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Tuesday, December 9

CRISIS AT CAMPBELL HOUSE


Henri Fabergé and his gang are at it again.  They're preparing Crisis at St. Creskins, the second festive special to follow Henri's antics at Boyce Academy. Part play, part cabaret, often bawdy and never boring, the performance will be sure to kindle your holiday spirit this coming weekend. Toronto's historic Campbell House Museum has bravely agreed to host the cast of characters and during rehearsal I stopped by to see inside the elegant Georgian home incongruously situated at Queen and University.

Campbell House has been a museum since 1972 but was originally built in 1822 by Upper Canada's chief justice Sir William Campbell and his wife Hannah.  It is the oldest house remaining from the Town of York and is a wonderful example of Palladian architecture.  Passing from the Campbell family in 1844, the place remained a private residence until 1890.  The building then became commercial office and factory space for companies selling horseshoe nail, elevators and finally Hallmark greeting cards.  In 1972, with demolition looming to make way for Hallmark's parking lot, the building was offered to anyone who could move it.  The Advocates Society took up the challenge and the building was moved 1.5 km from Adelaide street to its current home where the Queen Mother herself was on hand to cut the ribbon on Campbell House Museum.  


The phrase "well appointed room" comes to mind while admiring the open spaces and dramatically low window casings of the house. There is no fussy Victoriana about but rather a special collection of early 19th century furniture and household articles.  The portrait of Sir Campbell looked on sternly as the actors went about their antics, with wardrobe racks and coffee cups disrupting the calm repose of a by-gone era.  To be sure, these old walls have never seen such sights as the weekend will bring.

Crisis at St Creskins runs December 13-15 with two shows per night at 7pm and 9:30 pm.Visit the Campbell House Museum website for ticket information.


















Sunday, November 16

MOON ROOM


Moon Room is Kristin Weckworth's curatorial exploration of the moon and the layers of hidden meaning associated with our beloved night time companion.  Weckworth's starting point for the show was the documentary Room 237 (a film that attempts to unravel the many conspiracies, confessions and subtexts thought to exists in Kubrick's The Shining) and the 1940's children's book Goodnight Moon.  Both the Overlook Hotel and the rabbit's quiet bedroom have captivated audiences and prompted searching for deeper meaning within the patterns and symbols presented by their respective authors.  Weckworth uses the  moon to epitomizes this shrouded second reality: "Moon Room acts as a holder of possibilities and hidden meanings, a physical example of the myriad faces that can exist amongst those presented and masked."

The exhibition Moon Room closes today with a reception from 3-6 at NarwhalNaomi and I were pleased to participate along with Adrienne Kammerer, Alexandra Mackenzie, Alicia Nauta, Carly Waito, Eli Langer, Eunice Luk, Hanna Hur, Jennifer Murphy, Karen Azoulay, Kendra Yee, Lisa DiQunzio, Maggie Groat, Margaux Williamson, Maryanne Casasanta, Nikki Woolsey, Patrick Krzyzanowski, Rebecca Fin Simonetti, Sab Meynert and Vanessa Brown.

Photos courtesy of Narwhal 

Nikki Wooley, Aside the table and Alicia Nauta, Goodnight Moon

Naomi Yasui, untitled and Heather Goodchild, and the evening and the morning

Lisa DiQuinzio, Owl painting

Nikki Wooley, Aside the table

 Eunice Luk, It's only five after ten

 Adrienne Kammerer, The infernal eternal

Karen Azoulay, Ancient Crater

Jennifer Murphy, Hands

Patrick Krzyzanowski, untitled

Hannah Hur, SOS

Maryanne Casasanta, Half the Day is Night




Thursday, November 13

CHAPTER IV : PAINTING WITH FIRE









Closing this Saturday is Naomi Yasui's solo exhibition at ESP Project Space:

Chapter IV: Painting with Fire is a collection of ceramic vessels and photographs produced during a residency in Skælskør, Denmark. These forms look to historical Japanese ceramics fired in atmospheric kilns. The firing process dictates the form, a means to capture the mysterious and erratic colours that emerge when unglazed clay meets fire. Elongated and bulbous forms were created to best capture the effects of firing and cooling with natural materials, while embracing the uncertainty of this method. Yasui’s conceptual practice revolves around process, form, and happenstance. The products of experimentation are exhibited as remains alongside finished pieces, allowing the viewer to glimpse and judge the artist’s edits. 

The title of this exhibition is borrowed from an instructional ceramic book titled Soda, Clay, Fire by Gail Nichols, a text Yasui referenced frequently while experimenting with atmospheric firing. Accompanying the sculptures are photographic works that explore traditional ceramic documentation and play with these aesthetic choices. When three-dimensional objects are flattened by photographs, the viewer is forced to observe them from only one perspective. This relationship between perception and reality again explores what the artist decides to reveal.









Thursday, October 2

MORLEY SHAYUK : LOTUS


Viewing Morley Shayuk's evocative new exhibition Lotus at Paul Petro gallery, it's hard to pinpoint why everything looks so familiar and yet so strange.  He has created pieces rooted in age-old spiritual ideas, referencing sun worship and the changing seasons, and has executed them using the most mundane--even tacky--renovation materials.  You will recognize Durabond stucco, the building material used to cover styrofoam, a material that has become pervasive in exterior renovation and architecture today. There are strange glass shapes that if assembled would create a standard Home Depot door window pattern; there's also an ugly plastic vent, flimsy mouldings, and pressure-treated lumber.

Shayuk's rays of sunshine, organic symbols, and Egyptian-style reliefs have been manipulated, abstracted and hidden by these various building materials, yet their strength and original meaning comes through.  This new collection of works seem to question not just aesthetic beauty but the value of art, poetry, and spirituality in our contemporary age. The seemingly random placement of little bits of glass, stone, and ceramic draws the eye, forcing the viewer to look closer, looking for patterns and meaning and questioning what is precious.  Shayuk looks to our modern man-made landscape and computer-designed structures and asks how this infrastructure aligns with the human soul.

We were particularly intrigued by After Jay Isaac, a copy of a sculpture by the Toronto artist Jay Isaac. Shayuk has "renovated" Isaac's piece, originally made from found pieces of old trim, by recreating these wood elements out of styrofoam and covering them with stucco.  What was originally a raw expression of form and line has become a premeditated assembly. Through this "renovation," the piece becomes bloated and fake, bringing to mind Victorian-era buildings that have been "updated" by styrofoam facades, complete with false keystone and oversized moulding. The copy becomes a controlled cry for reality, whether in the environment around us or in the way we live.

There will be a closing reception at Paul Petro Gallery, 980 Queen W, for Lotus on Saturday October 4, from 2-5 pm, along with Shelagh Keeley's After Lucretius/de rerum naura.