Category Archives: events

Lasting Impressions From The Show Off

OCAD University’s recent 2011 Graduate Exhibition had over 500 thesis projects on display, from 12 different disciplines, spread over 6 floors.  As always, it’s impossible to give everything proper attention, but the children I brought along loved the environment, were inspired by what they saw, and eagerly chatted with some of the artists. But after a few hours of this, your brain tends to get a bit cloudy, which could explain why I almost bought the kids pins with illustrations of serial killers. This is true. I innocently wandered over to look at Lauren Kaiser’s work, but in my distracted state, failed to immediately notice these were illustrations of famous serial killers as children, doing what I suppose future serial killers might do like beheading Ken and tying up teddy. Her humorously disturbing work was definitely not child friendly, so I quietly put the Charlie Manson pin down and engaged in some major distraction. This was clearly my cue to call it a night before I failed miserably at parenting 101. Below are a few of my favs.

Praxis by Callum Schuster was made with insulation foam, spray paint and enamel. It’s texture and unconventional beauty was truly stunning.

Untitled (Grid #1) by Charles Bierk. I liked the parts, but the whole was much more powerful and intense.

Memorium by Michael McDonnell. This was all about metamorphosis with the use of animation and video. The result was mesmerizing, and the hauntingly beautiful music was the perfect accompaniment.

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OCAD Grad Show 2011

The Ontario College of Art and Design will be hosting their annual grad show this weekend, showcasing the work of its 2011 graduating students, from both the Faculty of Art and the Faculty of Design. Why not bring your kids and help inspire the next generation of creative thinkers. With work from over 500 students, there’s bound to be something to please everyone. For more information about  “The Show Off”, check out the website.

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Nuit Blanche Disappoints

Nuit Blanche can be truly magical or extremely disappointing. I know it’s about having fun, but some of us actually go to it with the expectation of seeing art that is fresh and relevant, thought provoking, and occasionally spectacular. This year, my friends and I were unanimously underwhelmed and by midnight, pining for our beds.

With so many works to choose from, it can be challenging. Did we just choose badly (3 people and more than 30 selections!), or is there a problem with the selection process and having an Artistic Advisory Committee comprised of only 8 people! Allow me to share a few underwhelming moments:

A masterpiece like Guernica should be left alone. While this was clearly an important personal journey for the artist,  Hommage didn’t offer anything that wasn’t already being said by the original work, so why bother? We don’t need a cut and paste collage of all other wars to get the message. Picasso already accomplished that beautifully.

Describing Dune as an “interactive landscape of light” was a bit ambitious. It was more like a narrow, underwhelming row of glow sticks (perhaps left over from the G20 summit) which you could pat on the head and “interact with.” There was an enormous amount of space available in the subway station which, if used, could have made it the impressive landscape it sought to be.

Fire can indeed be mesmerizing, but you can’t transcend the night as claimed, when the images are projected on a small screen. Projecting throughout the entire space – floor, ceiling, walls – in a properly darkened room would have enveloped us in the experience, and taken it to a different level, since live didn’t seem to be an option. Pillars was no more interesting than watching a movie at home. How does this make the cut?

Finally, there was False Kraftwerk. Being Kraftwerk fans, we looked forward to this one but were faced with what appeared to be a joke. Four guys dressed in red shirts representing the original band members, sat on a couch and moved about in response to the original Kraftwerk music being played. All this to offer the audience an opportunity to ponder the idea of “real versus fake.” How deep.

The only quality work we came across was in gallery space at the Distillery District. Names that come to mind are Marie-Josee Roy, Tadeusz Biernot, and Ognian Zekoff, among others. This work was independent of the event, and therefore not representative of Nuit Blanche.

To all those art enthusiasts who left the evening disappointed, remember, we live in a great city filled with an exciting, vibrant art scene, and access to our fair share of international exhibitions. There are impressive shows out there which are thought provoking because of their message, originality, and unconventional beauty. So let’s not pin our hopes on one night of the year, until those in charge set the bar higher. We can explore and be inspired anytime we choose. Either that or head to Paris.

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Nuit Blanche

Fog Installation by Fujiko Nakaya. Toronto 2006. Photo: http://www.blogto.com/arts/2006/10/nuit_blanche_fog_in_toronto_a_slippery_hit

My first Nuit Blanche experience was a rainy evening in 2006. I walked along Philosopher’s Walk with my two children in tow to experience Fujiko Nakaya’s eerie fog installation. Pockets of thick fog swallowed up the crowd, and proved a little too unsettling for my ten year old son who felt the need to rescue his five year old sister. He latched on to her coattails, causing her to howl with indignation “Let go!” When he finally did, she promptly fell in the mud. We fled to the Gardiner Museum’s washroom for an emergency scrub down, and once the wailing subsided, continued on what turned out to be a magical evening. We were hooked, and haven’t missed one since.

Nuit Blanche returns on October 2nd, bringing us another fantastic all-night celebration of the arts. Participating cities throughout the world will come alive from dusk till dawn, enticing us to explore contemporary art in a fun and welcoming environment. This free event began in Paris in 2002, with the purpose of making art accessible to everyone. The public was invited to visit museums, galleries, cultural institutions, and temporary exhibitions set up in public spaces. Every year, new cities are invited to join this festival which now spans the globe. Toronto will be celebrating its 5th year, while New York City will be joining in for the first time.

Since its inception in 2006, Toronto’s Nuit Blanche has expanded well beyond its humble beginnings, so I would strongly recommend visiting the website to plan your evening. If you are heading out with children, it makes sense to choose some events that will appeal to them, and dodge some of the ones that are inappropriate. I can’t encourage you enough to take your children. They’ll love you for being able to playfully roam the streets of their city at night, participate in some of the interactive installations, pick up glow sticks along the way, be totally amazed and inspired by some of the things they see, and downright puzzled by others. It’s a great evening with fun to be had by all. Hook up with your friends and don’t forget your camera.

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Things That Caught My Eye

OCAD’s Grad Show was bursting at the seams with work from talented students. It’s just the sort of outing you need to motivate, inspire, or send you down the treacherous path of trying your hand at something new without any formal training. Thought I would share with you a few works that caught my eye:

Kira Shaimanova’s fantastical three dimensional illustrations have a lovely unsettling quality. She makes her dolls out of clay, creates her own sets, then photographs them together. Is it just me, or does the doll below look like Bjork?

Sweet Talk by Kira Shaimanova. Photo:http://www.kirashaimanova.com

Tiffany Eting Wu’s fibre art installation provides an interesting commentary on how crime scenes are represented in the media. Her hundreds of delicate, white flowers were in perfect contrast to the subject matter.

Crime Scene by Tiffany Eting Wu

Flora Shum’s printmaking was stunning, and definitely my favorite. The wall was filled with her delicate prints, which included etchings on handmade flax paper.

Detail of Flora Shum's work

Amanda Muis’s canvas and encaustic on wood was beautiful. From a distance, I was tempted to think pasta. But on closer inspection, it reminded me of a microscopic view of something like mitochondria… traces of high school biology lingering in my brain.

Detail of Tempest by Amanda Muis.

Elisabeth Heidinga’s installation is about how humanity’s over-consumption is impacting negatively on the environment, and how our behaviour patterns are contributing to increased numbers of animals becoming endangered.

Detail of an installation by Elisabeth Heidinga

Abby McGuane created an interesting marbling effect with her collaged black and white inkjet prints. Slightly different sized holes were cut in superimposed copies of the same image, thus creating the marbling effect. Unfortunately, the depth of these spaces doesn’t really come through in the photograph. It really was neat.

Detail from Unseeing by Abby McGuane.

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More Than Just A Yardage Sale

Affordable opportunities abound at the  Textile Museum of Canada’s annual fundraising event, More Than Just a Yardage Sale. It’s not quite Black Friday, but it is an amazing opportunity to elbow your way through bins, rummage through bags, and stock up on supplies at great prices. They have an eclectic selection of yarn, fabrics, notions, craft supplies, magazines, and a variety of odds and ends; all great stuff to make arts and crafts, and leave you wondering where the hell to store it once you get home. This glorious gathering takes place on May 28th and 29th, so check out the website and mark your calendars. Put your best face forward girls and be prepared to line up early for the choicest bits.

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A Graduate Show Worth Exploring

The Ontario College of Art & Design

Enter OCAD is the Ontario College of Art and Design’s annual graduate exhibition, taking place May 6-9, 2010 in Toronto. It’s a great place to offer kids a comprehensive look at what art can be, while visiting one of the funkiest buildings in the city. On display is the thesis work of this year’s graduating class, covering everything from drawing and printmaking, to industrial and graphic design. The environment is child friendly, and you’ll find it’s a fabulous opportunity to create a dialogue with kids and talk to them about what they like, what they don’t like, and why. It’s also a chance for you to support up and coming artists who are still under the radar, and possibly pick up some great art at reasonable prices.

A fond memory I have is of my daughter and her friend who were fascinated by a student drawing in his sketchbook. He took an impressive amount of time to talk to them about his work, and clearly inspired them. They were only eight years old but loved every minute of their visit, and were exposed to some unusual and surprising manifestations of art. We shall return…

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