Saturday, October 29, 2011

Art Toronto

If you are going to Art Toronto please come and see my sculpture in the Open Space area and if you aren't going here is a phone photo. The opportunity came about thanks to Open Studio. Open Studio is nearby at booth 141.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ian McLean at Forest City Gallery, London

Here, Then and There
Ian McLean with Colin Carney at Forest City Gallery
November 4 to December 10, 2011

opening reception - November 4 at 7:00pm

Ian McLean is interested in imagery that explores the relationship between social and natural worlds. His paintings often reveal efforts to contain, control, manipulate, or avoid circumstances of nature as evidenced in highly groomed and domesticated environments reflecting a deep-seated desire for comfort or beauty or distraction. The residential environments in his paintings are sometimes real and sometimes imagined, enhancing discrepancies between setting and mood through an emphasis on ornamentation. The exaggeration of certain decorative elements of comfort is intended to both lure viewers into familiar environments and unsettle them once they are there. Efforts to keep elements of dissolution or entropy at bay are evident in these settings. Sarnia-based Ian McLean studied at the University of Guelph. He is represented in Toronto by Loop Gallery.

Forest City Gallery
258 Richmond St.
London, ON

Ian McLean gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Suzanne Nacha at Harbourfront Centre Project Room

 Not only does Suzanne Nacha have her show "Signs for Travellers" on at loop Gallery, but she also has a concurrent exhibition at Harbourfront Centre called "In Deep" which opened in Harbourfront's Project Room on September 30 and runs until December 1, 2011.

Her Harbourfront exhibition "In Deep" is an installation that uses underground imagery as a metaphor for the human condition. Utilizing a narrow range of visual logic that hovers between illusion and abbreviated sign, a subtle, dark humour guides the viewer through a landscape both physical and psychological.

Held together by a common water level - a dialogue around the language of painting and the nature of the human psyche playfully unfolds in this installation of large-scale painted objects.

Suzanne Nacha is a Toronto based artist working in painting, sculpture and installation. Through the systematic abstraction and anthropomorphism of industrial and natural landscapes, she seeks to make iconic images that act at times as psychological mirrors to human experience. Her work has been exhibited in Canada, the United States and Europe and represented in private and public collections including the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the National Bank of Canada and the Robert McLaughlin Gallery. Born in Hamilton, Ontario, she holds degrees in both Fine Art and Geology. She has taught in the Fine Art departments of OCAD University, Sheridan/UTM and York University and for the past fifteen years, has worked in the mining industry mapping geographies of fortune and need.

Image: In Deep, installation detail, oil on panel, 2011, image courtesy of the artist

Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay West
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5J 2G8
(416) 973 4000

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Assimilate This

I have to confess that I'm not a big fan of video art. That's not meant as a criticism of the medium. It just doesn't usually speak to me. But over the Thanksgiving weekend, while visiting Ottawa, I stumbled upon Bear Witness' mesmerizing two-channel video projection at The Ottawa Art Gallery called Assimilate This. Bear Witness is an Ottawa based dj and video artist, who also happens to be aboriginal (he records wonderful dance/native tribal music mash-ups with the collective A Tribe Called Red). His video installation was included in the exhibit Decolonize Me.

As I have already confessed to, I am not a big fan of video art but within moments of entering the large darkened room which held the Assimilate This projection, I was rendered spell-bound. The first thing you notice is the music; native chanting underpinned with a pounding dance-floor beat. Projected into a corner was the familiar countenance of Gary Farmer from Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man, Brad Pitt from the Coen Brother's Inglorious Basterds and multiple images of a native dancer, all in bright acidic colours, layered, inverted, flashing rhythmically.

This was no pedantic critique of white man's vision of the "red man" but a pop culture reclamation and re-contextualization of aboriginal imagery. Ironically, much of the power within the imagery is generated by the quality of the filmed imagery. We're talking big budget film-making with professional actors and professional art direction here. I wonder if the imagery would have had the same effect if drawn from low budget films with anonymous actors?

I've provided a link to Bear Witness' videos on Vimeo. If you're interested in native/dance music mash ups, check out A Tribe Called Red.

Monday, October 17, 2011

In-Between Sounds at The Only Cafe

Where were you on the night of the provincial election? Hunkered down in front the tv with fingers crossed, fearing the worse and hoping for the best? Watching the first NHL game of the season? A bit of both? I sat huddled with a small clutch of east-end noiseniks at the Only Cafe, listening to King Pillowtop and Avery Strok, Marc Cohen and Suzanne Farkas, weaving aural tapestries for the small but ardent gathering.

The evening started with King Pillowtop (Stephen Keeping) layering loops of spoken word over top of granular, textural sounds and pounding dance beats. Central to Pillowtop's performance was a cassette recording of a group prayer session that he had found in a tape deck at Value Village. The recording was made for a mysterious being named Riley. Who is Riley? Throughout the taped session, prayer participants switch back and forth between addressing Riley directly and petitioning the Lord on Riley's behalf. Speaker after speaker address Riley, through stream-of-consciousness prayer, as a "champion" or "champ". In the course of about ten minutes, he is referred to as a warrior or soldier about a hundred times. It's unclear whether Riley is a soldier heading off to war, a baby being baptized, or a dearly departed member of the congregation. There was something urgent and desperate in this strange ritual. And why didn't Riley keep the tape? Did he flee the congregation? Is he dead? Working on Bay Street? The piece moved somewhat toward resolution in it's last few minutes with some melodic flute (I think) mixed into the sonic stew.

After a short break, Avery Strok (who usually performs along with Richard Vainio as Lorde Awesome), accompanied by Marc Cohen on drums and Suzanne Farkas on flute and voice, took the stage (floor really). Using recordings from his earlier solo work as the base for the performance, Avery set the tone by layering synth drones over the recorded tracks. Marc provided minimalist percussive accents on his electronic drum kit, which was being run through a Boss digital delay pedal while Suzanne's ethereal sheets of echoing flute wove through the whole shimmering sonic tapestry and pulled it together like golden thread. The music was by turns; magical, dreamy, other-wordly, cosmic and ambient.

Avery Strok is the mastermind behind the In-Between Sounds series, which takes place the first Thursday of every month at the Only Cafe on Danforth Ave. Most months, Lorde Awesome holds down the fort with an experimental electronic jam session that often includes guests such as Cymbl (Richard Baker) and Rick Hicks. Each month a musical guest is invited to perform a set, then join Lorde Awesome in a collective jam.

Every month is different. Last month, Bonecreak Ulysses II (that's myself and Marc Cohen) played a set. Marc joined Lorde Awesome and Rick Hicks for an epic, non-stop, hour long marathon set that just kept getting louder and faster. I slipped in at the 30 minute mark. Just when I thought things were slowing down and getting ready to land, it just got wilder. As mountain bikers say, it was "epic". Lorde Awesome opens for Hans-Joachim Roedelius tonight at The Garrison.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

David Holt and Suzanne Nacha at Loop Gallery

loop Gallery is pleased to announce exhibitions by loop members David Holt entitled Landscapes and Subjects from Natural History, and Suzanne Nacha entitled Signs for Travelers.

David Holt’s paintings in his third show at Loop depict landscapes as well as motifs derived from displays of birds, antiquities, and other collections found in museums of natural history. Many of the works playfully reinterpret the grid-like arrangements of objects in museum display cases while others elaborate on concepts of ideal landscapes, from both Eastern and Western classical traditions. Taken together, the works explore our ideas about nature, culture, and memory.

A painter who has had many solo and group shows in the US, David Holt has been the recipient of a painting grant from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation and an artist residency at the Ragdale Foundation. Holt lives and works in Toronto where he teaches art at Upper Canada College.
In a classically inspired narrative that looks at the idea of passage as both a means of access and a turning point or crossroads, Suzanne Nacha’s series of paintings entitled Signs for Travelers offers up a simplified visual logic that acts as a mirror to the human condition. Dark humour prevails as anthropomorphic forms evolving from underground tunnels, caves and rail systems play at the boundary between visual sign and physical trigger.

Suzanne Nacha is a visual artist working in painting, sculpture and installation. Through the systematic abstraction and anthropomorphism of industrial and natural landscapes, she seeks to make iconic images that act at times, as psychological mirrors to human experience. Born in Hamilton Ontario, she holds undergraduate degrees in both Geology and Fine Art from McMaster University and the University of Guelph respectively, as well as an MFA from York University in Toronto. She has taught in the Fine Art departments of OCAD, Sheridan/UTM and York University, and for the past fifteen years has worked in the mining industry mapping geographies of fortune and need.

Patrick Macaulay is the Head of Visuals Arts at Harbourfront Centre. Over the past fifteen years he has curated numerous exhibitions and has moved the visual arts programming at Harbourfront Centre in new and exciting directions. He received his MFA from The Art Institute of Chicago, BFA from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and has worked in the studio programme at The Banff Centre.

October 15 – November 6, 2011
Reception: Saturday, October 15, 2011, 2-5 PM
Q&A: Saturday, October 15, 2011, 1 PM moderated by Patrick Macaulay

Images: David Holt, Landscape with Bird, acrylic on linen, 20 x 20 inches, 2011; Suzanne Nacha, tongue tied, oil on panel, acrylic, rope, 25 x 32 inches, 2011.

Monday, October 10, 2011

David Holt "Ornithology" paintings in Loop show, October 15-November 6, 2011

David Holt, studio photograph, August 2011
As part of my Oct. 15-Nov. 6, 2011 exhibition I am completing several paintings based on the types of ornithological displays found in museums of natural history. Much of my work from this past decade has played with the grid-like arrangements of preserved specimens of plants, fossils, bones, minerals, mammals, archaeological fragments, and birds in museum display cases and storage drawers. I find the interplay between the organic shapes of the specimens and their rectilinear containers affords interesting compositional possibilities. Morphological comparisons between the displayed/depicted specimens also invite close observations that result in visual pleasure and surprise. In addition, I am fascinated by the historical developments of the whole enterprise of the representation, collection, categorization, and display of examples of “nature” and “culture” in both Eastern and Western traditions, including early engraved atlases and encyclopedias, European W√ľnderkammer, and modern museums.  

David Holt, Ornithology in 3 Rows, acrylic/linen, 2011      
Royal Alberta Museum Collection

Ornithology (red), acrylic/canvas, 2011    
Smithsonian Museum Collection      
Over the years I have been fortunate to have lived and worked near wonderful museums such as the Florence Museum of Natural History (La Specola),
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History , the American Museum of Natural History, the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, the Naturalis Museum in Leiden, and now the Royal Ontario Museum  A big influence on my work has also been David Freedberg’s book ,“The Eye of the Lynx”, about the role of visual images in the early history of Italy’s first major scientific society
My ornithological paintings will be accompanied by paintings of landscapes and other subjects from natural history in my upcoming loop exhibition. These and other paintings can be seen on my website: