The Art of Lawren Harris

Nothing says Canadian art and Canadian landscapes to me like the Group of Seven. Their work and especially the work of Lawren Harris has been an inspiration since my art school days.

The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris comes to Toronto via the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles where it debuted last year and went on to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Its intent was to introduce the American audience to his work, as he, and the Group of Seven, are relatively unknown in the States. The show was co-curated by actor/writer/comedian/musician/art collector Steve Martin, Andrew Hunter, the AGO’s Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art, and Cynthia Burlingham, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Hammer Museum.

Over 70 works by Harris are featured in this expanded exhibit and are divided into three sections: The Ward – Harris’ early paintings of Toronto, The Idealized North – his northern landscapes and The New City which explores the legacy of his northern landscapes.

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Image courtesy of Denise Chan.

For the media preview, we were treated to a short conversation between Andrew Hunter and Steve Martin and got a glimpse into how the exhibit all came together. A long-time collector, Martin said he was flipping through an art catalogue and a Lawren Harris painting caught his eye and he’s been a fan ever since.

Seeing the collected work of Lawren Harris was awe-inspiring. The iconic paintings of The Idealized North made me want to take up oil painting and go on an adventure into the northern wilderness to paint landscapes en plein air.

The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris runs from July 1 to September 18 at the AGO.

 

 

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This is Not a Toy

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This is Not a Toy is an exhibition of contemporary art and collectible design, guest curated by Pharrell Williams. It was held at the Design Exchange in Toronto from February 7 – May 19, 2014. I finally got the chance to see the exhibit on its last weekend.

My favourite items were, of course, the Gorillaz characters designed by Jamie Hewlett for Kidrobot. I’ve always had my eye on them since peeping them in the display case at Silver Snail when they were on Queen St. and I often regret not buying them.

Also on display were KAWS, Takashi Murakami, Huck Gee (it’s too bad I accidentally erased my video. Argh!), Yoshimoto Nara and many others.

Yes, they make look like toys, but they are way too precious to play with. I would house mine in glass cases away from prying fingers, that’s for sure!

I took a couple photos and posted them on Instagram here.

Flare – World Runway Tour

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On October 25th, Flare Magazine hosted it’s second annual World Runway Tour at the Design Exchange in Toronto. The event was hosted by Breakfast Television’s Jennifer Valentyne with fall fashion trends presented by Flare’s Fashion Director Tiyana Grulovic followed by a runway show showcasing those trends courtesy of Holt Renfrew.

Prior to the show, I was commissioned to sketch the stylish guests at the cocktail reception. Armed with markers and watercolour pencils and a tiny watercolour kit, I started to roam around and ask guests if they’d like to be sketched by me. It was a pretty daunting experience since I had declined several other commissions for live sketching because I didn’t feel like I was ready (or good enough). Some of the illustrations turned out great, and some I wish I could redo but I think everyone I sketched was happy with the results and that’s all that matters, really.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of my illustrations but I did a quick sketch of Tiyana Grulovic while she was on stage before the runway show. So, while it was a bit scary, I did learn and grow from this experience and hopefully I’ll get to do it again!

Nuit Blanche Toronto 2013

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Nuit Blanche is an annual event celebrating contemporary art held in multiple cities around the world. Toronto celebrated its eighth year on October 5th and I headed out to take part in this dusk till dawn experience. Here are a couple snaps from that night.

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Louboutin at the Design Exchange

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I headed to the Design Exchange last week to see the Christian Louboutin exhibit. If you’re a shoe lover, it’s definitely a must-see! The iconic red-soled shoes take centre stage in chronicling 20 years of the career of the master shoe designer.

This retrospective, which comes to Toronto via the The Design Museum London, shows us the designer’s inspirations from travel, to art and architecture and the resulting “jewels”. We are shown a peek of his atelier with original sketches to the process that goes into the making of each shoe. The centrepiece of the exhibit is a holographic performance by Dita Von Teese, showcasing one of his earliest design influences: the showgirl.

The exhibition runs until September 15th. Don’t miss it!

The Happy Show – Stefan Sagmeister

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If you love design, you’ve no doubt heard of designer/typographer/artist Stefan Sagmeister. He started his company in New York to bring together his love of music and design and is best known for his poster of Lou Reed and for album cover art for The Rolling Stones and other musicians. He is also known for pushing the envelope and credits his sabbaticals for rejuvenating his love of design and for creating his innovative projects.

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The Happy Show is the result of a decade-long exploration of happiness and I had the chance to check it out at the Design Exchange on its final weekend in Toronto.

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I love how Sagmeister transformed every space of the third floor of the Design Exchange starting with the elevator (inside and out) to the yellow walls with bold graphics and hand-painted notes. The interactive displays were fantastic (once people got them to work). I only just figured out that when you look in the mirror, the ‘happy’ turns to ‘show’. Very clever! Unfortunately, the camera I brought with me had no battery life left so I had to use my iPhone instead. Sorry for the poor quality!

Below are the film titles for The Happy Film, a documentary about Sagmeister exploring the idea of whether or not you can train your mind to be happy like you can train your body to be stronger. The film will be released later this year. Can’t wait!

BIG at the ROM

I finally got the chance to see the BIG exhibit at the ROM. The highlight for me was getting to see the Christian Dior Spring 2011 Couture gown designed by John Galliano. The collection was an homage to artist René Gruau who created beautiful illustrations for the house in the forties and fifties. Beaded detailing and feathers on the dresses mimicked brushstrokes, while layers of tulle recreated the shading effect (dégradé) from his illustrations.