Posts tagged ‘Visual Arts’

October 17, 2011

The Revolution will be Photographed

As I mentioned yesterday, two of my favourite people were out at Occupy Toronto on Sunday, taking photographs. Both have an excellent eye for finding the story behind an image, making you want to look longer and a little bit harder.

It led to an interesting discussion at dinner the other night, the difference between a documented photo (wow, what a lot of people!) to the shots that find the people, find the individuality in the masses and hopefully take you a step further in your understanding of who was there and why. This of course led to the rules of photography, the rule of threes and, you got it – art.

Most of the photos I take move towards the documentation end of the spectrum, which is why thy tend to have an expository paragraph alongside them – the image is a bonus or an impetus to my usual medium of writing. They back up the written words.

These photos, on the other hand, tell stories of their own, without words. Whether you agree with some, none, or all of the events occurring and the principles behind them  – these are some pretty great images.

As always, I’m going to point you over to the fine folks at Torontoist who are live blogging the events.

Black and white photos  by Colette Stevenson.  Colour photos by Lawrence Bayne.

August 22, 2011

Smartphone Viewing, a Contest and some Good Art News

A colleague of mine Drew McLellan posted a great article the other day on analyzing your google stats to see who’s viewing you on their smartphone. Here you go.

On the subject of analytics, I had someone say to me (either flatly or with pride, I’m not sure which it was) that their organization doesn’t bother using their analytics strategically. They have them, they just don’t look at them.

I have some work to do with this person. More on this in a later post.

In other news, each of the six artists doing work for the new stations on the TTC’s Spadina subway extension will get up to $500,000 thanks to a policy that sets aside cash for art. This is a great thing to hear – and here’s another article on subway art that has artist and art critic Eldon Garnet telling us what works, what doesn’t. There’s a gallery embedded within.

Drawn To Develop  – a truly cool charity has announced the lineup of photographers who will be participating in this year’s artistic storytelling collaboration. Click here for the announcement.

And finally – quite possibly one of the coolest contests I’ve ever heard of – My Library Matters to Me

Win a lunch date with on of Toronto’s most celebrated authors and explore their Toronto!! There will be FIFTY winners!

Each participating author will accompany a small group of contest winners to a Toronto literary site (such as a location in one of their books) followed by lunch with their group at one of the author’s favourite Toronto restaurants.

Contest opens for submissions at 10:30 am Thursday, August 25th. Here’s the link for more info.  I KNOW!!!

And finally: I don’t know what to say. Rest in peace Jack – you did so much for so many and we thank you.

Statement from Nycole Turmel, interim leader of the NDP

“New Democrats today are mourning the loss of a great Canadian.

Jack was a courageous man. It was his leadership that inspired me, and so many others, to run for office. We – Members of Parliament, New Democrats and Canadians – need to pull together now and carry on his fight to make this country a better place.

On behalf of New Democrats from coast to coast to coast, our thoughts and prayers are with our colleague Olivia Chow, Jack’s children Sarah and Mike and the rest of Jack’s family.

And we remember the Tommy Douglas quote Jack included in every email he sent: “Courage my friends, ’tis never too late to build a better world.'”

I read in BlogTO that there will be a gathering at Nathan Phillips Square today at 4:00 p.m. to share memories and celebrate Jack Layton’s life.

August 17, 2011

DAM! BAM! Art!

I have been remiss in mentioning two arts markets that are not only awesome, but near and dear to my heart in terms of the artists participating and the organization that put them together. It’s yet another thing that makes me proud of our city – not just the events but the folks who create them.

The Distillery Art Market  feature an outdoor market of artists, craftspeople and food artisans at the Distillery Historic District. Come see a wide variety of exhibitors – painting, printmaking, ceramics, fibre art and more!  Open Studios are open from 11am – 6pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Tours of Artscape Distillery Studios will take place at 12pm, 2pm and 4pm each day of the market. Tours will meet at the Information Booth located in Case Goods Lane. The Distillery Art Market runs every weekend from April to October.


And should the Distillery be too far downtown for you, you might want to check out its uptown cousin – the Barns Art Market – an exhibition of artists, craftspeople and designer/makers that takes place once a month from May 28 – October 15, 2011 at the Artscape Wychwood Barns. The Barns Art Market coincides with The Stop’s Farmer’s Market, which attracts hundreds of people to the area every Saturday.


Both markets are running this weekend – August 20th and I highly recommend you check them out.


Over and out for today.

August 12, 2011

PSA #2 writing, drawing, looking, listening


A few things have popped up on my radar the past few days and I thought they were worth mentioning on a sunny Friday.




Theatre Ontario is looking to create a one week residential theatre training program where participants will audition for acceptance and then live on a university campus for a week while being taught by Canada’s top theatre instructors. The program will be for high school students only who are serious about becoming professional theatre artists. Please feel free to pass this questionnaire on to any youth you might know.

The Toronto Star is  launching Speak Your Mind in early September  It`s a forum for commentary, debate and conversation around the key topics driving the fall provincial election. They`re looking for two Community Correspondents from each electoral district in Ontario to cover the political scene, the candidates and the issues that are important to their area.  You can apply here – it`s a simple application.

Nomadic Residency is seeking people to participate in the creation of a newspaper. There are a variety of ways to participate,like filling out their survey, or answering one of the questions in their poster campaign, or writing an article, or making an illustration. More information is here, and the article from BlogTO  that drew my attention to them to begin with is here.

It’s the last weekend for the 2011 Summerworks Festival – you should go see something. Click here for some promo videos I posted last week, or click  for the  top ten shows according to torontoist.

TedXToronto has announced the speakers lineup for the Sept 23rd conference. I know who my highlights are. Apply to attend!

And finally we have an Akimbo hitlist from Yuula Benivolski, a Montreal & Toronto-based artist.

I`ll be posting this entry permanently in the PSA/What`s On section of the site as well. Happy Friday!


July 8, 2011

Fringe Day Three and the Idea of a Survey

Here we are bright and early on the dawn of Fringe Day Three, when my Fringe-ing begins in earnest.  Am off to see Cancer Can’t Dance Like This, Remember Maggy, and Pitch Blond all at Tarragon, heading down to Factory later on to see Saved.

Item: Some of the shows don’t have websites so I’ve just linked everyone back to the Fringe site listings  – you might need to scroll a bit).

Check out the Wrecking Ball site – the list of companies across the country having simultaneous fundraisers is growing.

And yesterday marked the anniversary of this website and blog. I had a great conversation with a good friend and amazing artist Shay Hahn about it. Via Facebook of course. I’ve known Shay for years, I love his work and he is one of the artists I know who is really good at marketing himself and his work. We talked about tone and content, the purpose of the blog in relation to the site – all the things that I love talking about and making my clients do and think about and have not really had time to crystalize in my own head for this site/blog. Of course, being a marketer, I do like surveys. So i was thinking of asking you – the people who come here the most, what exactly you are doing here. I’m not talking quality, I’ve got stats and pingbacks and trackbacks galore, I’m looking for the qualitative answers. So first step – gauge interest in participating. An informal poll to see what the numbers would be like for people willing to take a survey/give me their thoughts and opinions on the site and blog. So….

Gotta go  – today is laid out like clockwork. Happy Friday!

*Fireflies  by A. Shay Hahn, 10x12inches, acrylic on canvas, framed for the Royal Families
June 10, 2011

The Magi Were Right

Yesterday I headed east to see a show at the Pentimento Gallery on Queen. I was very excited to see the show, and the gallery, and John Rait, and my trip was well worth it. Please note I have shamelessly borrowed some images of the opening night from the Pentimento blog to better illustrate my points.

My companion (gal pal Colette Stevenson) and I went to see Brotherhood – an exhibit by G Elliott Simpson, and got to spend some time with the fantastic John Rait, who I like more every time I meet him.

About the exhibit – my God it was fantastic. Like a good art patron I read the statement about the work – it  discussed the idea that although we claim we are becoming an even more open society, we are becoming even further enmeshed in the concepts of groups and tribes. Where do you belong?
Geoff has some extremely beautiful men (and one woman) posing for him. Each piece was a photograph of a person posed – they were photographed in body paint – the example is next to this paragraph. I was immediately drawn to the eyes of each subject – see how the paint is lessened around them? It completely draws you in, making you wonder who is behind both the creation and the pose. All pieces were named things that seemed to have a religious bent, my favourite being “Sacrament“.

At first view of this photo you may think, “My God, can’t people stop texting long enough to even enjoy art??”  Here’s the best part – they ARE enjoying the art. Each piece in the show has a QR code below it., and each code takes you to a different weblink about a type of cult, a religious experience etc. It was fantastic. Just as you thought you’d “gotten everything” about the piece, it allowed you to take a step further into it with a bit more information. It was a fantastic experience, allowing you an even deeper glimpse into the work itself, generating more conversation about it. Marvelous.

John was telling me that some folks at the opening immediately viewed the show as “pornographic” – not based on the subject matter, but on the subjects themselves. I disagree. I could see how one might go that way, with photos of beautiful barely dressed men, but the show is so much more than that – it’s a shame that anyone would stop at that point and refuse to go further. The Catholic imagery takes that a step further – I think depending on how “good” a Catholic you are, it might come across as offensive. (Given that I was delighted with being right about “which” Sacrament it was, jumping up and down yelling, “I was right!!’ you can tell just how “good” I am…) I told John it was like being on a big art game show, trying to figure out where the QR codes would take you – down the rabbit hole indeed. Good art creates controversy.

While we were there the artist stopped by to take some shots of the work (Item: Thing #54424 I love about Toronto – the artist stops by.) and we had a LOVELY chat. Geoff is a warm gracious person, and it’s always great fun to be able to converse with an artist about his work when it’s not opening night and they’re not being pulled to and fro. I will be watching for his work again, and now we’re Facebook friends so that should be easy to do.

Before Geoff stopped by, we were having a lovely conversation with John – about art, art students, the idea of art in a global marketplace, broad far-reaching ideas that funnelled right down to his neighbourhood. It’s always a delight to find someone so supportive to students of art, who wants them to succeed and more importantly is helping them do so, whether it’s through contacts, or school lectures or just plain helping. Even moreso – he just does it. We had a great chat about some of the characters in he neighbourhood, what goes on around his gallery and who he loves Leslieville.

All in all it was a marvelous afternoon of art and ideas and interesting people. I highly recommend you check out Geoff’s work and of course – the gallery.

You may recall that yesterday I supplied a textbook (well, Wikipedia) definition of the word pentimento. Based on that definition, I thought I had a good handle on why the gallery is named that. John zipped upstairs to find a book by Lillian HellmanPentimento – in which she looks back at some of the people who, wittingly or unwittingly, exerted profound influence on her development as a woman and a writer. The reason for the gallery’s name is right on the first page. And here you go. Have a lovely day.

June 9, 2011

I Head East.

I have been a West End Girl for the better part of my Toronto existence, teasing friends about “east of Yonge? What’s that?” and bringing books and water and a snack whenever I go to visit those who live in places with exotic names such as Donlands, Danforth and Pape.

Recently a couple things in the East have piqued my interest, so I thought I’d tell you about one that I’m going to today – the Pentimento Fine Art Gallery. (1164 Queen Street East).  I went there a few weeks ago to see a fantastic show by R. Kelly Clipperton  called Top 30 –  an absolutely stunning array of photos based on  album titles.

It was fantastic and thought provoking and my companion and I argued over which piece we thought was the absolutely best, darting all over the gallery to compare and choose – click here to see some of them. You were also invited to choose your top ten favourites for an upcoming exhibition. I like interactive art like that. And I am very pleased that some of my choices made it into the top 10.

Today I’m going back to see G. Elliot Simpson’s Brotherhood. His artist statement says, “I’m intrigued by how people transform themselves, and how others experience that transformation. And it seems to me such transformation involves as much a self-deception as it does any expression of faith. People think themselves capable of all sorts of acts that are not necessarily possible. Perhaps it’s because there is only so much that a person can experience in the immediacy of one’s existing body. It seems that any further awareness there is to gain must come through distortions to, and at the expense of, the regular public order of ourselves – so that to break out of yourself, you must be willing to break yourself.

I think this sounds fascinating and am looking forward to seeing his work.

I’d never heard of Pentimento until quite recently. When I went I was really delighted with a cool little space, and I wondered what Pentimento meant – it’s “An underlying image in a painting, as an earlier painting, part of a painting, or original draft,  that shows through, usually when the top layer of paint has become transparent with age.” I think this is a perfect name for this space, it’s modern and cool yet full of history from the floorboards to the fantastic little courtyard our back. It’s the type of place that makes you want to have an event just because.

My absolutely favourite thing about the gallery, was one of the gallery owners John S. Rait. John was many people before opening this art gallery, so naturally we had about fifty people in common, but we had never met. He is a lovely, lovely man, funny and friendly and I was glad to meet him.

I highly suggest you check out the exhibition, and most definitely the gallery itself. I love its feel, its character and that quite honestly, it’s an extra work of art on its own with every exhibition that comes through.

May 10, 2011

Will You Be Participating in Culture Days?

Culture Days is returning for its second year on September 30, October 1 and 2. According to the website, Culture Days is  a collaborative pan-Canadian volunteer movement to raise the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of all Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities. A national Steering Committee, together with provincial committees (known as Provincial Task Forces) self-mobilize at the grassroots level to implement concurrent, annual, province-wide public participation events that take place throughout the country over the last weekend of September. The first annual Culture Days event was held in September 2010 in over 700 Canadian cities and towns and, by all accounts, was a great success.

here’s the Globe and Mail article that got me to thinking: Culture Days returns.

One one hand, any access to the arts is a wonderful thing. By being a free event across the country that embraces all disciplines, it allows anyone and everyone to participate in art, maybe try out a skill they’ve always wanted to, or didn’t know they had. And maybe it will ignite an interest in the companies and artists who are participating. Which is what our sweeping goal is right? Maybe it will.

The website has a list of reasons to participate. All of the valid:

As an activity organizer, you can participate in the collective Culture Days movement happening across the country and here are the reasons to do so.

They are all excellent reasons, and excellent means to an end of shining a light on the arts.  It does a lot of good in communities, neighbourhood and towns where art is hidden.So it is valuable.

Personally i am a data geek. I love the stuff. So phrases like “by all accounts was a great success” aren’t enough info for me. Whose accounts? The participants? The public? What is a ‘great success?” It’s one of the challenges of working in the arts – quantifying the qualitative.

My questions are always the ones that would require some analysis. How much work did a company have to do to participate? Did it lead to things like ticket purchases, website hits, magazine subscriptions, social media WOM like tweets and Facebook postings from the public?  Was it worth it?

I’d love to hear from people who did participate, and hear from them what they felt worked, and what they think they got out of participating. Drop me a line or a comment and let me know.

May 8, 2011

So THAT’S why we do it…

Art Can Produce the Same Brain Response as Being In Love

Max ReadArt Can Provoke Same Brain Response as Being in LoveGaze upon this painting—Le Grande Odalisque (“The Big Odalisque”), by the French artist Ingres. What do you think? Is it as fun as looking at your boyfriend? No? It doesn’t matter what you think! Your brain loves it.

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