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September 27–December 28, 2014
Curated by Patrick Macaulay
Some might try to escape the angst of the inner city with the belief that the suburbs offer the space to achieve our dreams, but often end up with a long commute and a long driveway exactly like our neighbours’. Despite being surrounded by the conventions of suburban living, there are also the nonconformists who direct our attention to the changing dynamics of these communities. The artists in this exhibition challenge our presumptions of suburban sprawl. There is beauty to be found in the cul de sac, the loops and lollipops of the suburban streetscape, all of which contain the optimistic possibilities of vibrant street life, comfort and visual complexity.
– Patrick Macaulay, Director, Visual Arts
I grew up in Willowdale, one of Toronto’s inner suburbs. I combine the familiar subway system-style map with the location of all of the GTA’s shopping malls and big box locations — probably the one piece of the suburban landscape that is in direct opposition to the idea of public transit — to create a new concept of a city.
– Matthew Blackett
Matthew Blackett is the publisher and creative director of Spacing (a magazine, web site, and retail store). He is a graphic designer with a strong love of maps.
These six paintings are part of a larger series entitled Oakville Welcomes You, that depicts the suburban landscapes and city roads of Oakville, Ontario. This series is influenced by the artist’s personal collection of low resolution cell phone photographs, taken at stop lights during her daily commutes. Small in size, these paintings reflect the source from which they were derived. They shift substantial landscapes to attainable, physical objects. The landscapes become moments of treasured beauty rather than a commuter’s repetitive travels. Capturing these normally overlooked streetscapes adds purpose to what could be mundane commutes and generates a constant interest and awareness of the surrounding environment. The car windshield becomes a framing device for the surrounding landscape. Trees, signs, traffic lights and roadways interact with the sky above, creating ephemeral compositions.
Taylor Bosada is a recent graduate with a BA from the University of Toronto as well as an Advanced Diploma from the Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. She studied at the Specialist level in the Art and Art History joint program where she developed her skills in painting and print making. Bosada has shown in the “Chancellor’s Student Art Exhibition” at the University of Toronto in 2012 and the 2013 Graduate Exhibition at the Blackwood Gallery located at the Mississauga Campus. She predominantly works with oil paint on repurposed wooden supports. She is interested in themes of memory, found objects, accumulation, and finding beauty in generally overlooked landscapes.
Department of Unusual Certainties
The City of Total Awareness
Department of Unusual Certainties attempts to map and document the infrastructure that makes our digital lives possible.
Department of Unusual Certainties (DoUC) is a research design | art studio based in Toronto. DoUC have made and presented work in many different contexts.
With a growing population and ever-more expensive inner-city housing prices, suburban real estate becomes increasingly central to the contemporary lifestyle. This body of work is inspired by images extracted from newspapers found in the (905) area. I am exploring the vernacular of real estate advertising by painting portraits of the photographic images that real estate agents choose to represent themselves with.
While observing the formality of pose I am investigating the human gesture within a photographic resource along with the physical act of painting. Paint application is the primary concern in the series because it provides an opportunity to imply a psychological presence that otherwise disappears in the photographic advertisement.
There is a sense of amenity within tabloid photographs. I destabilize the portraits by adding or subtracting visual information. Some lean towards linear drawing, while others are almost completely erased by the sculpting of paint. Body language is evidence that ethics are visually embedded in our sociological system of communicating and receiving information. The process of selling your home begins with choosing an agent. Since looking at images is part of this process, the agents become a visual commodity.
Sarah Ann Dicks was born in Toronto and raised in rural northeastern Ontario on Skootamatta Lake. Dicks was influenced by the charms of the aquatic landscape and the Canadian Shield. She started prolifically oil painting as a teen and sought inspiration from artists such as the Group of Seven who also sat on the same the lake shores where she lived and painted.
Dicks completed her BA (Honours) at the University of Toronto and her Diploma in Art & Art History at Sheridan College. She predominately concentrates in two practices, oil painting and photography. Her work addresses suburban verses rural socio-cultural ideas, news images, environment and biology. Her painterly application allows the viewer to work through layers, textures and glazes. Her ultimate goal is capturing the audience by seducing them with layers and consistencies of the paint.
Archeologists have remarked that humanity is the only force capable of marking straight lines into the surface of the earth. When these modifications are viewed from an aerial perspective, they form geometric shapes and patterns of human land use that are unremarkable and unperceivable from the ground. Printed on semi-transparent vellum and folded in the same manner as topographic reliefs, Blueprints is a series of photographs that document these geometric patterns. Keeping with the idea that the images fall within the realm of geography, they are coded and titled according to a grid system used in cartography. Accompanying each image are the geographic coordinates and the scale of the objects depicted.
– Callan Field
Callan Field is a Toronto-based visual artist who recently completed a BFA in Photography at Ryerson University. Before arriving in the city, he spent two years in New Brunswick at Mount Allison University studying Environmental Science. As such, his work is often informed by an interest in scientific ideas, with a particular fascination with geography and mathematics. His photographs have been exhibited internationally and locally, with a solo exhibition at the I.M.A Gallery (Toronto) in 2014. While his primary medium is photography, his work has expanded to include film, video and installation.
The photograph, Suburbs #2, was taken from a larger body of work titled I Can Hear You Humming. The project began three years ago following a network of power lines weaving from Niagara Falls to the metropolis of Toronto, posing a view of our contemporary landscape and the metal giants that inhabit them. The transforming stations, towers and dangling wire approach our cities and homes; their corridors become places of recreation, residence and, ironically, rejuvenation that offer temporary relief for a congested city. Standing still, yet representing constant motion, the power grid is on an endless journey that symbolizes both our connected nature as a society and our boundless need for the energy that keeps it functioning.
– Mark Kasumovic
Mark Kasumovic is a Toronto-based artist. His latest body of work, Picture/Perfect, uses tourism as a backdrop to explore the phenomenon of digital images as data in the information age. He is a recent graduate of the NSCAD University MFA program, and his work has recently been acquired by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Beaverbrook Provincial Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Peel.
Paola Poletto with Liis Toliao
Gas Up! is an exercise in discovering and better understanding the city through the observation and mapping of gas stations across a selection of main streets. It has resulted in a series of 35 photos of all the gas stations located on Toronto’s main cross-town streets running from the Rouge River on the east to the Mississauga border on the west: Danforth-Bloor-Dundas in the downtown; Eglinton in midtown; and Finch uptown. When we started off, we had imagined an inverted triangle mapping the city, where gas stations radiate and increase in number as we move further north and out. Our stations map, however, looks more like a girdle. There are 10 stations on Danforth-Bloor-Dundas, equally divided east and west of Yonge, littered with cabs awakening at the city’s borders. We were flummoxed that there are nine stations on Eglinton, fewer than Danforth-Bloor-Dundas, and that they are clustered inside the city core. And Finch’s 16 service stations, also equally divided between the west and east ends, invite us to drive even further out where Toronto swells beyond its borders into the GTA.
Paola Poletto is an artist and coordinator, with an interest in the public realm and independent culture. Liis Toliao is a photographer focused on lived experiences of people and things in transition. Poletto and Toliao’s first collaborative project was Tel-Talk (2012), where over 40 artists and writers responded with art interventions in telephone booths across Toronto and beyond over a nine month period.
Under corporate industrial practices, food is continually undervalued, commodified, wasted and unjustly distributed. Representing the next step in citizens’ stand against inequality, corruption, greed, growing hunger and the destruction of life, the subject of the gardener is explored as a notable figure worthy of admiration and respect.
The subject is an advocate for social change to better humanity’s relationship with the Earth’s resources as well as to one another. The formation of agricultural practices of the past brought people to collectively share goods and values, and the movement in suburban agriculture, with particular focus on community gardens, can create free food security and sustainability for all. Today, the legacy of the gardener is growing with increasing food consciousness. Younger generations that will shape the environment of the future are carrying on the traditions of their ancestors, working towards producing food systems based on peace and solidarity.
Sarah Virag has developed a passion for capturing the fleeting and fascinating beauty that time and life in this natural world offers us. With a BA in Psychology, Virag’s work is underlined with the exploration of the workings of the mind as well as the investigation of the relationship between personal and external realms. As a recent BFA in Photography graduate, Virag aims to connect her work emotionally to the viewer and aspires to make a positive difference through psychological contemplation using photography as her medium.