Black and White Ball VI at Propeller

Photo: Vanessa Zeoli

Opening Reception: Thursday, February 4, 2016 / 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Propeller Gallery
30 Abell Street

The Black and White Ball exhibition currently resides at Propeller Gallery. The reception held on February 4, last Thursday evening, was a delightful event with lots of excitement for its guests. The exhibition, in its sixth year running, is showing works that were composed entirely in black and white. I was thrilled about the posh-sounding theme and was certainly not disappointed. Upon entering the gallery, I was met by intense splattering of black and white. The white walls served as perfect canvas to enhance the exhibition’s theme, hidden beneath layers of more white and black interlaced. It felt edgy and mysterious. The stark coherence present in the gallery almost made it seem like each piece was a component of one large work, The Black and White Ball. The theme unites each artist with one another’s unique work.

Roxann Tochor, Black and white 1. Photo: Vanessa Zeoli

Installation view. Photo: Carter Brown

From top to bottom: Joseph Muscat, Out of my Mind; Philip Hare, For Crying Out Loud and David Cumming, Ancestral Head. Photo: Vanessa Zeoli

The black and white vision is the brainchild of Propeller chair member Heather Gentleman. Truman Capote’s “Black and White Ball”, held at New York City’s Plaza Hotel in 1966, inspired the inception of the annual juried exhibition. Crowd members became extensions of the artwork in their decked out ensembles of black and white. Who doesn’t love a themed party, especially one that looks to an exemplar of the chicest variety? I guessed there would be a dress code but couldn’t believe I missed the gallery’s encouragement to wear a mask. Heather Gentleman herself was in a stylish black top hat, adorably placing her back in time with Capote and the gang. She tells me the artists who submit enjoy the explicitly black and white requirements and the exhibition is very successful each year. Such a timeless theme that all will look forward to year after year.

Propeller chair member Heather Gentleman (left) and guest. Photo: Carter Brown

Installation view with guests. Photo: Carter Brown

Frances Patella, another member on the board of directors, says how much the event has grown in its six years. This year brought the greatest number of submissions, which is easy to believe from the large number of artwork displayed throughout the space. Applicants are not only from Ontario but all over Canada and even some from overseas. One application was sent all the way from Italy! The great mass of artworks that occupy each wall – hung in salon style – adds drama to the already enigmatic theme. Though the majority of works hang along the walls, a few beautiful sculptural pieces are scattered throughout. As you move through the gallery you are constantly engrossed by highly contrasting black and white visuals. The effect perfectly captures the adjectives Propeller gave to inspire their artists: iconic, bitchy, mysterious, and elegant.

Wilfred Wong, Sumo. Photo: Vanessa Zeoli

Nikola Wojewoda, Patti. Photo: Vanessa Zeoli

Installation view. Photo: Carter Brown

Carter Brown

*Exhibition information: February 3 – 14, 2016, Propeller Gallery, 30 Abell Street, Toronto. Gallery hours: Wed – Sat: 12 – 6, Sun: 12 – 5 p.m.

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