City Living: Patti Smith

Having recently finished Just Kids, Patti Smith’s memoir on her relationship with the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, we were excited to find more (and local) opportunities to be transported back into the world of the Chelsea Hotel, Janis Joplin and when art was simply a way of life. For those who’ve heard the name but aren’t familiar with her story, Patti Smith is a singer-songwriter, poet and visual artist whose debut album Horses earned her the name “Godmother of Punk” and made her a key influencer in the 1970s New York punk rock movement. 

“Because the Night”, which was co-written with Bruce Springsteen, is Smith’s most widely known song, and reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1978. In 2005, she was named a Commandeuse of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture, and in 2007, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

This winter/spring, Torontonians will be able to experience Patti Smith through her various art forms when the Heart in Hand Theatre company presents Cowboy Mouth, a play co-written by Smith and Sam Shepard, and through her exhibit Patti Smith: Camera Solo, at the AGO beginning next month. 

Inspired by reading Just Kids, co-artistic directors of Head in Heart Jessica Huras and Esther Jun set their sights on producing Cowboy Mouth, a one-act play by Patti Smith and Sam Shepard (playwright, actor, and television and film director) with whom Smith had a love affair in the 1970s. Starring Huras and singer/songwriter and member of Broken Social Scene, Jason Collett (Arts &Crafts) in his theatrical debut, Cowboy Mouth will be on stage at The Cameron House (408 Queen St. W) from now until Thursday, February 14, with an exclusive preview tonight at Soho House. 

For more details visit the Heart in Hand website.

Jessica Huras and Jason Collette star in Cowboy Mouth.
Original photo of Sam Shepard and Patti Smith. 

The production of Cowboy Mouth could not be more timely as the AGO gears up to feature Patti Smith: Camera Solo, an intimate exhibit featuring photographs, personal objects and a short film by Smith, from Saturday, February 9 to Sunday, May 19. This marks the first presentation of Smith’s work in Canada and will highlight the connection between Smith’s use of various art forms. The exhibit will feature approximately 70 black and white photographs taken with Smith’s vintage Poloroid camera, and will include the film Equation Daumal, directed by Smith and shot by Jem Cohen. 

For more information on Patti Smith: Camera Solo, visit the AGO website

Patti Smith, Self-Portrait, New York, 2003