THE IMPOSSIBLE BLUE ROSE: Chapters I-V & madness …

Lisa Lipton

June 26 – August 1, 2015

A special one night performance and opening reception will take place in conjunction with Sled Island Music Festival on Friday, June 26 starting promptly at 7:00 PM.
The performance will happen simultaneously at The New Gallery (208 Centre St. SE) and the Royal Canadian Legion No. 1  (116 – 7 Avenue SE).

Admission is free and all are welcome.

After all, what does a drummer do but set the tempo, pulse, heartbeat and later the raison d’être?

“Performing what we want instead of protesting against what we do not want.”
-Emily Roysdon

Lipton’s practice is deeply tied to her personal experience. In THE IMPOSSIBLE BLUE ROSE she has woven together narratives both true and imagined, resulting in haunting tales that explore the experiences of women in creative communities.  Like her character FRANKIE and the other female protagonists portrayed in her films, Lipton seeks to transcend male-dominated roles of director, drummer, skateboarder and DJ.  Her films reflect real life experiences of female artists and their complicated relationships with lovers, family, friends and strangers.  She shares in their professional and personal frustrations and her outlet is drumming – Lisa plays blast beats and her training leading up to this project involved drumming up to eight hours a day.

Lipton is skilled at recording what she experiences in a multitude of ways, such that her process creates manifold works-within-works.  She produces zines, wood-burnings, crocheted masks, lyrics, costumes, cookies, posters, paintings, curtains and any number of props including a bejewelled basketball.  These handmade objects and crafts support both her distinctive mise-en-scène and the DIY culture to which the protagonists are connected with in her films.

Thematically, Lipton’s works are mash-ups of romance, ritual, identity, gender politics, movement and music.  THE IMPOSSIBLE BLUE ROSE matters because it’s complicated.  Her films play like good pop songs and written into them are her dreams and disappointments.  This is something that musicians do well and why these films seem so familiar.  The constant, and the connector, is that she is drumming throughout.  After all, what does a drummer do but set the tempo, pulse, heartbeat, and later the raison d’être?

The Billy Ocean song “Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car”, reflects the impetus and mantra of THE IMPOSSIBLE BLUE ROSE.  In the artist’s words, “get outta the basement, get into the car…”.  This is how she met so many female drummers.  She collaborated with them on performances, interviews, lectures and cast them in her films.  There is a lot of care and concern taken in the production of these films both by Lipton, certainly, but also by and from the community of artists who participated in them.

The Films:

Room 95 / 16:04 mins / HD Video / 2013

Love, death, transcendence, ritual and community are themes in all of these films, set against the backdrop of broken promises, bleeding hearts and boredom, as epitomized in the late eighties’ romantic comedies, all of which Lipton freely references.  Moving between the real and imagined, they delve into the underlying creative and structural frustrations faced by many female artists, expressed clearly in Room 95 as ‘FUCK THIS SHIT’.  The film takes you behind the scenes of musicians at work and offering a glimpse inside the vulnerable inner workings of their jam space.

trans DEATH / 6:17 mins. / HD Video / 2013

In trans DEATH, a cloaked figure named “SHIT Mountain” presents the mysterious blue elixir that is prevalent throughout each of the films.  The landscape of Death Valley acts as a portal between the jam space in Los Angeles, California to the small town of Fairfield, Iowa where the ensuing film, LOVE LETTERS, unfolds.

LOVE LETTERS / 9:58 mins. / HD Video / 2013

Lipton explores notions of nostalgia in LOVE LETTERS, “taste the idea of utopia and scheme the teen dream into a party scene”. A young man writes a love letter asking his love to return his affections by answering yes or no.  His love, Rainbow (a.k.a Kelly Kapowski) reads the letter aloud in abject longing. The young man’s love manifesto is memorable in that he sings catchy boy-band rap.  The film ends with an entrancing electro-dance party that paves the way for the rave party in the next chapter.

HARANA / 13:00 mins. / HD Video / 2013

HARANA acknowledges the bittersweet love story told through the John Cusack character as seen in the Hollywood film “Say Anything”.  Filmed in Vancouver, the story begins with an engaging tarot card reading between an alien psychic and John, which is told through the cards of a Saved by the Bell board game.  This is followed by a rave party and the romantic gesture of John Cusack’s boom box love serenade.  The tradition of harana has its origins in the Philippines, as a serenading tradition where a man writes a song and sings it to his lover.  According to Lisa HARANA “is the song before we met, your eyes after we meet and an embellishment that honours a sweet serenading tradition – a song that arises from below your window as your lover calls out to you”.

PARADISE CITY / 27:00 mins. / HD Video / 2013

It is an eloquent reflection and integration of a car accident that Lipton was in while driving from Vancouver to Windsor, Ontario.  The film begins with the introduction of the seedy bartender who serves up the blue elixir.  In Lipton’s words: “a secret elixir that allows access to a realm where anything can happen, where the moon falls from the sky, and a constellation – Orion’s Belt (The Three Mothers) – finds its voice and lesson by way of song”.  Indeed, the film ends transcendently in space with the three characters called the Three Mothers of Orion’s belt sing words of guidance, directed towards a group of youthful skaters, in beautiful harmonies written by Lisa.

—Julie Tucker, Co-Curator, Available Light Screening Collective

John Snow House Artist-In-Residence

May 28 to July 1, 2014

In the month leading up to her main space exhibition The New Gallery will be hosting Lisa Lipton as our artist-in-residence at the John Snow House.

Liptons’ work is heavily devoted to site-specificity and localizing collaboration, time spent within a community in order to build a body of work that resonates within the environment in which is was created. Her process begins by taking up residence in a community, observing and immersing herself within it. The narrative of a specific piece develops by translating personal interactions (sights and sounds) into imagery, altering spaces into installation, creating costumes and characters that become the content. Each project reflects upon the matters of movement, sound & music, ritual, subculture and personal identity as a source for critical engagement.


Lisa Lipton  (a.k.a. FRANKIE) is a Maritime‐born multidisciplinary visual artist, musician and director who received her B.F.A. from NSCAD University in 2003, and M.F.A. from the University of Windsor.  Her work exemplifies a diversity of interest within the arts as she explores the potential for crossing genres of film, mixed media installation, performance, theatre and music.  Her visions are reflective of an interest in directorial and curatorial practices, collaboration and social interaction, as well as working within non‐traditional contexts in order to explore the boundaries of performance and filmic production.  She has currently completed a major tour throughout North America with her latest drumming project – BLAST BEATS: Phase Three, which will culminate with her first feature film – THE IMPOSSIBLE BLUE ROSE.  She has exhibited her work on both a national and international level, and most recently serves as the Shortlist representative for the Maritime Provinces within the Sobey Art Awards (2015).

Julie Rae Tucker is an Ottawa based artist, independent curator, cultural worker and a proud member of the Munsee-Delaware Nation.  Her recent curatorial projects include – get outta my dreams and into my car…, screening and performance by Lisa Lipton for Available Light Screening Collective and Disney Made Me Do It, for the Ottawa International Animation Festival.  In June of 2015, she will be participating in the Copycat Academy during the Lumanto Festival in Toronto.

Special thanks to our collaborators, Sled Island.

Additional thanks to our sponsors, Good Life Community Bikes,

and Community Natural Foods.