Brian Howell

Photos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11, 16, 17, 20 Jon Vincent/VANDOCUMENT, 22 Paul Wong, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19 & 21 courtesy of artist

Joe’s 27 Boxes

The items in the four rooms belong to Joe Sarahan. He is a friend and mentor of sorts and was a prolific artist in the late 80’s and early 90’s. He was the next generation of “Main street” artists and apprenticed with Paul Wong. Joe produced video and sculptural works which were exhibited internationally and he was also employed upstairs at VIVO for a period of time. His art collection reflects his involvement and friendship with Wong, Attila Richard Lukacs, Charles Rea and Terry Ewasiuk among others.  Many of the items in the four rooms were originally stored in one of the lockers on this floor. His 27 boxes contain collectibles, a personal archive, video masters and his art collection. Joe’s friends took turns storing the boxes. I eventually ended up with them after a friend threatened to take them to the dump. The collectibles are pre-Ebay, the art collection and most of the music came from local artists and the personal items are pre-digital. Items like Joe’s were commonplace in the large, affordable apartments up Main street, long before the lattes and condos.

Installation and Photographs by Brian Howell
Curator: Paul Wong


Brian Howell graduated from Ryerson Polytechnical University in Toronto in 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Film and Photography. His contemporary photographic work examines vernacular expressions of shifting societal and personal values. Howell’s subjects are drawn from fringe, or marginalized communities; people and places resonant with allegorical meanings for an age that seems to Howell both broken and blinded. Howell’s photographic series build on the truth-telling mantra of an earlier era of documentary photojournalists though are given structure and further meaning by a more rigorous contemporary conceptual framework.

Each of Brian Howell’s individual projects have been successfully exhibited and published as a book or catalogue. “One-Ring Circus – Extreme Wrestling in the Minor Leagues” was published in 2002 by Arsenal Press and “Fame Us – Celebrity Impersonators and the Culture of Fame” was published in 2007 also by Arsenal Press. The 2011 catalogue for Howell’s exhibition of Carts at Vancouver’s Winsor Gallery featured an Introduction by author Douglas Coupland. Howell’s new series of large-scale photographs of newspaper printing plant interiors offer a bold look inside the factories that support the journalism industry.

“For me, these machines are bones of a skeleton,” Howell writes about his Press series. “It must be considered that this information originated somewhere, usually by someone who knocked on a door or made phone calls or travelled far to get a story.”

Howell curated David Campion