This exhibition by Saskatoon artist Linda Duvall has been at the Dunlop Art Gallery since late March. It closes May 2.

I was out of town when Duvall opened the show with an artist talk. I was visiting my own mother, ironically enough, who’s in a nursing home in Victoria. In the show, Duvall partnered with community agencies in Saskatoon and Toronto to create a several videos where persons in those two cities who have faced tons of struggles related to crime, addiction,  gang violence and the sex trade collaborated with local musicians to write songs that explored their feelings and memories of their  mothers.

As you might imagine, some fairly poignant stories are related. Sometimes, the person acknowledges, it was they who let their mother down. Other times, it’s hard not to conclude that it was the mother who failed the child.

Does that mean it was her fault that the child turned out as they did? In the minds of some people, it probably does. As far as scapegoats go, mothers are pretty convenient.  Schools are another popular target, and pop culture. Instead of taking a broader view and recognizing the benefit of investing social resources into the nurturing of families in crisis, we’re too often content to just fingerpoint.

When I saw this show, I was told by the attendant that Duvall herself, as a mother, had lost a child to the streets, so her project has pretty strong meaning for her. Featured are three videos where participants are shown working with the musicians, talking about their upbringing, and performing the songs they ultimately wrote about their mothers; and one video where mothers talk about children they lost to addiction and other vices.

Musicwise tonight, Jeffery Straker and Kirby Criddle are playing at Crave Kitchen & Wine Bar (1925 Victoria Ave). $10 at the door. I don’t know too much about Criddle, but Straker has been making waves in the province, and down east, with his high-energy, piano-based power pop. Here’s the video for his song “Hypnotized” (YouTube)