Thanks to local artist and friend, MARK GLEBERZON, I was able to visit this year’s ARTIST PROJECT taking place over the weekend at the Better Living Centre in the CNE grounds where I met lots of exciting new artists as well as catching up with old friends whose work I love and cherish. So walk the aisles with me now as I check out the displays of extraordinary colour, design, texture and wonder!
First, let’s meet up with Mark who kindly comp’ed me in – I love his work which always makes me smile. www.mjggallery.com/225-2/
When I first entered the massive showroom, I was immediately struck by the sassy, saucy paintings of Alexis Fraser, a.k.a. Lipstick Lex! Her work features fabulous “kisses” from famous (and not-so-famous) lips. www.lipsticklex.com I then met the charming Margarethe Vanderpas (below) who shared her exquisite landscapes with me. She’s based in Stratford, Ontario, and welcomes studio visit by appointment. www.margarethe-vanderpas.comI love meeting happy artists, those who enjoy meeting new fans at art expos like this one…and Eleanor Lowden is one such artist. Her work is full of life, joy and colour. Check out her work at www.eleanorlowden.comShow me pictures of horses and I’ll stop in my tracks. Ellen Cameron is showcasing her stunning equine photography, including printing some horsey portraits on aluminium sheets (2nd pic below). I met Ellen a couple of years ago at an equestrian show and I was thrilled she remembered me. www.ellencameron.com The work of Mary McLorn Valle so took my breath away, I forgot to take a photo of her – I just stared at the giant flowers and the colour grids. Check out her portfolio at www.marymv.com Noella Noel (below) is based in Prince Edward County, just East of Toronto – the new hot spot for artists, vineyards and great artisinal foods. Here she is in front of her “Heart of Gold” acrylic on canvas. www.bayhausgallery.com Now here’s a new artist with a unique point of view – her name is Natasha Miller and she lives on a tiny island in the Bay of Fundy. Her website carries some awesome images so I hope you’ll check her out: www.nrmiller.com/ Visiting from Israel is Orit Fuchs whose work reflects her gregarious personality and sense of fun! Drop by her booth and say welcome to Canada….. www.oritfuchs.com/Cute and bubbly Mary Ann Slater brought a sense of wonder and fun to the show with her bright images of everyday items from way back when (she had my life summed up in just a few pictures!!). You can view more of her acrylic realism on her website: www.maryannslater.com Here’s the talented Cdn/Nigerian artist Benny Bing whose big, bold images of friends and celebrities caught many visitors’ attention. The striking paintings of African and Indigenous American women were quite breathtaking in person. www.bennybing.com Insert the theme from Jaws here…Zoe Lefort reminded me why I don’t go in to the water any more with her giant portrait of a great white shark. Aaaaargh! But she did have lots more less lethal paintings on display – LOL! www.zoelefort.comI love it when I discover a new artist whose work really resonates with me. Sometimes it’s a landscape, sometimes it’s a contemporary abstract, and sometimes it’s a….raining cow! Yes, that’s what local artist Morgan Sheardown called his display and I fell in love with one little picture that has now found a home on my walls…scroll down to the bottom of the blog to see which one. www.morgansheardown.com Now here’s a brand new spin on the “big eyes” trend, thanks to the brilliant mind of Michelle Vella. Her vision (no pun intended) of comic portraiture will make you smile. www.michellevella.com Joanna Bell paints dynamic landscapes with spectacular horizons..talk about vast spaces! Incredibly subtle skies add an exciting energy to the detailed lower sections of each photographic artwork. Loved the red-roofed barn below…so atmospheric that I thought I was standing right there in the field! www.joannabell.com Here’s the fun and fabulous Linda DeLuca whose western-themed paintings are a favourite of mine. www.lindadeluca77.com In a previous Artist Project blog, I featured one of her paintings and a friend saw it online and immediately asked me to connect her with Linda and she purchased it – a big red horse’s head. Hopefully I’ll make another art “love connection” for Linda with these current pieces…. Kari Serrao creates images of wild wee beasties in Elizabethan costumes. Sounds a bit wacky but, boy, do these paintings look awesome in person! One of these portraits would look great in your home library or office. Check ’em out here: www.kariserrao.com Kari’s work will blow your mind! Hello, Kate Taylor! I’ve been following Kate’s work for a number of years – I love her use of colour in her abstract mixed media acrylics. She’s also involved with the annual Riverdale Art Walk each summer so look for her booth there on Queen St East later this year. www.katetaylorstudio.com
Richard Ahnert always has a busy booth. Over the years, I’ve photographed Richard’s work in outdoor art shows, galleries and the annual Artist Project, and he always surprises me with his Anthropomorphic Musings in Oil. Visit his site to see for yourself: www.mycanvas.caColombian-born artist Carolina Vargas Reis offered a very unique large-format painting – a giant bouquet of red roses…but look carefully. There is only one stem! Carolina posted the story behind her work (see below) that is both intriguing and amusing. www.vargasreis.com Ramona Nordal has created paintings that remind me of the pop graphic-meets-Beardsley style of the mid to late 60’s. I swear that’s a blue Twiggy! www.ramonanordal.com Ottawa-based Gordon Harrison (below) offers sumptuous Canadian landscapes in his booth, very appropriate for this year’s Canada150 anniversary celebrations. www.gordonharrisongallery.com Henry Ho was another artist new to me – again, anything with horses and I’m there! Integrating ancient Chinese calligraphy with his Tai Chi skills, Henry’s created beautiful, delicate images on X’uan paper, invoking a spiritual quality to his work. www.isartgallerycom Below, I caught Jamie MacLean mid-munch as he grabbed a quick lunch in his booth. But he still had time to strike a pose as he showcased his landscapes, some of which are on aluminium sheets. A late-comer to the art world, Jamie holds an engineering degree but finally turned his attention to his painting in 2004. We’re glad he did – just look at these gorgeous works… www.jamiemacleanfineart.bigcartel.com I was getting a bit tired walking on the hard concrete floors when all of a sudden I spied these huge oil-on-canvas images of Thai Buddhist monks painted by Agata Wisniewski. What a gentle calming influence they had on me, as did the artist herself. www.indigo4evr.com
Paula White-Diamond (below) displayed beautiful floral miniatures as well as large-format canvases. Another “peaceful” feeling booth where I felt welcome, surrounded by her delicate paintings. www.pwdartist.com Hey, there’s Bullwinkle! Loved these ceramic “horny mooses” by Caroline Leoncini Roux. These would look perfect in a man-cave or in your cottage up north! Check out her Instagram for more images: @bycestelle My Facebook friend, Florian Holzinger, had a very colourful booth featuring high impact graphic art in unusual linear shapes. His work hangs in some of the best collections in town! www.florianholzinger.com – or follow him on Fcbk. Another new artist for me was Erin Brekke Conn whose work included some very tactile paintings (see close-up of the mountain goat’s horn in 3rd pic). Her landscape and wildlife paintings utilize the pointillism style – thousands of tiny dots, some of which are raised, giving a multi-dimensional appearance to her work. www.erinbrekkeconn.com Talk about “flashback Friday”!! Here’s my old friend Nancy Bennett with whom I used to work back in the late 70’s at Woody Gundy (investment brokers). Nancy cut the cord from her 9 to 5 office life and became co-founder of the Four Corners Studio in Riverdale/Leslieville. No wonder she’s smiling and looking relaxed and stress-free. No more Bay Street for her! www.nancybennett.ca
I felt the presence of Audrey Hepburn in this booth. Andrea Stajan-Ferkul, another Fcbk friend of mine, invoked the spirit of the 50’s movie ingenue and fashionista with these elegant dress portraits. Just lovely… www.andreastajanferkul.com Sculptor Derya Ozparlak recently arrived in Toronto with her husband from her home country of Turkey and she brought her impactful and slightly naughty balloon and metal sculptures to the Artist Project. www.deryaozparlak.com Young artist Adam Giroux was a stand-out with his portraits featuring themes of restrain, growth, identity and obsession. Adam articulated his process with such maturity, I can’t wait to see where he goes with his boundary-pushing work in the coming years. His work will be showcased March 4 to April 1/17 at www.galleryhouse.ca I got the chance to chat with the winner of last year’s Artist Project art competition, Joel Martimbeault. Based in Montreal, his haunting portraits mesmerize the viewer. www.martimbo.comWhy not let Joel tell you himself about his journey as an artist…
So after 3 hours of schlepping up and down the aisles, I was exhausted but so inspired by the work on show. The Artist Project is on now and runs all weekend (Feb 24-26) and I strongly recommend you visit and check out all the artists on show. www.theartistproject.com/ And here’s my special acquisition from this year’s Artist Project – my little “raining cows” from Morgan Sheardown. Hope you like it, too.