While it’s easy to wallow in the bounty of exhibitions that are currently flourishing around our fair city in this the most hectic season for art-related things, Torontonians should be paying close attention to the debates (live streamed yesterday and today here) at City Hall this week as our unfair mayor has it made it no secret that he thinks arts grants are a waste of money. Clearly this is ideological as there are reams of evidence that demonstrate the economic benefits of public support for the arts. An acquaintance on the inside of the council chambers recently told me he fully expects this year’s Nuit Blanche to be our last. Call your friends, your parents, your colleagues, particularly those who live in ridings outside the downtown core, and get them to petition their councilors to fight for the arts. Ford is only one vote among many, and, as the waterfront debate proved, good sense can prevail.
Adam David Brown, Abracadabra, 2011, smoke on paper
Adam David Brown, a local artist only now emerging from emerging artist status is one of the folks at risk of never receiving another municipal grant if things head south. That would be a shame as he’s established himself over a handful of shows as someone forging a unique path through the unexpected nexus of math, science, and magic with his minimal post-conceptual gestures. I had the pleasure of interviewing him at MKG127 for the Canadian Art Foundation Gallery Hop last Saturday and we managed to namedrop such art world heavies as Rene Descartes, Georg Cantor, and Lee Smolin in the span of about twenty minutes.
Winnie Truong, Hollow Comfort, pencil on paper
Winnie Truong, on the other hand, is a young artist who’ll probably do okay. Her mutant hair drawings at ESP (aka Erin Stump Projects) are instantly appealing in their combination of gentle grotesqueness and luscious pencil strokes. The subject matter is not much different than the work she had at Katharine Mulherin a short while ago so I’m kinda over it, but the range of colours she buries in each of her subjects is a revelation.
Robert Hengeveld, Synthetic Humph, mixed media and electronics
Next door at Katharine Mulherin, Robert Hengeveld has set up a faux natural barricade with electronic doohickeys animating birds and butterflies like some low-rent Disney funhouse. He has smaller versions mounted on the walls with painterly plans posted alongside. It’s obviously a comment on our artificial relationship with nature but I’d rather think of it as a tribute to kitsch and dollar-store creativity.
Hunter & Cook magazine has set up a gallery/store/clubhouse a couple doors down and, on the afternoon I enter, I run into the H&C majordomos Jay Isaac and Tony Romano. They’re currently exhibiting a selection of quirky photo/abstraction mash-ups care of American artist Sam Falls and gearing up to launch a new issue next week.
Alex McLeod, Red Sea, 2011, Giclee print
Heading up Ossington, I slip into Angell Gallery to see the final days of Alex McLeod’s exhibition of computer-generated landscapes. He’s another guy who will do fine without municipal grants as his work seems to have touched a happy nerve with plenty of people. They’re just too cartoony for me, however, though I do like that he’s reducing his compositions a bit and changing perspective. I’d also like to see more animated movies and I’d kill for a 3D rendering of one of his trademark clouds.
The front room at Angell was occupied by Luke Painter and Meera Margaret Singh, who treated me to a private concert as part of K-Town, their group show of artist-made karaoke videos. The party travels to xpace on Saturday for Nuit Blanche, so make sure you drop by and break out in song.
Ryan Travis Christian, Creepers, 2010, graphite on paper
Up on Dundas, Show & Tell Gallery has mounted a group show to introduce new artists in their stable. With such a mixed bag, it’s not surprising I didn’t love everything (I could do without the raw chicken sculpted in beeswax), but there are bunch of strong works here that push beyond the street art mandate the gallery has identified with in the past. Between Ryan Travis Christian, Marissa Textor, and Jennifer Sciarrino, there’s a fine mini-exhibition of artists working with graphite within the larger group.
David Trautrimas, Element and Interval 1, 2011
I wasn’t hopeful as I headed a couple doors down to LE Gallery because David Trautrimas’ photoshopped hardware landscapes have never grabbed me. His new work, however, blew me away with its intricate computer rendering of atmospheric conditions that look nothing like computer art. From a distance they appear to be pencil on paper, and up close they could be weathered photographs, but the elemental swirls that make up these vague landscapes are a wonder to see.
Ben Reeves, don’t don’t you want me, 2011, oil on burlap over panel
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Ben Reeves’ paintings at Jessica Bradley are forever and always in-your-face paintings with their massive unguent brushstrokes. I had to resist the urge to dip my finger into the thick frosting-coloured masses of pigment; they look good enough to eat. Instead I had to make do with eyeballing the abstract swirls from a safe distance.
Terence Dick is a freelance writer living in Toronto. He is currently working on an article about General Idea and 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.
Adam David Brown: Infinity Plus One continues until October 8.
Erin Stump Projects (ESP): http://www.erinstumpprojects.com/index.html
Winnie Truong: The Fringes continues until October 2.
Katharine Mulherin: http://www.katharinemulherin.com/
Robert Hengeveld: Cooked Up with a Twirly Bird continues until October 2.
Hunter and Cook: http://hunterandcookprojects.com/
Sam Falls continues until October 2.
Angell Gallery: http://www.angellgallery.com/
See website for current exhibitions.
Show & Tell Gallery: http://showandtellgallery.com/
This Place in Time continues until October 8.
LE Gallery: http://le-gallery.ca/
David Trautrimas: Element and Interval continues until October 2.
Jessica Bradley: http://www.jessicabradleyartprojects.com/
Ben Reeves continues until November 5.
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