To start the first Toronto Log round up I thought I should give a couple of arty facts about Torana.
There are three artist-run centres as well as two more specifically interested in film and video. A solo show in one of these spaces will pay most expenses and give you up to $2000NZ. There are quite a number of cheesy commercial galleries as well as four or five that you can generally count on for a good show. The Power Plant is a large public gallery similar to Artspace in Auckland while the Art Gallery of Ontario is your standard public gallery covering all those art movements you had to study in school.
Summer for us comes in July and August which generally means galleries either close or put weak group shows up which make me think they should have just closed. Much to my surprise, Mercer Union put up not one, but two stellar solo shows. In the front gallery, local artist/ architect Adrian Blackwell built a spiral amphitheatre out of plywood and 2 x 4s while in the back gallery the rather nomadic Alex Morrison drew every house he has ever lived in from memory in 3D on the walls. In addition to the drawings, he showed a video of himself doing some skateboarding tricks in someone elses house which I got the impression was not run past the home owner first. Morrison, a once semi-pro skateboarder, did what comes natural and improvised his skate park out of the fixtures in the house and occasionally uses a standard sheet of plywood which also showed up in the gallery. The video loop of about ten short outtakes included jumps over the opened stove door, off of the kitchen counter or onto a radiator. Like any regular skate video, a few failed attempts are shown before the trick that worked. The sheet of plywood was leaned against a wall in the gallery with a dual purpose, while watching the video it was an easy association to see the wood as an improvised skate ramp. What wasnt so apparent was that while the outside acted as a ramp, the underside was covered with magazine ads and pictures like a hiding space for a child or a temporary shelter.
I think part of what made these shows so good was their natural comparisons to each other. The Home Wrecker video prompted many viewers to try and convince Alex to skateboard around the spiral plywood ramp in the front gallery; while visually, Morrisons drawings could be seen as future building projects for Blackwell to create as the basic line drawings suggest his homes have never consisted of anything more then plywood floors and 2 x 4 walls.
Zsa Zsa is a small gallery which often shows emerging artists who can cough up the $400 rent. With this in mind the quality of shows tends to be overshadowed by the need for money. Septembers show was by an artist known as Mister Entertainment, which was his first show in Toronto. Misters schtick is to be an anonymous artist in a world where were all obsessed with fame and getting our name out there or something like that. The punch line has some holes in it but the work was good. The show consisted of three projects -a series of touched-up chunks of billboard ads, broken glass stars for fallen celebrities and the backdrop from the Oscars in which Mister photographed each viewer in front of the wall holding an Oscar. In my mind, the award for best work in the show goes to the billboards. These works were ripped down from thickly covered billboards on the street which Mister then attached to wood, trimmed the edges nice and neat and markered in black Zorro-like masks onto everyone in the posters. The more obscure ads look very natural as though some 20-something ad agent thought it would be really clever to use a masked model to sell their product, while ads for Fight Club with Edward Norton and Brad Pitt in disguise warranted a double take.
Generally, things are looking good here. Douglas Gordon is showing at the Power Plant; Wynick/ Tuck, one of the better commercial galleries, has finally re-opened in a new location; and Katherine Mulherine, a young art dealer, has just opened her third gallery on Queen St. East in two years.
Mitch Robertson is an artist based in Toronto, Canada. Mitch Robertson is a smooth talker. Mitch Robertson is not a big tipper. Mitch Robertson needs a place to stay in New Zealand for April 2002. Mitch Robertson has never written a review before this one.