By Zenith Wolfe
Whether they’re painting, concocting drinks, or creating false advertisements for a detective film, Kline is always expanding its artistic horizons.
Kline is a zine – a small, locally produced magazine – that features art and photography made by creative Ottawa contributors. The fourth issue was published in February at an opening event hosted by Hintonburg’s Urban Art Collective.
Starting in 2018, Mitch Vallières became Kline’s creative director and graphic designer, publishing the first two volumes on his own. Though he distributed few copies, he said the zine allowed him to promote his acrylic and oil paintings sidestepping traditional galleries.
“I had so many other art forms that I was excited about at the time. I was just looking for a way to combine fine art with the weird things I was interested in – strange illustrations and design choices,” Vallières said.
While studying radio broadcasting at Algonquin College, he and three friends there would become regular Kline contributors: head editor Matt Francis, marketing director Adam Moore, and Westboro-based operations director Andrew Pomfret.
They were all part of a band at first, Vallières said. Kline only came later. They stuck with the zine format because it allowed them to explore many artistic ideas simultaneously.
The fourth volume, for example, was accompanied by Kline-branded trading cards, posters, postcards, fictional advertisements, and parodies of children’s toys. He said this variety coupled with their humorous approach prevents creative burnout.
“A lot of people get themselves into a situation where they go, ‘I’m an oil painter, that’s what I do.’ They may want to try something else, but they’re going to feel like they’re boxed into whatever they’ve chosen as their medium,” Vallières said. “With Kline, it’s basically all indications of whatever we were excited about at the time.”
Pomfret said working with Urban Art Collective, which promotes local and alternative street art, allowed them to expand into a physical space and work with more artists. On Kline Show’s opening night, Jabberwocky bartender Tristan Bradock played the role of Doctor Kline, a hair growth tonic salesman. He created special drinks from the 315 Somerset St Cocktail Companion.
Kline also included an installation based on the film noir aesthetic, including stylized VHS tapes and a desk filled with a detective’s belongings. Pomfret said the closer you look at their art, the more you make connections between everything, which reflects the detective theme.
“That’s kind of what pulls you in to keep visiting the different pieces,” Pomfret said.
The gallerists were supportive, he said, especially given that it was their first show. Vallières added that the community has reacted well – to meet demand, Kline printed around three times more copies of volume four than any of their previous volumes.
Vallières said they will be attending zine fairs and night markets this summer, but they don’t yet have plans for their next zine volume or show.
“Whatever it is,” he said, “it’s not going to be anything like this.”