Three Bad Words on now until Aug. 13 at Paul Petro

By Terrence Dick

Over on Queen West, Andrew Harwood and Keith Cole make a jarring pair at Paul Petro. On the main floor, ex-Torontonian, now Winnipegger Harwood works the camp angle on an assortment of Canadian kitsch objects. From the surprisingly effective found abstraction in his chipboard panels (which he gives the title Winnipeg Stained Glass) to the Favor Ware ceramic molds than make up Mushroom Pyramid (for Will Munro), Harwood’s Prairy Style makes the case for a rural queer aesthetic.

The fun and games take a darker turn when you head upstairs to see Keith Cole’s Three Bad Words, an installation that appears to be the remains of extensive investigative activity addressing the media response to the crimes of Colonel Russell Williams. Cole’s critique centres on the exceptional status given to Williams because he was considered too “normal” to be engaging in such deviant activities. This is presented through grim snapshots of the artist in women’s underwear (much like the killer photographed himself), dozens of cartoon penises, notes, samples, and scrapbooks that suggest an obsessive pursuit of some inaccessible truth.

Keith Cole for Mayor 20 | Victory Speech

Keith Cole’s victory speech on the night of Toronto’s municipal election, Oct. 25, 2010, at The Hen House

Toronto Sun: Mayoral candidate Keith Cole talks about the arts


As I sat at The Village Idiot at the end of September with the charming and humourous Toronto Mayoral candidate Keith Cole, he ordered me a tea and flattered our server by under-estimating the 40-ish man’s age by half and grinning widely as he handed out a campaign poster. On the poster Cole is illustrated (quite beautifully, should be noted) dressed in a flowery suit and hat shaped like the city hall, spreading chicken feed. It proudly boasts, Keith Cole for Mayor with the curious byline, Get Over It. This sets the tone for the entire campaign.

Read the article at the Toronto Sun

ARTSVOTE: What Happened?

September 24th, 2010
ARTSVOTE: What Happened?
An Open Letter To The Voters of Toronto

Dear Friends, Supporters, Fans and Lovers of Art in Toronto,

The recent ArtsVote online poll was a complete fiasco as many of you have heard. Yes, I did indeed ‘win’ the initial online poll with 1,934 votes – thank you all for your support. So this open letter is not written as ‘sour grapes’ but to inform you as to what took place, a general timeline and what is next for my Mayoral Campaign.

Over the weekend of September 18th / 19th The ArtsVote online was poll corrupted, hijacked, made vulnerable or however you want to spell it or look at it – someone cheated and the numbers from the initial poll were indeed faked and trumped up. ArtsVote did not take care to make their online poll valid and break in proof – it was simple to manipulate, with the most basic functions of anything done online left open for theft or cheating (they locked the back door but left the front door wide open with a sign saying “Break In. It Is Easy. The Front Door Is Open Wide. And We Are Not Home”). Once discovered by ArtsVote organizers, they (ArtsVote) contacted the Mayoral Candidates whose names were on the online polll on Monday September 20th. By this time myself and several others knew The ArtsVote online poll was invalid, corrupted and the numbers for all were incorrect – in short, The ArtsVote online poll had become a joke, a bit of a sad joke and serving no purpose except to prove that if you ever set up an online poll – make sure it works correctly.

Many people voted with trust and confidence that their single vote would be tallied and calculated and respected. Unfortunately this was not the case. Your vote was not respected. The initial online poll was tossed aside by ArtsVote and a new poll was set up to replace the corrupted one. This replacement poll is the one that I refused to be a part of. People voted for me in the initial poll in good faith and with trust and that trust was violated by ArtsVote – your initial vote was never properly counted, recorded – it was tossed away like it never happened as they should have been – the numbers were fake and incorrect. ArtsVote has failed voters and Democracy with their short sightedness. You, the voters, took the time to go online and vote – ArtsVote did not respect your choice, your time and your vote. Their poll was sub-standard – even I was able to go into the system and hijack it once I was shown how. For those of you who know me – computers are not my thing – if I could corrupt it – anyone could. And they did.

People have been expressing their anger with me for the last two days – they feel that I am not outraged enough at ArtsVote and they have more anger towards ArtsVote than I. This is simply not the case. I am furious with ArtsVote and I have expressed my anger repeatedly with them via emails and a telephone call (which was never returned).

ArtsVote knows they have failed us – the arts community and voters in general and they are not taking responsibility for their reckless and disrespectful actions. They (ArtsVote) have been ‘busted’ and they know it.

The fight is not over. I am still a very strong Mayoral Candidate and my campaign is going full steam ahead right until Election Day (Monday October 25th). The ArtsVote disaster does not reflect badly on me at all – in fact, it is a positive. I am thankful for all the people who voted for me and I know that I ‘won’ the poll and the community wants me to participate at The ArtsVote debate on September 29th but alas, it will not happen. Your outpouring of support for me has been amazing – again, I realize that some people are angry with me in that they feel ArtsVote has let me down and my supporters and voters down as well. Not to mention the arts community – but it is not over yet.

ArtsVote only saw the ‘cost’ of me participating in The ArtsVote debate on the 29th but they did not look far enough ahead to see the benefit – the benefits far outweigh the costs.

With one month until the election – here is the plan. Toss your vote to me. I am the only candidate who can block Ford – it we all come together and toss your vote my way a clear and loud message will be sent. Please remember to vote on Monday October 25th.

Yes, I can be dangerous.
Politics can be very dangerous.
Art should always be dangerous.

As a final thought I would like to share with you a couple lines of an email (below) that I received a few weeks ago from ArtsVote organizers. I am still unclear if Smitherman, Ford, Thomson, Pantalone and Rossi received this same passive / aggressive bitch slap – or if it was directly sent to me – perhaps as a warning. I have asked ArtsVote for a direct answer to a direct question but I have not received an answer as of yet. What do you think?

“Keith, it was generally acknowledged at the table today that you are extremely likely to be the sixth candidate, because of your extensive networks. I do hope that you’ll take the opportunity to help promote the importance of all the artists in Toronto voting as you campaign for Mayor.”

Jacoba (and Camilla)

Thank you all again for your continued support

Vote for Keith to be the sixth candidate in the Toronto Mayoral Arts Debate


On Wednesday September 29, 2010, Business for the Arts in partnership with ArtsVote Toronto, the Toronto Arts Council, The Art Gallery of Ontario and Manifesto are presenting The Toronto Mayoral Arts Debate. The four candidates who are currently confirmed are: Joe Pantalone, Rocco Rossi, George Smitherman and Sarah Thomson. We are anticipating that Rob Ford will also participate.

ArtsVote is hosting a poll to choose an additional Mayoral candidate to participate in the Debate.

The poll is now open for voting and will stay open until midnight on Thursday September 23.

The poll is in the right-hand sidebar of the homepage.

Fab Magazine: Keith Cole for mayor?


Matt Thomas hits the campaign trail with Keith Cole, Toronto’s perverted cabaret king, as he shocks and inspires with his atypical race for the mayor’s office.

Read the article at Fab Magazine The Keith Cole Experience Hits the Trail


When we arrive for Keith Cole’s drag show swan song on Friday, the mayoral candidate greets us with a pair of matronly, wax-pink cheek kisses. It is on the basis of these twin stamps of approval that we are allowed to bypass the admission fee for the Keith Cole Experience, an alternate universe where lipstick stains supersede media pass pretensions.

Bedecked in a filmy, multicoloured kilt, worn (appropriately?) commando, with a large plastic lobster fastened to his head, Cole tends lovingly to his audience. “My mayor campaign is taking over my life,” he apologizes, acknowledging the chorus of boos that follows the announcement of his performing hiatus, “so no time for shenanigans!”

Read article at the

Corey Mintz for The Toronto Star: “Fringe candidates are lively dinner guests”


Proposing to my dinner guests that there are three major reasons to seek elected office — altruism, ego or delusion — I ask each of them why they are running for mayor.

Keith Cole takes one minute to express his desire that arts and culture be as necessary to any political platform, as positions on the environment or transit.

Read Article at

Keith Cole voted Xtra Best of Toronto’s 2010 “Mouthiest Queer Activist”


Keith has been voted Xtra Best of Toronto’s 2010 “Mouthiest Queer Activist” award!

We have a gift bag with your award along with the official “Xtra Best of Toronto 2010″ logo to promote your this achievement! You can pick it up from our reception Monday-Friday from 9am-6pm!

Cheers and congratulations!!

Brandon Sawh
Community Relations & Circulation Manager

XTRA! Toronto

Openfile: On the fringe — Queen runs for mayor

By Nick Aveling


“Keith Cole is many things: drag queen extraordinaire, John Travolta stand-in, Canada’s Worst Handyman, and, just maybe, Toronto’s next mayor.”

Read article on