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Toronto
Terence Dick
Summer 2017 Visual Art Exhibitions at Harbourfront Centre
July 12, 2017

With summer in full bloom (at least in spirit), you might want to swing down to Harbourfront Centre to check out their exhibitions for the season. Do anything but drive to get there (trust me) and take the opportunity to enjoy at least three experiences that are popular at this time of year: travel, nature, and surfing the net (is that still what it’s called or am I dating myself?). Regarding the latter, the biggest exhibition space is given over to the IRL extension of the NFB’s Legacies 150 project – thirteen stories told online through photographic (and a couple drawn) essays. These reflections on Canadian identity include some names familiar to the visual art world (Walter Kaheró:ton Scott, April Hickox, and Larry Towell, for example) as well as contributing collaborators from the film, documentary, and literary communities. The baker’s dozen of tales are all made for online interaction, so seeing them on iPads in the gallery doesn’t do much other than promote their presence. The lives detailed are far-flung in all possible directions, but that’s true to the nature of this land on which we all cohabit. Binge-watching the whole set is inevitable, so settle in at home and take a trip.



Winnie Truong, Abalone Porthole, 2017, video animation

Travel is referenced explicitly and explored thoroughly in the wall gallery series Postcard curated by Patrick Macaulay. The once-ubiquitous text-plus-image combination is, I imagine, in danger of being relegated to the dustbin in an era when we can tweet “wish u were here!” from every corner of the planet to our friends, if not the entire planet. However, these artists treat the exhibition title as a metaphor for places, nearby and far, and use means as diverse as animation, found objects, short videos, and plein air paintings. Winnie Truong’s undersea adventure spied through the hole in an abalone shell makes a natural link between her living hair illustrations and the swaying locks of sea plants blown back and forth by the waves. Andrew Blake McGill assembles a collection artefacts tied to the farming community in Ontario where he grew up and recently returned (including his family’s prize winning winter wheat). And Janet Bellotto travels from Sable Island in Canada to Sir BaniYas in the United Arab Emirates, as well as parts in between, to hint at the disorienting effects of international movement.



Dianne Davis, Niagara Palimpsest

For those of us stuck in one place with no one to send postcards to, a backyard or local park provides entry to the world beneath our feet and the wonders that are there to discover if we only stopped to look and learn. Dianne Davis’ photo-series of two-page spreads from a found album of pressed flowers dating back to 1891 confirmed two things: 1) the photographing of books presented in grids of sequential pages is something I have a sweet spot for, and 2) I should know more about plants. The 178 species from the Niagara region that survived a century squished between these pages touch on mortality, epistemology, the environment, and the poetic. It’s too bad they’re relegated to a hallway that most people breeze through. Stop to see the roses! And be sure to visit the craft working area to see displays of Elycia SFA’s silk stationary. They replicate another dying form of communication and should not be forgotten.


Harbourfront Centre Visual Arts: http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/visualarts/current/
Visual Arts Exhibitions Summer 2017 continue until September 17.


Terence Dick is a freelance writer living in Toronto. His art criticism has appeared in Canadian Art, BorderCrossings, Prefix Photo, Camera Austria, Fuse, Mix, C Magazine, Azure, and The Globe and Mail. He is the editor of Akimblog. You can follow his quickie reviews and art news announcements on Twitter @TerenceDick.

 

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