THE MAKING OF A MULTIPLE

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Friday nights at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre was a staple for me in university. I’d travel down with friends from York University, dance the night away and end up taking the ‘vomit commit’ back to residence. Those nights, in the early 90’s, were special and provided my first feelings of belonging in my coming out years. Later, I started seeing theatre there, and to this day I make my way over to see as many shows as I can. So, when Francisco Alvarez called this September to ask if I would create this year’s art multiples for ARTATTACK!, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s annual fundraising art auction, he barely finished asking, when I said YES!

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We decided on the Church Wellesley Village as a starting point and I knew it should be colourful. I had made ‘Lemon Go-Round’ earlier this year, so I wanted to pull some inspiration from that. It was also important to highlight some of the green spaces in the area and i realized there are many important place in the area that have helped to share the village into what it is today. The plan was that each of the twenty pieces would be hand embellished with at least 25 difference and I would hide the word ‘LOVE’ in a different place in each one.

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It didn’t take long to get the original art completed. There were lots of bright colours and it felt really playful. I kept thinking about all the vibrant characters I’ve met at Buddies through the years. I’ve met interesting creatvies, thoughtful writers, hip staff, and really talented performers, as well as dedicated players behind the scenes. It felt like all these personalities help to give shape to the artwork. While the painting is a view of the area from above, woven through it are lots of fanciful faces and kooky things going on. Oh, the Shenanigans!

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The original is 20×20 and was brought to Dimitri Levanoff at Image Foundry to create a high resolution scan and to make prints. Dimitri was a great help with deciding on paper and how to make the work look best as a print. The prints are 16×16 with a one inch border. We decided on a Hahnemühle bright white paper which really makes the whites pop and using gouache for the embellishment makes it almost impossible to see where new elements have been added.

As you can see in the video above, I had a lot of fun hand embellishing each print. It took me a bit longer than anticipated, but the final images are really great and something of which I am proud. The community has be been very kind to me through the years, so giving back feels good.

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While it is publicized there are over twenty-five differences in each piece, I got a little carried away and that number is probably closer to two hundred. When looking at the images in rapid sequence they look like a short piece of animation.

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Sonja Scharf and Kelly Kyle and their team at Akasha Art Projects on Church Street have framed each of the twenty artworks. I have worked this dynamic duo on many projects and they always do an amazing job of making my art look fabulous. The white border and  white frame makes for a clean and crisp presentation and was a perfect choice. Sonja and Kelly are huge supporters of the arts, the LGBTQ community and, important causes so it has been a special pleasure to work with them for ARTATTACK!

Giving new work a name is always fun and can sometimes be challenging. A big thanks to my partner, Rick, who took a look at it and called it JUICY FRUITS!  A very fitting name indeed.

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Some of my favourite places in downtown Toronto are included in this painting. If you look you can find Church Wellesley Village (look for the pride flag), Allen Gardens, Ryerson Image Centre, Ryerson Univerity Toronto City Hall, Queens Park, The Art Gallery of Ontario, Dundas Square, the former Maple Leaf Gardens, The Carlu, The Eaton Centre, The Royal Ontario Museum, University of Toronto campus, the 519, Barbara Hall Park, Nathan Phillip Square, Ontario College of Art and Design University, Grange Park, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Gardiner Museum, Akasha Art Projects, Hart House, Moss Park, Old City Hall and many more…

Lastly, I was delighted to hear the day after Juicy Fruits became available, Buddies had already sold half of the limited edition multiples. Currently, there are only five left. If you are interested in getting one and in supporting Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, you can find out more on the ARTATTACK! website.

ARTATTACK! live auction will be held on Thursday, November 10th, 2016 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander Street.  Find out more about the event, participating artists and get your tickets here.

I hope to see you there!

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OWL RIDGE ACRES: Artist Residency

OWL RIDGE BARNIn the Autumn of 2014 I received a commercial commission for a large painting to be installed in a new condo building in Toronto’s redeveloping Regent Park neighbourhood. The canvas, measuring 60×120, was too big for my Toronto studio, so I connected with a fellow artist, Joey Bruni, who had recent bought seventy acres of property in Bancroft, Ontario. Bruni is ambitious! He is turning the six bedroom farmhouse into artist accommodations and the barn into multi-purpose studio spaces. The entire space has become a hub for local artists with events throughout the year. Artists, writers, and musicians are invited to stay and work on projects, participate in skill sharing and even pay for part of their stay with a farm work program.

I spend most of the early winter there, helping to prepare the farmhouse for guests, peeling off wallpaper, painting walls, piling up wood and feeding an outdoor furnace that heated the house while Joey was away. The furnace became affectionately known as Baby because it had to be fed twice a day; in the morning and in the evening before bed. Failing to do so resulted in the fire going out and having to get the outhouse-sized furnace going again. This is not fun at 11pm or 6 am.

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I worked on the commission most days, walking the three kilometers into town by foot or with the neighbor, Bam (yes, that is really his name), in his truck. Because the barn wasn’t ready for artists yet, I was using a space in town called A Place For The Arts. It is an artist collective made of some of the most interesting people I’ve met in my life. It is full of creativity, love for the arts, spirit, enthusiasm and a fair helping of country wisdom. Cidiots, they call those from the city, but it wasn’t long before I fit in… well, almost.  I will share some particularly interesting stories in future posts including learning to make tintypes with photographer Don Wilson,  stories of Yurt-life with Harold and Dianne Eastman, and painter Tracey Lee Green’s joy of ‘ditch fishing‘.

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In addition to the commission work, I wanted to respond to the local community.  Since it was hunting season when I arrived, I worked on some small projects to responded to this local rural pastime. Hunting proved to be fertile ground for creative output.

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REGENT PARK 60×120 Acrylic on canvas. 2014

February came around quickly enough and I was due back in Toronto for other work so we shipped back the painting to be installed and bid my new winter friends farewell.

I am planning to return again in January to work on a couple video projects. One uses drones and the other is part of an installation using footage of nature with glitched video. If you are visiting or passing through Bancroft in January, please send me an email.

You can find out more about Owl Ridge Acres, the artist residency and other programs by visiting the website. To learn about A Place for the Arts, please contact them through their Facebook Page.

 

The Poetry of Being There: Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

leslie lohman 3Having an institution dedicated to archiving, exhibiting and promoting gay and lesbian art is good for an international city, particularly one with established visual art and queer communities.  These spaces are the nexus where bodies from both camps gather to create opportunities for creative synergy, spotlight their hereos and, in many ways, offer a place to call home. Such is the theme of On the Domestic Front: Scenes of Everyday Queer Life, on now at The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York.

I had an opportunity to stop in and capture interactive 360 panoramic images of the exhibition, curated by James M Saslow, author of Pictures and Passion: A History of Homosexuality in the Visual Arts. I think I was listening to Bon Iver during my visit… so feel free to press play below and virtually wander through the gallery with me.

 

On the images below, pan left and right using your cursor or zoom in and out as needed. For best results, view this on your iPhone or iPad and activate the gyroscope icon to get the full effect of The Poetry of Being There.  ~Enjoy!

 

 

 

The exhibition is divided into three main chapters: At Home, At Play and At Work. On their own, some of the artworks in the exhibition objectify and sexualize the nude so I appreciated Saslow reframing them as illuminations of the domestic life of LGBT people. In At Home we begin with a much needed recess from tropes of virile recreation and political activism. Far away from the madding crowd, two figures sit on their living room sofa, quietly reading, while other couples shower and brush their teeth. This reframing could easily be viewed of as hetero-nomalizing queers and queer culture which seem to be part of Saslow’s intent, but the exhibition sharply turns, confronting us with the harsh reality of HIV/AIDS which swept though the community. On show are images of the impact HIV/AIDS had and has on so many – at home and at play.

 

 

I wonder if the narrative of this exhibition pushes toward ‘blending in’ or is it presenting queer life as a very real and distinct part of a greater whole? Are we the same? Are we different? Are we different, but equal? Is queer domesticity asking to finally put to bed the issues of equality so we can live unpoliticized lives and raise children like everyone else? As lesbian, gay and trans people become more accepted and ubiquitous does queer culture run the risk of disappearing? As long as there are fifty-shades-of-beige suburban housewives who desperately want their hair pulled, I don’t think so.

 

 

Something I noticed quickly in this exhibition is the scarcity of racial and gender diversity. This is still common in LGBTQ visual art history exhibitions. They are often heavily loaded with white gay cis-male images and only sprinkled with trans people and people of colour. In a time when diversity and inclusions is at the forefront of LGBTQ cultural discussions, I would have liked to have seen more balanced representations of queer personal life. As is, the exhibition seems to set its parameters in a specific place and time: New York, just before, during and after the AIDS crisis of the mid-80s. I do not fault the museum or the curator. Like the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, I suspect much of the objects, images and ephemera collected and donated comes from the white gay cis-male community. As such, this abundance of material gets reflected in what is exhibited. This said, the exhibition is not whitewashed. There are racial and gender considerations and some effort made to mine the 24000 objects in the musuem collection. A daunting task to distill, I’m sure. When I curated Queering Space this summer, it was a chore to get my hands on many of the objects and, even then, many were not allowed to be put on public view. boo-urns!

 

 

I did enjoy the use of wall partitions as a way to divide the exhibition’s chapters and the clever use of hand-printed faux 50s cinematic wallpaper design to reflect each section. The time alone it must have taken to manually apply the step-and-repeat icons should be applauded. A for effort!

If you are in New York or visiting the city, On the Domestic Front: Scenes of Everyday Queer Life runs until December 6th with a number of talks and tours scheduled with an impressive list of speakers. The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art is located at 26 Wooster Street in Soho.

 

Third Annual 10×10 Exhibition Photographers Announced

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The 10×10 Photography Project returns to the Gladstone Hotel this year. The 100 portrait exhibition will feature work by Belle Ancell, Lise Beaudry, Bruno Billio, Paul Dymond, Lynne Fox, Stev’nn Hall, Anthony Manieri, R. Jeanette Martin, Adam Moco and Walter Segers. The exhibition runs June 18 to July 14, 2013 with a reception on Thursday, June 27th at 7pm. This year the book that accompanies the exhibition will be designed by Chris Moore with an introduction by Sophie Hackett. For foll exhibition and programming details, visit the website.

Appointed Co-curator of Church Street Murals

PrintI’ve been selected as one of two curators for the Church Street Mural Project. Together with co-ocurator Syrus Marcus Ware, I will oversee 12 murals coming to Toronto’s Church Street Village in 2013 to help beautify the neighbourhood in preparation for World Pride in 2014. This legacy project, stewarded by the Church Wellesley Village  BIA, aims to depict the history and heroes of Church Street and illustrate key moments in Canada’s LGBTI civil rights movement. For more information, visit the website.

TweetChat: PUBLIC ART

I am co-hosting an Akimbo TweetChat with Jacquie Severs from The Robert McLaughlin Gallery on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 1pm EST. This month’s topic will be: PUBLIC ART.  More info…

24 Hour Artathon

 

Next Friday I’ll be joining other artists for a 24 ARTATHON. The 24 hour event will raise money for publication costs of the 10X10 Photography Project book, launching June 28th at the exhibition opening at the Gladstone Hotel. Proceeds of the sale of the 10X10 book go back into the project to help pay for future exhibitions..

Please visit the 10X10 website for more details or pledge me in person at the event!