Hello RMG Blog readers! The RMG blog has moved and can now be found at rmg.on.ca/blog
Mike Drolet has is our Gallery A ArtLab artist is residence from November 3, 2015 to January 3, 2015. Prior to his artist talk on December 6, we sat down with Mike to learn more about his work and what he has been up to during his residency.
The RMG: Hi Mike, Please tell us about yourself?
Mike Drolet: Hello RMG blog readers! I am originally from Whitby, Ontario and studied Fine Art at the University of Ottawa. In 2014 I completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a minor in psychology and a specialization in sculpture.
RMG: What materials do you work with?
MD: Although I don’t want to limit myself to a specific set of materials, generally I use materials that are traditionally sought after for construction, for example, wood, metal and concrete. I am always looking into expanding and incorporating new materials for new pieces to enable different compositions.
RMG: Why were you interested in Gallery A’s Art Lab residency? What have you made while working as an artist in residence?
MD: What first got me interested in the residency was the studio space that was available to work in to work in. The lab is quite large which for my work is essential. Additionally, the Gallery A space is a massive benefit for any artist to have. As many artists may know, documentation is almost, if not as important as creating/ having artwork. Having access to Gallery A allows for the opportunity to take great photos of the new pieces created during the Art Lab and even older pieces in case you don’t have any. The Gallery A space in conjunction with the Art Lab also provides a solid foundation for an artist to show their work to the public, which as an emerging artist is invaluable.
Besides the benefits the residency provides towards my artistic practice in terms of resume and documentation building, my stay at the gallery has also posed a unique set of problems, none of which I consider to be negative in any sense. Due to the nature of my practice, I produce a lot of aromatic “pollution” (dust, vapors, sparks etc) where generally the best place to run through these processes is outside. As my time slot for the residency was during the winter months it made nearly impossible to cast concrete or wield. These obstacles have forced me to change my approach towards creating works and from what I believe resulted in a unique set of sculptures I would have not done otherwise. So I encourage artists of all disciplines to apply, accept the rules and guidelines of the gallery, and push your creative practice further in new ways.
In terms of what I’ve made during the residency, I have completed a total of seven sculptures, possibly eight as one sculpture may become a part of a larger installation of multiples. I have also had much more time to work on maquettes for future projects and past ideas. I plan on completing two more works before my end date in the space at least, that’s my goal.
RMG: Can you please tell us a bit about your exhibition on view in Gallery A?
MD: The exhibition Equipoise on view now in Gallery A is essentially a synopsis of my sculptural work that focuses on Precarious Balance. I use a minimalistic approach to comment and compose structures within the genre of abstract-expressionism. Every piece installed in the show uses its own weight to maintain the planned composition. The piece entitled Moon was actually the first piece that I had done in the theme of balance. All the other pieces in the exhibition were made just before I began my residency or during.
RMG: What inspires you? Is there a particular artist’s work that has influenced your practice?
MD: I can’t say that there is any one thing or person that has inspired me in terms of my artistic practice. My practice is more often the result of past experiences, research into various aspects of sculptural elements such as materiality and composition. Considering all these things applying them to two-dimensional drawings and realizing them in the third-dimension is where my ideas usually synthesize.
That being said, Chris Burden and his show “Extreme Measures” was definitely something that had some influence towards how I thought about composition and sculpture I would say. I still really enjoy his bridge works and his piece “Beam Drop, 2008.”
Guests at RMG Exposed, the annual juried photography auction and fundraiser for the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, will walk directly into one of the evening’s works of art: a large-scale projection installation entitled SPIN, by photographer and Durham College Professor, Katrina Jennifer Bedford. We sat down with Sam Mogelonsky, the RMG’s Manager of Marketing and Communications, to learn more about SPIN.
Katrina Jennifer Bedford is an artist I have been following for a few years. Her work with photography had always interested me, in particular the SPIN project which was presented at Nuit Blanche Toronto and also at Cambridge Galleries Unsilent Night. This project activates the space in such a dynamic way that when we began considering RMG Exposed 2015, I immediately thought of this project and suggested it as an artist project for the event. Katrina was on board and excited about the possibility of re-staging it at the RMG and the collaboration went from there. We were thrilled to receive support from Durham College, where she teaches in the Digital Photography and Video programs, as well as Ed Video for technical support and Posterjack for the production of the SPIN limited edition print.
What’s the significance of installing SPIN in the lobby of the RMG, rather than in a gallery?
We like to think of the entire RMG building as a whole – the experience begins when you walk up the stairs and isn’t confined to one particular gallery space. As much as I enjoy seeing art presented in the “white cube” gallery space, I am equally thrilled and engaged when art is presented in unexpected places, such as corners, hallways, and in this case, our lobby. Besides, the ironic limestone wall in the lobby space is a perfect canvas for a temporary art installation!
How to you hope visitors will feel, or “take away” from SPIN?
I hope people will be as captivated by the project as I was when I first saw it. The simple action of the disco ball rotating in stop motion is almost hypnotic and certainly visually stunning when presented at such a large scale. Since it’s presented at RMG Exposed, I hope people will recognize the significance of both the analogue and digital in photography and video and be inspired to purchase a photograph during the auction, or one of the limited edition prints of SPIN. I know I will.
How does SPIN enhance the viewing experience of RMG Exposed? Should it influence how guests look at the photographs in the exhibition?
My hope is that the projection will draw the viewer in form outside and they will be engaged and excited about the event from the moment they walk into the RMG. By changing the lobby through the video, I hope that guests will appreciate the transformative properties of art and consider purchasing one of the great photos up at auction to transform their own living spaces. It may or may not have any bearing on how guests view the photographs in the auction, but certainly will provide an amazing backdrop for visitors to enjoy the event!
Can you tell me about the limited edition of SPIN?
The RMG is thrilled to be collaborating with Katrina on a limited edition of SPIN. The artist print of the project will be available for $50 in support of the RMG’s community outreach programs. The 8×12″ fine art prints are printed with archival ink on 100% cotton Hahnemïhle photo rag. Prints can be purchased in advance at rmgexposed.ca or during the event. Support of this edition is generously provided by Posterjack.
Katrina Jennifer Bedford is a photographer, art educator and cultural advocate. She currently holds the position of Professor at Durham College teaching in the Digital Photography and Video Production programs. Jennifer has worked with notable not-for-profit organizations such as the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, Cambridge Libraries and Galleries, Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener Area (CAFKA), Art Gallery of Burlington, and Oakville Galleries. Her photographs have been exhibited in Canada and the United States and her photos have been published in Azure magazine, Border Crossings, Canadian Art online, C Magazine and in numerous Canadian exhibition catalogues. For more information visit kjbedford.ca.
This article was originally written for What’s On Oshawa. Please visit http://whatsonoshawa.com/index.php/2015/11/10/behind-the-scenes-with-spin-at-rmg-exposed/
With RMG Exposed coming up this Saturday, our staff are sharing their photo picks for the auction. Check our the selection from our Director of Finance and Administration, Olinda Casimiro. It’s not too late to buy your ticket – we hope to see you at RMG Exposed!
Tim McGhie, Regent Park:
I have always been interested in the “house” and how people make them their “home”. This image captures the tear down of an apartment building in Regent Park, Toronto. The “cookie cutter” formula applied to mass housing offers the occupier slim options on how to make the space their own, here, we have is a glimpse of some painted walls, enough to confirm occupancy. Domestic and landscape architecture have transformed our understanding of parks and buildings, this photograph begs the questions, how does one alter a two dimensional structure environment to provide personalization that allows its occupants to create memories? Will the replacement multifamily house in the end produce anything that looks, feels and inspires growth in its inhabitants? How do we make use of our living spaces, how do we change them and how do we leave them–after all, our house is a house that is like the life that goes on with it.
Jessica Thalmann, Scientist:
I found myself drawn to this image over and over again, there is a wonderful sculptural element — as if, it almost wants to fall off the wall. Only after some contemplation, did it reveal to me the “Scientist” in the background. There are layers in this photograph worth exploring, including the choice of rainbow-like colours, the subject includes both of things past and future. The colours and their three dimensional shapes perhaps reveals an insight into the mind as it works through the challenges presented in the era that the Scientist created great leaps of growth….science, silent sound and colour juxtaposed together create evocative emotion that naturally allows for engagement and dialogue when viewing this work.
Carolyn Doucette, Great North American Landscapes Vol.3 #3:
This work forces the viewer to challenge the way life has changed and what life may be through intervention. Does a dilemma exist in the world today? The interaction of yesterday as observed in the raw landscape which with human ignorance will die, with tomorrow, does the barcode, which is a language understood by the computer have the ability to replace nature? Although beautiful, the barcode, which is represented by a colourfield negative waterfall, appears foreign. It forces the viewer to ponder the complexities that exist in today’s world –nature vs structured human manipulation. There are connections between human and nature all around us, here, the vastness of nature dominates, I am attracted to the beauty of the human geometric elongated rectangles against natures rugged outdoors. I like it – a lot!
With RMG Exposed just around the corner on November 14, we asked our Board of Trustees for their favourites from the auction. Check our the selection from our Treasurer, Vince Bulbrook. We hope to see you at RMG Exposed!
Tom Ridout – Machine Age: This picture is a quiet contrast to what would have taken place here at one time. How did it come to be like this? The pieces of equipment strewn about seem to indicate that no one expected it to get to this end state. Could the people who worked there in the past have ever imagined it would come to this?
Daniel Bruno – Serenity: When daily activity becomes overwhelming there is an urge to want to disappear from it all. To where there are no people, phones, internet, TV or cars. A place something like this. Looking at the picture and imagining what that would be like will have to do for now.
Gary Chapple – On Ice: This is a haunting picture that shows no life where once there was a family. Who were they? Why did they leave? What are their memories of this place? And why didn’t someone else take their place? Similar to Machine Age and a number of other photos here.
With RMG Exposed just around the corner on November 14, we asked art consultant Holly Mazar-Fox to share her thoughts on buying photography and the auction at the RMG. Join us for a special preview evening with Holly on November 12 from 7-8pm.
The RMG: Hi Holly! Can you tell us a bit about you and how you became an art consultant?
Holly Mazar-Fox: I’ve had a very strong passion for the arts from an early age, which I have pursued at both an academic and professional level. I graduated from Yale University with a BA in the History of Art and then went on to complete a master’s degree at The Courtauld Institute of Art (University of London, England). I have gained extensive practical experience of the art world; I worked for an art non-profit organization, a boutique contemporary commercial gallery and the Corcoran Gallery of Art (in Washington, D.C.). Upon returning to Toronto, I saw an opportunity to guide clients (private individuals, companies and art professionals) by providing a variety of art related services including advising on purchases, collection management and appraisals. The most fulfilling aspect of my job is connecting people to art – whether introducing them to a new artist or art full stop or recommending a recently opened exhibition. Art is so personal, but yet it forms the very cultural fabric that enhances our daily lives.
RMG: Briefly, can you discuss the history of contemporary photography in Canada?
HMF: A tall order, but I will try to make this as concise as possible by focusing on two core histories! From my perspective, the birth of Canadian contemporary photography truly begins with the informal Vancouver School (of the late 70s and early 80s) with artists such as Jeff Wall, Roy Arden and Rodney Graham who provided snapshots of the everyday whilst capturing certain cachets of our societies. Bringing out conceptual ideas yet bridging a connection to greater art historical themes was a momentous shift – henceforth transition the medium from documentary to one of commentary. Also during these formative years saw the emergence of women artists such as Suzy Lake, Shari Hatt and Nicole Jolicoeur who brought to the forefront issues centered upon identity. Both movements have laid down the foundations of Canadian contemporary photography that are still influencing and relevant to today’s artists.
RMG: Is this art form becoming more noticed in the art market? How are artists working in this medium (analogue vs digital, etc)?
HMF: Within the last 25 years, photography has very much emerged from the shadows to become an art form in its own right celebrated by collectors and institutions alike. Facets of the art landscape devoted exclusively to photography have emerged covering events to awards, including Toronto’s own CONTACT Photography Festival as well as the annual Aimia/AGO Photography Prize that recognizes pioneering contemporary photographers.
The majority of today’s artists are working within the digital photography space, leaving the dark rooms behind! In addition to moving away from the traditional norms, there has been an increased interest in the exploration of material components and chemical processes produced through photography as well as the extrapolation of the still image translated into video installations.
4) Can you please explain the “photographic edition” and what to consider in a print?
HMF: Photographs are generally sold in editions – meaning that a total number of that specific photograph has been printed at one time and then retired. In some cases the original file/negative is kept by the artist or destroyed. The number of prints in an edition can range immensely, for example from three to 950, in addition to an Artist’s Proof, which is usually kept by the artist (AP for short). It is important when considering a print to consider the edition size; the smaller the edition the more exclusive with fewer pieces in circulation in comparison with a large issue edition. This year RMG Exposed will be presenting a special installation, SPIN by Katrina Jennifer Bedford – a limited edition of 50 prints of the project will be for sale, created exclusively for this event.
RMG: Let’s say you are new to collecting, where should you start? What should you look for?
HMF: Should you be looking to acquire artwork as a budding collector, consider working with an art consultant. The art world can be an intimidating and challenging place to navigate without the help of a specialist. Mazar-Fox Art Consulting has an in-depth and thorough knowledge of the art market from all angles; covering a wide range of artistic styles and mediums to value for money. I’m constantly attending art fairs, exhibitions, and auction sales both locally and abroad to seek out new talent, while also keeping a pulse on current market trends. I can assist clients in matching artwork with their tastes, aesthetic, and budget (no amount is too small). Working with an art consultant not only provides you with an opportunity to enhance your own knowledge about art, but also enables collectors to have access to high calibre art at all price levels.
RMG: What are the three works in the RMG Exposed auction that stood out to you? Why?
HMF: So many works to choose from! Here are my selections:
Brilynn Ferguson – St Agnes. This photograph is incredibly powerful – its elongated perspective and sharp details immediately draw you into the frame. The unmistakable vibrancy of the colourful graffiti work being bordered by a majestic gothic arch brings an interesting juxtaposition between old and new. From my perspective, there is a mixture of sadness and beauty being captured as decay is met with a warm glow of light pouring through the window – there is a real narrative to this one!
Glen Lee Jones – The Maze. I find the energy and playfulness of this piece extremely appealing – the geometric shapes and clean lines are reminiscent of an Art Deco style. A visual challenge to layer contrasting patterns, Jones has found the right formula with a muted palette in the background in combination with a slightly more colourful range of red and navy hues in the foreground. This composition really does pop.
Lora Moore–Kakaletris – Skimming the Surface. I am very much drawn to the interplay of light and dark shadows of this figurative piece. For me, there is also a peacefulness and stillness to the work – the opaque section of the water evokes feelings of solitude, while the subject is captured in an elegantly outstretch pose that brings this photograph to life.
RMG: You go to many charity benefits and auctions, what makes RMG Exposed different? Why support the RMG in this way?
HMF: The RMG Exposed fundraising auction is a wonderful opportunity to not only support Canadian contemporary photographers, but also the exceptional programming at the RMG that in turn serves the entire Durham community. The RMG is continually developing new ways to interact with art through engaging exhibitions and educational endeavours by sharing the positive effects of artwork with audiences – I believe everyone should have access to art and the RMG remains dedicated to this cause.
I’m especially drawn to photographic concentration of this auction as I’ve seen some very interesting artistic developments within this particular art form that are pushing the boundaries of creativity. Leave the evening with a work of art in hand and satisfaction that you’ve given a little back to the RMG. I encourage everyone to bid high and often!
A version of this article was also published on whatsonwoshawa.com