It was so exciting to walk through the doors of the brand new pop-up art gallery located at 131 Bloor St West…just a few doors East of Avenue Road, opposite the Tiffany, Louis Vuitton and Burberry fancy-schmancy boutiques along what is affectionately referred to as Toronto’s mink mile. A group of talented fine artists came together when the opportunity to take over a vacant store space came their way and had only 4 days to hang their works and quickly promote themselves as the 131 Collective. The featured artists include Mark Gleberzon @mjggallery Morgan Jones @morganjonesart Todd Monk @toddmonkart Jeff Turner & Jane Pike @jandj_photo_art Vanessa Drew @vanessaracheldrew_art Adrienne Jackson @crushwrks and Huy Lam @_huylam_Lots of large canvases hang in a space that offers great viewing perspectives and allows for several people to be inside at once, dutifully face-masked and socially distanced. The gallery provides hand sanitizer and follows all Covid safety protocols.
If you don’t have a lot of wall-space to collect and display large pieces of art, the group offers a number of smalls that would fit anyone’s loft, condo or cottage. See below…I spoke with Jane Pike who, along with her partner, Jeff Turner (of J&J Photographic Art) have been working hard to get the pop-up ready for this weekend’s launch and she said….
Check out these stunning floral pieces by Vanessa Drew……and my long-time friend Mark Gleberzon is showcasing his beautiful chair series along with their real-life inspirations (below)
So many exquisite paintings and wood/metal sculptures on show – you MUST visit in person to truly appreciate all the work created by Toronto’s leading local artists. Gallery hours: Monday thru Wednesdays 11am to 6pm, Thursdays thru Saturdays 11am to 8pm and Sundays 12noon to 5pm Address: 131 Bloor St West (just west of the Colonnade)Just look for this stunning artwork in the window (below) and please follow each of the artists on IG (their indiv. handles were included in opening paragraph). Thank you for supporting Canadian artists.
A few years back, when things were “normal”, I had the pleasure of promoting DONNA WISE‘s fabulous contemporary abstract art as part of a group show at Urban Gallery which has sadly closed its doors due to Covid. Fortunately Propeller Art Gallery has survived and they are presenting their first in-person show (with limited capacity) April 7 through 25 featuring Donna’s latest works titled MAPPING THE INFINITE. (signature canvas pictured below)ABOUT THE ARTIST: Donna Wise is a Toronto-based artist who has exhibited in Canada and the United States. Her versatile acrylic paintings are large, bold, fluid and full of energetic confidence. For a number of years, Donna was a Docent at both The Art Gallery of Ontario and The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. By invitation, she has participated in art auctions for The Canadian Opera Company, The National Ballet, The Royal Ontario Museum and Baycrest Hospital. Her work can be found in the Boardroom of the Parliament Buildings at Queen’s Park Toronto, and the lobby of the famed Elgin Theatre, Toronto. Her paintings can be found in many corporate collections including the Four Seasons Hotel, Baycrest Hospital and Equitable Trust, among others, and are also in private collections in Toronto, Montreal, Miami and Tel Aviv.ARTIST’S STATEMENT:For me, painting is a visual language that ignites both my curiosity and imagination; I am determined to live my life full of wonder. This perspective at the moment has shifted because the world feels broken and so many of us are searching for a beacon, but I believe wonder is the way. Art is something that makes you breathe with a different kind of happiness. These large abstract paintings with bold colour-saturated strokes fuse together both geometric forms and textures. The paintings are my voice and a reflection of my inner world – they allow me to map the infinity of my surroundings and enhance the environment with feelings of pleasure, beauty and optimism, providing an element of drama for the viewer.
I’m pleased to welcome Donna to the Fordham PR client family, and I recently spoke with her during a visit to her studio where she is often kept company by her two gorgeous standard poodles (see photo above).
Donna, as a professional artist, how has the Covid quarantine affected your productivity? Actually, Covid was a blessing in disguise as I had unlimited, uninterrupted time in studio. As far as exhibitions in galleries, everything was in lockdown which meant galleries had to scramble to make on-line virtual shows accessible to both artists and collectors.
Your latest collection of paintings going on show at Propeller Gallery (“Mapping the Infinite” April 7-25) feature so many beautiful colours – soft pastels, vibrant reds and strong blacks. What was your inspiration for this series of large canvases? I felt that this project needed to be hopeful. There is no political or social statement in my artwork. Strong, bold colours full of confidence and energy are what you see. These colours had to create an emotional, personal response unique to the viewer.
You also have smaller works in the upcoming Colour & Form Society’s show in Niagara Falls (March 30-Apr. 24) – being so used to large format works, how was it scaling down your work for this 2’x2’ show? It took me a while to adjust my methodology and rhythm to create such small canvases; in the end I was successful with the challenge. Old dogs can learn new tricks – all part of the journey.Many of the galleries that survived this past year by presenting online “virtual” exhibitions, are now opening up for live in-person shows (granted, with limited access) – are you looking forward to getting back in front of potential collectors and fans? I’m very excited about being able to actually hang the art work in the gallery setting. It’s extremely hard to get the full exposure and feel of the work on-line. There is still some uncertainty about what “open” means – how many people can come in at one time, can artists host catered receptions, etc.You use a very specific acrylic paint brand for your work, Golden Acrylics, and apparently you use one that is very old indeed. Can you tell us about your preferred paint supplies and just how old that red one is? I have found Golden’s heavy acrylic paints to be my product of choice. I actually have several jars that are over 30 years old (see 2nd picture below).
Any advice for young artists looking to carve out a long-term career such as yours? Any specific strategies or marketing thoughts? Hang in there. There are going to be a lot of disappointments & rejections but that is all part of the journey. Learn how to challenge yourself through these tough times. Most of all, stop doubting yourself, work at what you do best. Maybe you will have to deviate for a short time, learn a new technique… but stay true to yourself. And most of all, keep doing what you love doing. Creativity is magic so don’t examine it too closely. Donna, if there’s anything else you’d like to share about the art market or the need for beauty in our current dark times?This has been a very trying time for everyone, some more than others. The world seems to be very unsettled at the moment so we’re all looking for a beacon of hope. I choose to live my life in a world of wonder – I believe that art is the way. Art, I believe, is something that makes you breathe with a different kind of happiness and everyday we need a little magic! Who better to say this then Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli: “Here on the edge of what we know, in contrast with the ocean of the unknown, shines the mystery and the beauty of the world and it is BREATHTAKING!!”
You can view Donna’s “Mapping the Infinite” solo show online at www.propellerartgallery.ca from April 7 thru 25th, or in-person at the gallery located at 30 Abell Street (off Queen West, just a few blocks east of Dufferin). Call ahead or email for gallery hours and capacity restrictions: 416-504-7142 | email@example.com And to learn more about Donna, visit her at: www.DonnaWiseArt.com
Back in 2016, I was thrilled to see the exquisite glass masterpieces of famed artist DALE CHIHULY at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto; I walked around gasping at each stunning, delicate piece, marveling at Chihuly’s skill and imagination. Huge colourful chandeliers & installations stood alongside elegant vases and festive orbs (see my pics below)…so much to see…but dare not touch! Four years later, I am once again thrilled to view the upcoming Chihuly exhibition at the famed Sandra Ainsley Gallery when I attend their virtual launch this coming Saturday afternoon, Oct. 24th. Here’s what I’ll be seeing (and you can, too, until January 24, 2021)
CHIHULY, an exhibition by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly, marks the gallery’s seventh exhibition with the artist. It will feature a selection of work that represents the breadth of the artist’s career in the thirty years since he met Sandra Ainsley, including Aquamarine Icicle Chandelier and Sea Green and Yellow Persian Installation (pictured below), two new works created specifically for the Sandra Ainsley Gallery. For the first time in Canada, CHIHULY will exhibit his Light Drawings—vibrant compositions on acrylic panels which are intensified by interior illumination.
This carefully curated exhibition will present pieces from the artist’s best-known series such as Baskets, which Chihuly started in 1977 as an experiment testing fire, gravity and centrifugal force; Chandeliers, reflective sculptures designed to mass and control colour on a grand scale; Persians, featured in many of Chihuly’s most dramatic and well-known installations; and Ikebana, assemblages of long stemmed flowers and leaves of glass set within large-scale vessels. Works from some of Chihuly’s most technically challenging series will also be included such as Jerusalem Cylinders, vessels adorned with large glass crystals which Chihuly created for his landmark exhibition Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem 2000, and Rotolo, dense coils of glass fused to a solid base that Chihuly developed in 2013.
CHIHULY will bring the viewer into the artist’s process and personal reflection through his Drawings (Works on Paper), Light Drawings, and the rarely shown Pilchuck Stumps. Drawings open a small window into the artistic process as Chihuly expresses his creative ideas on paper; Light Drawings are a reflection of Chihuly’s travels through Europe as a young man who marveled at the beauty of stained-glass windows and the power of natural light moving through them; and Pilchuck Stumps, glass vessels that were blown into wood and bark molds in 1992 and named for the Pilchuck Glass School which Chihuly co-founded in 1971.
CHIHULY will open to the public with scheduled viewings due to anticipated public demand. Sandra Ainsley Gallery is following all the recommended Covid-19 protocols and restrictions. Follow the Sandra Ainsley Gallery website or social channels for the latest information. To schedule an opening day appointment or private viewing please contact Sandra Ainsley Gallery at 416-214-9490.
Sandra Ainsley Gallery is the only art gallery in Canada to represent Chihuly’s work. Visit sandraainsleygallery.com for the complete virtual exhibition. Lots of parking and easy to reach via TTC, I highly recommend an in-person visit to experience this master artist’s unique craft…just stand and look, take it all in and feel the emotions each artwork evokes.
BOTTLED FEELINGS is a project by artist Doris Wai to collect brief statements of personal feelings submitted online and anonymously from people around the world. These private thoughts are about life, parenthood, and secrets often too difficult to share. The artist then transcribes each feeling directly onto individual bottles with elements of calligraphy and hand lettering. Hosted at URBAN GALLERY, 400 Queen St East in Toronto, the show runs throughout February, closing on the 29th – yes, it’s a Leap Year! Doris hosted a VIP reception last night, welcoming her family and friends as well as supporters who helped make her dream of a gallery show a reality.
Doris Wai was born and raised in Toronto, and is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design in illustration, but what she loves to draw most is letters. In 2014, she started her own business dedicated to the beauty of hand lettering, and has worked extensively in the wedding and event industry, design/branding/print work and has been featured on numerous magazines including Wedluxe, Mingle, and Uppercase. Her work has also been featured on TV shows like Cityline and The Social. She became a published author in 2017 with her book Extraordinary Hand Lettering teaching readers the tips, tricks and mindset behind lettering beyond paper, and has started a YouTube channel called The Lettering Lifestyle. As you enter the gallery, Doris has placed a thank-you notice to all who have supported her and helped finance this show (what a classy lady!) and as you walk around the gallery, you might just recognize feelings you yourself have experienced, or are an ongoing mental meme!One of the bottles carries a funny message…
Doris is hosting a special “meet the artist” reception onSaturday Feb. 22nd(2-5pm) and she looks forward to welcoming you to Urban Gallery…and to share some of your own “bottled feelings” with her. RSVP to attend: firstname.lastname@example.org
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!The 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.
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! There 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.In 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 @vikkaartist
Yesterday, Sat. Oct 5th, multi-media artist Osvaldo Napoli launched his latest solo show E-POQUE at Toronto’s Urban Gallery. I spoke with Ozzie earlier in the week and he shared his thoughts and inspirations for his current works…
We walked around the gallery together as Ozzie told me the stories behind each piece….Across one wall, Ozzie showed me his collection of “smalls” – each incorporating computer & tech salvage into the artwork to tell the story of humanity intersecting with technology.
…and one piece in particular, Ozzie told me, focuses on the issue of cyber-bullying and how technology impacts the young via social media.
Ozzie will be in the gallery every Saturday during October between 3-6pm to meet with art lovers and share his unique perspectives on technology and the human condition. URBAN GALLERY, 400 Queen St East, Toronto www.UrbanGallery.ca
Swiss-born painter, photographer and performance artist VAYA has her first solo show in Toronto, CHILD OF ROCK, at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East, throughout the month of September. The opening reception took place Thurs. Sept. 5th and gallery visitors were thrilled to meet the charming and engaging artist in person and viewing her unique artworks that included large format B&W fashion photographs and paintings built upon underlying photographic images of the artist herself. Pictured above: Vaya, 2nd from L, is joined by her husband as well as gallery director, Calvin Hambrook (L) and curator Allen Shugar (R)
The show also features a stunning portrait of pop culture idol, Jim Morrison, in an acrylic and oil print on textile… Vaya created a huge canvas especially for this show that takes up much of the gallery’s rear wall!An incisive & provocative artist, VAYA explores, mixes, meets and transcribes the darkness in the angels’ voices. An energetic claw on each canvas, VAYA dances as she works and often by candlelight to be closer to the imperceptible. “It’s always a discovery the next day in daylight.”
She also employs a camera to share her creativity, “A way of getting out of yourself and becoming your own observer is fun and fascinating”. VAYA has fun, dances, writes prayers on the souls of her music legend subjects. “I like to pay tribute to those who have suffered so much, laying some particles of peace over their restless souls – isn’t that the artist’s role? Transfigure suffering into masterpieces?In her own words….meet Vaya:
Local artist Jennifer Hossein was welcomed to the gallery by Calvin… (below)…and Allen welcomed first time visitors Maryam and her budding artist daughter Ayda (below)Of course, everyone wanted to check out Vaya’s exquisite footwear which were works of art themselves!If you’d like to learn more about this exciting new (to Toronto) artist, you can join Vaya at the gallery this coming Thursday Sept. 19 (6-7pm) for a special live performance of her music, dance and art. RSVP to attend: email@example.com
CHILD OF ROCK runs until September 28th @ Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East, Toronto www.UrbanGallery.ca
The first thing you notice when entering Urban Gallery this month is the riot of colour! Big, bold and full of energy, each canvas offers stunning graphics, mixed media and just simply….joy. Local artist NICOLAS PEARSON delivers an exciting solo show in Imaginary Nonsense: A kaleidoscopic journey of abstraction through painting which runs through July 31st at Toronto’s leading non-commission gallery located at 400 Queen Street East…and it’s well air-conditioned for those who find the heat and humidity unbearable (like this writer). Here’s Nicolas to tell you about his art and his inspirations….
My work is primarily abstract oil and acrylic paintings. I produce my work in a subconscious manner where I start with an idea and jump into the painting, changing my vision as I go through the process as inspiration hits me. Inspiration comes from my fascination for the natural world and random mundane items I encounter in my daily life that enthuse me. Anything can be a visual stimulant and can be incorporated in my art, the idea that anything and everything can become art gives me motivation. I started this fascination when I experimented with mixed media collage using everyday buttons off a dress shirt or jacket. These items, which would normally just form a practical purpose, are now being used to create an artistic expression. I also use twine, cheesecloth and impasto painting techniques to create texture and areas of interest in my work. – Nicolas Pearson
Born and raised in Toronto Canada, Nicolas attended the McMichael Art Gallery summer camp for art where he would later work for a few years. He studied fine art and art history at the University of Toronto’s joint program with Sheridan Collage, graduating in summer 2012. During university, he also participated in a summer study abroad program for Modern Art History, with a focus on Italian Art in Siena, Italy, in 2010. He was also involved in several group shows including the Chancellors Exhibition at the University of Toronto 3 years in a row, and a one-day pop-up show at the Gladstone Hotel.
Today, his latest works were admired by gallery visitors and friends…Here is the artist with gallery curator Allen Shugar (below), and gallery owner Calvin Hambrook (lower)..and sharing the camera with one of his energy-filled paintings (below)Here are some exquisite close-ups/details from some of his work….The show runs throughout the month of July, closing on the 31st, with another opportunity to meet the artist on Sat. July 27th (2-4pm) so we hope you will join us to celebrate this talented Canadian artist. Space is limited so kindly RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East (just E of Parliament) www.UrbanGallery.ca
Throughout June, Toronto celebrates its LGBTQ community and each year URBAN GALLERY hosts an art exhibition as part of the city’s PRIDE festivities.
This year, hyper-realist portrait artist BRIAN GIBSON is launching his ongoing project ICONS featuring legends from Hollywood and the music industry. This past Saturday, the gallery was filled with Brian’s family, friends and fans, along with a DJ spinning tunes by some of his artistic subjects. Brian (below left) and his partner, Danny (below right) enjoyed sharing stories behind each portrait and how each star has impacted Brian’s work in this special ongoing series of paintings. Portraiture has been a historic representation of society and the continuing similarities found in the human experience. Hair & clothing styles may change but we are fundamentally the same throughout time. ~ Brian Gibson.
Gallery curator Allen Shugar (below R) really enjoyed hanging this show and being surrounded by such famous faces…as did gallery director Calvin Hambrook (below L)Even a young Sophia Loren made an appearance alongside Judy Garland (below)The guests were enthralled by the uncanny likenesses……and Brian was happy to chat with everyone and pose for photos…The whole gallery was a-buzz with people sharing memories of concerts attended or movies they watched starring these “icons”…
ICONS runs until June 29th so we look forward to introducing you to Cher, Marilyn, Doris, Rock and Prince! URBAN GALLERY, 400 Queen St East, Toronto www.urbangallery.ca
I discovered a great gallery on Spadina Ave (Toronto) last night when I attended the opening soiree for the fabulous Mr. Hydde‘s solo show titled “Happy Tyme”. Coldstream Fine Art represents a number of exciting contemporary Canadian artists and I was thrilled to see Mr Hydde’s new works hanging in this space. His show runs util March 23rd so please scroll down and check the websites linked at bottom of this blog for info & gallery directions.Upon entering the 2nd floor gallery, I was amazed by the brightly coloured large, fanciful paintings, each of which intrigued with Mr. Hydde’s embedded text and imbued with his sense of humour and social commentary.I managed to grab a quick Q&A video with the man himself….
I met up with some friends from the Toronto arts community including (below) Val Peter (L), Tanya Solonyka (C) and Michelle Dinelle (R) who were their to support our talented friend, Mr Hydde.I had my eye on this one, Flowerz (below) and decided to commit. Yes, that’s my red dot alongside. The eyes followed me around the gallery and kept drawing me back so….I just had to have it!I encourage you to visit Coldstream Fine Art and view Mr. Hydde’s work in person…see if any of the other eyes follow YOU around the gallery. Thank you for supporting local artists.Coldstream Fine Art, 80 Spadina Ave, Ste. 208 www.coldstreamfineart.com/