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Art Fx #4: "Grandad" by Zoë Valentine – Huntsville Doppler – Huntsville Doppler



Art Fx is a year-long series on Huntsville Doppler featuring Huntsville-area visual artists.

This drawing holds special meaning for emerging artist Zoë Valentine.

“I’ve been slowly working on this drawing for almost two years now, and I do wish I had finished it sooner because all I wanted was to be able to give this to my grandad in person but I haven’t been able to give him anything, even a hug, since March because of the pandemic,” she writes.

“My grandad will be turning 97 in the spring and I hope that I can be with him to celebrate when the time comes. When I started this drawing, my grandad was at Chartwell retirement home, and doing beyond well for his age. Through the course of drawing him I’ve seen him moved to Fairvern Nursing Home to be with his wife, and slowly start to slip away himself due to dementia. Because of restrictions on visits to nursing homes, I’m only able to see him right now every few weeks through a window visit, where we can talk over the phone separated by glass. It does remind one of the prison visits you see in movies.”

As she was drawing, Zoë referenced a photo she had taken of her grandad while he was reciting poetry from memory. “I believe it captures who he is perfectly,” she writes. “This piece was to honour him and remind him how loved and cherished he is by his wonderfully large family.”

“Grandad” is a drawing in coloured pencil on paper.

“Grandad” in process
"Granddad" by Zoë Valentine
“Grandad” by Zoë Valentine

About the artist: I consider myself very fortunate to have flourished in 2020. I got to paint murals for Sandhill Nursery and for the Downtown Huntsville BIA, I started attending OCAD university to pursue art further, I recently painted the gallery sign for Huntsville Festival of the Arts, and was interviewed on Hunters Bay Radio! I’m incredibly excited to move to Toronto full-time and to develop more as an artist, and I hope that time will come shortly. I’m not decided on what type of career I’d like to have just yet, but for now I’m keeping my options open and exploring every avenue possible.

See more local art in Doppler’s Art Fx series here.

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In Gallery 1313's 'Lockdown Show,' John Ferri's art reflects the beginnings of optimism –



A year ago, our lives changed. We’ve endured isolation, changed our habits. Where once we walked through a lively bustling city, now we walk through quiet streets. It’s changed the way we see the world.

That is true, too, for artists. John Ferri, a former senior editor at the Star and now a vice-president at TVOntario, has been creating digital collage work, a composite of photography and digital design elements, for almost 10 years.

He says the pandemic has changed what he sees as he peers through the lens of his camera.

“I see more people alone, not sitting or walking in groups,” he said in an email exchange with the Star. “I think I’ve always been interested in the idea of being alone in a public space, of being isolated even in a crowd. Well, the crowds are gone. The artwork I’ve created over the last year no doubt reflects this.”

In the image, above, a single figure walks their dog. A path winds its way through zones that contain riots of colour and individual bubbles.

His art, he hopes, offers “a unique visual perspective that balances precision, whimsy, and a fascination with human movement,” he wrote in his comments for the show this work, called “Morning,” is featured in online at Gallery 1313. “This piece is a counterpoint to how we’re all feeling after a year of living with fear and isolation. I didn’t set out to create a feeling of hope and optimism, it just went there on its own.

“I believe that we are finding our way forward and out of this pandemic, and I hope that this piece captures the tenuous sense of optimism we’re all feeling.”

Though we might still walk alone, vaccines are coming. Spring is around the corner. As we venture outdoors, from beyond our own four walls, we are getting closer.

“The Lockdown Show” features a range of more than 60 artists from across the GTA who belong to the Gallery 1313 collective. You can find it online — — until the end of March.

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What are NFTs? Behind the crypto trend revolutionizing the art world – Toronto Star



The cherub looks like it’s ready to strike. Hovering idly in outer space, it points a hooked spear at the earth below and steadies its hand.

Grimes, the Canadian musician and visual artist, posted this unsettling image to an art auctioning site earlier in February. It’s part of a broader collection of digital artwork, called “WarNymphs,” that she codesigned with her brother.

Within hours of posting it online, hundreds of copies of the supersized demon baby had sold for $7,500 (U.S.) each. Total sales from her collection reached closer to $6 million.

At first, the frenzy may seem confounding. The image exists solely online. It’s not a physical painting or a photo. Those who bought it could easily have taken a screen grab and made it their desktop background for free.

Why spend all that money on a digital picture?

In short, the answer lies in a newly popular acronym: NFT.

Otherwise known as nonfungible tokens, NFTs are unique computer codes used to identify the authenticity of a digital item — often an image, animation or a video. The code is attached to the item to verify its originality, indicating which item is the original and which is a duplicate.

Items containing NFTs are bought and sold using blockchain, an online technology that records monetary transactions made in cryptocurrency.

To make this easier on the brain, think of “non-fungible” in terms of physical objects. A postcard of Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” for example, is fungible: swap it for another identical postcard and you have the exact same thing. The original “Starry Night,” however, is non-fungible: swap it for a replica and you no longer have the original.

The NFT distinguishes the real from the fake. How value is assigned to the original items is just as subjective as any other form of art.

“If you visit my living room, you’ll see original-sized pictures of Monet paintings. They’re really nice, and really fancy, but they’re clearly not actual Monet paintings,” explains Andreas Park, an associate professor of finance at the University of Toronto who researches cryptocurrency.

“If I could have the original, I’d be thrilled.”

In effect, the NFT has introduced the concept of originality to the online world.

For artists whose work exists solely in the digital world, it’s an opportunity to attach a monetary value to their work. For buyers, it’s an opportunity to support artists they like, and hold artwork as assets — hoping the value of the artwork goes up so it can be sold for a profit.

The trend has also benefited from the internet’s typical eccentricity. A clip of LeBron James dunking a basketball sold for $99,999. Pink socks sold for $60,000. An image of beans, scooped in a ladle, sold for $469. The proud new owners of these items can brag about holding the originals.

It’s also being taken seriously by companies hoping to get in on the trend. Christie’s, the famed British auction house, recently became the first major auctioneer to sell a digital, NFT-based artwork. The featured artist, a popular digital designer known as Beeple, made $3.5 million in a single weekend from Christie’s sales.

More recently, Kings of Leon announced their new album will be released as an NFT in partnership with a tech startup called Yellowheart.

Nike, meanwhile, holds a patent for “blockchain-based NFT-sneakers,” called Cryptokicks (a sentence that, as confusing as it is now, would be completely indecipherable to anyone 10 years ago).

In the art world, the rise of NFTs and crypto art has sprouted a wide array of new platforms and online marketplaces where people can buy and sell art as they please.

Grimes’ latest collection premiered on a website called Nifty Gateway, owned by serial entrepreneurs Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss (of “The Social Network” fame), which functions as an online marketplace where users can sell they art they’ve bought at a higher price. Not sure if they’re selling the original image? Check for an NFT.



Park, who’s followed the rise of blockchain and NFTs for the past several years, says the token is here to stay, though some of the recent excitement is likely temporary.

“Right now, there’s a sense of novelty that’s driving the appeal for NFT artwork. It’s like Beanie Babies: they were popular for a while, because people liked them, and then it died out,” he said.

“But, more broadly, this is a very useful record-keeping technology. It’s easy to imagine NFTs being used as proof of ownership for a variety of things in the future.”

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Bridging connections with online art | –



Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre seeks to help bridge the gaps between people with its first-ever online exhibition launched Feb. 27.

Titled “Connection,” the show presents submissions from its members, featuring a wide array of mediums. Besides a physical gallery still viewable at the centre under additional public protocols, it is also available on the centre’s website, with a guided virtual tour.

Curator Laurie Jones said she learned about the format from the Ontario Society of Artists and it was a way to improve access.

“Not everybody’s comfortable yet with being around, especially in public spaces,” Jones said.

The exhibition is an annual salon show, drawing from local talent, Jones said. The pandemic prompted the move to an online addition – and the theme for the show itself.

“It came up out of my own cravings for connections and missing people,” Jones said. “In many ways, we’re looking for alternate ways to connect.”

Artist Rosanna Dewey’s exhibition piece depicts one of those ways. It is an oil painting entitled “Zoom Room” depicting a call on the online meeting platform. She said the show’s theme was poignant.

“It’s so hard to be connected,” Dewey said. “It really made me think about what was going on and what my connections were.”

She said she had some skepticism about the online concept but found it turned out appealing.

“You want to be able to get up close to the artwork and you get more of a sense of the piece,” Dewey said. “But I found that people were still interested. People still needed to go and experience art, even if it was through a Zoom format.”

Arts and Crafts Festival on pause

But the community will miss one big way to connect with art in the summer. The Haliburton Art and Craft Festival – the gallery’s flagship event and fundraiser – is cancelled for the second straight year due to the pandemic, Jones said. She said it would be too logistically challenging to ensure safety amidst the pandemic.

“We don’t want to introduce any risk to our volunteers or staff or vendors or patrons,” Jones said. “Maintaining sanitary conditions would be impossible.”

Jones said the centre needs to decide early to inform artists and give them time to plan. She said there might be alternate programming, but that is being worked out.

For now, the Rails End is still putting on exhibitions and bringing arts to the community.



“We’re not trying to sell anything. We’re trying to provide an experience,” Jones said. “Hopefully, they feel the connection with the creative arts.”

“Connection” runs until April 17 and is available at the centre itself or

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