evil of censorship...especially this kind know...THE KIND THAT MAKES NO SENSE WHATSOEVER!!!!! At least I hope they see what I see. Gonna send it off to our art loving mayor, and my MP as well. Hell...I'll send them this whole blog. Yes..I realize that the festival is almost at it's end...but that's not the point!!!!! I mean...IS IT ONLY ME ????!!!