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Revival House mural part of local push for more public-art projects in Stratford – The Beacon Herald

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Two local artists are nearly finished creating a mural on the side of a shipping container in a Stratford restaurant’s parking lot as part of an initiative by the Stratford City Centre BIA and the regional tourism organization to bring more public art to the city.

Stratford artists Claire Scott and Amparo Villalobos were recently commissioned to a paint a mural on a shipping container in the parking lot at Revival House in downtown Stratford by the Stratford City Centre BIA in an effort to bring more colour and public art to the city. (Galen Simmons/The Beacon Herald)

Over the past few weeks, those who have passed by the rear parking lot at Revival House in Stratford may have noticed a colourful, new addition to the normally drab space.

At the far east side of the lot, Stratford artists Claire Scott and Amparo Villalobos have been painting a colourful and striking mural on the side of a large shipping container as part of a public-art initiative launched this year by the Stratford City Centre BIA and RTO4, the regional tourism organization for Waterloo and surrounding region.

“For a number of years, we’ve been looking at different walls, speaking with different owners of buildings, and just trying to convince them in general to be able to secure a wall for a mural, which is a little bit more difficult than you would imagine,” said Rebecca Scott, general manager of the Stratford City Centre BIA.

“We’re in this premier art town, and we don’t have a ton of public art going on.”

In January, the BIA partnered with RTO4 to embark on one of these mural projects. Though they had a Toronto artist lined up, the project was pushed to the side as the BIA focused its effort and budget on pandemic responses and recovery efforts.

But the project wasn’t forgotten and, by the time summer began to wind down, Rebecca Scott approached Revival House restaurant owner Rob Wigan about having some local artists paint a mural on a shipping container sitting in the restaurant’s back parking lot.

“We didn’t think we were going to be able to do a mural this year, and then toward the end of the summer we started to look at some of the objectives we had throughout the year and we tried to start the ball rolling again after a big pause,” Rebecca Scott said.

Without the time to secure permission and permits to do a mural on the side of a building, the Revival House shipping container seemed to be the perfect way to bring some colour to the city and start business owners and local artists thinking about where and how additional murals could be painted in the years to come.

For the Revival House Mural, Claire Scott and Villalobos were asked to design something that fit the title, #LoveWins – one that Rebecca Scott and the BIA felt was fitting in a year when every member of the community has come together to support one another through the pandemic.

“The phrase #LoveWins is pretty self-explanatory,” Villalobos said Friday, alongside Claire Scott, as the pair took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to get the mural as close to complete as possible. “We’ve tried to incorporate the idea of freedom and a combination of all the things we feel are attractive about Stratford and things that correspond with the experiences we’ve had over the years in Stratford.”


Stratford artists Claire Scott and Amparo Villalobos work on their #LoveWins mural as collaborator Kris Kleist captures their progress on camera in the rear parking lot at Revival House in Stratford Friday afternoon. (Galen Simmons/The Beacon Herald)

Though the artists submitted a basic design to the BIA depicting what they intended to paint, they said they were given a lot of freedom to explore their creativity and almost improvise the piece as they worked.

The result of that improvisational art is a symphony of colour and imagery, both recognizable and abstract, that immediately draws the eyes of passersby.

“We’re really just building upon layers and feeling the moment.  … It’s kind of this reflection to inspire artists to keep doing what they’re doing and symbolizing the appreciation for the spaces that we do have,” Claire Scott said.

Both the BIA and the artists hope this mural and those to come will help transform more of Stratford’s outdoor spaces into places where locals and visitors can congregate – once it’s safe to do so – to enjoy live events and music.

Claire Scott and Villalobos expect they will complete their mural by the end of this weekend. Those who pass by and like what they see are encouraged to snap a photo of the mural and share it on Instagram with #LoveWins.

gsimmons@postmedia.com

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Irina Antonova, head of top Moscow art museum, dies at 98 – The Record (New Westminster)

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MOSCOW — Irina Antonova, a charismatic art historian who presided over one of Russia’s top art museums for more than half a century, has died at 98.

The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts said Antonova, its president, died in Moscow on Monday. It said Tuesday that Antonova last week tested positive for coronavirus, which exacerbated her chronic heart ailments.

Antonova began working at the Pushkin museum after her graduation in 1945, and in 1961 she became its director. She held the job until 2013, when she shifted into the ceremonial post of its president. The 52-year tenure made her the world’s longest-serving director of a major art museum.

As the Pushkin museum director, Antonova spearheaded major art exhibitions that saw the exchange of art treasures between the Pushkin Museum and top international art collections despite the Cold War-era tensions and constraints. Those exchanges, facilitated by her extensive personal contacts with colleagues in the museum world, brought Antonova wide acclaim worldwide.

She also was very active in promoting the museum’s treasures to the public.

Antonova has received numerous Russian and foreign state awards.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the president often met Antonova at the museum and “highly appraised her deep expert knowledge.”

Antonova will be buried in Moscow’s Novodevichy cemetery alongside her husband, who also was an art historian. Funeral ceremonies will be closed to the public amid coronavirus restrictions.

The Associated Press


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Art world star gives back by buying work of the undiscovered – Bowen Island Undercurrent

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NEW YORK — Painter Guy Stanley Philoche, a star in the New York art world, had wanted to treat himself to a fancy watch after a hugely successful gallery show. Then the pandemic hit, and he feared for all the struggling artists who haven’t been so lucky.

So he gave up his $15,000 Rolex dreams and went on a different kind of buying spree, putting out a call on Instagram in late March to any artist anywhere who had creations to sell. The submissions rolled in, hundreds at a time.

He’s spent about $60,000 so far with plans to continue as long as he can, and Philoche’s own patrons have taken notice and asked him to make purchases on their behalf as well.

“It’s about artists helping artists,” said the 43-year-old Philoche, who came to America from Haiti with his family at age 3, nearly nothing to their names.

“I’m not a rich man,” he said, “but I owe a big debt to the art world. Art saved my life, and I made a promise to myself that once I made it, to always buy from artists who hadn’t gotten their big break.”

Philoche has a budget, seeking out works in the $300 to $500 range. He buys only what he loves, from as far away as London and as close as the studio next to his in East Harlem. An abstract mixed-media piece by Michael Shannon, his studio neighbour, was his first purchase, leading Philoche to include him and others he’s discovered in an upcoming group gallery show.

About half the artists Philoche has chosen are people he knows, many in New York. The others sent him direct messages on Instagram with sample work in hopes of being picked.

Philoche, who went to art school in Connecticut where his family settled, has lined the walls of his tiny apartment with his Philoche Collection During Covid, ranging from graffiti-inspired work and portraiture to pop art and a huge pistol done in bright yellow, red and blue paint.

Philoche’s own work goes for up to $125,000 a piece. During a recent interview at his studio, he slid out from storage large canvases from his breakthrough, Mark Rothko-esque abstract Untitled Series and a collection of female nudes with duct tape over their mouths. Often whimsical, he has also produced paintings inspired by Monopoly and other board games, as well as comics such as Charlie Brown.

Among his clients: Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch and Barclay Investments Inc., along with Uma Thurman, George Clooney and fellow artist Julian Schnabel.

Giving back isn’t something the affable Philoche just recently decided to do. Over his 20-plus year career, he has tried to stick to a simple rule to support other artists: Sell a painting, buy a painting. But it was a chance meeting with a friend and fellow artist who was anxious about the pandemic with a baby on the way that set him on his pandemic buying spree.

“I’m not on the first line, but my community was impacted as well,” he said. “It was just the right thing to do. I love waking up in my apartment every morning seeing the walls. There’s paintings on the floor, all over. Some of these people have never sold a painting in their life.”

His feisty French bulldog Picasso at his side, Philoche recalled his own meagre start in New York after he put himself through art school while working full-time as a bartender.

“People didn’t open the doors for me. I had to get into the room through the back door, or through the window,” he said with a laugh. “But now that I’m in the room, with a seat at the table, I have to open doors for these artists.”

Leanne Italie, The Associated Press

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Irina Antonova, head of top Moscow art museum, dies at 98 – Bowen Island Undercurrent

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MOSCOW — Irina Antonova, a charismatic art historian who presided over one of Russia’s top art museums for more than half a century, has died at 98.

The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts said Antonova, its president, died in Moscow on Monday. It said Tuesday that Antonova last week tested positive for coronavirus, which exacerbated her chronic heart ailments.

Antonova began working at the Pushkin museum after her graduation in 1945, and in 1961 she became its director. She held the job until 2013, when she shifted into the ceremonial post of its president. The 52-year tenure made her the world’s longest-serving director of a major art museum.

As the Pushkin museum director, Antonova spearheaded major art exhibitions that saw the exchange of art treasures between the Pushkin Museum and top international art collections despite the Cold War-era tensions and constraints. Those exchanges, facilitated by her extensive personal contacts with colleagues in the museum world, brought Antonova wide acclaim worldwide.

She also was very active in promoting the museum’s treasures to the public.

Antonova has received numerous Russian and foreign state awards.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the president often met Antonova at the museum and “highly appraised her deep expert knowledge.”

Antonova will be buried in Moscow’s Novodevichy cemetery alongside her husband, who also was an art historian. Funeral ceremonies will be closed to the public amid coronavirus restrictions.

The Associated Press


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