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What is black and white and very, very classy all over? How about the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s new exhibit to mark the 150th anniversary of the Winnipeg Free Press?

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What is black and white and very, very classy all over? How about the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s new exhibit to mark the 150th anniversary of the Winnipeg Free Press?

In this week’s episode of Niigaan & the Lone Ranger podcast — featuring columnists Niigaan Sinclair and Dan Lett — we talk to Riva Symko, the WAG’s head of collections and exhibitions and curator of Headlines: The Art of the News Cycle, which has just recently opened to the public.

The podcast is available on most major streaming platforms, or listen below.

In a feature interview, Symko reveals the nearly three years of thinking and planning that went into an art installation inspired by the newspaper’s 150th anniversary. And, how she has accumulated one of the world’s largest personal collections of clothing inspired by newspapers.

Not kidding.

Symko, originally from Alberta, said work on the exhibit has inspired her to comb the planet for newspaper-inspired clothing, which she wears often when hosting groups touring the exhibit.

“I’ve been collecting newsprint-specific clothing since I started working on this show. Actually, the first dress I bought in newsprint very early on, maybe a year-and-a-half ago, became the inspiration for the wallpaper design that’s in this show and is the background for a few art pieces.”

Ah, yes, the wallpaper. Free Press pages and headlines were forged into a wallpaper that was used to decorate several walls in the exhibit. Just one of the many ways Symko and her team were able to use Manitoba artists to interpret the role of the Free Press.

And that is a very important distinction to make right off the bat: this is not just a collection of dusty artifacts from the Free Press over the years.

Although Headlines does have a few artifacts — including the very first, hand-pulled press to produce a copy of the Manitoba Free Press in 1872, along with some of the ancient lead cylinders that were used in later presses — the real stars of the show are the works from local artists.

From Free Press-inspired cushions to video, embroidery, painting, sculpture and montages, the artists provide the narrative to the exhibit. Most impressive is a series of 16 prints commissioned by the WAG for this exhibit by Winnipeg artist Miriam Rudolph.

Also this week on Niigaan & the Lone Ranger, the hosts discuss more developments in the saga of the police investigation into an alleged serial killer who preyed on Indigenous women, and the reluctance of Winnipeg Police Service to search landfills that may contain the remains of the victims.

Finally, Free Press Perspectives Editor Brad Oswald provides us with another edition of The Storytellers, in which he relates his experiences travelling to Rome and inadvertently discovering what could be a new Eritrean national anthem.

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Dan Lett

Dan Lett

Born and raised in and around Toronto, Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school with a lifelong dream to be a newspaper reporter.

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