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BMO 1st Art! Returns to Celebrate Canadian Artists in its First Ever Virtual Exhibition – Canada NewsWire



In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and for the safety of its artists and patrons, BMO 1st Art! is taking its annual gallery exhibition virtual. Hosted by the Art Museum at the University of Toronto on their Virtual Art Museum site, the exhibition will showcase all 13 winning works from September 15 to October 16. The award recipients will receive cash prizes of $15,000 for the national award and $7,500 for each regional winner, spanning Canada’s diverse provinces and territories.

“It’s a privilege to honour the inventive and complex work of Canada’s top post-secondary students, a generation that represents the future of art in Canada,” said Cameron Fowler, Chief Strategy and Operations Officer, BMO Financial Group. “BMO is committed to supporting the creativity and talent of our rising artists and we’re proud to be part of this distinguished initiative. Congratulations to the 2020 winners on all of their accomplishments.”

“We are thrilled to spotlight these remarkable artists as they transition from art school to art practice,” said Dawn Cain, Curator, BMO Art Collection. “In moving the exhibition to a virtual format we are able to share these innovative and timely works with new audiences in Canada and beyond.”

The annual competition invites deans and instructors from 110 undergraduate art programs across Canada to nominate three students from each of their studio specialties to submit a recent work. An esteemed panel of jurors selected this year’s winning works from a pool of 295 submissions. Submission guidelines allow for time-based media including video, film, audio, and computer technologies, in addition to mediums of drawing, printmaking, photography, painting, sculpture, glass, ceramics, textiles, mixed media, and installation works.

Full list of 2020 BMO 1st Art! winners:

National Winner

  • Simone Elizabeth Saunders, “It Matters“, Alberta University of the Arts (Alberta)

Regional Winners

  • Jasmine MacGregor, “Anishinaabekwe (Ojibway woman)“, Alberta University of the Arts (Alberta)
  • David Ezra Wang, “Practicum“, University of British Columbia (British Columbia)
  • Gabriel Roberts, “A Closet Painted Blue“, University of Manitoba (Manitoba)
  • Matthew Cripps, “4 Crawling Vases“, New Brunswick College of Craft and Design (New Brunswick)
  • Kathleen Elliott, “Well Seasoned“, Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland (Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • Alex Sutcliffe, “A Finger Cuts Light“, NSCAD University (Nova Scotia)
  • Ellie Tungilik, “Finding Hope“, Nunavut Arctic College (Nunavut)
  • Tian Cao, “2020 Surfing the Internet“, OCAD University (Ontario)
  • Duncan Brooks, “Empty Steps“, Holland College (Prince Edward Island)
  • Mikael Lepage, “Dénué“, Université du Québec à Montréal (Quebec)
  • Rey Francis Dominic B. Tatad, “Chosen Land“, University of Regina (Saskatchewan)
  • Nicole Favron, “5.5 hours of shovelling so I can walk in the path of a moose“, Yukon School of Visual Arts (Yukon)

Highlighted works include:

  • “A hand-tufted textile portrait of a Black civilian in western society during the COVID-19 pandemic. This colourful patchwork focuses on the quality and importance of Black life (matters) in a time where the pandemic has eradicated social normativity, further isolating marginalized communities and resulting in amplified racial biases toward Black and Brown people.” (Simone Elizabeth Saunders, National winner)
  • “Inspired by the artist’s observation of ‘poor images’ on the internet including static memes, low-resolution short videos, tawdry commercial images and manipulated self-images, this interactive 3D project, created using the game engine Unity, explores issues of accessibility, democracy, mass reproduction, culture conflict, self-identity and consumerism.” (Tian Cao, Ontario winner)
  • “An oil on canvas portrait of a man dressed in a white shirt; symbolizing masculinity and social class. Going against all conventions the artist has turned the shirt backwards and wrinkled it, offering the viewer more questions than answers.” (Mikael Lepage, Quebec winner)
  • “This mixed-media installation featuring cyanotypes on paper, linen, denim and cushions is a contemplative exploration into the artist’s own sexuality within the constraints of a closeted relationship.” (Gabriel Roberts, Manitoba winner)

The 2020 Selection Committee:

  • Melanie Colosimo, Director/Curator, Anna Leonowens Gallery, NS
  • Francisco-Fernando Granados, Faculty of Art, OCAD University, ON
  • Marie-Eve Beaupré, Curator, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, QC
  • cheyanne turions, Curator SFU Galleries, BC

To view images of the winning works on BMO Financial Group’s website, please visit:

To access the virtual exhibition please visit:

About BMO Financial Group
Serving customers for 200 years and counting, BMO is a highly diversified financial services provider – the 8th largest bank, by assets, in North America. With total assets of $974 billion as of July 31, 2020, and a team of diverse and highly engaged employees, BMO provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers and conducts business through three operating groups: Personal and Commercial Banking, BMO Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.

SOURCE BMO Financial Group

For further information: To arrange to speak with any of the winners, jurors and/or a BMO 1st Art! spokesperson, please contact: Chelsea Cabello, Touchwood PR, [email protected], (905) 926-4739; Keira Hunt, Touchwood PR, [email protected], (647) 688-4985; Olivia Fraczkowski, BMO Financial Group, [email protected], (416) 867-3996

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High end art stolen In Silver Lady Lane break-in –



Not many details yet, but City Police are investigating the theft of several high-end pieces of art from a Silver Lady Lane home this morning.

Items include a 2’x3′ Jan Van Kessel painting, Limoges casket, 6″ blue/gold plate, and 6″ aventurine brush washer.

Silver Lady Lane runs off Trout Lake Road and a number of expensive and exclusive houses sit on the shores of Trout Lake.

Police are asking for the public’s help.

Jan van Kessel was a Flemish painter active in Antwerp in the mid 17th century.

Wikipedia says he was a versatile artist and he practiced in many genres including studies of insects, floral still lifes, marines, river landscapes, paradise landscapes, allegorical compositions, and scenes with animals.

Van Kessel’s works were highly prized by his contemporaries and were collected by skilled artisans, wealthy merchants, nobles, and foreign luminaries throughout Europe.

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Toronto's outdoor museum for street art is a perfect activity for these pandemic times – blogTO



Dundas West Open Air Museum, a collection of murals clustered in a Toronto neighbourhood, opened about a year ago, but they’ve been very busy during that time.

Around 20 murals have been painted around the Dundas West area from Shaw to Lansdowne by local artists such as Jieun June Kim, Jose Ortega and Pablo Gomez.

All murals can be explored virtually on the museum’s website, which includes info about the works and artists.

The initiative was spearheaded by the artists along with Little Portugal and Dundas West BIAs, Lula Lounge, Toronto Arts Council and Creativo Arts.

It was inspired by similar public space projects in places like The Bronx and Berlin.

One of the new initiatives from the museum is an app that you can download to your phone and use to make your way among the murals, finding out information about each piece and the artists that created it as you go.

As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, finding safe, outdoor activities in Toronto is on many people’s to-do list and this outdoor museum might just be one that’s perfectly suited to the times.

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Art as reconciliation: Ymir artist hosting BC Culture Days event – Nelson Star



It took Damian John decades to realize words weren’t always the best way to connect with people.

When John was in his 20s he became woke to the problems of the world and hoped to make a change. In his 30s, having failed to make that change, he struggled with depression and anxiety.

But four years ago the now 43 year old quit his career as a massage therapist to focus on his art. That choice led to an epiphany.

“I think the dialogue that we have with words is limited. You have this understanding of words, I have an understanding of words. Sometimes they don’t match up,” he says.

“We’re really bad at telling each other what we’re feeling and we’re really bad at understanding what the other person is saying to us in general, even with people we know well. So I thought, but what about having art do that for us and being creative with how we speak to each other.”

John, a Ymir-based artist, hopes to meld words and art into a new type of conversation when he hosts a workshop for BC Culture Days on Sept. 26. Jones was the only West Kootenay artist named ambassador to the annual event, which will run Sept. 25 to Oct. 25.

His livestream is titled Exploring Reconciliation Through Creativity, in which John plans to tell the story of how colonization affected his family and people before having participants create art based on the discussion.

A member of Tl’azt’en First Nation near Prince George, John grew up with a family traumatized by the residential school system. His father attended nearby Lejac Residential School, a Catholic-run facility that operated from 1922 to 1976.

The school is partly remembered now for being the place four boys froze to death while trying to escape from in 1937.

“All of my family on that side is directly impacted by colonization, by residential school,” said John, “and that impacts us as his children, that affects nephews and generations that are coming after us. There’s a heavy, heavy impact mentally, health wise, relationally, all of these various components which would take a long time to talk to or speak to in a real strong way.”

First Nations art has always been a part of John’s life. His father brought pieces home, and John was later influenced by artists Robert Sebastian and Roy Henry Vickers.

John’s own art is vibrant, colourful and distinctly modern. In his work he’s found a place to explore his culture and voice concerns while also being in control of the outcome in a way he never felt he could in conversation.

“If I want to have a life that has any feelings of quality to it, I need to shift things,” he says. “So making things that I think are beautiful, and allowing people to engage in that space as well, felt useful.”

That’s how he hopes the people who take his workshop feel after creating their own work. John wants to inspire new ways of discourse about difficult topics despite personal differences, and he thinks art is the key.

“How do we bridge those spaces to come to a place of community and goodwill and conflict resolution?” he says. “In spite of being devastated by all the information out there I still have hope we can do things differently.”

@tyler_harper |

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Damian John holds a painting he recently completed of his grandmother. John will be exploring reconciliation through art during an event for BC Culture Days. Photo: Tyler Harper

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