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Toronto
Terence Dick
TERENCE DICK in Toronto 07/19/11
July 19, 2011

I wrote last week’s report sitting on the bathroom floor of my hotel room in New York (the family was asleep in the next room). This week I’m holed up in the High Park library with every other freelancer in the neighbourhood, copping the free AC and wondering if I can get a pizza delivered here for lunch. I’ll resist the urge to complain about the heat and only point out that galleries tend to have solid cooling systems and are a great way to survive the summer. Getting to and from them is another story, so I decided to stick close to home and write of the wonders of the West End.



Lyla Rye, Swing Stage, 2011(photo: Koffler Arts/flickr)

I’m lucky enough to live spitting distance from the Morrow Street triumvirate of art boutiques. They serve as my emergency exhibitions whenever I need a quick blast of creativity. Lyla Rye’s amazing installation Swing Stage (which opened just last week at the courtyard’s annual barbeque) provides plenty of fuel for inspiration and contemplation at Olga Korper. Presented as a Koffler Gallery off-site project, this massive moving platform combines so many wonderful ideas and experiences that I’m inclined simply to list them: architectural incursions that respond both to space and people in that space, relational aesthetics, ideas of performance and audience or participant and spectator, the physics of the built environment (the work is both extremely heavy and light enough that it shifts under your feet), feelings of flying or floating that are both very real and clearly artificial, Minimalism (the big black slab), Modernism (the formal qualities of the piece), site-specificity and spatial awareness, etc. On top of all that, it’s a fun ride if you’re the type to appreciate a funhouse built by Bauhaus.



Sophie Privé, Dune 6, 2011, acrylic and graphite on canvas

Farther afield, in the part of town known as the Junction, there are still more artists living here than galleries doing business, but the establishment of a proper art-zone is inevitable. The Telephone Booth Gallery will be one of the building blocks. Its current show features paintings by Sophie Privé that combine lost looking young people with patches of colour and pattern. In her attempt to be ambiguous, the artist risks being banal, so I’d encourage her to add something or take it away as a means to ratcheting up the intrigue of her faux tableaus.



The Fly Gallery, Paradise Lost, 2011

Down on Queen West, I was sorry to see The Fly Gallery mounting their final exhibition in the window that has been a reliable standby on a quickly changing city strip. Hosted by residents Tanya Read and Scott Carruthers since 1999, this public space is currently crammed with works by fifty artists in a wide range of media from kinetic sculptures and text pieces to paintings and drawings. The show is called Paradise Lost and it acts as a contemporary compliment to the MOCCA’s This is Paradise. Read and Carruthers do their best to resist raising the specter of gentrification in their curatorial statement, but the fact is that the neighbourhood has altered itself dramatically over the last decade and, rather than continuing west along Queen (as has been the habit for the last thirty years), galleries are dispersing to different latitudes, spreading out in unexpected and decentralized ways. Do your best to pay a visit to this collection of miniatures before the curtain falls for good come mid-August. You’ll miss this place when it’s gone.



Andrew Jones, Crossing, 2011, air, paper, geometry

Riding a bike through the city on a summer night is possibly one of the greatest pleasures of urban living, and if you’re looking for somewhere to go, might I suggest a trip along Lansdowne to view the trippy Op-Art contrivance Andrew Jones has assembled in the window that is Convenience Gallery. He reminded me of how I enjoyed his equally mechanically simple but visual compelling device in the window of Queenspecific a while back and also suggested nighttime viewing as optimal for this new piece. He was right on both accounts.



Mel Day, Standford Memorial Church, 2011, backlit photo LED lightbox

Finally, and back to Morrow Street, I don’t usually write about exhibitions that have closed, but I caught the last day of Mel Day’s show at Peak Gallery a couple days after I had seen Terence Malick’s Tree of Life and it got me thinking about matters of faith, metaphysics, God, the soul and art. The mid-career California-based Canadian artist is playing around with some interesting ideas that hold promise, but it is the reclusive senior American director who is making major league statements in the most ambitious way possible. Just this afternoon filmmaker Mike Hoolboom called Tree of Life “the most expensive experimental film ever”. Despite the presence of Hollywood heavy hitters like Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, this film warps all expectations, confounding and delighting in equal measure. I’d go so far as to call it required summer viewing. Plus movie theatres have air conditioning too!


Terence Dick is a freelance writer living in Toronto. He is currently working on an interview with artist Kai Chan, a profile of artist Micah Lexier’s apartment, and a book review of YYZ’s Byproduct. 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.


Olga Korper Gallery: http://www.olgakorpergallery.com/
Lyla Rye: Swing Stage continues until August 20.

Telephone Booth Gallery: http://telephoneboothgallery.ca/
Sophie Privé continues until August 13.

The Fly Gallery: http://paradisenow.ca/2011/paradise-lost/
Paradise Lost continues until August 13.

Convenience Gallery: http://conveniencegallery.com/
Andrew Jones: Crossing continues until July 29.

Peak Gallery: http://www.peakgallery.com/
See website for current exhibitions.

 

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