Guy Bérubé: Q&A Thursday
Guy Bérubé’s vision for La Petite Mort (est. 2005) is (perhaps surprisingly, given the gallery’s name) what he calls a vision of social ethics. The artist’s struggle with self-awareness through visual art should, as he sees it, be reflected back to the viewer, who should not be a passive recipient but rather an active participant in the creative endeavour. A signature feature of LPM is the feeling of discomfort many of the artworks evoke.
As LPM gallery founder, owner, director and curator, Bérubé offers an inclusive forum for Canadian artists, including those often sidelined by mainstream society and those simply unable to function normally within it.
OCS: Who are your style icons?
GB: Lenny Kravitz, then and now, hands down.
OCS: What’s on your bedside table?
GB: I have a framed shadow box memorial for my friend Anne, and next to it, I have an African Kudu’s horn on a cement base.
OCS: Best home accessory?
GB: I have a very intimate and monogamous relationship with my bed.
OCS: Best recent fashion find?
GB: A vintage custom-made black tuxedo jacket I found in Buenos Aires at a thrift store for $20.
OCS: Whom would you invite for dinner if you could choose anyone in the world?
GB: Grace Jones, Farrah Fawcett, Donna Summer, Debbie Harry. Make it a “bad girls” night out.
OCS: You can see the debut of any piece of music in history. What would it be?
GB: The first time the Sex Pistols performed at CBGB’s in New York
OCS: What’s your earliest memory?
GB: My mother cooking tourtiere, cretons and sugar pies.
OCS: Your biggest fashion faux-pas, when, where and how?
GB: In the early 80s, I was discovering nightclubs and I was known for wearing one, and only one, outfit, consisting of the following: White riding pants, pointy black leather boots, a white motorcycle jacket with mustard suede highlights, a ripped white T-shirt with a spiral painted on it, the infamous David Bowie red lightning bolt across my face and bleached white hair with a rat tail. ’Nuff said.
OCS: Proudest moment?
GB: Opening night of La Petite Mort Gallery, October 31, 2005, with a two-hour line-up to get in.
OCS: Favourite piece of furniture?
GB: My mid-century modern teak “Poul Cadovius Royal System” shelving unit behind my desk at La Petite Mort Gallery, covered in ‘found’ taxidermy.
OCS: Qualities you most admire in a person?
GB: I know I’m supposed to say honesty, or a sense of humour, but I’ll go for someone self-assured, sexy and unique.
OCS: For whom would you most like to design?
GB: I would love to design unusual body attachments for nudists.
OCS: Describe a perfect day off (it can be anywhere in the world).
GB: My perfect day would be spent by the ocean with the people closest to me, without any worries — a day of complete ignorance and bliss.
OCS: Favourite visual artist, living or dead?
GB: Dead; Francis Bacon. Alive; Taner Ceylan, a Turkish Surrealist Painter.
OCS: Favourite local artist (if different from above, and doesn’t have to be a visual artist)?
GB: Peter Shmelzer, the first artist I featured at my gallery, he was chosen to exemplify the extreme diversity in Ottawa, that at the time, I felt was invisible.
OCS: Best book you read in the past year?
GB: Love Monster by Missy Marston, a friend and occasional curator at La Petite Mort Gallery. It’s a wonderful story about a woman and an extra terrestrial.
OCS: Favourite food?
GB: I have a weakness for a dose of thin crust, wild mushroom and truffle oil pizza from Cheesy Luigi’s in Chelsea, Quebec.
OCS: Most-oft-played song on your iPod or MP3 player?
GB: I Fink U Freeky by Die Antwoord.
OCS: Wine, beer or both?
GB: Both; 1999 Chateau Le Pin Pomerol or McAuslan’s St-Ambroise beer .
OCS: Mac or PC?
GB: Mac all the way.
OCS: Fine dining or plain old diners?
GB: to be honest, I love cooking for others at my home, or anywhere Im invited where I’m allowed to be in their kitchen. I once cooked everyday for a week for friends [working for] the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi.
OCS: Best restaurant in Ottawa?
GB: town, hands down. I always eat at the bar and flirt with the staff, and I think they love me as much as I love them.
OCS: Person, place or thing that makes you proudest/happiest that you live in Ottawa?
GB: I have to say my mother, because she owns my heart.
OCS: Fave blog or website?
GB: I’ll be honest and say my current obsession with Facebook.
OCS: Twitter, Facebook or both?
GB: I can’t stand Twitter. I’m actually slightly obsessed with Facebook, but in a business sense. I have met more artists, new clients and collectors there, than in my 10 years in New York. It is a surreal fact that I have learned to live with.
OCS: What’s your guilty pleasure?
GB: I love a good dry, slightly dirty vodka martini, be it I’m alone or a room full of people. It’s the key to chilling out.
OCS: Favourite place to spend time?
GB: Anyone’s cottage, I’m available for entertainment and amusement for anyone with a cottage. No really, call me.
OCS: How would you like the world to remember you? What would your eulogist ideally say?
GB: I would like people to remember I did the best I could as far as presenting art in an unusual and creative way. My eulogy: “Guy consumed life with zeal — positively gorged himself on it. In fact, if life were the frozen carcass of an extinct Mastodon, partially emerged from a shrinking glacier, Guy was the ravenous jaws of a starving coyote, blindly feasting upon its gamey, semi-decayed goodness”.