Janet Read has always had a special relationship with water.
Growing up in Shanty Bay on the north shore of Kempenfelt Bay, “I learned to swim at the government dock,” she says, at the age of only three.
And while other kids swam and played in the water, for Read the connection was more visual, and transformative.
“Throw the water up in the air – you’d have diamonds!” she says.
As an artist, Read has continued to be fascinated by the interplay of water, air and light, finding metaphor in the blurring of the boundaries between the elements.
As she works at her art studio, now located on the south shore of Kempenfelt Bay in Innisfil, she is still fascinated by that interplay.
“Water is so changeable, and the atmosphere is changeable,” she says. “It’s always changing…”
One art show curator has called Read’s paintings “allusions of landscape” – abstract expressions of the littoral zone where water meets land, the meeting place between atmosphere and ocean. They can be interpreted as landscapes, but they are not a specific location or site – they are distillations of impressions that evoke wind, clouds, seascapes, fog and ice.
She is inspired by the places she visits, but “I don’t paint by sight. It’s all by memory,” she explains. “I work from my interior imagination…. I start with patches of colour, and then I take it from there.
“It’s a process, figuring out what’s happening.”
When Read has painted a recognizable scene, it’s been largely by accident.
She recently completed a large 30 x 60 canvas, before realizing it looked familiar. “I was totally unconscious,” she says. “When I finished it, I said – it’s a real place!” It was in fact Quliakitsoqu in the Arctic, looking towards Uummannaq, Greenland, a location she visited while on a trip to the high Arctic in 2018.
Read has found inspiration wherever she has lived or travelled – in Port Hope, while in residency at Pouch Cove in Newfoundland, and on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland, and especially her voyage to the Arctic.
There, the experience resulted in a change in her colour palette – shifting towards azure blues and icy aquas, with just a touch of reds and purples, hinting at the wildflowers of the arctic tundra or lights hidden in the ice.
“It’s just the most amazing landscape. It feels like the atmosphere is clearer, higher, more domed,” she says. All of her Arctic works have a sense of space and light that combine to create a transcendental experience for the viewer.
The canvases are large, giving Read the “elbow room” to get physical as she builds the planes, blocks and layers of colour.
“The physicality of a large painting really suits what I am doing,” she says. “What I’m interested in is the water and the atmosphere above the water,” and especially the meeting of air, land and sea.
“It is in our western thinking that things are discreet. The littoral area is where things are interpenetrating, where things interact,” she explains. “I’m not fond of hard distinctions. Everything is interconnected.”
Read describes her recent works as among her most abstract, suggesting that some of her earlier paintings are more obviously landscapes, more “figural.”
Light Opens over Water, a series of drawings in oil and graphite on Duralar, a translucent film, are abstract and luminous but recognizable as landscapes; her Newfoundland collection, Ocean as Vessel, explores not only the relationship between land and sea but also the impact of the loss of the cod fishery, placing the paintings in a cultural context.
There is never any overt symbolism; there is instead an interpretation of imagery and use of colour to express Read’s internal vision.
Curator Christian Bernhard Singer has called her works “landscapes of consciousness,” engaging and challenging the viewer to appreciate the beauty in what can be an immersive experience, suspended between sea, sky and atmosphere.
“It’s that moment,” Read says. “As human beings, light is a metaphor for all human states… We don’t look at one thing. We look at everything in relation to everything.”
Read hopes to be able to return to the Arctic in the fall of 2022. If she does, she won’t be cataloguing the impact of climate change. Instead, she will focus on experiencing a changing world, absorbing not only the viewpoints of the scientists who accompany the voyage, but also the interpretations of the Indigenous people for whom the landscape is home.
“I react as an artist,” she says. “I’m not interested in depicting what I see. I’m interested in what I feel” – and in sharing that emotional vision, through her vibrant works.
If the trip doesn’t take place, she isn’t worried: she has enough memories and imagery stored up to keep painting.
“How does the imagination keep turning that over, and mining that lode? Somehow it does!” she says. Her residency in Newfoundland, for example, “was one of those seminal experiences,” Read says. “It was several years of being propelled by that experience.”
Read’s works have been shown at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, Varley Gallery, Art Gallery of Northumberland, and Orillia Museum of Art and History, where she has been part of the Carmichael Landscape Exhibition. She has also participated in the annual Innisfil Studio Tour, and currently shows at the Rebecca Gallery in Toronto, and the Propeller Artist Centre collective on Queen Street West.
Her Arctic paintings – which include titles like Vernacular of Light; and the wind speaks; and Tundra Light – were part of a solo show, ‘High Arctic Light’ at the Heliconian Club in Toronto, an organization that supports women in the arts and literature. The solo exhibit will be returning to the Heliconian for in-person viewing in May 2022.
Her works can also be viewed online; click here.
'A really important moment:' New art exhibit celebrates Windsor's LGBTQ community – CBC.ca
An exhibit at the Art Gallery of Windsor is shining a light on the experiences of Windsor’s LGBTQ community.
“For me, it’s a really important moment in my life,” explained Meaghan Sweeney, one of the artists on display, who identifies as queer, on the asexual spectrum.
The Pride and Joy Community Art Exhibition, sponsored through an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant, features about 46 artists of all ages, with more than 70 pieces of art featured so far.
Sweeney explained that for a long time, they had a hard time feeling like they belonged or that they were “queer enough.”
“Being able to give myself the space to exist is one of the biggest kindnesses that I can do for myself, and also, one of the best things that people can do for themselves within the community,” they said.
“So that’s also why it was really important for me to be involved with this exhibition.”
Sweeney’s art used playing cards to create representation for the asexual, or ace, community.
Janet MacIsaac, a queer non-binary woman, submitted two pieces of artwork for the exhibit, one of which, The Art of the Flight, represents the the journey of finding love and joy after being a survivor of sexual violence.
“The piece really captures the journey from kind of that place of trauma to a place of kind of reclaiming a sense of love, happiness and pride in who I am and in my body,” they said.
“That journey is something a lot of people go through, and it’s a struggle … to get to that point of loving yourself again is radical and revolutionary. And I’m happy that I was able to kind of channel a lot of the stuff I’ve learned over my years in education and feminism into this piece. So really proud of it.”
The special initiatives co-ordinator with the art gallery, Derrick Carl Biso, who also happens to be MacIsaac’s spouse, has been working on programming for the LGBTQ community for the past year.
They explained that this exhibit is the “capstone project” of everything they’ve been working on.
“Listening to some of the artists speak, I was getting teary-eyed,” Biso said.
“I realize how important this show was and how meaningful it was to me personally. And getting to be in this room and look at all the art on the walls, and I’ve been doing it for a couple of weeks now, I feel so good. I feel so grounded and held by a community.”
Biso added that they feel so much pride and joy with how it’s all turned out, along with being able to include two pieces of their own in the exhibit as well.
The exhibit includes art work on the walls, digital displays — plus an evening gown created by a teenager getting involved in drag.
“I hope it inspires dialogue and conversation about how we can make Windsor a better place for trans and non-binary people and just generally the communities and people here who face marginalization and exclusion,” MacIsaac said.
“But also dialogue about the joy and happiness and pride that we have happening in this community and just the amount of talent, creative talent that we have in the queer and trans community in Windsor.”
Sweeney hopes the work generates excitement among those who identify the same as they do.
“There’s very few opportunities for ace representation,” they said.
“So, I hope that they enjoy that and I hope that people are curious and open and that they do feel like they’re celebrated through what’s going on here today.”
The exhibit is already open to the public, and continues until the end of October.
At Art Basel, No Americans Is No Problem – BNN
(Bloomberg) — The number of attendees at the first VIP day of Art Basel in Switzerland seemed to surprise nearly everyone.
“There were days where no one wanted to go, there were days where we were like, ‘No one’s going to be here, but we have to do it anyway.’ It was very up in the air,” says Marc Glimcher, president of the mega gallery Pace. It was only last week, he says, “that I had a feeling it was going to be good.”
Art Basel is known as the world’s most prestigious art fair, with 272 galleries selling hundreds of million-dollar artworks to the world’s super-rich. During normal years, the anticipation and the hype lead to a (genteel) melee at the opening, as collectors rush to their favorite booths to buy works before they’re spirited away by someone else.
That rush was eliminated in 2020, with the in-person fair canceled entirely and moved to online viewing rooms. Then the 2021 edition was delayed until September. Since then, several fairs have dipped their toes in the art market’s waters, but none have been on the scale—or market import—of Art Basel. This means that the art world has had to wait more than two years for the Swiss fair’s concentration of high quality, high price material to provide a true test of the market.
Initially, enthusiasm appeared to be muted. It would be an overstatement to say that there was a rush for anything but the pre-fair Champagne breakfast, and many attendees seemed content to linger in the convention hall’s courtyard, drinking and talking well after the doors to the hall were unlocked at 11 a.m.
“It feels quieter than previous editions, but it doesn’t feel quiet,” says Alex Logsdail, the executive director of Lisson Gallery, which has locations in New York, London, and Shanghai. “On a regular year, that’s my ideal equilibrium,” he continues. “There needs to be a kind of environment where you can have real conversations—and not 30-second pitches where you’re looking over someone’s shoulder to see who you have to talk to next.”
Most of the talking on the first day seemed to be in German and French, a product of the fact that, even though vaccinated Americans can easily enter Europe, they still need to furnish a negative Covid test to get back into the States. The threat of having to quarantine in Switzerland proved a major deterrent for American collectors who would have otherwise attended.
“It’s weird,” says Wendy Olsoff, co-founder of the New York gallery P.P.O.W. “There’s not the usual hubbub of American voices.”
That, for Olsoff, came as something of a relief. She’d brought a variety of pieces to her booth, the most striking of which was a single work by the late artist David Wojnarowicz, composed of 44 photographs taken from 1978 to 1979, which carries the asking price of $850,000. “A lot of people coming from America, who actually we don’t do any business with, take up a lot of energy,” she says. “So having a minute with collectors we don’t know is great.”
Nice, But Not Necessary
That seemed to be the somewhat surprising takeaway from the most Eurocentric Art Basel in recent memory: Even though the U.S. market still represents an estimated 42% of the global art market’s sales value, Americans themselves are nice but not necessary for business.
“There are not many Americans here,” says Glimcher, who sold 20 artworks in the fair’s first three hours. “But evidently, we didn’t need them.”
This year, Glimcher filled his booth with comparatively affordable artworks by the likes of Robert Longo, Sam Gilliam, and Latifa Echakhch; the most expensive was a painting by Chuck Close, priced at $5 million. “We didn’t go out and hunt down $20 million paintings for this fair, I just wasn’t that confident,” Glimcher says. “But I definitely wish I had.”
Art Basel is split into three main areas. Unlimited, which opens a day earlier than the main fair, is located on the second floor of a convention hall adjacent to the building that houses all the booths; there, galleries traditionally stage such large-scale installations as, say, Urs Fischer’s house made entirely of bread, that they hope will be destined for a museum or private foundation.
In the main fair’s hall, the ground floor is primarily filled with dealers selling expensive contemporary and blue chip art. Upstairs is for younger galleries—age, in this case, being a vibe rather than anything specific—showing generally less established artists at lower price points.
A European Rush
On the second floor it was the same story. “The majority of the Americans we work with on a regular basis are not coming this year,” says Daniel Wichelhaus, the head of Société gallery in Berlin. That didn’t keep him from selling 10 artworks, priced from €10,000 to €100,000 ($11,726 to $117,267), in the fair’s first 45 minutes. By the end of the day he’d sold 20 more.
Four out of the 30 artworks were sold to Americans, Wichelhaus says, two of whom stayed home and bought the work remotely. “The energy felt great in the last two weeks already, leading up to the fair,” he says. “It was kind of boiling up.”
After two years of relying on fitful online viewing rooms in lieu of in-person art fairs—during which most galleries managed to thrive—Art Basel’s success this week is being watched closely by dealers as a barometer for future art fairs.
“The last two years have shown people that they don’t need to be flying around, doing art fairs once a month, especially when you’re selling to the same people you know already,” says Logsdail. “It seems extremely wasteful, and it’s draining on everyone’s mental and physical capacity.”
Still, he says, the fair’s first day could augur well for business as a whole.
“We are still in a pandemic,” he says, “and confidence is everything.”
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Aimless walks, an iPhone Pietà and a huge gargoyle: Art Basel is back – Euronews
What might at first glance appear to be confused tourists lost on Basel’s central Marktplatz, is actually a performance artwork at Switzerland’s iconic art fair, Art Basel.
‘Walking In Every Direction’, by English artist Hamish Fulton sees volunteers going on an hour-long aimless walk, the idea being participants turn inwards and reflect, perhaps even meditate.
It’s one of 20 site-specific installations and performances in Art Basel’s ‘Parcours’ event staged across the city’s centre.
After an entirely online event last year due to the pandemic, Art Basel is returning in person this week.
“It’s an indoor and outdoor sculpture project, installation, performance project, which takes place almost in everywhere in the historic centre of Basel, meaning that we find different locations, hosts, partners, who offer their spaces and we try to match it with exciting projects from artists,” explains Samuel Leuenberger, curating Parcours for the fifth time.
Leuenberger chose the theme of ‘Can We Find Happiness Together Again?’ for this year’s selection.
It’s a reference to the artists and galleries he worked with to make this year’s show happen, but also a reflection of the joy of seeing friends and colleagues after over a year apart.
“To really be able to trust that this will come through, to trust that this will take place, even though we’re still in the midst of a pandemic, and so, hence the title,” he says.
“Of course, finding happiness with each other, but also through the arts and through just working together again and meeting each other in the public space.”
Last year’s Art Basel was moved entirely online due to the pandemic. Leuenberger says he had to rip up about half of his plans for 2020.
He hopes his happiness-themed selection – from Bunny Rogers’ stone gargoyle to Thomas Bayrle’s iPhone Pietà – might win over those not accustomed to traditional art settings.
“I think a lot of people who have fear of crossing the threshold of going to a museum, people who are maybe not so into the arts, this is a beautiful way to merge a different kind of public, maybe a more art insider public and one that’s just walking by,” he says.
“This is the beauty of it, you can walk around the corner and you bump into a piece and you would be completely surprised why it’s here, you might not know that Parcours is happening.”
Art museum Kunsthalle Basel is also taking part, playing host to a Parcours piece and staging events alongside Art Basel.
Museum director Elena Filipovic says after a year without the city’s traditional art fair she missed a lot.
“I miss most the conversations around art, the curiosity, the passion that everyone brings when they come to this week of Art Basel and to our shows at Kunsthalle Basel,” she says.
Of course, this year’s fair will be very different than previous editions with COVID-19 certificate checks and face masks worn throughout, there’ll likely be fewer buyers from the United States and South America attending in person, due to travel restrictions.
“Already starting mid-last week, you could see the demographics of the city had changed, so definitely people are coming,” says Filipovic.
“And, if there are fewer in numbers – and I could imagine there would be fewer of our colleagues from the US, from Latin America, from Asia, nevertheless, I have the feeling the people who are here are really serious, are the ones who really couldn’t be kept away. And that’s nice.”
Art Basel art fair opens with media previews on Tuesday 21 September 2021. The general public are invited to attend from Friday 24 September to Sunday 26 September. Parcours will also run till Sunday 26 September.
Proof of COVID-19 vaccination required at Prince Edward County rec facilities and town halls – Quinte News
'A really important moment:' New art exhibit celebrates Windsor's LGBTQ community – CBC.ca
At Art Basel, No Americans Is No Problem – BNN
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