How nice to walk into an art gallery and be met with such warmth and welcoming hospitality – artist Tanzina Amin and her husband Carlos Sa Rodrigues of ARTUSIASM GALLERY located at 1684 St Clair West, Toronto, were the perfect hosts last night as they opened their “Summerfest 2017″ group show featuring works by local artists in multiple mediums.I was pleased to introduce fellow gallery owner and artist Lola Livingston of Stockyards Gallery to Tanzina and Carlos, who welcomed the opportunity of sharing “stories from the trenches” of operating an art gallery in the city. Here’s Lola (pictured below L) with Tanzina and Carlos…all smiles as they celebrate another successful opening!I love Tanzina’s bold abstract portraits…she works with a bright and colourful palette and I would love to add one of these stunning paintings to my own modest collection.I spied so many more exciting works….there was a style and technique for every taste and I hope to see lots of “red dots” denoting sales when I visit again. Check out these delicate watercolours (below) and the florals, too.
Constellation by Leslie Karen Hall
Peach Coloured Rose by Lowell Lo
…..and these Aspen trees by Leah Dockrill kept drawing me back. It was as if they were alive and I could almost hear the rustling of their leaves!Tanzina and Carlos always make sure gallery visitors are well fed and watered at their opening events….the home-made samosas are deelishArtist and gallery regular Linda Deramaix strikes a pose (below) underneath her own artwork titled “Resilience”. Nice to see you again, Linda!So many difference pieces to stimulate your artistic senses….…and lots of artwork to provoke conversation….Summerfest 2017 runs to the end of this month (June) and I recommend you drop in on Tanzina and Carlos to enjoy all the beautiful works (all of which are affordable and are looking for new forever homes!) by talented local artists. Artusiasm Gallery is located at 1684 St Clair Ave West and you can learn more about their services, hours & artists at: www.artusiasm.com
Guaranteed to deliver at least 150 belly-laughs, GLEN FOSTER (a.k.a. That Canadian Guy) headlines at the Absolute Comedy Club, 2335 Yonge St, Toronto, on Canada Day Saturday July 1st. And with an early 8pm showtime, you’ll still be able to catch the big fireworks displays around the city afterwards.Glen (pictured above) has been one of Canada’s top comedians for over thirty years – I’ve known him ever since his first set at Yuk Yuk’s back in the 80’s where I was the comedy agent and business manager. Since then, Glen’s become a mainstay on the Canadian comedy circuit -he didn’t just work the road, he’s one of the comics who built it! His comedy is clever and intelligent, combining reflections on his own personal experiences with razor sharp commentary on current events and popular culture.
Glen has appeared many times at the world-renowned Just For Laughs festival, had his own TV specials on the Comedy Network and can be heard frequently on CBC Radio’s “The Debaters”. He has also released his own comedy DVDs and is a club favourite across the country. That Canadian Guy is a reference to Glen’s first network comedy special during which he joked about the fact people could call him “that Canadian guy” if they couldn’t remember his name. Sure enough, after the show aired, Glen received a flood of e-mails from viewers who said, “I couldn’t remember your name but I remembered “that Canadian guy.”Glen headlines at the Absolute Comedy club June 28 through July 2 and you can purchase tickets for all of Glen’s performances and his special Canada Day July 1st show here: https://www.absolutecomedy.ca/toronto
What a wonderful showcase of multi-media artworks from four talented Toronto-based artists from the LGBT community!! Congratulations to URBAN GALLERY and its curator Allen Shugar, for presenting an outstanding exhibition of paintings, text-based graphics, digital and acrylic on canvas art celebrating this year’s annual PRIDE month. I got there nice and early and had the gallery to myself to record a quick video walk-around:
The first artist to arrive at the gallery was the charming Eugene Nam whose striking large format acrylic-on-canvas works were both powerful and beautiful. The textural quality of his work was such that I wanted to reach out and touch the brushstrokes…..but I resisted!Eugene came to Toronto a few years ago from S. Korea, via San Francisco. I asked him why he left the city by the bay to come all the way to Toronto and he told me…. In South Korea, our sexual identity must be kept hidden – homosexuality is not openly tolerated. As soon as I could, I left and went to the U.S. to pursue my passion for painting but once I heard of Toronto’s attitude of acceptance and inclusion, I knew that’s where I belonged. Since arriving, I have felt such freedom to live, love and create. I’m so happy to participate in Urban Gallery’s showcase so I can share my feelings with you all through my work. The next artist to arrive was TV and commercial producer Barbara Zumer whose love of creative writing and words she now showcases in her art.One of Barbara’s pieces is actually printed on a mirror so I had a bit of fun with it…just so happens I recently had my hair done so the message is very appropriate, don’t you think? LOLI was definitely pulled towards the digital anime-like images created by the very tall Jeffrey Mason (below).His whimsical and wild illustrations of cat-like pop culture icons created quite the stir – people chuckled as they gazed at the instantly recognizable references… Jeffrey also published a book of his work and copies were quickly snapped up by gallery visitors.Former digital producer and part-time teacher at Centennial College, Hank Blondeau (below) is exhibiting some pretty striking images….…below is Hank’s pair of huge digital art prints titled Lightimage Left and Lightimage RightDo these stripes make me look thin?There was something for every taste in art and I must say, it’s one of my favourite shows in recent months.Even the catering, courtesy of Urban Source Catering, looked like works of art…and it all tasted simply delicious!The PROUD ART show runs until June 30th and I encourage you to visit in person to view all of the above and more. URBAN GALLERY is located at 400 Queen St East, Toronto – just East of Parliament St. www.urbangallery.ca
But hurry…the art is selling quickly. Jeffrey’s Bunny Sushi already has a red dot on it!!
Congratulations to Toronto contemporary artist JOHNY DELUNA on a great opening reception for his solo show, “Spontaneous Levitation” at Art Square Gallery, 334 Dundas St West (opposite the Art Gallery of Ontario) in Toronto. Last night, Johny greeted friends, family, art collectors and other gallery curators to his colourful, provocative show.He even had a 4-legged art fan drop by…Fellow artist, Nancy Bennett (below), brought some of her friends to admire the intricate and detailed work.Media maven Georgina Bencsik grabbed Johny for a selfie (below)
Johny’s elegant partner, Katrina (below), was also a work of art herself as she helped host the soiree…..and I was thrilled to welcome some guests visiting from Australia who fell in love with Johny’s work.Sandy, above with Johny, actually runs a community arts program back home in Queensland, Australia, so she was excited to chat with him about his work….and maybe an invitation to visit Down Under in the future?Spontaneous Levitation runs until June 19th so please come on down and meet the artist who will be on-site most days.
Make sure you have your tickets for this Saturday’s special concert starring 4-time Maple Blues Award-winning singer ANGEL FORREST at The Opera House, 735 Queen St East in Toronto, with special guest roots/blues singer/songwriter Rob Lutes who will be joined by longtime accompanist, acclaimed Quebec guitarist Rob MacDonald.With a career spanning 3 decades and recipient of the Maple Blues Award for Female Vocalist of the Year four consecutive years (2013- 2016), the Quebec-based blues belter will perform songs from her 2016 album, Angel’s 11, and other original award-winning tunes.I’ve been singing all kinds of music – folk, rock, country – but the blues fits me well. I love the freedom of the blues, you know no rules – you feel it…you sing it… you share it. – Angel Forrest
Combining masterful song writing with her partner and on-stage collaborator, Denis Coulombe, Angel has also proven her worth as a tunesmith with songs ranging from blues to rock to jazz. There is no question that Angel Forrest is one of the most powerful singers on the contemporary blues scene today. The strength of her performances, her distinctive voice and fiery personality has allowed her to conquer the hearts of thousands of fans around the world. ANGEL FORREST – with special guest Rob Lutes Saturday June 10 @ 9pm (doors open 8pm) THE OPERA HOUSE, 735 Queen St. E., Toronto Tkts: $27.00 Available at the door or in advance from www.TicketFly.com
25+ large paintings were hung at the Art Square Gallery last night – Toronto contemporary artist JOHNY DELUNA is getting ready for his Thursday (June 8, 6-9pm) opening reception of his solo show “Spontaneous Levitation” so I spent some time with him as he measured and moved, then measured again all his spectacular works.I snapped a few pics of close-up details (see below) from several of his paintings which illustrate the textural quality of his work with raised dots of paint with multiple colours – very hard to achieve and extremely time-consuming.And I love some of the mythical creatures and people who dance across the canvases….And who doesn’t love galloping giraffes (below) in a windswept land and seascape?As Johny was busy up the ladder, a young man came in obviously intrigued with what was going on…he was soon chatting with Johny about the paintings and the stories behind each one.Hopefully you are also intrigued and will join Johny at Art Square Gallery, 334 Dundas St West, Toronto (opp. the Art Gallery of Ontario) this Thursday Jun.8th 6-9pm. Spontaneous Levitation runs until June 19th so if you can’t make it this week, you have another week to catch these wild and provocative paintings.
Here are some of the comments from Johny’s previous solo art show….come add your own observations and kudos.
With a final few brushstrokes left and the selection of which painting goes where on the gallery walls, Toronto contemporary artist JOHNY DELUNA is just a few days away from launching his exciting new solo show, “Spontaneous Levitation”, at the Art Square Gallery, 334 Dundas St West (opp. the AGO).
I caught up with Johny over the weekend and asked him to share some last-minute thoughts on his new show….
As your solo show, Spontaneous Levitation, draws closer, how many new works of art will be represented at the show? I will be showing about 10 new works from this year and about 15 works from prior years.From where have you drawn inspiration for these new canvases? The genesis of most paintings starts with one small event or observation My inspirations come from observations of the human condition. I try to depict the fragility of our lives, the unusual effects of random events, the consequences of our behavior. It seems that issues rarely disappear they simply re-emerge in a modified form. I want to articulate these ideas in a new and fresh way, so I let the work express itself intuitively. Sometimes I don’t recognize the finished piece as mine. (No Free Lunch, below).Can you share the story behind one or two of these new masterworks? The piece titled Eating Spaghetti With Scissors (below) is based on our need to add unnecessary complexity to our lives. Perhaps this complexity gives us comfort, the feeling that our life is richer and better. I think we mistake motion with progress and quantity with quality. When we can’t answer an important question with a straight answer, we fake it with circuitous logic. We vigorously defend this opinion with a mind numbing jumble of half baked ‘truths’, opinions, rumors and petty biases. We end up ‘going to the wall’ defending these opinions; opinions that that we don’t fully understand ourselves.What would you like gallery visitors to come away with after viewing your work? I hope people will find the show to be very fresh, humorous and thought-provoking. I hope the works will speak to each person in their own way. I hope visitors will encourage their friends to visit the show as well.Come meet Johny at his opening reception and view his provocative large-format paintings (acrylic on canvas) this Thursday June 8th (6-9pm) at Art Square Gallery, 334 Dundas St West, Toronto. Show runs until June 19th.
So nice to catch up with old artist friends and check out their new works when I dropped by the annual RIVERDALE ARTWALK at Jimmy Simpson Park along Queen St East today. I was also pleased to discover some exciting new painters I’d never seen before, several of whom came in from Mississauga – is there a secret arts community out there we don’t know about? Boy, are they ever talented out west!! For instance, Neerja Trehan (below) whose bright canvases drew me in to the first booth I encountered upon arriving. www.NeerjaTrehan.comI then turned the corner and wandered down the second aisle and who did I find? The amazing Mark J. Gleberzon www.mjggallery.com who was happy to pose with his customized skateboard. Always a joy to see Mark and his work…one day I hope to acquire a piece for my own modest art collection.Here’s Kate Taylor who just got back from various art shows around the world. www.katetaylorstudio.com She brought some of her well-traveled art pieces to the show today…again, another artist I hope to include in my personal collection one day!Dear Rea Kelly…she always greets me with open arms and a warm hug! Love her big, bold and bright florals (below) www.reakelly.comAnother exciting new discovery for me was Josee Duranleau (below) who uses found images and photographs from bygone eras then applies her own paint and vision to them. www.joseeduranleau.com Her stunning “Queen of the Catwalk” (3rd pic below) glittered and shimmered in today’s sunlight.And I found Laird McMurray‘s exquisite tiny fishing flies with illustrations charming and innovative (below) and perfect for Dad’s Day gifting.He was busy greeting clients and art fans (bottom pic, left) so hopefully he won’t have too much to pack up and take home on Sunday! Just wish he had a dedicated website to share more of his work.Julia McNeely posed proudly with her wee beasties (below) …don’t you just love the big chicken? You can find more of her work on her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/julia.mcneelyChristopher Masoure is another of the Mississauga contingent – here he is with potential buyers (below). His stark large-format paintings are stunning in close-up. Check out his work for yourself at www.studiomasoure.com Margaret Horvat‘s paintings of beautiful blooms were such a lovely surprise…and she also hails from out west, too…..well, Burlington, at least! www.margarethorvat.com Here she is (below) in her garden of art!And here’s the always-smiling Morgan Jones who offered such a lovely warm welcome to his booth. He has a number of new “travelling gnomes” pieces…so cute! You can view his gnomes and many other images on his website: www.morganjonesart.comIan Busher always surprises me and here he is (below) with a whole new series of colourful geometric paintings. I’m a proud owner of one of his woodland creature artworks so I’m a little biased about this artist – I think he’s fab! www.studiobusher.comW. Stephen Cooper (below) is always makes me feel so welcome at his booth. His photographic artwork of abandoned old junkers always pleases the eye. His work inspired me to snap the various old trucks down at the Distillery District. www.wstephencooper.comJamie MacLean was busy with customers so I didn’t disturb him, but I did check out his latest works. I first met him earlier this year at The Artist Project. Next week, he’ll be up at the Rosedale Art Fair so you can see his stunning tree paintings in person. jamiemacleanfineart.bigcartel.comI just love young Robert Strickland‘s bold florals (below). Big peonies, delicate roses and other glorious buds and blooms painted in the old-school tradition but with a definite edge. Keep an eye on this artist… www.robertstricklandart.comSheila Thompson (below, in white) is another artist whose work intrigues me…she works in felt & fibre and adds special touches to each piece, like a porcupine quill. As her business cards say…”warm your walls”! www.sheilathompson.ca Elena Balkos showed off her large format photography of exotic beaches, and of course I headed straight for the one behind her to the right – it’s of the Algarve region of Portugal which I consider my “spiritual home”. Bravo, Elena – they’re all gorgeous, esp. those of your own home, Greece. www.elenabalkos.comSo here she is….the one and only Nancy Bennett! Nancy and I worked together waaaay back in the late 70’s and it’s been so nice to reconnect and see what each of us has been up to since then. Nancy’s created quite the wonderful artistic life for herself and here she is (below) entertaining more old friends from her school days! www.nancybennett.caAnother new artist for me, Nadia Lassman (below) showed off her cool, calming impressionist-inspired works inside the park’s adjoining community centre. A former lawyer, Nadia is now a full-time artist showcasing her work here, in Miami, Scottsdale and New York. Bravo, Nadia, I love your work! www.nadialassmanart.comAlso inside the community centre, I found Rob Croxford and his humourous Toronto-centric critter posters, as well as lots of fun word-play smalls, robots and vintage pin-up girl pieces. Rob was making lots of sales so I had to wait several minutes to grab him for this quick pic….congrats on another successful show, Rob! www.robcroxford.com
Riverdale Artwalk is open again tomorrow (Sunday June 4) but it looks like rain so take your umbrellas. The artists will all be there so come out and support them and take home a little framed memory, too. For more information about this show and other upcoming events, visit www.artistsnetwork.ca
As the annual Inside Out LGBT Film Festival winds down, the parties are still going strong and last night, URBAN SOURCE CATERING made sure everyone was well-fed at the “Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall Pink Carpet” soiree held at the Artscape Sandbox venue in downtown Toronto. There were lots of tasty Moroccan beef sirloin hors d’oeuvres (above), veggie samosas and smoked salmon on wild rice cakes(below) …..…and Jerk Prawns and Chicken Rendang skewers (above), all of which were gobbled up by appreciative guests. The deelish gourmet mac-n-cheese (below)were a big hit with the guests.…and the guests had fun at the wacky photo booth – wonder what digital background was being added..hmmm?Meet our Executive Chef Lyndon Wiebe (below L) with his trusty kitchen staff who kept the food coming!I also had fun over at the bar where I found these upside down glasses reflecting all the colours of the event space lights and people’s outfits.If you would like to have your party or corporate event catered by Urban Source Catering, please visit their website for menu ideas: www.urbancatering.com