Saturday, February 27, 2010

Upcoming Show: Tara Cooper and Elizabeth D'Agostino

LOOP  Gallery is pleased to announce exhibitions by members Tara Cooper entitled Off-Season, and Elizabeth D’Agostino entitled Artifacts of the Self-Made.

Off-Season, Tara Cooper’s first exhibition at LOOP, traces the route that 95 year old Doris Rittinger has taken for the past 40 years, from Southern Ontario to Panama City Beach, Florida. Looking at the migratory habits of the retired along with the impact of aging, the installation combines film, photography and drawing:

"I am 95 years old today. But I do not feel 95 years old, I feel I am a healthy 75, that is called my body age. Sometimes I think our bodies age more slowly than our minds. My mind feels like 200, pilled and worn transparent like an old sheet.”

Working within a narrative framework, Tara Cooper’s practice considers the conditions of desire, both the murmurings of regret and the longing for the future. As a Toronto based artist, her expression is often Canadian in nature, from the habits of the snowbird, to the idea of north and the language of weather. Tara received her MFA from Cornell University in 2008, specializing in the disciplines of print, film and installation. She currently teaches at the Ontario College of Art and Design. To see more of Tara's work, please visit her website here.

In Elizabeth D'Agostino's Artifacts of the Self-Made, the artist is reminded of familial sites and surroundings she encountered growing up.  It embodies a sense of individual desire to recapture and restore memories and fragments of historical passages, which influence daily life. D'Agostino is concerned with the notion of acclimation and how the environment begins to inform each other.
The images take the form of the human body, human artifacts, vegetable and animal life. These images are displayed within complex settings as delicate curiosities in D'Agostino's drawings and prints; the natural world connects the human-made world. This work furthers her investigations of the transitional place, and the various stages that surround the transformations and adaptations of an object and the rooted structures that have formed their environment displayed as objects of curiosity.

Elizabeth D'Agostino received her BFA from the University of Windsor and her MFA from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, IL. She has exhibited in Canada and internationally and was selected as the 2008 Visiting Artist by the Fine Arts Department at the University of South Dakota. D'Agostino lives and works in Toronto and is a member of Open Studio.  She teaches printmaking at the Ontario College of Art & Design and is the Curriculum Coordinator at the Toronto School of Art.  To see more of Elizabeth D'Agostino's work, please visit her website here.

Please join the artists in celebrating the opening reception on Saturday, February 27th from 3-6 pm.

Learn more about Tara Cooper and Elizabeth D'Agostino's work during a Question and Answer session at the gallery on Saturday March 13 at 3pm.
Gallery Hours: Wed - Sat 1 to 5 pm, and Sun 1 to 4pm.
Artists will be in attendance on Sundays and for the reception.
For more information please contact the gallery director at (416) 516-2581 or

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Peek into Elizabeth D'Agostino's Studio

In her upcoming show Artifacts of the Self Made, Elizabeth D'Agostino explores the complex connections between the natural world and the human-made world. These informal studio shots give a hint at the precision and delicacy of her prints and drawings for the show, which opens at LOOP Gallery on Saturday, February 27, 2010.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Peek into Tara Cooper's Studio

Join Tara Cooper at LOOP Gallery on Saturday, February 27th the opening of her show "Off-Season". The reception will be that afternoon from 3-6 pm and the show will run until March 21, 2010.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tara Cooper: Off-Season

My exhibition entitled "Off-Season" opens at LOOP in less than two weeks. There’s still a long “To Do” list, but I’m excited for the opening on Saturday February 27th. Here’s a little preliminary look and a little more information about my work.

My grandmother, Doris Rittinger, turns 95 this February. For the past 40 years, she has been making her way south during the winter, to stay in Panama City Beach, Florida. Doris is an anchor within our family, and she is strong and independent with a flair for fashion. Her last pair of glasses, worn for more than a decade, were bedazzled with pink cubic zirconias. She recently gave me some of her dresses from the 60’s, bought in Buffalo and signed Mr. Dino, along with a wide brim mint green hat with matching feathers along the trim and a white straw handbag with crocheted flowers. During the 80’s, many of her friends would meet annually in Panama City Beach, play bridge, golf, swim, attend dances at the club house, walk on the beach and shop. As the years recede, most of her friends have died.  She no longer makes the journey for the people, but for the temperate climate. 

At 95, time is limited. This past December, I decided to take advantage of my grandmother’s migratory habits and good health, travelling by car to visit her. My last trip to Florida was in 1987. I was sixteen—flip flops, bikinis and baby oil. On one of our outtings, I asked my grandmother what she attributes her longevity to; she replied ROMANCE.

Since my grandfather’s death (Reuben Rittinger) in 1983, Doris has had four steady boyfriends: John, Jed, Arthur and Tom. Except for Arthur, she stayed with each of them until they died.   

Panama City is located at the northern end of Florida on the gulf side. In December, the beach is nearly empty. Temperatures hover around 60 degrees. Accomodations are plenty, many offer special rates and discounts. Our intention this trip was to document not only my grandmother, but also the route south. Alabama had the best signage by far: SMOK”N BUTTS BBQ... NEW QUAIL DINNER, LET US CATER UR NEXT EVENT,   and Big Daddy’s BBQ, Fried CHICKEN, Fresh CATFISH...HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS, DAILY BREAKFAST $2.99 and FIREWORKS IT’S PARTY TIME, SURVIVOR SHIRTS $10. Even with the economic downturn, the number of “For Sale” signs along Highway 98 (the route that runs along Florida’s coast) surprised me. I think half of “America’s  Sunshine State” might be For Sale.


I invite you to join me for the opening reception of my show on Saturday, February 27th from 3-6 pm at LOOP Gallery. You can also see more of my work on my website here.

Posted by: Tara Cooper

Friday, February 12, 2010

Another Conversation with Jane LowBeer

Until I saw the wall of Jane LowBeer's small oil paintings of toothpaste tubes, I had no idea that toothpaste tubes could take on a romantic quality. The rich colours and captivating forms create an intimacy and sensuality that I would not normally associate with an everyday object like the toothpaste tube.

I had to follow up my earlier conversation with Jane LowBeer to find out more:

Ingrid:  In your artist statement, you mention that the toothpaste tubes heralded a return to painting for you. Why did you chose toothpaste tubes to return to painting?

Jane: Toothpaste tubes are everyday household items. An empty toothpaste tube is flexible and can be bent or twisted into a variety of shapes (although some brands are much more malleable than others!). The painterly possibilities of two toothpaste tubes seemed perfect for the intimacy of a small canvas.

Ingrid: How long was your hiatus from painting?
Jane: I use brushes with the monotypes in my printmaking practice but it has been about ten years since I used a brush, oil paint and canvas.

Ingrid:  In our previous conversation, you said that lately you have been using a lot of colours to make up black. What is it about black and white that you find appealing?
Jane:  In the monotypes, I put the plate through the press multiple times building up the layers of colours. It is interesting to see a black made from a layer of orange then violet compared to a black made with red and turquoise. There is the quality of drawing that I like in black and white.

Ingrid:  Does that come from your printmaking background?
Jane: Not really. A very long time ago, I did viscosity printmaking which is all about colour. I mostly use the same inks for the monotypes.

Ingrid:  Your every day objects seem to have a landscape monumentality. Is there an underlying symbolism to you?
Jane: Perhaps...small is beautiful.

Ingrid: Will you continue with this series? 
Jane: Yes, I ran out of time in preparing for this show and would like to paint a tubes of toothpaste all jumbled orgy of toothpaste tubes.

Ingrid:  There seems to be a shared affinity for black and white imagery with Sung Ja Kim. Was this deliberate or happenstance?
Jane: It was a happy happenstance. I am a new member of LOOP so I had no idea who I was paired with.

The show of Jane LowBeer's work continues this weekend and through to Sunday, February 20th, 2010.  Visit Loop Gallery at 1273 Dundas Street West in Toronto or see more of Jane's work on her website here.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

How I Learned to Love Facebook by Charles Hackbarth

It’s 6 am and I’ve just woken from a dream in which I’d written the most clever facebook  status update in the history of electronic networking. Unfortunately, the content of that update had vanished like vapours on a windshield. Compelled to write an update, I recounted the fact that I’d had a dream but lost it’s illusive content.

Six months ago, when friends suggested that I join Facebook, I scoffed. What me?  I’m an avowed anti-social lone wolf. I never answer the phone and I cross the street to avoid people. Even spending time with my loved ones can be tense if I haven’t spent enough time alone. But curiosity got the better of me and, slowly, cautiously, I ventured into the vortex.

So, I opened an account and added friends that I knew itrw (in the real world) who were on Facebook. I was happy to say I had 20 facebook “friends”. However I couldn’t help noticing that other facebookers, especially my artist friends, had hundreds, even thousands, of “friends”. How on earth can someone have that many friends? It seemed artificial, greedy, slutty and voyeuristic. And of course, it is. Yet… I couldn’t help trolling through the friend lists of other people. I noticed that my friend Jeff in Ottawa had friended  ArtListPro, a rambling full throttle smorgasbord of unmitigated art information.

I noticed that ArtListPro had more than 200 friends so I started posting photos of my work on their page and commenting on the postings. Much of the postings were of international artists. I was fascinated. I wondered where they were based – New York, L.A. Rome?  Before long I found myself in a dialogue with Chris Healey one of the proprietors. Turns out, ArtListPro was based in Toronto, a mere kilometre from loop gallery. ArtListPro was launching a website. Chris was organizing an art exhibit at CulturShok on Queen Street West at Dufferin to launch the site so he invited me to include a piece. Of course I jumped at the opportunity. The ArtListPro community extends far beyond the city limits. A number of guests at the opening traveled from Ottawa, Montreal and Guelph.

More recently, Juno Youn organized a fundraiser for Haiti using Facebook. In fact the show opens tonight (Saturday, February 6th at Jimmy’s Coffee on Portland Ave). Juno sent out a call for art for the silent auction. I, once again, jumped at the opportunity. In just two months I have participated in two shows which were initiated through Facebook. My friend list grows daily. Once I got passed the initial shy stage of cyber networking I entered into what I called my facebook slut phase. I threw myself at any artist or musician I recognized. Before long I found myself among the who’s-who of Canadian Art and experimental electronic artists. Two communities I have an affinity with.

Sixteen years ago, when my wife was doing her masters at York, we had access to the internet through her university account. Back then, everything was text. I’m talking pre-Windows. My fantasy about what the internet would offer is very much what facebook offers today, an opportunity for each of us to be one of the jewels in Lord Indra’s Net.  According to Wikipedia, Lord Indra's Net: In Buddhism, one of the metaphors for the inter-connectedness of all things is found in Indra’s Net. In Vedic mythology, the net hangs over the palace of the god Indra. The net is held together by a jewel located at each intersection of the net’s fibers and when the sun shines on one jewel, the reflection of that jewel becomes a part of all the other jewels’ radiance.
Indra’s Net is part of a Buddhist teaching which describes infinite realms of space within infinite realms of space, all connected, all dependent on the others.

By Charles Hackbarth

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Conversation with Jane LowBeer

Jane LowBeer at Opening Reception at Loop Gallery
I wasn't able to make it to the opening reception at LOOP Gallery for Jane LowBeer's show Light on Little Things and will defer a proper artist profile until I've seen her show. But in the meantime, we began a conversation about art.

Ingrid:  What artist living or dead would you most like to have a conversation with?
Jane:  I think I would like to go all the way back and have a talk with Giotto. His work has such feeling and is so innovative that I imagine he would not mind talking to a woman.

Ingrid: What question would you ask him?
Jane: I would ask him this. One of the things that so moves me in your work Giotto, is the juxtaposition of the human form with architectural structures. There is nothing extraneous in your work. Can you tell me what you are thinking about --or your process in creating these powerful compositions.

Ingrid: Is there and artwork that makes you really angry?
Jane: Damien Hirst's skull and Jeff Koons giant teddy bears are a couple of pieces that come to mind.

Ingrid: What are the most common words you use to describe (1) work you like and (2) work you dislike?
Jane: Work I like gets described in terms of a visual vocabulary or ground, form and colour. I am attracted to all sorts of work, especially drawings or curious paintings... playful/serious stuff. Work I dislike is work driven by concept.

Ingrid: Who is your best critic?
Jane: Myself. I ask myself if I could live with this piece.

Ingrid: What frame of mind do you have to be in to produce art?
 Jane: Ideally, I am feeling a sense of play.

Ingrid: What colour do you most frequently use?
Jane: Recently, the I am mostly using the different colours that come together to make black.

Ingrid: What book are you currently reading?
Jane: I am just finished the novel "Olive Kitteridge" and also a book about Thai yoga.

Ingrid: If you were not an artist, what would you do?
Jane: I am also a yoga therapist. I always wanted to practice art therapy but somehow I ended up working with the body. The mind/body/emotion connection is completely fascinating.

Ingrid: What is your earliest memory as an artist?
Jane: My earliest memory would be trying to paint waves in grade 5. I also recall making Barbie clothes and furniture out of bits and pieces and thinking the absolute rags I made looked great - it was the effort of making them that was memorable.

To see more of Jane's work, please visit LOOP Gallery at 1273 Dundas Street West in Toronto. Her show will run until February 21st. You can also visit her website here.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ingrid Mida at Fly Gallery

That Dress is so Fly!
Mixed Media Installation, copyright of Ingrid Mida 2010

Inspired by the urban installation space, the playful nature of Moschino and the sculptural qualities of Balenciaga,  LOOP Gallery member Ingrid Mida has created a fashion based sculpture out of mosquito mesh for Fly Gallery in Toronto. Designed as a metaphor for the fickle nature of fashion trends, this wearable dress can be converted into a protective shelter against flies, mosquitos and other pests as required. 

February 1 - 10, 2010
Fly Gallery, 1172 Queen Street West, Toronto