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This was the year of public art in Toronto – The Globe and Mail

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You’ll need to pass an attendant and enter a storefront space next to a Service Ontario office to see Akshata Naik’s Bloody Boats, an eye-catching wall covered with red paper boats as part of a larger piece about immigration.Vito Amati/Handout

During a lively reception at Toronto’s Union Station, an unmasked crowd of artists, curators and culturecrats gathered to celebrate what the city has designated as a year devoted to public art. Upstairs, around and about the echoing Great Hall, there was a Day of the Dead altar, aerial views of disastrous South American mining projects funded with Canadian money, and a photographic mural that inserted images of enslaved servants into a crowd of commuters. Downstairs, in the bowels of the newly renovated transit hub, there was vodka, beer and charcuterie boards for the initiated.

At this delayed party for a delayed project, it was finally time to toast Toronto’s decision to devote more money, more space and more thought to murals, sculptures and pop-up exhibitions in 2021-22. Public art is no longer just some chunk of bronze plopped down on the street, but as the project infiltrates parks, plazas and shopping malls in the 10 months ahead, it raises questions about its audience. Who is public art serving and how? What about the uninitiated?

One of the most prominently displayed pieces at Union Station is House of Bâby, a large lenticular print showing a contemporary commuter crowd in which 18 figures appear and disappear according to your viewing angle. It is the work of Camal Pirbhai and Camille Turner, artists who have investigated the slave-owning history of James Bâby, an early 19th-century Toronto landowner. Their research shows Bâby enslaved 18 Black, Indigenous and Métis people and now, in a prime civic space, the artists have represented them as ghostly figures re-emerging from a conveniently forgotten history. In a regular year, tens of thousands could be expected to walk by House of Bâby every day. Even if a tiny percentage bother to stop and read the text about the figures, the work will have made a mark.

Union Station notwithstanding, one of the goals of the city’s strategy is to place more art in underserved locations. For historic and financial reasons, most of Toronto’s vast public art collection, which originated long before the city’s amalgamation with its inner suburbs, is located downtown. Monuments and memorials, such as the forbidding statue of Sir Adam Beck on University Avenue or that bizarrely retro tribute to multiculturalism in front of Union Station, tend to be erected on ceremonial routes or in historic parks. Developers are asked to commit one per cent of their building budgets to public art but those works, whether the developers commission the art themselves or just hand the money to the city, are clustered where the most dense and expensive development takes place.

Escaped slave and local resident Joshua Glover was erected last summer in the new Etobicoke park that bears his name.Courtesy of ArtworxTO

So, ArtworxTO, as the year-long project is dubbed, reaches out to the suburbs by pooling money and identifying new locations. Sometimes, this is just a matter of catch-up: A statue of Black abolitionist, escaped slave and local resident Joshua Glover was erected last summer in the new Etobicoke park that bears his name. But the city’s plan also includes a series of year-long community hubs located in Downsview, Etobicoke and Scarborough, expanding the definition of public art to include temporary installations, free indoor exhibitions and performances in shopping malls or other public buildings.

These create more premeditated and curated encounters than the conventional stroll by a graffiti-busting mural or forgotten old monument. At the Cloverdale Mall, for example, you’ll need to pass an attendant and enter a storefront space next to the Service Ontario office to see Akshata Naik’s Bloody Boats, an eye-catching wall covered with red paper boats as part of a larger piece about immigration. That takes some commitment from the Cloverdale shopper.

Traditionally, an encounter with public art is serendipitous, the sculpture or mural providing an unlooked-for presence in the urban space. That is, after all, why public art often makes people angry. Lately, Torontonians have hotly debated the merits of Toronto Man, an oversized statue of a man in a dress shirt clasping a condo tower to his chest that has been placed at Yonge and St. Clair. Is the piece celebrating development or criticizing it? And, in 2018, citizens lambasted a brightly coloured wedge of steel girders erected at Bathurst and Vaughan that some believe will distract drivers.

Perhaps the real problem is that neither is particularly successful – the first both bombastic and ambiguous, the second an unimaginative use of the space.

Seeking some of the many new pieces flagged on the ArtworxTO’s fabulously comprehensive website – it covers hundreds of art works, old and new – makes you realize how hard it is to craft successful public art. Whether populist or lofty in its intentions, good public art animates effortlessly, such as the trompe-l’oeil mural with which Derek Besant decorated the Flatiron building on Front Street in 1980 or the two giant circles designed for the Bay-Adelaide Centre by Micah Lexier in 2017. Asking people to plan their viewing, enter a specific building or follow dense thematic schemes seems to defeat the purpose: The art should introduce itself to them, not vice versa.

At Downsview, there is one new piece that does command the visitor to go the distance. On the top of a high knoll, bright blue flags can be seen from across the park. Those who make the climb are rewarded with an explanation of a wind rose, a system for representing prevailing winds that would have been used to position the runways of the former Downsview airport. Two flags featuring petroglyphic figures – a turtle and a traveller – have been added to the first piece by Mi’kmaq artists Chris and Greg Mitchell to acknowledge the Indigenous presence on the site long before any plane landed. From the top of that hill you can see the city spread out before you; it’s a place that seems to demand a marker, and now it has one.

This interactive structure at Downsview, created by Future Simple Studio features a circle of vibrant blue flags attached to a radial network of 32 square arches arranged in a compass-like formation. They resemble a huge wind rose.Cinematoscape/Courtesy of ID8 Downsview

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Art heist at Kelowna gallery takes four minutes – Vancouver Sun

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The stolen sculptures included bronze, stone, and glass pieces. Altogether, the pieces weighed more than 300 pounds.

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KELOWNA — Art thieves were in and out of a Kelowna gallery in four minutes early Saturday morning, stealing 11 sculptures worth almost $70,000.

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Two masked men broke into Gallery 421 in the South Pandosy business district, triggering an alarm at 1:58 a.m. They fled at 2:02 a.m., according to a surveillance camera.

“It was most definitely targeted. They knew exactly what pieces they wanted to steal,” gallery co-owner Kelly Hanna said Monday. “They were fast, but their movements were deliberate. It wasn’t helter-skelter.”

The stolen sculptures included bronze, stone, and glass pieces. Altogether, the pieces weighed more than 135 kilograms.

“We’re going to put the word out to other galleries, pawnshops, and art houses about what was stolen,” Hanna said. It’s most likely the thieves will try to sell the pieces outside of Kelowna, either in Vancouver or the U.S., she said.

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One thief was 5-foot-10, medium build, and wore a grey hoodie. The other was 5-foot-6, also of medium build, and was wearing blue pants with white runners.

The stolen pieces included works by artists Vilem Zach, Michael Hermesh, Vance Theoreet, and Jeff Holmwood.

Hanna and co-owner Ken Moen are offering a $1,000 reward to anyone providing information with police that leads to an arrest.

Hanna and Moen bought the gallery, which opened in 2001, two years ago. Hanna said there have been smash-and-grabs of items such as computer equipment before, but never thefts of works of art.


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Can New Technology Bring Authentic And Transparent Trust To The Art World? Like VIN Numbers For Art-Works. – Forbes

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In 1987, I was lucky enough to attend the auction of Vincent Van Gogh’s Vase With Fifteen Sunflowers at Christie’s in London. At the time, the sale price of $39.7 million was staggering.  Inflation- adjusted, that’s $127 million today. Two years later, in 1989, the Dallas Cowboys were sold for $140 million. In November 2017, Leonardo Da Vinci’s, Salvator Mundi, was sold for over $450 million. The prestige associated with rare assets (Forbes estimates that the Dallas Cowboys are now valued at over $5.7 billion) has a lot to do with the market value of uncommonly traded assets. Still, authenticating the origin and history of a sports team is easy.  But to do the same thing for expensive artworks has always been incredibly difficult.

The art market has seen extraordinary growth in its size and the value of its assets over the past 25 years and longer.  Living artists are now able to sell their artworks at significant values at market entry – what are called primary market sales – during their lifetime and to see significant rises in the value of their art including in the secondary market. This is a relatively new experience for the market.  History’s old masters and more modern artists never got to experience these trends during their lifetimes. Art market auction sales tipped $50 billion in 2021, and the unofficial private sector of the market is probably another $50 billion. Think about a $100 billion annual sales industry, that is based on trillions of dollars of assets, that all need to be authenticated, secured and monitored for many different purposes ranging from insurance to sales values and other market opportunities.

Our guest for today’s podcast is Lawrence Shindell, he is the Chairman, President and CEO of LMI Group International, Inc., headquartered in New York. LMI Group is a strategic investment bank-like firm that represents artwork owners and investors in the authentication underwriting and market release of major orphaned artworks – artworks that the data strongly indicate are by blue-chip artists and have expected market values between $15,000,000 and $200,000,000.   A trial lawyer by background, Mr. Shindell holds licenses in a number of U.S. jurisdictions including admission to the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.  Before founding LMI Group in early 2018, Mr. Shindell served as the Chief Executive Officer of a regulated U.S. title insurance company catering to the international art industry. 

His insights about the art market and its needs and trends over the next decade – ranging from technologies to solve the challenges of art object identification and authenticity to NFTs – provide a glimpse into a very complex industry sector. It is often said that the world’s art serves as the tree rings of society. Advances in technologies can bring efficiency to this market sector just as technology has brought efficiency to other markets, and can give us a sense of comfort about the integrity of these high value assets as we visit art museums, collect art, invest in art, or engage in and around art in many other ways. 

 Artwork, both old and new, and both digital and physical, make up a huge market that offers cultural engagement as well as incredible economic upsides for investors who invest in art. Improvements in four areas can change the level of comfort for investors.

  • Anti-money laundering – legislation that is increasingly offering transparency but also putting pressure on market actors to verify source of funds, and seller and purchaser legal status and identity, whether for purchasing or selling art or using art as collateral for loans, for example. 
  • The advent of the blockchain and more recently NFTs are revolutionizing the ways in which we link irrefutable identifying references to physical and digital art, as these assets journey through the market via purchases, gifts, sales, exhibitions and events of condition-conservation among other events, and in the case of NFTs, especially as a medium in which to create art in the first instance, as a means to create verifiable fractional and complete ownership interests.
  • Different technologies will separately allow us to imprint identifications on existing, secondary market physical works that can distinguish these objects from copies and also enable a conclusive linking of the information around the object captured via the blockchain to the exact physical object. 
  • Advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning science and technologies that can aide traditional measures to appraise and verify art in complement with these other technologies. 

The idea of reliable object identification is nothing new.  We use VIN numbers for automobiles and CUSIP numbers for the securities industry. And we use DNA markers to authenticate the origin and history of, for example, cloning material. 

Hollywood has been using tales of the historical art world for decades, the most known example is perhaps the 1999 version of The Thomas Crown Affair, starring Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo in the lead roles. While interests and tastes in the art world have evolved from old masters to modernists to an expansive contemporary art market today, the art market as a whole shows no signs of slowing down. 

We can expect to see continued rapid growth including with the introduction of NFTs and factional ownership options. Each of the issues just highlighted are central to LMI Group and its specialization in authenticating to conclusive factual standards culturally and historically important works of art that have been lost to history but can reliably be reintroduced to the cultural sector, and in applying its expertise to cultural heritage initiatives that involve complex authentication of historical objects and information.  

             LMI Group is at the forefront of advances that are designed to enable objective, data-based analyses and decision-making in the art and cultural heritage sector.

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Artists Invited To Enter Artwork In Florida Strawberry Festival Fine Art Show – Osprey Observer

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Artists young and old, professional and amateur, are encouraged to enter original artwork into the 2022 Florida Strawberry Festival Fine Art Show. Your artwork is eligible to win a ribbon and cash prize.

A call to artists has been issued by the East Hillsborough Art Guild (EHAG) for the 2022 Florida Strawberry Festival Fine Art Show, which runs from Thursday, March 3 through Sunday, March 13 at the Festival Grounds in Plant City. The show will be held in the Milton E. Hull Building.

Adults are divided into professional groups (entry fee is $15) and amateur groups (entry fee is $12). Adults can enter oils, acrylics, watercolors, graphic/mixed media and sculptures. The entry fee for miniature art (2D media) and sculptures (3D art) is $12.

The youth divisions are by ages. Youth can enter oils, acrylics, watercolors, graphic/mixed media and sculptures. The entry fee is $5.

Adults can enter up to four entries, but no more than two in the same division. Youth can enter up to two entries.

Entries are eligible for substantial monetary awards. This includes $100 for the Strawberry Theme Award (an entry must include strawberries or reflect the current festival theme of ‘#1 for FUN!’). There is also $300 for Best of Show.

There are prizes for first ($150) and second ($100) place in all adult and youth divisions. Adult amateurs, miniature and sculpture entries receive $100 for first place and $75 for second. Adults who receive third and fourth place receive rosette ribbons.

For youth, first place receives $25 and second place receives $15. Entries who win third and fourth place receive a rosette ribbon. All youth participants receive participation ribbons.

Artists who do not win one of the above prizes are eligible for a Business Leaders Choice Award. Area residents can also become sponsors for the In Honor Award and select a winning artist who will receive a ribbon and $50.

Space is limited and entries are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Early entries are accepted until Friday, February 11. Artists can mail their entry form and fee to East Hillsborough Art Guild, P.O. Box 3055, Plant City, FL 33564. Artwork must be brought to the Festival Grounds on Saturday, February 19 from 12 Noon-6 p.m.

Chairperson Karen Crumley said, “Our entry day was moved to Saturday to allow easier access to more working people or parents with school age children.”

Entry forms and rules can be found at www.flstrawberryfestival.com. If you have questions, please email Crumley at kscrumley@yahoo.com or call 924-3829.

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