Tag Archives: artists

20170715_113223

MEET THE ARTISTS @ THIS YEAR’S TORONTO OUTDOOR ART EXHIBITION

Another great turn-out of exciting artists for this year’s Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition at Nathan Phillips Square; today I made a relatively quick visit – due to the heat and humidity, I had to bail after about 90 minutes. Whew…gasp!

First up, I ran into Mississauga artist Michael Toole (below) who has an upcoming show at Stockyards Gallery. Really liked his work using “window frames” to add texture and dimension to his photographic art.  www.michaeltooleart.com20170715_110015I was next greeted by the always-smiling Rob Croxford….his booth is filled with easily-recognized cityscapes and lots of fun visual puns. Rob has lots of small prints available, too, so feel free to browse in his booth. Keep smiling, Rob.  www.robcroxford.com20170715_110451Brian Harvey is another of my favourite artists who produces the most stunning cityscapes, especially of Toronto’s historic laneways and old neighbourhoods. I could almost hear the birds singing and the leaves rustling in that city lane painting behind Brian.  www.brianharvey.ca20170715_110737 20170715_110818As soon as I spied Kari Serrao‘s antlered wee beasties in ruffles, furs and armour (below), I immediately thought of Game of Thrones. If you’re a fan of  White Walkers, Jon Snow or Brienne of Tarth, you MUST have one of these paintings on your wall…LOL.  www.kariserrao.com20170715_111117 20170715_111148And here’s Kate Taylor (below L) greeting some friends at her booth. Kate is a member of the ColourShift Collective, a group of like-minded artists dedicated to capturing the world around us via abstract painting and photography, and The Artists Network. www.katetaylorstudio.com20170715_111421 20170715_111506Had a giggle with Erin Rothstein who perfectly reflected her artwork with watermelon juice in hand! She was so perfectly attired to compliment her booth but just looking inside her booth made me hungry and thirsty!  www.erinrothstein.com20170715_112546Kingston-based glass artist Alexi Hunter was proud to show off his beautiful art glass (below). These stunning colourful pieces reminded me of my visit to the Dale Chihuly show at the ROM several months ago.  www.kingstonglassgallery.com20170715_11300320170715_113009Another fabulous glass artist I discovered today was Kristian Spreen (below). Like me, Kristian loves blue and I was so impressed with her work, I’ve featured her beautiful aqua-coloured tumblers at the top of this story.   www.kristianspreen.ca20170715_113218Toronto’s current arts “media darling” has to be Morgan Sheardown (below) whose whimsical “Raining Cows” series is all over the news these days, as well as the fact that the Art Gallery of Hamilton has recently awarded Morgan a 3 year exhibition of his works. Bravo, Morgan! I myself am a proud owner of a mini “Raining Cows” painting.  www.morgansheardown.com20170715_11350820170715_11351320170715_113533Joining me today was best friend, Erena, who loves the work of this next artist – she introduced me to his work and has started collecting his paintings herself. Here she is with the charming and talented Olaf  Schneider. Apart from his detailed abstracts and landscapes, his still life work is outstanding – I love the one below with the blue glass and red lantern.  www.olaf.ca20170715_11380820170715_114153I’ve been a long-time fan of Stewart Jones (below) and was pleased to see the Wellington, ON, resident come back to the big city for this weekend’s show. He and his wife moved from Toronto to Wellington (approx 90 minutes east of Toronto) several years ago and set up residence in a beautiful heritage farmhouse across the road from a lovely little beach where I’m told they frequently watch the sunsets with a glass of wine in hand. Aaah, for the simple life! Stew’s gritty urban oil-on-canvas works featuring streetcar tracks, old buildings and warehouses are now joined by his powerful countryside views and winterscapes.  www.stewartjones.ca   Stew has also recently launched another artful endeavour, the Midtown Brewing Co. so I can’t wait to sample those “artworks”, too! Instagram: @midtownbrewingcompany20170715_114410 20170715_114320

There are so many talented artists and craftspeople represented at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, it was impossible to capture all of them for this blog so I encourage you to check out the show in person tomorrow. Located at Nathan Phillips Square (Bay & Queen Streets) – details at www.torontooutdoor.art  @toaeart  #toae2017

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And THANK YOU for supporting Canadian artists!Print

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ARTUSIASM ART GALLERY OPENS “SUMMERFEST 2017″ GROUP SHOW IN TORONTO

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.20170616_192040 20170616_192439 20170616_191829I 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!20170616_192609 20170616_192552I 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.20170616_194138 20170616_194151 20170616_194156I 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.20170616_192017

Constellation by Leslie Karen Hall

Constellation by Leslie Karen Hall

Peach Coloured Rose by Lowell Lo

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!20170616_193855Tanzina and Carlos always make sure gallery visitors are well fed and watered at their opening events….the home-made samosas are deelish20170616_191850Artist and gallery regular Linda Deramaix strikes a pose (below) underneath her own artwork titled “Resilience”. Nice to see you again, Linda!20170616_191951So many difference pieces to stimulate your artistic senses….20170616_193843 20170616_194057 20170616_192020…and lots of artwork to provoke conversation….20170616_194543Summerfest 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.com20170616_194820

 

20170603_121803

I VISIT THE ANNUAL RIVERDALE ARTWALK IN TORONTO

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.com20170603_122048 20170603_122213I 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.20170603_122406(0)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!20170603_122540 20170603_122549Dear Rea Kelly…she always greets me with open arms and a warm hug! Love her big, bold and bright florals (below) www.reakelly.com20170603_122752Another 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.20170603_123114(0)20170603_123325 20170603_123420And 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.20170603_123708 20170603_123729Julia 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.mcneely20170603_123943Christopher 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 20170603_124209 20170603_124513Margaret 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!20170603_124343And 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.com20170603_124552(0)Cape-Cod-150x150Ian 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.com20170603_124640W. 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.com20170603_125051Jamie 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.com 20170603_12524920170603_125342I 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.com 20170603_125909 20170603_125918Sheila 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 20170603_13013320170603_13021620170603_130251Elena 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.com20170603_131141(0)So 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.ca  20170603_131649(0) 20170603_131744Another 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.com20170603_132114(0)Also 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.com20170603_132813 20170603_132933 20170603_132534 20170603_132926

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. 20170603_130918For more information about this show and other upcoming events, visit www.artistsnetwork.ca20170603_130746

20170520_134515

PETER HARRIS UNVEILS NEW PAINTINGS IN “EVENING WITH HOPPER” SOLO SHOW @ MIRA GODARD GALLERY IN YORKVILLE

While the rest of the city appeared to have “taken off” for the long Victoria Day weekend, I spent Saturday afternoon dropping in on some of the art galleries in the Yorkville neighbourhood. So nice to have such beauty and talent on my doorstep and the MIRA GODARD GALLERY at 22 Hazelton Avenue did not disappoint – I was lucky to find their current exhibiting artist PETER HARRIS at the gallery for a meet-n-greet. 20170520_134500Peter (pictured above) proudly showed off his intimate views of building entrances and night windows inspired by Edward Hopper’s iconic 1942 “Nighthawks” painting of a New York diner late at night. Many of the images are recognizable Toronto views but I really liked this one (below) which is based on a New York City art deco era building – if you look thru the lobby you can even see another Hopper-inspired painting represented in the reception area.Lobby_Entrance-NY_Office_w

As a landscape painter, I strive to create images that connect viewers to their immediate surroundings. While my work is situated in the present, it often invokes artists from the past whose paintings linger in our collective memory and influence how we think about the landscape. Edward Hopper and Lawren Harris are two such artists whose iconic imagery still resonates, and whose reputation casts a long shadow over all artists working within the genre. In the exhibition Evening with Hopper I began by meticulously recreating their historical paintings in miniature and framing them within current urban architecture. I wanted their historical depictions to be subsumed by the modern, acknowledging the power of their legacy while challenging their continued relevancy to a contemporary audience. – Peter Harris, 2017Entrance_at_668-Mtn_Landscape_sRedVestibule-ChopSuey_sAnother fave of mine is this interior of an elevator (below) – who would think that this interior space would make such a great painting subject? Just look at the metallic finishes and the light reflections…wow!Level_3_(Icebergs)_sMany of the paintings already have little red dots attached to their labels – the sign of a sale! The show continues until Sat. May 27th so I recommend you visit the gallery a.s.a.p. to see these exquisite works of art for yourself.  Visit the gallery’s website for hours & directions and you can see more of Peter’s work online – but much better to see them in person to experience the overwhelming effect of each canvas. Thank you for supporting Canadian artists!miragodardgalleryfront

Mira Godard Gallery, 22 Hazelton Ave, Toronto      www.godardgallery.com

(with exception of 1st two photos, all images courtesy of Mira Godard Gallery)

20170506_140755

URBAN GALLERY OPENS ANNUAL CONTACT PHOTO FEST SHOW “WATER: SUSTAINING LIFE”

Toronto’s leading indie art gallery, URBAN GALLERY, hosted the opening reception for their annual Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival exhibition yesterday. Featuring 4 talented photographic artists, “Water: Sustaining Life” runs until May 31st at 400 Queen St East (just 1 blk E. of Parliament St) in downtown Toronto.th

As the gallery notes, water is the world’s most precious resource. And photographic artists Alex Turner, Chris Hominuk, Karen Silver and Maria Ricossa bring four unique perspectives to water’s special significance in our lives and the world around us.CHRIS HOMINUK Oneida Falls CHRIS HOMINUK Georgian Bay Sunrise Symmetry Karen Silver 497 KB RICOSSA_Blue Dress TURNER TransformationVersion 2TURNER INSTALLATION May 2017 at URBAN GALLERYKAREN SILVER (below) is an Executive Producer of TV Commercials and a Photographer. “I’m fascinated by reflections, things that at first glance might not be so noticeable. It began with photographing reflections in large soap bubbles and then recently, reflections in water.”20170506_144016MARIA RICOSSA (below) is an actor and photographer who observes people, hoping to recreate truthful behavior onstage or in front of a camera. Drawn to street photography, she watches people – capturing a story or a dramatic moment. She witnesses and documents private moments, after which things will never be the same.20170506_143802CHRIS HOMINUK (below) is a self-taught award winning landscape photographer. “My passion is capturing the calmness of nature. I’ll drive, paddle, or hike great distances to get that ‘one shot’. In my work I concentrate on near/far exposures to reveal the importance of what’s both in the foreground and the distance.” 20170506_143632ALEX TURNER’s work has been exhibited in Toronto and Western Canada. His photographs are in collections in Canada and the US. “These compositions seek an alignment of visual elements into an abstract whole. The results – sometimes manipulated – are often more like paintings or etchings than photography.”20170506_143905The gallery was humming with a near-packed house of guests, all entranced by the images of water subjects, and each photographer welcomed their family, friends and fans. 20170506_141220 20170506_14350220170506_140813Below, artist Angel Torres (right) drops in to join gallery curator Allen Shugar (left) and gallery director/owner Calvin Hambrook (centre) as they open the doors to the guests..20170506_133535…and Calvin welcomed tech expert from MacMedics and friend, Jeffrey Barrett, to the reception (below)20170506_142618Fellow artist and previous Urban Gallery exhibitor, Dawn Hemmy (below) also popped in to enjoy the show..20170506_143940So many beautiful photographs to view, all of which are available for purchase….20170506_14082720170506_132919 20170506_140806 20170506_14280120170506_133357Urban Gallery invites you to come visit and support local artists – gallery hours, directions and exhibit details at: www.urbangallery.ca

SCOTIABANK CONTACT PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL 
WATER: SUSTAINING LIFE
May 4 to May 31, 2017

For details of the city-wide CONTACT festival visit: http://scotiabankcontactphoto.com/

 

20170325_133248

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

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

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

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

 

1457016348

TIME TO MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR THESE EXCITING TORONTO ART EVENTS

Lots of great art shows and solo exhibits coming up in the next few months so I thought I’d give my readers the advance news so you can mark your calendars.

First up, URBAN GALLERY hosts the annual Centennial College Studio Arts Program (1st year students) titled “Fever” the last weeks of March with the opening reception Sat. March 25th (2-5pm). RSVP to attend: urbangalleryart1@gmail.com  The gallery is located at 400 Queen St East, Toronto. For additional information, visit www.urbangallery.caFever Image CENTENNIAL COLLEGE March 2017 Priscilla Koopman email Ying Shi emailThen the following Saturday, April 1st, we have the grand opening of the new indie gallery, STOCKYARDS GALLERY, located at 1611 Dupont St, Toronto, with their first group show, Fool For Art. The show features works from renowned Canadian artists Robert McAffee and Brigitte Granton as well as gallery founder and artist, Lola Kerecki (works featured below, in order of listing).  www.stockyardsgallery.caUpdated exhibition info for stockyards month long event Nipigon Sunset Robert McAffee Oil on canvas $6800 Neddies Bay Brigitte Granton 30x40 Oil on canvas $3400 Smoking Lady Lola Kerecki  36x48 Oil on Canvas $2400 (1)Then we go back to URBAN GALLERY on Sat. April 8th (2-5pm) for the opening of Colin Nunn‘s solo show, Prototype, which runs through the month of April.  RSVP to attend the opening reception: urbangalleryart1@gmail.com  For additional information, visit www.urbangallery.caColinNun-Deluxe goodluck_1 joy_1From May 4 to 31, URBAN GALLERY presents their annual group show Water: Sustaining Life for the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival featuring the works of Karen Silver, Maria Ricossa, Chris Hominuk and Alex Turner (see below, images in order of above listing). the opening reception is Sat. May 6th (2-5pm).  RSVP to attend the opening reception: urbangalleryart1@gmail.com  For additional information, visit www.urbangallery.caSymmetry Karen Silver 497 KBRICOSSA_Blue DressCHRIS HOMINUK Oneida FallsTURNER TransformationIn June, local contemporary/surrealist painter JOHNY DELUNA presents his solo show, Spontaneous Levitation, at the Art Square Gallery, located at 334 Dundas St West (opposite the AGO). Show runs June 5 thru 19th, with the opening reception on Thurs. June 8 (6-9 pm). Kindly RSVP to attend opening night to: FordhamPR@rogers.com  For more information about this exciting artist visit: www.johnydeluna.comSong To The Moon webs size April In New York - mar chair fearofflying  small1And don’t forget the big Toronto Outdoor Art Show and the charming Riverdale Art Walk taking place this summer – our city is so rich with talented artists of every medium. Please come out and support Canadian artists….purchases are always appreciated and ooo’s and aaah’s are welcome, too!

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INTRODUCING CANADIAN CONTEMPORARY ARTIST JOHNY DELUNA

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

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

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

Dancing in the Dark

Dancing in the Dark

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

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

Detail from "The Kiss"

Detail from “The Kiss”

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

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

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

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

“April in New York”

"Fear of Flying"

“Fear of Flying”

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

27. Arabella Summer-Fall 2016

MEET THE PUBLISHERS OF ARABELLA, CANADA’S PREMIERE ART & DESIGN MAGAZINE

Having been a regular reader of ARABELLA, the quarterly magazine featuring the best in art, design and architecture, I thought my own readers would like to learn more about this gorgeous glossy mag and meet the publishers who bring us the beautiful images and stories of those who create and exhibit such masterpieces. You can view the magazine here:  www.arabelladesign.com

Debra and Brian Usher have been supporting Canadian and international artists and galleries with their magazine for many years – in fact, I first met them at Westmount Gallery in Toronto several years back when I was working with artist Bruce Lawes whose stunning hyper-realistic equine paintings were being showcased there at the time. While gallery visitors ooo’d and aaah’d at Bruce’s work, I quietly sat in a corner eagerly thumbing through the current issue of Arabella, intrigued by the contents and marveling at the new artist discoveries to be had inside the covers. (2 of Bruce Lawes’ equine paintings have been featured on the cover – below)9. Arabella Winter 2010 21. Arabella Spring-Summer 2014After many years of living and publishing their magazine in Toronto, a couple of years ago Debra and Brian decided the time was right for a move down east so they purchased an historic home and barn in the seaside town of St. Andrews, New Brunswick and established their business in this picturesque new location. I recently caught up with them via phone and asked them to share their thoughts on the art world, publishing and their new home amidst the salt air and crashing Atlantic waves….

What first inspired you to launch a big glossy art magazine?  We didn’t start with the idea of “big and glossy” but instead looked at what other art magazines were doing and tried to determine how well they provided art consumers and art lovers with an experience that portrayed both the art and the artist in the most effective way.  The artists and galleries we talked to were concerned about reaching a wider audience as the standard “art tours” had pretty much ran their course and their audiences were dwindling.  We started with the business idea – how can we best promote and support the sale of art? To accomplish this we needed to really reach a national and international audience.

Editor-n-Chief, Debra Usher

Editor-n-Chief, Debra Usher

A magazine with national and international distribution required a look and feel unlike anything on the book-shelves. While “big and glossy” is often seen as a waste of a natural forestry resource, it in fact was an important feature for ensuring that ARABELLA was going to be treated much like a coffee-book, a keepsake that could take readers on an artistic and engaging journey that lasts beyond a quick scan and becomes a lasting visual and narrative treasure.

When we looked at “the competition” for the most part, other art related publications seemed to be more focused on “critical dialogue” as this was central to their not-for-profit, charitable commitments to “educating the public”.  As a result their editorial content tends to place more of an emphasis on thoughtful, academic analysis and less on the raw, emotional experience of the visual.  We knew we had to get beyond the boundaries of conventional art publications. ARABELLA had to be about beauty in all its forms and provide readers with an unforgettable reading experience! It was a gamble on our part but we had all sorts of feedback that the audience for critical dialogue was much smaller than the audience of those who want to be visually and emotionally engaged by the art, the artists and their stories. Maybe it’s just a different audience, but we now believe they overlap.23. Arabella Winter-Spring 2015 24. Arabella Summer 2015So, we started ARABELLA in order to help support and promote artists and galleries from a commercial perspective first and recognized that in order to sell art the consumer or reader had to get as close to the art as possible. In designing our format, we emphasized the visual through full colour large scale imagery which requires the highest quality of printing – or as you say “big and glossy”.

As opposed to presenting “analysis and critical dialogue” from an external, expert perspective, we decided to focus on what is now pretty much accepted as the most critical aspect of selling – i.e. namely to tell stories, particularly from the perspective of the artists and the gallery owners.   ARABELLA gives artists and galleries their own voice and helps readers connect with the people behind the art.22. Arabella Fall 2014Are you both artists yourselves? Have you dabbled in any creative arts?  Both our careers have involved multiple aspects of creative arts. Brian and I have been involved in painting, photography, and creative crafts.

For the most part, these activities have been secondary to us pursuing business careers that focused on helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses through effective change management and leadership development.  Anyone involved in these aspects of businesses will recognize and identify with the creative processes and innovation required for success.

With so many newspapers and magazines going out of business on almost a monthly basis, how do you keep Arabella relevant & popular?  Well actually that’s two questions.  I’ll deal with last one first.  The relevance and popularity factors are pretty much driven by having a strong network in the commercial side of the art world. We are constantly monitoring and research trends and patterns through direct contacts; as many forms of media as possible; and feedback from artists, as well as our readers.

The format and editorial focus on the magazine, as outlined above, is built on understanding what is popular and relevant with our readership. It pretty much follows that we have a very strong chance of addressing customer needs.

The issue of newspapers and magazines going out of business is really a direct result of these mediums failing to understand what readers are looking for in their lives. ARABELLA recognizes a critical reality – namely that we are in the entertainment business. Our readers are looking for an opportunity to take a journey, to appreciate beauty and make it a part of their lives.

Having said that, our biggest challenge is funding the production of the magazine through direct advertising revenue. This is a problem that we share with newspapers and other magazines.

Brian, a couple of years ago, you moved home & business out to St. Andrews, New Brunswick, from Ontario – how did this move impact your work and lives? And can you tell us about your lovely new home?  Our move to St. Andrews was first and foremost a lifestyle decision. We were first enchanted by the people, and the architectural and cultural charm of the town and the region. Something about moving to the sea seemed almost like a natural at this point in our lives.

There’s no denying that there were clear economics involved as the real estate values were significantly more affordable. But at the same time we realized that a lot of what we do to produce the magazine is actually done via the internet and we actually had already established a virtual team of writers, photographers, and designers.  With access to “relatively high-speed” internet we thought the move was well worth it.

Brian Usher, Publisher

Brian Usher, Publisher

There have been some limitations – but most of these are now under control as we have now established a local New Brunswick production team and we are looking to reach a wider audience by using a Toronto-based publicity specialist and targeted advertising to continue to expand our footprint in the market.  The one limitation Debra will be sure to mention is access to the range of food stuffs we were used to in Ontario. But no question the seafood is bountiful and we have a much better appreciation for what’s involved in being a part of the fishing industry on the East Coast. It’s certainly not an easy occupation, particularly given the amount of time spent on the ocean in winter months.2. The Anchorage and BarnOur new home (pictured above) is locally described as a Maritime Gothic Revival residence and is listed in the Canadian Registry of Historic Places. The original house was built in 1825 as a rectory for the first Roman Catholic priest and the house is now known as The Anchorage.

This style is characterized by the three Gothic gables that break the plane of the roof-line. The central and largest cross-gable, with a pitched roof, is flanked by two smaller cross-gables with jerkin head roofs. The cross-gables are heavily molded and each contains Gothic Revival windows. Gable returns and single-story bay windows are used in the side façade. This attractive property has beautiful grounds which, when built, occupied an entire block-face.1. The AnchorageIt has both the charms and the wrinkles of a building that age. One of St. Andrews most historically significant homes, The Anchorage has been fully restored and up-dated while remaining faithful to its design and character.  The main house has undergone several renovations and extensions over the years with the addition of a major size barn/garage now adjoining the swimming pool area. This building is almost critical for housing all of Debra’s various

Your gallery advertisers are treated to lots of non-traditional perks such as editorial coverage of their shows and individual artist profiles – how has this impacted your relationships with advertisers?  You’re right! The promotional aspects of the business involve a combination of advertising placement; features on galleries and artists; and social media promotion for artists, galleries and events. It’s an extensive package and the editorials are extensive (usually 16 pages) and provide an excellent marketing vehicle for individual artists and their galleries.  This service is not offered by other Canadian or US art magazines.11. Arabella Summer 2011 12. Arabella Fall-Winter 2011With more and more magazines going strictly online, have your subscribers remained loyal to the quarterly hardcopies? Let’s face it, Arabella is more like a collectors’ coffee table book than a regular magazine.  ARABELLA is available both in print and online versions. You’re right about the magazine being more like a collectors’ coffee table book. That was our intent from the get-go.  We have both print and online subscribers but the unanimous feedback we get is that there’s nothing like the print version. Only print can present the visually stunning content and readers consistently remarks about the importance of “touch” and physically turning pages.20. Arabella Winter 2013 26. Arabella Spring 2016You’ve just released a new hard-cover art book, The Love of Flowers, and previously had published It Starts With a Dream, your first hard-cover book highlighting images of Canadian art, architecture and design. What’s next on your book publishing agenda – can you give us a hint or two?
We are currently planning the creation of a book to be released in the spring of 2018, as homage to the coastal areas of Canada and the artists who capture its mystery and its siren call. Four hundred (400) pages of extraordinary art and artist profiles will be showcased through a myriad of forms, styles, and mediums. At the forefront of the book, Canada’s legendary artists – both living and remembered – will be featured. These will include Alex Colville, Mary Pratt, Christopher Pratt, Tom Forrestal, William Forrestal, Fred Ross, David Blackwood, and Maude Lewis. Following these featured Canadian icons will be 40 other Maritime artists, each celebrated with an eight-page profile, with full-bleed images of their best art and words to describe their own personal stories. This book will heighten any art collection, jump off bookshelves in Indigo and Barnes and Nobles stores across the continent, become gracious gifts for family and friends, and will have a special spot on coffee tables everywhere.arabellaMailercopycopyAnd any exciting new artists or galleries being featured in the next Arabella (and when is it due for publication)?  Frank Hyder is truly one of our more unique artists to grace the pages of Arabella Spring 2017. His unique sculptural heads and swimming fish are bound to capture our readers’ attention.

Spring 2017 will have an assortment of artists but this issue more than any other will showcase the work of artists across the country as well as their will be quite a selection of 3 dimensional work as well as paintings and craft.

We are bringing back two stunning architectural homes – one from Paris and the other from California.

A new feature is the gallery listings and shows at the back of the periodical. We are trying to make each issue more in keeping with a book, and the cover will be slightly heavier – more life a soft cover book.

We introduce in this issue the start of Gallery Owners and Collectors Comments which should interest a lot of readers to hear different points of view from around the country.

To read the current issue online, plus subscription and advertising information, visit: www.arabelladesign.com

A little more about ARABELLA magazine:

ARABELLA’s mission is to produce the most exquisite Canadian Art, Architecture & Design magazine edited for those with a passion for transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary and living life well. A truly unique Canadian magazine created for people who aspire, are achieving, or have already accomplished a luxury style of life reflecting what it means to be Canadian.
Each issue presents original, in-depth editorial on the best of Canadian contemporary and historical fine art; galleries to visit; artists to collect; architecture and living spaces; unique stores to visit; business and personal life style profiles, landscaping and interior design; luxury properties for sale; unique travel destinations; and food and wine to savour.

ARABELLA is dedicated to supporting and promoting creative talent and related businesses through specialty print and digital media publishing, special events/destination marketing, and professional development programs. We believe in the power of arts and culture in building stronger communities, national identity and economic development.

ARABELLA, our major quarterly magazine publication, is now in its ninth year and is distributed across Canada (Chapters & Indigo, Coles and Smith Books) and the US (Barnes & Noble, Books a Million) and has a global digital circulation on all major platforms. With each quarterly issue we reach 350,000+ readers.

ARABELLA’s print and digital publications play a critical role in presenting Canadian creative talent to the widest possible audience while providing in-depth, visually compelling insight into the best of art, residential architecture, landscaping, interior design and luxury lifestyle products and services.

ARABELLA’s vision is to go beyond the boundaries of conventional publications and produce the most exquisite Canadian Art, Architecture & Design magazine for consumers who aspire, are achieving, or have already accomplished a luxury life style and have a passion for transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary and living life well. It’s about beauty in all its forms and providing readers with an unforgettable reading experience!

With layout and design features unlike any other North American print or digital magazine, each issue (which is more like a book) provides visually compelling, in-depth information and insight on the best of art, residential architecture, landscaping, interior design and luxury lifestyle products and services from the traditional to the contemporary, from the local to the internationally inspired. 18. Arabella Summer 2013

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TORONTO’S URBAN GALLERY LAUNCHES DUAL ARTIST SHOW FOR OCTOBER

Throughout October, URBAN GALLERY is pleased to showcase two Toronto artists whose journeys into distant landscapes where light and shadow ignite the senses allow the viewer to experience life with heightened awareness and inspiration. This wonderment helps to reveal the genuine beauty of living life in the moment.  Last night, the gallery hosted an opening party where both artists welcomed friends, family and potential new art collectors to their show.  VISTA TRAILS and THE GEOGRAPHY OF LIGHTruns from October 6 to October 29, 2016, featuring Annie Mandlsohn (Painting, Sculpture & Mixed Media) and Robert J. Brodey (Photography)20161006_174000 20161006_182228For over 30 years, Annie Mandlsohn (pictured below with a gallery visitor) has exhibited her artwork across Canada. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree (B.F.A.) from Concordia University in Montreal specializing in visual arts and music, and also holds a Master in Environmental Studies Degree (M.E.S.) from York University in Toronto.20161006_173911Annie has lived and worked in urban, rural and remote areas of the country, and has travelled across Canada, USA, Europe and Japan. Her love of faraway places, often where tourists do not go, leads her to experience various cultures and adventures she encounters, finding unique journeys guided by an inner compass. The beauty of nature and the spirit and power of landscapes are reflected in her work (samples of which are pictured below)20161006_173806 20161006_173427 20161006_174131 20161006_174015VISTA TRAIL framed Pastel 19x16 MOUNTAIN LAKE Collage Indian and Nepalese paper abalone beads 24X34 MandlsohnI got a chance to chat briefly with Annie before losing her to a crowd of art fans!

Robert Brodey is a Toronto-based writer and photographer whose longing for new places has sent him travelling around the world, writing and shooting for the likes of Street Kids International, Outpost Magazine, The Toronto Star, and The Houston Chronicle. Below are a few of Robert’s stunning portraits and landscapes featured in this current show…20161006_17103620161006_171045 20161006_171139I have always been attracted to movement and change.  I love the element of surprise, the contrasts, and the rush that comes when all the senses light up. For me, what is distant holds a degree of mystery and stokes the fire of imagination and curiosity. I need to experience it.  In that way, travelling is a conscious seeking — for different cultures, different landscapes, and, yes, sometimes even different light.     Robert J. Brodey

Here, let Robert tell you more about his work himself……

Artist, actor and poet Philip Cairns in front of Annie's artwork

Artist, actor and poet Philip Cairns posed in front of Annie’s artwork

Gallery curator Allen Shugar (R) talks with Annie's fans/collectors

Gallery curator Allen Shugar (R) talks with Annie’s fans/collectors

Gallery assistant Kelly chats with performance artist and art lover David Roche

Gallery assistant Kelly chats with performance artist and art lover David Roche

There are always scrumptious treats at Urban Gallery's artist receptions!

There are always scrumptious treats at Urban Gallery’s artist receptions!

Annie was interviewed by Mark Hasan of KQEK.com arts blog

Annie was interviewed by Mark Hasan of KQEK.com arts blog

20161006_182328VISTA TRAILS and THE GEOGRAPHY OF LIGHT2 runs from Oct.6 to Oct.29 at URBAN GALLERY, 400 Queen St East, Toronto  For gallery hours, visit: www.urbangallery.caUG-Letterhead-BC