by Amber Phalen
and Barbara Black
Evergon, an acclaimed Canadian artist who broke new ground with giant Polaroid art photos, is now a member of the Concordia faculty.
You may have seen the hour-long CBC program Adrienne Clarkson did when he was doing his Ramboys series of posed homoerotic photos. However, his two contributions to a show by new Fine Arts faculty members that just ended at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery are from another series on cowboys, done in Lethbridge.
One is a large photo (though not on the scale of the wall-sized Ramboys) of a young fellow called Chad, wearing a cowboy hat and little else. ("I call it my Betty Grable image," the artist offered, a reference to the famous World War II pin-up in which the movie star looks back coyly over her shoulder.) The other piece is an installation: eight pairs of scuffed cowboy boots, set in formation for a square dance, with a slice of white bread in the centre. Each pair of boots has a pair of jockey shorts around the ankles.
Evergon talked recently in the Ellen Gallery to a crew from the National Film Board. The artist, who grew up in Niagara Falls, evidently absorbed that honeymoon haven's popular mythology, and added his own well-developed sense of mischief.
He's an inveterate collector. "I have a whole room of boots and skates," he said. "Doing the Ramboys series got me collecting boys' toys, such as a full-sized racer." He also bought a consignment of 200 pounds of jockey shorts, which he is "working his way through" in his various creations.
Jockey shorts seem to touch off his whimsical side. "Friends have been giving me these paint-by-number paintings in cheap frames from dime stores," he said, holding up two examples. Each is of a moose, on which Evergon has painted -- jockey shorts.
Despite his busy schedule, he is already known for being accessible to his students. "That's what you're there for," Evergon said simply. "When you're teaching, everything else is put aside." Although he is new to Concordia, he has been teaching at the university level since 1973, including as director of photographic studies at the Bradford Institute, in England.
However, he has taught in his own fashion. Asked if it is true that he once taught in a dress, he replied that he had been invited for a job interview at another Canadian university. He wanted the trip, but not the job. "My mother said, 'Wear a dress. Then they won't hire you,' but they did." He added by way of explanation, "It was a very tasteful dress."
Evergon has been exhibiting since he graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, and his work has been shown at the National Gallery of Canada.
A show that opened this week in Sydney includes a new series of what he calls "international manscapes." This project, which has taken him more than seven years to create, focuses on cruising grounds and lovers' lanes in many countries. The images are dark and ominous, exploring the shadowy places where lovers, heterosexual and homosexual, have been.