Tag Archives: contemporary 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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Sheepishly returning, with a shout-out

Ok, it’s been weeks. I am a bad blogger. Bad, bad blogger. But today I stumbled upon a re-tweet of a retweet of a tweet from MoMA, and broke my own heart. It’s a digital short they released recently, called I See. For others like me who are soft on the idea of art, but short on any real insight into art, this video will help you appreciate how to appreciate art.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–uc17DqHcI

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Times like these…

At a time when most everyone furrows their brow and digs their hands in their pockets at the mention of the state of the current economy (and let’s face it, it stinks) it’s the time that events like Art Toronto really flourish!

Impossible, you say? It’s true!

It’s times like these that the new kids on the block come out of the cracks to try new things. And it’s times like these that events like Art Toronto offer up free sneaky-peakies into the fair for newbies. And thus the circle of life.

Kind of an interesting paradigm. As a result of TIAF offering complimentary passes this year to galleries who have never shown at the fair, next year visitors to the fair can count on seeing even more new faces.

Anyone who’s ever been to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre knows what a colossus that building is. With a mix of our faithful patron galleries, who have already seen what showing at TIAF can do for business, and an ever-growing cross-section of international galleries going in new and unexpected directions in contemporary art, a question springs to mind:

What are we going to do when we outgrow our shell?

It’s the kind of question that really loosens the brow and invites a broad smile, you know?

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Art for a moment, for a millenium

Growing up with both parents working as teachers definitely had it’s ups and downs. Luckiuly they were college teachers and so not specially atuned to the cycle of report cards per se, but they certainly added a considerable amount of red ink to every page I printed.

Mom, an English major, and Dad, a Fine Arts major, both found their calling teaching communications types of courses at a community college in my hometown. I overheard many heated conversations about the bastardization and complete obliteration of the english language. Especially in the last ten years, the number of times they said they found short-forms and slang better used in text or messenger messages in formal reprots was astounding.

While I concede to my teacher-parents that there is a time and place when certain things aren’t appropriate, I object to the idea that the english language is being bastardized or devolving. As a student of linguistic anthropology I learned that the lexicon is an organic beast — it changes, adapts, grows — language defined by the users needs and usage. Not such a strange thing; Oxford adds new words to the dictionary every year based on careful studies of ‘common’ uses of such new words.

I digress, I’m not blogging about language, but this is a post about communication and perception.

A lot of more traditional folks like to believe that most technologically based things and specifically things internet-based are just flash-in-the-pan stuff. Or two-dimensional. Sure, you can use it but can you manipulate it?? To these luddites I respond with an emphatic YES.

Artists have been appropriating pop culture for use in their works as long as there has been such a thing as ‘pop’. But more recently artists have been turning elements of pop culture into the art itself. I’ll give a few of the myriad of fantastic examples out there.

David Hockney recently unveiled a series of works done on his iPhone. Although this is something Jorge Colombo has also done. But my personal favorite of the week is Stacey Williams-Ng’s exhibition “What Are You Doing Right Now” in which she perused the status of some 247 Facebook friends to pilfer great lines like “Tony R. could’ve died a superhero but instead he lived to become the villain” which became both title and subject of a portrait.

New media like this is flash-in-the-pan. It won’t be around forever. I have no doubt that Facebook, Twitter and the rest of it will enjoy some notoriety and usefulness until they’re subsumed by something else. But these monsters will not be around when my kids are in their 20s. And that’s what makes this kind of art so here and now, so special. It’s what makes contemporary art representative of this exact moment in time. It’s not the 90s or the 60s, it can only be the first decade of this millenium.

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