I love art that is BIG, MESSY, chaotic but that has something that pulls it all together into a greater whole. This something is elusive and abstract expressionists spend eons trying to pin it down, define it and to master that je ne sais quoi. What is it that makes one set up brilliant and another look like a random and unfortunate accident in an artistic parcours? We intellectualise with concepts like composition, contrast, value, color theory etc… but in the end the something that makes it work is ethereal. The painting has soul or the painting moves the viewer. These are the thoughts that I entertain as I look at the work of today’s artists that inspire me; Robert Burridge, Nancy Hillis, Mary Ann Wakely, Wendy MacWilliams, Anne Laure Djaballah, Charlotte Faust, Robert Kingston and others.
These artists are BIG, they are MESSY, their work is all over the place. It’s exciting!!!! But it is not n’importe quoi, anything goes. I look at their work and think I should have painted that. It’s just so obviously right. Why didn’t I paint that? I am the first one to be fooled into forgetting that it’s damn hard to make beautiful (de)compositions like those. Hours can be spent deliberately trying to be nondeliberate, orchestrating spontaneity, and chasing freedom of expression. The whole endeavour is an oxymoron. There is passion in the doing but there is tension also. The thrill of inspiration in midflight can abruptly nosedive when that élan that should turn a good painting into a WOW painting ruins it instead. The damn-ugly-artwork was so close to being awesome. Let’s go, Gesso!
The opposite is also true when there is a synergy between me and the painting. In my studio, this happens when I follow the painting instead of leading it. When I allow it to unfold, I feel like the painting is calling out for something,calmly inviting me to intervene in a certain way. If I look, wait, listen to it, I will know. It’s about being with it. These ideas are not new to me – they bring me back to these words that I use when training psychotherapists…Trust the process. Trust yourself. You are the tool and the technique. Painting is quite similar in that way, It will only feel right if I do it through myself as the principal medium. I can’t be Robert or Nancy or Wendy and I will get lost if I go that route. It’s ok to be inspired but straying away from my own ground will result in ok paintings but ones that don’t have that something. The something that gathers and makes complete. I suspect that somethingis the felt sense of coherence that comes from being truly oneself through the painting. And then there is the matter of wild abandon…..
Anne is a painter a psychologist and an Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa. Her paintings can be found in multiple private collections throughout Canada and the US. Anne`s work will be feautured on Artbomb next week and in September. You can also find more of her available artwork on our available page. http://www.artbombdaily.com/archive/artwork/available
Five of My Favourite Movies About Artists
Take some time off from watching TV series and immerse yourself in art! There are literally hundreds of documentaries, biopics, and imaginative cinema on the subject. Here is a completely subjective selection of my favourites.
Girl With a Pearl Earring (2003)
Of course you’ve seen it already, but well worth watching again. This subtle, sensual Peter Webber film is really just a shrine to the goddess Scarlett Johansson, but it gave me an appreciation for the paintings and world of Johannes Vermeer that I didn’t have before seeing it. The premise, from the same-titled book by Tracy Chevalier, is plausible but completely speculative- we know almost nothing of the Dutch artist’s life. Johansson plays the girl with the pearl earring, a housemaid who faces ruin because of the scandal of posing as an artist’s model, and the subject of one of Vermeer’s most iconic artworks.
I Shot Andy Warhol (1996)
Mary Harron’s I Shot Andy Warhol imagines the life of Valerie Solanas, the woman who wrote the “feminist classic” SCUM Manifesto, which is really a terrorist document of toxic vitriol that calls for the humiliation and eradication of men. Solanas eventually lived her ideology and shot that most oppressive patriarch, the effete artist Andy Warhol. If I made this film, I would have been a lot less sympathetic to the killer- my feminism means equality, and women who are violent and hate-filled and shoot to kill are just as heinous as men who do so. I also would have tried to make my movie easier to follow. But I too would have chosen Lili Taylor, a brilliant, underrated actress who makes this curious mess into something riveting.
Radiant Child (2010)
Forget about Julian Schnabel’s 1996 Basquiat, even though David Bowie plays Warhol and Jeffrey Wright is great as the tragic New York street artist. It is too predictably hagiographic, and in trying so hard to be epic, it manages to be as boring as Schnabel’s ego. Radiant Child, the documentary by Tamra Davis, is also a little guilty of saint-making- the whole Jean-Michel Basquiat industry has been embarrassing in this regard, missing the mark entirely in its efforts to be sympathetic to a complicated and broken man. But this doc does a lot more to get to the heart of the art and the truth than anything else on the subject, with actual, fascinating footage and interviews with people who knew the painter personally.
West Wind: the Vision of Tom Thomson (2011)
This is a stunning film, one of the most beautiful documentaries ever made. It matters not whether you are a new or a long-term fan of Canadian art, Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven, or the Canadian north. Peter Raymont and Michèle Hozer take you there, by canoe, right into the source of the deep quiet and profound beauty the artist captured. For folks like me who are not cut out for wilderness camping, this is an extraordinary opportunity to experience the Algonquin, and to see it through an artist’s eyes.
In the Realms of the Unreal (2004)
Jessica Yu brings to vivid life the intriguing story of Henry Darger. The friendless janitor lived completely invisible, seen only at the hospital he cleaned every day and at mass. No one knew a thing about his vivid interior world until he died, and the landlords took to dismantling the hoarding they found in the room he lived in most of his life. It is speculated that Darger was a closeted gay person, a child molester, and even a murderer, based on the disturbing and obsessive nature of the artwork and writings discovered after his death. He wrote and illustrated epic good- and-evil novels that were tens of thousands of pages long! Given what little is factually known of the artist’s history, it is most likely that he was just a simple and reclusive man damaged by childhood loss of parents, abject poverty, and abuse he experienced, witnessed, and eventually escaped in orphanages. He possessed no intellectual powers but a huge imagination, and he illustrated all the violent fears that danced through his mind. An unforgettable story, and beautifully filmed.
Lorette C. Luzajic
Lorette C. Luzajic is a writer and an artist. Visit her at www.mixedupmedia.ca.
As July heats up, art lovers everywhere often prioritize a trip to the museum or other art-related activities as part of our most treasured summer experiences.
There are always abundant options for fairs and festivals going on, whether you are on vacation or staycation. Get to know some of the region’s artists by attending events in the area.
And don’t just look- buy something! Your impulse is trying to tell you something. Say no to mass produced décor from Homesense and take home a true original. Start a collection of small works without wondering where you’ll put them- you’ll find creative ways to showcase your treasures. You can prop them against a bookshelf or create an eclectic jumble display with other mementoes in the front hall. If you love art, live with it!
Perhaps you’ve never participated in an Art Bomb auction. Make it a summer resolution to bid on some works you love and start or grow your collection of art. Art Bomb is an important initiative because it curates a wide selection of Canadian creativity and helps showcase us beyond the confines of local traffic. Our work is exposed cross-country and internationally.
Today we chat with Maggie Screaton, a collector who has regularly acquired pieces through Art Bomb’s daily auctions.
Lorette for Art Bomb: Tell me a little bit about the pieces you’ve selected from Art Bomb.
Maggie Screaton: I’ve bought five pieces from Art Bomb. Mostly smaller works- some amazing acrylics on canvas and one incredible photography. For some reason, I gravitate to the pieces that are like snippets of a bigger story. There’s a beginning and an ending in there somewhere but you can’t quite figure it out. The not knowing is kind of fun.
Lorette: What is your impression of Art Bomb? What do you like about this service, and how does that contrast with other resources you have collected through?
Maggie: I love that Art Bomb encourages you to interact with artists you might never come across. And I also like that I can kind of mull over any purchase a b it. I’ve bought works at shows and art fairs and there’s always this pressure to make an immediate decision. You can do that with some pieces, because you just have to have them. But sometimes it’s nice to be able to really check out a work before deciding to bid. And of course, it’s always fun when you win the auction. Art Bomb is great if you’re even the slightest bit competitive.
Lorette: What are the benefits, in your opinion, of Art Bomb for artists and collectors? Any drawbacks?
Maggie: The benefits can be huge. Art Bomb connects artists and buyers in a really convenient, hassle free way. I get amazing art by new and established Canadian artists in my email box every day and artists get their work viewed by a Canada-wide audience of proven buyers. It’s kind of a no-brainer.
Lorette C. Luzajic is an Art Bomb artist working in mixed media like acrylic, gouache, spray paint, collage, and photography. She is also a poet and the editor of The Ekphrastic Review. Visit her at www.mixedupmedia.ca.
Five Other Canadian Artists You Should Know
Over the weekend, we celebrated Canada Day and my mind turned to a recurring train of thought- Canadian art.
Like thousands of others, I visited the opening of Steve Martin’s Lawren Harris exhibition opening at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Steve Martin is a longtime art collector, and his motivation for curating this project is wonderfully simple- he wanted to take Lawren Harris outside of Canada and show him off, and he knew his celebrity would bring attention to that cause.
It’s a very significant event because it marks a shift in art history. Canada’s rich and varied artistic heritage has been underrated and too often unnoticed. While some find this depressing, I find it very exciting that Canada’s creative pinnacle lies ahead. This major event, which showed on both coasts of America before landing here at home, is just the beginning. Our past icons will be given new life and recognition, and the fact that contemporary talent has hardly been acknowledged only means that our spotlight lies ahead.
Ours is a young culture, one that is still being created. We do not have thousands of years of a certain legacy; rather, we are a world of cultures coming together with ancient native history and seeking through art a celebration of differences and a resolution of conflicts, reflecting our divergent and shared histories and our perspective towards our country and the world in a dazzling variety of ways. The best is yet to come.
To celebrate Canadian art, here are 5 artists you should know. It is an arbitrary selection of personal interest drawn out of a hat from hundreds worthy of listing. My hope is that you will nod at a favourite, explore unfamiliar names, and be led through and beyond to many more.
Benjamin Chee Chee
There are many tragic stories among the lives of artists. I suspect this is how it is among anyone, but those in creative professions wear their personal lives on their sleeve, in public view.
Benjamin Chee Chee was a northern Ontario Ojibway artist. It was not his semi-orphaned life, his substance abuse, or his violent temper that set him apart- it was the fact that his work did not show this tempest: Chee Chee’s sparse, distinctive imagery manifest absolute serenity and elegance.
In light of the artist’s prison suicide in 1977, they are especially heartbreaking. He was 32.
Everyone knows about the Group of Seven, but there was also the Painters Eleven. These were avant-garde, edgy, colourful folks discontented to keep on painting landscapes when modernism meant the world had moved into deconstruction, expressionism, and abstraction.
William Ronald was one of the eleven, and he happened too soon- his antics are fading into the mists of history when they are meant for Instagram and Twitter. He liked to dress in head to toe pink suits, or come to an art show flanked with strippers on each arm.
He painted massive sprawling and jumbled abstracts, but perhaps his quintessentially Canadian contribution was a series of outlandish portraits of 18 prime ministers. Pierre Trudeau was the guest of honour at the opening party.
When Toller was a child, he wanted to be a ballerina.
He was given hockey skates to make a man out of the boy. So he began dancing the ballet on blades, and skated on to become the Nijinsky of figure skating.
Indeed, Cranston is best known for winning the Canadian figure skating championships six years in a row, as well as a World and an Olympic bronze. But his most remarkable accomplishments took place after he retired somewhat reclusively to Mexico. There, he created some thirty thousand paintings.
It is impossible to compare his works to someone else or even to describe them: they are ornate, lavish, mythical, magical works evocative of fairy tales or world legends. They somehow summon Russian Orthodox and native Mexican at the same time. There has been relatively little recognition of this fascinating other life, but I predict it will resurface one day, resplendent, and Cranston will be considered as an important Canadian artist.
Doris McCarthy is the famous Canadian artist of whom nobody has ever heard.
She has been recognized, exhibited, written about, and honoured, and yet is not a household word.
She passed away in 2010, after living exactly one century. She painted continuously, alongside teaching for forty of those years. McCarthy studied with the Group of Seven members and her landscape style reflects a stylistic kinship, but she never made it into the boys’ club. In truth, she out-painted some of them by a long shot, leaving the confines of the Canadian outdoors as a subject and travelling to Japan, India, Costa Rica, Spain, India, Ireland and the Arctic to paint what she saw.
William Kurelek’s work traverses a path from whimsical to terrifying and Bosch-like without warning. His work is illustrative and detailed, but on an epic scale, showing everyday Canadian life from coast to coast.
There is something so sweet it’s barely tolerable in his idyllic tableaus of childhood in the snow or campfires under the stars, and yet the distinctive aesthetic and underlying angst are utterly compelling.
Kurelek’s life was a topsy turvy battle with depression, but his conversion to Catholic Christianity brought him tremendous healing and a philosophical paradigm that made sense out of his sorrow over man’s heart of darkness.
There are lots of kid’s books illustrated on the market, but the best way to appreciate Kurelek is in person at various Canadian galleries. Perhaps something is always lost in translation from canvas to print, but it’s especially true in his case. There is a very subtle quality in his work that I can’t express except to say, go and see them. Some of his works show at the AGO.
Lorette C. Luzajic
Lorette C. Luzajic is a writer and an artist working in mixed media collage, abstraction, and photography. Visit her at www.mixedupmedia.ca.
All in a Day’s Work- the Artist’s Life
For an artist, some might think, life is but a dream.
We have unlimited time playing in the studio, while everyone else does real work, and spend the rest of the time lollygagging on the sofa contemplating the meaning of life. And it gets even better- all those fabulous events hobnobbing with celebrities and the beautiful people, sipping chic wines.
I won’t lie- it does have its moments!
But here’s what our real work life looks like.
Some of these tasks are fun, rewarding, profound and life enriching. Some are tedious, maddening, thankless, difficult, and frustrating.
- Pick up and delivery.
It’s fantastic to have many paintings in all kinds of venues, shows, and events, and constant exhibition is what we aim for. This usually means making numerous trips per week to drop off or pick up unsold artwork. Many of us use public transit, so if there are numerous pieces it might mean multiple trips for one pick up.
- Shipping and handling.
It’s a thrill when you have an order and it needs to be shipped, not delivered. Not only is it a sale, but it usually means someone out of town has bought the item and broadening our reach is key to growth. So we’re happy to do this task- but it is time consuming to package artwork up according to insurance requirements, to make sure it gets there safe. A medium sized piece can take a good hour, and building a wooden crate can take several.
- Spreadsheet maintenance/ inventory management.
Listing titles, measurements, media, dates, and tracking whereabouts takes a surprising amount of time. This info is also needed for labels and for curators and for proposals and submissions, so it’s a task we have to do a lot. For many artists like myself who struggle with ADD, the nitty-gritty nature of this is torture. There’s a reason I couldn’t be a bookkeeper like my sister! But after about eight years, it finally started to become second nature and the sizes and how to state them began to make sense.
- Proposals, submissions, entries, grant applications, etc.
Preparing a submission for a show or a proposal or grant application can take anywhere between 15 minutes and several months. All require thought, planning, organization, and some sales pitching. It’s competitive, so just “getting it done” is a waste of time- for each one we do, it has to really shine.
Writing letters, thank yous, invitations, and ads; handing out postcards; letting clients and friends know about events or news or blog updates; developing marketing materials and a web presence.
- Social media.
This ties in with marketing, but it’s also networking. Just like you, we love connecting through Facebook and it’s a lot of fun. But it does take time. Between Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, Linkd In, and Youtube- plus making the content to be shared- it’s my favourite part after the actual making of art. But it takes just as much time as that does, or more.
Networking is part of social media, but the old-fashioned in person variety is necessary, too. This can be a great joy, or very painful, but meeting people, attending invites, and making an effort to get out there is an important part of the game.
- Website maintenance.
We need to keep our websites up to date and functional. This includes our main website, as well as our various shops online, like Etsy, Red Bubble, Zazzle, etc. We need to add our events, remove pieces that sold, update news, etc.
- Painting edges, hanging wire, surfacing.
This is my least favourite task! Once I’m finished an artwork, I’m ready to move on. So that means when show time comes, since I do a lot of small works, I will have 20 pieces I need to eye-hook and wire up, and a lot of surfaces to seal or fix or gloss.
It’s usually a lot of fun to go to a client’s home to see what their space is like, and talk to them about what styles and pieces they like most.
- Studio visits.
Also something I love. Having someone come by to look through our artwork is rewarding. It does mean I have to clean my house and do the dishes.
- Professional development.
Classes, seminars, panels, reading, workshops, journals, magazines, galleries, fairs. In order to grow, we must study, theory, technique, marketing, and art history.
Yes, wine and cheese and art are integral. We need to see what’s going on in various galleries and with other artists, as well as showing up for our own.
- Event planning and preparation.
For even the simplest show, an extraordinary amount of preparation is necessary.
- Making art.
The best part!
Lorette C. Luzajic is an Art Bomb artist, working in collage and mixed media, and photography, as well as a poet and writer. She is the editor of The Ekphrastic Review: writing and art on art and writing. Visit her at www.mixedupmedia.ca.
If you’ve been following this Monday blog series, you know how enthusiastic I am about turning art lovers into art buyers. You know I believe it’s important for everyone who cares about art to have a little collection of their own. I don’t just make art: I challenge and empower everyone to support living artists.
Yes, this is naked self interest, and yes, I do have shameless promotional aspirations. But I believe at a very deep level that it is important, and for those just joining us who missed my philosophical sales pitch, here’s why.
People who love music buy albums and attend concerts. People who care about the sartorial self buy clothes. People who believe in growing the arts of cuisine and wine go to restaurants and wineries. But most people who love art don’t buy art. They leave that to “collectors” for whatever reason. But there’s only so many times you can say “just looking” before artists must turn to other pursuits.
I want everyone who loves art to think of themselves as a collector. You don’t have to be a millionaire or have a degree in art theory. It’s great if you are that person, but others can participate in the art market, too. Art lovers of a certain means are already buying our work. We need the “most people” part to start their collections, too.
In past blogs, we’ve talked with ArtBomb curators and artists. Today, I talk with an avid collector who has purchased frequently from ArtBomb auctions. Meet Jill Goodridge!
Lorette: Tell me a little bit about the pieces you’ve selected from Art Bomb.
Jill: Our ArtBomb collection includes three larger pieces purchased from the site and four smaller (8×8”) pieces collected from attending ArtBomb art events at the Spoke Club and Steam Whistle Brewery. The first piece is an abstract by Courtney Stevenson that my husband picked. Another is a landscape by Rachel Francis that hangs in our living room. The smaller pieces are by various emerging Canadian artists and are scattered throughout our home.
Lorette: What is your impression of Art Bomb? What do you like about the service, and how does that contrast with other resources you have collected through?
Jill: ArtBomb came to us at a time when we had just bought a bigger house and had three small children. We had no time to shop for art and we didn’t see ourselves as art collectors. We weren’t particularly knowledgeable about purchasing art. On a rare holiday to Quebec City, we had the time to pop into some galleries. Even with the precious time to look at art together, we still found the process intimidating and the art was expensive.
When we returned from that trip we started paying closer attention to ArtBomb and starting flipping each other emails about the works we saw….”Hey do you like this one?” I love ArtBomb’s mantra, “Buy What You Love”. That helped take the self-doubt I had about buying art.
I also liked the price point of paintings and other artworks on ArtBomb. All three of our large pieces were under $1000, so that helped us get going. ArtBomb also gave us access to young Canadian artists. I liked the idea of supporting new artists that are trying to establish themselves, just like us.
Lorette: What are the benefits, in your opinion, of Art Bomb for artists and collectors?
The original pieces that we have added to our house have created the warmth and character in our home that we hoped for. The art has given our house a personality and we have continued to collect other items from the One of Kind Craft Show to accomplish this. We are currently plotting our next purchase from Art Bomb! There are so many pieces to choose from in the “Still Available” section that it’s hard to choose. Again, I come back to “Buy What You Love” -that just makes the process easier! I love that I have this mini-collection and that it continues to grow thanks to ArtBomb.
Lorette C. Luzajic www.mixedupmedia.ca
Tips for New Collectors on Caring For Your Art
If you are a new or casual collector, it can be intimidating to think about storage, repairs, maintenance, cleaning, and transportation of the artworks. Don’t stress: just stick to some basics and learn the rest as you go.
- Common sense rules.
Curatorial jargon and demanding specifics about temperature and moisture can make it sound impossible for ordinary people to own and care for artworks. If you have purchased rare and extremely valuable old works, you will want to consult professional guardians. Otherwise, use common sense. Keep the works out of direct sunlight, avoid extremes by keeping room temperatures moderate and consistent, and avoid moisture damage by regulating humidity whenever possible. For example, don’t hang fragile watercolours in the steamy bathroom. Avoid grease splatters- don’t hang artworks near the stove! Don’t hang them in the broiling attic or a damp basement laundry room.
- Avoid sharp objects near your art, and don’t lean anything against them.
Common injuries happen with boxcutters or scissors when dismantling packaging, or from a table’s corner or objects leaned against a canvas. Use extreme caution when unwrapping a painting or sculpture. Most canvases are durable enough that you don’t need to panic- but you do need to take care not to lean other objects against them. Paintings can be leaned in stacks- but only if they are the same size. A common mistake is to lean a smaller painting against a big one. It seems to make sense, but it means the larger piece will ultimately dent or split at the pressure points of the small one. When carrying a piece, your fingers should only be on the wooden cradle, not exerting pressure against the stretched canvas.
- Keep your artworks clean.
Use a dry, soft cloth periodically and a feather duster and you’ll prevent the build up of grime. Research the best way to spot clean a work that has been sullied. For example, if the item is a stone sculpture or covered in glass, a clean damp rag will be fine to gently scrub off some dirt. But if the item is a chalk pastel drawing on paper, moisture might smear the media and dissolve the paper. The best way to ascertain cleaning methods is to ask the artist or gallerist at time of purchase. For example, I know that collages where I’ve used ink, graphite, and markers will smudge badly with any scrubbing, dry or wet- but my acrylic paint and weld bond collages will resist quite a bit of water without any damage at all.
If the piece needs a serious cleaning- an accident with a pet or child, a food spill, etc- call a professional to do it. Otherwise, a bit of casual maintenance is all the tender loving cleaning it’s going to need.
- Put yourself in the box when shipping or transporting artworks.
Just as you would put yourself in someone’s shoes when considering how to treat them, put yourself in the box when getting ready to move or FedEx a piece. You’re going into a truck, and you’ll be manhandled by speed bumps, friction against other packages, stacking, jostling, and crowding. You’ll be poked and prodded. You’ll be tossed around by delivery people and sharp turns. You’ll be subject to heat and rain.
This imaginative act answers all the questions you have about how to package your artwork. It needs enough plastic wrapping before going into its box to be waterproof. It needs enough bubble wrap and stuffing support to withstand sharp pokes from any end of the box. It needs to be fixed tightly to endure being tossed around, so don’t put it loosely into the box.
- Practice safe storage.
The rules for storage are easy- just incorporate one through four. Package them safely as you would for transport, or use acid free tissues and cardboard to separate works. Make sure any works stacked together are the same size and don’t lean other objects against them. Wrapping them will help you avoid dust and stains. Keep them in a moderate and dry place, not in a moldy basement.
Don’t be afraid to contact professional care for your artworks, especially if it has been damaged or if you have questions. The art dealer or artist is also a good resource, and you should always feel comfortable seeking their advice or more information about a piece you purchased.
Most important of all, don’t be too precious about the work- its most important role is to bring joy and not stress into your life.
Yes, a glass sculpture might break. Live with that possibility instead of keeping it bound and gagged in the hall closet. Within reason, of course- if you an extremely fragile 1200 year old Byzantine diptych, you want museum quality care and insurance, not a guardian icon for your toddler’s playroom.
But even in the top museums and galleries that have skilled conservators on hand daily, an artwork that gets looked at in the light of day will fade over time.
These works are made of real materials by hand, not machine made, and so they show bristle marks and small scratches and crackling paint.
Take good care of your art and it will serve you and future generations to come. But accidents do happen, even with reasonable care, and if something is injured, don’t get too hung up on it. Restore it as best you can when the time comes, but realize it’s better to live with art than to hide it away in hopes of keeping it perfect.
Lorette C. Luzajic
To purchase artworks shown, if still available, please contact Carrie Shibinsky, Art Bomb curator, at email@example.com.
Lorette C. Luzajic is an Art Bomb artist who works with as many media as she can imagine in a single piece of work, as well as through photography and the written word. She is the author of Fascinating Artists: Twenty Five Unusual Lives, Truck, and Other Stories About Art, and Aspartame, poems inspired by art. She is the editor of Ekphrastic: writing and art on art and writing. Visit her at www.mixedupmedia.ca.
Lorette C. Luzajic for Art Bomb: You just received an award for best mixed media in show. Tell us about your work, what drives it, and how and why you incorporate mixed media.
Cate McGuire: I was really excited to receive this recognition. Making art is often such a solitary pursuit, and winter is a perfect time for buckling down and getting some work done in the studio. The Riverdale Art Walk is really the first outdoor show of the season and so, it is an opportunity, a kind of testing ground for all of the ideas that you have been shaping in that alone time. Getting some positive feedback for hard work is always encouraging…
The way that I am working with mixed media at this moment means collage. I have been using magazine fragments as a building material for the past few years, pretty exclusively. It has taken me a long time to realize why I am so drawn to magazine fragments. There are a few reasons. The first is their ubiquitousness. They are so familiar. We always had magazines lying around and I read everything in the house, but I have a special relationship with pictures. They stay with me… When I am working with collage I feel like I am moving through time.
I use collage in two ways. I make images that are spaces, framed with back-painted glass which makes them seem like keyholes into another place. Another way is to make objects out of collage that usually carve into a landform like a hole and sometimes they float in an amorphous painted space.
I am careful to use the found material in a way that does not in any way reflect the way the photographs were originally used. I only use images from popular magazines, mostly vintage, and I use only fragments, so that they have nothing to do with the original use or purpose of the photograph.
LCL: Tell us about your experiences with Artbomb.
CM: I love Artbomb. I have loved it from the start. I heard an interview on the CBC… Carrie Shibinsky , Jim Sheddan and Andrea Carson Barker had just started ARTBOMB and I liked the idea of a venue for artists that was outside of the typical gallery model. It is hard to get exposure, as an emerging artist and it seemed so immediate to delivery it daily, featuring a new artist each day.
I was listening to an interview with Moby the other day and he was saying that artists in the 80s and 90s had a very DIY attitude and he misses that spirit. I think that that spirit is alive in all of us who came up through that time. If you do not find what you need, then make it. Much of the arts function without a lot of resources, despite the great resources they ultimately generate. Galleries are very important, but … it may be necessary to work independently from that system, while you develop your ideas and put together a solid body of work.
Artbomb has sold a lot of work for me and I have really enjoyed working with Carrie as she continues to find interesting ways to promote artists. With her help I have been part of shows at the Gladstone, the Spoke Club and at several shows in corporate office spaces. Artbomb has really helped me gain some momentum, in terms of moving my career ahead, and I am so glad that I got in touch with them at the start of their venture.
LCL: You have a solo exhibition coming up at the Red Head Gallery. What is that all about?
CM: The Red Head Gallery, it is run by an artist collective, which I like for the same reasons that I support Artbomb. They have a beautiful space and while I was researching Toronto galleries to find a venue for a solo exhibition, I couldn’t help but think that it might be the perfect location. Luckily, they accepted my proposal.
Lost time (the name of the show) is made up of a body of work that I have not shown previously. I have spent the past year working on these collages which are framed with back-painted glass. It is called lost time because this work is all about memory.
It is inescapable. As we get older the world around us is not the same world that we grew up in. We move from home to home and the people are not the same people that we have always known. People and places come and they go, they disappear or they die, and change is ever present.
All of the personal connections that we have can be seen as spaces. They form in our minds. Some of them feel like home, and some don’t.
We hold worlds of images in our minds and in our memories. The things that we have seen, the experiences we have had and the people that we have known make up the library of pictures in the mind. Those of us born in the last century are fortunate enough to have had so many images and objects actually lying around to remind us of time that has passed. We have been and still are surrounded by media and objects and environments and they are each a perfect reflection of the time and place in which they were made and the people who made them. Those images become a language for talking about those times using pictures.
We have a visual literacy that has steadily been increasing over these hundred years.
This body of work is an attempt to build those spaces (people, places, memories, homes) and to recapture them, using fragments from popular magazines. Magazines are ‘old school’ media, tangible ephemera in an age of digital mist.
When did you start making art and how has your work or philosophy changed along the way?
I was the kid at school who everyone knew as an artist, so I can’t remember a time when that was not a part of who I am. I never really had as strong a desire to be anything else, until I studied architecture. I really thought that I would follow through with that – but I couldn’t get away from wanting to work independently, to be in full control of the projects that I wanted to pursue. What I love about art, that I have never found anywhere else, is that making art allows me to create a project and then to also be the one to make the work. It is challenging, but also exciting.
Being self-employed is scary, but it also really appeals to me.
Architecture school changed me in a big way. It taught me a lot about discipline. I had a wonderful mentor in the architect Patricia Patkau. She changed my creative process and gave it some well-needed definition. They work you like dogs in architecture school and you really need to learn how to manage a work schedule…
I work a full day, every day and keep to a ridiculously repetitive schedule, but it works for me. Even my cat gets neurotic when I don’t do exactly the same routine every day. It helps give shape to an otherwise kind of ephemeral occupation.
LCL: What are your objectives or projects for the near future?
CM: The work that I am making right now has a ways to go before I will have gotten to the other side of it. I would like to continue to make more work in line with what I have been doing. In the future, I would like to try to do some work with public art and I am thinking of taking some courses in media arts because I have always wanted to work with video/film. Artists like Christian Marclay (the Clock) or Janet Cardiff and George Burres really inspire me and I would love to learn code and move into making some pieces that are more immersive.
Visit Cate McGuire at www.catemcguireart.com.
If you would like to purchase shown available works, please contact Carrie Shibinsky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Should You Bargain or Haggle With Artists and Art Dealers?
by Lorette C. Luzajic
Now here’s a loaded subject no one likes to discuss. Should you bargain with artists or gallerists ? Should you try to get a deal? Should you offer your budget, or walk away because you can’t afford the full price? Is it good manners or ethical to request a discount? Isn’t it unethical to let art go unsold and leave the artist with nothing, just because you can’t pay quite pay the ticket price?
There are mixed views on the subject, but new or occasional art buyers are often left in the dark because it’s almost taboo to talk about it. Many folks who don’t know the ropes walk away empty handed because they don’t know how to broach the subject. They want to err on the side of respect for the artist, so they respect the price and walk away. But is this always what’s best- for the artist, the curator, for the space provider, or for you?
The main reason that prices must be consistent is simple: it isn’t fair to other buyers who paid $1000 for something when someone else gets it for $500. And it isn’t fair to our dealers trying to show our work to a larger audience.
Many folks assume that since gallerists get half in commission, the consumer should get half price if they buy directly from the artist. There’s one big problem with this, however: if I undercut the people who work hard and provide expensive real estate in order to show my art, I’ll soon be selling it all by myself. Who wants to represent me and show my work if I’m selling it half price? Ultimately, a few extra hundreds in the artist’s pocket costs them a great deal more.
That said, here are some things to consider:
- No two works of art are the same, and value is subjective. Two identical works in different colours might have disparate values: an admirer is willing to pay $10 000 for the blue and no one is willing to pay anything for the yellow. Or, two paintings of the same size may have taken very different amounts of skill, labour, or inspiration, meaning the artist prices one at $1000 and one at $350. From this perspective, a collector who paid $1800 for a work they love is hardly undercut when you sell a different but similar work for $1400. Only when the exact work is priced one way at a gallery and another at home and or on a website is there a conflict with different prices.
- It doesn’t hurt to ask. Trust me, most artists prefer a smaller sale to zero. The same goes for our reps. Maybe the snobby gallerist will give you a withering look, but so what- maybe she’ll give you the deal! Asking for a price reduction on a painting or sculpture or photography piece can feel embarrassing, but if you are seriously interested in purchasing the item at a reduced cost, just say so and keep it simple. “I love this piece and I will buy it if $xx is okay.” The worst they can say is no.
- Don’t fleece artists and galleries. If you’re just bargaining to see how low you can go, please examine your heart. Giving a piece up for less than the ticket price when the buyer is being honest about what they can afford is one thing. Toying with artists who may be desperate for any sale, since many artists are the working poor, is another thing altogether. If you can easily afford $500, recognize the value and don’t try to get it for $350.
- Remember, galleries don’t have sales. “Galleries never have sales, it’s considered bad taste,” Manhattan gallerist Renato Danese told the Wall Street Journal. Clearance sales or Boxing Day sales are gauche, so many artist or galleries not only accept negotiation but depend on it. If you don’t ask, we can’t offer, in other words. Sure, we hope you’ll want to pay full price- all retailers do. But at some point, moving stock to bring cash flow to pay the bills, or find a match for a lonely product, or create space, is just practical.
- Become a regular customer, or buy multiples. If you’re honouring me by buying several pieces at once, of course we can discuss a volume discount. And if you have been frequenting the gallery or visiting my studio for years, and told all your friends about my work, and have three pieces in your home, yes, you are a VIP.
Lorette C. Luzajic
Contact Art Bomb curator Carrie Shibinsky at email@example.com to inquire about purchasing shown artworks. Yes, you can try out today’s blog topic and negotiate!
Lorette C. Luzajic is a Toronto-based creative who works in mixed media collage, paint, photography, and writing. She is a journalism graduate, a lifelong student of art history, and an Art Bomb artist. Lorette is the editor of The Ekphrastic Review: writing and art on art and writing, and also writes a regular column at Good Food Revolution on Wine and Art. Her artwork is currently being exhibited at The Backhouse in Niagara on the Lake. Visit her at www.mixedupmedia.ca.