Nuit Blanche Toronto October 2013

Nuit Blanche Toronto October 2013

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Nuit Blanche is an annual event that changes downtown Toronto for one night. It is a spectacular night – from dusk to dawn – of contemporary visual art that transforms the city streets and office buildings. It is a night when art is brought to the masses and is celebrated by people of all ages and all demographics. For me it is not all about the art but about the transformation that takes place for one 12 hour period once a year. Hearing the peoples reactions to the art is a refreshing change from the reactions of seasoned gallery visitors. Yes, it is the whole experience and even though my feet don’t  forgive me for weeks I will be back next year.

Having said all that there were some memorable works this year. Many of them celebrated Marcel Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel, his first readymade, exhibited in Paris one hundred years ago. Here are some of my favourites:

FAMILIA, 2013
Installation
Bruno Billio (Toronto)
Church of the Holy Trinity

Part of the appeal of this piece was its placement in an old Church. Mismatched chairs were suspended from the ceiling and the floor was covered with a reflective surface. As you gazed into the surface the chairs seemed to go on forever. It was magical.

FOREVER BICYCLES, 2013
Installation
Ai Weiwei (Beijing, China)
Nathan Phillips Square

This was the largest edition of the Forever Bicycles sculpture ever mounted. 3,144 bicycle frames were connected to form a dynamic structure. I am a big fan of Ai Weiwei (in case you missed that in my last blog) so I was really excited about seeing this piece.

HOWL, 2013
Kinetic Sculpture
Robert Hangeveld (Toronto)
Loading Dock off Temperance Street

This exhibit was fun. A loading dock was transformed into a hunting scene with a stuffed coyote and rabbit, mass-produced duck decoys, mechanized deer and birds, with animal sounds and an operatic chorus. A Rube Goldberg style roller-coaster was set up in such a way that sometimes the coyote was chasing the rabbit and then the rabbit would be chasing the coyote. The whole scene was rounded out with artificial flora.

If you haven’t been to Nuit Blanche check out the website and add it to your calendar for next October.

http://www.scotiabanknuitblanche.ca/

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Ai Weiwei: According To What?

Ai Weiwei: According To What?

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It was a privilege to see Ai Weiwei’s exhibition at the AGO this fall. Ai Weiwei is one of China’s most famous, most provocative and most political contemporary artists. His work reflects the vastness and the isolation of China. Once celebrated by the Chinese government he is now a prisoner in his own country because of his advocacy of human rights, especially children’s. Through his art he has made the world aware of these issues. The messages he conveys  are clear and immediately apparent in sculptures of the finest craftsmanship and ingenuity.

Much of Ai Weiwei’s criticism of the Chinese Government is a result of the 2008 Sichaun earthquakes that killed 5,200 children when their shoddily built schools collapsed. A photograph from one of these schools showing backpacks among the rubble was the inspiration for Snake Ceiling, 2009. Ordinary backpacks of varying sizes, to represent children of all ages, are formed into a snake and hung from the ceiling as a memorial to the dead children. Another sculpture, Wenchaun Steel Rebar, 2008 – 2012 uses rebar recovered from the collapsed schools. Many craftspeople painstakingly straightened the rebar. The straightened rods are laid out in straight lines with a massive fissure snaking down the middle. This is also a very evocative piece and it’s purpose is to preserve the memory of the horrible tragedy and the needless deaths of the children.

There is a very interesting book published in conjunction with the exhibition available at the AGO store and is, surprisingly, very affordable.

http://www.ago.net/aiweiwei/

Queen West Art Crawl

QUEEN WEST ART CRAWL

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Trinity Bellwood Park
September 21/22, 2013

The Queen West Art Crawl is an annual two-day juried outdoor art exhibition held at the lovely Trinity Bellwoods Park in the exciting, diverse Queen West neighbourhood of Toronto. As well as 250+ exhibitors/vendors there is an entertainment stage, children’s activities and food vendors.

I’ve always enjoyed this event as a visitor and this year I was accepted as an exhibitor and was pretty excited about this new role. I chose to show my silkscreened figural prints and edition resin prints of my cupcake paintings.

Unfortunately, on the day my excitement soon turned to downright drudgery. The weather was most uncooperative. The eve of the event was marked by a continuous downpour. We arrived early Saturday morning and erected the tent in a sea of mud next to a pathway which had transformed into a mini lake. But we persevered and five hours later we were done and took time for a much needed breakfast. I was surprised at the number of visitors who came out that day. Safely traversing the mini lake with strollers and dogs was not easy and my tent became invisible in the snarl of stroller traffic. But my spirits got a lift by mid afternoon when we discovered the best fish tacos ever at the Food Dudes food truck.

The rain stopped during the evening and I looked forward to a better day on Sunday but my mini lake had not abated so I was still an unreachable island. Things improved in the afternoon and I got lots of positive feedback and even sold a few items.
Even though the conditions were miserable everyone stayed upbeat and made the best of the situation. My mom bought me a Tardis sock monkey and another couple of trips to the Food Dudes and I was pretty happy.

Will I do it again? A month ago I said no way but as time goes by I am forgetting the bad parts and remembering the good so come out next year and visit me at the Queen West Art Crawl.

http://www.queenwestartcrawl.com/