Andrew Harwood is a Winnipeg-based artist, curator, and writer. His show Prairy Style opens this Friday at Toronto's Paul Petro Contemporary Art. His upcoming show Séancé opens in January at Platform in Winnipeg. Hardwood's gallery, Zsa Zsa, operated in Toronto from 1998 until 2005. He was also a founding member of the Toronto Alternative Art Fair International Collective. His work is held in permanent collections at the University of Guelph, Queen's University, and in private collections. (Photo of Harwood muse: Lexi Sanfino)
1. This is Paradise
Wonderfully curated by Rae Johnson and Herb Tookey, This is Paradise | Place as state of mind: The Cameron Public House and 1980’s Toronto at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art made me feel nostalgic for an era that was never mine. It was refreshing to see all of the emerging artists of the time making their stance by embracing the return of representational, figurative, and portrait painting. What a treat to see works by Andy Fabo, Rae Johnson, Cathy Daily, and Stephen Andrews (he calls this his “Betty Goodwin” phase). It’s even more intriguing to see what directions they have taken since then. Two show stoppers for me were David Buchan’s light box - it looks incredibly current and timely - and the works of John Scott. Scott’s gigantic Second Strike painting/collage gave me chills. The enormous breast-like mountains painted in the slickest, darkest blacks contrast so well with his signature depiction of a fighter jet in the foreground. The installation of the Bunny Boudoir also took my breath away. Stellar!! When is John’s retrospective???
2. Rearview Mirror: New Art from Central & Eastern Europe
This great group exhibition curated by Chris Eamon at The Power Plant showcases one of the best video pieces I have seen in years. This deceptively simple work by Anetta Mona Chisa and Lucia Tkácová entitled Manifesto of the Futurist Woman features girls in red and white majorette uniforms twirling two batons each. Sounds simple enough, but it looks both so American and yet so Soviet-era. The girls' precision and the grey New Brutalist building (read stadium) where they are practicing all contribute to a fascinating confusion of place and time. Then I ask myself, “Is this the future of women?" Don’t miss fab artist and curator Bojana Videkanic’s (yes, she was born in Sarajevo) free tour of the show, this Sunday at 2:00 pm.
3. Temple Bates: Jettison
How Temple Bates manages to mix fantasy, historical painting, and hyper cuteness into her gorgeous gems of paintings is beyond me. The artist admits to being influenced by Dr. Suess, but her works are truly mythological (albeit her own personal mythos). Yet, the works on display at Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects feel familiar, as if from childhood dreams or the illustrations from the most magical and engrossing children’s book ever. And speaking of books, she has a new book called Hermoddities, which is its own form of cultural bijoux. (P.S. Katharine, it’s okay now to buy an air conditioner. No one will judge you for being too cool! I am gonna have the same chat with Paul.)
4. New & Annoying Toronto Pet Peeves, Part 1
a) Texting and Bicycling!!!!! OMG did anyone say, “Suicide watch”?? I can’t believe this new trend. I have seen three people doing it and I am mortified.
b) I don’t want to critique people with differing abilities or the elderly, but please slow down your electric wheelchairs and scooters. I had my foot run over – thank god it was a soft-wheeled scooter. As they say in a Manitoba drivers’ ad campaign: Just Slow Down! We remember how effective “Just Say No to Drugs” was in the 80s. Thanks for that nugget, Nancy Reagan!
5. New & Annoying Toronto Pet Peeves, Part 2
a) Art galleries in Toronto without air conditioning: ya got heat in the winter – get real – get cool!
b) Keith Cole, Keith Cole, Keith Cole! Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!
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