OPEN by Marlene Jess

Canada Day, 2011
An installation for The Balcony at Xchanges Artists' Gallery and Studios
2333 Government Street, Victoria BC
Premise: To exercise the Canadian reputation of being friendly.

On June 29th,  I approached 25 businesses who reside within 3 blocks north and 3 blocks south of Xchanges and asked the person in charge if I can borrow their "OPEN" sign for a one day installation happening on Canada Day.  Armed with a clipboard, intake form and pen, I introduced myself and proposed to pick
up the OPEN signs on June 30th at closing time and bring the signs back at opening time on their next business day, closing the deal with a handshake.

Of the 25 businesses:
12 agreed to participate
2 entrusted me with their flashing neon signs*
2 agreed immediately without hearing the shpiel
5 lent me signs to take that day
2 misunderstood the project and gave me signs that advertise their businesses
3 had no OPEN signs but lent me other signs because they wanted to participate
2 said the owner would fire them if they lent me signs
1 asked many questions about the life of an artist while scratching his head
1 said he understood the project and suggested I go to a superstore to buy signs
1 congratulated me on “the art of cold calling”
1 said their business was too corporate to participate
1 helped me carry signs back to the studio
1 was dryly arguing with a customer when I entered the store
1 was an old friend I hadn’t seen in 5 years
6 knew about Xchanges and its location
30 signs were gathered

Sean & Co. at Acme Supplies
Brent at Budget Rent-A-Car
Dale at Russell Food Equipment
Rob at Styles Upholstery
Lori at Verve Consignment
John at Discovery Coffee
Susan at School House Teaching Supplies
Mike at Capital Glass & Upholstery
Doug at Dunsmuir Super Service
Warren at Heat Savers Fire Place
Trena & Greg at Mid-Century Furnishings
Myrna at Godfrey’s Luggage

check out more photos and more of Marlene's work here