Posts in Category: Review

Being She at the Gladstone

Being She: The Culture of Women’s Health and Health Care Through the Lens of Wholeness
Gladstone Hotel – TORONTO

Featured Artists – Sarah Anne Johnson, Nina Levitt, Jane Martin, Meryl McMaster
[June 9 to August 1 2011]

Juried Artists – Dawn, James Azzopardi, Caitlin Baker, Laura Barrón, Jennifer Bedford, Carole Conde + Karl Beveridge, Talia Eylon, Jeane Fabb, Hoda Ghods, Michelle Gibson, Katherine Hartel, Sophie Hogan, Moe Laverty, Manon Lizé with Marianne Lizé-Dumoilin, Yalda Pashai-Fakhri, Pam Patterson + Leena Raudvee, Larry Rossignol, Jasper Savage, Elida Schogt with Guntar Kravis, Lillian Sly, Alison Snowball, Gaëtanne Sylvester, Elaine Whittaker, Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services
[June 9 to 15 2011]

Curators: Deborah Wang and Christina Zeidler
Curatorial advisors: Sophie Hackett, Michelle Jacques, and Betty Ann Jordan

Judging by a capacity crowd for opening night at the Gladstone, an intimate and thoughtful curated tour a few days later, and a high volume of press coverage that has been dedicated to the show – something about Being She has struck a nerve, if not the central nervous system of women’s health itself.  Being held as part of centennial celebrations of Women’s College Hospital, the photo based exhibition is the first of its kind in the 100 year history of the health care institution.

My contribution as part of the juried show is dedicated to my mother Margie Snowball [1952-2010].  The series of photos was taken at Akropoli metro station in Athens.

Round & Round [She Goes] 2009

Often, the whole is illuminated only with the brilliance of hindsight.  Kinetic forces of motion and change redraw borders and reshape lines, in staunch defiance of definition until – natural or otherwise – a conclusion is reached.  My mom and I were in Athens when doctors discovered the tumour in her brain. With the forces at play, with our roles reversed, I mostly walked behind her.  It was the beginning of her end and the end of my beginning.

While the juried portion of the show has come down the featured artists works remain up on the third and fourth floors of the hotel through August 1.  Still, you can check out the Women’s College Hospital site for samples of all Featured and Juried artists’ works.  Below, you can click through to more extensive press coverage of the show.

York University – York prof featured in Toronto hospital’s centennial celebration [June 1]
Xtra – Artists revisit troubling history of women’s health in Canada [June 2]
National Post – Five things to do this week [June 3]
CBC Radio One – Here and Now – Interview with curator Deborah Wang [June 8]
Globe and Mail – One Hundred Years of Healing [June 9]

Inside Toronto – Exhibit celebrates centennial of Women’s College Hospital [June 12]

Sprung – Paintings by Shawn Skeir

SPRUNG
SkeirGallery – TORONTO
[June 2 to July 16 2011]
New works by Shawn Skeir


It’s official – SPRUNG done been sprang! With the lines between seasons blurring on a daily, even hourly, basis this year – the opening of Shawn Skeir’s latest show this past Thursday, provided a welcome dose of intensity and energy to all in attendance.  Meant to “explore and celebrate Spring’s invigorating spirit of rebirth” and the season’s “transition from dormancy to new found vigour”, Skeir employs a wide spectrum of colours and techniques in expressing this transitory phase.  From softer, natural hues in his Seascapes to full blown neon in his DNA and Abstract paintings, Parkdale’s master of colour is successful in getting his point across.  See for yourself at 1537A Queen Street West until July 16.

Abstract Expressionist New York – MoMA comes to the AGO

Abstract Expressionist New York: Masterpieces from the Museum of Modern Art
Art Gallery of Ontario – TORONTO
[May 28 to September 4 2011]

Works by William Baziotes, Louise Bourgeois, Rudy Burckhart, Harry Callahan, Paul Caponigro, Walter Chappell, Willem de Kooning, Robert Frank, Helen Frankenthaler, Arshile Gorky, Adolph Gottlieb, Philip Guston, Hans Hoffman, Franz Kline, Lee Krasner, Norman Lewis, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Isamu Noguchi, Jackson Pollock, Richard Pousette-Dart, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, Aaron Siskind, David Smith, Clyfford Still
Curated by Anne Temkin, MoMA

This morning, I took in the members’ preview of the AGO’s latest exhibition Abstract Expressionist New York: Masterpieces from the Museum of Modern Art.  The show officially opens this Saturday, May 28.

It is hard to draw solid lines around the beginning and end of the Abstract Expressionism movement,  but it generally refers to a school of painting based out of New York City in the 1940s and 1950s. Curators credit art critic William Coates with first using the term and thereby naming the movement in 1946.  Wiki points out an earlier usage, in 1919, by German magazine Der Sturm as it referred to German Expressionism.  In this instance, presented along with the painters most usually associated with the era are several of their photography and sculpture contemporaries.

The exhibition leads with a quote from Jackson Pollock, not so arguably, the most well known of the featured artists.  Pollock is quoted as saying, “The modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or any other past culture.  Each age finds its own techniques.”  Too true, Jackson, too true.  As it refers to the show in its entirety, these ‘techniques’ are wide ranging but with a great commonality in the boldness of scale and strokes, colour and composition.  Further to the definition of the movement, though pieces may have their roots in reality, the end results are abstracted and non-representational.

With at least six or seven galleries devoted to the show, visitors are invited to discover artists one or two at a time [with the exception of a few rooms]. This thoughtful setup allows for a quick, structured survey or a more ambling assessment.  Either way you choose to go about it, there are surprises around every corner.  On return visits [yes, worth repeat trips] I will be employing both techniques.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Arshile Gorky  [1904-1948] Garden in Sochi, 1943
Adolph Gottlieb [1903-1974] Flotsam at Noon [Imaginary Landscape], 1952
Willem de Kooning [1904-1997] Painting, 1948
Aaron Siskind [1903-1991] series of photographic prints
Isamu Noguchi [1904-1988] Work Sheet for Sculpture, 1946 Untitled, 1946
Franz Kline [1910-1962] Chief, 1950 White Forms, 1955 Le Gros, 1961
Lee Krasner [1908-1994] Gaea, 1966
Joan Mitchell [1925-1992] Ladybug, 1957
Jackson Pollock [1912-1956] No.1A, 1948 Echo No.25 1951, 1951, White Light, 1954
Mark Rothko [1903-1970] No.5/No.22, 1950 No.14 [Horizontals, White Over Darks], 1961
Ad Reinhardt [1913-1967] Abstract Painting, 1960-61
Philip Guston [1913-1980] Painting, 1954 Inhabiter, 1965

A few of these works can be previewed on the AGO website.

Outside the Planter Boxes

This past Victoria Day long weekend, a group of artists [disclaimer: myself included] took to the streets to change the cityscape in straightforward, impactful ways. Depending on your generosity – oft or totally – neglected city tree planter boxes found themselves the subject of interventions all around town as a part of project entitled Outside the Planter Boxes.  Organized by Sean Martindale in putting his FEAST grant to work, the scheme puts the simple back in the sublime.  With no guidelines other than the starting point of the planter, a great range exists in artists’ media, mixing artificial and natural elements, as the planter boxes themselves do, not ironically.

Check out some of the already published photos – the story was picked up quickly by the Torontoist and blogTO, and even Global News took note.

I volunteered as a set of hands and my intervention at its most basic was cleaning garbage out of planters all along Bloor West from Lansdowne to Dufferin. Number one contribution from Torontonians – chewing gum. Followed in rapid and close succession by cigarette butts, coffee cups, chocolate bar wrappers, and in a strange and grizzly discovery in the planter outside the House of Lancaster some kind of jumbo animal bone [human or pig, maybe, remains TBD, but by someone else – I couldn’t bring myself to touch it further despite thick rubber gloves and had to leave it for the bouncers to identify].

When I came across the following planter, the abandoned crate alongside it naturally suggested the final design.  The grass clippings were imported from a freshly mown lawn in North York.

BEFORE & AFTER

La Guerra Que No Hemos Visto

La Guerra Que No Hemos Visto: Un Proyecto de Memoria Historica
The War We Have Not Seen: A Historical Memory Project

Museo La Tertulia – CALI, Colombia
[January 27 to April 17 2011]

A Project by Juan Manuel Echavarria
Curated by Ana Tiscornia

With this show having been mounted first by the Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogota late last year, its second and extended incarnation at Cali’s premier modern art museum is well merited.  At first glance, the colourful collection of paintings strikes as infantile, primary pieces looking for a home on a fridge somewhere.  A second look, though, turns into a stare.  These are not the works of children, but of fledgling artists – former combatants in Colombia‘s ongoing internal conflict. Organized by Echavarria into workshops aimed at bringing the etchings of war from the mind to the surface, aimed at capturing and preserving the collective memory.

Grand pastoral scenes of green hillsides are scarred with blood and big blue skies sub in bullets for birds.  Tiny figures are out of scale with the works, but perfectly in scale as they relate humans to the universe.  Tiny figures carry guns and knives.  Tiny figures are being shot and stabbed.

The title is an interesting choice, no mistake undoubtedly, in the selection of ‘el preterito perfecto’ or ‘the present perfect’ for the tense. Perhaps as a student of the language, the choice stands out more prominently, but its use conveys that this War is not over, that past events continue into the present.  Not the “War We Did Not See” but a translation more along the lines of “The War We May or May Not Have Seen But Could Still See”.

So, who’s fighting you ask?  In general terms, it’s FARC [Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionares de Colombia] aka versus paramilitary groups sponsored by Colombia’s government [the US among others].   Those interested can read up on the conflict and its roots in La Violencia.  Not to say that there has not been a marked improvement in safety and security for citizens and visitors alike, especially in the last five to ten years.  Rather, to acknowledge what Colombians freely do, that a tougher past has given way to a tough present, but in spite of this, by and large citizens remain optimistic and well positioned for the future.

Below are a few personal highlights from the show.  It is interesting to note that no individual artists are credited in the show – nor are they credited in the online catalogue – testament it seems to the still sensitive nature of their past and present roles in society.