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Posted in Art, Downtown
03/5 2010

Variety Spices Up The Artist Project

Contributed by Christopher Jones

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No matter what your taste in visual art, you’ll find something to gush over at The Artist Project, a weekend-long show and sale that kicked off last night at the Queen Elizabeth Building in Exhibition Place (until March 7). With 175 artists taking part, the show ranges from commercial, Canadian landscapes to edgy digital art, sculpture, glass work, photography, printmaking, even conceptual and installation art.

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Talking to the artists about their work was one of the highlights of last night’s launch party. Print maker Rose Hirano (above from left), took the time to explain how she executes her vaguely abstract, multi-coloured, reductive woodblock prints: starting with the lightest colours, Rose carves away more and more of the printable area with each pass of ink as she progresses towards the darkest parts of her composition. Next to Rose, is digital artist Ron Wild who assembles his science-inspired “smart maps” entirely in Photoshop, then outputs them on Fuji Crystal Archive paper. Photographer Russel Bohier, above right, specializes in images of architecture with a preference for crumbling, decaying structures. His large-scale works are finished with a super-high gloss epoxy resin. All three artists are based here in Toronto.

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Pictured above is Faye Carmella Mullen whose I am an artist & I weigh is one of the stand-outs of the show. That’s Mullen, above, on a teeter-totter scale she constructed as part of her installation; she’s also exhibiting a series of portraits of artists balanced by collections of commodities that weigh exactly what the artist weighs, for example, a stack of chairs, an old desk, a pile of bricks or bags of milk. Mullen stands a good chance of capturing the people’s choice award in the Untapped Emerging Artist Exhibition, a prize she won at last year’s show.

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Fashion designer Sunny Choi, above, has returned to her first love, painting. “I don’t miss designing a bit,” she told me. “Fashion is a business, there are so many people, so many non-artistic things to consider. Now, it’s just me and the canvas and I absolutely love it.”

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I was also impressed by Micheal Zarowsky‘s watercolour landscapes, above, painted on gessoed birch panels; some of Zarowsky’s work pushes towards abstraction and it exudes a textural quality that sets it apart.

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And then there are the creepy-fun sculptures by Ross Bonfanti, a co-founder of Toronto’s awol gallery. Bonfanti’s latest series is based on plush toys that look like they’ve been put through the wash a few hundred times. But the pieces are actually rock-hard constructions, some of them augmented with branch-like arms and flowers.

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Artist Wendy Walgate wasn’t in her booth when I stopped by to ponder her assemblages of glazed ceramic animals but I’m pretty sure the red one has something to say about animal consumption and factory farming. Is that a food trough they’re piled in?

What’s so great about The Artist Project is that it challenges, as well as delights. Because the show is juried, the work is of a consistently high calibre but it’s not all pretty pictures for above the sofa; a good deal of what’s on display is Art with a capital A.

WHERE/WHEN: The Artist Project, March 4 -7 (Friday 12 – 9 pm, Saturday 11 am – 9 pm, Sunday 11 am – 6 pm) at Queen Elizabeth Building (180 Prince’s Blvd., Exhibition Place), $12 (seniors/students $8, children under 12 free).

Photos by Christopher Jones

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