Category Archives: Toronto Art

Love Art is Back!

Toronto’s newest alternative art fair is back for its second year. The exhibition is Canada’s incarnation of The Affordable Art Fair which started in London in 1999. The show features a variety of art from local, national and international galleries, in a wide range of prices all for sale below the maximum $10,000 price tag.

For more information on the show, and highlights from last year, check out my post from last year’s show. If you’re interested in attending this year, follow this link for your free general admission tickets. The show starts tomorrow, April 17, and runs throughout the weekend at the Direct Energy Centre.

Take a look at some works that will be featured in this year’s show.

Brandy Masch Mayberry Fine Art Seasside, 2009, Gouache on paper.

Brandy Masch Mayberry Fine Art
Seasside, 2009, Gouache on paper.

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HIDE, 2014 by Shari Weschler Rubeck Watercolour Graphite on Paper, 22×16″ Carver Hill Gallery

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La planète poussée par le temps, 2008 by Suzanne Olivier Oil on canvas, 40×50″ Beaux Arts Des Ameriques​

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2011/2, 2011 by Jean-Jacques Duval Acrylic on Canvas, 24×36″ Beaux Arts Des Ameriques

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Only Blue by MM Acrylic and Epoxy on Wood, 40×40 Arteria Gallery

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Don’t be Afraid to Ask

I joined Nicole Milkovich of the Love Art Fair, Alison Milne, and Anthea Baxter, director of Alison Milne Gallery at the Spoke Club this week for an informal presentation on starting an art collection. The overarching message of the talk was to get over any fears you might have of the “art world” and trust your own instincts about judging the merit of art. The trio related a series of common sense strategies on the topic of starting an art collection. As they stressed the fact that commercial galleries are retail spaces, their tips came down to sensible shopping advice. Here are a few:

  • Shop around- go to many galleries, art shows and fairs, openings, read magazines and blogs, get on gallery mailing lists- with the purpose of defining your personal taste in art.
  • Educate yourself- ask gallerists for price lists, read about different mediums so that you understand what your are buying.
  • Trust yourself- don’t be afraid to look stupid, acknowledge that different people have different tastes in art and that your preference is valid.
Aqueous-ii, Crystal Wagner, 2013, PM Gallery, $2100. This paper relief sculpture (framed in a shadow box) was featured during the talk as an example of work that may be found at the fair.

Aqueous-ii, Crystal Wagner, 2013, PM Gallery, $2100. This paper relief sculpture (framed in a shadow box) was featured during the talk as an example of work that may be found at the fair.

Milne relayed her own story of entering the art world.  Working as an interior designer, she decided she needed art on the walls of her showroom. She decided to ask an artist friend, Harvey Valentine, if she use his art. At the end of a relaxed evening and $24,000 later, Valentine had sold his entire show and Milne had decided on a new career venture.

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During the closing question and answer period the topic of art as an investment was broached. After comparisons to the stock market and playing your numbers were mentioned, Milkovich related an anecdote about a person who began collecting by buying a piece of work from an artist friend who needed money. The anecdotal starving-artist was Mark Rothko, which led to Milkovich’s advice “buy for love and if it’s a good investment you can be smug about your purchase later.”

Tonya Corkey, drier lint pulled through canvas,  2013, Alison Milne Gallery. The work was featured as an example of what to expect at Love Art Fair.

Tonya Corkey, drier lint pulled through canvas, 2013, Alison Milne Gallery. The work was featured as an example of what to expect at Love Art Fair.

The Love Art Fair runs May 8-11, 2014. For more about the show read my earlier post.

Header image: Ric Santon, a history over large and small accidents, 2007
acrylic on wood, 60″ X 54″, Parts Gallery. Santon’s work was showcased during the talk as an example of art that may be found at Love Art Fair.

Contact is coming!

The website for the ScotiaBank Contact Photography Festival is up and running, so check it out if you haven’t already picked up one of the glossy manuals that are circulate the city at this time of year. The festival, which is the largest of it’s kind in the world, turns Toronto into a hub of the photographed image bringing the works of world-class photographers to the galleries and streets of our evermore cosmopolitan city.

I’m looking forward to hopefully chatting with Canada’s preeminent photographer Stan Douglas (fingers crossed) as well as emerging artist and new mother Elaine Chan-Dow.

Stan Douglas, MacLeod

Stan Douglas at Ryerson Image Centre

The festival kicks off on May 2, 2014 at MOCCA. Take a look at the website for full details of artist talks and exhibition details and peruse some of the photos below for some exhibitions that are not to be missed. Also keep your eyes peeled for billboards along Dundas Street West, Spadina and Front street NE corner, Queens Park Subway Station, Metro Hall, and Pearson Intl. Airport, among other public locations.

Michael Awad, The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, 2014

Michael Awad, The Entire City Project, ROM

Rob Hornstra, Mikhail Karabelnikov, Sochi, Russia, 2009

Rob Hornstra at Contact Gallery

Fausta Facciponte, The Opening, 2013

Fausta Facciponte at The Art Gallery of Mississauga

 

Varial Cédric Houin, Marbet, 2011

Varial Cedric Houin at Arsenal Toronto

Gordon Parks, Department Store, Mobile, Alabama, 1956

Gordon Parks at Nicholas Metivier Gallery

Header Image: Max Dean at Harbourfront Centre

The Artist Project

After penning my last article on Love Art: Contemporary Art Fair, it seemed like a good opportunity to visit The Artist Project to offer a review and some of my personal highlights. Unlike Art Toronto and Love Art, but like its sister project- The One of a Kind ShowThe Artist Project offers potential patrons a chance to meet the artists themselves, who are generally present in their booths.

The pamphlet for the show boasts work from over “250 top contemporary artists,” which can be a bit of an overwhelming undertaking for the viewer- especially if one is contemplating making a purchase. I’d argue slightly with the semantics of the pamphlet’s proclamation. There is a fantastic selection of contemporary work, and always an interesting selection of curated concept works dotting the periphery of the artist booths. That said, much of the work exhibited is contemporary only in the fact that it is being produced at this time, rather than being contemporary in aesthetic. Not really a bad thing, as it offers viewers a wide range of offerings that must appeal to many different consumer palates.

I’d argue with this aforementioned statement on another level as well- and that is describing the participants as the “top” artists. I wish I had been present for Leah Sandal’s panel discussion with various artists in their discussion of “Success as an Artist,” which was one of the five chats offered over the course of the show.  This capacious topic can only be touched upon after defining the kind of success the artist is seeking to obtain. At this show, the viewer will find many career-artists who have refined their skills in a particular medium and particular style. While their work is definitely worth the prices they are charging in terms of skill and effort, they are not all the kind of “top” artists that one would purchase if the piece is going to be considered an investment rather than an item procured for the purposes of loving and beholding. The show is a fantastic way to see a cross-section of practicing artists, and possibly to discover either an emerging artist who may be the art-world’s “next big thing” or an artist whose work you will feel honoured to support and have in your home.

Here are a few of my favourites from this year’s show.

In the emerging section, Bryan Belanger’s high-resolution photo collages feature endangered animals that have been created with images of ornate filigree jewellery and other precious material- think Arcimboldo but more precious and high-tech. The work is quite stunning as it is meticulously produced. The artist is unapologetic about the simplicity of  his work’s metaphor and donates 25% of his proceeds to the WWF.

Alex Curci

Alex Curci

 

Also in the emerging section was the work of Alex Curci. Apparently arising from extensive sketching, these automatic-looking acrylic works come from a process of building-up and removing to create a webby gauze of paint describing the artist’s musings on the hidden back end avenues of technological infrastructure.

Laird Kay

Laird Kay, Lego City photograph shown with sample of original model

Laird Kay is a photographer who was particularly interested in architectural spaces until the ever evolving lego work created by his partner’s nervous hands seduced him into a playful documentation. The full-scale photograph of the “lego-city,” which spans the length of their basement, is shot on a completely flat white background giving the entire piece the illusion of being a print rather than a photograph. Detail shots highlight the intense candy colours of the toys or seek to create further illusion by being shot from with a wet lens. I’d love this artist to visit the AGO and peruse the work of Kim Adams, and then the rest of us can sit back and home for further conceptual developments in these chronicles.

Dana Filibert- sculpture painted to reflect the tone of a 1970's era Pinto

Dana Filibert- sculpture painted to reflect the tone of a 1970’s era Pinto

Dana Filibert in her booth

Dana Filibert in her booth

I will make an admission here: I have a terrible fear of horses. My grandfather was a cow-boy (literally, he rode saddle-bronc in the Calgary Stampede). Growing up in the city, I was exposed to horses with the heavy doses of caution that comes from those familiar with them- but not given any exposure to their supposed finer qualities. For years I feared if I rode them they would bite me, and of course when I finally did, I ended up with a huge blue-purple welt to offer as temporary proof for my fears. But I digress. I mention this because I find it hard to walk by “horse-art” without making note, and I must be very careful not to applaud it all. All that said, I believe the work of American Dana Filibert stands out.  In a light-hearted critique of the American auto-industry’s obsession with horse-power, she has created a series of 3D collages fashioned from steel hemispheres, found objects, high-density foam and a 2 part epoxy she learned to use while restoring dinosaur fossils. The pieces are then sprayed in thick layers of auto paint.

Samuel | 20 x 24

Samuel, by Richard Ahnert

If you’ve done the art/craft-show circuit, you’ve likely seen the work of Richard Ahnert. His oil paintings generally feature archetypal human figures anthropomorphized with animal heads. Part of me wants to criticize the work as a bit too hip or predictable, but the unarguable skill of Ahnert’s painting style combined with his actual choices of human/animal combinations makes me hesitant to do so. Also, the frames on this work are beautiful and often in keeping with the theme of the particular painting. It’s very easy to see how his work sells as well as it does.

Jesse Bromm is currently completing a residency at the Harbourfront Centre in their glass studio. His work is a fine example of what the show has to offer in the area of contemporary material art. Working extensively with well-placed railway figurines, his work addresses “what’s under the surface” of society- in terms of dirt, death, and taboo.

Claudia Cote with mountain-inspired sculpture

Claudia Cote with mountain-inspired sculpture

The body of work at the show presented by Quebec “sculpteure” Claudia Cote was largely completed on a residency to the Banff Arts Centre provided to her by the Quebec council for the arts. Cote uses wood and traditional wood-working techniques to create highly untraditional and often geometric (mountain-inspired)  forms examining native traditions and identity. During this residency Cote made some of her own plywood which she then filed away to play with the colours she found so inspiring in the mountains.

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I want to describe Elaine Chan-Dow’s large format interiors crosses between Robert Polidori’s opulent Versaille’s work and Andreas Gursky’s architectural abstractions. Her documentaries of literary spaces were a featured exhibition in last year’s International Festival of Authors, and is also a featured exhibition at this year’s Contact Festival at IX Gallery from April 25-May 30 this year. I’m super excited (yes, I just said super excited) about the caliber of her work. She’s an example of the kind of up-and-comer you might discover at this show. Let’s hope she’ll grant me an interview so we can hear more about her in the spring.

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Stewart Jones

I met Stewart Jones and Rob Croxford while preparing for a Canadian Art Gallery hop tour I was leading down Ossington a few years ago. Jones’ Toronto landscapes are heavily based in his street-level meditations of light, shadow, and patterns created through the detritus of lines floating in our urban sky. Keep up with his regular shows done with in participation with the landscape painting collectives he is a part of: CityFieldNorthShore and CanadianArtCollective, and check out this earlier post about his work.

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Don’t step on Rob Croxford’s shoes!

I want you to pay attention to Croxford’s shoes in this photo. The sole is a vibrant turquoise and for this reason they are of special mention. Croxford has perfected a light-hearted and funny retro aesthetic once confined to toys and video-games, which now includes darkly faded urban landscapes and birch forests. Don’t be afraid to talk to this highly personable artist at one of his regular shows, for more information check out this earlier post about his work.

Nature, It's cheaper than Therapy, by Rob Croxford

Nature, It’s cheaper than Therapy, by Rob Croxford

Header image: I’m only Human (Entrance Installation), by Labspace Studio (John Loerchner & Laura Mendes)

Save the date: Love Art

I had the chance to preview some offerings from the Love Art Contemporary Art Fair this week at the trendy social club, Soho House (if the lemon scones are an accurate sample of the fare I can see why people pay the membership fee).  Brought to us by the creators of the 15 year old international “Affordable Art Fair,” the fair targets first time art buyers without compromising quality.  The show will feature the work of both emerging and established artists from all fine art disciplines in a relatively intimate setting of around 50 galleries from Canada and abroad.

Even though it is a collection of galleries, the similarities between this show and say, Art Toronto, stop there. Remember, this organization wants anyone to be able to “love art” regardless of their cultural knowledge or financial demographic, so they have established a framework of rules upon which the fair operates.

  • All work is between $100 and $10,000 with over half the work priced under $5,000.
  • Fair guide and website will have a section to feature work under $1,500 and visitors can look for pink stickers on gallery walls highlighting work under $1,000.
  • Each gallery is required to feature the work of at least three artists.
  • Galleries are encouraged to educate consumers about payment plans and other methods of acquiring pieces.
  • The fair offers educational talks, workshops and activities for kids

The fair itself was started in London by Will Ramsay in 1999 after the success of “Will’s Art Warehouse” a shop with the intention of increasing interest in the contemporary art scene by offering pieces by relatively unknown artists at low prices.  Toronto is now one of 15 countries participating in the fair, with this event scheduled to be the 99th show in the series.

Here’s a sneak peak of some work and galleries you will find at the show.

Ilyna Martinez, Untitled 1226, Spence Gallery, $600

Ilyna Martinez, Untitled 1226, Spence Gallery, $600

Ivan Markovic,"The Ruffian," Galerie D'Este, $6,000

Ivan Markovic,”The Ruffian,” Galerie D’Este, $6,000

Ivan Prusac, "White Horse," #Hashtag Gallery, $4,000

Ivan Prusac, “White Horse,” #Hashtag Gallery, $4,000

Yury Darashkevich, "Towards the Light," Abbozzo Gallery, $6,200

Yury Darashkevich, “Towards the Light,” Abbozzo Gallery, $6,200

Amanda Clyne, "Winterhalter (Olga), Erased, P/M Gallery, $1800Amanda Clyne, “Winterhalter (Olga), Erased, P/M Gallery, $1800

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Rafa Macarron, “Noche de Estrellas,” Alison Milne Gallery, $6,800

The Love Art Contemporary Art Fair will take place at Heritage Court, Direct Energy Centre, from May 7-May 11, 2014. Regular admission is $12. If you miss it, stay tuned for the full review!

Header Image: Meghan Hildebrand, “Cumberbund Longline Sunset Turncoat,” Mayberry Fine Art, $3,300

Aside

The first time I met Bogdan Luca was at an opening at Neubacher Shor Contemporary. It may well have been the opening of Neubacher Shor, but I can’t say I remember. I do remember that it was one of those rare nights … Continue reading

60 Painters

If you haven’t made your way to the 60 Painters exhibition at the Humber Arts and Media Studios, you should take the time to make the trek. The exhibition aims to show a comprehensive overview of contemporary Canadian painting by both emerging and established artists. At times the definition of “painting” seems a bit loose with the presence of mixed media and sculpture works, but it definitely succeeds in presenting a broad range of current Canadian talent.

Toronto painting is well represented, with some fantastic pieces by artists I have written about in the past including Tristram Lansdowne, Dorian FitzGerald and Bogdan Luca. The show offers a convenient opportunity to see work from elsewhere in Canada also.  Below are some highlights.

From Douglas Udell Gallery in Edmonton and Vancouver comes Natalka Husar’s eerie portrait The background that follows you. It’s painted on vintage Soviet lenticular (that kind of picture covered in a ridged plastic that moves when you shift your viewpoint). The sharp realism of the figure against a comparatively stark natural background prevents the image from reaching novelty proportion.

Melanie Authier

In Melanie Authier’s large acrylic work, Scavenger, the viewer’s perspective is prompted to constantly shift to make sense of the intense movement and abstract materialism of the piece.

Martin Golland’s oil painting, Perch, offers the viewer a similar kind of surreal abstract material frenzy.

Natalka Husar

For some reason, Nicole Vogelzang’s delightfully realistic Sloth hangs from a cluster of ghostly crystals.

60 Painters runs until June 19, 2012 at the Humber Arts and Media Centre in Etobicoke.

Header image from Bogdan Luca‘s painting The Crossing.