Portraits of Brief, Casual Encounters

On November 10th, the 3rd iteration of the Portraits of Brief Encounters art show and gallery game takes some generally practical, occasionally desperate, and wholly anonymous inspiration from the Internet’s favourite classifieds page.

Fifteen short stories were written for and posted in corresponding Craigslist categories by writer and curator Cole Nowicki. Fifteen different artists have visually interpreted those stories. Numerous strangers from the Internet also responded to them––with heartfelt engagement, confusion, and pictures of their genitals.

You’ll attempt to match each story to its artwork for a chance to win a piece of your choice.


How the game works:

For a $5 entry you get a storybook containing the written half of the portraits (+ a rare, endangered, limited edition, sensual, #POBEshow bookmark.)

You’ll move about the room enjoying great art and good beer while matching story to artwork using your wealth of interpretive skill.

Books are then marked with each correct guess equalling $5 off of the asking price of any piece for a potential $75 discount.

Top scorers will be entered into a draw with the winner taking home a piece of their choice (that hasn’t already been sold)! We’ll pay out the chosen artist in full.


Contributing artists include:

Andrea Hooge
Andrew Pommier
Brandon Cotter
Brenden Fortescue
Chelsea O’Byrne
Coreena Lewis
Derrick Fast
Dylan Homer
Juli Majer
Katie So
Mia Dungeon
Nikki Pecasso
Sophia Ahamed
Tylor Macmillan


November 10th, 2016
6pm – 11pm

434 Columbia St.
Vancouver, BC


Welcome to thisopenspace

Game concept by the talented Yashar Nijati.


Great, Daddy

“Now do a silly one.” It was a simple enough request. I’d been silly before. Like the time I took the photo of Prince Charles from mother’s mantle and held it to my face as the children watched The Lion King. Simba was singing ‘I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,’ and I pretended as though I, as Prince Charles, had been the one singing and not the talking lion cub. That was a hoot. That was silly of me.

“Even just a smile this time, Daddy.” the photographer asked again. I thought of that moment but couldn’t think of what face I had made underneath mother’s photograph, only Charles’ stoic jowls on top of mine.

The breath from the children’s sighs, one on either side of me and all of us stomach down as we rested on our elbows at the photographer’s request, moved a piece of lint across the floor. Somewhere I have reserves of silliness stored away, like canned goods in a bomb shelter. I just had to look. I made my eyes wide, as wide as I could until my vision blurred and began to sting. I forced my lips into one another until the top flipped over the bottom like rams fighting for a mate. The children looked at me and then back to the photographer, their own tiny faces horribly contorted with glee. “Sure, that’s great, Daddy. Now on three…”


A Simple Visualization Technique

There was no traditional equipment, like a stick. A stick would have been better. But there wasn’t a stick so we used the arms of our opponents, which obviously held an inherent conflict of interest but thankfully there were no issues. We started by finding a mark on the wall at a height that we all agreed upon, then an opponent would touch the mark with an index or middle finger, arm fully outstretched and as level as possible, which depending on the opponent’s height, would occasionally require them to sustain a squatting position, and then one opponent would try to limbo underneath another opponent’s arm.

There were several different strategies employed by my opponents, who all thought theirs would help them successfully navigate their off-balanced bodies under our arms to victory as they dropped lower and lower. The eventual flaw in all of these strategies was the same, though: they were based solely in the physical. To achieve true physical feats one must control the mental, which I, admittedly, did deftly. Through a simple visualization technique I placed the weight of all of my current and former anxieties onto my opponent’s arm, tricking myself into the belief that if I came into contact with it, I would suddenly be responsible for or subjected to whatever those fears may be.

Being short on rent, running into someone you forgot to text back several weeks ago, whether it made you racist to assume that the one opponent in your limbo contest would have an edge because they were from a Latin American country and then not being sure if limboing was a Latin American thing, which would then further reinforce your potential racism and now general ignorance regarding foreign cultures––these were purely mental worries that I made into a tangible obstacle that I was then markedly more inspired to avoid, handily winning the limbo contest. Try it out for yourself.


Christ Adjacent

It’s Christ-like, he thinks. The way he moves over the pavement, gliding up and down hills without expending any energy, just like Jesus did over that lake or whatever. Jesus never exerted himself when going anywhere and neither should he, he thought. All made in his image, right? Well, Jesus did have the whole crucifixion thing, which was obviously pretty tiring, so maybe it’s the Holy Ghost he was thinking of, or maybe just ghosts in general. Either way, it felt Christ-like. The flow of traffic at his command. Commandments. Ten Commandments. There it was, another Jesus-ish tie-in. This was an obvious sign.

No one passes him. No one dares. They respect his power. His movement. His powerful movement up the Dunsmuir bike lane, hands on hips, sunglasses on, Hoverboard™ roaring, parting the spandex cyclist sea. Crossing the viaduct he looks at the Vancouver skyline and takes in its beauty. The penthouse condo near Science World that he Hovers™ past every day on his commute is still there waiting for him. It is patient. It will be his. When it is he’ll have lavish rooftop parties and only people who truly respect him will be invited. Except for Topher from Registration, Topher can come and be humbled by the wealth he will have amassed by then. Then when Topher can no longer handle his success and will have undoubtedly drunk himself stupid from envy, he’ll get Topher a cab and watch him go, speaking softly into his ear before helping him in, and the party-goers will be in awe of his compassion for all people, even those that don’t respect him. Just like Jesus would. Traffic breaks and car horns blare beside him. Fuck you Topher, he whispers into the future’s ear.


No One Knocks (Part 1)

There’s a moment where I’m sitting in the bathroom, doing my thing, and I think that it isn’t going to happen this time. That through some act of magical thought transference the entire floor now gets it, finally gets it after months of having to declare that yes, I exist and I am in here taking a crud, please stop trying open door. Then that moment is gone as fast as I managed to conjure it as the handle shakes and someone on the other side attempts to force themselves into the room. The handle rattles in bursts of threes, three times; each burst increasing in vigour as if the person is initially confused that this door that has opened for them before is no longer doing so and that confusion gradually shifts into rage that things are not as they once were. This is all total mongoloid shoot first, Q&A after logic. If they had just knocked they would’ve known I was mid-crud. What if I’d forgot to lock it and they barged right in on my butt-business? I feel stupid for even having to say “occupied.” I should ask Mrs. K. if she can send out a floor-wide memo about this or something.


No One Knocks (Part 2)

“Occupied.” Obviously it’s occupied. It’s always fuckin’ occupied. Nearly everyday I gotta crawl onto my counter and take a leak out the kitchen window while the little Asian guy in the next building stares at my pissing prick because it’s “occupied.” What is this floundering fuckhole doing in there? Farmin’ hemorrhoids? I hope to god we get the Robertson contract so I can afford to live in a place with its own goddamn bathroom. Is there a legal amount of time a person is allowed to dump in a shared pisser for? I should ask Mrs. K.


No One Knocks (Part 3)

There he is again. He is defiant in his actions. He looks into my eyes as he relieves himself, challenging me. I am not upset by what he does but I will not back down and look away. He kneels in the sink as his member draws yellow arcs in the night air. He bumps the faucet as he shakes it dry, turning it on, soaking himself.


A Fine Time at the Beach

We were having a fine time at the beach. The sun was hot as it ever was, the waves moved up and down like they were giving the sand a prolonged deep tissue massage, and we lay on old blankets talking in incredulous tones about actors or musicians or politicians that had publicly transgressed in a tabloid media type of way. “How about that one congressman or senator or some other type of governmental representative type that keeps getting caught eating toothpaste before parliamentary sessions? How weird is that? It’s pretty weird.” It was a little weird, especially considering that the tabloids somehow kept getting photos of the congressman/senator/some other type of governmental representative alone at the desk in their office, eating toothpaste, from an angle that one could easily surmise was taken from the camera built into a laptop that would usually be sitting in that sort of position on a desk like that.

“Don’t you think it’s strange that we know more about the type of toothpaste the congressman/senator/some other type of governmental representative eats before parliamentary sessions than we do about what exactly the congressman/senator/some other type of governmental representative is doing in those parliamentary sessions?” Someone asked. It was silent until the waves started moving up and down again. “Yeah, but they eat, like, half the tube, and it’s Arm and Hammer! Who uses, never mind eats, Arm and Hammer toothpaste! That’s so weird!”


Outdoor Job

It’s not that anything was lost in translation, there wasn’t any translation to begin with. He pulled at his beard and spoke at a frenetic pace which didn’t slow even when we tried to tell him that we didn’t speak French. We wished we did, because by the way his face twisted and his hands carved the air as strings of unintelligible sentences piled out of his mouth, whatever he was trying to express seemed important.

Then “airplane.” The first english word we could pick out of his verbal slurry. I repeated it. He repeated it back. He laughed. We laughed. We’d made a connection, and even though it was only two syllables, it felt special. Airplane, he said again. Airplane, we said back, laughing. With one word we’d overcome a great divide. Then he took one fist and drove it into the other, hands opening dramatically on impact, his eyes wide: an explosion. He looked around the park. Silhouettes of people drinking in the humid summer night dotted the grassy hill opposite ours. Then another english word: terrorist. He whispered it and brought his fists together again, the explosion bigger this time, spittle flying from his lips like debris.

9/11? I said, cringing as I pieced what he was doing together. His face lit up and he laughed, slapping his fists together over and over, each explosion making us shrink further into ourselves. We’d been unwittingly laughing at and humouring what was likely a Francophone conspiracy theory, or worse, and the man was overjoyed. We stood up and he started to shout. I traced a line from my crotch to the ground, my hand exploding as it reached the grass. He nodded.


On Hold Home

The voucher was good for one meal in any restaurant in any Canadian airport for an entire year. Printed on the same paper stock as the plane ticket, I shuffled one in front of the other like it was the set-up to a card trick. A large group of Chinese children wearing a uniform of some sort hovered over their smartphones, vouchers in hand, bumping into each other playfully as they waited. Our flight had been delayed thanks to mechanical issues and the vouchers were Air Canada’s penance for us having to wait.

The elderly couple next to me were taken with the kids. “It can’t be a table tennis team, there’s just too many of them.” The woman said to her husband. He nodded and looked to be doing the math in his head. She leaned over to me and pointed at one of the young boys; the arms of his glasses were missing, replaced with pieces of string that were tied around his ears, small knots dangling like earrings. “Those Asians are so inventive, huh?” I looked at my voucher and wondered if the Whitehorse airport had any good eats.