Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Kristine Moran's Airstream Road Trip at Daniel Faria

Kristine Moran, Spiteful Geyser, 2018, oil on linen, 10" x 8"

One positive arising from skyrocketing housing prices in North American urban centres is a revival of romantic nomadism. Last year, for instance, Kristine Moran, a Canadian-born artist who resided in Brooklyn, sold her home and studio in the borough to purchase a 30-foot Airstream trailer. Then she and her family embarked on an extended road trip across North America. 

The result is this exhibition titled Confusion Hill that comprises small oils on linen like Spiteful Geyser that abstract the landscape Moran witnessed on the way. 

These are tight, compact paintings that use the underlying linen texture to great effect. And they show an art historic awareness, especially of Arthur Dove's paintings, that is both rare and welcome.

The Canadian Arts Grant System Needs Simplification

The Canadian arts grant system from civic to federal level has become a complex bureaucracy that is increasingly unnavigable. Simply getting an answer is much more complicated than it was even several years ago. For instance, yesterday, after a twelve-day wait, I finally received a response from a grant officer who told me I was calling the wrong person and that I should be applying for another grant. Thank you for the clarification.

I am not a neophyte. I received my first grant (Ontario Arts Council, Visual Arts Critics) in 1986, but I now feel like I am trying to cross the Atlantic (to go to one of the conferences I have been invited to but could not attend because of late grant results) without a map each time that I apply. Moreover, grant result target dates have been pushed much farther ahead than they were even a year ago, making it nearly impossible to depend on arts funding to travel without very long-term notice.

A good solution is to maintain a much smaller granting system strictly as an awards model ( the Sobey, for example) and to initiate a universal basic income (UBI) for independent arts professionals. It will save bureaucracy and allow artists, writers, and other cultural workers to spend money as they - not a grant officer - see fit.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Progressive Conservative: the 2018 Finalists for the RBC Canadian Painting Competition

The finalists for the 2018 RBC Canadian Painting Competition are out, and the list is progressive and conservative simultaneously. That pairing is not inappropriately oxymoronical like the moniker of Ontario's reigning party that shares those same words. The list is progressive since of the jury's fifteen picks, twelve are women. It is equally conservative in that almost all the work is formalist with an emphasis on the nationally ruling but elsewhere waning trend of figuration. Much work is academic and derivative. Several artists stand out though, notably Ally MacIntyre, who presents jarring images such as Pink Moon, 2016, which quickly and adroitly moves from eighties throwback kitsch, with its neon pinks and cliché palm trees, to a delicate, brooding portrait.

The 2018 Finalists

 Amanda Boulos

 Keiran Brennan Hinton

Krystle Coughlin

Sarah Davidson

Angela Fermor

Karine Fréchette

Stephanie Hier

Ally MacIntyre

Emmanuel Osahor

Lauren Pelc-McArthur

geetha thurairajah

Kizi Spielmann Rose

Joani Tremblay

 Tristan Unrau

Joy Wong

Ally MacIntyre
Pink Moon, 2016
acrylic and spray paint on canvas
61" x 55"

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Ron Loranger
Top: Washer No. 3, 2017, watercolour on paper, 10" x 14"
Bottom: Dryer No. 2, 2018, watercolour on paper, 10" x 14"

For years Toronto-based Franco-Ontarian artist Ron Loranger has been quietly and steadfastly painting what he refers to as "blobettes," a French Canadian sounding neologism for drops, drips, and indeed blobs of wet paint. His precise harnessing of the random releases just enough paint to maximize compositional power. Action painting, or the action of painting, is calculated and spare. Yet this is not image-parched minimalism: rich colour and  fortuitous abstract encounters of paint and water playfully project themselves from the stark white backdrop of watercolour paper.

Toronto's loss, Loranger's "blobettes" are up at Galerie Youn in Montréal until July 14 as part of that gallery's sixth anniversary exhibition.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Should Canadian Art Clean Up Its Own House First?

Canadian Art magazine continues to publish critical articles on Saskatoon's Remai Modern, one of the few Canadian galleries with an international presence architecturally and curatorially. In its June 21, "News in Brief" column, for instance, Leah Sandals pulled the following quote from a Twitter post, a post by Saskatchewan author Paul Seesequasis, in which he called out the Remai for the lack of diversity on its board:  "It’s time for Remai Modern to do actual outreach, practice inclusivity and address its own issues." Inclusivity, of course is important, in fact necessary, for a progressive art museum, and few if any Canadian galleries have yet reached ideal diversity. Still, the Remai is working on it and has indigenous board members. 

Meanwhile, a quick glance at Canadian Art's board of directors tells a different story. Certainly, it includes old money and established art world figures, but it seems to be sorely lacking in indigenous representation. Judge for yourself. Here are the members of Canadian Art's board:

Co-Chairs: Debra Campbell and Gabe Gonda
Amanda Alvaro, Jessica Bradley, Daisy Desrosiers, David Franklin, Jane Irwin, Shanitha Kachan, Lee Matheson, Sarah Milroy, Kevin Morris
Richard J. Balfour, Michael de Pencier, Debbie Gibson, Reesa Greenberg, Nancy McCain, Grace Robin, Donald Schmitt, Jane Zeidler