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Edition #604  Friday, September 25, 2015

Anna Banana

This past Friday we went to the retrospective exhibit of the work of Anna Banana, a Victoria born, internationally known conceptual, performance and mail-art artist. The exhibit runs until January 3, 2016 at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and at the Open Space Gallery until October 24th. For more information on the exhibit, go to

Anna Banana began her career as a performance artist in 1971, becoming the City of Victoria's self proclaimed Town Fool.

At the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria Anna Banana's works were well organized and nicely laid out, framed on the walls, displayed under glass and looping on large format flat screens.

VILE magazine was only one of numerous Anna Banana publications which also include the Banana Rag, Artistamp News, International Art Post and the Artistamp Collector's album. The vast majority of these publications relate to various aspects of the mail-art and art stamp milieu.

On display at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) are dozens of fantastical mail-art pieces all created for and mailed to Anna Banana as part of the exhibition.

The techniques and styles employed in creating these unique works vary widely.

Anna Banana's artistic ethos is firmly entrenched in participatory activities. At both the AGGV and at the Open Space Gallery you can view the marvelous repertoire of A. Banana's performance pieces.

The lighthearted encouragement to participate in the artistic experience of pieces such as the "Mona Banana Smile Test" are a common thread in Anna Banana's art.

At the exhibition opening, Anna Banana gave a very informative and laid back talk, sharing a number of great anecdotes regarding certain events from her 40+ year career as an artist.

The hors d'oeuvres at the exhibition opening were, needless to say, banana-themed.

At the opening we were introduced to Vincent Trasov, an accomplished painter, video and performance artist. As co-founder and co-director of Vancouver's Western Front Society he was an inspirational force in the modern Canadian art scene. One of his more high profile endeavours was to run as Mr. Peanut in the Vancouver Mayoralty campaign of 1974. Here's a short bio:

The Mr. Peanut campaign in the '74 Vancouver civic election is considered to be one of the greatest pieces of performance art in Canadian art history. Even though Mr. Peanut did not speak a word on his own behalf he still garnered over 2,600 votes. Here are a few more photos:

We also met Dame Mailarta (Dale Roberts), well known local sculptor and mail artist. See

A parallel exhibit of Anna Banana related art and objects is at the Open Space Gallery at 510 Fort Street. Check this link:

Over the years A. Banana has accumulated a huge file of banana related information.

Her Encyclopedia Bananica is comprised of 23 fat volumes pertaining to all things banana. Bananas in advertising, bananas in show biz, etc.

A very decent sized crowd turned out for Anna Banana's talk on Saturday afternoon.

Included as part of the exhibition were 1,158 banana themed items including toys, kitchen gadgets, clothing, jewellery and artworks. Members of the public attending the Open Space Exhibition are invited to take any piece that they would like to have in exchange for documenting their item on an official catalogue form.

If you would like to watch a video tour and review of the Anna Banana's Victoria exhibition go to this site: You can also join mail art pioneer Anna Banana, for a hands-on workshop at AGGV. Registration begins September 28, 2015. A 159-page hardcover book commemorating her career as an artist has just been published and is available for sale at both galleries.

Answer to Last Week's Salvation Army Quiz

We received eight correct answers to our last stamp identification quiz. That means a $8.00 donation to Salvation Army.

Here's the portion of the stamp we asked you to identify

Here's the answer - Canada #1271, Tom Thomson's "The West Wind" from the Masterpieces of Canadian Art series.

The Salvation Army Quiz

We show you a minute portion of the design of a postage stamp. You have to determine which stamp it is. Send us an email with your answer.

We hold a contest almost every newsletter. For every correct answer we will donate $1.00 to our favourite charity, the Salvation Army. Click here to go to the The Salvation Army International Home Page to see what services they offer to communities around the world.

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