Thursday, March 6


Not my own, though I am - for the first time in a long time - getting inspired to make new stuff. I stumbled across these artists and their work by perusing and was instantly drawn to both of them.

This piece is called Landed and it's by Ian Strange. It's currently installed at the 2014 Biennial of Australian Art. 

He works across several disciplines, (film, video, photography) and, as shown - site specific interventions using homes. 

I also loved this hand woven piece by Mimi Jung. It really, really makes me want to get back into doing textile work, and maybe even rig up some sort of loom in my apartment. I could totally do this. 

This piece - Six Blue Shadows - is made from bark, wool, and cotton. I love the subtlety of the colour and texture. I took a look at her website, and there are many other woven pieces of varying sizes. 

Tuesday, February 25

Aya Brackett

This morning while procrastinating on my homework, I had one of those rare moments where my hobbies and interests collide. I'm often on the lookout for art writing and artists who interest me, but I'm having a hard time looking at those interests as a "hobby" and almost see that search more as work. Why should it be that way? Isn't the dream to have a career that doesn't feel like work, and that combines your personal interests with your needs to pay the bills? Isn't that what I'm working toward? That said, I have quite the blog hobby - mainly lifestyle/food/interior design blogs. When we moved into our new place a year ago, I knew months in advance the size and layout of our new apartment so I spent months bookmarking, reading design blogs, and buying design books. It was something I really latched onto and those blogs are still part of my weekly reading rotation. I've never really thought before about my fine art "career" interests and my bloggy design interests combining, but why shouldn't they? Recently on the Kitchn there was a post about food photography by Aya Brackett. What stood out to me was the mention that she also does fine art photography and her series explore food and what she considers "painting with food" (not literally using organic material as paint) she explains it best: 

"On painting with food. I really love doing still life work. I pretend that I'm painting. I work with the color and texture of the food and the background color and texture. It's like I'm composing a painting with what's in front of me. I really have fun with that, working slowly. It's what I choose to do on my own time, so that's saying something!
Food is so compelling in color and texture and cultural significance. I focus a lot on food when I'm traveling, too. It's so much fun to see what people are eating and to explore what's delicious in Paris, what's delicious in Oaxaca."
Here are some images that stood out to me from her website:

Friday, February 21

Found on FFFFound

Since my post yesterday was a bit of a bummer, and those melancholic feelings have persisted into this morning, I decided to look for some random images to cheer me up on FFFFound.

...and a little positive inspiration...

Thursday, February 20

On Feeling Down

Sometimes it's hard not to get discouraged about the way things are going with your in general. This is something that's been on my mind since a year ago, when I decided to go back to school, but more recently with a few things that happened in the last week or two. First, a friend of mine at work let me know that her last day was coming up. She got a full time job doing work in her field, which is very exciting for her - she's been working very hard and she deserves it. Then at school, we had a guest speaker in, who is an artist, writer, and recent participant of a very fascinating artist's residence. She is also a phd student, and is doing some amazing work and writing. She's very inspiring, and it was mainly her focus - the fact that her art and writing have such a clear scope - that inspired me and got me there anything that I'm that interested in? Right now, I don't know. This past weekend, my lifelong best friend came to visit me. Though we have very different jobs and live pretty different lives, we got to talking about goals and five-year plans. We both want a lot of the same things. We spoke wistfully of homes, cars, kids, and weddings (we may have different feelings and goals in some of those areas, but the main feeling was the same: when is it our turn to grow up?!).  Finally, one of the blogs I frequent just featured a post by one of the writers about her goals and success. It was a great entry, but gave me those pangs of regret. I'm 27 and am working on a second undergrad. I'm basically living pay check to pay check, and personal goals like buying a home and starting a family loom in what seems to be a very distant future. I work at the mall. My uniform consists of a t-shirt, and whenever I see people I know from school in the store I work at I have this odd sense of shame. I want to hide - I don't want people to see me in that damn t-shirt.

I have to remind myself - almost daily - that my long days and 60-some-odd hour workweek is worth it. I'm working toward something. I do an internship in a great space and I like my program at school. I'm more focused this time around and am doing everything I can to leverage my student status in my favour (it's amazing how many doors being a student can open for people who are looking for opportunities in creative fields). I know I'll have to run myself ragged for a few months yet, but the experience I'm gaining now is headed somewhere. That picture is a little fuzzy and I'm still figuring out exactly what I want. I'm trying to figure out, realistically, what my strengths are. Am I going anywhere as an artist, or am I a better administrator? Will I be better at curating others' work, or writing about it, or both? Can I have it all? It sucks to be on the closer side of thirty and still not have any answers. I feel like a kid in a lot of ways, but with adult concerns...savings, credit scores, debt.

I just need to power through I guess. I joined Linkedin, I browse for new jobs weekly, I'm trying to stay afloat on my homework and keep aware of what's going on in Toronto, art-wise. I often feel like I'm treading water but I remind myself'll be worth it in the end.

Also, did I just use a stock photo? haha, yep. But it's from a very cool, very positive collection of stock photos that you make you feel warm and fuzzy when you look at them. I picked this one because this chick seems to have it all sorted. I mean, she's actually probably just a model in a photo shoot, but she's basically the image of having it all together. Maybe one day I'll have everything I want and I'll look just as killer in a pencil skirt and heels...

Thursday, January 23

The Great Upheaval

images from

Currently on at the AGO is The Great Upheaval: Modern Art from the Guggenheim Collection. I got the chance to see it last Friday. Full disclosure, it was for school. I'm required to write and exhibition review for my art writing workshop, and the review I write will likely be the first of my art show reviews to be read by someone who does this stuff professionally. I figured I'd feel a bit more comfortable starting out here. 

On to the show. In most senses, I knew what to expect. I've studied work from this period before and understood the basic principles of the movements represented (Cubism, Fauvism, Dada, and Der Bleue Reiter). What I was really looking for, as a student of art criticism and curatorial practice, was to understand how and why the show was put together. Why were certain pieces hung in the places they were? What impact did the text on the walls have on my understanding of the show? I didn't just want to look at the artworks, I wanted to understand them both in their historical context and in the context of here and now - myself, the Guggenheim, and the AGO.

The show was laid out chronologically, beginning with the "precursors" and moving toward innovation and war. The rooms, leading one into the next, were quite spare. Large (and some not so large) works were given room to breathe, and the space left room for consideration about why certain pieces were placed together. For example, works by Mondrian, Delaunay, Kandinsky, and Picasso were placed together in a square, seemingly in conversation with one another. Despite the artists' different approaches to colour, they all featured similar approaches to linework. Shown together, it was easy to see how his trend in art-making was used by different artists, across countries and movements. 

The "branding" of the show - red, black, and white, a bold sans serif typeface, and diagonal margin justification of the text was reminiscent of wartime European propaganda posters. Context to what was going on in both the art world and the world at large was provided, and didn't distract from the works themselves. 

Moving on to the "war" area of the exhibition, I wasn't sure what to expect. Many artists served, so I thought perhaps we would see impressions of war. A small placard warned on entry that viewers would hear sounds of war - gunshots and explosions. I thought maybe there would be a screen showing newsreels or war footage but this was nowhere to be seen. I investigated the noise and found, zip-tied to the ceiling, two small speakers. Directly over the placard warning viewers of the sound was the source of it. I suppose this was used to "set the scene" as one entered the "war" section. I found it a little on-the-nose, but I shrugged and entered the space. 
What I found most striking in this space was not images or impressions of the brutality of World War One. It was, incidentally, an installation of works dealing with the everyday by Braque, Modigliani, Van Doesburg, among others. Oils on canvas featured still lifes on kitchen tables - positively mundane in the midst of war brutality. I enjoyed the sensitivity in these works, and a picture into wartime domestic life. 

The show ended with a projection in a narrow corridor - a quote by Einstein was projected on the floor: "The world cannot be changed without changing" - a nod, I would gather, to the changes wrought by the artists featured in the show. Indeed, the years leading up to the Great War were incredibly fruitful artistically, and the gravity of those changes and advancements were seen through to the fifties in America (I'm drawing a parallel here with Abstract Expressionism). I was given brief time to ponder the quote as I exited the show into the gift shop. How convenient - I could buy prints and reproduction canvases of the works I just saw! I could also buy high-end barware and $20 art-print socks! I did pickup an exhibition catalogue, beautifully printed and bound, for twenty bucks. Whatever my thoughts are on the placement of the gift shop, I'm sure they're irrelevant. It's a symbiotic relationship, I suppose - patrons support the gallery with their money and the gallery acts as a resource for cultural capital. I'm not going to end my discussion of the show on that note. I want to conclude by saying that it is always satisfying seeing works I've studied in school in the flesh. There is a certain magic in seeing close-up and in full scale the images from google searches and textbook thumbnails. The show was simply and sparely laid out. The work and artists were given a chance to speak for and with themselves, and to the experimentation and developments in art at the time. 

Saturday, January 18


Yesterday I did something that's been on my mind for a few weeks. I purged my art. I'd been meaning to re-organize the closets in my apartment one by one over the next few weeks and I decided to begin yesterday with the studio. My space in that room has gotten smaller and smaller because the work I do has mainly shifted lately to writing, yet my partner's work has expanded to include podcasting in addition to the music recording he does in that space. We needed to address the storage issue in closet - a space that was filled mainly with a backlog of my forgotten work. 

What happens to artwork once its made? I think of the thousands of art students out there - even in this city alone - and I wonder, what happens to those piles of sketchbooks, drawings, paintings, collages, and sculptures? Do they gather dust under beds and in closets, in parents' basements until...? I don't know. Honestly, it's something I've never really heard anyone talk about. I thought about and looked at the art that was in my closet and came to the conclusion that it doesn't really represent who I am now, or where I'm headed with my work. I have no plans to show it and if someone was interested in buying it they likely would have by now. I have plans for new projects and I don't want the ghosts of inspirations past haunting my closet as reminders of projects that never got anywhere. Furthermore, with every subsequent move over the last four years (three in total) I've taken the opportunity to get rid of things I no longer need or use. My old art was the last of these relics to go. I feel comfortable with the title of "minimalist" and my new organized closet finally reflects that. 

How do I feel now that this stuff is gone? Honestly, it's bittersweet. There was a good deal of nostalgia felt when going through work from 2005, 2006 - my first two years out of high school. There was work from my first BFA that I'd completely forgotten I'd done. There was also work that I loved and was totally proud of (and kept). It was an odd feeling bringing it all down to the basement of my building to be taken away. I felt like I was somehow ...betraying it. Or myself. Part of me wanted to take a hammer to it - not because I was angry or wanted to see it wrecked, but so that some well-meaning person wouldn't try to "rescue" it by putting it on their walls. As I explained to my confused boyfriend, I wanted a clean break. I wanted it gone.   

Logistically speaking, there were a few questions I went through before I made my choice. I have friends who like my work and if I posted it all for free on Facebook, I'm sure some of the items would have gone to new, appreciative homes. I considered it. My boyfriend, who is fiercely sentimental and has a hard time letting go of things, couldn't believe that I didn't want to do this. My reasoning was mainly as I mentioned above: the work no longer represented what I'm into, and I wanted it to just go away. My mum has work of mine on her walls that I did in high school and I cringe every time I see it. I don't want to experience that at anyone else's home or apartment. 

So that's it. The studio is a little emptier, and my next move will be that much easier. I have new plans and goals artistically and that include making much smaller, reproducible works like zines and prints. I'm looking forward to re-defining the art I make. 

This is the "before". The dresser at the left of the frame was directly in front of the closet door so only one door could open. The shelves in the closet held supplies, old school notes, and framed small drawings. Behind the door were large pieces piled the entire depth of the closet. 

After. The dresser holds some of my boyfriend's clothes (the bedrooms in our apartment are rather small). His scarf collection has no real place at the moment, so for now they'll be kept here, out of the way and safe from dust and cat hair. The shelves have been removed and the only art that remains is stored flat in a portfolio on top of the dresser. My school notes and some of my photographs (from studying analog photography) remain, but nearly everything else you see in here belongs to Michael - and those boxes beside the dresser are empty. 

Until next time.

Saturday, January 11

Art in London

As the title of this post suggests, I was recently in London. This post is in no way, however, a definitive look at the art scene in London. Is that even possible? Certainly not in a post by an outsider after a ten day trip. As I was planning, I looked at list of galleries I should go to. There were the obvious choices - the Tate Modern, the National Portrait Gallery, and The Barbican. I also wanted to look for smaller, more independent and artist-run spaces. I had a few on my list, but as I was there over Christmas, I had to pare my list down to the essentials. I made it to the major players on my list, but even the gallery at the Barbican was closed by the time I got there (not to worry - I managed to buy an awesome book on DIY culture in the London eighties at the Barbican before we left). 

The first non-tourist photos I took in London were while walking around east London. The following photos were taken around Brick Lane and Spitalfields. The narrow cobblestone streets were charming and graffiti reminded me of my own hipster city. This ended up being my favourite area of London and one I visited no less than three times during my stay. 

This (below) is me at the Tate Modern and is, incidentally, the only photo I took there. It's me, reflected in 11 Panes by Gerhard Richter.
The Tate Modern is a beautiful space for contemporary/Modern/Conceptual Art. It's HUGE and the galleries are never-ending. I was lucky to go when it didn't seem too busy, although it was a Sunday evening. I also loved that entry was free and I was happy to donate £1 for a map. I wish Toronto made art more accessible in this way (looking at you, AGO).

I also made it to the Whitechapel Gallery while I was there. Unfortunately, much of the gallery was closed due to an installation for an upcoming Hannah Höch exhibition. I did, however, see an installation by Kader Attia. The space was transformed by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves full of books and knick-knacks that created a smaller room-within-a-room that could be entered, and contained even more artifacts. The look at history and collecting was highly engaging. The explanation provided here gives more information.

As is always the case with vacations, I wish I had seen and done more. I am glad that I made time to visit a few cultural institutions and I know I'll be back to the city to see even more at some point. London is a beautiful, inspiring place. There is so much history there and even the cobblestones seem to contain more character and energy than our salt-stained asphalt. The fact that I drank at a pub that outdates my country by centuries was tough to wrap my head around - Charles Dickens drank at that same pub and it was old even then. 

All this to say, I could never provide a definitive look at art in London - the city has so much to offer - but I did want to be sure to post on my experience there. As this blog has evolved into a place for me to voice my thoughts on art and culture, I didn't want to miss the chance to talk about London. 

Until next time.