My dear friend Donna Lypchuk unveils another series of stunning photographs for this year’s Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival – the official opening reception for her solo show Mystical Toronto: The Oculis of Donna Lypchuk takes place this Thursday May 11 (6-10pm) at Jinks Art Factory, a tattoo parlour, arts hub and coffee shop located at 1664 Queen Street West in Parkdale. The show runs until May 31st.
All photographs are printed on metallic paper that gives whites a silver reflective quality and a jewel-like depth. Prices range from $25 – $60 and sizes range 8″x 10″ to 11″x 17″. Here are some of the spectacular skyscapes you’ll see….The Queen Street writer, anthropologist and arts scene contributor uses her signature cellphone “fauxtographie” to channel the essence of mystical Toronto with this series of fine art prints that draw new meaning from the city’s atmospheric skies, abandoned mid-century temples, secret parlour rooms, foggy forest clearings, and sacred condo-henges. A long-time resident and arts scene contributor of the Queen Street West bo-ho community, Donna wrote a provocative weekly column (“the necrofile”) for the now-defunct eye Weekly newspaper and is a published author, playwright and multi-media artist. True to the intention of the original Art for Lobbies, Lounges and Living Rooms concept of producing livable interesting and affordable pieces , Donna’s cell phone folk art now hangs in the living rooms of many private collectors and in various government, religious and business spaces.
I hope you will come on out during the month of May to support all local photographic artists participating in the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival and Donna looks forward to welcoming you to her opening party at Jinks Art Factory this Thurs. May 11 between 6pm and 10pm. More information on the Facebook event page.
Oh, I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay….. I know, I know – this is how most people imagine all Canadian woodsmen, but let me introduce you to Mark Livingston, Founder of REBARN, a true master craftsman who works with repurposed reclaimed wood from barns, railway ties, churches and other architectural salvage, turning them into works of art for installation in your home, cottage, office or store.This new 2nd location for Rebarn is 1611 Dupont St (10 mins. from Dundas W subway) and has only been open for about a month – Mark and his lovely lady Lola Kerecki (an artist herself) are working hard getting ready for an official opening event – they will retain the original workshop on Alliance Ave to handle the high volume of commissions received since Rebarn has been featured on TV shows like Colin & Justin’s Cabin Pressure (see below) and Cityline.Mark sources “rescued” wood and then crafts stunning barn doors for home installation using authentic hardware (below) in various finishes and styles to suit every decor or theme. Sometimes beautifully sanded and finished to a mid-century modern feel, other times more rustic and raw in appearance, each piece of furniture offers unique charm and appeal.And using old railway ties, Mark creates stunning fireplace mantles and shelving that look good in any home (below).Mark’s in-store loo (still under construction) showcases this wonderfully whimsical countertop upon which a glass sink will eventually sit…You can choose your preferred hardware from a wide selection (some of which is shown below)……but if you’re not looking for doors, you can find all manner of home decor accessories (see below) handcrafted by Mark and a colleague who specialized in woodburning.Don’t you just love this fun wee beastie? Much better to have a wooden moosehead than one that had to die, yes?And I spied this Noguchi-esque desk at the back of the showroom….isn’t it gorgeous?Lola has contributed a number of pieces to the store…love her moose painting on wood – see how she’s incorporated a western mountain lake scene into the body.I had fun playing with this giant mirror……and spent time sitting on this bench embellished with the “bird on a wire” burnt into its surface.Rebarn can customize barn doors, mantles, furniture or simply supply hardware for your own projects so contact Mark for design ideas and a quote: 647-968-4004 or firstname.lastname@example.org www.rebarn.caBig THANK YOU to Lola and Mark for their hospitality…and good luck with the upcoming official opening party for REBARN!
What a fabulous morning I had, schlepping around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, strolling down the most fashionable interior designer aisles of this year’s INTERIOR DESIGN SHOW. Thanks to artist and artist’s representative MARK J. GLEBERZON of MJG Gallery, now an online gallery showcasing the works of exciting local artists, my photographer Gabriella and I were given carte blanche to play among the chi-chi furniture and decorating & design booths on the main floor of the Metro Toronto Convention Ctr. (I’ll be posting a full show blog later) and I videotaped this quick interview with Mark from his booth at IDS …..
I recently asked Mark to share his thoughts about being a working artist in Toronto and the move from a storefront gallery location in Leslieville to a virtual environment (his proposed rent increase was just too outrageous). Here’s what he said…..
Mark, after moving your bricks’n’mortar MJG Gallery in Toronto to an online gallery, have you found you’re reaching a wider audience for your art and the artists you represent?
I haven’t yet found an increase per-se in inquiries or sales since I closed my gallery (see below) but I’ve always tried to make my presence known online, one way or another. Many people thought when I closed my gallery that was that. I always tried to explain I will always continue offering my own work – which I’d been doing for nearly twenty-five years – as well as promoting other artists I’ve worked with over the past four years and do so using the internet more and more. I would like to think doing shows like IDS as well as continued participation in other gallery and trade shows, including possibly doing the Affordable Art Fair in New York City in a few months, will continue getting me and the MJG identity noticed by a broader audience. Also, making sure to continually update my Facebook page, release periodic newsletters, Twitter feeds and Instagram posts are important to let people know what I’m up to, what’s new and reach out to new contacts.What was the best (or most interesting) experience you encountered as a gallery owner?
I can’t think of a specific event but I suppose being told mine or another artist’s painting was a client’s first art purchase ever is always a nice thing to hear….popping their art cherry, if you will !
What was the downside to running a storefront gallery in Toronto?
First and foremost, the actual costs of maintaining a gallery are always the bane of any retailer. On top of rent (or mortgage if you own the space), there’s electricity, heat, internet, phone and many other expenses. In my case, there were also my art supplies which were rather costly. There’s certainly the ebb and flow of sales that occur in the gallery but any ‘free’ money is almost always rolled back into the business. Plus, being in the physical space, somewhat isolated (as was my case, where I didn’t have an assistant) one can be feel locked away from what’s happening outside the gallery. I found trying to visit other gallery openings and art-related events and sometimes just plain socializing was extremely difficult when you’re beholden to your business and trying to be there as much as possible. Retail in general is not for the faint of heart. You really have to be dedicated to what you do and feel confident in for what you’re selling.You’re exhibiting at this year’s Interior Design Show, a very prestigious expo where you’ll meet many interior designers & decorators – do you anticipate making new connections and expanding your art business?
As I often say, it’s making ONE new important contact that’s always key with any of these shows. Yes, I always enjoy working with clients looking for one painting just as much as with those looking for a larger purchase, but it’s always important to continue reaching out to more and more people. IDS (see Mark with a new client in his IDS booth today, below) is a show that can potentially introduce me to those in the interior and design industries as well as architects, film industry folk and others. In a recent home show, I met someone who was the building manager for two downtown condos. Eventually, she and the Condo Board oversaw the purchase of nearly two dozen works from several artists including those represented by my gallery. With the closing of the physical gallery, I hope to be able to direct people to myself, the artists I work with and the services I provide, including art consultancy via shows like IDS. My hope is to match clients and designers with artists and their work as well as coordinating personalized commissions. I always make it a point that when I meet someone at a show like IDS, I follow up with them immediately. They may not need me right away but at least the connection was made. As a working artist, what inspires you and how do you separate your own work from the business side of representing other artists who entrust their work to your online gallery?
It’s always a fine balance when you’re both a working artist and representing other artists as well. I always did my best to bring as much attention to my gallery and the roster of artists I represented as to my own work. That’s why I tried to balance my participation in self-representing shows (incl. the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, the Artist Project and RAW to name a few) along with gallery-exclusive or home decor shows (incl. IDS, Love Art) as much as possible. A gallery owner needs to assure a relationship of trust between them and the artists they work with and it’s easy to break that trust if an artist feels you’re compromising them or their work. Luckily, it seems all of the artists I worked with in my gallery space, are just as happy to continue working with me as I shift online. Now as far as my own work is concerned, I’ve developed several series of art – both painting and photography (see below) – and I’ve decided to make 2016 the year I explore others genres. I may find inspiration from what’s going around me or simply (and usually) thru sheer desperation to try to develop my own voice in the visual world. Any advice for emerging Canadian artists?
I think in this day of insta-everything, an artist needs to make their presence known by making the Internet their friend. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and other services are terrific and often free ways to get work noticed. If you’re working with a gallery, make sure that gallery’s hanging and consignment arrangements are as fair with ‘newbies’ as with the more established artists in the same space. NEVER sign an exclusivity clause unless one really feels secure the gallery owner will direct a lot of attention to your work. It’s easy to get trapped thinking – or being convinced – that getting ones work hung ‘anywhere’ will lead to good exposure or sales. Try to be as strategic as possible and feel secure that “Yes, this is somewhere I’m proud my work is being shown”. And don’t always be willing to do things for free. Many people feel they have the upper-hand offering exhibition opportunities to new artists, offering little compensation. That’s not fair…it’s taking advantage of people.
Any other comments you’d like to share? MJG is poised for a fresh, new start in 2016. Although the format of the gallery has changed, I’m looking forward to new opportunities that already seem to be coming my way.Mark can be reached via MJG Gallery’s website http://mjggallery.com/ and you can follow him on Facebook (MJG Gallery); Instragram (#mjggallery), and Twitter (@mjggallery)
One of the most fun galleries to visit in Toronto is the LUMAS GALLERIES located in the space that was previously the Four Season’s Hotel in Yorkville (159 Yorkville Ave). They carry some of the coolest photographic art ranging from giant wall-size digital photos down to miniature size framed photos suitable for the tiniest of loft spaces. Photographers featured include legends such as Damien Hirst, Man Ray and Edward Steichen whose portrait of silent movie queen Gloria Swanson (below) has been a part of my own art collection since the late 70’s, as well as architectural, landscape and figurative photographers like Erich Lessing, Sven Fennema, Louise Dahl-Wolfe,Daniel Reiter …and many others.I received a call from the gallery last week congratulating me on winning a $50 gift certificate in their first monthly draw, so today I went to collect my prize from the lovely Yoli, art consultant and gallery goddess (below left)Thank you so much to Lumas for my prize, I will be back a little later to choose something pretty as a Christmas gift to myself! I also met Gallery Director, Claire, who kindly allowed me to interview her and Yoli so I could share the story of the Lumas Galleries with you…
I encourage you to drop in and say hello to Yoli & Claire, and spend some time viewing the ever-changing artwork on their walls displayed in various themed rooms so you can see how cool your home would look with a Lumas photo on your own walls (below are a few examples).
How exciting – the Lumas Limited Edition Gallery has just opened in Yorkville (Toronto) in the ground floor retail space created in the condos taking over the old Four Seasons Hotel lot at the corner of Avenue Rd and Yorkville Ave. The internationally acclaimed gallery offers stunning photographs of curated works by the world’s leading artists (over 200 artists are represented) and the Toronto location has just opened. With nearly 40 galleries located in cities such as Berlin, London, Paris, New York and now Toronto, local condo and homeowners can add renowned works to their walls in large or small format photos. Come walk through the showrooms with me….You must visit in person to get the full effect of this incredible Damien Hirst piece (below)…it’s 3D and jumps out from the wall. So scary…so beautiful. My photo does not do it justice.
The Vogue Collection features popular photographs by the magazine’s top photographic artists……and some of the display rooms look like condo showrooms, set with fabulous on-trend furniture, lighting and wall colours.
There are numerous “miniatures” (below) suitable for smaller condos or apartments, and very affordable, too.
I recommend you drop in soon, spend some time strolling thru the rooms and chatting with the gallery/store associates who can recommend pieces that will fit your home and your wallet. Lumas Limited Edition Gallery, 159 Yorkville Ave, Toronto T: 416-928-9200 www.lumas.com
When I visited Toronto’s Bloordale neighbourhood yesterday to celebrate the opening of the Dead Dog Records store, I walked past an intriguing store offering unique and incredibly beautiful home decor and art that I just could not resist…so I went inside.
Zebuu, located at 1265 Bloor St West just east of Lansdowne, presents its wares much like a curated gallery – collections of bird carvings from Brazilian artisans in lots of lovely colours grouped together like little birdies on a power line…delicately carved wooden angels flew across the entrance wall, and groups of wooden heads marched across the shelves live Easter Island moai come to life!
Co-owner Craig Williamson explained that he and his partner, Geraldo Valerio, import their home decor, room accents and textiles mainly from Brazil, Turkey and India, all handcrafted by skilled artisans. Check out the stunning copperware from Turkey and the beautifully decorated shears and scissors from Mumbai, India, below.
So many cute little treasures for the wee ones’ rooms as well as the big people…I wanted to play with these hand-carved beasties….…and what kitchen or family room wouldn’t benefit from the addition of these fine home accents?Don’t the wooden spoons look like art (above), displayed the way Craig has hung them on the wall? Each is made by hand from native Brazilian hardwoods, ensuring a one-of-a-kind look and feel.
If you’re more into Canadiana, have no fear…Zebuu has lots of lovely goodies for the true blue Canucks, too.The new website, www.zebuu.com, is still being populated with photos and product information, but you can call them on 647-748-1265 or email: email@example.comZebuu is a welcome oasis of art, home decor and giftware amongst a row of unremarkable but friendly neighbourhood cafes, convenience stores and thrift shops. You will feel welcome and at home so drop in and say hello to Craig and Geraldo, and do tell them I sent you.
One of us…one of us! I LOVE all things PlaydeadCult – fashion, furniture, art – all done by artist & musician Stu Andrenelli who I’ve known for many years since buying one of his original paintings right off the wall of the old Shanghai Cowgirl diner on Queen Street W back when the neighbourhood was still groovy and the hipsters were still….well, hip.
Since then, I’ve added numerous pieces to my collection of original edgy art and watched Playdead Cult grow from a niche fashion and art boutique into a thriving design business, bringing a real sense of edgy cool to Toronto’s indie culture. Stu (pictured below) is also an accomplished musician – he’s the drummer of Toronto alt. rock band A Primitive Evolution (A.P.E.).
Playdead Cult was originally headquartered in a vintage auto body shop near Queen & Dufferin where Stu and then-partner Bean created art and fashion designs using the Playdead Cult logo/brand as the key element. Playdead then moved into a Kensington Market store where they built a loyal following among the artsy-fartsy market set, as well as attracting numerous recording artists and TV personalities such as George Stroumboulopoulos who is frequently seen sporting a Playdead Cult t-shirt.
Last year, Stu decided to bring Playdead Cult back to Queen West and found a great (and much larger) store at 1696 Queen West, just East of Roncesvalles, and after a grand opening party, has steadily been building an even more fascinating, engaging and intriguing identity….as soon as I walked in today I felt at home in this playful pandora’s box of a store/gallery surrounded by a riot of art, clothing, re-purposed furniture, toys, nic-nacs and even customized guitars. Check it out…..
One of my favourite art groupings are these insane customized Playdead Barbie heads (below) – d’you remember back in the80’s when little girls would style Barbie’s hair on these things? Yikes.
Speaking of hair do’s….Playdead Cult also has a very comfortable vintage shampoo chair and cut’n’style work station on-site (below) for any last minute ‘dos, too.
Stu has recently designed and decorated a local hair salon and diner so he’s now set to give Colin & Justin a run for their decorating dollars!!
Playdead Cult offers so many unique art pieces – great furnishings for your loft, condo or mum’s basement! Look at this sexy coffee table (below) which started out life as a old fashioned luggage trolley – Stu refinished and polished it up and made it into something a little less “in yer face” for the more conservative buyer. The skulls and stripes kerchief makes a great doily, dontcha think?
I just had to pick up one of Stu’s miniatures (pictured below) to add to my collection – it’s the middle heart & skulls on the bottom row, and it’s now hanging happily on my wall at home.
Big thank you to Stu and his colleague, Brett (pictured below L to R) who showed me around the new store. I suggest you allow yourself at least an hour to go thru all the shelves, looking at every little treasure in every nook and cranny. Check every inch of wall space for the unusual original artwork and definitely go thru the clothing racks
Playdead Cult Boutique & Gallery
Clothing, art and events for the black collar worker!