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Monthly Archives: March 2010

The model of the artist run centre is more relevant today than ever as an increasing number of artists are emerging from educational institutions or from periods of possible isolation through a self-taught direction. These artists are providing the art appreciative public with more realms of expression, pushing boundaries both personally, and culturally requiring a nurturing environment of supportive peers. The re-emergence of “outsider” art which is gaining more attention also deserves an atmosphere of acceptance and promotion which other fellow member artists are more likely to bestow. Having a network of other like-minded individuals within the same realm to draw inspiration from is not only conducive to creative endeavours but also feeds the emotional and social needs which can be quite devoid in commercial galleries. 

Profit driven galleries and museums tend to be for the most part a closed and restricted culture. They nevertheless try to cater to the public in providing diversity within exhibitions while at the same time not readily accepting any notion of thoughtful creativity outside of their own standard of quality. The late culture critic Edward Said once stated, “we live in a world dominated by experts and narrowly defined fields of knowledge.” This closed culture is more apt to take on the role of preacher to the un-initiated whereas the communal village of an artist run centre is likely to draw upon peer involvement and act as an all-embracing “anthropologist” to bridge this educational gap. Artist run centres are a vital link for people who are culturally aware and wish to view art actively as opposed to those who wish to engage passively within a safe framework. 

This article was published in the book De-Centred by YYZ Aritsts  Outlet

It is great to see the proliferation of art fairs in Toronto in the past few years. Granted ours do not have the same cache as some of the larger and long established events, but nonetheless we continue to offer something for every taste. Therefore, it is with the latest offering, The Artist’s Project held this year at the Queen Elizabeth Building at the CNE grounds. It was a little bit of a schlep taking public transport to the site but the venue was bright and spacious with well-demarcated spacing and signage. 

On offering was a proliferation of artists with a range of mediums including drawing, painting, photography, encaustic, sculpture and installation. Although there was an over abundance of trees and landscapes represented in some of these mediums it was a great way for the un-initiated general public to acquaint themselves with the art and artists and possibly take home a piece to start a collection or add to an existing one. This fair being a representation of perceptual rather than conceptual art, it was an easy stroll from aisle to aisle. 

Special features such as Installation Alley, Video Artbox and the Queen Competition added a little depth to balance the monotony of the booths. Art Chats and Art Walks rounded out the fair by adding an educational component for those who could be a little mystified or intimidated by viewing art or by the artistic process in general. 

Most artists were only too willing to talk about their work and explain the technique and steps that went in to producing their pieces. With such a range of inspiration, it was not hard to pick up some advice for the budding artist or collector in each of us. 

Here are my top three picks, not in any particular order: 

1.   Faye Mullen   Mass: a Study  “ I am an artist and I weigh.” 

In this installation piece, the artist could be seen astride one end of a teeter-totter with the other end being held up by her weight in bricks. Mullen has resolved her work to capture in quantifiable terms an artist’s worth in physical terms. In today’s weak economy an artist is one of those who is caught in limbo relying on grants and sales to shore up their practice. By physically representing the weight of an artist with objects Mullen has succeeded in capturing and representing a sometimes invisible and forgotten entity. 

  1. Queen Competition

 In honour of the new venue, The Queen Elizabeth Building, the exhibitors were asked to create a piece based on the theme of “Queen.” On display were some creative representations of the Queen in some precarious depictions as well as an out-sized industrial looking metal crown and scepter. I think I even might have seen a roving installation piece attired in regal splendor!

 3.   Robert Malinowski

 Malinowski’s light and humorous graphite drawings of adults absorbed in a playful and fantastical world are engaging and superb in technique. These images to me evoke references to Jude Griebel who captures the same playful world, but in that of the young.

Other notable artists of mention:

 Warren Hoyano  

Elizabeth Forrest  

Dominique Prevost

Russell Brohier


Image courtesy of

In today’s fast paced world where instantaneous is the new norm and the word “slow” is anathema in our society, it is comforting to see that some forms of art have not taken on this trait. Therefore, it is with the exhibit “Origamic Architecture” that I stumbled upon at the Japan Foundation. If one has not been to this centre in the Colonnade Building on Bloor St. I highly encourage you to visit. It is a calm and comforting oasis in the city, highly in keeping with the Japanese aesthetic. 

On display in this show were card stock that had been carefully and meticulously crafted into stunningly complex models of buildings, monuments, temples and abstract forms. These three-dimensional forms are akin to pop-up models that one usually associates with children’s books. However, these creations are constructed out of a single sheet of paper, whereas pop-ups utilize several. High art this may not be, but any type of creativity that speaks to oneself regardless of the medium or the degree of acceptability or cache it holds within the art world, should be enough to warrant investigation. Some may call this work “crafty” and not art at all, however art is subjective to the viewer and I believe that one should be open to all types of inspiration. 

The models on display were carefully cut with a technical knife, folded and required due patience, skill and mechanical expertise. The results are dramatic, minimalist, monotone  zen like renderings of the implied form complete with openings for doors and windows, dramatic rooflines and decorative accoutrements.  To say the skill of an architect is needed may not be far from the truth. This is definitely a slow and laborious method of creating an object, however the result is one of understated beauty that engages the viewer to contemplate not only the positive but negative spatial occurrences. 

The late Masahiro Chatani (1934-2008) an architect by trade and the founder of Origamic Architecture designed each piece. He was passionate about this type of work and traveled extensively teaching and exhibiting his talent along the way. 

To re-iterate it was soothing to view such creativity contrived with slow, deliberate and painstaking beauty.