Tag Archives: contemporary art

ADVENTURES IN SCOTTSDALE OLD TOWN – Pt. V

My 2nd last day in Arizona so time to work off some of the calories amassed over the past week’s indulgences…LOL…but first I needed another good breakfast at Denny’s to start my day off. Got the courtesy van into town and this time, I headed straight for the Civic Centre grounds (above) and the Scottsdale Contemporary Art Gallery which was easy to find: just follow the sounds of birdsong….

I followed the sparkly laneway embedded with glass and coloured stone and into the front door….20191218_125954The gallery was spacious and cool and the exhibitions were extremely “contemporary” featuring native American artworks, photographs and video imagery. It also showcases architecture and design exhibitions as well as the innovative outdoors “singing bells” installation. www.smoca.org   I then sauntered around the corner up to Main Street on my way back to Barista Brothers, when I noticed some great old buildings with vintage blacksmith & farm equipment on display (below).20191218_132509 20191218_132524Across the road was an old building (it looked old but was, in fact, a relatively new build) that housed the Scottsdale Rodeo Museum – I had to go visit!  Inside I was greeted by friendly museum curator Dave Alford (below) who kindly gave me a first class personal tour of the exhibits.20191218_133543A retired rodeo cowboy himself, Dave was a mine of information on all things rodeo. He introduced me to El Diablo, one of the winningest bulls in local rodeo history…20191218_133512 20191218_133649..and showed me some past photos of him riding rodeo beasties. That’s his red competition chaps hanging next to the photos.20191218_134146So much to see in this modest museum that’s packed with history and cowboy memorabilia. There were even pics of legendary Lane Frost, a young bullrider who was killed in action – his life and career was memorialized in the movie “8 Seconds” where Frost was portrayed by the late Luke Perry.20191218_13420720191218_13343920191218_134436 20191218_135759Thanks for the great tour, Dave, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. www.ScottsdaleRodeoMuseum.com

By now I definitely needed some cooling down so off I went to Barista Brothers to indulge in some frosty gelato.20191218_143601Time for a little more shopping, this time in the Golden Bear jewelers and fashion accessories store.  https://goldhouseaz.com/  I was welcomed into the large boutique by the lovely Marina (below)20191218_163824…who showed me around all the sparkling showcases, finding a number of pieces including the stunning fox turquoise and spiny oyster earrings that eventually found themselves in my suitcase, along with a stunning Larimar & silver ring (below). OMG, my credit card got quite the workout with Marina!!20191231_170242Lots of beautiful art glass as well as home decor and all those gorgeous gems!20191218_163836 20191218_16385220191218_164021After working up a healthy appetite shopping for bling, I chose a fabulous cantina with a sun-drenched upper patio with nobody else there. I think it was called Vines or something like that, but oh boy, the yummy fried catfish was deelish!20191218_151209 20191218_145535With tummy full and feet sore, it was time to call for a ride home and more R&R on my sunny balcony so tomorrow, my last day in Arizona, I’ll have lots of energy for my trip to the Western Museum and a visit with my friend Jeffrey who runs the shop there.  He was so sweet last spring when I visited that I brought him a little surprise from Canada. I waited for the van next to the big Christmas tree in the main square…ho ho ho – I’m finally getting in the spirit!20191218_164342That night was a little chilly so I snuggled up on the bed and watched tv in my warm hoodie that cowboy Dave gave me as a memento of my visit to the rodeo museum.20191218_175030

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FRENCH POP ARTIST VIKKA CELEBRATES 1st CANADIAN SOLO SHOW AT TORONTO’S URBAN GALLERY

Although he was suffering a little jet-lag, French artist VIKKA came straight from the airport and walked through the doors of Urban Gallery last night to see his latest art project hanging on the walls…and it all looked great!20191205_161952 20191205_162024 20191205_180037The multi-disciplinary self-taught artist is showcasing his pop-art paintings, sculptures and photography in his first ever Canadian month-long solo show titled “In Memory of Witold and Max” – a visual tribute to his beloved grandfathers, both of whom were talented artists, too. He was joined by his sister, Bénédicte, who also assisted with translations, when necessary.20191205_170331

His colourful, surreal street art style canvases attracted a lot of attention last night and visitors marveled at the details and intricacies of each painting – you can stand there for half an hour and still discover new little embedded characters and features! 20191205_175951(0) 20191205_18000520191205_161937 20191205_162045There are a trio of paintings dedicated to 3 of his art heroes, Warhol, Basquiat (pictured above) and Haring; here the artists talks about these pieces, mostly in French but his passion transcends language!

Gallery Director Calvin Hambrook (below L) and Curator Allen Shugar (below R) were thrilled with the artwork which was shipped direct from France and only arrived earlier this week.20191205_172138In Memory of Witold & Max runs in Toronto now until December 28th – for directions and gallery hours, visit: www.UrbanGallery.ca  and to learn more about Vikka’s work, follow him on IG @vikkaartist20191205_180037 20191205_162127

 

TORONTO ARTIST JUDITH McKAY UNVEILS SOLO SHOW “HIRAETH” @ URBAN GALLERY

Running throughout the month of November, Hiraeth is thesolo show featuring stunning and colourful contemporary landscapes and “tree portraits” presented by JUDITH McKAY at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East in downtown Toronto.20181110_132357The Toronto artist explores fantasy as a means of finding peace in a frenetic world. Trees are her allegory for the endless pursuits of modern life: rooted, yet branching out to reach the sky.20181110_132237

20181110_132301Largely self-taught, Judith’s style is free-flowing. She uses both thick impasto and fluid colour to achieve movement and boldness. Fearless about colour, she uses a vibrant palette, applying interference and iridescent paints to achieve surrealistic effects. Her style is constantly evolving via frequent participation in workshops and exhibitions, as well as studying the techniques of other artists.

Judith (below L) was joined by her husband Rob Sylvester (below R), and her daughter Shannon (below C) came in all the way from New Jersey to celebrate the big opening reception!20181110_134458The gallery looked bright and welcoming on such a grey Saturday – and soon the guests started pouring in, admiring all the canvases….20181110_144400 20181110_142700 20181110_141442

20181110_132308 20181110_132620 20181110_145817ARTIST’s STATEMENT: Hiraeth (here-eye-th) is a Celtic word that means a wistful longing for a place to where you cannot return. A place that perhaps never was. The desire for a sense of peace and belonging are emotions I seek to capture in my work. Such desire can often turn to frustration when the real world doesn’t live up to fantasy, and so I depict trees, firmly rooted yet dancing in the wind, to symbolize resiliency as we continue to seek our true home, despite adversity. For this exhibition, I chose a vibrant palette and the use of high gloss medium and reflective paints to create an ethereal effect, as if awakening from a beautiful dream that quickly evaporates and eludes us. The pieces selected for display are meant to truly express what Hiraeth means to me.   ~ Judith McKay

I had the opportunity of chatting briefly with Judith prior to opening the doors of the gallery and she kindly shared with me her process and inspirations, especially for this collection….

If you would like to see Judith’s gorgeous, lush paintings, visit www.urbangallery.ca for gallery hours and directions, and follow Judith on her Instagram account: @judithmckayart

Hiraeth runs now until Nov. 30th at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East, Toronto.

Thank you for supporting Canadian artists!20181110_132455

 

URBAN GALLERY OPENS THEIR DELICIOUS “ART OF FOOD” GROUP SHOW

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)20180811_134718

20180811_142825Anushka 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).20180811_135307 20180811_140336 20180811_140257Anushka 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…20180811_134803

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.20180811_134505URBAN 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.20180811_135017 20180811_135035 20180811_13504920180811_135029One 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.20180811_134559Janna 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.20180811_134631 CHERRIES 12_ x 12_ oil on canvas by Janna KroupkoUrban 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…20180811_134642Popular 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.20180811_134651 20180811_152632Even NEWZ4U editor KJ Mullins was entranced by Kirk’s work! (below)20180811_134709Gallery visitors enjoyed the art, the food and the chance to meet and chat with so many artists…20180811_135621 20180811_145430 20180811_140038ART 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

URBAN GALLERY LAUNCHES “PROUD ART” GROUP SHOW CELEBRATING 2018’s PRIDE MONTH!

This past Saturday (June 9), Toronto’s leading indie gallery, URBAN GALLERY, launched their annual Pride group show celebrating the talented artists, friends and families from the local LGBTQ community.  Featuring the works of Hank Blondeau, Jean Fode, Jeffrey Mason and Vanessa Storoniak, the gallery soon filled with enthusiastic visitors and art collectors.20180609_150750I had the opportunity of chatting with the artists who shared their own stories of artistic inspiration with me via video interviews. First up is Hank Blondeau ….20180609_134030

20180609_133958 20180609_134104Sailors Delight Morning H BlondeauI then spoke with Jean Fode who discovered art and her creativity later in life and who is now enjoying the art of collage.20180609_134401

20180609_151003 20180609_134411Jeffrey Mason has a unique take on the world and his humorous portraits of politi-cats definitely provoke conversation as well as laughs!20180609_145927

FourHousecatsApocalypse Holy Ghost Machine20180609_135535(0)Vanessa Storoniak (below) brought in her large acrylic-on-canvas geometric abstracts which, to me, look like glorious flowers in a series of beautiful colour palettes. Vanessa was a little shy about a video interview but she certainly had lots of fans loving her work….20180609_133704 20180609_151251 4_Sunrise 6_MagnoliaOther artists came out to support our “fab four” including Erik Chong and his wife Jeanette (below). Erik will be featured in next month’s group show “Wild in the City”.20180609_145814Sculptor Osvaldo “Ozzie” Napoli and his wife France (pictured below with gallery director Calvin Hambrook – at right) also popped in to say hello. Ozzie, too, will be featured in July’s “Wild in the City” group show.20180609_145852Gallery visitors enjoyed the schmoozing and there were lots of engaged conversations as each artist talked about their work. Congratulations to all four artists and we’re sure there will soon be lots of red dots (sales) popping up over the next few weeks! See below for gallery directions & show info….20180609_15384520180609_15505820180609_135607 20180609_150742 20180609_145913 20180609_145930

UG-Letterhead-BC

PROUD ART runs until June 30th.  Visit www.urbangallery.ca for gallery hours

Exciting solo show by Dutch-born Artist PRISCILLA KOOPMAN runs to April 15th

I had the pleasure of meeting PRISCILLA KOOPMAN last year when she was part of the group show by Centennial College Studio Arts Program (1st yr students) hosted at Urban Gallery, Toronto. Although she herself is soft-spoken and humble, her work did all the talking for her….intense, intricate and provocative! Here she is pictured below at left, with my sister, Jennifer, who was visiting from Australia – Jenny was very taken with Priscilla’s work.20170325_142837Last week I visited Priscilla’s solo exhibition “Femme Empiricism” in The Corridor Gallery at the Story Arts Centre (2nd floor) located at 951 Carlaw in Toronto. Wow, what a difference a year makes – more intense details and deeper stories behind each piece and each tiny detail featured on each.20180405_143523 20180405_140034Each artwork illustrates graphic abuse and the sexualization of women as a whole, and of childhood incidents experienced personally by the artist. Speaking with Priscilla, it’s obvious that painting has been her salvation; the perfect healing therapy to calm her demons and allow her to grow artistically and spiritually from the darker, earlier works shown at the beginning of the show to the colourful lightness of her more recent works – sky blues, various hues of pinks, greens and golds.
20180405_14024420180405_140235 20180405_140202 20180405_140423 20180405_140447

Here’s Priscilla to tell you about her art….

I particularly love her fishies…happy little multi-coloured koi swimming across the open waters…20180405_14075320180405_140058Priscilla is planning on returning to The Netherlands this summer so hurry to see her show which runs to April 15th. You can even make an appointment to view the show with the artist herself – details on her Instagram: @allicsirpart20180405_143418

ALLEN SHUGAR OPENS HIS SOLO SHOW AT URBAN GALLERY, TORONTO

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

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

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

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

URBAN GALLERY LAUNCHES ITS ANNUAL PRIDE GROUP SHOW IN TORONTO

What a wonderful showcase of multi-media artworks from four talented Toronto-based artists from the LGBT community!!  Congratulations to URBAN GALLERY and its curator Allen Shugar, for presenting an outstanding exhibition of paintings, text-based graphics, digital and acrylic on canvas art celebrating this year’s annual PRIDE month.  I got there nice and early and had the gallery to myself to record a quick video walk-around:

The first artist to arrive at the gallery was the charming Eugene Nam whose striking large format acrylic-on-canvas works were both powerful and beautiful. The textural quality of his work was such that I wanted to reach out and touch the brushstrokes…..but I resisted!20170610_135912 20170610_134428 20170610_134503 20170610_134610Eugene came to Toronto a few years ago from S. Korea, via San Francisco. I asked him why he left the city by the bay to come all the way to Toronto and he told me….  In South Korea, our sexual identity must be kept hidden – homosexuality is not openly tolerated. As soon as I could, I left and went to the U.S. to pursue my passion for painting but once I heard of Toronto’s attitude of acceptance and inclusion, I knew that’s where I belonged. Since arriving, I have felt such freedom to live, love and create. I’m so happy to participate in Urban Gallery’s showcase so I can share my feelings with you all through my work.  20170610_135902(0)The next artist to arrive was TV and commercial producer Barbara Zumer whose love of creative writing and words she now showcases in her art.20170610_134402 20170610_140527One of Barbara’s pieces is actually printed on a mirror so I had a bit of fun with it…just so happens I recently had my hair done so the message is very appropriate, don’t you think?  LOL20170610_134358I was definitely pulled towards the digital anime-like images created by the very tall Jeffrey Mason (below).20170610_140557(0)His whimsical and wild illustrations of cat-like pop culture icons created quite the stir – people chuckled as they gazed at the instantly recognizable references…20170610_13410020170610_134111_001 Jeffrey also published a book of his work and copies were quickly snapped up by gallery visitors.20170610_140616Former digital producer and part-time teacher at Centennial College, Hank Blondeau (below) is exhibiting some pretty striking images….20170610_14184220170610_134133…below is Hank’s pair of huge digital art prints titled Lightimage Left and Lightimage Right20170610_134203 20170610_141830Do these stripes make me look thin?20170610_144201There was something for every taste in art and I must say, it’s one of my favourite shows in recent months.20170610_140814 20170610_141723 20170610_140824 20170610_140958 20170610_141649Even the catering, courtesy of Urban Source Catering, looked like works of art…and it all tasted simply delicious!20170610_135023 20170610_135027 20170610_135032 20170610_135038 20170610_135043 20170610_135055(0) 20170610_135101 20170610_135113(0)The PROUD ART show runs until June 30th and I encourage you to visit in person to view all of the above and more.  URBAN GALLERY is located at 400 Queen St East, Toronto – just East of Parliament St.  www.urbangallery.ca

But hurry…the art is selling quickly. Jeffrey’s Bunny Sushi already has a red dot on it!!20170610_141958

 

HANGING PAINTINGS WITH JOHNY DELUNA

25+ large paintings were hung at the Art Square Gallery last night – Toronto contemporary artist JOHNY DELUNA is getting ready for his Thursday (June 8, 6-9pm) opening reception of his solo show “Spontaneous Levitation” so I spent some time with him as he measured and moved, then measured again all his spectacular works. I snapped a few pics of close-up details (see below) from several of his paintings which illustrate the textural quality of his work with raised dots of paint with multiple colours – very hard to achieve and extremely time-consuming.20170605_190559 20170605_190611 20170605_182852And I love some of the mythical creatures and people who dance across the canvases….20170605_183058 20170605_183111 20170605_192137And who doesn’t love galloping giraffes (below) in a windswept land and seascape?20170605_182830As Johny was busy up the ladder, a young man came in obviously intrigued with what was going on…he was soon chatting with Johny about the paintings and the stories behind each one.20170605_191657 20170605_192400Hopefully you are also intrigued and will join Johny at Art Square Gallery, 334 Dundas St West, Toronto (opp. the Art Gallery of Ontario) this Thursday Jun.8th 6-9pm. Spontaneous Levitation runs until June 19th so if you can’t make it this week, you have another week to catch these wild and provocative paintings.

Here are some of the comments from Johny’s previous solo art show….come add your own observations and kudos.20170605_192001 20170605_192032_001 20170605_192048

 

TORONTO ARTIST JOHNY DELUNA READY TO LAUNCH SOLO SHOW “SPONTANEOUS LEVITATION” THIS THURSDAY

With a final few brushstrokes left and the selection of which painting goes where on the gallery walls, Toronto contemporary artist JOHNY DELUNA is just a few days away from launching his exciting new solo show, “Spontaneous Levitation”, at the Art Square Gallery, 334 Dundas St West (opp. the AGO).

I caught up with Johny over the weekend and asked him to share some last-minute thoughts on his new show….

As your solo show, Spontaneous Levitation, draws closer, how many new works of art will be represented at the show?  I will be showing about 10 new works from this year and about 15 works from prior years.img442From where have you drawn inspiration for these new canvases?  The genesis of most paintings starts with one small event or observation My inspirations come from observations of the human condition.  I try to depict the fragility of our lives, the unusual effects of random events, the consequences of our behavior.  It seems that issues rarely disappear they simply re-emerge in a modified form. I want to articulate these ideas in a new and fresh way, so I let the work express itself intuitively. Sometimes I don’t recognize the finished piece as mine. (No Free Lunch, below).No Free Lunch 36x48Can you share the story behind one or two of these new masterworks? The piece titled Eating Spaghetti With Scissors (below) is based on our need to add unnecessary complexity to our lives. Perhaps this complexity gives us comfort, the feeling that our life is richer and better.  I think we mistake motion with progress and quantity with quality.  When we can’t answer an important question with a straight answer, we fake it with circuitous logic. We vigorously defend this opinion with a mind numbing jumble of half baked ‘truths’, opinions, rumors and petty biases. We end up ‘going to the wall’ defending these opinions; opinions that that we don’t fully understand ourselves.Eating Spaghetti With Scissors acrylic on canvas 34 x 48What would you like gallery visitors to come away with after viewing your work?  I hope people will find the show to be very fresh, humorous and thought-provoking.  I hope the works will speak to each person in their own way. I hope visitors will encourage their friends to visit the show as well.art squCome meet Johny at his opening reception and view his provocative large-format paintings (acrylic on canvas) this Thursday June 8th (6-9pm) at Art Square Gallery, 334 Dundas St West, Toronto. Show runs until June 19th.