ARTIST PROJECT 2016 / Opening Night Party

Opening Night Party: Thursday, February 18, 2016 / 7 – 10 p.m.
Better Living Centre
195 Princes’ Boulevard, Exhibition Place

An Art Fair best seen between the lines.

After braving the chill of February in Toronto, hundreds of art lovers, collectors, curators, gallery owners and above all artists, descended upon the Better Living Centre of the Exhibition last night for the 9th annual Artist Project. The vast warehouse space was filled with seemingly endless rows of white cubes, showcasing the diverse work of over 300 contemporary artists.

Ruth Mora & Rachel Delph, Our Critique of Everyday Life, in the Installation Zone

Strangely enough, the most memorable works of the night were those that existed outside the specified booths, mainly large-scale installation pieces that broke the constraints of the art fair cubicle.

As visitors poured into the space, people were immediately attracted to the far left featuring the rare spectacle of the artist at work.

Most striking was muralist Mike Parsons, climbing up and down his ladder to add improvised, black brush strokes to a complex work regarding modern society’s daily apathy. The artist would intermittently pause to mingle with his audience, who offered inspiration for his on-going work. Such interaction made it clear that this event offered something unique, the artist unbarred.

Artist Mike Parsons at work in the Art Lounge & Installation Zone

Instead of an art fair comprised of galleries and art dealers, who act as the intermediary between the visitor and artist, The Artist Project presents both the work and artist side by side. An inevitable dialogue ensues as guests clamber into the tight space of each booth; the presence of the artist is made known. Questions and observations are welcomed and answered with the honesty and sometimes, helpful insight of the creator.

Turning up the centre aisle or causeway of the fair, viewers sidestep stations offering edible treats, libations and sculptural installations. Notable among them, were Rushdi Anwar’s jarring entanglement of charred chairs, a comment on the refugee crisis in the Middle East, followed further down by Philip Hare’s brightly coloured tree of weeping masks. Hare’s work offers an aesthetic contrast to Anwar’s solemn configuration, but nonetheless explores a serious issue, specifically that of female identity within our mostly patriarchal world.

Rushdie Anwar, Irhal (Expel), Hope and Sorrow of Displacement, 2015

Philip Hare, Weeping Willow

Branching off from the main artery of the show, the visitor weaves through the rows of booths, featuring anything from typical Canadian landscapes, to the whimsical ceramics of Lana Filippone or the haunting charcoal canvases of Carlos Delgado.

Lana Filippone’s booth

Artist Carlos Delgado with his series of works titled Being Human in the System

Truly the Artist Project offers something for everyone and is not to be missed.

Text and photo: Meghan O’Callaghan

The Artist Project Contemporary Art Fair kicked off the four day event yesterday evening  with a fabulous party at the Better Living Centre, in the Exhibition Place.  In its ninth consecutive year, the annual show brings together over 300 artists from near and far, offering visitors the rare opportunity to discuss and purchase work directly from artists.  From traditional media to living and performance art, the fair offers something sure to peak everyone’s interest.

Jeannie Pappas, Unknown, ceramics

Helen Liene Dreifelds’ textiles

It was a full house last night and, as typical for the attendees of such a large art fair, there were both people highly engrossed in the art and others mainly engrossed in the party. Either way, it is a great way for many artists to put their work out for all to see. With such a large number of participants, it can feel overwhelming and exhausting for those roaming the many aisles of art booths. But thanks to the various food and drink stands (provided by sponsors of the event) that are scattered throughout to fuel guests, it was easy to really relax and enjoy the evening. The art throughout varies so greatly that it is not going to be love at first sight with each booth, but there are so many artists present that it is exciting and all worth it when you find those few artists’ works that make you stop and stay a while. The artists were all lovely to interact with and all unanimously excited about the evening, whether first timers or Artist Project veterans.

Installation view

Installation view with Becky Lauzon, Social Roots

Text: Carter Brown & Vanessa Zeoli / Photo: Vanessa Zeoli

*Exhibition information: February 18 – 21, 2016, Better Living Centre, 195 Princes’ Boulevard, Exhibition Place. Exhibition hours: Friday: 11 – 10, Saturday: 11 – 8, Sunday: 11 – 6 p.m.


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