Monday, December 13, 2010

smelly art

Lately, I have been busy (procrastinating on) writing my grad school applications. In the course of my research, I discovered a new kind of art. In the last half century or so, art has popped up that is not primarily visual. There is sound art and art you can touch and interact with. And now, there is smell art. The Museum of Arts and Design in New York is opening the Centre of Olfactory Art in November 2011. Although the scents seem to all be perfumes created throughout history, they will be presented independent of their packages so the viewer - wait, smeller - can fully experience the artfulness of the smell. Maybe if olfactory art takes off, people will be creating scents just for art exhibitions.

Art you can smell by Ernesto Neto

Sunday, November 28, 2010

yarn bombing etc

Yesterday I was at the Bata Shoe Museum looking through a book on knitting and yarn bombing in their special exhibition on socks. I didn't realize that putting yarn on stuff was something people did. Apparently, yarn bombers knit covers directly onto trees, poles, fire hydrants, etc. Here's an example by Kari McDonald, an American art student:

Defeat the Sorrow, by Kari McDonald (2009)

Defeat the Sorrow, by Kari McDonald (2009)
That looks like one warm tree. I like how you could almost miss the yarn at the bottom of the tree but it transitions into something more colourful. I really wonder how this stands up to the elements and if the authorities cut it off the tree when it gets wet and soggy. 

Here's another example by "Knitted Landscape" (two Dutch artists) who seem to have a similar purpose as McDonald - providing a colourful contrast to an otherwise bleak winter landscape:

by Knitted Landscape (Iceland, 2007)
by Knitted Landscape (Ireland, 2007)

Lastly, one of the most awesome things ever created - a knit cover for a motorcycle by Theresa Honeywell:

Everything Nice, by Theresa Motherwell (2006)

I couldn't even tell that this was a motorcycle at first. It just looked like a little girl's bike. Not that this would be the first pink vehicle - I'm reminded of the pink Hello Kitty motorbikes in Korea. Honeywell really takes advantage of the sweet girly aesthetic of knitware; her other works are knit guns and tools. Lovely!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christmas video

A couple weeks ago, I got the chance to see Avner Levona and crew shoot a Christmas video. This was Avner's idea just for the fun of it. It was nice of him to include my name in the credits as the "Location Assistant" which sounds so nifty think I might put it on my resume. Truth be told, all I did was find the location.

And here's what shooting the video looked like: 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Shary Boyle's "Flesh and Blood" at the AGO

I, along with about 200 other people, crowded into the AGO yesterday to hear Shary Boyle talk about her exhibition. When I first saw the exhibition, I was so creeped out I didn't even want to look at it. The only piece I liked was a small porcelain sculpture called "The Bed" (which I unfortunately can't find an image of). It shows three people lying down sleeping in a bed: a woman, a man, and another figure whose head is under the bed sheet. I couldn't stop thinking about who that third person was supposed to be. Since it was shorter than the others, it reminded me of a child, but strange that a child would be in her parents' bed. I also thought it could be a third lover - maybe one of them was having an affair - or they were just the polygamous type. Luckily, I got to ask Shary Boyle about this, briefly. She mentioned that it was like another "you": There are always other you's in your relationships, whether you carry past selves around or future selves.

I also got her to sign my programme and she made a speech bubble for the two boys.

King Cobra

As I've been forced to see this exhibition several times for various reasons, I'm becoming acclimatized to it and starting to like more of the pieces. I really like some of the strange mini sculptures, as well as the life-size white sculpture of a woman which is illuminated by a colour-cut out projection of butterflies and other shapes.

Virus (White Wedding)

However, the scarecrow having sex with the woman made out of tiles still makes me uncomfortable and I really can't look at the glow in the dark woman-spider trapped in her own web.


The exhibition is on until December 5th, 2010.

Monday, November 1, 2010

tiaf continued - bonfanti

Another thing that surprised me at the TIAF was Ross Bonfanti's concreatues. Bonfanti finds old stuffed animals, removes the stuffing, and fills them with concrete. The cool thing is that you can't tell that they're made of concrete. They just look like sad, inside-out toys until you touch them and find that they're completely hard. The cutest one ever was an upside down teddy bear, but Bonfanti even had a totem pole of bears with the ones at the top progressively smaller than the ones at the bottom.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

the 2010 toronto international art fair

at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre is definitely worth going to. It's still going on today until 8 and Sunday and Monday from 12-6pm. You'll get to see a picture of a skull dusted with diamonds by Damien Hirst, plus a small painting he did of coloured polka dots which is far more expensive (and less interesting) than the diamond skull. On the same note, one of my favourites this year was a large sculpture-painting by Kim Dorland of a sparkly green swamp thing c/o the Mike Weiss Gallery. She also had some cool sparkly owls. More on that later. Happy Halloween.
Because I couldn't find pictures of the aforementioned works, here's Hirst's unicorn in formaldehyde (unfortunately not at the TIAF this year):

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

bayview subway station

I really enjoy seeing art in the otherwise bleak subway stations and I think we could use more of it. It would actually be the perfect public space for changing installations, though we rarely use it for that purpose. 
I'm also intrigued by the imagery at Bayview and Sheppard that was created by Panya Clark Espinal in 2002. It looks like abstract distortions from most angles but viewed from the right spot it looks impossibly realistic, with the shapes extending from the walls to the floors.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Billy Twinkle: Requiem for a Golden Boy by Ronnie Burkett

Ronnie Burkett and Billy Twinkle puppet
It's hard to do a one-man show because it always ends up looking like you're playing with yourself - especially when you're talking to dolls and making them talk back to you. And especially when one of those dolls is a miniature version of you that you made yourself for that very purpose. It's an odd set up, but one that draws out multiple layers of meaning.

Burkett began the show with himself as the puppeteer Billy Twinkle, manipulating a stripper puppet who takes her clothes off seamlessly by herself. Then when Burkett/Billy becomes possessed by his dead puppeteering teacher, he himself becomes a puppet to the will of his possessor: he is forced to reenact his past, with puppets playing his past selves and mentors. The story explores the course of Billy’s career from when he was a kid at a puppet festival doing his gig with his stripper puppet (see above picture) and trying to get the puppeteering master to take him on as an apprentice - to him as an adult, now the master, being hassled by a kid with a drag queen puppet.

Basically, this is the best puppet show I've ever seen (granted, the only one - but still) and I highly recommend it. It's showing at Factory Theatre until October 24th 2010.

Ronnie on stage
Doreen puppet holding Jesus puppet

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

nuit blanche part II

Lastly, we went to Queen West, which didn't seem to have as much art going on as the zone map led me to believe. Regardless, the interactive Hair Matters installation from the Toronto School of Art was amusing. Nuit-blanchers were given a piece of yarn each to attach to the master ball of yarn which was supposed to represent a giant hair ball. Luckily, it wasn't gross as one would expect an actual hair ball to be. Actually, it didn't remind me of hair much at all. It was more just a mess of yarn and ribbons. I did, however, notice that someone put some actual hair in the installation. Ew.

Hair Matters, Toronto School of Art
Hair Matters, Toronto School of Art
The best thing I saw in Queen West was off in a building that no one seemed to know about. It was called The Night Watch by Jérôme Havre. There were several screens projecting videos of chandeliers spinning in time to eerie classical music. There was also a brown patched together ghost-like figure in the centre of the room. The figure confused me and although the chandeliers did actually remind me of Versailles, I didn't really catch on to the artist's intended meaning as described in the guide book: "Havre explores French colonialism by recreating the Grand Chandelier of Versailles in simulated African skin". Actually, I just liked the way the chandeliers moved to the music.

(photos by me)

Monday, October 4, 2010

nuit blanche 2010

Toby Smith, Bau-Xi Gallery
Bryan and I went to Nuit Blanche this weekend. We started out in Yorkville but everything had ridiculous lines, so we saw the Winter Garden exhibition at the Japan Foundation and then headed downtown. We checked out a few galleries across from the AGO and I really liked the photography at the Bau-Xi Gallery. It's hard to make photographs that everyone hasn't seen a million times before, but somehow this exhibition managed to collect some original images (granted, my photography knowledge is limited) from various artists. Many had pretty colour combinations and an alluring glow.

Ferit Kuyas, Bau-Xi Gallery
Heidi Leverty, Bau-Xi Gallery
One thing I had never seen in art before is a 3D gallery. The "Three Dee Realms" exhibition at Open Studio (401 Richmond St.) featured black and white prints of fantasy landscapes that could be viewed with 3D glasses. 3D is taking over motion pictures - it shouldn't be a surprise that it's leaking into still art. Although I thought it was awesome to see art in 3D, I did feel a little sick while looking at the pictures.

Yorodeo (Paul Hammond and Seth Smith)
Print by Yorodeo (Paul Hammond and Seth Smith)
Also at 401 Richmond St. was "Man with Yellow Typewriter" a live performance by Martin Helmut Reis with photo exhibition by Jim Gronau. The photos showed Martin in various poses where he looks sad and alone in a vaguely humorous Magritte kind of way. The catch was that Reis was actually at the exhibition. He would walk into the space, take a look at the photo exhibition, then sit down on a bench where he would proceed to take out his typewriter from the yellow case and begin typing things on leafs that were scattered on the ground. He handed the leafs out to gallery-goers and gave me one that said "leaf me be". Contrary to the way he looks in the photos, Reis was approachable and pleasant.

Martin Reis/Jim Gronau
Martin Reis/Jim Gronau
Performance by Martin Reis, photo by me
Performance by Martin Reis, photo by me
Performance by Martin Reis, photo by me
Leaf by Martin Reis, photo by me
to be continued...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Word on the Street

I hoped to see some more interesting or independently published books yesterday at Word on the Street. I did, however, meet two comic book artists, J.R. Faulkner and Brian Evinou, and listened to Stuart McLean tell amusing half-fictional anecdotes while some prepubescent boys cheered fanatically in the background as if Stuart were Justin Bieber. I didn't end up buying anything at Word on the Street but as I'm recently employed by the monopoly of Canadian book retail, I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunities to buy books.

Stuart McLean (photo by me)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

St. Clair Artwalk

Yesterday, Bryan and I went to the St. Clair artwalk, which Noah Cole had told me about the day before. Noah has extensively photographed either end Canada and was showing his work at the OUT/AUT Gallery of Modern Art at 823c St. Clair West. His show will be on until October 10th.

Noah Cole (Vancouver, 2005)
We also happened into the home of painter, Barbara Muir. She told us she had sketched Oprah via Skype, that her cat can play the piano better than any of the other cats on youtube, and she fed us homemade pizza.

Barbara Muir (Oprah Sketch)

Lastly, I really enjoyed seeing Dina Torrans' huge mixed media paintings at the Artscape Wychwood Barns. They're fantasy-like landscapes with minimal but important 3-dimensional elements tacked on. You don't get the full effect from the web version, but luckily she has a show "Mapping Infinity" at Impressions Art Gallery at 102 Yorkville Ave., going from Sept 29-Oct 20 (including Nuit Blanche).

Dina Torrans, Delivering

Sunday, September 19, 2010

queen west art crawl

I went to the outdoor exhibition at Trinity-Bellwoods park for the Queen West Art Crawl yesterday and was impressed by the variety of stuff that was there. I rarely feel the need to own art, but I really would have loved to own (and use) one of these:

had I had 50 bucks + HST. I also could see this on my living room (if I had a living room) or front entrance wall, since it looks vaguely functional. I really wanted to take out those papers and read them, but I don't think Patti would have appreciated that.

Although I wouldn't really want to own these ones, the mushrooms were particularly memorable for their quirkiness:

More than the mushrooms, I really like Victoria's unique wedding band designs on etsy. The nature references make them seem light and impermanent but the tree bark lines give the impression of something old and long-lasting.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lisa Ng

I went to the Junction Arts Festival yesterday and saw Lisa Ng's paintings in the Academy of Realist Art. She won second prize in the juried exhibition, but her work was my favourite. She creates these mini worlds where bizarre things are happening, such as one painting where a guy on the subway is literally coughing up a lung and everyone is cowering behind him, including some vermin. Her website is also worth checking out. I especially like the "cannibalism" section, which reinterprets common food items as human body parts, but somehow manages to be more quirky than actually disturbing.

Lisa Ng

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Viktor & Rolf Spring 2010

Just when you thought there were no new silhouettes to be had in fashion... I'm kind of amazed by the floating skirt. I can't imagine how they got that to stay up. The only thing I hate is the one that looks like cheese and a mouse has been nibbling on it. Katy Perry, on the other hand, disagrees.