Playlist Friday: Creative professions

If you noticed a hiatus here on the blog – or anything else awry with the universe, for that matter – I have a very good explanation: artistic temperament.

“Andy Warhol” – David Bowie

At the David Bowie Is exhibit, I learned that Andy Warhol didn’t think much of this song, but as far as I’m concerned it’s brilliant. Incidentally, Bowie’s portrayal of Warhol in Basquiat is spectacular too.

“Stage” – Live

They’re loud, they’re from the ’90s, they vehemently refuse to give up the stage. I can get behind that.

Little Egypt” – The Coasters

You can tell this song is old because when the dude falls in love with the mindblowingly talented burlesque dancer, she has to give up her art for the priviledge of bearing him seven children. This wouldn’t happen now because women have made tremendous strides towards gender equality. She’d only have two kids, three tops.

“Do It With a Rockstar” – Amanda Palmer

Wait, needy lonely rockstars actually exist? Asking for a friend.
P.S. Awesome video, which I set to start 2 minutes in, where the song begins. Do watch the whole thing if you have time.

“Paperback Writer” – The Beatles

The only song about writers I could find is by a band I absolutely loathe, and the sad reality of this is not mitigated by the fact that the lyrics are actually pretty good.

“The Piano Has Been Drinking” – Tom Waits

And speaking of amazing lyrics…
Now I want a drink. Wait, that’s how the blog ended up on hiatus. Nevermind.

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A. Shay Hahn’s murals at the Cameron House

If you’re in Toronto, do yourself a favour and visit the Cameron House at least once this summer to check out A. Shay Hahn‘s gorgeous murals in the front room. They are only there till October.

Cameron House mural by A. Shay Hahn Cameron House mural by A. Shay Hahn

That stunning lady surrounded by records is The Royal Ant Mother, by the way. You’re welcome.

Photos are © A. Shay Hahn. There are also a bunch of great in-process pictures of the murals on his blog.

Introducing the Canadian Visual Artists interview series

Canadian Visual ArtistsThis blog started out as a document of my own artistic journey, but one of the most interesting and enjoyably unpredictable aspects of a journey is the wealth of experiences and stories shared by the people you meet along the way.

Something fantastic that I’ve come to realize over the last year is just how many talented, inventive, passionate people are out there – making art. Making art inspired by places I’ve never visited and people I’ve never met, making art using techniques they themselves invented or media I didn’t know existed, making art guided by worldviews and philosophies that enrich my own.

So I am expanding the scope of this blog to share the work and the stories of other Canadians who make art. The first in the series will be posted tomorrow. I hope that you will, as I do, find them curious, ingenious, inspiringly kooky or madly inspiring, but all utterly fascinating.

Maplestone Mosaic Gallery in Creemore

Yesterday I and three other mosaic artists from the Toronto area took a trip to the small Ontario town of Creemore, population 1300, home to the only (as far as anyone knows) art gallery in Canada dedicated exclusively to mosaic art.

The front of the gallery, on a snowy dayCreemore is also home to Creemore Springs microbrewery, which adds to its tourist appeal. Well, it did for me.

Gallery interior, showing a red wall with mosaics and large window with Creemore Springs Brewery visible outsideThrough the large picture windows of the Maplestone Gallery, large snowflakes that were slowly falling onto the main street of this tiny town yesterday looked particularly picturesque.

Abstract mosaic on gallery wall in greens, blues and browns

A Terry Nicholls mosaic on the right

The gallery’s two rooms are filled with mosaic artworks by contemporary local and international artists in a range of styles and materials. From rustic to glitzy, in layered glass or wood and stone, from fine art to functional objects, from the nature-inspired abstracts of Terry Nicholls to the precisely crafted compositions by Lin Schorr, to Heather Vollans‘ work with upcycled and reclaimed materials, Maplestone gallery has an inspiring variety of contemporary mosaic art on display.

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Portfolio design for application to the graduate architecture program at Daniels

Portfolio coverFor the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on laying out the portfolio which will accompany my application to the Master of Architecture program at the University of Toronto.

Going back to school to get a Master’s degree in Architecture has been on my list of “things I will do someday” for a couple of years now. Over the last six months, I’ve had the opportunity to get to a few things on this list, and am now really excited to get this application done as well.

Daniels Faculty of Architecture at U of T has one of only two graduate architecture programs in Canada that takes in students from all academic backgrounds, not only those who have a Bachelor in Architecture. The only other school that offers similar entry options is UBC. I’m hoping to get into U of T and not have to relocate my husband and two children to the other side of the continent. Especially since Daniels sounds like the ideal place to be.

Portfolio spread showing three abstract watercolour works

Five-storey brick building

Daniels Faculty building at 230 College St.

About a month ago, Daniels held an open house for potential applicants to their Masters of Architecture and Landscape Design programs. The day-long event included Q & A sessions, drop-ins on current students’ project reviews, and tours of the building and the art gallery that houses previous year’s student thesis work.

Attending the open house was, for me, the most useful step in preparing for this submission. Nothing in the admission requirements or the faculty website was as informative as this in-person visit and as revealing of the atmosphere of the school – of how young and forward-looking the faculty is, of the latest technology available to the students (there are laser cutters, a 3D printer and a CNC router on site), of the school’s focus on urbanism, on ideas about the future of architecture and just ideas in general.

Gallery display showing wooden objects with complex jointsA very surprising thing you will notice if you visit the faculty’s Eric Arthur Gallery where the student thesis work is on display – and do visit it if you have the chance, it’s free to the public and incredibly interesting – is that many of the Master of Architecture projects don’t really have much to do with architecture. This year, there is one that explores complex wooden joinery, and another that’s a stylish design for a wearable biofilter and diagnostic environment for use in pandemics.

A gallery display showing bio-filter face masks and disagnostic wear

Gallery display showing bio-filter face masks and diagnostic wear

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Danforth East Arts Fair – Highlights

Now that the excitement and the stress of my first art fair are behind me, here are a few impressions I took away from it.

Me in my booth at DECA Arts Fair

Photo by Roman Martyn

The Good:

- Wonderfully organized and promoted, the DECA Arts Fair was attended by crowds of lovely people and dogs who enjoyed the calm sunny weather, live music and all the great art on display

- Booth set-up went without a hitch and the weather was great so nothing got blown away overnight. Big thanks to my husband Derek for building (from scratch!) the display rack you see in the picture above and his help setting everything up, taking everything down, and the two practice runs we did at home beforehand.

- Met lots of other artists, had lovely neighbours in booths all around me, and got good practical advice from them about other local fairs worth participating in. The consensus seems to be that the Riverdale Art Walk and the Cabbagetown fair are both great, and that One of a Kind is worth the huge fee.

- Got lots of compliments, admiration and exclamations of wonder at my mosaics. People loved the coffee table especially, but everyone had their favorites. The starfishes were a hit with the children. Gave out lots of business cards. I imagine the kids will just make spitballs out of them.

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Recently completed projects: 4 jewellery hangers

Here is a new series of jewellery hangers with simplified lines but similar aesthetic themes as the first jewellery hanger I made earlier this year.

I’m particularly pleased with the mirror-image design and the color palette of the brown & turquoise one. The reversed colours idea is worth experimenting with some more in the future.

One more close-up of the green & gold one after the jump.

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What I’m looking forward to

Here are some of things I’m looking forward to doing just as soon as my last day at the office ends:

in the sunshine

  • Getting started on all the creative projects I’ve not had time to work on – new mosaics, digital illustration, putting my portfolio together for architecture school.
  • Biking my kids to daycare every morning – pulling their trailer behind me up that one ridiculously steep hill that just can’t be avoided on the way from our house to anywhere.
  • Finally figuring out all the manual settings on my camera.
  • Not taking the same route to the same place every day; exploring the city instead – visiting historical neighbourhoods and art fairs, parks and outdoor markets – there are so many corners of Toronto I haven’t walked around yet.

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