Big in Japan, David Trautrimas

It’s hard to believe that the last time I saw David Trautrimas was nearly 6 years ago. I visited his Toronto studio last week, which is nestled in a small upstairs apartment on a tree-lined street not too far from the Wychwood Barns. At that time, I couldn’t help but notice the white splashes of hair book-ending his familiar face. Silently, I noted these superficial markers of age as confirmation of the long intermission between my visits. My perception of this interval evolved after we began our discussion of the developments within his practice and his career.

During my first visit, I characterized the artist as young, emergent and on the brink of an exciting career. He had just completed his first museum show at MOCCA, and was embarking upon a public project for Redpath Sugar. His career was budding. The protracted time between my two documentations conveniently archives Trautrimas’ transition into his mid-career phase.  It’s interesting to compare how long six years appears in terms of an artist’s collection of grey hairs, versus how abbreviated it seems in terms of the progression of an artistic career.

From "One Empire Wide," referencing the iconic "Sam the Recordman" signage.

Sam’s, from “One Empire Wide,” referencing the iconic “Sam the Recordman” signage.

Prior to his most recent images, the last body of work I remember seeing was from his One Empire Wide series. Within this first sculptural series, Trautrimas created miniature ice-fishing huts. Like the actual structures, which northern Canadians often create from reclaimed material, Trautrimas’ inventions refer to debris created by defunct articles in Canadian history. Sam the Record Man, the Avro Arrow, Northern Telecom and other  examples of archetypal expired Canadiana have become  themes recycled to comprise each maquette.

"The Bloedel," from "One Empire Wide," references a Canadian forestry company purchased by a US company.

“The Bloedel,” from “One Empire Wide,” references a Canadian forestry company purchased by a US company.

The portability of these wee architectural imitations facilitated the artist’s participation in a cross-cultural art exchange in Japan, led by Toronto artist Daisuke Tayeka. The Field-Trip Project turned 70 traditional Japanese school-children’s knapsacks, (originally collected to be used as relief supplies after the Fukushima disaster) into a mobile art exhibition which circulated the art of Japanese and Canadian artists into remote Japanese communities.

"The Dollar Bill," from "One Empire Wide," references the Canadian dollar bill, which was replaced by "the loonie" in 1987.

“The Dollar Bill,” from “One Empire Wide,” references the Canadian dollar bill, which was replaced by “the loonie” in 1987.

Life, after-lives, the perception of the passing of time, these motifs dotted our recent exchange in much the same way as they have embellished Trautrimas’ work over the past few years. Always a part of his work, a deeper focus on dissolution has emerged circumstantially and unintentionally, but not inconsequentially.  In April of 2013, a week after his return from Japan, the artist suffered a life changing bicycle accident; a hit and run which left him unable to practice his art for a full year. During that same year, he lost a close family member to their struggle with cancer. In April 2014, he decided to visit Detroit to rehabilitate his creative practice. After being accepted at an artist residency at Popp’s Packing  in the Hamtramck district of Detroit, he spent a month wandering streets which breath constant metaphors of death, reincarnation, destruction and renewal. He describes these aimless peregrinations as sojourns to “the thin place,” likening his profound sensation of time-elapse to walking within the gap between this world and the next.

Flinched and Seized

Flinched and Seized

Like so many contemporary artists, the candid entropy of the streets of Detroit has left Trautrimas smitten.  Along with the now  apocryphal (and possibly obligatory) recounting of real-estate opportunities the city has to offer, Trautrimas’ eyes seemed to gloss over with a sort of lovelorn idealism as he recounted the “ad-hoc” socialism at the backbone of the Detroit art community. Similarly, his anecdote about watching firefighters socialize as they stood idly watching an abandoned house burn illustrated the kind of legendary mythology Detroit increasingly embodies. Apparently, the grim magic of this place soothed his desperate need for a fresh creative start. Out of the studio, the wealth of subject matter he gleaned from his city walks left him with hundreds of images from which he created his most recent body of work.

Piles and Ether

Piles and Ether

Interestingly, despite the fact that all of his source material is shot on location, he decision to shoot only on overcast days enabled him to achieve a kind of studio-uniformity that comes with artificially diffused light.  The result is a series of seamlessly joined images forming impossibly degraded structures. This series, Eidolon Point was recently shown at Trautrimas’ second exhibition in Japan, this time a solo show at the Canadian Embassy which commenced March 18 and continued until May  5, 2015.

Me and My Head

Me and My Head

In an almost ironic departure from his Detroit inspired architectural deterioration, Trautrimas’ current project is a public work for the ICE condo development in downtown Toronto on York Street footing the Gardiner Expressway. Occupancy of these brand new buildings is expected early this summer. For his proposal, Trautrimas conceived a series of permanent benches which offer the weary pedestrian a guardrail backrest to lean on. In another design for the same set of developments, the artist has used the patterning from a tire tread as a decorative enclosure for some unsightly plumbing. The work, which pays homage to the changing demographic of the area, will be unveiled some time during the late summer or early fall.

Concept drawing for ICE condo guard-rail park-bench.

Concept drawing for ICE condo guard-rail park-bench.

Concept drawing for tire-tread inspired landscape fence at ICE condos, Toronto.

Concept drawing for tire-tread inspired landscape fence at ICE condos, Toronto.

Header image Geometry of Loss, from the Eidolon Point series.

“50 Artworks. 50 Tickets. 1 Night”

After years of frugal contemplation, I finally decided to splurge for the $375 ticket to Open Studio’s annual fundraising event, “Editions.”  The concept behind this 30 year tradition is simple and exciting- your admission not only entitles you to free wine and delicious munchies, but it also guarantees that you will leave the party with an original piece of printed art. After about an hour of mingling, perusing the art, and composing their recommended “top ten list,” each couple with an art draw ticket (one ticket admits two to the event) is summoned to participate in the hour long draw.

lorna livey

The mechanization of the art draw mirrors the astute organization required for many printing processes. After a participant’s number is drawn, they are corralled into a small queue in which to wait. When it’s time, the partners have precisely one minute to choose an artwork. The couple is followed by an Open Studio volunteer, white gloved and ready to remove the print of their choice from the wall. Whatever remains of the exhibition at that time is up for grabs.

alexei

Last night, the gallery was charged with anticipation and a mild swelter. My own number was called about three quarters of the way through the draw. The disappointment in seeing my top choices peeled off the wall was mitigated not only by the free wine but also the camaraderie formed with those around me who emitted pained sighs at the same time as my own.

This year was the first year for the event to be held at Open Studio, which allowed visitors to wander amidst the presses and even witness a traditional lithography demonstration. Additional prints by members and non-members were for sale, and a raffle for various prizes took place at the end of the night.

The artworks are donated from a wide selection of artists both emergent and well-established. Here is a selection of a few more of the works which were available last night.

libby

editions-2015-web-preview18-832x625-2

I ended up taking home this beautiful work by Loree Ovens. I look forward to her upcoming show in the fall at David Kaye Gallery.

A little more art to love…

I temporarily shook off the social cobwebs our society refers to as “motherhood” last night, and made my way to the “Art after Dark” party at Love Art. Word has really gotten around about this show, and the house was packed full of revelers who were apparently as interested in their artfully dressed peers; the free flowing whisky and craft beer; and pumping dj beats, as the variety of works on display.

The show is much smaller than a fair like Art Toronto, which gives the visitor the freedom to socialize and make the rounds at a very leisurely pace. The quality of the creative offerings also varies widely offering even the amateur a nice opportunity to practice the art of the critique. Here are a few of my favourites from the show.

nocturne

Nocturne III, Anda Kubis

I believe Anda Kubis’ huge abstract work was my favourite piece of the show. I was so happy when I noticed it was drawing me to one of my ever-favourite art-places, P/M Gallery

Aislantes (2013) Paloma Torres, 120 x 180 cms Calvi Studio, Monterrey,Mexico

Aislantes (2013)
Paloma Torres,
120 x 180 cms
Calvi Studio,
Monterrey,Mexico

The felted wool wall-hangings by Mexican artist Paloma Torres is an interesting example of an artist pushing the boundaries of her medium. The piece above is based on photos taken by the artist from subway excavations in Mexico City.

parts 2

Laura Ortiz Vega, Seny III, Embroidery Thread on Board, 8 x 10, $2200

Coincidentally, this piece  is another example of a Mexican artist pushing the boundaries of a traditional technique. Working from photos of urban graffiti, Ortiz-Vega translates her images into yarn paintings. The technique consists of  priming a board with beeswax, then poking embroidery floss into the wax to construct the image, thread by thread. Her pieces were on display at Toronto’s own Parts Gallery booth.

parts 1

Yangyang Pan, Abstract Landscape No.55, Oil on Canvas, 30” x 60”, 2015, $4500

Yangyang Pan’s abstract oil was another highlight from the typically quality offerings at Parts Gallery. You may remember the stunning “whale” works I wrote about last year shown at this booth, by Douglas Walker.

The show continues to run today and tomorrow. Click here for complimentary general admission tickets.

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

BADA_Olivier_La plan+¿te pouss+®e par le temps_2008_oil on canvas_40x50in_$5640

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

BADA_Duval_2011-2_2011_acrylic on canvas_24x36in_$3185

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

Arteria_MM_Only blue_acrylic and epoxy on wood_40x40

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

Lauchie Reid

It’s taken me a while to get this posted, but the art from this Team Macho founder is well worth looking at and reading about. Check out this article from the winter issue of Magenta Online to read more. Stay tuned for more posts in this new year.

sep19_narwhal3

http://www.magentafoundation.org/magazine/lauchie-reid/

Balint Zsako

This month I was honoured to have the chance to speak to New York based artist Balint Zsako about his practice for a feature article in Magenta Magazine. Read it here http://www.magentafoundation.org/magazine/the-world-his-way/

Love Art Preview

My daughter really is becoming a lady-about-town. Last night I had a lovely dinner at Bent on Dundas. Upon our entrance the hostess said “Sterling! I remember your smile from your visits to Mildred’s Temple Kitchen.” Wow. I might have to begin marketing this. That was Sterling’s second evening jaunt of the week. On Wednesday, she joined myself and my husband along with the lovely abstract painter and OCAD/Waterloo instructor Linda Martinello to the evening preview of the Toronto’s inaugural edition of the Love Art Fair.

Lulupa Hutong, Huang Kai, $7869, 134x 94cm This is one of four woodcuts that fit together to create the entire street of a Beijing Hutong- the rapidly disappearing old school communist neighbourhoods.  For more on Beijing's vibrant art scene see this previous post.

Lulupa Hutong, Huang Kai, $7869, 134x 94cm. China Print Art Gallery. This is one of four woodcuts that fit together to create the entire street of a Beijing Hutong- the rapidly disappearing old school communist neighbourhoods. For more on Beijing’s vibrant art scene see this previous post.

I’ve got to say, art fairs really are the way to go with toddlers, as there is so much more art at their level. Not to mention the kid-friendly zones that sometimes happen (the Artist Project sets up a nice space for kids). The “kid zone” was mostly closed for the preview, but Sterling still tried her hand at crayon wall-art- (fun, but not a habit I wish to establish really)

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With house red in hand, I was easily able to patrol the relatively small space- a refreshing change from the visual onslaught of Art Toronto- and get a few pics of some of the offerings on display. I’ve included prices in the captions to give all of you burgeoning collectors an idea of what to expect.

Douglas Walker,R-281, Oil on Paper on Canvas on Panel, Framed, 30" x 110", $7500, Parts Gallery. The glossy oil paint combined with the tiled effect tricked me into thinking this whale painting was actually a tiled piece.

Douglas Walker,R-281, Oil on Paper on Canvas on Panel, Framed, 30″ x 110″, $7500, Parts Gallery. The glossy oil paint combined with the tiled effect tricked me into thinking this whale painting was actually a tiled piece.

Douglas Walker, R-282, Oil on Paper on Panel, Framed, 24" x 32", $1900

Douglas Walker, R-282, Oil on Paper on Panel, Framed, 24″ x 32″, $1900

 

If you haven’t already picked up a two-for-one card at participating galleries (I saw some piled in the window at PM Gallery) use the promo code LoveART241 to order your half price tix online. Also, with Sunday as mother’s day, mom’s get in free with a plus one, and kids under 12 are free also. Perfect place for a mother’s day gift to remember.

 

Kevin Grass, Suburbia, Acrylic on Panel, 35"x53", $9500, Evan Lurie Gallery

Kevin Grass, Suburbia, Acrylic on Panel, 35″x53″, $9500, Evan Lurie Gallery

 

Cluca, Day Life Heroes, Oil on Paper, 50"x50", 2014, $8500, Galerie Youn

Cluca, Day Life Heroes, Oil on Paper, 50″x50″, 2014, $8500, Galerie Youn

Jonathan Savoie, Aerial Tokyo #10, Chromira Print edition of 10,  24"x16.5", 2010 Galerie Youn. $1100

Jonathan Savoie, Aerial Tokyo #10, Chromira Print edition of 10, 24″x16.5″, 2010 Galerie Youn. $1100