Finally….galleries are open for business here in Toronto. From large public galleries to small indie showrooms and outdoor art exhibitions, painters, sculptors and photographers now have venues in which to exhibit their art and FLY will be visiting them throughout the coming months to bring you stories from the walls.Throughout the pandemic, artists of all genres have struggled to navigate the many online platforms that put their work in front of art-lovers, dealing with the challenges of spatial perception, true colours & textures and that all important one-on-one experience with potential buyers and collectors. Facebook, Instagram, event Tik-Tok have hosted “virtual galleries” but without targeted marketing and promotions just to get people to click on to artists’ sites, it’s been a battle esp. for those who are technically challenged.
FLY has been a long-time fan of abstract artist Lori Mirabelli, admiring her colourful & energetic work at the various outdoor art fests, gallery showings, etc. across southern Ontario. So many artists have suffered during the Covid-19 lock-down of galleries, cancellations of all the popular art expos and festivals, but Lori has kept her head down creating more paintings and posting them on her website “gallery” for potential buyers & collectors.FLY had the opportunity to chat recently with Lori via email & social media, asking her about her work, her inspirations and how she’s handling the lack of personal contact with art lovers and gallery owners….and this is what she shared:
When did you first realize that painting could be a career choice?
I realized I could be a professional artist back in 2008; I had just finished my University degree with a major in Psychology. The Fine Arts program allowed me to take a few classes even though was not majoring or minoring in the arts program. The two courses Painting 1, 2 and colour theory changed everything for me. It was also the first time I had ever tried acrylic paints. I fell in love immediately. Our focus in the Painting 2 course was Grisaille Renaissance technique. I don’t know what it was about acrylics except that there was an instant connection, I felt as if I had been doing it my whole life. The professor who taught the course took a keen interest in me and made me promise him that once I graduated from University, I would continue to pursue a career in the arts. I kept that promise and continue to explore the acrylic medium.
Immediately upon graduation, I began painting abstract art. I felt it was important to continue painting to improve my process and develop a style unique to me, but what I realized was art supplies are quite expensive. To solve that problem, I tried to find a place where I could list some of my paintings for sale with a modest price. My only objective at this time was to be able to sell a few paintings so I could purchase more art supplies and keep painting. Through my research I found a website called etsy.com, which I’m sure most of you know by now, but back in 2008 Etsy was just in its infancy and the market wasn’t yet saturated. I remember the day I made the decision to list my first painting for sale online; I felt so exposed and that the world was going judge me harshly. It was a challenging process to press the button on my mouse to list that piece for sale. To my surprise, 2 weeks later that painting sold to someone in Western Canada and it was at that moment when I thought OK this could be possible; a career in art was within my reach. From that day on, I focused on how to continue moving forward and pursuing a career in art. I’m so very grateful for that painting course, my Professor and the woman who purchased my first painting on Etsy; they gave me confidence and the push I needed to believe a career as a painter was a possibility for me.What prompted the change from realism to abstract painting?
All my life I had been a sketcher; my favourite was drawing trees and faces. I was quite good at ink and pencil drawings. When I enrolled into the painting course in University, we had an opportunity to explore the 3 main mediums, water, acrylic and oil paints. I fell in love with Acrylics. The versatility of this medium has kept my focus; I felt like the possibilities were endless. Painting Grisaille style in the second half this course showed me the layering process. I think because I was already a sketcher this came easily to me and I wasn’t feeling challenged enough. Abstract art, I quickly discovered was a whole other ball game. It feels like a never-ending puzzle that I’m always trying to solve. I was an instant fit.
Who are your own favourite abstract artists and why?
There are so many artists that I admire. Some of them would be Rothko, Motherwell, Clifford Still, C Y Twombly and Mark Bradford.
Rothko for his use of colour, size, and his void of influencing the viewer on his work.
CY Twombly for his use of size and mark making techniques. I could get lost in his scribble technique.
Robert Motherwell for his dedication to the series Elegies to the Spanish Republic which was initially inspired by the Spanish Civil War (1936–39). The size, scale, and his need to capture it exactly as his intended.
Clifford Still for laying the groundwork for the Abstract Expressionist movement, and he is also made a shift from representational to abstract painting.
Mark Bradford for his complete down to earth style and telling it like it is. I loved that he paints on paper that he acquires from old billboard signs in his home neighbour and, of course, his large-scale grid-like abstract paintings.Earlier this year, you were involved in a very unique theatrical event, Sunday in the Park with George produced by Evan Tsitsias, Artistic Director of Toronto’s Eclipse Theatre Company. Please tell us briefly about this ground-breaking collaboration.
It certainly was a ground-breaking collaboration for me, and I was so nervous. I met Evan at Riverdale Artwalk in 2019, I was there exhibiting my paintings. He explained that he was doing a re-staging of the play “Sunday in the Park with George”. Instead of having the character (based on the artist Georges Seurat) actually paint, Tsitsias, wanted to incorporate a live painter. He wanted abstract art to capture Seurat’s emotions, and told me he knew I was perfect for the part when he saw my paintings, especially the one titled Oh Those Baby Blues, a 40-inch by 68-inch acrylic painting on canvas. Music is very important to me when I create my work and he was able to recognize that there was a musical quality to my work.
I created a whole body of work for this theatrical endeavour. I wanted to be able to merge Seurat’s style with my own geometrical style and create something that would be uniquely pleasing to the eye. I practiced this style over and over while listening to the soundtrack of Sunday in the Park with George; it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and I loved listening to all the actors sing. They were an incredibly talented group of actors and I was so honored to be a part of the whole experience including rehearsals.
During the Covid-19 isolation, how have you changed or adapted your daily creative process?
I thankfully haven’t really had to adjust much. As an artist, I tend to be a homebody and somewhat of an introvert so staying home and being creative is pretty much how I lived my life pre-Covid-19. About the only change I’ve made is adjusting my routine to ensure that I’m incorporating more online marketing as all this year’s summer shows have been cancelled. I want to ensure that my work is still being seen, so I am focusing more on my website, social media platforms and exploring other marketing opportunities. I thankfully don’t have trouble creating pieces of work when times get stressful; I find it just enhances my ability to create. Making art is my safe zone, my protection – a place where I can go that’s safe from everything and just let myself be in the moment. I’m thankful that I have that ability, I know other artists are struggling to compartmentalize what’s happening and how to move forward in a time of a pandemic. I focus on the future, I still have plans, set goals, it’s how I keep my sanity. With so many annual art shows being cancelled and galleries closing until further notice, the public has no access to a personal experience with your work – how does this impact your art sales and/or commissions?
I think it’s hard to comment right now how it’s going to impact sales and commissions. So far, the online sales have been good, and I’ve been able to land 2 commissions. Whether that will continue or not, I don’t know that, we’re going to have to just see how this plays out and in the interim, I’ll keep focusing on online marketing. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to pull through and do OK this year.
Any advice to other artists about being productive and keeping a positive, mindful attitude?
My advice would be just keep trying to create, eventually muscle memory will take over and you’ll be able to make some beautiful artwork. I think it’s important to continue to set goals for yourself, have things that you want to strive for. Remember to put one foot in front by taking the steps to attain the goals you set for yourself. Not only will you feel productive, but you will be taking charge and control of your situation.
Important to note that with so many people being out of work right now and socially isolating they have turned to social media. A lot more eyes are seeing Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest posts, so make sure that you’re working your social media apps everyday. You may not get the sales now, but the more eyes on your work, the more sales down the road. I also love the phrase; this too shall pass.I have lots of ways of how you can follow my news and my work. You can subscribe on my website www.lorimirabelli.com where you can see my current art for sale, upcoming shows, as well as, I am working on a blog where I share how to further your art career and other things of interest. You can also follow my work on social media:
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and candor with FLY’s readers, Lori. Readers are encouraged to visit Lori’s website and browse her online gallery of works currently available for sale. As soon as life gets back to normal (?) Lori will invite art lovers to her studio in downtown Toronto, and watch her social media for news about future live shows where her work will be featured.
Gosh, it’s been a long time since FLY last posted a blog here BUT after traveling to various galleries in Arizona and now dealing with Covid-19 lock-downs, FLY is back and flapping her wings in anticipation of late spring re-openings of galleries and postponed shows and arts festivals (fingers crossed). So let’s play catch up with a few stories and pics from the last 5 months…
Last December, FLY visited Scottsdale, AZ, and joined the crowds at the Old Town arts district “Art Walk” visiting all the galleries and working artist studios. FLY met some talented artists and made great connections with gallery owners and directors. Here are just a few of the outstanding views from the Thursday night “Art Walk”.
For info on the monthly Art Walks and on current Covid-19 status, visit their website: www.scottsdaleartsdistrict.com/artwalk
FLY’s favourite gallery in Old Town is, in fact, the Western Spirit Museum which is just around the corner from the gallery district, and it houses some of the best south western art, bronze sculptures and native American pottery FLY has ever seen. If you’re visiting the Scottsdale/Phoenix area, this is a MUST for lovers of fine art and American history. Once travel bans are lifted and we’re all able to visit galleries, FLY highly recommends the Western Spirit Museum. For info, directions and to view current exhibits, check out their website: www.scottsdalemuseumwest.org
So FLY is now back in the saddle and will be posting weekly blogs promoting local and int’l artists, galleries and linked articles of interest for you all to enjoy. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this down-time.
Last night (Wed. Nov. 6) FLY was thrilled to be invited to the official opening of The Artists’ Network new digs in downtown Toronto. Located in the vibrant cultural community of Leslieville at 1158 Queen St East, the gallery hosts a juried exhibition of Artists’ Network members that includes original works inspired by a broad interpretation of the theme MOMENTUM, from the act of moving forward to the poetics of spiritual growth. FLY was invited to the celebratory soiree by the fabulous Connie Gorsline who posed in front of her wonderfully energetic seascape (below)The gallery filled quickly with members and fans of fine art ….….who discovered lots of stunning artworks on the walls…….and FLY was pleased to see a favourite photographic art piece by Lori Ryerson (below)And here’s Connie with fellow artist Nancy Bennett (below) enjoying a glass of cheer and the great company!Congratulations to Kate Taylor and the entire Board of The Artists’ Network in securing such an amazing new HQ, and FLY recommends a personal visit to see the talent contained within its walls. The current show runs until November 24 (see details below) and to learn more about the organization and upcoming events, visit their website: www.theartistsnetwork.ca
What started off as a rather overcast morning turned into a hot and humid exercise in aisle surfing at this year’s Toronto Outdoor Art Fair in downtown Toronto. FLY managed to make it through most of the exhibits, stopping in to say hi to old friends and discovering exciting new artist. FLY also found a few exquisite & affordable “smalls” to decorate what little wall space there is left in her apartment! So join FLY now for a quick visit to meet the artists and check out their art……
First stop, Nancy Bennett who was there bright and early for set up today.. Nancy was busy showcasing her work when FLY dropped in..good luck with sales this weekend, Nancy. www.nancybennett.ca
Next, handsome and talented Ian Busher welcomed FLY to his booth. Loving the new style he has been exploring – FLY is a proud owner of one of Ian’s early wildlife artworks. http://www.studiobusher.comThen further along the aisles, FLY found fab photographic artist Lori Ryerson who was keeping cool in the shade, surrounded by soothing blues…. http://www.focalocity.ca
One of FLY’s longtime faves is Stewart Jones (pictured below) who made the move to Pr. Edward Country several years ago. Stewart’s urban landscapes were exciting and edgy but now he’s developing even more beautiful studies from the countryside surrounding his new digs out in Wellington. http://www.stewartjones.ca
Next up, FLY would like to introduce you to Sara Purves (below) whose colourful graphic artwork not only brightened up the gloomy morning, but a number of her smaller pieces came home with FLY! http://www.sarapurves.com Grace Dam, who has exhibited at Toronto’s Urban Gallery, was also there with her large format portraits. Her big bold paintings intrigue and engage the viewer. http://www.gracedam.com And here’s cutie-patootie Zoey Zoric who makes visitors so welcome in her booth. Zoey’s work has multiple layers of interpretation and she enjoys hearing viewers’ comments on the meanings of each image. http://www.zzfineart.com Mixed media artist Linda DeLuca (below) is surrounded by her colourful joy-filled work and, like FLY, she’s big on cowboys! Check out more of Linda’s work at http://www.lindadeluca77.com Mary Derrick was pleased to share her super cool seascapes and FLY was particularly attracted to that powerful B&W cloudscape (centre, lower pic). http://www.maryderrickart.com Here’s Brian Harvey, another of FLY’s fave artists whose downtown Toronto streetscapes are immediately recognizable. You gotta check out his booth or visit his website for more views: http://www.brianharvey.ca Another exciting new discovery was Anu Kalra whose paintings are inspired by her Indian heritage and the centuries old Mogul, Rajput and Madhubani Deccan styles. The tiny 4″x4″ painting of a reluctant shy bride (bottom pic) was a “must have” and she now resides on a bedroom wall in FLY’s home! http://kalra.wix.com/anu-kalra So there you go…it was so hot and sticky, poor FLY had to flee after this. There are many more booths to visit so spend a few hours this weekend down at Nathan Phillips Sq, supporting Canadian artists……and it’s all FREE!
More details at: www.torontooutdoor.art
Regardless of the lack of subway transportation this past weekend, FLY managed to make it to the Rosedale Art Fair and discover new exciting artists as well as visit old friends. Located in the grounds surrounding the big LCBO in the historic railway station at Summerhill (how convenient), the tents and booths contained oils, acrylics, pastels, photographs, sculptings…something for every artistic taste and wallet.
The first booth FLY visited belonged to Brigitte Nowak whose bright colourful canoes drew lots of visitors into her temporary studio. Even FLY was ready to pick up a paddle and set off into the wilderness after spending time with Brigitte’s paintings! For more info on the artist: www.facebook.com/brigitte.nowak1FLY then buzzed over to meet sculptor Chaka Chikodzi whose beautiful tactile stone carvings were attracting lots of interest and sales. The Kingston-based artist was an exciting discovery…can’t wait to see more of his work. www.chakachikodzi.com Next to Chaka, FLY bumped into Dave Rheaume whose work features vintage views of city life including puffing steam trains and snow-covered streets from early to mid-century Toronto. www.daverheaume.com
Next door to Dave was long-time friend and fave artist Mark Jeremy Gleberzon (below). FLY is proud to own one of Mark’s sparkly colourful pieces. Mark has been very busy this year with exhibitions in the U.S. and Canada – here he is posing front of his latest artwork featuring a sunny beach scene based on a photo a very young Mark took, digitally enhanced and blown up real big! www.mjggallery.com A little further along the tent, FLY ran into the delightful Genie Kim (below). FLY has been paying attention to Genie’s adorable “smalls” and giant artworks at various art shows and expos – her booth is always full of happy laughing young art enthusiasts...I want that one, no THAT one…and that one! www.geniekim.com Across the tent, FLY found another old friend, photographer extraordinaire, Lori Ryerson. Lori has recently returned to Toronto from a photo safari in Utah and the American south-west so FLY can’t wait to see the results. Here Lori poses in front of some digitally enhanced close-ups of water – who knew water could look quite so edgy and funky? www.focalocity.ca Across the aisle from Lori, FLY found the delightful paper sculptor Anushka Deshpande who creates charming still life images by folding and rolling coloured papers. Due to reflections on the glass frames, FLY asked Anushka to send studio photos of her work (lower pics) so readers can see the intricate beauty. www.PaperSwanStudio.com Zoey Zoric (below) always provokes and engages with her unique portraits, be they of people or individual body parts! She’s all heart as witnessed in her painting of that specific organ. FLY loves Zoey’s enthusiasm and joy which is reflected in her work regardless of the dark palettes or subjects – the light always shines thru and Zoey frames each still life in exquisite hands. Check out her work at www.zzfineart.com Speaking of still life subjects, Marsha Strycharz always appeals to FLY – her glasses and ceramics have that certain “sparkle” and suggests the viewer can just reach out and pick ’em up! www.marshastrycharz.com Camera-shy photographer Janine Sindrey let her work speak for itself. FLY loved the giant ocean wave (lower) – very powerful and FLY swears you can hear the sound of the wave if you stand really close to the picture! www.janinesindrey.com Laura Dick specializes in stunning floral portraits…in fact, they’re quite breathtaking in person. Can’t you just smell the fragrance? Spring is certainly well represented here at Laura’s booth! www.lauradick.com And what’s an art fair without the fabulous Rob Croxford? FLY got to his booth just as he was making a sale so FLY snapped a couple of candid shots showing the artist in action! www.robcroxford.com Next year, please come out and support your local artists at the Rosedale Art Fair – check the website for news and updates: www.rosedalemainstreet.ca
FLY set out early to outrun the rain that was forecast for the afternoon of Saturday June 1st, the first day of the annual Riverdale Art Walk weekend. Armed with a trusty umbrella, FLY eventually proved the Weather Network & Mother Nature wrong! Come walk the grassy aisles of the art fest located in Jimmy Simpson Park, Queen St East in this virtual tour….
First tent FLY hit belonged to Nancy Bennett, always a fun and favourite artist to visit:
Visit Nancy’s website for more art and info on her upcoming shows: www.nancybennett.ca
This year, FLY was thrilled to discover the beautiful fine art photography of Laura Berman (below) whose digitally enhanced photos of farmyard beasties were simply entrancing. www.laurabermanphotography.com Nadia Lassman (below) was as sunny and sparkly as her work! Check out her website for more of her paintings: www.nadialassmanart.com Hyper-realist painter Ian Bodnaryk (below) proudly showed off his delicious artworks – even his vegetables made me want to eat healthy!! www.ianbodnaryk.com Long-time participant, W. Stephen Cooper, is always a joy to greet…his photographs of vintage autos and old rusted out junkers are gorgeous..perfect for any man-cave! www.wstephencooper.com
Rea Kelly was busy setting up her tent as well as chatting with potential buyers so FLY discreetly snapped away at some of her smaller pieces (below) You can see her larger pieces at www.reakelly.com Felicity Somerset exhibited lots of beautiful colourful photographs of flowers, art glass, even hummingbirds. She employs stunning colour combinations to tell illustrate her subjects. She is also participating in an exhibition that explores the remains of rural life in Eastern Ontario Oct. 27 at the Arts & Letters Club of Toronto. Visit her website for info: www.felicitysomersetphotography.com Super cute Zoey Zoric was there with her large canvases as well as smaller still-life pieces of everyday things. You can sign up for her newsletter and see more of her work at www.zzfineart.com One of the more prolific artists and a member of several artist collectives, Kate Taylor‘s colourful and joyful artworks always promote a full booth of admirers…but FLY managed to catch her in a rare moment of freedom (below). Viewmore of her work and learn when/where you can see Kate’s work next at www.katetaylorstudio.com
Poor Lori Ryerson (below) was suffering with a bad cold but FLY managed to convince her to pose for a quick snapshot! You look fabulous, Lori, don’t worry. Lori travels the world on photo “safaris” and she finally managed to stop still long enough to participate in this fun outdoor show. www.focalocity.ca Josée Savaria (below) is always smiling…FLY met her last year and again, today found her pleased to be at the Riverdale Art Walk, chatting with enthusiastic visitors. www.joseesavaria.com FLY is a proud owner of a Mirek Bialy original and was pleased to see his latest, newest artwork here. Mirek integrates copper strips in many of his pieces, adding a unique reflective quality to the high-glass finishes. See more here: www.mirekbialy.com Neerja Trehan (below) is such a lovely lady as well as talented artist…she’s always smiling and happy to greet you. She’s created a lot of new, exciting pieces for the season, including the fluid, flowy silk scarf-like paintings in the 2nd picture. Neerja is also quite brilliant at marketing – she’s incorporated her designs into coasters, trays and other little treasures that are perfect (and very affordable) for hostess gifts, wedding or birthday presents and esp. for Christmas treats. Check her website for more ideas: www.neerjatrehan.com FLY found Pam Mayhew with a big smile on her face – she was enjoying the crowds and meeting fellow artists. Surrounded by her bright, free-form brushstrokes, she was a gracious tent hostess and excited about her second outdoor show of the season next week up at the Rosedale Art Fair (Yonge & Summerhill, outside the big LCBO in the old CN railway station). Visit her website for news and more examples of her work: www.pammayhewstudio.com
Glassmaker extraordinaire Layne Verbeek was on hand with samples of his glass sculptures. Layne also instructs kids and adults in his studio, offering courses for those with or without any previous experience. Information on these plus more of his work can be found at: www.verbeekglassstudio.com
FLY made another wonderful discovery of a new artist, Lucky Jackson (below) who creates stand-up 3D portraits of cultural icons – see how many you can identify in this photo. Betcha you can find your fave tv, movie or music stars on her website: www.luckyjackson.ca A few clouds moved in and the sky over the park went a little dark so it was time to skedaddle into the big hall where a number of FLY’s fave artists had smartly reserved their booths. Here’s the fabulous Rob Croxford (below) busy with potential clients/sales…. www.robcroxford.com …and across the aisle was his studio-mate, Jessica Lin (below) www.jessicalin.ca And last but not least, the incomparable Mark Jeremy Gleberzon (below) who’s been so busy lately with US-based shows and art expos. Follow Mark on his very active Fcbk page: MJG Gallery by Mark Jeremy Gleberzon If you’re looking for a great way to spend a few hours tomorrow, Sunday June 2, why not go support local artists? Details & directions here: https://riverdaleartwalk.ca/