Dear Catastrophe Waitress

Lamb spadini with shallots, mushroom and thyme sizzled on the barbecue outside of of Northern Contemporary on a hot Friday the 13th evening. Jonesy, a fellow illustrator and line cook manned the grill while I skated around and prompted my guests to interact with my installations. Dinner service aside, guests were given paper hats to wear, you know, in order to feel apart of the team. I prompted folks to draw on the hats after I secretly scrawled a cartoon phallus on one and placed it on the head of a friend; who we then flattered with praise for his handsomeness. A pretty classic example of kitchen gross out humor. A dumpy home made ramp, built by my roommate and skate park builder: Syd Patterson, sat in the corner accumulating empty Grolsh bottles and graffiti tags of various quality, much like in its real back alley home. Other bits of trash reminiscent of cook and skateboarder lifestyles were spread around the gallery: Empty soda bottles stuffed with dying flowers, dirty dishes, church candles (nice on a dinner table or smashed over a curb).

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Other small details around the gallery paid a sort of tongue in cheek homage to my influences and inspiration. Named for a Belle and Sebastian song, Dear Catastrophe Waitress tells the story of an young girl sticking to her grind and dealing with grumpy patrons while saving up to pursue her dreams. I attempted to recreated the environment of our mutual struggle. With help from Tien, The Emerson Restaurant’s’ do-it-all man, I printed gallery labels from the kitchen chit printer. A receipt matching the gallery labels acted as a catalog for the hanging works. In the far, tight corner of the gallery, a table dressed in red gingham and dirty dishes sat under a chandelier and the stern gaze from the waitress from Manet’s “Corner of a Cafe-Concert.” On the table among dishes and crumpled napkins there is a parody menu rife with cooking inside jokes hidden for friends and industry insiders as well as a receipt adorned with the phone number of an imaginary, flirtatious patron (inspired by a REAL, flirtatious patron).

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Dressed in my chefs whites, I skated around the outside of Northern Contemporary with some of my friends. The Curator and boss lady, Emily May Rose has been a big supporter of my work for sometime and was more than happy to accommodate a show and a party. Always a good sport, Emily let local shredder Aaron Jones and I skate out the front and down the stairs of the gallery entrance.

After several embarrassing attempts down the stairs Aaron and I sat down at the table to have a drink together and catch our breaths. In this moment we looked out from the otherwise empty gallery at a crowd of faces in the dark, anxiously waiting for some action. Aaron raised his bottle in a toast and told me I had to get this one. I met his bottle with mine, got up, dug deep into my shallow bag of stair tricks and managed to pull out a kickflip.

Again in the spirit of both parking lot and line cook culture we drank, ate and skated long past last call, mingling with patrons, street urchins, skaters, co-workers and locals.

Dear Catastrophe Waitress opened on July 13th 2018 in Toronto at Northern Contemporary courtesy of Emily May Rose and Hitoshi Murakami

Photography courtesy of T. Reilly Hodgson and Grayson James Alabiso-Cahill

Special Thanks to Jones, WIll, Tien, Syd, Hitoshi, Emily, Reilly, Grayson and Everyone at Sugo Cafe for helping me make this happen.