Toronto-based artist GRACE DAM (pictured below) has been a frequent exhibitor at URBAN GALLERY – her landscapes have garnered high praise in a number of previous group & solo shows, and in SEX LOVE LIES, Grace explores her figurative as well as abstract inspirations with a series of large canvases on show at the gallery until September 29th (400 Queen St East, Toronto).Grace graduated from Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto with a degree in Fine Arts, minor in Photography. Her time is split between Toronto, where she researches and produces works, and the rugged Rocky Mountains in Western Canada where gigantic peaks, serene lakes and wildlife provide refuge and inspiration to her. She paints everything and anything that moves her; most of her works convey messages, be they personal, social or political, her views imply quietly. One of the most complex things in life is the interaction or connection to others around us. Something we can observe but never quite control. My figurative works reflect aspects of the complication in the communication between human beings. Certain looks, even a smile or a passing raising of the eyebrows can imprint in our memory that precise moment like a never fading recorded tape. ~ Grace Dam My personal favourite has to be “The Paper” 48″ x 48″ oil on canvas (pictured below with the artist) illustrating the angst and pain felt by the man upon reading the message on the paper. Grace’s treatment of the sweater and pants fabrics is quite wonderful…you can almost reach out and feel the textures….Even the catering, courtesy of Urban Source Catering was artful and very much in keeping with Grace’s work. I encourage you to visit the gallery in person to enjoy the provocative figurative canvases as well as the boldly coloured abstracts….. The exhibition runs until September 29th – details, gallery hours & directions: www.urbangallery.ca
Be prepared to leave hungry when you visit URBAN GALLERY‘s yummy “ART OF FOOD” group show that runs throughout August. The paintings are simply delicious with works featuring both sweet and savory images and some that are even thought-provoking such as Judy Sherman‘s collection of farmyard beasties striking back against their potential farm-to-plate future (below)
Anushka Deshpande‘s art is called “quilling” which is sculpting and rolling paper to create stunning representations of her subjects, like these (I love the tropical cocktail). Anushka is pictured above (centre) with (L to R) her husband, a friend, Calvin Hambrook (gallery director) and Allen Shugar (gallery curator).
Lisa Hemeon is best known for her evocative seascapes and you can imagine all the fishies swimming just under the surface, waiting for lines to be cast with big juicy baits. Look closely and imagine dinner just below Lisa’s waves…
Aisha Chiguichon brought wine…or at least a lovely painting of wine…to go with the colourful forks skewering treats for gallery visitors! Aisha is a self-taught visual artist and it’s obvious she delights in her inspirations for this show.URBAN SOURCE CATERING partnered with the gallery to present some real “art” of food – just look at this delicious spread for gallery visitors to enjoy and admire, prepared by executive chef Lyndon Wiebe. One of Urban Catering’s previous employees, Valerie J. McMurray, is also an artist of some note. Here is her triptych titled “Spanish Lemons” – you can almost smell the fragrance emanating from her juicy, ripe fruit.Janna Kroupko has previously exhibited at Urban Gallery, both in group and solo shows. Here, her delightful “Cherries” sits elegantly above the buffet table. She’s also an accomplished textile artist and weaver. Urban Catering’s chef, Lyndon Wiebe, loves photography as well as food and has previously exhibited his photos from tours around the world (Lyndon is one of the chefs featured in the tv series “Chefs Run Wild”). Here he shares a couple of his storefront photos…Popular Toronto artist Kirk Sutherland brought three distinctly different artworks to the show, all featuring his signature colourful imaginative energy. With titles such as Theatre of Saccharine and Confectionery Planetarium, Kirk’s work fits perfectly into this group show. Even NEWZ4U editor KJ Mullins was entranced by Kirk’s work! (below)Gallery visitors enjoyed the art, the food and the chance to meet and chat with so many artists… ART OF FOOD runs until August 31st at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East, Toronto (1 block E of Parliament). For directions and gallery hours visit: www.urbangallery.ca
Yesterday, Saturday July 7, URBAN GALLERY 400 Queen St East in Toronto was packed with guests to celebrate the opening of their month-long group show, Wild in the City. Featured artists include Erik Chong, Libby Sims and Osvaldo Napoli who were in attendance, plus works from Lindsey MacKay who was unable to attend in person – she resides in Fredericton, NB. Take a virtual walk thru the gallery with me now…
The gallery filled up quickly once the doors opened at 2pm and lots of ooo’s and aaah’s were heard as visitors discovered the stunning and provocative paintings and sculptures. Erick Chong (below) has exhibited at Urban several times over the past 4 or 5 years and for this show, he brought a whole new style and theme to the show.Erik has several videos showcasing his unique style and technique – get to know this artist here:
I’ve followed Libby Sims‘ work for sometime – she creates beautiful abstract florals in bold colours and strokes, along with other subjects and shapes. A mature artist, Libby has studied abroad and has developed her distinct style that is instantly recognizable. Osvaldo “Ozzie” Napoli (below) is another mature artist although he is relatively new to the mainstream Toronto arts scene. His wire sculptures and large format multi-medium artworks create quite the statement and Ozzie’s fans turned out in force to see his latest work.The fourth artist feature in Wild in the City, Lindsey MacKay, was unable to attend in person – she resides on the East Coast. But her art spoke loudly for her, featuring people, places and activities found around the city. I personally love the wild eyed seagull featured in her “You Lookin’ at Me?” painting (below).And I like Lindsey’s “In the Moment” painting (below) – reminds me of Toronto’s “Salsa on St Clair” – this weekend’s annual street fair of dancing and Latin culture.So many interesting and thought-provoking images to enjoy, I hope you get a chance to drop by Urban Gallery this month to see Wild in the City yourself. For gallery hours and directions, visit: www.urbangallery.ca
Last Saturday, it was a full house at URBAN GALLERY for the opening reception of ANDRE VITTORIO‘s “Abstractions on Metal” solo show of photographic art. running until April 28th, the show features stunning B&W architectural portraits from around the world (the Eiffel Tower looks magnificent)….….as well as a series of brightly coloured shots of the waters surrounding the Venetian island of Murano (below). In fact, the photos reminded me of the fine Murano glass work for which the artisans of the island became famous.Andre was thrilled with the turnout of family, friends and fans of his work… Snap’d newspaper photographer Kate McGartland dropped by to cover the show – here’s Andre showing her his Murano series which certainly captured her attention!And KJ Mullins, publisher of NEWZ4U.ca also came by to cover the event, seen here below 2nd from left chatting with Wayne Abell (at left) of Urban Catering (who supplied the yummy refreshments).Gallery director Calvin Hambrook (below left) was on hand to welcome other artists, including Tunde Omotoye (far right) who may be participating in an upcoming group show at the gallery.Prior to the guests arriving, I managed to grab a few minutes to interview Andre ……
“Abstractions on Metal” runs throughout the month of April so if you’d like to spend time with gorgeous, unique artwork, visit Urban Gallery at 400 Queen st East, Toronto – check their website for directions and gallery hours: www.UrbanGallery.ca
Each year, URBAN GALLERY in Toronto hosts a 10-day exhibition of works from the first year students of the Centennial College Studio Arts program, and this year’s show is titled “Wait, What?”. Not what you would normally expect from a group of ambitious emerging artists – layered universes of double meaning, hope, despair, humour, longing, madness, genius, and skillful virtuosity. All contained within innocuous 18″ square shadow boxes. You will leave the show thinking “wait, what?”… Fairchild Chinese TV news was on hand to record the opening reception and interview the artists and the dept. head…. One of the mature students, F. Mehtap Mertdogan, was there with her family and proudly posed in front of her stunning 3D mosaic titled “Enough!” (below) The 23 artworks on show offered subjects, mediums and colour palettes to suit every taste and pocketbook – prices range from $200 to $450 – a very affordable way to start collecting your favourite emerging Canadian artists. Congratulations to all the artists: Mattheas Gabber, Yogin Patel, Kumar Ayyappa, Fiona Wei, Lilian Jang, Lucas Thomas, Arnold Farrell, CL Fisher, Bee Fawn, Alexandria A. Allen-Papadopoylos, Jancy Sivanantham, Lexx Willis, Takanya Marsh, Titar Awua-Imande, Danielle Nothmann, Sharon Zhang, Atheena Sureshmohan, Gabriella Berdugo, Hyewon Kim, Natalie Plociennik, Wayne Wu, Kai Hart and F. Mehtap Mertdogan.“Wait, What?” runs until Saturday March 24th (5pm) at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen st East, Toronto. Check the website for times & more details: www.urbangallery.ca
Last night I attended the opening reception for “East Meets West” at Stockyards Gallery owned and curated by my friend, Lola Livingston. She’s been presenting unique showcases for artists since opening a year ago and this time, she knocked it outta the ballpark. Jean Paul Langlois, based in BC, has been charming the critics with his innovative neo-expressionist paintings incorporating images from 70’s cult films and pop culture, embellishing with bright, bold swathes of colour. I must admit I am in love with these works and only wish it wasn’t rent day yesterday as I would have grabbed my favourite (Gen’l Urko – below, left – from the original Planet of the Apes). Jean Paul busied himself signing prints of his work for new fans (above). For 2 1/2hrs, gallery guests gathered around him, learning more about these exciting, vibrant paintings, the artist’s inspirations and techniques. Check out more of his work at www.jeanpaullanglois.caAbove, actors Bruno Verdoni (L) and Tatum Lee (R) discussed art and their upcoming film projects.
Al “Runt” Currie, who is well-known to Toronto audiences for his giant street murals on places like Lee’s Palace exterior, delivered a selection of 3D paintings (below) as well as a new series of glow-in-the-dark, black-light images…wow! www.alrunt.com Recording artist and music historian Greg Godovitz (below L) was quite taken with Al’s work, posing here with the artist (2nd from L) and other friends/fans. Fingers-crossed we see some of Al’s work hanging in the legendary El Mocambo when it re-opens next spring. The third artist, Darren Hyde, paints under the name Mr. Hydde and he delivered some extraordinary, detailed works of art that were reminiscent of my previous client, Johnny Deluna (Toronto’s king of pointillism-meets-surrealism). I really wanted to purchase the small orange painting (below, bottom) but friends beat me to it. Grrrrrrr…but I guess I can at least visit my painting..along with a second one they also purchased (the middle one with a big X) Mr Hydde (above) seemed quite happy with the night’s activities, especially with all the sales! You can find more of his work on his Facebook fan page: Facebook.com/MisterHydde
Congratulations to Lola and all three artists – there were so many sales last night I lost count of all the red dots (I think Al sold 6 or 7 pieces, a new record for Stockyards Gallery). East Meets West runs until Jan. 2nd so I recommend you hurry down to Stockyards Gallery at 1611 Dupont Street, Toronto, to experience the art yourself. www.stockyardsgallery.ca There was obviously an old time Hollywood movie fan there last night, buying up 2 of Jean Paul’s paintings showing Judy Garland and Desi Arnaz in costume for roles where each portrayed a native American (from Jean Paul’s “Fake Indians” series).
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.comI 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.What 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.How 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.In 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.On 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. Do 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.What 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.What 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.
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.Chris 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… And as the guests arrived, Chris was eager to greet them and show them around… Chris gave an interview to arts journalist Mark Hasan of KQEQ.com (below)…and here she is (below) with gallery curator and fellow artist, Allen Shugar…..…and with her friends (below)Below, Drew from Snap’d newspaper came out to take photos, too.Chris’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. Gallery owner, Calvin Hambrook (below L) was also busy welcoming guests… …and this sumptuous and artful refreshments spread was courtesy of UrbanSource Catering (urbancatering.com) 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.ca
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) Each 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”.In 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. I 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…….and several fellow artists dropped by including Grace Dam (below) whose shows Allen has previously curated……and Romi Samuels (below) who hopes to bring a show of her work to the gallery in the near future.Here’s award-winning artist Erik Chong (below with his wife, Jeannette) whose shows Allen has also curated over the past few years.Allen showcased 3 smaller framed pieces (reverse painting on glass) and my favourite one was quickly snapped up by this lovely lady. So many gorgeous pieces…you must visit the gallery to see for yourself! And of course, the refreshments were works of art, too, courtesy of Urban Source Catering…
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
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.(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.Two of Hanna’s BFF’s came to support her and found a familiar sight in this painting (below) of Yonge Street between Queen & Dundas! I 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. Hanna 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…LOLAmidst 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….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.If 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
Thank you for supporting Canadian artists!