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How I learned to stop worrying and love online art galleries – The Globe and Mail

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Joanne Virgo and her son Keenan look at an installation called The Brain, in the Douglas Coupland exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, on Feb. 15, 2015.

Matthew Sherwood/The Globe and Mail

It is from a position of great privilege that I acknowledge some of my greatest losses of this time have been the inability to travel and the inability to visit art galleries and museums. I have longed for both of these experiences like missing a faraway friend, one you are not sure when you can see again.

I have always resisted the online art experience – other than for research, it seemed as if it was beside the point. You need to be in front of the piece to really appreciate it, dammit.

COVID-19 has taught me that there’s another way to look at it.

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The National Gallery of Canada’s excellent series of “Virtual NGC” videos were a pandemic balm for me. Tom Thomson’s The Jack Pine, Janet Cardiff’s Forty-Part Motet, Annie Pootoogook’s Cape Dorset Freezer are explored in detail by curatorial staff.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, a place I haven’t visited in probably 15 years, has a “3 Minutes with an Artwork” series, which I also recommend. You can learn a lot in three minutes, as it turns out, as in a knowledgeable volunteer guide’s talk about Marc-Aurèle Fortin’s painting Storm Brewing over Hochelaga, during which she discusses its contemporary resonance in the age of COVID-19.

Google’s Arts and Culture app – which I have spent countless hours using during the shutdown – allowed me to “visit” some of my bucket-list museums that I began to worry I might never actually get to. The glory of Paris’s Musée D’Orsay – the museum itself, its magnificent collection and the way the works are installed – was evident, even on my little iPhone. (The experience is better on a larger screen, though, like your laptop.)

I was moved almost to tears by Diego Rivera’s murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) (a place I have somehow never visited, despite having grown up in not-very-far-away Toronto) and by the work Frida Kahlo produced during their time there. Then I had a good laugh at the headline of a newspaper clipping the DIA included in its online exhibition Frida Kahlo in Detroit: “Wife of the Master Mural Painter Gleefully Dabbles in Works of Art.”

The Google Art experience was particularly effective, I realized, when visiting places I have been and loved. “At” the AGO, I spent time with paintings I have seen for years at every visit, so familiar yet so far away right now – works by Emily Carr, Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven. Augustus John’s The Marchesa Casati, James Tissot’s La Demoiselle de Magasin, Paul Peel’s The Young Biologist. Seeing these works – even on my computer screen – felt like visiting home.

Visiting the Vancouver Art Gallery (which has now re-opened) online was a particularly emotional experience; the only way at the time that I could visit the place I have toured through countless times, for work and for pleasure.

Its online exhibition offering was Douglas Coupland’s 2014 show “everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything.” Looking at its intricate and whimsical Lego towers, colourful Pop Head series and his massive installation The Brain (made with thousands of found items), I felt such joy remembering what art can do, and such a loss wondering when it will ever be the same again.

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Vankleek Hill Fair-inspired painting will be part of art show in Texas – The Review Newspaper

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Crystal Beshara’s touching watercolour, “Heart Whispers” (inspired by a photo she took at the 2019 Vankleek Hill Fair) is headed to Texas for The Southwestern Watercolor Society 57th Annual Exhibition.Since moving back to the area, Canadian contemporary realist artist Crystal Beshara’s renewed sense of “self” has permeated her latest works of art and her career is beginning to take off on the international art scene.

As a child, Crystal spent many summers attending (and even participated in events at) the Vankleek Hill Fair. The nerves, the excitement, the scents and sounds of the country fair have had a lingering impact on her fondness for the area. Now as an adult (and mother),  it was pure nostalgia to capture this precious exchange just after their line class, between young Piper and her massive companion Irene, a majestic Clydesdale owned by the Heatlie Family.  “I couldn’t believe how tiny Piper kept up with Irene’s gate when they trotted in front of the crowd last year. She was all but lifted off the ground!” The draft horses have always been a favourite of Beshara’s and this quiet, fleeting moment was too beautiful to resist.

Born to two artistic parents, Beshara has been painting and drawing since a child but moved to Ottawa to pursue her studies and a career. After 20 years of living in the Nation’s Capital as an artist, illustrator and successful arts educator, a new relationship brought her back quite unexpectedly to the area where she grew up and the genesis of her artistic journey, in Prescott Russell. Returning to her rural roots has brought clarity and created a powerful shift in her latest paintings.

“It wasn’t until I had moved in with my husband that I realized how impactful being back in the country could be. My senses are alive again. A veil has been lifted. My vision is clearer and most importantly my heart has opened again. There’s nothing quite like that feeling of “coming home” metaphorically and, in my case, also geographically”.

“I try to paint almost daily and honour my love for the natural world both through my artwork and teaching philosophy. My environment is key to my creative flow and I am so grateful that  I can just step out of my light filled studios, clip flowers from my garden, take in the rolling farmlands, meet up with local cowboys & cowgirls, or take a stroll in the woods rather than working almost exclusively from photos in a dark basement and hustling every day as I was in the city. I feel closer and more connected to the world… my childhood sense of wonder has returned and that is reflected in the stories I tell through my artwork”.

This guiding principal seems to be paying off as her work is being noted by American art markets. Last year she won The Award of Excellence for her painting “Lean on Me” (at the Steamboat Art Museum in Colorado Springs), was invited to teach a hugely popular workshop in (Wyoming), exhibited alongside fellow Canadian Wildlife Master Robert Bateman (Cincinnati) and Settlers West Galleries (Arizona) and The Steamboat Art Museum (Colorado Springs). Currently, Beshara’s oil painting “Cowgirl Up!” is featured in FINE ART CONNOISSEUR MAGAZINE, July / August edition profiling North America’s best Equine Artists. Keep an eye out for more news as she gears up for a solo show in Ottawa featuring local farm scenes from the Prescott Russell area.

“I think creative integrity and staying true to the subject matter that really lights your fire is crucial to honouring yourself and your work. It is indeed WORK and requires a lot of discipline and I am not without my discouraged days, but I am hopeful my steadfastness will pay off in the long run.”

“Heart Whispers” watercolour 16”x20”  (Limited Edition prints are available through the artist)

“Lean on Me” Oil on canvas 24×24 , Private Collection

“Cowgirl Up!” Oil on canvas 20×20, Available through the artist

About Crystal Beshara:

Crystal Beshara is an award winning contemporary realist painter. Crystal works in watercolour, oil and graphite and holds a BFA in Studio from The University of Ottawa as well as a Diploma in Botanical Illustration from the UK. She strives to create strong narrative in her work, combining realism and expressionism to give emotional charge to her rural subject matter. Her work has been featured in numerous publications including International Artist Magazine. Recently Crystal was awarded Best in Watercolour for her watercolour painting “These Boots” at the annual SKB Rendezvous in Wyoming and the Award for Excellence for her oil painting “Lean On Me” at the Steamboat Art Museum in Colorado Springs.

Crystal’s studio is situated in L’Orignal Ontario in Prescott Russell where she lives with her fiancé and their two dogs. To book a viewing, inquire about commissions or local and international art retreats, visit the artist’s website.

www.crystalbeshara.com

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Tiny worlds spark imagination at Art Gallery of Regina – Regina Leader-Post

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Artists Dick Moulding and Ed Finch will bring their creations to life during Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. Moulding makes miniaturized farm machines, among them a baler that makes tiny bales of grass.

Ed Finch stands behind the mechanical rollercoaster he built. BRANDON HARDER/Regina Leader-Post

Finch has fabricated carnival rides, including a tabletop roller coaster, and a replica of the train at Ogema with tiny people inside.

Jason Nelson created a literal tiny world, a globe that rotates on an abstract ocean.

Frans Lotz’s mini jungle gym hearkens to a geodesic dome built for world’s fairs.

Kathleen and Jeff Coleclough made felted bison and horses, which stand among succulent plants. Outdoors, in the gallery’s sunny courtyard, there are more succulents — with more troll dolls hiding among them — and birdhouses in various designs.

These plants are a small consolation for fans of NDH’s annual Secret Gardens Tour, which couldn’t happen last month because of COVID-19.

REGINA, SASK : August 7, 2020  -- A number of planters featuring trolls and succulent plants are on display as part of the Tiny Worlds exhibition taking place at the Regina Art Gallery on Elphinstone Street in Regina, Saskatchewan on August 7, 2020. BRANDON HARDER/ Regina Leader-Post
A number of planters featuring trolls and succulent plants are part of A Tiny Worlds Fair. BRANDON HARDER/Regina Leader-Post

Artists Kristin Mae Evans, Don List, Daniel Paquet and Annalisa Raho also feature in the exhibition, which runs through Aug. 21.

A closing reception will see live performances by Tom Brown, Mohit, Tessa Rae, Aaron Santos, Renz Rivero and Jerry Siphanthong on Aug. 21, 5-7 p.m.

The Art Gallery of Regina is at 2420 Elphinstone St. Current hours are noon to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. The gallery has adapted to the pandemic, installing hand sanitizer stations and one-way traffic arrows.

More information will be available at newdancehorizons.ca.

amartin@postmedia.com

REGINA, SASK : August 7, 2020  -- A piece entitled 19 COVID trolls is on display as part of the Tiny Worlds exhibition taking place at the Regina Art Gallery on Elphinstone Street in Regina, Saskatchewan on August 7, 2020. BRANDON HARDER/ Regina Leader-Post
19 COVID Trolls, created by Robin Poitras. BRANDON HARDER/Regina Leader-Post
REGINA, SASK : August 7, 2020  -- A tiny jungle gym is on display as part of the Tiny Worlds exhibition taking place at the Regina Art Gallery on Elphinstone Street in Regina, Saskatchewan on August 7, 2020. BRANDON HARDER/ Regina Leader-Post
A tiny jungle gym by Frans Lotz. BRANDON HARDER/Regina Leader-Post
REGINA, SASK : August 7, 2020  -- A piece entitled Earth Ship is on display as part of the Tiny Worlds exhibition taking place at the Regina Art Gallery on Elphinstone Street in Regina, Saskatchewan on August 7, 2020. BRANDON HARDER/ Regina Leader-Post
A piece entitled Earth Ship is on display as part of A Tiny World’s Fair exhibition at the Art Gallery of Regina. BRANDON HARDER/Regina Leader-Post

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An urban art gallery: House of PainT building crowd-sourced map of murals, graffiti in Ottawa – Ottawa Citizen

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It still happens, but not as much.

I think it’s totally fair to complain about tags and vandalism that don’t add to the beauty of a space, but the red tape around creating art, especially when there’s permission, is really unnecessary and I think is to the detriment of our arts and culture ecosystem in Ottawa.

What do you think has led to the increasing acceptance of this kind of art in Ottawa?

When you look at other world-class cities … their graffiti and their murals are a tourist destination. There are a lot of cities in Latin America, Mexico City especially, where there’s just public art everywhere — mosaic art, installations, murals, graffiti — and it’s beautiful and it’s stunning and people go to see that.

Veronica Roy, House of PainT’s festival director, stands in front of a piece of street art in the Glebe. House of PainT has launched a crowd-sourced map of murals and graffiti in Ottawa so people can explore urban art. Ashley Fraser/Postmedia Ashley Fraser/Postmedia

The existence of public murals and public art adds so much character to a city, and I think that for a long time, Ottawa was missing out on that and the municipal politicians and policymakers are now in a position where we’re recognizing that murals and graffiti are an attraction.

(Also,) as millennials are in their mid-to-late 30s and early 40s and we’re coming into these positions of power and influence in our communities and in our professional spheres, the attitude that we have towards graffiti and public art and a lot of different cultural issues is now being taken more seriously, and we have a voice at the table to influence this change.

To your earlier point, there’s now an obvious commercial incentive to allowing this kind of art in cities — it’s a tourism draw, it draws people to different neighbourhoods. Do you think it’s frustrating to people who’ve been involved with this artistic community for years?

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