Posts Tagged ‘art’

new leaves on a tree in the foreground, top part of a house in the background - bright green walls and old window

I went back to Craven Road this morning to see if anything had changed.   The last time I blogged about this street was in November 2016. As with many things in life, some things have changed while other things remain the same.  A quick tour of the street …..

below: Some of the cat paintings are there still.

large painting of a yellow and white cat on canvas stapled to a wood fence, outdoors.

below: These two paintings have been here since at least 2015 although the vines have started to grow over them.  Once the leaves reappear (soon), the paintings won’t be quite so visible.

two small paintings on a wood fence, with vines growing in front of them.

below: The sheep painting by Christine Kowal is still there

picture of sheep on a wood fence

below: On the other side of the fence, backyards on Ashdale.

backyard, reddish two storey house with grey added on back rood

below: There is still a section of the fence that has been decorated with found objects.

many found objects attached to a wood fence, outside,

objects attached to a wood wall, outside, small flag, musical instrument, clock, sign,

below: Parking for pirates only.  It was five past twelve when I took this picture so either it’s a functional clock or I happened past at a very fortuitous time.

a clock and a sign attached to a wall.

below: A creepy doll and boots to watch you.

below: A faded bunny from days gone by, holding a little watering can perhaps to water the metallic leaves?

metal leaf art piece attached to a wood fence, stuffed bunny that is faded and grey also attached to the fence

a stylized figurine, round head on conical body, screwed onto a wood fence and surrounded by a wood frame

below: Part of a collection of found objects in front of a house.   The gallery has expanded!

old objects arranged on a ledge in front of a house

below: Today I met Johnny, the King of Craven Road. He mentioned that he appears in a video about Craven Road so I looked it up (on Vimeo, “Craven Road – Director’s Cut). The video was made five years ago which pre-dates the collection of objects that he’s standing in front of in the photo. If you watch the video, you will see some of the cat, and other, paintings.

a man in tie dyed shirt and red bandana, and holding a can of beer, stands in front of a wall with many objects attached to it.

Johnny in a tie dyed shirt standing on the front steps of a blue house with red trim

below: A door knocker beside a front door.

old rusty white door knocker with metallic green garland beside it

small doorway

below: One of the older houses on the street being renovated.

old white house with screen door slightly ajar, signs in window that are building permits, inside of house is gutted and it is being renovated

below: Grass and dandelions in their own little enclosure.

three white houses in a row

below:  Red and yellow tulips in a small front yard that the fence is having trouble containing.

red tulips and yellow tulips growing in a very small front yard

below: Geraniums in the planters on the fence

small wood flower boxes on a wood fence, with geraniums growing in the boxes

‘Women in Focus’ is the name of a photography exhibit on at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) at the moment.  I want to talk about that exhibit in this blog post but I also want to expand the post to include a few other women at the AGO that caught my eye the other day when I was there.

below: A woman’s portrait by Modigliani and a sculpture of a female form in the room beyond. The latter is “The Leaf”, 1948, by Germaine Richier.  She’s a forlorn figure, standing naked and all alone.

a painting of a woman's head by Modigliano on a gallery wall in a fancy gold frame and a sculpture of a woman in the room beyond

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The ‘Women in Focus, 1920s – 1940s,’ exhibit is fascinating. The history, not only of photography but also of the subject matter, is wonderful. The world was changing. Photography was there to be a part of that change as well as document it. Cameras and processing techniques advanced. Magazines flourished. The way that we looked at the world and at ourselves evolved. Photography became an artform.

below: ‘Hanja Holm with dance group, New York’, around 1938, by Lotte Jacobi. Gelatin Silver print. The photo is actually sepia toned and not as ‘black and white’ as shown here. Hanja/Hanya Holm (1893-1992) was the stage name of a German born choreographer and dancer; she was Johanna Kuntze (nee Eckert) but considered her name “too heavy” for a dancer. She is also considered one of the founders of American modern dance.

photograph from 1938 by Lotte Jacobi, of women dancing, light and shadows on the back wall

below: ‘St. Moritz, Frau Wernod-Gtoffel with a modern film camera’, 1932, by Alfred Eisenstaedt (1898-1995). Eisenstaedt began his career in 1929 with the Associated Press in Germany. Because of the war he emigrated to the USA in 1935 where he became a photographer for ‘Life’ magazine. I love the old camera… and what’s that in her mouth?

old sepia tone photo of a person with an old fashioned movie camera

below: ‘Bewegungsstudie’ (‘Movement Study’) 1926 by Rudolph Koppitz (Austrian, 1884-1936), bromoil print. Koppitz was a leading avant-garde photographer of his time. Bromoil prints are slightly fuzzier than other photographs as the image is produced with an oil based paint.

vintage sepia toned photo of four women moving together, 3 are dressed in long plain dresses and they are close together and supporting a naked woman who has her back arched while she walks (with her head looking backwards)

below: ‘Sea of Ice (Genevieve)’, 1935, by Ilse Bing (1899-1998). Bing was born in Frankfurt Germany. She spent the early part of her career in Paris before moving to the USA in 1941. The exhibit at the AGO includes more of her work (and it’s all good).

anold photo by Ilse Bing of a woman standing on a rock high upon a mountian. She's looking down over the valley below

below: “Good Night Marie’, 1932, by Herbert Bayer (1900-1985). It looks very contrived, doesn’t it? The study of the nude as a photographic skill – getting the skin tones right and all that. Or is it just soft porn?

old photo of a man's hand on a door handle as he opens the door to expose the backside of a nude woman

below: On the left is ‘Colette’, 1939, by Giselle Freund (1908-2000). Colette (1873-1954) was a French author and in this picture she is writing in bed. Her best known book was ‘Gigi’. She was nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. The other picture is a portrait of Virginia Woolf, also a writer, by Man Ray (1890-1976).

framed photographs on a gallery wall

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Vija Celmins was born in Latvia just before the Soviets invaded during WW2.  She emigrated to the USA and settled first in California and then in New York City.  ‘To Fix the Image in Memory‘ is a retrospective of her work at the AGO (until 5th August).  Most of her work is in very muted tones if not shades of grey.

a man in an art gallery is looking closely at a pencil drawing that is hanging on the wall

below:   Five of a series of drawings (there are 6 in the series) of water done in graphite (i.e. pencil).  One is the original and five are copies of it.  These photos are small but I think that you can see that they are of the same waves.   A lot of her work was intense – detailed drawings of water and the desert floor.  She also did a series of drawings and paintings of stars in the sky.

five similar drawings of water

below: A spider web painted in oils on linen. Celmins experimented with pictures of spider webs done in different media on different surfaces.  This was my favorite – muted and slightly blurry.

a painting of a spider web in shades of grey

below: I’ve cheated a bit here…. this is a screenshot of the top part of the results of a google image search on Celmins’ name.  It gives you a much better sense of her work that I can convey.

screenshot of images of artwork by Vija Celmins

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As I was walking towards the exit of the AGO I was still thinking about how women are portrayed in art. I found myself in the ‘religious art’ section of the gallery, from a time in history when the church was a major patron of the arts in Western culture. Apparently, it wasn’t a good time for women. There are plenty of Mary’s either in her virgin mother role or seen weeping at the foot of the cross, but there is a dearth of other women. Ponder that for a while but try not to get too depressed. And while you ponder, here is a photo of a small white statue bathed in light coming through a stained glass window. Mary’s watching over you.

a small white statue of Mary holding the baby Jesus, lit by light coming through a stained glass window behind it

401 Richmond is a renovated industrial building that is now an arts and culture hub; it includes many little galleries. The building was built in stages between 1899 and 1923 for the Macdonald Manufacturing Company who made lithographed tinware such as biscuit tins and containers for tea and  tobacco.

Many of the galleries are participating in the CONTACT Photography Festival and what follows is a selection of what is on display at the moment.  A few non-photography installations have snuck in as well.

One of the galleries is the Red Head Gallery. Their exhibit, titled ‘Pentimento’, is a collection of work by some of their members.    From their website: “The work presented is a diverse commentary on the idea of photography and the definition, role & relevance of the photograph, both directly & indirectly, in the act of image and object making.”

below: ‘Untitled’ by Tonia Di Risio. The photos have been printed on vinyl and then stuck to the gallery wall.

an artwork that is a collage of photos of cookies, tables, and bungalows, stacked on top of each other to make a large tower

below: “Still Life with Paper’ by Jim Bourke

image on a gallery wall, orange table cloth, an open newspaper with illustraion of a woman's head, two partially filled cups of tea, with saucers

below: ‘Process’ by Sally Thurlow is 6 photographs of a demolition and renovation of a house (prompted by a rotting roof) and the upheaval that that causes.   Each little frame is made from something from the job site including Tims cups and yellow caution tape.

Process, and artwork by Sally Thurlow, of photos in a wood frame and each photo is framed with found objects

The word pentimento means “a visible trace of earlier painting beneath a layer or layers of paint on a canvas.”  The last blog post dealt with palimpsest which is erased text that becomes visible and it seems to me that pentimento is very similar, but with pictures not words, paint not ink.

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Urbanspace Gallery, “Further Along the Road”, an exhibit of photos taken on Dupont Street in Toronto, by Eliot Wright.

below: Left: 1220 Dundas St looking west.  Right: 1072 Dundas Street West.  Both photos were taken in July 2016

two photos taken on Dupont street, the one on the right is of 3 old cars parked in a driveway. The other is of signs for taxis and car repair shops

below: Left: CP railline, west of Shaw.  Right top: Creeds coffee bar, 390 Dupont St., taken from the CP tracks, July 2016.   Right bottom: CP rail line west of Dufferin, August 2016

Three photos of trains and train tracks on Dupont Street

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below: Laura Shintani, Bodywashi! at Tangled Art Gallery

art installation that uses strips of plastic shower curtain. The squares in the plastic make the person on the other side appear many times - one each in every square

It’s like a car wash for people although no water is involved.  Strips of translucent plastic (shower curtain material?) hang from the ceiling.   After walking through the plastic you encounter the scene below.

an art installation that looks like the puffy pieces in a car wash

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Gallery 44, “Developing Historical Narratives”

art gallery room with three large canvases on the floor, all wth bright yellow backgrounds

 

below: One of the images in ‘Petro Suburbs’, a series of black and white images by Hajra Waheed, also Gallery 44.   The subject matter is based on old aerial photos of Dhahran Saudi Arabia, a town that the artist grew up in.  It was also a gated town built for Saudi ARAMCO (Arabian American Oil Company).  Dhahran was protected by airbases, both US & Saudi, as well as by the CIA and such.  Access and privacy were strictly controlled and photography and filming were not allowed.

an aerial photo of a U shaped street of suburban houses, surroundings are blacnked out with translucent paper or something similar

 

below: Untitled cyanotypes by Sarah Comfort, part of a series called “More Than This”.

4 cyanotype prints (blue) on a gallery wall

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below: An image by Shelley Wildeman, superimposed people in the hallway.

a photo of a large entrance way, lots of glass, and many people superimposed over each other.

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below: Two pieces by Florence Yee, who introduces herself on her website as: “Florence Cing-Gaai Yee is a queer Cantonese visual artist based in Tkaronto/Toronto and Tiohtià:ke/Montreal.  These hang in the Space Gallery which are windows in the hallway on the ground floor at 401 Richmond.

4 rice clear rice bags with red handles, with embroidery on them, red words that say, she saw me at the grocery store and remembered to get rice

artwork by Florence Yee, a plastic dry cleaners bag hanging on a hanger on a wall with a white fringed piece of cloth inside, on the outside of the bag are the words, They said I was whitewashed by Chinese people only run dry cleaners

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The last of the 401 Richmond galleries that I explored this past week is the Abbozzo Gallery where Patty Maher’s exhibit “The Sky as my Witness ” is now being shown.

below: “The Quiet Storm”

a large photo of a red headed woman, long hair, in a braid, standing on a snow covered road with her back to the camera, in the countryside

below: “Parallel Universe”.  Because we are all just dots in the universe.  The same but different.

close up of a Patty Maher photograph, Parallel Universe, the back of two red headed women, both with large dice on their head, one die per head,

below: “Land Line”.

A Patty Maher photo of a woman standing on a deserted country road with an old rotary phone at her feet, her head has been cropped out of the photo, foggy in the background

The above photo is from a series called ‘The Liminal Field’.  On her website, Maher describes the series thusly: “This staged self portrait series is an exploration of the state of liminality that occurs in midlife.  It is an attempt to symbolically describe the transformation that needs to take place when moving from youth to the second half of life.  The field depicted here is a construct and does not exist in real space.  It has been constructed to indicate a place that is both personal an intangible.  Each photo symbolically depicts an internal struggle that is necessarily part of this transition.”

 

As you can see, there is a a wide selection of images and ideas lurking in the galleries at 401 Richmond.   Most exhibits change over every month or so – so there is always something to see.

Mickalene Thomas was born in 1971 in Camden NJ.  She’s a contemporary African American artist now based in Brooklyn New York who likes to examine how Western art has treated women and beauty.   She celebrates black femininity and sexuality with her artwork – something that has been overlooked (or neglected).

below: Close examination of ‘I Learned the Hard Way’, 2010.  Embellished with rhinestones.

a man is looking at a large painting by Mickalene Thomas of a black woman sitting on a sofa. Two women in the foreground
close up of an artwork by Mickalene Thomas at the AGO, a black woman's legs, seated, crossed at the knee, embellished with rhinestones

below: Part of ‘Qusuquzah Une Tres Belle Negresse’, 2012 showing detail in the blue veil that runs diagonally across her face.

close up of a woman's face from a Mickalene Thomas painting, blue eye shadow, and a blue mesh veil diagonally across her face

below: ‘Living Room Tableaux’ (the seats and carpets) with ‘Los Angelitos Negros’ 2016 in the background.  The latter consists of videos playing on four monitors arranged horizontally.

a mother and young daughter sit on seats in a room at the Art Gallery of Ontario, watching videos by Mickalene THomas as part of her Femmes Noires exhibit

below: Also part of ‘Living Room Tableaux’ but from a different angle.  The painting on the wall is ‘Blues’, 2016 which was influenced by the movie “The Color Purple”.  Whoopi Goldberg (in the painting) was one of the characters in this movie which was based on the novel of the same name written by Alice Walker.   Based in rural Georgia in the early 1900’s,  it is the story of Celie Harris, a young black woman and the struggles that she faces.

furnishings, comfy armchairs and a carpet on the floor, turing a room at the AGO into a livingroom. On a wall in the background is a piece by Mickalene Thomas as a tribute to the Colour Purple

below: ‘Living Room Installation’.  This one is different from the one above – in a different room at the AGO.

people sitting, furnishings, comfy armchairs and a carpet on the floor, turing a room at the AGO into a livingroom, one wall has video (or videos) playing over its entire surface

below: Part of “Portrait of Kalena”, 2017.   The geometric face is a direct reference to the style used by Picasso in some of his work.  Picasso was inspired by the work of African artists so here Thomas is re-appropriating Picasso’s geometric and mask-like shapes.

a portrait of a black woman by Micklene Thomas where the face has been done in a Picasso-like style

Thomas’s website

The exhibit at the AGO ends on 24th March

I’ve decided to put together two exhibits that are on at the moment in one blog post.  The first is ‘Same Dream’ by Omar Ba at the Power Plant Gallery and the second is ‘Reflections of Love’ by a group of photographers next door at one of the  Harbourfront galleries   The two exhibits don’t have a lot in common except the close proximity of the two galleries and the fact that I saw them on the same afternoon last week.

First, Omar Ba was born in 1977 in Dakar Senegal.   He studied art in Dakar and then in Geneva where he now spends part of his time.

below: The large work in the middle of the gallery was painted in place.  That is Jesus on the cross.  The center figure has the word”Horus” painted beside it.  Horus was an Egyptian God who was usually depicted with a falcon’s head on a human body.   The painting depicts “a recurrent motif of birth, death and reincarnation across different cultures today” according to the description of the exhibit on Power Plant’s website .

gallery at Power Plant Contemporary, show of works by Omar Ba, large painting of Jesus and Horus in the middle of the room, a man sitting on a wood bench looking at some of the paintings on the wall

below: ‘Naufrage’ 2014.  Dictators, despots, and authority figures can be seen in many of his paintings, often mixed in with scenes of plants and/or animals.

Naufrage, a painting by African artist Omar Ba on display at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, a black man in uniform peaking out from behind a lot of plants and their stems

below: Similar to the one above, except hear the plants are based on fairly realistic human hearts with black aortas and yellow blood vessels.

Omar Ba painting of a man behind plants with human hearts on top of them

below: Ba’s paintings are full of small details as can be seen in this close-up of part of ‘Autopsie de nos consciences 2’, 2018.   Name the flags?

detail from an Omar Ba pinting, a black man holding an automatic rifle. The butt of the gun is covered with small flags from different countries

below: More details but from a different painting.

close up of a painting by Omar Ba of a boy's face in grey dots, wearing a patterned shirt

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‘Reflections of Love’ is a photography exhibit on at Harbourfront for the month of February that features the work of five artists.

As you enter the gallery, the words on the wall say, “In honor of Black History Month, this thoughtful photography exhibit explores the many forms of love found within our black communities through reflections of self, identity and acceptance. Power within vulnerability and healing can only come through togetherness and conversation. This is a true celebration of exemplified strength in people with deep roots and heritage.”

below: On the back wall, a series of images by Stella Fakiyesi.  Fakiyesi was born in Nigeria and raised in Toronto.

part of art gallery at Harbourfront, wood floors, black bench in the middle, some photos on the two side walls, four large photos on the back wall, a series of four photos by Stella of the same black woman in a number of poses.

part of a photo by Stella Fakiyesi of a black woman, two images superimposed on one another

below: Photo by Sean Brown

photo by Sean Brown of a black woman wearing a green turban, a number of hands are tugging at her ears.

below: Photo by Jah Grey

black and white photo by Jah Grey of a black man holding a large round mirror over his head and in front of his face

below: Two photographs by Quil Lemons

two portraits by Quil Lemons, on the left is a black woman and on the right, three black girls

below: A closer look at the one on the right shows a wonderful tangle of three girls.

a close up of portrait of three girls by Quil Lemons

 

below: Three portraits by Yannick Anton

three photos by Yannick Anton hanging on a gallery wall. All three are portraits of black people with bright yellow backgrounds, one is a father and young son, one is a young girls and one is a young child with parents.

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Happy Valentines Day!

smiley heart on pink wall with red spray paint lines around

Once again, the Distillery District is lighting up the cold winter nights with their LightFest featuring a number of lit art installations.

 

blue lights shine against an exterior brick wall of a restaurant, window - looking in the window you can seen people sitting at a table. A large art installation of a woman's face outline in blue light hovers above the window.

below: The LOVE locks have been enhanced with a cursive band of colour.

a band of blue light writes the word love in cursive, laid on top of a LOVE sign that is covered with locks.

below: There is no fire breathing dragon like there was last year, but there is an enormous 35 foot polar bear standing outside Balzacs.  Apparently it gets lit up later in the evening (or any other time except when I was there?).   He is made from the hoods of old cars and is the creation of Don Kennel.

a sculpture of a very large polar bear standing on its hind feet, in white, with black claws and facial features, distillery district, evening

below: Well, duh, of course it is!  LOL.  There is no context to this picture so you can’t tell that it’s like a large hockey puck, about 4 feet (about 1.2 metres) high if my memory is correct (i.e. it could be a bit higher).

a round white light with words written on it in capital letters, black, Centre of the Universe

below: Some of the installations are just for show (like the rods here) but some are more interactive.  For instance, the ring of orange and yellow lights that you can see in the background are large enough for people to walk through.

below: Another interactive installation is this little stained glass and acrylic enclosure by Taylor Dean Harrison.  When you are inside it looks like you are surrounded by stained glass.  Or, as I overheard one boy call it, lizard skin.

light art installation at Distillery District, like a small tent or hut that you can go inside, tiny triangle of colour, by artist Taylor Dean Harrison, looks like stained glass

artwork featuring tiny triangle of colour, by artist Taylor Dean Harrison, looks like stained glass. Close up detail shot

As usual, this is only a taste of what it there.  You can explore the works of 30 different artists at the Distillery District until the 3rd of March.

 

below: ‘The Encompassing’ by street artist Javid (aka JAH) stands in one of the reflecting pools between the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum.   This is one of a number of pieces on display.  Each is painted on reclaimed corrugated metal.  They are an examination of the geometry in Islamic patterns and architecture.  His work will remain on display until the 31st of October.

a painting called The Encompassing stands in a reflecting pool in front of the Aga Khan Museum.

below: On the other side of the above painting, is this one – “Beyond”, also by Javid.  The Ismaili Centre is in the background with its large pale blue dome over the prayer room.

A painting in blue, pink, and purple, of stars, by Jacid Jah, in a reflecting pool with the Ismaili Centre behind it

 below: The large wood beams that cover the entrance to the Ismaili Centre were being re-stained this morning.

a pick up truck and a lift in front of the entrance to the Ismaili Centre, workmen are re-staining the large wood beams that support the glass roof.

The Toronto Ismaili Centre is one of 6 around the world.  It was designed by Indian architect Charles Correa and opened in 2014.  If you go on the tour of the inside of the Ismaili Centre, you will see a building that is filled with natural light, as well as natural woods and stone.

below: A calligraphy based medallion made of stone is on a white wall.  The Arabic word ‘allah’ is in the center and surrounding it are the ninety nine attributes of God, written in Arabic.

chairs and sofa in a large room, on grey carpet, most of floor is polished stone, medallion of stone on the white wall.

below: A closer look at the wall.  It took two men, a father and son, fourteen months to carve the design into this wall and a matching wall on the other side of the room.  They worked six days a week .  The arabesque design was penciled on using a stencil and then carved by hand.

carved white wall, plaster

below: A second medallion is on a wall across the room from the one above (on the other wall that was carved).

medallion of stone, calligraphy, arabic, on a white wall

Crossing back past the reflecting pools to the Aga Khan Museum….

below: Another Javid Jah painting, this time “The Manifest”.   (To the left, you can see a metal sculpture called “Big Heech” ).   Like all of Jah’s paintings here, this one is based on geometry.  The basic shape here is a pentagon (sacral chakra) and it is seen on the floor.  This type of archway is called a muqarna and it is unique to muslim architecture.  Here the shape of the indentations in the muqarna are based on the pentagon.

a painting called The Encompassment stands in a reflecting pool in front of the Aga Khan Museum.  Painted by Javid Jah, blue arch over red entranceway

The “Big Heech” is the work of Parviz Tanavoli, made from stainless steel in 2014.   It is derived from the Persian word for “nothingness” and it is an important word in Perian Sufism.

“Emperors and Jewels: Treasures of the Indian Court from the Al-Sabah Collection in Kuwait”, is a temporary exhibit at the Aga Khan Museum featuring artworks and historical objects from the treasuries of Mughal emperors.  The Mughal Empire ruled most of present day Pakistan and India in the 16th and 17th centuries.   The Mughals were Muslim but the majority of the population were Hindu.

below: Part of a larger picture depicting a hunting scene, reproduced and enlarged especially for the exhibit.

part of a painting at the Aga Khan museum of a moghul ruler on a horse in a hunting scene

below: Three glass bottles

on display at the Aga Khan Museum, 3 glass bottles, rounded bottoms and narrow tops, one is marroon, one is teal and the last is royal blue

below: Two fish joined to make a circle, a standard.  From India, late 18th century.   Made from silver.  There are many myths and symbols that feature fish.  In Hindu tradition, the fish was associated with Brahma and Manu, a progenitor of mankind.  In addition, one myth is that a fish was believed to hold up the globe.

on display at the Aga Khan Museum, two fish joined in a circle, a standard, for the top of a pole

below: A portrait of Nawab Bairam Khan, painted around 1710-40, watercolour and gold on paper.  He is pictured in profile, sitting alone in his peaceful garden.

on display at the Aga Khan Museum, a painting, portrait of Nawab Bairam Khan, painted around 1710 to 1840, watercolour and gold on paper, scene is a man sitting on a carpet, under a tent roof, leaning on a large pink pillow

below: Knife with jade handle carved in the shape of a horse head and neck.

on display at the Aga Khan Museum, a metal knife iwth a jade handle that is carved into the shape of a horse head and neack, decorated with gold bridle