Monthly Archives: March 2017

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URBAN GALLERY HOSTS ANNUAL CENTENNIAL COLLEGE ART SHOW FOR 1ST YR “STUDIO ARTS” PROGRAM STUDENTS

Another wonderful afternoon of celebrating emerging Canadian artists took place at Toronto’s URBAN GALLERY as students from the Centennial College Studio Arts program opened their 2 week exhibition of multi-media works. FEVER showcases 25 emerging artists who explore the frontiers deeply submerged within the box.20170325_140117Under the guidance of Program Coordinator Prof. David McClyment, the 1st year students enjoyed their first professional gallery experience including meeting media and schmoozing with art fans, friends and family who came out to support them.  20170325_132850 20170325_132839 20170325_13294720170325_140615 20170325_133112 20170325_133128Here’s Prof. McClyment (below L) with some of his student artists…20170325_14054920170325_145227The unique and provocative work by Priscilla Koopman attracted many new fans, including Jenny Huddy, a visitor from Australia who is pictured (below R) with Priscilla (L)20170325_142837

20170325_133048 20170325_133053Here’s Matthew Oakes who proudly posed alongside his work….20170325_140325Another favourite was this unique double sided painting and clay sculpture self-portrait of Joy who attracted a lot of camera attention…20170325_132918 20170325_141531 20170325_14393220170325_143905And so many more wonderful artworks to view….20170325_140034 20170325_141102(0)Urban Gallery’s curator Allen Shugar (below R) chatted with the students….20170325_140059…and gallery director Calvin Hambrook (below R) greeted artists and their guests at the front door…20170325_140449The reception was catered by the adjoining UrbanSource Catering…oooh yummm!20170325_140409Congratulations to Prof. McClyment and his students on a great show…20170325_150158 20170325_140112You have until April 1st to visit and support these emerging stars of the Canadian art world. For gallery hours, visit:  www.urbangallery.caFever Image CENTENNIAL COLLEGE March 2017

POST SCRIPT: There was big excitement for one young artist – Dara Collins – when her beautiful mixed-media (with tiny twinkling lights) of a mountain scene called “Unrefined Illusions” was sold at the end of the opening reception. The buyer was art lover David Currah from Fife House.  Bravo and congratulations to Dara – pictured below with her artwork.UNREFINED ILLUSIONS Dara Collins -sold

 

Flowers to go

ONLY 7 WEEKS UNTIL MOTHER’S DAY AND NO CLUE WHAT TO BUY THAT SPECIAL LADY? HERE’S THE PERFECT SOLUTION!

“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment.  I want to give that world to someone else.” (artist Georgia O’Keefe)

Sadly, my own mum passed away back in 1988 so each year when Mother’s Day comes around, I try not to notice all the emotionally-manipulative advertising and soppy movies on TV featuring mums and their wayward kids who finally come home. But this year, I’m especially motivated to acknowledge the annual celebration of all things maternal thanks to author Debra Usher and her lovely new book The Love of Flowers which makes an ideal gift for that mum who has everything….and doesn’t need any more chocolates, lace handkerchiefs or designer spatulas!arabellaMailercopycopyThe 450-page full colour, hardcover book is full of glorious images of flowers –  over a thousand photos of original artwork from esteemed Canadian artists, plus a few celebrity US painters including TV and movie star, Jane Seymour (yes, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman herself!) – here’s her contribution to the book:23. Jane SeymourThe Love of Flowers is a special collectors’ edition of contemporary art that recaptures the beauty of flowers. Once a dominant theme in the history of art – the centrepiece of works by Luc Tuyman, Matisse, and Van Gogh – the celebration of flowers in art and their power to inspire and move us has somehow been overshadowed by other themes. Yet in our daily lives these creations of nature are still the center-piece of our very special moments: Happy Birthday, Congratulations, Happy Mother’s Day, Thank You, I Love You, Thinking of You – whatever the message, flowers have a unique and special power to put a smile on our face and touch those we care about, those we love in immeasurable ways. Debra Usher, author.

Take a look at a few of the pages….10. Brian Davis 8. Lenore Carr-Smith 7. Valerie ButtersDebra (pictured below) continues with her story behind the publication of this book:  It started with my own personal journey, the memories of my mother, her joy when we shared moments over flowers, but it soon gathered momentum as I explored the importance of flowers to others and other artists joined me in sharing their stories and their art. It became a journey that made me aware that we cannot lose the importance of this beauty and we need to celebrate it more. So The Love of Flowers is my report card on that journey – one which I hope you will cherish as much as all of us who have told our stories.  Debra-Usher

So with less than 2 months to go (Sunday May 14), I recommend you purchase a copy now (it comes in a lovely presentation box) from the publisher’s website:   www.arabelladesign.com/flower_book  Still lots of time to allow for shipping.

So beautiful and contemplative, The Love of Flowers could easily become a family heirloom; each artist’s work is accompanied by info on their work, so you’ll also learn about Canada’s premier artists – the book is both entertaining AND educational!'Splendor - Amaryllis'  36 x 48 AcrylicAnd if you’re in the New Brunswick region, why not meet Debra and get your copy personally autographed at one of these upcoming meet-n-greet events:

Scheduled for Saturday May 6, 1:00-3:00 pm at Gallery 78 for Mother’s Day Celebration.

May 12 – HANDWORKS GALLERY in Saint John, NB
Scheduled for Thursday May 12, 5:30-7:30 pm at Handworks Gallery for Mother’s Day celebration.

May 14 – ALGONQUIN RESORT in St. Andrews by-the-Sea, NB
Scheduled for Sunday May 14, 10:00am-2:00 pm at the Algonquin Resort for Mother’s Day celebration.

Lilacs, Pansies,&Tulips 00318831

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TORONTO’S URBANSOURCE CATERING CELEBRATES 32YR ANNIVERSARY TODAY!

I’d like to offer a very special shout-out to my friends Wayne Abell and Calvin Hambrook who, as UrbanSource Catering, have fed-n-watered Toronto’s corporate and private sectors for 32 years….yes, today is their anniversary and I’m thrilled to present them with this virtual celebration!

Starting off on Yonge Street (south of Eglinton), Wayne and Calvin (pictured below L to R) opened their first store in 1985 offering prepared foods, lattes and lots of catering advice.Crazy Owners Opening DayThey soon outgrew their quaint shop housed in a terrace of historical buildings, and based on customer demands, they changed the business model from a retail store-come caterers to a full service catering company. The catering biz grew fast so they moved to their current location on Queen Street East which houses a large commercial kitchen and a suite of offices. Several years ago, the space next door became vacant so Calvin and Wayne took that over and launched Urban Gallery, a non-commission independent art gallery that also serves as a great event space for rent. Needless to say, they cater ALL the events in the gallery.20161216_184023 20160930_181245 20140918_175000Apart from their corporate events, private parties and spectacular wedding soirees, UrbanSource Catering has supported many of Toronto’s philanthropic causes, catering fundraisers, media launches and special events, eg: United Church’s Heart & Vision Awards, Fife House, PRIDE Toronto, plus the annual InsideOut Film Festival.

Bravo and congratulations to Calvin, Wayne and the staff of UrbanSource Catering – you continually deliver the best, on time and on budget!Calvin, Wayne and the URBAN SOURCE CATERING Crew

www.urbancatering.comC

 

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INTRODUCING CANADIAN CONTEMPORARY ARTIST JOHNY DELUNA

I recently met contemporary Canadian artist JOHNY DELUNA (below) whose colourful large acrylic-on-canvas paintings both inspire and intrigue me. He has a solo exhibition this summer (June 5-19) at the Art Square Gallery (opposite the AGO) in Toronto, and I wanted to give art fans an early heads-up so they do’t miss his extraordinary work. xxheadshotjohn1jpgI recently had the pleasure of chatting with Johny over a coffee, viewing his portfolio of mostly 3′ x 4′  canvases, each portraying deeper, darker stories beneath the exterior of bright, joyful images.  Every masterwork has been thoroughly thought out, exploring abstract themes in Johny’s riotous palette of primary colours.  I asked him a few questions about his work, his inspirations and the upcoming summer solo show….

You came late to painting professionally – what was your previous career focus and how did that inform your work?  I always loved painting, but couldn’t make a living at it – I needed a decent job to pay the bills.  The urge to paint never left me, but the responsibilities of looking after a family etc. took precedence.  I didn’t return to painting for over 25 years.  Whenever possible I took on projects that had a significant creative component.  I worked on a wide variety of projects including scientific film production, script writing, advertising , marketing and digital product development. However the need to paint was always lurking close to the surface.  I was always a closet painter.

I actually started painting as a child and worked actively on artistic experimentation and exploration until I was about 25. I was untrained so I tried all sorts of things – found materials, melted and painted plastics, wood burning (pyrography), wire sculptures, stone sculptures and acrylic paints. I mostly painted large semi-abstract canvases. I liked the expanses of color and motion.Collateral Damage MARCHWhat has been the main inspiration for your style and colour palette?  The main inspiration for my work is observing the human condition. I try to say things about, happiness, sadness confusion, hypocrisy, ignorance, cruelty, indifference and self delusion. I never put myself above these frailties – but I laugh at my own weaknesses more than I laugh at others. I try to embed my stories deep enough in the paintings so that each viewer can experience them in their own way.art squI was never a great admirer of pointillism; my style of painting was the result of experiments just to get myself painting again. I simply love bright colors – there are no bad ones. They are like kids in a park – laughing, running and playing together.

Dancing in the Dark

Dancing in the Dark

Upon initial viewing, your paintings are full of humour and lightness, however, behind each work there seems to be a darker meaning. Can you explain your artistic interpretations and share one such story from a particular painting?  As I said, my paintings are mostly observations, parables or vignettes. These are the catalysts for the paintings.  I try to present ideas obliquely. This gives me more freedom of expression and a wider visual lexicon to play with.  It also gives the viewer more freedom of interpretation.

I try to entice the viewer into the work through color, energy, humor and curious or bizarre imagery.  Behind all that is the story – the viewer is free to go as deep as they want. I hope everyone see’s the works differently.One of the more oblique works is about learning to accept people for who they are – not who we think they should be. My painting called  I’d Love You If You Were Someone Else (below) for instance, is an argument between a table and a chair.chairYou paint in a contemporary pointillism style in large format – how detailed and time-consuming is this compared with the bold brushstrokes of other artists?  Each artist approaches their work differently. If an artist can create a stunning piece in ten minutes – that’s great. The piece works or it doesn’t no matter how long you labor over it.  My paintings take about 3-5 weeks to complete. I don’t use a brush – I use a simple calligraphy pen and liquid ink. I can only work a few hours at a time – because I can’t focus any more.

Detail from "The Kiss"

Detail from “The Kiss”

Your upcoming solo exhibition is called Spontaneous Levitation – what inspired this title?  Well – Spontaneous Levitation is a bit of a play on the word levity – humour. I hope the show feels fresh, free, and energizing.  img420

At my last show, I met a painter from Brazil. He showed me some photos of his large canvases. They were wonderful. He had injured his shoulder badly in a car accident and had not painted for a number of years. He wandered around the show for about half an hour. On the way out he smiled and shook my hand…“Obrigado,” he said “your work makes me hungry to paint again”.

1457016348What advice would you give to aspiring artists looking to create a life as a professional painter? The only advice I can offer aspiring artists is

  1. Get a day job so you can afford to paint what you want.
  2. Try to be honest and express your inner voice – it’s scary but do it
  3. Open yourself to the unknown – the otherness
  4. Never give up.
"April in New York"

“April in New York”

"Fear of Flying"

“Fear of Flying”

I can’t wait to see Johny’s work in person, hanging on the walls of Art Square Gallery, 334 Dundas St West, Toronto (directly opp. the Art Gallery of Ontario) between June 5 – 19, 2017.  I’ll be posting more details on the show closer to the date so stay tuned.  In the interim, you can follow Johny on Twtr @johnydeluna or visit his website: www.johnydeluna.comThe Usual Suspects

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NICEST GUY IN CANADIAN SHOWBIZ CELEBRATES 5th ANNIVERSARY AS ARTISTIC DIR. @ PEMBROKE’S FESTIVAL HALL

With so many live music and entertainment venues closing on an almost weekly basis across the country, Pembroke’s 600-seat FESTIVAL HALL is steadily building audience attendance and presenting line-ups that include music legends, current hit-makers, orchestral recitals and outrageous comedy shows that are the envy of show promoters in major cities. And the person largely responsible for this outstanding achievement is Artistic Director (and my dear friend) RICK WHARTON who celebrates 5 years at the helm next month, April 2017.b&wAfter starting his showbiz career as a comedian at Yuk Yuk’s and Second City, Rick created his popular television character “The Conspiracy Guy” on SPACE: The Imagination Station. Rick then spent 20 years in the Canadian music industry, working with Universal Music where he began as the liaison between record company, radio and retail – he helped maximize profile and value of the company’s music catalogue; marketed, tracked and promoted influential recording artists including The Tragically Hip, U2, Guns’n’Roses, Tom Petty, Aerosmith, Rik Emmett, Alanis, Pursuit of Happiness, Michael W. Smith and others. He was quickly promoted to Head of Promotion in Ontario. Independently, he has also helped develop and manage the careers of many musicians as well as handled production and marketing duties.

with Alanis Morissette

with Alanis Morissette

Flanked by Aerosmith

Flanked by Aerosmith

Stepping into the role of Artistic Director at Festival Hall in 2012, he spearheaded the revival of the Hall by attracting big name performers from all music genres, comedians, classical recording artists, as well as celebrity guest speakers and supporting local theatrical groups. Some of the artists to grace the stage under his direction include:  Gord Downie, Matt Dusk, Rik Emmett, Randy Bachman, John McDermott, Gowan, Michael Burgess, Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe, Lunch at Allen’s, Sab and the Family Band, Malcom Burn and The Spoons , The Barra McNeils . Country stars Marty Stuart, April Verch and Corb Lund. Comedians Gerry Dee, Glenn Foster, Ron James, Derek Edwards, Carla Collins, Mary Walsh, the comic ensemble Women Full Clothed, as well as hosting the Canadian Comedy Awards’ Funniest Person In The Valley show.  He has also opened the doors to many theatrical events and Festival Hall is now home to local theatre groups.

I want people to experience the wonder of what the theatre offers. The magic of taking you away from life’s problems for a little while theatre can change and affect lives for the better.   Rick Wharton

Pembroke-Festival-Hall-Interior-1-1024x684Pembroke’s Festival Hall Centre for the Arts (above) is the largest performing arts centre in the Ottawa Valley. Through theatre, music, dance, storytelling, comedy, visual arts and educational programming, Festival Hall fosters artistic and historic awareness.   Since 2012, the hall has hosted over 55,000 theatre patrons for hundreds of productions that reflect the rich cultural diversity of the region. It’s also home to the Streetlight Theatre Company, Pembroke Symphony Orchestra, Kiwanis Music Festival, UTurn, and the Sears Drama Festival.

Rick and I go way back to the early 80’s when I ran Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret in Toronto – he was a frequent performer there. When I left to open my own talent & media relations agency in 1986, I would often run in to him backstage at the various concerts and tours I worked. One of my fave photos is this one (below) where Rick unexpectedly “photo bombed” me when posing with Monkee Davy Jones. Hey hey, it's Davy Jones with GlendaRick has often worked with leading comedians such as Rick Mercer and the late great Robin Williams (below)
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wharton and williams…and he’s remained close friends with Canadian guitar god, Rik Emmett (below) with whom he’s worked on numerous tours and celebrity appearances.rikemmettCONGRATULATIONS, Rick, on reaching this milestone anniversary at Festival Hall…and thank you for supporting so many Canadian artists as well as securing the big name acts for your stage. Bravo, Spudman, and wishing you many more years as the impresario of Pembroke!spaceDuring Rick’s fifth anniversary month, Festival Hall presents the Pembroke Symphony Orchestra’s We Got Rhythm on Saturday Apr. 8th, int’l recording star John McDermott (Raised on Songs and Stories) on Friday Apr.28th and Whiskey Jack performing Stories and Songs of Stompin’ Tom on Saturday Apr.22nd. See www.festhall.ca for details of these and other April concerts.