Tag Archives: art

Hello, 2011!

If you’re anything like me you were likely equally astounded and amazed by the events that defined 2010. We watched Vancouver host the Olympics, and not without some controversy; we saw Toronto host the G20 summit, and controversy? Understatement; we met the vuvuzuela with mixed results; we watched the explosion at Deepwater Horizon and the BP underwater webcam feed with disgusted rapture; natural disasters like floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions were a regular headline; we celebrated the Chilean miners who survived nearly 10 weeks underground; we mourned the passing of JD Salinger, Alexander McQueen, Gary Coleman, Dennis Hopper, and more. All told it was a year of 365 days, and a million and a half memories.

At the fair, we had a banner year! A record number of visitors came through the turnstiles at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to celebrate eleven years of the Toronto International Art Fair. We were joined by a roster of sponsors, as well as exhibiting galleries and featured artists that set the year apart as one of the Fair’s best!

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2010, we salute you!

But 2010 is last year’s news – 2011 is what’s all the rage! If you’ve been entertaining ideas about see Art Toronto up close and personal, this is the year to do it. We’re going to have more of everything you want — more programming, more artists, more galleries, more collectors!

Art Toronto is currently accepting applications — why not click here and take a read through what some of our past participants have said about the fair? Convinced? Click here to download our application package.

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Carolyn Stockbridge: The humble rock star [interview]

by Zoe Pawlak

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Carolyn Stockbridge last year for her two person show at The Elliott Louis Gallery and meeting her in person. Her wise sensibility, humble rock star approach and honest commitment to her work all contribute to a place she has rightly arrived at through the study and making of good paintings.

Originally from the UK, Carolyn Stockbridge is a contemporary abstract painter living in Vancouver. She emigrated to Canada in 1979. Carolyn is particularly interested in 1950’s Abstract Expressionism. While her paintings can be seen as large explorations of colour, surface, space and composition, she incorporates concerns of daily living as well as the balance between nature and the urban centre that often result in bold and sensitive works.

The following is an interview with Carolyn as she gears up for her first Vancouver solo show, Grounds For Interpretation, opening at The Elliott Louis Gallery on January 13th, 2011.

Zoe Pawlak: You have been in Vancouver for quite a while now. What does it mean to have your first solo show in a city you have come to call home?
Carolyn Stockbridge: Firstly, thank you for this opportunity to discuss my work with you again Zoe, it’s always a pleasure. Showing work in my home town means a great deal to me and does have a certain feeling of ‘arriving’.  It feels very good to celebrate with friends as well the community that have supported me through the years. I’m appreciative of all opportunities to show and discuss my work, group and solo, it’s always rewarding. The time feels right and here we are!

ZP: Last time we talked about the influence of 1950’s Abstract Expressionism in your work. This is a less familiar visual language to Canadians than say landscape painting. Does Vancouver’s lesser familiarity with the history of Abstract Expressionism change the way your show is seen here, rather than if you were to show the work in say, LA or NYC?

CS: Well, I think Vancouver has quite a sophisticated viewer, as well, a history deeply steeped in painting of all styles including abstraction. I can’t say how the paintings will be seen as every viewer brings their own experience to what they are looking at and we all see through our own filters but I do believe abstraction is celebrated here just as NY or LA or Europe. The good thing about painting is that it allows for an immediate read and response and can be as simple as ‘I like it- I don’t like it’ even if its not entirely understood and I love that honesty.  I can only hope that the show is well received and enjoyed by those who want to take a look!

ZP: You recently spent time in NY.  What have you brought into the work from that trip?

CS: Time in NY and Woodstock was really about research and shifting mental gears. It pushed and pulled me out of my comfort zone which is exactly what I wanted and needed. Conversations with my mentor Henrietta Mantooth offered a deep stirring of creative juices and the work I saw in the city was paramount to taking the blinders off. So all in all, a very good ‘freeing up’ occurred and I returned to Vancouver fully charged with my brain and heart activated and vision on. I hope this is infused in my recent paintings.

ZP: You have mentioned influences of women like Shelley Muzylowski and Danielle Hogan whose sculptural works and paintings have informed your paintings. You also had the great pleasure of studying with one of Canada’s senior painters, Landon Mackenzie, at Emily Carr. Whose paintings are you looking at these days?

CS: Many actually, painters, sculptors, photographers. I am constantly searching for a sense of freedom in the work I look at and hope that I don’t ever stop looking. But most recently; the late Louise Bourgeois has captured my attention as so much of her work was created with an unapologetic irreverence. I’m taking in Cecily Brown, Joan Snyder and W. De Kooning side by side and of course Gorky and Diebenkorn are always a favourite. Yesterday I discovered books on Alice Neel and Howard Hodgkin buried under some stuff in the studio and there is the freedom of mark making I always want to invite into my work.

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The art of progress, the progress of art (fairs)

Bang, clang, crash — it’s a raucous time at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and the show is still a day and a half away from opening. It’s one of the things I love best about working on huge shows like these. The chaos is exhilarating and the panic (luckily) is often unwarranted.

Early stages of construction

The MTCC is a hangar; it’s a vast, wide open space. If you tried to cartwheel from one end to the other you’d surely wind up in bed for a week.

Things are moving along...

But over the past few days I’ve watched as the hall filled with trucks, forklifts, then walls, lights and soon with hundreds of exhibitors. It’s still a barren, colourless place, the white walls doing little to break up the monotony of the grey cement floor. In a few short hours the MTCC will welcome the first giant waves of exhibitors and the show floor will be absolutely transformed as if by magic!

Lights are on, but nobody's home

I’ll be updating and posting whenever I can so you can see what I see. But please dear readers, forgive me if you find typos, grammatical mistakes, or anything that appears to be evidence of lack of sleep or temporary insanity.

And don’t forget — you can buy tickets online for $16 — that’s $2 off the door price!

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Seeing the future through the past: An interview with Luke Painter

By Zoe

I once lived in a purple house in Montreal with some roommates including the Toronto artist and Professor, Luke Painter. They made sure I went to see Arcade Fire for $7, introduced me to Dim Sum and helped me to understand the beginnings of contemporary painting.

Photo: Rannie Turingan (BlogTO)

Luke has shown drawings and an installation-based works at a number of venues including Angell Gallery in Toronto, Bonneau Samames Art Contemporain in Marseille, France, the Pulse Art Fair in New York and Plus Gallery in Denver.  Luke has exhibited with Angell Gallery since 2002 and has been in Art Toonto four times. In 2008, Luke Painter was included in the Carte Blanche 2, a book of contemporary Canadian Painting.

Luke’s willingness to help everyone around him has made him a bit of a legend.  To those of us who are lucky enough to have known him over the years, we have seen great growth in his work and a variation and maturity in his art practice. He works really hard and makes things happen. 

The Harbour (Malting)

Zoe Pawlak: In recent works we see a merging of new and old, the antiquated and that which has the appearance of being futuristic. How does the convergence of past and future imagery play into your work?

Luke Painter: Over the past few years I have been working on large-scale paintings rendered with India ink and brush on paper that utilize disparate elements within figures and landscapes to create a sense of historical ambiguity. These works are intentionally mimetic of traditional printmaking techniques (woodcut, engraving) and composite methods used in digital media (Photoshop), but the end result is a singular work on paper.  I am interested in combining older forms of ornamentation and patterning with contemporary subject matter and/or modern looking individuals.

ZP: You have lived in both Montreal and Toronto. Having grown up in Toronto and now living there as an adult and an artist, what influences are you taking most from the city itself?

Carte Blanche

LP: I am deeply affected by the city I live in and I often incorporate aspects of my surroundings into my work. In one of my drawings titled, The Harbour (Malting), I have used an old grain silo as a reference for this particular work. This grain silo is located on Queens Quay near Bathurst St in Toronto and is one of two remaining silos originally built in 1928 that was used to store malt. Built from concrete, the stripped-down and unadorned functionalism of the building was a precursor to modernist trends in architecture. It has been unused since the 1980’s and there has been debate about how the site should be utilized, with talk of a museum or theme park. I grew up in this neighborhood, which has been quickly developed into a condo landscape. Canada Malting has now become an interesting anomaly in the midst of accelerated development. My own interest in the building comes from a desire to reformulate the material of the building back to wood, in which they were originally built (they were changed to concrete to avoid burning down). I decided to take the concept one step further by rendering the surrounding area in wood to amplify the once natural surroundings that populated this area around Lake Ontario. I imagine Canada Malting to be an eyesore for many of the new condo residents, but it continues to hold a personal resonance with me as I grew up nearby.

ZP: Toronto has really been gaining international attention for events like Nuit Blanche and Art Toronto.  What have these events meant to Toronto’s working artists like yourself?

LP:   Having just witnessed this years Nuit Blanche I have to say that I really like the event.  For many people I know it is art-lite or art that is for entertainment and not for contemplation.  I personally think it can be both.  Both Art Toronto and Nuit Blanche have been good for raising awareness about the Toronto scene in international circles.

Victorian Bust

ZP: In 2008, you received a Canadian Council Artist Grant. What did you make with this grant and what does it mean to be supported in this way?

LP:   In 2008 I received a Canada Council Artist Grant for a work titled From Victorian to Modernism to What?  This installation shown in May 2010 at 47 Space in Toronto reflected on the compulsion to personally connect with (and often transform) the architecture of our surroundings. Over the past couple of years I worked with my father to build a scale model of a specific Victorian house from a neighbourhood where we both used to live. 
Approximately 8’ tall and heavily ornamented, the structure is too small
to be a real house and too large to be a dollhouse.  On the rear wall
of the building, two eyes made from stained glass project animations
depicting architectural sites specific to Toronto that have personal
resonance with me and that nod to the transitioning nature of
neighbourhoods in the city. It was an important project for me. I started to think about larger works with bigger budgets and I am now starting to apply for some more ambitious projects. 

Woodlot Mansion

LP: I am deeply affected by the city I live in and I often incorporate aspects of my surroundings into my work. In one of my drawings titled, The Harbour (Malting), I have used an old grain silo as a reference for this particular work. This grain silo is located on Queens Quay near Bathurst St in Toronto and is one of two remaining silos originally built in 1928 that was used to store malt. Built from concrete, the stripped-down and unadorned functionalism of the building was a precursor to modernist trends in architecture. It has been unused since the 1980’s and there has been debate about how the site should be utilized, with talk of a museum or theme park. I grew up in this neighborhood, which has been quickly developed into a condo landscape. Canada Malting has now become an interesting anomaly in the midst of accelerated development. My own interest in the building comes from a desire to reformulate the material of the building back to wood, in which they were originally built (they were changed to concrete to avoid burning down). I decided to take the concept one step further by rendering the surrounding area in wood to amplify the once natural surroundings that populated this area around Lake Ontario. I imagine Canada Malting to be an eyesore for many of the new condo residents, but it continues to hold a personal resonance with me as I grew up nearby.

ZP: Toronto has really been gaining international attention for events like Nuit Blanche and Art Toronto.  What have these events meant to Toronto’s working artists like yourself?

LP:   Having just witnessed this years Nuit Blanche I have to say that I really like the event.  For many people I know it is art-lite or art that is for entertainment and not for contemplation.  I personally think it can be both.  Both Art Toronto and Nuit Blanche have been good for raising awareness about the Toronto scene in international circles.

Plume

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Smoking in the ladies room

There are few things that turn my crank more than strong, innovative artists and powerful, adventurous women. Together the two elements pack a heck of a wallop. This weeks wallop: the second in a series of artist profiles by dynamo artist-entrepreneur extraordinaire Zoe Pawlak, this time the focus on an artist both local to Vancouver and in attendance at Art Toronto 2010, Fiona Ackerman.

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By Zoe

I have the great pleasure of sharing my studio with one of the hardest working ladies in Vancouver. Fiona Ackerman’s got a sense of great humor, likes good beer and knows what she’s talking about when it comes to painting. She is the perfect studio mate and is quickly becoming my fastest-made friend.

Fiona Ackerman is a rising star in the Vancouver art scene. Her two paintings in The Cheaper Show were bought up by the first two people in line and this fall she is enjoying the success of a second show at the Diane Farris Gallery with painters Will Murray and Nick Lepard. Parts Gallery is currently showing her work in Toronto and taking her to Art Toronto for the first time.

Zoe Pawlak: You said that showing at Art Toronto was like a 5 year goal for you and now it is happening for the first time this year. You are making the trek out from Vancouver to attend. With a job, a toddler and an active studio practice here at home in Vancouver, why is it of such importance to be in Toronto for the show?

Fiona Ackerman: I miss a lot of events and opportunities to chat with people because I’m juggling such a chaotic life at the moment. This will be my first chance to really just soak it in in some time, and I’ve been wanting to go for a few years. Having Parts Gallery bring some of my work to Art Toronto gave me just the excuse I needed to book a ticket. In a country as large as Canada, new painting tends to get considered in a very regional context. I am curious to see work brought from all over Canada show under one roof, in an international context.

ZP: There is a huge rise in women working outside of the home, but we often hear that real support for working women falls short. Being a mom and wanting to be in the studio full time, what challenges do you face?

FA: Actually, I’m not sure the challenges are special to being a mom. I think any parent trying to build a career with a young family at home will be challenged by a lack of time, and likely a lack of money. My particular challenge is part of what I do, or rather what I am – a painter. To say I work outside of the home would be unfair to my family. My work follows me everywhere, it follows me home. Yes, I have to share my time, I would love to be in the studio ‘full time’. That day will come. But my love ones will have to share me with painting forever.

ZP: Your abstract work is often void of direct narrative about your personal life. Was the figurative painting “Distraction” (which won Honorable Mention for the Kingston Portrait Competition) a bit about your longing for painting and it’s conflict with family life?

FA: Distraction is about sharing my love and attention. It is about the challenge of wanting a family, and being very driven as an artists. One is always a distraction from the other. At first I thought I was painting a portrait of a father and son. But as I looked at them sitting there, staring back at me from their assigned places on the sofa, I realized I couldn’t possibly paint a portrait of their relationship. They were sitting for me, and where I should have been seeing my family, I was seeing them in paint.

ZP: Your father, artist Gregor Hiltner, has enjoyed a successful, but somewhat unconventional career. How do his career choices influence your decision-making process as to where to show and how to work?

FA: I have learned so much from my father, and continue to. He always points out the joy and pleasure in the struggle to be an artist. Of course we all have big egos and want a successful career, but deep down it is truly about the quality of the work for him. I was very proud to show with him in Germany a few years ago, and I really hope that opportunity comes again soon. His advice is to proceed in your career with integrity, and paint with determination.

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There is only one Damien Hirst

From humble beginnings, adolescing with a motley crew of freaks and geeks, he rose to the centre of the world stage, earning millions at auction; there is no before, no after, there is only one Damien Hirst.

Galerie de Bellefeuille will use Art Toronto 2010 as the stage for the debut of Damien Hirst’s works in Canada. This show is the FIRST of its kind in Canada! The gallery will present a selection of iconic Hirst trademark works including his butterflies, skulls, pharmaceuticals, spots paintings, prints, and other limited edition artwork in a special curated space. You can find Galerie de Bellefeuille in booth 420 with their curated Damien Hirst booth in the adjacent booth 510.

The Hirst show will then take up residence at its home in Montreal where Galerie de Bellefeuille will show it from November 6 until December 6.

No slouch, Hirst’s body of work confronts the scientific, philosophical and religious aspects of human existence and includes sculpture, painting and printmaking. He has exhibited widely, has been written about extensively and was awarded the Turner Prize in 1995 for The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.

If you ignore the art world records Hirst set (and often re-set) and also ignore the fact that he was an integral force behind the movement and group that became the Young British Artists, if you forget that he has been behind some of the most talked about art pieces of the last 50 years you can perhaps focus on the ways that Hirst is not unlike you or I.

Like us he had to work his way through the regular channels, including an unremarkable school career and a challenging home environment. Like us he met with delays and rejections, with mentors and inspiration. He didn’t just stick with it, he recognized his own talent and pushed it as far as it could go.

I hope that young artists who attend Art Toronto 2010 will keep that in mind as they look at his Pharmaceuticals, as they ponder his All You Need is Love, Love, Love, or as they wonder at his For The Love of God. It’s not like you wake up one day as an artist with patrons and fleets of volunteers to help piece together works. It’s a lot of sweat, and a lot of rejection, and a lot of just waiting for that right moment when the stars align to make the universe yours.

What’s more, if you spy super-artist Alex McLeod at Art Toronto, he’ll tell you much the same! (#Amiright @alex_mcleod_?)

Guess what? Tickets for the show are NOW ON SALE.

What else? The first three people to comment on this blog with a fact about Damien Hirst will win a pair of tickets (valued at $36) to the show. So when your friends ask what you’re doing the weekend of October 29th, you’ll tell them you’re going to see the nation’s biggest and best international art fair (and if you act soon enough, you get to see it for free too!)

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Ring my Bell: Zoe Pawlak interviews Jessica Bell

As I promised, super-entrepreneur artist and guest blogger Zoe Pawlak has started a series of artist profiles. These indepth interviews will  be posted right here over the coming weeks. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

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By Zoe

I had the recent pleasure of being visited by Jessica Bell in my studio last month. If you have ever met Jessica, or seen her work recently at The 2010 Cheaper Show, you know that she is not only incredibly skilled at painting and drawing, but an absolute joy to be around.  Rare are the times when you can connect with another artist and come away feeling closer to yourself, your own values and set of purposeful directions. I left our conversation wanting to share just how much grey there is in this business of ours and just how much we can act as a compass for one another in these unique and equally exciting times.

Zoe Pawlak: Jessica, When we spoke in my studio last month, you were at the end of taking a month off. Tell me about taking a month off last year, why you did it and what it meant to you.

Jessica Bell: Last July, (2009) was the first time I ever deliberately prohibited myself from making anything. When I did it, I actually felt like it was my only viable option at the time. I had been working through a pretty anemic phase in my painting; I felt like all the juice had been squished out of my brain. I had begun four very large paintings but could not finish them. Ian (my husband) will often ask me when I hit a wall, if I need to step away. This is not in my nature; more than anything I hate to leave something partially finished. It annoys me even to think about it, but at a visceral level, at that point I needed to take a big step back or else I was going to keep on making the same paintings I had already made. Making that decision and following through on it for the entire month of July 2009 was possibly the best decision I have made with respect to my working practice since I began painting full time in 2007. What I did allow myself to do in that month was seek out other artists whose work and practice I admire to gather little nuggets of information and advice about how they are doing all of this. It was during that time that I met Janice Wong and she said something to me that really changed the way I practice; she told met that she hesitated to call herself an artist at all but instead saw herself as one who lived a visual life. Living a visual life is watching, waiting, gathering information and giving thoughts room to breathe; for me this is as essential to the work as the act of making. The time off without the making is really time solely devoted to these other aspects of the visual life.

ZP: Having committed to another month off this year, you mentioned that you spent quite a bit of time doing administrative work. What does that look like for you?

JB: Administrative work this time around pretty much meant being chained to my laptop. This year was a steep learning curve for me. First, I spent a small lifetime on Photoshop, editing images for print and web and eventually learned that while I know how to use Photoshop quite well, I really need to learn how to better use my camera so I don’t need to spend so much time on Photoshop! Secondly, I came to terms with the realization that the Internet, blogs and Twitter are here to stay, and that I needed to get on board. I have resisted these things in the past, but after The Cheaper Show in June I benefited from a tiny explosion of favourable press on the web, and most of it was not from here in Vancouver, or even in Canada for that matter. I came to the realization that they way I presented myself and my work online was really, really important, and deciding what that was going to look like became a priority for me. One significant thing I did was create a site that all of my other projects and work feed into. I am working on a lot of different things at the moment and I felt like they were rather fragmented when you looked at my portfolio, when in essence they are all intricately connected. I decided to create a blog-based site called www.jessicabellmadethis.com that funnels all of the things I make into a stream, even those things that I don’t always feel are the strongest and that I would likely refrain from including in my portfolio. One of the qualities inherent in presenting work in this sort of manner is that process becomes very evident and I like seeing that, even for my own benefit.

ZP: What did it mean to you to be in the 2010 Cheaper Show?

JB: I can say with conviction that it was the single most important show I have participated in thus far. I am still surprised that I got in and still delighted with the entire experience of it all, beginning to end.  After it was over, a friend asked me what it felt like to have been a part of it and I said that I felt suddenly visible. When I went to pick up my cheque for my sold pieces from Graeme (Berglund) I had this moment of feeling like I really should have been paying him for the service that I received through he and the Cheaper Crew in being asked to participate. At the very least I should have baked him a pie or something. Graeme, if you read this, I owe you one pie.

ZP: Our last meet up was special to me because we share a lot of similar trepidations about getting ‘too commercial’. If the end result is to live off our work, increase the prices each year and eventually have it hanging in people’s homes, why does it matter so much how it gets sold? Why are we taking the way the work is being sold so seriously?

JB: I’m still trying to figure out why this matters so much and why I have so much apprehension in how I am perceived. I’m trying to trust my gut more and care less. If I were to articulate the fear of over commercialization, I would say that it does come down for me to a reluctance of the things I make as being treated and viewed as merely objects.  With the focus being more on ‘selling’ instead of ‘showing’ it feels like that treatment is imminent; I am delighted when people want my work for their homes but I always silently hope and pray that they want it in a different way than they want a really nice set of coasters, for example. While both are important, I want the response to the work I make to be more than just to the aesthetic or the utilitarian.

The conversation you and I had about ‘the end result’ really stuck with me. I had to ask myself what my end results or end goals in doing this are.  Right now I have three: making really good work, making it publicly accessible, and sustaining my practice. There is a lot of room for movement in there for how that happens if one can avoid getting tangled up in the hesitancies and fears.

ZP: Do you find that your studio practice is your favorite place to be? What does it mean to you to be in the studio full time?

JB: My studio practice is deeply good; it is the one place I know in my life when I can be completely undivided, and my time so purposely spent. I love that. I hate having to multi-task; I only ever want to do one thing at a time. My studio practice is where I can have that. I am so grateful to be able to be there full time, even with all of the conflicts on how to make a life from it. 

JESSICA BELL
www.jessicabellmadethis.com
www.jessicabellart.com
@oneseeproject

Stayed tuned for more artist profiles care of Zoe Pawlak. For more info on Zoe, visit her website, follow her on twitter!

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