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.
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
FLY braved the lower humidity yesterday and headed down to Art Square Gallery, 334 Dundas West (opp. the AGO) to visit super talented artist JOHNY DELUNA whose solo show “Still Life with Fruit” closes this Sunday, August 4th. The A/C is fabulous so no excuses…hurry hurry hurry to this unique showcase of extraordinary works.The main inspiration for my work is observing the human condition. I try to say things about happiness, sadness, confusion, hypocrisy, ignorance, cruelty, indifference and self delusion. I never put myself above these frailties but I laugh at my own weaknesses more than I laugh at others. I try to embed my stories deep enough in the paintings so that each viewer can experience them in their own way. I try to entice the viewer into the work through color, energy, humor and curious or bizarre imagery. Behind all that is the story – the viewer is free to go as deep as they want. I hope everyone see’s the works differently.
I believe that humor is the best way to connect with others, because if we can laugh at ourselves there is still hope. As an artist, the only thing I can do is be honest, brave and stay true to my vision. ~ Johny Deluna
FLY strongly recommends you see these stunning large-format paintings to appreciate the intricacies of each – pointillism meets surrealism meets contemporary meets…OMG!Each of Deluna’s paintings portrays deeper, darker stories beneath the exterior of bright, joyful images. The textural quality of the “pointillism” inspired works creates a 3D effect for each canvas. Every masterwork has been thoroughly thought out, exploring abstract themes in his signature riotous palette of primary colours. See close-up details from 3 of his paintings – belowWhile FLY was in the gallery, several visitors came by and took several minutes in front of each painting – so much to discover on each canvas…So don’t forget…Still Life with Fruit closes end of day Sunday Aug. 4th so plan on including a visit over the next few days – you will be amazed, inspired and mind-blown by Johny Deluna’s paintings.For more info on the artist, visit his website www.johnydeluna.com or follow him on Facebook. Johny’s work is in several distinguished collections in Europe and the US, and he also works on corporate & private commissions.
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/
FLY has long been an admirer of the fabulous and funny ROB CROXFORD whose humorous pop-art paintings are immediate smile-inducers! In late May last year, a studio fire all but destroyed his Toronto studio and his complete inventory of artworks. This new studio at 100 Sunrise Avenue in the east end, offers Rob a fresh start and, as with all new beginnings, Rob is focusing on new experiments and new artworks. This year marks Rob’s 15th year as a professional artist and the completion of some 1,500 works of art – CONGRATULATIONS, ROB! He’s shown in over 125 juried & solo exhibitions here and in the United States. His work is in the permanent City of Toronto’s Art Collection, and in the private collections of several Mayors, and celebrities such as Alex Lifeson, Stuart McLean & Ann Marie MacDonald. You will find his art and his commissions in many private collections all over the world from Istanbul to California. Here’s Rob to tell you himself about the new space and his new collection….
Media-darling Rob has been profiled in Argyle Magazine, Neighborhood Living Magazine, The Society for Commercial Archaeology, Spacing Magazine and many others. Rob’s acrylic paintings are intentionally upbeat and humorous. His vintage-inspired work is instantly identifiable and has a clever approach to pop culture that often merges political topics within whimsical compositions.
FLY recommends a personal visit to Rob’s studio so reach out via social media or check his website for upcoming shows: www.robcroxford.com Apart from his large-format original paintings, Rob also offers quality prints and giclees of his most popular pieces.
After a few months away from the blog (yes, our site was hacked by a nasty person!), Fly is starting off a whole new year with a visit to ARTUSIASM Gallery in Toronto (St. Clari West & Caledonia) – their new show is called Carnival and runs until January 26th, 2019. Fly interviewed gallery co-owner and artist Tanzina Amin (her husband Carlos Sa Rodrigues works with her to run the indie art gallery) and here she discusses her own paintings and the new exhibition:
Thanks, Tanzina. The Fly toured the gallery and took lots of photos of works by local Toronto artists who impressed with their skills, colour palettes and unique inspirations. Hope you enjoy this virtual visit but Fly highly recommends a personal visit to enjoy the stunning works on show for the next 2 weeks. Directions and gallery info at the end of the photo spread.
Fly loved these African-themed portraits by Leroi JohnsonAnd this stunning landscape (below) by Scott O’Neill offers lots of interest – you can see so many beautiful details in the sky, the cliffs, the sea… Next up are these two painted tapestries by Ylana Stelling: Here’s “Busker” from Art Cotrim….reminds Fly of a few well-known Toronto performers:Marcela Maciel offers up this beautiful view of a mystical forest in autumn:Fly loved the fantastic scenes of South American village life by Flor de Maria Mejia – see the close-up detail of the dancers in the middle of the crowd… Maurice Tan‘s “Four Lovers” are beautifully executed with pastel colours – their eyes followed Fly around the gallery, drawing Fly back again and again to the canvases: And here are some of Tanzina‘s own large format contemporary portraits – she has such a sensitive touch with the women she paints: So many paintings by so many talented artists to enjoy including gallery regular Alex Scovino who painted this fabulous queen of the carnival, full of riotous colour and energy: The gallery will host one more show until it closes its doors for good. After creating such a comfortable and respectful environment for local artists, the hard-working Tanzina & Carlos are taking a much needed break in the spring but plan to keep themselves busy with potential annual exhibitions hosted in larger venues. Come say hello in person – Artusiasm Gallery, 1684 St Clair Ave West, Toronto. T: 416-970-7235 www.artusiasm.com
Sadly, the heat and humidity is keeping many art lovers (incl. FLY) home in the a/c, heeding the severe heat warnings but missing some great art…here are a number of shows to be held in well cooled galleries as well as the outdoor exhibitions for those happy to sweat it out in sun!
First off, our friends at Urban Gallery are launching their August group show, Art of Food, this coming Saturday Aug. 11 (2-5pm) at 400 Queen St E, Toronto. The show runs until Aug. 31st so lots of time to visit and support Canadian artists (see Listings page for details). Here are a few images to whet your appetite for this delicious show! www.urbangallery.ca
Last month, Urban Gallery celebrated 4 artists in their “Wild in the City” show featuring the works of Erik Chang, Libby Sims, Lindsey MacKay and Osvaldo Napoli. Below are photos from the opening reception….
Coming up next weekend (Aug 10-12), we also have the Artwalk in the Square (Shops at Don Mills) where friend of the FLY Grace Dam is showcasing her works – one of the FLY’s fave paintings is her “Canadian Icon – Canmore” which certainly cools us down just by looking at it! See the Listings page for details.FLY has been invited to Peter Triantos‘ special solo show on August 23rd so check the September issue to see Peter’s vibrant large format canvases and photos from the soiree. He paints with a vivid colour palette (see below) and his work hangs in many int’l private and corporate collections. In the interim, you can see his work here: www.petertriantos.com Everyone seems to be on summer holiday so if you’re visiting any galleries or shows over August, esp. in cottage country, do send the FLY your photos and details of the art as we’d be pleased to share with our readers. Email FLY at firstname.lastname@example.org