Monday, September 27, 2010

Millstreet Gallery OKWA GROUP SHOW posters

The next show at The Mill Street Gallery/Cafe in scenic Sydenham, Ontario is a group exhibit by some of The Organization of Kingston Women Artists: June Anderson, Hanna Back, Wendy Cain,Barb Carr,  Martine Bresson, Kathrine Christensen, Pauline Conley, Rebecca Cowan, Mary Crawford, Jane Derby, Suki Falkner,  Maya Jagger, Sue Lyon, Erika Olson, Mary Peppard, Su Sheedy, Judy Springer, Lee-Ann Taras, J.T. Winik.  October 05 to December 30.  Reception Sunday, November 07, 3 to 6pm.  More information and images on

Participants please bring your work to the Mill Street Gallery this coming Monday, October 04 before noon, ie. between 10am and 11:45.  We begin to hang right at NOON.

Have all work labelled with your name, title, price and contact information. If anyone wants to purchase they have to contact you directly so we will put your phone number or email address on the info sheet.

We have found that it assists people to see your information if there is an image beside it.  we will not be having labels on the walls, only numbers. the information will all be on one sheet.  Therefore send me a digital image of your work to go with the contact information.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wendy Cain at Douglas Library

Wendy Cain at Douglas Library, Kingston October 13-December 23, 2010. "The Nature of Words" Group Exhibit.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Michele LaRose at The Wellington Street Gallery

Michele LaRose at the Wellington Street Art Gallery (300 Wellington St., Kingston) October 7-24, 2010.  Reception Sunday, October 17, 2-4pm

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

JT Winik at Oeno Gallery October 2 -November 5

"Banquet of Consequences" opens at the Oeno Gallery in Picton October 02, 2010 and runs for 5 weeks. Opening reception 3-6 or maybe? 4-7pm.

JT Winik:
"In this body of work, the images of children function as metaphors for adult psychological and emotional states.   ...the subjects are often blatantly confrontational.  They are not innocent.  There are times we must all do things we don’t want to do.  Like the subjects in this series who must posture themselves as children, we all answer to expectations in our daily lives, yet … we may not like it and, at times, it shows.   Although at their core, these paintings speak often of inner disturbances, they are rendered with a softness or humour.  Creating them has allowed me to smile at the gravity of life. "
JT Winik "Party Hats" 24 x 22"

Artist Talks Series "Influence of Foreign Cultures on One's Work"

This 2010 Artist Talks Series begins with JT Winik, Maya Jagger, and Suki Falkner discussing how their work has been influenced by foreign cultures.  The talk is being held at The Mansion, 506 Princess Street, Kingston, at 7pm upstairs in a private room.  Stop in early for a bite.
JT Winik, Pink Girl Spain 09
Maya Jagger "Twilight Song" 
Suki Falkner
October 13  OKWA ARTIST TALKS  with Suki Falkner, JT Winik, and Maya Jagger at the MANSION

OKWA members attending: mary peppard, sandra jass, jane derby, lee-ann taras, pauline conley, margarent, su sheedy, diane black , julie davidson, sally milne, june anderson, jane thelwell, peggy morley, alana kapell, jane derby, sandra jass, julie davidson smith, sharon thompson, diane black.
a few guests attended

Appreciation to Jane Derby for organizing the talk and Sandra Jass for her skill in digital projectors.

TOPIC. All three artists have spent a considerable amount of time living and working abroad. How has this influenced their work on subject matter, inspiration, challenges, and focus? 

SUKI FALKNER: graduated from OCAD in 2007 and has a career as a  lecturer in pyscho therapy.  in 20's worked for CUSO in India for two years. She has returned to India numerous occasions since,  2008 most recently, for 3 months. She was researching modern indian art to see how it could inform her own art. 

Suki struggles with the moral issues around appropriation of other people's culture: can a western artist find a way to represent aspects of a different culture in a way that does not demean the other or suggest a superiority of self and western culture. 

Suki quoted Edward Wadie Said and his book,  Orientalism 1978, the Western study of Eastern cultures.  He was a University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and a Palestinian-American literary theorist. Said drew on Foucault for his argument that knowledge is created within a discourse; it has to be spoken.  It occurs within a discourse of unequal power relationships,  often unconscious knowledge, not belief which assumes that the norm is centered in the self. Foucault's theory leads to a distrust of all representation and meanings not secure in way used to be.  Edward Said applied this analysis to orientalism, a whole study of eastern cultures, in literary scholarship and art.  The knowledge created in unequal relationship between European empires and colonized "others". The "other" in the case of Suki's art is India; in Said's view, the "other" was seen as being primitive and crude, amusing. The European self in contrast was active and sophisticated. These qualities were generalized across the cultures,  later romanticized and made exotic.  He argued that a long tradition of false and romanticized images of Asia and the Middle East in Western culture had served as an implicit justification for Europe and the US' colonial and imperial ambitions. Western scholars appropriated the task of exploration and interpretation of the Orient's languages, history and culture for themselves, with the implication that the East was not capable of composing its own narrative.

It was assumed by Westerners that they could represent the Orientals all by themselves without their own discourse.  
In psychoanalysis this process would be called projection. Put an idea about a person into them and if you are dominant enough they begin to behave that way too, unconsciously. 

Critics of Said said he was too extreme.  Some criticism points out that all societies do this.  We project these meanings onto the other person, generalizing.

Suki asks herself, "I am in the Western culture. What is my justification for this work?  This theory has tremendous influence. Whether we use the above language as discourse, knowledge,,,we nonetheless know now that we have to find a way to be respectful.  Picasso said, bad artists copy other cultures, real artists steal.  He put african masks into his work without worrying whether he was appropriating or not.  We are not in that position anymore. Why choose my subject matter at all? Ultimately i find that unanswerable.  i love India, but that doesn't work as an answer. Psychologically I see that the age i was there gave me a tremendous sense of mastering my experience, making my way in this strange place, my first real adult decision.  In reality though I can't answer why these things get so internalized. Being in india changed me, specifically in two ways: 1.  I experienced a change in my relationship to colour.  1963 was more like the 50's and we were very mix and matchy still, sweater sets...cardigan same colour matched.  We as a society were not daring in colours. Combinations like mauve and orange were not in our culture at large. The colours in India  changed me. The indian people thought my colour wardrobe was boring, so I changed because of that.  The other thing that changed was a kind of careless joy in the way that incongruities are made to go together in india.  For instance, there was a little temple by the side of the road. On the side was  garishly painted  a toothpaste advertisement. This affected me later in feeling a certain freedom in composition, to accept incongruity and mistakes.  I also was interested in politics and leaders. To this day many of my thoughts weave around india." 

SUKI'S PROCESS: with these works. In my last year at OCAD, I had tried different works on india and they were awful. They felt superior and condescending. I realize now looking back that they were attempting to be ironic.  i would choose an image of Nehru with an image of partition, implicate criticisms.  India on the whole has wonderful critics and art theorists who are sophisticated but in general they are not trying to be ironic; they are much more unselfconscious.  My attempt at irony was ill founded.
Beyond pictorial convention, I created shapes not rectangles or squares..i used one of them in this OCAD class and had another crack at india…I set a limit of only using some papers from india. A grid pattern emerged. This work was much more successful. It felt like a direction now.

When I graduated I asked myself, 'What will id o now?' The answer was to go back to India and renew my sense of the place.
I bought a very good camera.  I looked at indian art in Delhi, Calcutta, Mombai and 2 tribal areas where they made wonderful traditional art.  I also began to take photographs tentatively. I began with stray dogs. I liked them because they were in so much better shape then in the 60s. I didn't set out to do people but ended up with many portraits.

Kashmir landscapes,  little stores on wheels,  temples and cows, vehicles on the road, photographs of gods in temples, and more cows.  At home I began to group them in my mind and in my computer.

I began to transfer the images to wax on 6 x6" square panels.  I loved the way the wax received them, imperfectly, softened.  Be aware how this does not represent reality. I boosted the colour in the computer a lot, cropped the images to fit the square format.
When arranging I didn't have a set plan. I began to do an arrangement with space, disrupted grids, incomplete grids emerged.  I was still overwhelmed by the information in the whole. I then had an idea to put monochromatic pieces with an image, repetitive images, ie. the cows knit allow one to approach it as an abstract work, i hoped. Colour was a compositional device...semi abstract work, not only representational.

I liked the wax and felt it meshed with the subject because of the impurity of the transfer; indistinct, soft shapes.  The grid is a relentlessly organized pattern imposed in much modern abstract art. I felt it did not suit the subject so I made incomplete grids. I ask myself, does the process with the materials address some of these issues? Does it point to an awareness within the work itself to the issues of objectification and appropriation?  Through the indistinctness of the image is it apparent that i am aware of not appropriating?

In response to a question concerning directing the viewers to a specific response, both JT Winik and Suki answered with polarized opinions.  JT believes in her work the observer provides the story. Suki on the other hand said, " I don't want to give the viewer that much freedom. I want the viewer to LOVE India. That is what my hope is.  There is a lot of ambiguity in the images. I am not presenting single images. I am presenting a tumult of images at a time. I want some sense of being overwhelmed by the place.   i don't want the grid tightly packed and packaged, but at the same time it does provide some order to the chaos inherent in India."
MAYA JAGGER  is very inventive in making a living. She has been a chef, bus driver, computer programmer, and a teacher. After graduating from McArthur, she taught drug dealers' kids in Columbia and wrote a book about it.  She has a full time teaching job in Deseronto and is a partner in a landscape business in the summer. When she was 49 she went to teach in Columbia and did appropriate other peoples' symbols without thought. 

When I was 49 In Canada I was a mother and paid my bills and was very responsible and stuck close to home. The opposite of a daredevil, I went rafting on the Ottawa river and cliff jumping one summer with no friends to observe whether I succeeded or failed. The adrenaline rush kept me high for a month but it wasn't enough. I needed something more substantial and so when the opportunity came up to teach in Columbia i went for it.  I taught in a private school for children of the wealthy. It seemed like a chance of a lifetime.  i suffered culture shock and was enchanted by many things in Columbia, but the thing that really struck me when i started to travel was the physical geography. I took a wooden dugout canoe in the Amazon and travelled through primary rain forest and little grass huts.  I was conscious of my position as a relatively wealthy westerner, but set all aside to experience the visual impact of what i saw and felt.  The gold museum in Bogata impacted me and is the subject of this work.  Becoming familiar in a small way with pre-Columbian art,  gold work and shamanism, (Reichel Dolmatoff's  book where he discovered these amazing images so powerful for me) all spoke to me on an non-intellectual level. The art i did as a result is very intuitive and uncalculating and very unlike my computer background.  My degree was in religious studies and in Columbia I saw how a different culture demonstrates its concepts about transcendence and transformation.

I used oil pastels as a  highly intuitive response to the culture of gold and the myths.  Gold has no monetary value in their culture. It is a spiritual substance and indestructible.  The culture regarded it as a symbol of eternity.  Goldmsiths and shamans are considered connected to otherworldly planes.  Many cultures have a cosmology of heaven, earth and underworld. The tree of life is also found in many cultures.i just immersed myself in the stories and started working on paper with oil pastel, scraping a lot, trying to push the pastel to find out what i could do with it, not a typical way to use medium, collage and layering. The subject matter is about layers of meaning and i tried to incorporate technique and meaning in the same way.  All of the paintings were done when i got back so they sat with me a long time.  i would dream a lot with subconscious stuff coming up.  The birdman, symbol of the shaman, metamorphosis..a bird man can fly, die and be reborn.  

The place was very mountainous. I was in a city in the Andes.  i used to do a series about horizons where the earth meets the sky, traditional looking landscapes in oil paint.  In columbia the sky was always blocked by the mountains and felt closed in, claustrophobic.   The sun is considered sacred, the father of gold. They would put gold out to be touched by the sun. Shamanic flight can be brought on by meditation or hallucinogens..the shaman leaves his body and is transformed.  They used snakes and frogs, animals that had different stages and transformed.  i liked the use of intense colour.  they used applique of cotton and hand embroidered  molas, a traditional art form, patterning and intense colour use and semi abstract format which all influenced me.  

Maya commented that she did not like the work she did in Columbia.  Three years later, back in Canada the work emerged. It needed time to percolate.

When i left I was bored with Ontario. I went to probably the second most dangerous city in world with10,000 murders a year in a city of three million. I was vibrating fast the whole time. It was visually intense with unbelievably brilliant colours, eternal spring.  The juxtaposition of incredible physical beauty and incredible fear: i got robbed at knife point.  Coming back to Ontario, i kissed the ground. All the things we think are boing I was so happy to be here. No one was going to abduct me here.  You switch gears and feel like a totally different person. You are changed so much by that shift.  We become a blank canvas ourselves,
drawn to go somewhere 'other'. It gives you this new raw experience, not just intellectual. It goes way deeper than that.

JT WINIK is an international artist, full time painter, earns her living by her art. past director of modern fuel gallery. 1996 she did an art residency in Spain and has returned to Europe every year since for half a year.  She is currently showing at the Oeno gallery in Picton. JT is entering new phase of photography.  "I occasionally work from real people but most times things come from my imagination. I am sure they are inspired from things that are happening at the time. The past couple of years I have been working with photographs that have not been exhibited. In the past photographs were stepping stones to paintings.  These photographs now exist on their own.  There is a correlation between my photographs and paintings, both seeking the darker side of things. Happy children do not interest me, nor does 'doing pretty'. "

I believe in my work that it is always the observer who lends the work its story.  I give a banal title like "girl with braids" but it is the observer who provides the story.  In one photo although the child is 7 or 8 she could almost be 30 by the pain, confusion in her face, an adult expression.

i like the composition and silliness of costumes.These are mainly undoctored photos. 

i like the interaction of the figures, all together but not interacting with each other...very surreal.

These photographs represent another element of Spanish society, 'samana santa', holy week of easter. During the day or evening of easter week there is a street procession where they carry long candles about a foot long throughout the streets; the whole village comes out.  People carry big effigies of Christ or Mary through the streets.  I capture the statues with a slow shutter speed to create distortion and a sense of movement to make the statues come alive. 

This final series deals with looking at my environment in an abstract way.  Usually these kinds of things don't interest me, but i got interested in patterns in streets. The whole village is basically made of cement. They run lines down it to guide the water in a particular direction. Everything is organic; there are no straight lines.  i like the abstraction of it.  These could be stepping stones to paintings, but why paint it because it is right there already in the photo.

Look for the next talk at the Mansion in the  3rd wk in January with a theme of the evolution of one's work:  how your work has shifted through time. (Sharon Thompson and Sally Milne.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reception Sunday, September 19 at Mill Street Gallery

Lori Richards and Jane Colden's Reception is this Sunday at the Mill Street Gallery in Sydenham from 1 to 3pm.  More information on the blog.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Farewell Michele LaRose, thanks for your clarity and marvellous organizational skills.  And thank you too to Mary Peppard, probably OKWA board's most enduring (and endearing?) member! for stepping up and stepping into the presidential shoes.  Lots of changes are stirring in the OKWA community. More to be revealed shortly.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

upcoming solo exhibit

Opening Reception at Terence Robert Gallery, Ottawa
Nov 12th, 2010

more detail to follow..once my comfort level increases with blogging!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"David and Goliath" in today's art scene I just saw this video. Somewhat behind the times since it was filmed in 2008! I was looking up Damien Hirst who is the richest artist in the world to date. living artist that is. and the "funny" relationship he had with a graffitti artitst named CarTrain. It reminded me so much of a friend of mine (an x OKWA member) who hung and photographed her work surreptitiously in the bathroom of a well known public art gallery, just to be able to say her work was in there (as a private gag).

There are some big issues to look at here. The world's richest living artist, Damien Hirst, suing a 16 yr old graffiti artist for plagarizing Hirst's skull installation. Damien being a radical youth himself to start with, becoming the "established artist" and the butt of a young alternative artist. It's worth the experience to follow some of the videos, especially the interview with CarTrain and his explanation of the event.

How to Post a Comment

at the bottom of each article is a line saying "posted by TIME ...comments and a little yellow pencil.

to comment just click on the word "comment" in front of the little pencil and a box will open up for you to type a comment into.

Then click the PUBLISH POST orange button at the bottom.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Reading Art

Inspired by the reading list Sarindar Dhaliwal is using for teaching her OCAD class here are 2 books for a view of the contemporary art scene (ak):
1. Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton $20 at chapters on-line (available as e-book) 2 available at CHAPTERS Kingston in store.

"The art market has been booming. Museum attendance is surging. More people than ever call themselves artists. Contemporary art has become a mass entertainment, a luxury good, a job description, and, for some, a kind of alternative religion. In a series of beautifully paced narratives, Sarah Thornton investigates the drama of a Christie's auction, the workings in Takashi Murakami's studios, the elite at the Basel Art Fair, the eccentricities of Artforum magazine, the competition behind an important art prize, life in a notorious art-school seminar, and the wonderland of the Venice Biennale. She reveals the new dynamics of creativity, taste, status, money, and the search for meaning in life. A judicious and juicy account of the institutions that have the power to shape art history, based on hundreds of interviews with high-profile players, Thornton's entertaining ethnography will change the way you look at contemporary culture."

2.The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The curious Economics of Contemporary Art

by Don Thompson NOW ON SALE AT CHAPTERS KINGSTON 70% off for $6.99 , 7 available.

"The $12 Million Stuffed Shark delves into the economics and psychology of the contemporary art world - artists, dealers, auction houses, and wealthy collectors. If it's true - as so often said - that 85 percent of new contemporary art is bad, why were record prices achieved at auction for works by 131 contemporary artists in 2006 alone, with astonishing new heights reached in 2007? The $12 Million Stuffed Shark explores money, lust, and the self-aggrandizement of possession in an attempt to determine what makes a particular work of art valuable while others are ignored.

Thompson uses economic concepts to explain the unique practices employed, to great success, in the international contemporary art market. He discusses branding and marketing and how various strategies are tailored to a wealthy clientele, driving a "must-have" culture. Drawing on exclusive interviews with both past and present executives of auction houses and art dealerships, artists, and the buyers who move the market, Thompson launches the reader on a surprising journey of discovery."

Monday, September 6, 2010

"You don't have to be a Rockefeller to collect art."

Sarindar Dhaliwal was visiting me recently and talking about some art topics she will be bringing up in her classes at OCAD this fall. She had just watched a documentary on The Vogels. Tomorrow I will present a couple of interesting books she suggests for understanding the contemporary art scene. ak

"On the odd chance that you don’t know who the Vogels are, they built an extraordinary collection of minimalist and conceptual art while working as a librarian and postman. It took three months and five 40ft lorries to pack up and remove more than 2,500 pieces from their tiny apartment: priceless work by Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Richard Long, Julian Schnabel, Jeff Koons, and Richard Tuttle, among others. Only three works remained in situ, because they were site specific or too fragile to move (the National Gallery has since been back to collect one of these, a piece made out of yoghurt).

Herb and Dorothy Vogel "You would never think of it but they are one of the famous art collectors in New York."

"I have never in my 40 years of museum work met anyone with the kind of income level the Vogels had, putting together a collection of that dimension and that comprehensiveness and of that quality. "

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Art Blogs to look at

Wikipedia has a long list of art blogs to check out:

For instance:
1. Culture Girl
Lee Rosenbaum, a cultural journalist, writes frequently for the 'Wall Street Journal,and is a regular cultural contributor on New York Public Radio (WNYC). She has also published several Op-Ed pieces in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times.
The Dump by Maurice Benayoun  a new-media artist based in Paris who has won numerous awards for his work. His work employs various media, including (and often combining) video, immersive virtual reality, the Web, wireless technology, performance, large-scale art installations and interactive exhibitions. The Dump... "is a collection of his ideas. Hundreds of ideas. “Everyone can come and take them and do them if they want". In December 2008 "Benayoun submitted “The Dump” as his PhD thesis and became, arguably, the first artist to use a blog to qualify for a doctorate degree". 
3.  For all those exploring ENCAUSTIC:  Joanne Mattera's blog
4. Two Coats of Paint
Maintained by artist/writer Sharon Butler, Two Coats of Paint is a daily digest of reviews, commentary, and background information about painting and related subjects. Butler, an art professor at Eastern Connecticut State University, also writes for The Brooklyn Rail and The American Prospect.
"I created Two Coats of Paint in 2007 to share reviews, commentary, news, and background information about painting and related subjects. Since then, maintaining Two Coats has become an integral part of my art practice. In March 2010 Two Coats won a Mindshare Award for art blog excellence.

Art Thoughts

To hopefully start off a discussion I would like to add some thoughts that surfaced recently while I read Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now.  These are my own thoughts on this subject and I invite a dialogue!

"All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness." Eckhart Tolle  

I believe this is actually a big part of Art's attraction especially for those who have lived in the work force of using their mind constantly. I see see some artists struggling with imposing that old system (active mind/intellect) onto Art. A difficulty arises because they are incompatible, 2 different systems.  The habitual pattern of "thought" struggles with accepting Art's no-mind as valid. If it is valid, it negates one's previous skills and methods.  One might find oneself abandoned into LOVE/FEAR situation: love/attraction to the stillness of the art mode and FEAR of that no-mind or unknown territory where there is no control but only SURRENDER.

It is our THOUGHT, our EGO which also strives for recognition and ownership of our art. One could question Art's ownership as one could question owning a piece of Nature.  We are a tool.  We put in the 10,000 hours (Malcolm Galdwell's books on success) striving to perfect the precision of the Tool, but the tool alone does not CREATE.  We learn to open/surrender ourselves to the energy that moves through us.
Where do ideas come from?

I see this struggle apparent when artists feel they need to validate their work with the "art speak statements" and it does seem to be demanded in contemporary venues, the intellectual dialogue of an aesthetic.  It would almost be refreshing to see more statements that go like the cliche "I don't know anything about art, but I know what I like" to "I paint it because I like it!"  or, "I paint it because I have to." ak