The fact Stephanie and Samantha Iannacchino have made a career out of working with wood shouldn’t be all that surprising: After all, the Niagara Falls sisters grew up watching their dad Sam doing the same thing with the picture-framing business he still runs.
But instead of using new wood to make frames, the siblings make a point of repurposing old wood that would otherwise likely end up in a landfill and turning it into eye-catching, original art.
Their latest venture involves reclaiming wood from the historic Avila Hall at the Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre in Niagara Falls and painstakingly turning it into art that will live on on people’s walls for generations to come.
The sisters, whose company is called Lumberchino, actually operate out of the shop they hung around in as kids, watching their dad work.
Stephanie said she and Samantha wanted to create art from wood for their own bedroom walls. “(But) we had no woodworking experience at the time,” she said. “So we looped in our dad; he’s so handy we knew he’d be able to do it.”
The finished mosaic artwork caught the attention of friends and family, so the sisters started using reclaimed frames their dad had, stripping down the wood to make their first pieces of art.
“When we first started our business model we had to decide to use new wood or reclaimed wood,” said Stephanie. “We decided to keep going down that (reclaimed wood) route and finding as much wood as we could.”
Then a few months ago, Samantha said a friend of hers, whose dad owns a local construction and demolition company, called to ask if she was interested in old wood from the Avila Hall demolition project at Mount Carmel.
The Mount Carmel Monastery applied to the city to demolish the 83-year-old building on Stanley Avenue. Although it has a rich religious history, the monastery board told the city the building’s condition had deteriorated badly and would have required millions of dollars to bring it up to proper standards.
“I said ‘for sure we would’ ” want the wood, said Samantha. “Stephanie and I put on our hard hats and grabbed our crowbars and went to the construction site and started taking floors and walls apart. We brought it back to our shop and started working on it.”
Working with old wood is no easy task, said Samantha.
“It’s very time-consuming, from going to get the wood, to yanking out all the nails, to planing it down, to painting and staining,” said Samantha. “Then we have to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.”
But it’s worth the effort, she said.
“The wood is really old and super dry so it gives the pieces a lot of character.”
The sisters created four pieces of art so far from Avila, but have more wood to keep on making pieces. They plan to donate a portion of the proceeds from sale of the art pieces to Mount Carmel.
For more information visit https://lumberchino.com.
Launching the conversation on Newfoundland and Labrador art history
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —
“Future Possible: An Art History of Newfoundland and Labrador” is a book that has been a long time coming, Mireille Eagan says.
While working at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Prince Edward Island, Eagan curated an exhibition marking the 60th anniversary of Newfoundland and Labrador joining Confederation with Canada.
“As I was researching, I noticed that there was very little that existed in terms of the art history of this province,” she said. “There wasn’t even a Wikipedia article.”
Noticing this large gap, “Future Possible” was a book that needed to exist, she said.
As the 70th anniversary approached in 2019, Eagan, now living in St. John’s and working as curator of contemporary art at The Rooms, envisioned filling that gap.
Over two summers, The Rooms held a two-part exhibition. The first looked at the visual culture and visual narratives before the province joined Confederation and the second focused on 1949 onward, Eagan said.
“At its core, it was asking, what are the stories we tell ourselves as a province? It was looking at iconic artworks, it was looking at texts that have been written about this place, and it put these works in conversation with contemporary artworks,” Eagan said.
In the foreword to the book, chief executive officer of The Rooms Anne Chafe described it as a complement to the exhibition and a project that “does not seek to be the final say. It seeks, instead, to launch the conversation.”
History and identity
One example of that conversation between the past and the present mentioned by Eagan is the work of artist Bushra Junaid, who moved to St. John’s from Montreal as a baby. The daughter of a Jamaican mother and Nigerian father, Junaid said her experience growing up in the province in the 1970s, where she always the only Black child in the room, was not like most.
“All of my formative years, my schooling and everything, took place in St. John’s,” she said. “It’s very much shaped my current preoccupation.”
Her interest in history, identity and representation led her to making “Two Pretty Girls…,” which used an archival photograph of Caribbean sugarcane workers from 1903 with text from advertisements for sugar, molasses and rum from archived copies of The Evening Telegram collaged over the women’s clothing.
In her essay “Of Saltfish and Molasses” published in “Future Possible,” she described the work as “(allowing) me to place these women and their labour within the broader historical context of the international trade in commodities that underpinned Caribbean slavery and its afterlife.”
It’s a direct connection between Newfoundland and people in the Caribbean, a historical line not often drawn through the context of the transatlantic slave trade, but one she knows personally through the stories told by her mother, Adassa, about their ancestor, Sisa, who “as a teenager, survived the horrors of the Middle Passage, enduring the voyage from West Africa to Jamaica in the hold of a slave ship (Junaid).”
A book like “Future Possible” allows people to interpret themselves and their past, present and future, Junaid says.
“I appreciate the ways in which they really worked to make it as broad and diverse as possible,” she said. “It’s also striving to tell the Indigenous history of the place, the European settler history … and then also looking for … non-Western backgrounds such as myself. It’s enriching.”
What shapes us
St. John’s writer Lisa Moore contributed an essay called “Five Specimens from Another Time” that weaves together moments from her own life, the province’s history and current realities and the art that has inspired her over the years.
“It’s really interesting to me to see all this work of people that I’ve written about in the past and whose work influenced me, even in my writing of fiction, and then newer artists,” Moore said. “I just think that the book is a total gift.”
With such a rich cultural history ready to be written, she imagines “Future Possible” is just the first of what could be many books about art in the province now that the “ice is cracked.”
“The writers that (Eagan) has chosen to write here are also really exciting critics from all over the province, talking about all kind of different periods in art history,” she said.
As time passes, the meaning of the works in the book becomes richer, she said.
Mary Pratt’s 1974 “Cod Fillets on Tin Foil” and Scott Goudie’s 1991 “Muskrat Falls,” for instance, are two images with seemingly straightforward and simple subject matter. But any viewer looking now, who is aware of the cod moratorium and the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam, would find it difficult to see and interpret these images outside of those contexts.
“Artists, writers, filmmakers … they’re keen observers of culture and the moment that we live in,” Moore said. “They present things that are intangible like the feeling of a moment, or the culmination of social, political and esthetic powers that come together at a given time and shape us.”
“Future Possible: An Art History of Newfoundland and Labrador” is available online and in stores.
Parrott Art Gallery goes virtual to help flatten the curve – The Kingston Whig-Standard
Feeling stir crazy because of COVID and the latest lock-down? Take a virtual trip to Morocco!
On Wednesday, April 14 at 2:30 p.m., the Parrott Gallery will host Lola Reid Allin’s Armchair Traveler online presentation: “Morocco: Sea, Sand and Summit”. Allin is an accomplished photographer, pilot, writer and speaker. Travel with her through the land of dramatic contrast and hidden jewels, busy markets and medieval cities, and enjoy some virtual sun.
For more information and to register for this free online event, please visit bellevillelibrary.ca/armchair-traveller.php. The Armchair Traveller Morocco photography exhibit is also available to view through the Parrott Gallery website until mid-May.
Even though our gallery is currently closed to the public, our exhibitions are all available to view online. Sam Sakr’s show “The Housing Project” is certain to bring a smile to your face. His collection of mixed media artwork will take you to a playful land of fantastical creatures that inhabit imaginary, stylized cityscapes. If your spirit needs uplifting, you need to see to see this show. I hope that everyone will be able to view Sakr’s work both online and then in our gallery after the lock-down ends in May. Without a doubt, it will be worth the wait to see it again in-person when we re-open.
Another exhibition that you can currently visit on the Parrott Gallery website is the group show “Spring Sentiments: a Reflection of Art in Isolation”. This was a collaborative effort by the 39 artists who submitted their work, our staff who put the show together in the gallery and online, and our guest curator Jessica Turner. We are thrilled that Jessica was able to transcribe her experience with this show into a final paper for her Curatorial Studies BFA degree at OCADU.
The fact that we have had to close our doors just as this show was opening is a sad reflection of the theme as the audience must now reflect on this artwork at home, in isolation. The up-side to viewing this exhibition online is that one can read the artist statements that accompany the work and get a more in depth view of the artists’ perspectives. We encourage viewers to support our artists by sending in their comments and to vote for their favourites in the show by following the appropriate link on the webpage.
When you can’t come in to our building, the Parrott Gallery will bring the artwork to you. And then when the sun and flowers come out in May, and when it is safe to return to our gallery on the third floor of the Belleville Public Library, we hope to see you all again.
For questions about our online talk, our shows, or to purchase any of the artwork please call us at 613-968-6731 x 2040 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wendy Rayson-Kerr is the Acting Curator at the John M. Parrott Art Gallery.
Couple accidentally paint over art worth $500K at South Korea gallery
A young couple damaged a $500,000 piece of art on display in South Korea last month after they mistook some nearby cans and brushes as an invitation to smear paint on the artwork.
CCTV footage captured the moment when the man and woman started splattering paint on the graffiti on March 28 at the Lotte World Mall in Seoul. Exhibition staff say the couple daubed, splattered and rubbed the paint on the display, causing extensive damage to the wall-sized piece of art.
“They thought they were allowed to do that as participatory art and made a mistake,” Kang Wook, who runs the exhibition, told Reuters.
The piece was a valuable work of art by U.S. graffiti artist JonOne, who made it in front of a live audience in Seoul in 2016. The artwork was later turned into a display with paint cans and brushes arranged nearby wherever it’s shown.
Police reviewed the CCTV footage and arrested the couple shortly after they defaced the graffiti. They were later released without charges after the gallery accepted their explanation that it was an honest mistake.
“We are currently in discussions with the artist about whether to restore it,” Kang said.
The gallery has since added a sign to the display that reads: “Do not touch.”
It’s not the first time a careless gallery visitor has damaged a piece of art on camera. In 2015, a schoolboy in Taiwan accidentally tripped and punched a hole through a $1.5-million painting that he used to break his fall.
—With files from Reuters
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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