Posts Tagged ‘galleries’

Each year the CONTACT Photography Festival spotlights a few artists.  This year, Carrie Mae Weems is one of them.  As I’ve walked around Toronto the past month I have tried to check out all the place where Weems’s work is on display.

below: On Spadina, just north of King is a large portrait of Mary J. Bilge (singer and actor) in red with the title “Anointed”.  In the photo, Bilge is being crowned by Weems.

a large red photo of a woman being crowned, sitting in profile, the word anointed is written in large letters on the picture. Mounted on the side of a red brick building

below: A small pink photo of a girl in the parking lot that is adjacent to the building where the above photo is mounted.  The marks on the girl’s face are problems with the display case, not with the photo.

a pink and black photo of a girl's head, on a small display in a parking lot, with a Huawei ad behind it. Ad features that head of a model

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below: At the Contact Gallery, 80 Spadina Avenue, part of ‘Blending the Blues’ which is collection of images from a few different projects that Weems has done over her thirty year career.  The picture shown here is “Untitled” 2017.

detailed picture of a woman sitting at a table with lots of things around her, on the table, behind her, and in front of the table, by Carrie mae Weems, the photo is only in blues and black

below: From ‘Blue Notes” 2014-2015 which involves blue toned images of people with coloured rectangles obscuring part of their faces.   The picture on the right is a copy of the Booking Sheet for Sandra Bland who was charged with assaulting a public servant (i.e. police officer) in July 2015.  She was died in police custody a three days later.

park of an exhibit in a gallery showing the picture of a black boy with a large red rectangle acros his face, beside it is an enlargement of the arrest record of a black man in Ferguson Missouri

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“Scenes and Take”, 2016, is composed of two large photos (“Director’s Cut” and “The Bad and the Beautiful” below) on the outside walls of the TIFF Bell Lightbox at the corner of King West and Widmer Streets.  Each photograph is accompanied by text which reads as a summary for movie.  For instance, the text for “The Bad and the Beautiful” starts as “The Plot: Bright and beautiful, a young would-be starlet in Hollywood seeking fame and fortune.  Along the way, she encounters erroneous assumptions, bad luck, and dangerous men.”

large photo on a wall outside, of a woman in a long black dress, back to camera, one hand on door sill as she stands in open doorway, by Carrie Mae Weems

The photos are of Weems as a muse, or the embodiment of the black female gaze.  She places herself on the set of ‘Scandal’, a series created by Shonda Rhimes and starring Kerry Washington.

two large photos mounted on two walls that meet at the corner of King West and Widmer, two people walking them including a woman in a head scarf

‘Slow Fade to Black’, 2010,  is a series of large posters on King Street West near Metro Hall – black performers slowly fading from fame and memory.   They address the representation of Black women in popular culture

series of large panel photos by Carrie Mae Weems, Slow Fade to Black, each photo is a person or a face that is blurry, done with one colour on black

‘Slow Fade to Black’ was also the name of a book subtitled, the Negro in American Film 1900-1942 written by Thomas Cripps and published in 1977.

two men walk past two large photos on King Street, Slow Fade to Black photo by Carrie Mae Weems, one is blue and black and the other is burgundy and black

Performers, all black women, portrayed in this series: Katherine Dunham, Koko Taylor, Eartha Kitt, Abbey Lincoln, Dinah Washington (twice), Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Bassey, Josephine Baker (twice), Mahalia Jackson, Leontyne Price, and Nina Simone.

people sitting in a streetcar with their back to the window, can see large photo on exhibit on opposite sidewalk through the windows of the streetcar

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And last, at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery (the Art Museum at the University of Toronto), is ‘Heave’.  From the gallery’s website, “multi-part installation Heave combines photography, video, news media sampling, as well as ephemera to probe the devastating effects of violence in our life and time. The complex installation explores the spectacle of violence in our contemporary lives relocating this present within sustained histories of conflict and uprising.”

a collection of pictures on the wall and Life magazines on a table, part of Heave, an exhibit by Carrie Mae Weems at University of Toronto art museum and gallery

living room furniture arrangement as part of a gallery exhibit, heave, by carrie Mae Weems

4 people watching a video on a large screen, one person is standing while 3 people are sitting on a bench with their backs to the camera

A return to St. Helens Avenue and the galleries there.

A few galleries devoted to contemporary art can be found on St. Helens Ave.  I know that I have mentioned some of their past exhibits in previous blog posts.  Exhibits change and so back we go.   The three exhibits that I saw today have little in common with each other.  Three artists with different views; three men trying to turn their thoughts and ideas into something visual.  The first gallery that I visited today is the Clint Roenisch Gallery where the exhibit is “Hot Takes, No Sax”, by Torontonian Niall McClelland.   It will be there until 21st April.

From Wiktionary: “Noun[edit]. hot take (plural hot takes). A bold, broad, and subjective moral generalization on a situation, with little or no original analysis or insight, especially by a journalist.”   Something written quickly and without much thought put into it.   Although some people associate it with journalism, you could also apply it to a lot of things online – think about the comments section after a news article, or something on your facebook or twitter feed.   Sometimes I think that that expression applies well to contemporary art – thrown together to provoke but not much actually went into it.

below: Running diagonally across the room is a line of trunks and metal cases that are covered with bumper stickers.  On the wall are 4 images, each with a black and white background.  The frames are covered with more bumper stickers.  This is only part of the exhibit.

room in an art gallery, a line of trunks runs diagonally across the room, they are covered with bumper stickers.

below: These are the three images on the wall in the photo above.  The frame on one side of the image on the left has the names of four American politicians from the not so recent past – Nixon, Goldwater, McGovern, and Carter.  Some of the images may be familiar to you as well.

three pictures on a gallery wall, in black and white checkerboard backgrounds, blue images on that. Artist is Niall McClelland

below: More of the stickers.  Is there a theme to them?  How do these relate to hot takes?   Which side is the artist on?  “Urban farmer”, “When you sit down for dinner, thank a farmer”, “Impeach Trump”, “Give a hoot”, “The times they are a changin”, “Be green”, “Bio fuels: no war required”, “Who’s your farmer?”, “I’d rather be gardening”, “Nasty woman”, “Break the chains, shop at independent stores”,  “Saving seed is a basic human need”, “Localvore”,  “Whatever happens to the water, happens to the people”, “What is the proper way to fold an anarchist flag?”

sticker covered metal cases on the floor of an art gallery with a picture on the wall behind, the work of Niall McClelland at the Clint Roenisch gallery

Next is Douglas Coupland’s “Tsunami” at Daniel Faria Gallery, until 28th April.  Trashy in a certain way.  Coupland has collected, cleaned and painted various plastic containers and other disposable items he found along the shore in British Columbia.  A number of the items probably crossed the Pacific Ocean after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011. Trash on display?  We’ve all heard the expression “reduce, reuse, recycle” which may be facetious here?  Is it too pretty to be a statement about the environmental impact of plastics?

plastic containers and other items found washed up on the shore of British Columbia, cleaned up and painted and put in sealed clear plastic boxes, art gallery exhibit, artis is Douglas Coupland

below: The large gold piece is a collection of more debris that Coupland has amassed and painted.  Another one,  all in black, is on a different wall (not shown here).

plastic containers and other items found washed up on the shore of British Columbia, cleaned up and painted and put in sealed clear plastic boxes, art gallery exhibit, artis is Douglas Coupland, with large structure behind made of gold painted containers and other items

This spring, Coupland will transform the Vancouver Aquarium into a vision of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by filling aquarium tanks with some of the trash that Coupland has collected – by some I mean 20 tons of it.  Twenty tons of found rubbish.  Twenty tons of plastic and other debris.   Jet streams will simulate ocean currents and the garbage will “float, bounce, disperse and gather along the tank, fragments flowing into one another like an overwhelming and exhausted assemblage”.

below: Tucked away in the back room of the gallery are four paintings like this, also by Douglas Coupland.

part of a Douglas Coupland painting, with a black and white picture of a man's face in the center of swirls of colours. Apainting by Douglas Coupland

 

Part three is the exhibit “Raw War” by Bruce Eves that is on at the Robert Kananaj Gallery until 21st April. Eves was just given one of the 2018 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts.

“taps into a zeitgeist fraught with peril”

below: Part of Work #901 by Bruce Eves.  There are seven panels in total.  Every hour for a week in February 2014 he took his heart rate.  The numbers in the squares are his heart rate.  It’s difficult to see in this picture, but each square also has the date and time.  In addition, each panel is a day.   Something happened on Friday February 14th at 16:00 to elevate his heart rate to 123 beats/minute!

Part of a set of 7 paintings by Bruce Eves on a gallery wall, each painting is squares with numbers in them. The numbers are Eves' heart rate taken every hour for a week.

Eves has also painted a sequence of numbers that are actually nine blood pressure readings.  It was after he learned that he had a heart condition that Eves started using his health (and the monitoring thereof) as subject matter.   A self-portrait based on data about oneself, so to speak.  How his doctor sees him.

A few things to think about?

(P.S. My apologies for the title)

 

There are a few exhibits showing at the Ryerson Image Centre at the moment but the one that I want to highlight today is “Rich and Poor” by Jim Goldberg.  Goldberg took portraits of people in the San Francisco area in their home environments between 1977 and 1985.  They are divided into two sections, “rich” and “poor”.

Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) gallery, Jim Goldberg portraits "Rich and Poor' exhibition of black and white portraits in San Francisco in the 1980s

below: Each portrait is accompanied by a comment from the person being portrayed, in their own handwriting.  This woman, Nell, provides the wonderful quote: “If you want to stunt your growth, be rich.”

Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) gallery, Jim Goldberg portraits "Rich and Poor' exhibition of black and white portraits in San Francisco in the 1980s

below: The pictures are fascinating, and the words reveal more details of the subjects.  “My wife is acceptable”.   The poor woman.  In the picture she is off to the side and almost disappears into the background as she looks at the floor.   I thought of the words ‘abject’ and ‘woeful’ when I first saw her but I think that maybe the best word to describe the look on her face is ‘blank’.

Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) gallery, Jim Goldberg portraits "Rich and Poor' exhibition of black and white portraits in San Francisco in the 1980s

below: Whether you’re rich or poor, or more likely some where in between, what you say about yourself if you were the subject?

Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) gallery, Jim Goldberg portraits "Rich and Poor' exhibition of black and white portraits in San Francisco in the 1980s

This show continues until April 8th

This post is subtitled ‘Staying Cool on a Hot Hot Day’.  When the temperatures are into the 90’s (old style) and the humidity makes the air thick, walking streets and alleys is not very comfortable.  Instead I took refuge in air conditioned arty places.  With the help of the (mostly) air conditioned TTC I only needed to take a few steps outside.

below: At one point I walked through an air conditioned building rather than going outside.  This is what I found there. ‘August 6, 1945’ by Matthew Day Jackson.  Moments after I pulled my camera out of my backpack, a security guard appeared.  I was sure that once again I was going to get the “this is private property” talk but instead we ended up discussing the work and how it is displayed.

It is constructed of four panels and it’s very heavy.  The base is made of lead; you can see the lead where Lake Ontario is.  It is attached to the wall with 18 very long bolts and each bolt is wired to an alarm.

map of toronto made of charred wood and lead, meant to resemble the city after an atomic bomb, large, made by Matthew Day Jackson, hanging on a wall behind a metal railing.

below:  Looking a bit more closely at it you can see that it is a map of Toronto.  As you might have surmised,  the title is a reference to the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima by the USA during WW2.    This isn’t just any map of Toronto, it’s an aerial view of a burnt out city after a nuclear explosion.  It is one in a series of cities given similar treatment, all with the same title.

detail of the islands and downtown area of map of toronto made of charred wood and lead, meant to resemble the city after an atomic bomb, large, made by Matthew Day Jackson

From the effects of man made death to the life enhancing effects of nature….

below: A few steps outside took me past the Gardiner Museum where I noticed that the front garden was redone about a year ago.  ‘Vertical Crevice Garden’ was designed and donated by landscape artist Neil Turnbull.  From the Gardiner museum website, a quote by the artist: “When the massive forces of continental drift push against layers of sedimentary rock, they cause it to crack, break, and rise. Over centuries, through exposure to wind, sun, and the freeze-thaw cycle, the layers split open. These fissures and crevices collect rain, dust, and an array of windblown bits like seeds and spores; plants take root, and life takes hold.”

limestone rocks arranged on a slant in a garden, stripes of red rock and grey rock, all just a few inches off the ground

below: When walking past the Gardiner Museum, one can’t help but notice the striped head.  It’s actually called ‘Untitled’ (why do artists do that?) and it’s by Jun Kaneko, 2002.  It’s made of glazed ceramic and galvanized steel.   Before heading underground at Museum subway station I took a few minutes to try to take a ‘pretty’ picture of the head.  The plants in the garden next door haven’t quite grown up enough to hide that ghastly table that the head sits on.  I have always wondered why the museum chose such a mundane bland platform for the sculpture but now that I look at it again I wonder if it’s possible that the table is actually part of the artwork.  Could it be?

large striped head sculpture on a table, outside, by Jun Kaneko, old building behind it, lavender and other plants growing in front of it.

below:  A photograph in the doorway of a gallery caught my eye.  The picture below is not the one in the doorway, but one that was hanging on a wall inside that I liked even more.  ‘Paris Rooftops 4’ by Michael Wolf.  It is 48″ x 68″ and is a chromogenic print (full-colour silver-based photograph), edition of 9.   To buy it will set you back $22,000 but looking is free – check out more of Michael Wolf’s work on the Bau-Xi gallery website.

picture of a photograph by Michael Wolf of Paris rooftops. Concrete grey with lots of lines of little terra cotta chimneys

below: A man with a camera stares at a painting on a gallery wall.  ‘Watching’ 2010, (26 inches high) by Tom Campbell on the left and ‘Brown Trail #7’ 2016 by Shi Le, a Toronto based landscape artist.  These are at the other Bau-Xi gallery (the non-photography one)

a small sculpture of a man holding a camera is placed in an art gallery such that he seems to be looking at a painting on the wall.

below: Three paintings by NUBARR Gallery, a collection of the works of Armenian-Canadian painter Noubar Sabag (Noubar Sabbaghian) 1920-2006.   These, and others by the same artist, are on show at the Art Square Cafe & Gallery but unfortunately I just learned that today is the last day.

a woman in a floppy black hat is taking pictures of three paintings hanging on a gallery wall.

below:  How many people try to paint pictures like this?  How many people sell such paintings, not to mention have them hang in the Art Galley of Ontario?  But they aren’t Robert Motherwell.      So I ponder on the age old question of what makes a piece of art valuable or collectable?  Is the AGO (and other galleries) collecting paintings or names?  Motherwell painted this in numerous variations – a few changes in colour, a slight change in the lines.  Cheating?  Or brilliant marketing?  One for every gallery of note? This is Motherwell’s ‘Untitled (In Orange with Charcoal Lines)’ c1970.  There’s that “untitled” again, the most popular name for an artwork.

all orange with 3 black lines that form three sides of a square, top line of the square is missing. It's a picture of a painting by Robert Motherwell in an art gallery

My last stop of the afternoon was at the photography exhibit by Thomas Ruff at the AGO.  Part of the exhibit was a few large photographs of stars,  ‘Sterne’.  Large pictures of stars in the night sky were made from negatives that Ruff bought from the European Southern Observatory in Chile in 1989.

below:  They are difficult to look at, or rather it is difficult to what is the picture because the blackness of the photograph creates a mirror when placed behind glass.   This is me taking a picture of the picture – me plus the picture on the opposite wall plus the lights and light fixtures in the ceiling plus a table plus another person in the room plus a few white spots that are stars.

large photograph of the night sky, lots of stars and blackness. The black acts like a mirror and parts of the gallery are reflected in the picture.

below: ‘Walking Away, Walking Through the Universe’ a manipulation of a manipulation.

a reflection of two people walking hand in hand as seen reflected in a photograph of stars in the black night sky

below:  One last photo.  Let’s end this on a positive note and give Thomas Ruff credit for some interesting work.   These two pictures are part of his press++ series where he has taken old photos used in print medium and merged the front (picture) and back (words and markings) of the print into one.

a woman is standing in an art gallery and she is looking at two large pictures on the wall.

Thomas Ruff, Object Relations, at the AGO until 1 August 2016