Interview with Gallery A artist Mike Drolet

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.

Art Lab

Mike Drolet, 2015

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.

art project

Mike Drolet, 2015

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.”

artwork

Mike Drolet, 2015

Interview with Motor City Stories Artist Dani Crosby

“Hot Topics” blog posts come from the desk of Sam Mogelonsky, our Communications & Social Media Coordinator. Sam caught up with Motor City Stories artist Dani Crosby to discuss her project in the upcoming exhibition. 

In partnership with the Motor City Boxing Club, the RMG has invited regional artists to produce new works inspired by the sport of boxing. Selected artists were invited to visit the Motor City Boxing Club (Oshawa), observe athletes in training, work in situ at the club and produce new work based on their observations. The exhibition runs from July 14 – August 2 in gallery A.

RMG: Why were you interested in the Motor City Stories project?

Dani Crosby: I love drawing from life, I find Boxing to be beautiful and brutal, and I could not resist the challenge of capturing that duality on site at the Motor City Boxing Club.

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RMG: What have you been doing at Motor City Boxing Club?

DC: A lot of quick gesture drawings. I am treating my visits to Motor City Boxing Club like great big life drawing sessions. I try to scurry around the space and capture as many interesting poses and expressions as possible within the time frame of each visit. I have also been taking some video clips so that I can work from my studio in a similar manner. I’m going to be sad when this project comes to an end. As a big fan of drawing from life I would love to keep drawing at Motor City Boxing Club indefinitely.

RMG: What has been the most interesting part of the project so far?

DC: The close proximity to the action and the people. Motor City Boxing Club members range from children to seniors and all members seem so supportive and respectful of one another. Everyone has been very friendly and often inquisitive. I have had the pleasure of listening to stories from several individuals describing their reasons for training, their interest and involvement in the Visual arts. I have been made very comfortable on the premises and I am thrilled to have made Motor City Boxing members comfortable enough to approach and converse.

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RMG: What are the next steps for your project before the exhibition?

DC: I will continue to crank out as many drawings as possible. My contribution to this exhibition consists of many small pieces, each piece illustrating a different state of training, to be arranged in Gallery A in a pattern representative of The Square Circle. All of my work for this exhibition will focus on a blend of frantic mark making and deliberate ink work, reflecting the cycle of energy ongoing within the Motor City Boxing training space.

A side from that I am working with local vinyl artist Gant Cole who will be printing a number of vinyl wall decal ‘photo corners’ I have designed in order to securely and inconspicuously mount each small piece directly onto the gallery wall. Oh and talking. I will continue sharing my own excitement in regards to this exhibition and the other artists my work will be neighbor to, through word of mouth and social media.

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Dani Crosby is an Illustrator, Fine Artist, and Art Instructor. With a body of work ranging from observational studies to imagined interpretive conceptual projects Dani works to capture personality and develop thoughtful narratives in her diverse fine art work. As an Illustrator Dani brings a highly organized, consistent, and punctual working style to her clients. Her goal is to visually captivate and emotionally involve her audience. Dani’s main areas of focus as a visual artist have been: fine art, editorial, art for albums, merchandise, images for web and devices, posters, logos and icons.

Dani is always looking forward to exploring new subject matter, experiencing with new media, challenging concepts, meeting new clients, nurturing on-going professional relationships, taking on new commissions, and creative adventures in general. Graduate of the Sheridan College BA Illustration Program, Dani believes visual art is powerful enough to change anything from a person’s perception of a brand to a person’s perception of the world at large.

All images courtesy of Dani Crosby and the Motor City Boxing Club.

Interview with Gallery A artist Toni Hamel

“Hot Topics” blog posts come from the desk of Sam Mogelonsky, our Communications & Social Media Coordinator.

The RMG caught up with artist Toni Hamel. Her exhibition, The land of Id is, on view in Gallery A from March 3 to 29. She will speak about her work on Sunday 29 March from 1-3pm.

The RMG: Hi Toni! Please tell us a bit about yourself?

Toni Hamel: I am an Oshawa-based visual artist. I received my BFA from the Academy of Fine Arts of Lecce, Italy in 1983, but my career as a visual artist is still considered ’emerging’ in that my first public show took place only about six years ago, in 2009. However, in these short years I have been fortunate enough to achieve some level of recognition, having received three Ontario Arts Council grants and many other awards. More recently, one of my artworks has been purchased by the Archives of Ontario for inclusion in the Government of Ontario’s permanent art collection, certainly a great honour of which I am extremely grateful.

RMG: What materials do you work in?

TH: As an inter-disciplinary artist the material utilized in my work is varied. I am fond of vintage and recycled objects for instance, which I often use in my installations and sculptural pieces. Their inclusion is never gratuitous however, as these objects need to carry either an aesthetic or a semantic function. Thus far my practice has been focused on drawing, but painting will also be part of my oeuvre in the near future.

RMG: Why were you interested in Gallery A’s Art Lab residency? What have you made while working as an artist in residence for the month of February?

TH: Originally my intention was to create a large site-specific installation for Gallery A, and that was in fact the reason why I had originally applied for the Art Lab residency. Unfortunately scheduling oversights prevented me from utilizing Gallery A during that period of time, an event that forced me to revise my plans at the last minute. Eventually I decided to work on large-scale paintings that are part of “The land of Id” series, a body of work funded by the Ontario Arts Council. However, the three-week residency period was not at all sufficient to bring these oil paintings to completion, therefore I continued working on them while in Gallery A. It was also my intention to experiment with mechanical flip-book animations, but lack of time has prevented me from doing so.

RMG: Can you please tell us a bit about your exhibition The Land of Id, on view in Gallery A?

“The land of Id” continues my discourse on human behaviour, focusing on our misguided relationship with the natural environment. In a nutshell, It looks at issues of land exploitation and its repercussions.  For more information, please visit http://www.rmg.on.ca/gallery-a-toni-hamel.php.

RMG: What inspires you? Is there a particular artist’s work that has influenced your practice?

TH: Life inspires me – if not my own, then it’ll be that of others. I am unfortunately a news-junkie and also watch too many documentaries. I find it important for an artist to be knowledgeable and well-versed in the issues of the day, as I feel that Art must bear witness. I deal with the culture of my time, trying to raise awareness about particularly pressing topics which I feel are deserving of attention. ‘The land of Id’ is just an example of that.

There are many artists that have influenced my work or admire greatly. From contemporary figures like Victor Mann,  Adrian Ghenie and Michael Borremans, to historical figures like Velasquez and Goya. I am attracted to works that have something to say, rich in content and meaning. I’m definitely not interested in ‘pretty images’ or ‘decor art’.

 

Image: Toni Hamel

The artists acknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council for this exhibition.

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Call for Submissions: Motor City Stories

Submission Deadline: 6 April 2015

ABOUT THE PROJECT

In conjunction with the Toronto 2015 Pan /Parapan American Games, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in partnership with the Motor City Boxing Club, invite regional artists to produce new works inspired by the sport of boxing. Selected artists will be invited to visit the Motor City Boxing Club (Oshawa), observe athletes in training, work in situ at the club and produce new work based on their observations.

Artists are encouraged to work in a wide variety of visual media including drawing, painting, photography, media and integrated art forms. The resulting work will be displayed in a group exhibition in Gallery A @the RMG in conjunction with other PAN AM exhibition programming

ARTIST FEE

Selected artists are provided a fee of $250.00

TIMELINE

Notification: by 10 April
Drop off work (ready to display): Monday 13 July, 1pm
Exhibition duration: 14 July – 2 August
Opening Reception: Sunday 19 July 1-3pm
Pick up artwork: Tuesday 4 August, 9am
ELIGIBILITY

Open to all professional artists and collectives residing in the Durham Region

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS

Letter of intent (maximum 1 page)
3-5 digital images or other relevant work
A current artist CV and biography in PDF format

SUBMIT at http://www.rmg.on.ca/gallery-a-motor-city-stories.php

 

Images courtesy of Motor City Boxing.

Call for Submissions: Gallery A

With the support of the Aked Endowment and funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage, the RMG is embarked on an exciting new initiative aimed at fostering a thriving local arts community. During the summer of 2014, we renovated our space to create a professional exhibition space reserved for exhibiting the work of local artists, community collaborations, and themed group exhibits.

Opportunities are available for community partnerships and special initiatives as well as an annual artist residency that prioritizes artists who wish to experiment with new ideas, collaborate, and work in new directions. Exhibiting artists will have opportunities to give public talks on their work, participate in professional development workshops, and give and receive critical feedback from peers. Programming of this space is separate from our curatorial planning and proposal selections will be made through a jury of local artists and arts professionals.

Application Deadline:
Sunday 15 March, 2015
Projects will take place from September 2015 to February 2016.

More info and to apply: http://www.rmg.on.ca/gallery-a-about.php

 

Image: Pete Smith speaking about his exhibition Postscript, 2015.

Toni Hamel’s new series, The land of Id

This post is by Heather Bulman, a public relations student at Durham College and the RMG’s current Communications Intern.

Toni Hamel was drawn to art very early in life. She remembers creating her first sculptures from the clay brought up from the ground after her parents added a well to the backyard of their Italian home. To this day, Hamel keeps the earliest evidence of her true passion – a photograph from kindergarten with a few drawings on the back.

In Italy, Hamel fought to pursue an education in the arts. Finally, in 1983, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the Academy of Fine Art in Lecce. However, after moving to Canada, she found it difficult to find a job with a degree in fine arts. Hamel took advantage of the dawn of technology by studying computer graphics at Sheridan College. As one of the few women working in technology at the time, she went on to have a very successful career as an interactive media developer and instructor at the University of Toronto. Despite her successes, Hamel grew tired of her career and, with the support of her husband, decided to return to her true passion. Since 2007, she has focused her creative efforts solely on her art. Although she incorporates many mediums into her pieces, she works mostly with graphite.

Toni Hamel painting in the Art Lab

Toni Hamel painting in the Art Lab

“I started as a painter, but then I got tired of colour. Colour distracts me,” says Hamel. “To me, it’s like decoration. In the work I have evolved to, there is no place for decoration – it’s about the essence. I extract everything else. In doing so, I arrived at drawings. Drawings don’t have contextual information, just the central message. I don’t produce images, I produce content.”

Beginning February 4, she will have the opportunity to create new content as the second artist in residency at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG) in Oshawa, Ont. In the galley’s Art Lab, attached to the recently opened Gallery A, Hamel will have the space to reflect on humans’ relationship with the environment in her new series, The land of Id. This subject matter will complement a current exhibition in the RMG, Running on Empty, while exploring different formats.

Hamel’s experiences in Italy have inspired her to explore powerful topics such as social and political issues. She believes artists have a responsibility to raise awareness about important topics and share their experiences.

“It is difficult for artists to get the general community interested in the arts,” explains Hamel. “When I was growing up in Italy, there were no galleries that offered art classes to a variety of generations, like the Station Gallery or the RMG. Gallery A gives the artists the opportunity to develop new pieces while sharing and engaging with the community.”

For this artist, it’s all about sharing a message. Hamel often uses humour and satire to explore controversial topics. While she admits that reality can be offensive sometimes, she also finds it challenging to find the right balance. As her work has evolved, Hamel has learned that sometimes she can say more with a whisper than a shout.

Toni Hamel’s exhibition The land of Id runs in Gallery A from March 3 to 29. Image by Toni Hamel.

Meet Evin Lachance, Gallery A Co-ordinator and Technician

“Hot Topics” blog posts come from the desk of Sam Mogelonsky, our Communications & Social Media Coordinator.

The RMG caught up with Evin Lachance, Gallery A Co-ordinator and Technician to discuss his new role at the gallery.

 

The RMG: Hi Evin. We are thrilled to have you as a member of the RMG team. Can you tell us briefly about who you are and how you got involved with the RMG?

Evin Lachance: I am a fairly recent grad from Ryerson University. I started my RMG journey after my graduation back in May 2014. Being raised in Oshawa I wanted to inject myself into it  Arts community so naturally I became a volunteer here at the Gallery. After 5 months or so of volunteering  I was approached by Elizabeth Sweeney and asked if I would like to work with Gallery A as a coordinator and technician. It was dream come true and an opportunity I could not pass up.

RMG: What drew you to the museum sector?

Evin: When I did my undergrad in New Media at Ryerson University I learned a lot about myself and my practice which ultimately lead me to the museum sector. In the program I learned a lot about user interaction with art and how people respond to what they see/touch/hear and it got me interested in how we as a community experience art. I suppose it ignited a spark to begin to facilitate community art in order to explore it. The best place for me was the museum sector because it was a central hub for all of these things.

RMG: How has Gallery A evolved since you began working on the project? What are you most looking forward to in the coming months?

Evin: Since I was brand new to the museum the guidelines had already been established for Gallery A. However, since it is new too I have a chance to help it grow into something special. I will say that it has evolved into this weird sibling I have to take care for:  I have to clean it, make sure it looks nice to the public, feed art into, and correct any problems it may cause. Sometimes it can be stubborn but over all its totally worth it and I strongly believe in its existence!

Overall, I am the most excited to have the space constantly being in a state of flux. We went from Painted abstract walls with Pete Smith to etchings of plant life and mixed media from Ruth Greenlaw. Every time there is a new artist in Gallery A and in the ArtLab the atmosphere becomes new and electric. I am also looking forward to the new work being created within the ArtLab and seeing Gallery A being  moulded into something new for each individual artist or group.

RMG: What is your favourite museum?

Evin: Can I say The RMG? I mean I am a little biased but it is an important establishment for art in the Oshawa community and also in my own life. I enjoy the work being done by the staff and the spectrum of artist we show here.

Other notable places that I enjoy to attend is 401 Richmond in Toronto. Though not a specific museum it houses a ton of amazing Gallery Spaces like The Red Head Gallery, A Space, Vtape, etc. I can spend hours within the building walking through all the spaces seeing all the art and become inspired by the use of space.

(I’m a little bit of a fixture junkie. I love seeing how art work is presented.)

RMG: What is the one thing you most want to share with people about the RMG?

Evin: One thing would have to be the new instalment of Gallery A and the Art lab within the RMG. We finally have a space that will properly showcase Durham Reign artists. I want people to be excited about coming and seeing new works by people they potentially live down the street from.

RMG: What is your first memory of art?

Evin: It is kind of sappy but when I was incredibly young  I remember going into my basement and searching in old boxes to find “artifacts” from my parents past. In one of the boxes with my Mother’s name on it I came across a couple of  8.5″ x 11″ acrylic animal caricatures she had done when she was a teenager.  Among them was one of a fish was blow a heart bubble to another fish. I can recall trying to recreate it about a hundred times. Even though my mom claims to never have had any talent her work is a fond memory and inspiration that I will take with me throughout my life.