Category Archives: Art

20171104_141709

URBAN GALLERY UNVEILS “LAND ON FIRE” – NOVEMBER’S SOLO SHOW BY MARY LYNNE ATKINSON

This past Saturday, Urban Gallery (www.urbangallery.ca) in Toronto launched their solo art show for November, LAND ON FIRE, featuring stunning abstract landscape paintings by MARY LYNNE ATKINSON, pictured below with her “Night Sky” 36×48 acrylic on panel painting. The show runs through to November 25th.

20171104_142315Mary Lynne was thrilled to greet friends & family, and within minutes of the doors being open, one of her smaller pieces sold (the one to the right of the group below, titled “Solitude” with the little red dot on the name tag). That was one of my favourite pieces and I had my eye on it myself. But as the saying goes – you snooze, you lose!20171104_140115 20171104_141705Above, Mary Lynne chats with a gallery visitor about the two pieces to the right, “Wind” (upper) and “Firedance” (lower) both of which are 19×19 oil & resin on 16 gauge steel. Look at the close-up details of these two (below)…I love the texture.20171104_134400 20171104_134355I spoke briefly with Mary Lynne before the gallery got crowded – here’s what she had to say about her inspirations for these works….

ARTIST STATEMENT:   Land on Fire is inspired by waves as patterns in time and space. Formations that look like ocean waves in their immensity, silence and immutability draw me in. My paintings are rooted in the ‘tangible’ of the physical world. They are also inspired by questions surrounding our human relationship to Earth. My challenge as an artist is to draw the connections between both the tangible and the intangible.

By moving into a landscape through colour and gesture, painting becomes a meditation on space expanding and time evolving. The vast, silent, unforgiving spaces challenge me to express my ideas and emotions of timelessness. Each painting has its own silence. ~ Mary Lynne Atkinson 

ABOUT THE ARTIST:   Mary Lynne Atkinson is a mid-career visual artist living in Midhurst, Ontario. She holds a B.A. from Wilfrid Laurier University and a graduate diploma in Studio Process Advancement from the Haliburton School of the Arts. Her work has been exhibited widely in Europe, notably in the Carousel du Louvre, Paris, 2012 and 2013. She was awarded a Bronze Medal, Paris, June 2014, by the Societé des Arts, Lettres, Sciences. Her paintings have been exhibited in numerous curated shows including the Miami Art Basel and S Space Gallery, New York, NY.  Atkinson continues to exhibit extensively in Ontario, and her paintings are collected nationally and internationally.

Fellow artist Erik Chong and his wife Jeannette dropped in to view Mary Lynne’s work (below)…20171104_142117(0)…as did so many other fans of great Canadian art (below)20171104_142248 20171104_142332Here are some other fine examples of her work on display at Urban Gallery…20171104_131244 20171104_131239 20171104_131204 20171104_131157…and this 8×10 framed mixed media on panel titled “Amethyst Mountain” (pictured below) has also peaked my interest. Maybe I should add this to my Santa list?20171104_131133Land on Fire runs throughout the month of November at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East in downtown Toronto. For gallery hours and directions: www.urbangallery.ca

And congratulations to Urban Gallery for being named runner-up in the Best Independent Art Gallery category in this year’s NOW Readers’ Choice Awards!!  Nominated 2 years in a row, bravo Urban!Readers choice_runner up

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ARTIST ROMI SAMUELS OPENS HER SOLO SHOW @ GALLERY 1313 IN TORONTO

Last night was one of the most enjoyable opening receptions for an art show I’ve attended in some time. South African-born, now Toronto resident ROMI SAMUELS launched her solo show THE LION, THE WATCH AND THE WARDROBE at Toronto’s Gallery 1313 with a gallery full of family, friends and art lovers as well as representatives from the South African Consulate.20171026_175241The main gallery showroom looked more like a safari with giant canvases of elephants, lions, giraffes, baboons and even a hungry looking crocodile (below, Romi’s husband Frank was busy on social media while being stalked by the giant croc…watch out!)20171026_173709The paintings reflect Romi’s childhood experiences in South Africa – can you imagine looking out your window and seeing elephants roaming outside?20171026_17572620171026_172536Guests seemed in awe of the giant B&W canvases and it’s easy to see why…20171026_181950 20171026_175044 20171026_175101Before the doors opened, I managed to corral the Samuels family for a photo – below LtoR: husband Frank, Romi, daughters  Hannah and Adina (son Josh arrived later in the evening)20171026_173738Romi’s proud sister Vivienne couldn’t stop smiling all night! Here she is (below R) giving her artist sister a great big hug!20171026_203443… and another friend, Elizabeth Greisman from the JCC (below L), also offered her congratulations.20171026_202455(0)As well as the wild beasties, there is a smaller gallery at the back that features some smaller, more intimate portraits of things found in Romi’s closet.  The stunning painting of lace gloves (below, centre) was sold – this was one of my personal favourites so I’m happy the gloves have found a new forever home.20171026_175007 20171026_175002One of the high points of the evening was when guest Mr. Goce Tasevski presented Romi with a bouquet of pink roses….such a lovely moment I was fortunate to catch with my camera20171026_185941In fact, there were quite a few floral tributes given to Romi, and her sister Vivienne even brought cake. Yum, her lemon poppyseed cake was deelish!  Daughter Hannah is quite the culinary expert, too, and she catered the whole affair. Hannah is my new BFF – she made the most amazing chocolate truffles. I would have taken pics of those, too, but we all gobbled them up so quickly, there was nothing left to photograph…LOL!

Being Thursday night, I immediately flipped thru the pages of NOW Magazine to see if I’d managed to get Romi listed…wow, even better – her show was listed under their “Must See” column. Woohoo!20171026_181439So 9pm came around and as the guests departed I managed to grab an exhausted but happy Romi for a quick video interview to get her reaction to the evening’s celebration.

Her show runs until Nov. 5th at Gallery 1313, 1313 Queen St West, Toronto  www.g1313.org  and if you would like to learn more about Romi herself, visit her website at: www.romispaintings.weebly.com The Lion, the Watch  - JPEG

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SOUTH AFRICAN-BORN ARTIST HERDS WILD BEASTS INTO GALLERY 1313 FOR SOLO SHOW OCT.25-NOV.5

South African born and raised, and now Toronto resident Romi Samuels’ solo show “The Lion, the Watch and the Wardrobe” runs Oct. 25 to Nov. 5 at Gallery 1313, 1313 Queen St West in Toronto with an opening reception on Thurs. Oct. 26 (6-9pm) .  Romi’s floor-to-ceiling canvases illustrate the wild beasties that surrounded her family home in South Africa, painted in bold strokes of black and white. She also brings together a collection of colourful “portraits” of items found in her wardrobe, many of which belonged to her artist mother, plus a very special family heirloom – a pocket watch.

Her work features distortions, thick paint and strong colours. Her creative inspirations include the great South African painters Irma Stern, Wolf Kibel, and Maggie Laubser who were strongly influenced by the teachings of the German expressionists. To learn more about Romi please visit her website at www.romispaintings.weebly.comThe Lion, the Watch  - JPEGI recently had the opportunity of chatting with Romi when I asked her about her early artistic influences and her childhood in South Africa which has obviously informed many of the paintings in her upcoming show.

How did you become interested in painting?   My first introduction to the art world was as a newborn.  I have been told that my mother parked my stroller under the grapevine while she set-up still life paintings and give art classes on our patio.  Growing up, there were always paintbrushes in our house, palette knives, coloured pastels, twisted tubes of paints, batik dyes, lino boards, linseed oil, art books, not to mention the sketch books which were given to me even before I knew how to write – I still have a childish pencil drawing of my family relaxing in a train compartment, which I did when I was about 7 years old.  There were also outings to art galleries and of course my mother’s beautiful paintings (see below) which covered the walls in our home, and I always hoped that one day, like her, I would be able to decorate my own house with my paintings.20170911_142217What was the first subject of your painting?  Now that I think about it I am amazed to remember that my first painting which I did in nursery school was of a crocodile with its mouth wide open (probably inspired by one of our many trips to the Kruger Park – a huge game reserve in South Africa, almost the size of a small country).  And now, some 45 years later, I have, in my current show, a painting of a crocodile in that exact pose (see below).  My first oil painting which I did much later, was a still life with various objects including an African clay pot with a traditional Ndebele motif. So Africa has always featured in some way in my paintings and even now, living in Canada it continues to work its way into my art.Croc - croppedHow did your early years in South Africa influence your work?  As a child my most exciting holidays were our family trips to the Kruger Park. I have vivid memories of waking up at the crack of dawn, hopping into the car with a delicious picnic lunch, hoping to be the first out of the camp gates onto the dust roads looking for game.  I remember how we would suddenly stop the car at the slightest hint of movement and I’ll never forget the excitement of joining a whole row of cars, straining to see what all the fuss was about, or sitting for hours at a waterhole waiting for a thirsty animal to come and drink.  And then there was the thrill of eventually spotting a lion in the distance or of being dangerously close to an elephant crossing the road. So yes, these amazing images of the African bushveld have been subjects of my paintings since childhood.Two lionesses - croppedIn a previous series of paintings, I focused on the people’s struggle for survival in post-Apartheid South Africa which I did on large canvases. These paintings are of ragged children in the veld, mothers with babies on their backs begging for money, craftsmen, construction workers and security guards slaving for a meager wage.20170911_142232On a more personal level, some of my “Wardrobe” pictures also include sentimental items which travelled with me to Canada. So even though I have been living in Canada for 17 years, my paintings still reflect the bittersweet nostalgia of the ex-pat.Gloved hands - cropped Handbarg - cropped Pocketwatch - cropped Red tie - croppedDo you have a favourite medium in which to create?  For many years oils were my favourite, but now, I have also begun to enjoy acrylics mainly because they dry so quickly!  I’ve also started working with collage and mixed media which add a lot of interesting texture to my work.  For quick drawings, ink is one of my favourite mediums – I especially like the combination of a gentle washes and hard lines.20170911_142416What do you hope gallery visitors leave with after attending your upcoming show.   Firstly, because my paintings are so large and imposing, I hope to share that experience of being in such close proximity to the magnificent African fauna. Also, because my paintings are more expressive than literal, I want to communicate their intense emotion to which we as human beings can relate. I also hope that gallery visitors will see that even my “Wardrobe” paintings are not just still-lives, but rather expressions of the personalities behind them.  So basically, my intention is that that people will come away identifying on an emotional level with my paintings or responding to them emotionally or even just realizing that as human beings everything we see or create is influenced by our own emotional responses.20170911_144923What is next for Romi?  I never know in advance what I am going to paint. I usually start off playing around with something which develops into an idea and then becomes a body of work.  So my next series will be as much of a surprise to me as it will be to you. [laughs]

Opening reception takes place on Thursday Oct. 26th (6-9pm) at Gallery 1313, 1313 Queen St West, Toronto. For gallery hours & directions: www.g1313.org   Light (kosher) refreshments will be served so if you would like to attend and meet Romi, kindly RSVP to FordhamPR@rogers.com  Space is limited so email me a.s.a.p.

Although it’s not in this show, here is one of my fave Romi paintings – I just love chickens and Romi painted some of the hens that used to run around her childhood nanny’s property back home in S.A.20170911_141930

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ARTIST CHRIS MARIN OPENS HER “PASSAGES” SHOW @ URBAN GALLERY in TORONTO

URBAN GALLERY hosted the opening reception for artist CHRIS MARIN’s solo exhibition “PASSAGES” last night and Chris welcomed family and friends as she unveiled a series of intuitive paintings that are both intriguing and powerful.  Her works utilize a bold colour palette and viewers can interpret their own vision as to each painting’s subject or meaning – it was interesting to hear several gallery guests air vastly differing interpretations of one particular painting! Anyway, let’s ask Chris to us about about her work herself…

Artist’s Statement:  One brush stroke leads to the next. When I begin a non-objective painting, I do not know where I will go. It’s a liberating, intuitive way to paint and to live. In “Passages” I invite the viewer to take his or her own steps through the paintings. Chris Marin, 2017.20171005_174612Chris became intrigued by art after learning intuitive watercolour painting from Dorothy Clarke McClure in 1993. Over time, Chris expanded her interests to include collage, printmaking, acrylic painting and applying transparent underglazes to her pottery.  One of her paintings is on the cover of “What About My Kids?” a book written to help families coping with breast cancer. Chris’s painting “Home Again” is the image in the Port Medway Lighthouse calendar for February 2018, and “My Favourite Things” was used for the IWK children’s hospital fundraising raffle this year. She contributes regularly to the IWK and Elderdog shows, and her paintings can be seen at the Riverbank, Mill Village, and Port Grocer, Port Medway, Nova Scotia. They also hang in law offices and private collections.

Chris’s story, The Edge of Risk is included in the book, Outside of Ordinary: Women’s Travel Stories.  And her Nova Scotia treetops studio was featured in the Spring 2009 issue of Studio Magazine. The majority of Chris’s paintings arise from the subconscious, whether she is pouring watercolours or sitting at her easel applying paint, simply responding to what she has just done with no end result in mind.

Here are just a few of Chris’s paintings that caused a stir with gallery visitors…20171005_164303 20171005_164333 20171005_164341And as the guests arrived, Chris was eager to greet them and show them around…20171005_174648 20171005_180035 20171005_174610Chris gave an interview to arts journalist Mark Hasan of KQEQ.com (below)20171005_172043…and here she is (below) with gallery curator and fellow artist, Allen Shugar…..20171005_165335…and with her friends (below)20171005_165832Below, Drew from Snap’d newspaper came out to take photos, too.20171005_180243Chris’s guests thoroughly enjoyed the reception and Urban Gallery hopes to see red dots going up alongside a number of paintings that created quite the buzz with the opening night crowd.20171005_180207 20171005_18053020171005_174800Gallery owner, Calvin Hambrook (below L) was also busy welcoming guests…20171005_172102 20171005_174928…and this sumptuous and artful refreshments spread was courtesy of UrbanSource Catering  (urbancatering.com)20171005_170438 Chris’s show runs throughout the month of October (closes Sat. Oct. 28) so please visit and support another talented Canadian artist. Directions and gallery hours: www.urbangallery.ca20171005_164527 20171005_164249 20171005_165404

20170922_193936

STOCKYARDS GALLERY HOSTS NEW SHOW FEATURING ARTISTS LEE MUNN & CLARENCE A. PORTER

What a fab night – exquisite paintings, beautiful people, friendly gallery hosts…..all in all, a great Friday night! Thanks to Stockyards Gallery owner & curator Lola Livingston, I joined visitors at this month’s exhibition titled “BIHAMINTO, the Co-Show” featuring the work of 2 Hamilton-based artists Lee Munn (top 2 photos) and Clarence A. Porter (bottom 2 photos) that runs until October 21.20170922_192122 20170922_19145420170922_19270420170922_19205220170922_192044The gallery was full of family, friends and fans of each artist and the red dots were quickly being applied to the paintings…..including this beautiful small painting (below) by Lee Munn that was purchased by my friends Dan & Drew.20170922_192541Among the collection of “smalls” by Lee, I found several that I would love to hang on my own walls!20170922_191622 20170922_192155 20170922_194409Clarence was thrilled to welcome friends, many of whom had driven in from Hamilton to support him (below)20170922_193646Gallery owner Lola (below) was thrilled with the turnout – she was smiling all night long: truly the hostess with the mostest!20170922_193453Stockyards Gallery is housed within Lola’s husband’s custom carpentry & woodwork showroom, Rebarn, and Lola & Mark are fast becoming one of Toronto’s newest “power couples”.20170922_194307Lee was happy to pose for photos with local press in front of his paintings…20170922_193556 20170922_193725…and with new art owner Drew (below)20170922_213828And I was happy to pose with stunning actress Tatum Lee who appears in the current hit horror flick “IT”…thank goodness she didn’t bring that scary clown as her +1 as I would have run screaming out of the gallery…LOL!!20170922_202729So many stunning artworks by Clarence and Lee, so make sure you head out to Stockyards Gallery yourself between now and October 21st. 1611 Dupont Street, Toronto. Website: www.stockyardsgallery.ca20170922_191606 20170922_19173220170922_194125

 

 

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“Untamed Things” @ Arta Gallery in Distillery District, Toronto

Over the past few months, I’ve found myself discussing legendary Group of Seven Canadian artist Tom Thomson – first with northern Ontario artist Pauline Langmaid, then with author and Thomson expert Barry Brodie. This evening, I think I topped it all off by attending Arta Gallery‘s new exhibition titled “Untamed Things” which features stunning Thomson-inspired paintings by 11 acclaimed painters from across Ontario who retraced Thomson’s footsteps through Algonquin Park as inspiration for their own artistic explorations.20170908_180925Here are some examples of their work which remains on display until Sept. 19th.20170908_175000 20170908_175421I introduced myself to several of the artists who were on hand to meet-n-greet the appreciative gallery guests…. here’s Peter Taylor (below)  www.petertaylorpaintings.com20170908_175146..and here’s the very jovial Paul Nabuurs (below) www.paulnabuurs.com20170908_175814(0)I then met Andrew Peycha (below)….www.andrewpeycha.com20170908_180215….along with Mark Berens (below)….www.markberensart.com20170908_180243and Bryan Wall (below) whose work really resonated with me. Wish I’d had lots of moolah on me as I would have loved to grab one of his smaller pieces (2nd pic)  www.bryanwall.ca20170908_18050920170908_175230So many beautiful paintings of all sizes suitable for any downtown loft, condo, home or corporate office.20170908_181219 20170908_181556I definitely recommend you visit Arta Gallery , 14 Distillery Lane (in the historic Distillery District) downtown Toronto. Visit their website for hours and directions: www.artagallery.caexhibition_image_428

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ALLEN SHUGAR OPENS HIS SOLO SHOW AT URBAN GALLERY, TORONTO

Usually the curator for other artists’ shows, ALLEN SHUGAR was proud to present his own work at Urban Gallery (400 Queen East, Toronto) last night for the opening of his month-long show titled SHIFTING LIGHT. Allen is joined here by gallery director, Calvin Hambrook (below L) in front of his title artwork (lower photo)20170907_164910(0) AllenShugar_SHIFTING_LIGHT400Each stunning piece illustrates how light shifts when viewing from different vantage points and I particularly liked the play of light on leaves in this painting (below) appropriately titled “Goldleaf”.20170907_164502In fact, lots of gallery visitors loved these works – within half an hour of opening the gallery doors, the room was packed with Allen’s friends, family and fans.20170907_180622 20170907_175316I managed to grab Allen for a quick interview before the party was in full swing and asked him about his show….

As you can tell, Allen is very passionate about art, the painter’s process and working as the curator for Urban Gallery. Below, Allen greeted many friends who came out to support him…20170907_19082220170907_173655….and several fellow artists dropped by including Grace Dam (below) whose shows Allen has previously curated…20170907_182305…and Romi Samuels (below) who hopes to bring a show of her work to the gallery in the near future.20170907_184401Here’s award-winning artist Erik Chong (below with his wife, Jeannette) whose shows Allen has also curated over the past few years.20170907_191308Allen showcased 3 smaller framed pieces (reverse painting on glass) and my favourite one was quickly snapped up by this lovely lady.20170907_191204 20170907_164314So many gorgeous pieces…you must visit the gallery to see for yourself!20170907_184325 20170907_170622 20170907_171732And of course, the refreshments were works of art, too, courtesy of Urban Source Catering20170907_164657 20170907_165202(0)

Artist statement:
Colour, light, the cycles of nature (so extreme in our climate), the beauty of the human form – these are the subjects that inspire my paintings. Naturalistic representation has never much interested me. I take, rather, a transformative approach that seeks to capture a purely subjective experience, a state of mind, an evanescent thought. In this respect, my work owes as much to musical and literary influences as it does to visual stimuli. My aim is to suggest the extraordinary that lies just beneath the surface of the ordinary.  – Allen Shugar

SHIFTING LIGHT – Paintings by Allen Shugar
Exhibition dates: September 7 to September 30, 2017
Gallery hours & directions:   www.UrbanGallery.caSTILLNESS oil on canvas Allen Shugar

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MEET HANNA KOSTANSKI, URBAN GALLERY’S ARTIST OF THE MONTH!

Last night, Toronto’s coolest indie art venue, URBAN GALLERY, hosted the opening reception for HANNA KOSTANSKI, whose work is inspired by vintage photographs of our city from years gone by, found in the City of Toronto Archives.  With permission from the Archives, Hanna has recreated well-known intersections and streetscapes from the early 1900’s through to the 1980’s, adding colour and movement to the imagery, bringing the scenes to life.  Her show, 20th Century Toronto: Intersections & Interactions, runs until August 26th at Urban Gallery (400 Queen St East, Toronto) and I strongly recommend you visit in person to see if you recognize each of the locations she’s painted. Betcha you’ll be amazed to see how our city has changed!

About the artist:  Hanna was born in Szczecin, Poland, and grew up in Hamilton, Ontario. She obtained her BFA from OCAD University in 2007 and currently resides in Hamilton and works in Toronto. Her work can be found in dozens of private and public collections in both cities.Hanna Kostanski YONGE AND DUNDAS 1978 acrylic on board(Above) Yonge and Dundas, 1978 Acrylic on Wood 30″ x 60″ by Hanna Kostanski
From City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 92, Item 49 • Original Photograph by Harvey R. Naylor

Artist Statement:   For nearly a decade my work has been focused on the visible passage of time, experienced through the exploration and documentation of abandoned and decaying buildings in cities like Hamilton and Detroit. I have always been fascinated with historical architecture, specifically how we interact with our buildings and structures, and what happens when that interaction ceases to exist.

My current body of work continues to explore the connection between people and their environment, but with a focus on historical representations of that relationship.  To that end, I have been working on a series of paintings based on photographs found at the City of Toronto Public Archives. These images span several decades and are nostalgic of the city as it used to be. They celebrate the many past incarnations of Toronto, the vibrant intersections of the city and the interactions of its people.  Hanna Kostanski (2017)

The gallery was quickly crowded with fans of Hanna’s work which has recently garnered some exciting media attention – even Toronto Mayor John Tory has weighed in on Twitter about Hanna’s ability to capture a sense of time and place with her large format paintings.20170803_18202620170803_17482220170803_17564020170803_16431220170803_164228Two of Hanna’s BFF’s came to support her and found a familiar sight in this painting (below) of Yonge Street between Queen & Dundas! 20170803_171702 20170803_173123I think this fellow (above) must work on Bay Street – he appears to be looking for the location where his office now sits and explaining the old geography to his lovely companion.20170803_173228 20170803_180704Hanna welcome many of her friends and fans (above), all of whom seemed eager to see her newest paintings.

Fellow artist Nancy Bennett (below) looks like she’s calling a cab from the intersection of Yonge & Dundas…LOL20170803_172148Amidst the hub-bub of the busy gallery, I managed to grab Hanna for a quick chat about her work…

Hanna is also offering fine prints for those who don’t have the space for the original BIG paintings…here’s a happy art-lovin’ family who purchased 2 prints of their favourite paintings….20170803_173528(0)Here’s Wayne Abell of Urban Source Catering (they always present the most deelish treats for gallery openings!!) with KJ Mullins, publisher of NEWZ4U.ca, a Toronto-centric e-newspaper who really liked Hanna’s work.20170803_173304If you would like to come and play “spot the street” with Hanna’s work, please visit www.urbangallery.ca for gallery hours and directions.  You can also follow Hanna on social media via her own website: www.hannakostanski.com

 

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Thank you for supporting Canadian artists!

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NANCY BENNETT TELLS HOW SHE WALKED AWAY FROM THE 9 TO 5 LIFE TO EMBRACE HER INNER ARTIST

When I first came to Toronto in the late 70’s, I fulfilled my parents’ dream of a safe and secure life with an office job (dull…urgh!) which, thankfully, I walked away from in ’79 for a life in showbiz when I landed my first audition, the role of Magenta in the Toronto theatrical production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show! which obviously became my parents’ nightmare…LOL!  I had been doing my 9 to 5 work at a renowned investment house called Wood Gundy, where I first met Nancy Bennett who, unbeknownst to me at the time, was also struggling with her own office vs. arts dilemma.

Skip ahead a few decades and one day I encounter the same Nancy Bennett at an art show exhibiting her fabulous vibrant work – we’ve been playing catch up ever since.

Nancy in her booth @ Toronto's Riverdale Artwalk

Nancy in her booth @ Toronto’s Riverdale Artwalk

I was thrilled to hear of her journey since I last saw her when we used to share office gossip at our favourite after-work cocktail lounge; she has since left her busy career in the financial sector to devote her life to creating art full-time.  After securing her house, buying a dog and having a baby (whew, I’m exhausted even listing those), Nancy turned to her first love, painting, in 2008 when global finances took a very hard knock, impacting her career as well as most of those working on Bay Street.  As Nancy tells it….“I first started collecting works by local artists as an antidote to my work life which had become increasingly toxic…then I began painting again.”

After being laid-off from her day job in 2013, Nancy immediately began painting full-time; her first show “Kiss the Sky” at the Women’s Art Association of Canada, featured paintings of skyscapes using a knife, brush and rollers on canvas and wood, in both large and small formats. It took a couple of years and a deep “Group of Seven” phase for her to cultivate a style that feels natural – layered knife paintings on large wood panels. I recently visited Nancy’s studio and saw this new piece (below) that’s still in the early stages – she showed me how she layers her work… 20170721_105045

“My paintings combine skyscapes, which are universal, and landscapes, which are specific to each location. I’m passionate about sharing the appreciation for my urban home setting and emphasizing that we’re all under the same sky – a commonality that helps us talk and create art together. The sky is a constant in all our lives and is a source of unity, calm and wonder as well a source of endless variety. Through my work I encourage people to look up and know they are not alone.”

Nancy continues….”I paint with oil paints on wood. Through these materials, I feel a connection to the history of my craft. In the current world of social media, the relationships and communication are real but have a fairy-like quality, flitting around the edge of “real life” and fading away completely if not nurtured. All the new media art tools today have evolved through the work of artists over centuries. The textures of different paints are an inspiration for the hundreds of filters available on Instagram. My passion with oil painting is a homage to traditional creation and its interaction in the digital space is my acceptance to our technological evolution.”20170721_105005

In 2015, Nancy co-founded the Four Corners Studio Collective, a Toronto based group of four emerging artists working together, learning from each other’s skills and experiences and supporting growth in their respective careers.  That same year, she curated #TwitterFirstFriday, a monthly art show conducted on the social media platform.  The goals were to encourage networking between artists around the world and promote art through sharing across multiple networks. Throughout 2015, on the first Friday of each month Nancy gathered works posted by artists, evaluated them for suitability and adherence to the show’s rules and shared with an online community.

Nancy is a member of The Artists’ Network, CARFAC and the Akin Collective, and in 2017, she began volunteering at Art Heart, an arts program for vulnerable adults.

“I’m a social artist. I thrive in a community, share studio space and have an active online following on social media. Through my paintings, I bring the extended community into my world and transfer my physical space into their digital one. I share my views, interpretations and feelings as I work through a piece. I encourage my online community to observe their own surroundings with an artist’s eye and get involved in my work. I appreciate when they send me photos of scenes that inspire them or remind them of my work. Through this give-and-take, my audience is with me throughout as an active component of my process in addition to being a passive audience to the final piece.”17634397_1444251605608964_2311017889669336969_nUPCOMING SHOWS
August 2017 – Solo exhibit, Deer Park Library, 40 St. Clair Ave. East, Toronto
August 18- 20 2017 –  ArtWalk in the Square at Shops @ Don Mills, Booth #24.
February 2018 – The Artist Project, Exhibition Place, Toronto

You can follow Nancy on Facebook.com/NancyBennettArts or visit her website: www.nancybennett.ca14390924_1241314049236055_5450160895757346700_nAnd if you see Nancy at any of her upcoming shows, stop in to her booth, say hi and learn more about this multi-talented woman who (finally) got to follow her dreams….

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TORONTO’S SANDRA AINSLEY GALLERY IS AN ART-GLASS LOVERS’ HAVEN!

I was visiting my artist friend Nancy Bennett’s studio this morning and noticed that one of the art gallery’s I’ve been meaning to visit was in the same building. Over the past few years, I’ve developed a passion for colourful contemporary art glass, fueled mainly by the stunning works of Dale Chihuly (you can read my blog about his exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum last year) but also my love of mid-century modern Scandinavian glass which I collected myself back in the 70’s. But today, I entered art glass heaven when I walked through the door of the SANDRA AINSLEY GALLERY located near Bermondsey and Victoria Park. My jaw literally dropped open as my eyes slowly focused on the massive space displaying some of the most incredible glass sculptures I’d ever seen.20170721_112305 20170721_110847 20170721_111022Where do I start? Well first off, the giant Chihuly sculptures suspended from the 22ft high ceilings were awe-inspiring…20170721_110722 20170721_110823…some of his giant “bowls” were so tactile, it took all my strength of character (and good manners) NOT to reach out and touch ’em!20170721_11074620170721_11113020170721_110756But it was the work of legendary Murano glass master LINO TAGLIAPIETRA that particularly grabbed my eyes and my soul! And here’s why….20170721_110836 20170721_110925 20170721_110949 20170721_112734Charming and knowledgeable gallery assistant, Daniel, kindly gave me Maestro Lino’s background that I’d like to share with you here:

Lino Tagliapietra’s career is defined by a dedication to workmanship, innovation, and collaboration. Born in 1934 on the renowned glass-blowing island of Murano, Italy, Tagliapietra began his apprenticeship at age 11 with Muranese master Archimede Seguso from whom Tagliapietra achieved the status of Maestro Vetraio by the age of 21. For over forty-two years, Lino worked in various for-profit Murano factories including Vetreria Galliano Ferro, Venini & Co., and finally as the Artistic and Technical Director of Effetre International (1976-1989). Tagliapietra has been an independent artist since 1989, exhibiting in museums around the globe, receiving countless honors, openly sharing his far-reaching knowledge of the medium and his skill as one of its finest practitioners, and helping to create a new renaissance in studio glassmaking. As James Yood, adjunct professor of art history at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and regular contributor to GLASS magazine wrote, “there are probably no two words more respected and honored in the history of modern sculpture in glass than ‘Lino Tagliapietra’; he is the living bridge, the crucial link between the august history of Venetian glass and the ceaseless wonders of what today we call the modern Studio Glass Movement”.Lino Tagliapietra Working ImageOf the influences on Lino Tagliapietra glass art work, one of the most profound was his participation in La Scuola Internazionale del Vetro symposia, held in Murano in the 1970s, which brought the finest Muranese masters together with artists from other disciplines around the world. Today, Lino Tagliapietra has established himself as one of the greatest glass artists of all time. Tagliapietra-blown glass works are in the collections of many major glass museums throughout the world and are sought after avidly by collectors of glass art. Some of the public collections which include Lino Tagliapietra blown glass sculpture are the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, the Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, the Corning Museum in New York, the Hokkaido Museum of Moder Art in Japan; The Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Palm Springs Art Museum in California, The Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C.; the Tokyo National Modern Art Museum and the Victora and Albert Museum in London.

As Daniel told me, although he’s not physically blowing the glass himself anymore, the master oversees all the work done in his studio and continues to create exquisite glass masterworks that should be collected NOW.

Another gorgeous installation is this one (below) by Philip Baldwin & Monica Guggisberg. I really liked their muted colour palette and sensual shapes. Again, I had to force myself to keep my hands by my side!! Being an Aussie, of course I fell in love with this massive cockatoo painting (below). Back home in the outback, cockatoos and budgies fly in huge flocks of thousands of birds so this piece made me a little homesick.20170721_111420I really liked these unusual glass bowls (below + header photo) by Shay Salehi20170721_111949…and also the clay sculptures (below) by current featured exhibitor Susan Collette whose show runs until July 29th. 20170721_110540 20170721_110618 20170721_110632There are so many more astounding pieces that you can look at, walk around, stand in front of and stare in wonder at…..20170721_113032 20170721_112806 20170721_112645 20170721_111141 20170721_111223 20170721_111236…that you’ll need to take a packed lunch as you’ll want to spend a long long time absorbing the colours, the textures, the shapes.

You can learn more about the current exhibitions and the talented artists regularly represented by visiting: www.sandraainsleygallery.com  But of course, visiting the gallery in person is so much better.WhiteSAGLogoAlignedHighQuality20170721_111542 20170721_111716 20170721_111731