July 14 – 16, 2017
Nathan Pillips Square
Visiting the Outdoor Art Exhibition in Toronto, on Nathan Pillips Square in July, is part of my summers for the last 28 years, since I live in the city. It is almost always too hot and sometimes hard to walk because of the crowd – and this year was no exception. It’s occurred to me at first sight this Saturday that the exhibition was smaller than a few years ago. On the other hand there are new things such as the present of artists run galleries and dance performances.
The exhibition is more balanced according to mediums this year as there are more 3D and art & craft work on display, breaking the dominance of painting. James Wardhaugh’s glass sculptures rethinking the motives of animal horns. As he said, his inspiration is coming from nature but he doesn’t want to be trapped by reality, so he is moving a step further into abstraction.
Kerry L. Ross, a Canadian artist who was born in Zimbabwe, focuses on the human body. Her portraits are analyzing the human existence within its psychological and social dimensions and in turn open windows into the private self. This is her third time in the outdoor exhibition, she really enjoys being part of it, talking to visitors and also sold a few pieces. Daniela Rojze moved to Canada 14 years ago from Argentina. As a child she loved to draw and was surprised that drawing is not that popular here. She started creating her sensitive, well detailed, sometimes grotesque work two years ago. This is her first time in the show, loves it and sold many pieces.
You have one look at Allen Egan’s work and you are hooked. He willingly talks about his technique that uses photography as a base and Photoshop in composing his pieces before he touches them up with paint. However when it comes to their themes he is hesitant to say anything. His compositions have a strong emotional expression, filled with mystery and a suggestion of a storybook narrative – all left to the viewer to figure it out. Not a surprise that these works are very popular.
Most of the artists are returning exhibitors. Christopher Reid Flock, who calls himself “Burnt Dirt Manipulator” on his card, is a veteran here, this is his 7th year. He is surrounded by visitors who are asking questions about his unique method that he explains enthusiastically. This is the 3rd year for Nicole Moss and she won awards with her collages both in 2015 and 2016.
White balloons turn our attention to award winner artists like Julia Hepburn (Honorable Mention 3D works) whose small sculptures, placed in glass cabinets, seem very vulnerable. Moira Ness, the winner of Emerging Artist by Emerging Curator Award, is a first time exhibitor: she applied, she got in, she won an award. Ness makes photographs in the GTA area and then, with Photoshop, she takes away the background and the light search, making them look isolated.
The presence of many young, emerging artists makes the exhibition more exiting. Helen Liene Dreifeld is currently pursuing the Artist-in-Residence program at Harbourfront Centre’s Craft & Design Studios. As a textile artist she is interested in the relations of time and space and the future of textile art. Her piece is sculpture-like but see-through, seemed to be staged in a theater setting, and further modified by spray paint. The Student Zone is back this year, now in the front, west side of the exhibition with educational institutions and young artists.
In the middle of the exhibition there are sculptures belonging to the Brain Project. Artists from around the world transform blank brain sculptures into beautiful, energetic and thought-provoking pieces of art.
There is a lot to see in the exhibition, all the artists are very friendly and willing to talk about their work. It is an excellent opportunity to buy an original piece from the artist and many of the visitors were living with an artwork.
Text and photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos