Thursday, July 14, 2022

Sun Spots at the Gladstone House

Sun Spots (1) detail, cyanotype on paper by April Martin, 2021

April Martin was one of the Toronto area artists who was invited to create new art for the renovated Gladstone Hotel, now called Gladstone House, one of the oldest buildings still operating as a hotel in Toronto. 

Sun Spots (1),2021, cyanotype on paper 

Her work responds to the Romanesque Revival architecture of the 1889 building, specifically the ten small windows made from pressed glass that are a focal point of the Queen street entrance.    

She made photograms of these windows by pressing photosensitive paper against the textured glass.     

To create the cyanotypes the artist needed to prepare good quality art paper with the photo chemicals and keep it protected from light until the last minute.  A tall step ladder was one of her tools. 

April Martin is a process-based sculptor. 

She enjoys creating art that allows things to happen.  

In this case the sunlight acted together with the materials of chemicals and paper.  

This blog has featured April Martin before.  Please have a look at the August 2019 post, or the January 2018 post or the May 2016 posts if you are interested in seeing more of her collaborations.   

This artist is curious.  She believes in magic.  She opens personal windows for herself and for us. 

Sun Spots (1) detail, cyanotype on paper by April Martin 2021

April Martin is my daughter and last month I visited Gladstone House (room 307) so that I could see her work.  The rooms are elegant and have a minimalist aesthetic.   I took this photo just before I left after a lovely two night stay (and a beautiful city visit with her). 

All the guest rooms have the neutral style seen in this photo yet each is made unique with original art created by local Toronto artists.  I've written about the Gladstone hotel's annual exhibition of textile art, Hard Twist, several times on Judy's Journal.  While that show is not happening anymore, the hotel is still committed to supporting the arts.  Read about the art program and find the names of the other artists involved in the new d├ęcor at this link.

"Look up!  Notice the ten panes of differently textured glass, as you come and go through the south entrance of the hotel. These photograms were captured by pressing photosensitive paper against early spring light that filtered through the unique crystalline surfaces.  Like the marks that stain your eyelids after staring at the bright sky, these shapes stretch as doorways into other, blue worlds."  April Martin

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Kirsti Rantanen

Kirsti Rantanen

A strong woman textile artist from Finland.   

She is having a retrospective exhibition this year at the Craft Museum of Finland in Jyvaskyla entitled The Space of Textiles.  It continues until the end of August 2022.

Although she was well known in her native Finland, she is almost unknown in other parts of the world.  The images in this post are from the exhibition of her work that took place at Helsinki's Design Museum of Finland in  2016-2017 that was simply entitled Kirsti Rantanen. 

Thank you to Camille who wrote a blog post about Helsinki's design district in 2017.

The above photo and the one below are from Camille's blog.  

Several circles and zig zags float through the exhibition space and guide us through the space.  

Kirsti Rantanen was born in 1930.

She graduated from the Department of Textile Art at the School of Art and Design in Helsinki in 1952 and during the 50's taught art and design there. 

During this time she also designed Rya rugs and furnishing textiles.

During the 1970's she began to experiment with sculptural textiles and also to advocate for women artists.

After the age of 40, her work became three-dimensional.

It takes up space.  

We move around it, yearn to touch it.  

The scale is awesome.  

Rantanen's textiles are large and in this way they mimic nature.

trees      mountains     clouds 

In 1983, Kirsti Rantanen won an award that allowed her to take time off teaching and be a free lance artist for five years. 

She moved out of Helsinki to the medieval town of Porvoo and began the most fertile period of her career.  She started to use the ancient Sumak method of weaving on a vertical warp that hangs from the ceiling.  To weave large scale on a free vertical warp means that she had to work on a ladder sometimes while weaving.  Yes, she was a strong woman artist.  

Her monumental weavings were made between 1984 and 1993 when she was in her 50’s and early 60’s. 

In 2017, after the exhibition of this body of work at the Design Museum, Kirsti Rantanen donated the collection to the museum.  
Women artists from pre-internet times are being discovered by curators today.  It's exciting.

It is good that the Design Museum is taking care of her work and that her work is being shared with other museums.  
Apologies that I have not been able to find the titles of most of Rantanen's sculptural pieces. I will keep looking.  I will be paying attention to her name.
Her name is Kirsti Rantanen.  (1930-2020)

She has a Wikipedia page that you can look up.  She has a daughter who is a respected artist named Silja Rantanen.  

A review of the Design Museum exhibition is available through this link.   The article is written by Satu-Lotta Peltola
Kirsti went on to make more sculptural work that involved wire and the spiral as a form.  

Requiem is the title of the blue piece, Abandoned Stage is the title of the black portal,  all work by Kirsti Rantanen

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Penny Berens In The Middle Of The World

Whispering Cairns
plant dyes on silk, wool, cotton, linen
 hand stitched  35 x 49 inches 2019

Chasing the Moon
plant dyes on damask, silk, cotton
hand stitched 40 x 50 inches 2020

Penny's artist statement for this new body of work begins with these words:  "For many years now I have taken to heart the words of Peter London in his book ‘Drawing Closer to Nature"

Resting Between Tides
  plant dyes and discharge on silk, wool, cotton, linen
hand stitched  43 x 42.5 inches 2019

“Find a portion of the world that is close at hand and adopt it. Become acquainted with it. Draw closer to it by staying with it over a long course of time. In all seasons, all times of the day, all weathers, all circumstances of your own life. The more often you return to this chosen portion of Nature, the more finely you will be able to perceive its more delicate features, as well the slow-to-emerge pattern and rhythms.”    Peter London

Resting Between Night and Day
plant dyes and discharge on silk, cotton, linen, wool,
hand stitched 2019 43 x 49 inches

Holding Deep Memory
hand stitch and shibori on reclaimed denim dress and old table linen
 44.5 x 39.5 inches 2021

Woodland Berries
plant dyes on silk, wool, cotton 
hand stitched 43 x 42 inches 2019

My process starts with daily wanderings in the wooded coastal landscape of Nova Scotia,  slowly becoming more and more familiar with those seasonal rhythms and changing patterns.  Penny Berens

from left to right 
A Stream Runs Through It, The Edge of the Woods, Woodpeckers Live Here
Plant dyes on cotton, silk, wool, hand stitched.
various sizes, approximately 21 x 15 or 20 inches 2015

When Autumn Leaves Fall 
plant dyes on silk, linen, cotton
hand stitched,  30 x 24 inches 2017

During the warmer months these walks become foraging expeditions for dye stuff with which to colour the fabrics I use. This plant dyed cloth is then hand stitched and embroidered in response to these walks.
Penny Berens

Walking on Stoney Ground
plant dye and rust on linen, cotton, silk, wool
hand stitched 29.9 x 24 inches 2019

Stoney Island Memories 
plant dye on linen, cotton, silk, wool
hand stitched  42.9 x 31.5 inches 2019

Working by hand is a slow and tactile practice spread over long periods of time which deepens and clarifies my understanding of the story the piece wishes to tell.   Penny Berens

Beaver Moon Dreaming
plant dye and discharge on cotton and linen
hand stitched  43.3 x 43.3 inches 2020

I would hope that my process and the final embroideries inspire others to slow down and become inspired by daily observations in their own chosen landscapes. (Penny Berens)

Chasing The Moon
hand stitch on silk, cotton, damask
40 x 50 inches 2020

Dancing In The Wind 
plant dyes on linen, silk velvet, cotton, wool
hand stitched 41.5 x 31 inches  2020

Walking With Dogs
plant dyes on silk, cotton, wool
hand stitched 53 x 12 inches x 2 panels, 2021

Currently on display until December 18, 2021, the venue for this exhibition is a unique heritage building.  The Mississippi Valley Textile Museum used to be a woolen mill, located in the small Ontario town of Almonte and the waterfall that powered the old mill still flows through this town.  Please note that the walls behind many of Penny's wall pieces are original to this mill.   Like most textile art, it is nice to see details.  Please visit oPenny's Tanglewoods Thread blog or instagram to see close ups of Penny's work.  

In The Middle Of The World is a two person exhibition with Judy Martin, guest curated by our dedicated young freelance curator, Miranda Bouchard.    A post about Judy's work in the exhibition is on Judy's Updates, click here

Monday, March 1, 2021

Lawrence Carroll

1985-86 oil, canvas, wood, wax, staples
 13" x 10.5" x 6" 

 1985 oil,, wax, canvas on wood
18" x 10" 

1987-88   oil, wax, canvas, staples on wood 
 9" x 9" x 7.6"
I was painting thin pieces of paper with black house paint that I would place on the white canvas.  I used staples because it allowed me to remove the painted lines and shapes if I was not satisfied, altering the composition as needed.
Breathing In
1988 89 oil, wax and paper collage on canvas on wood
  12" x  11" x 10"
Yes, like Matisse at the end of his beautiful life.  This was before I started cutting my paintings apart and using wax and other things.  

I was looking at Donald Judd. I was interested in the way that his wall and floor sculptures would come out of the wall and into the space.

1990   oil wax, staples, canvas, wood
33" x 15" x 10"
This physical relationship between the work and the viewer started to influence how I started to think about my painting.

It slowed down the viewer.

Heaven Picasso 
1994-95 oil wax house paint newspaper, canvas on wood
55" x 42" x 3"
You could not see the painting entirely in one view.  

You could not grasp it.

2017 oil, wax, staples, canvas on wood
19" x 1/2" x 11"
It added psychology to looking.  It opened up a world to me.

I looked at Carl Andre too - How and where to place the painting and how the placement changes the psychology of an entire room.

I felt I had everything.

installation at museo vincenzo vela in 2017
I thought of the canvas as a skin and wax as an ointment

and that there was a body of memory under the skin where things were buried for years and then for some reason they reappeared.

Lawrence Carroll 
I Have Longed to Move Away  works 1985-2017
edited by Gianna A. Mina
I started to think about cutting a painting completely apart.

And then about the futility of trying to put something that was once whole back together again, exposing all its imperfections. 

There was the revelation.   Painting does not have to be perfect

untitled  2017 
house paint and wax on canvas
19" x 19" 16"

Paintings can be flawed and vulnerable and imperfect and human.

Maybe my paintings are about my broken life.

2016 - 17  stain, house paint, wood pieces, canvas on wood 
67.7" x 108" x 1.5"
And that I'm trying to piece my life back together.

At certain times in your life, things appear.  Things come.

You look back on your life and examine it.

Last night I thought of different possibilities of what some of my paintings could be about and it shook me.

stain, house paint, wood pieces, canvas on wood
118" x 75" x 1.5"
It's impossible for me to always know and understand exactly what I'm doing.

I need time and distance.

The gift that I have been given is to be able to explore these things and to give comfort to myself in knowing that I have a place to express things that some people may bury inside themselves and carry away with them all through their lives.

oil, wax, house paint ,staples, canvas on wood
114" x 85" x 4" 
I like the idea that the painting can convey some of life's weight.

We all carry the weight of an imperfect life, some far greater than others.

Lawrence Carroll
I Have Longed To Move Away
Installation in Museo Vincenzo Vela, Switzerland

So what do you expose?  You have to risk.   You can't hide.   Lawrence Carroll  1954 - 2019

All text is from a Lawrence Carroll's interview with Barbara Catoir, entitled "Carry On the Light" .  

It is in the catalogue of the exhibition  I Have Longed to Move Away which was curated by Roberto Borghi for the Museo Vincenzo Vela in Switzerland during the spring of 2017.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Meryl McMaster

Harbinger of Sudden Departures  2015
chromogenic print, 24" x 36" by Meryl McMaster

Meryl McMaster's is telling a story that has no ending, perhaps no plot.  She creates evocative costumes and props, many involving birds, and then has photos taken of herself wearing them in the cold and simple palette of a Canadian winter.  They resemble drawings, or maybe movies, or maybe dreams.  
Her father is from Red Pheasant First Nation (Plains Cree) and a member of the Siksika First Nation (Blackfoot) and her mother is Euro-Canadian (British and Dutch heritage).  While she explores the cultures that form her with her art, it is not a stretch to see the larger struggle of Canada's history in her work.   
Aphoristic Currents 2013
chromagenic print 36 x 50" by Meryl McMaster

Both her parents are artists, and her childhood home was a very creative space to grow up in.  "I was an only child and was often on my own.  I think my current imaginative state reaches back to those moments when I was exploring the world through role playing and creating scenarios."  Her parents had put together a dress-up trunk of old clothes for her, and although she was shy and avoided performing in school theatre, she was attracted to set and costume designs.  Even today she feels vulnerable when she performs for the camera.  
Murmur I 2013
inkjet print 90 x 60" by Meryl McMaster

"I think the need to understand who you are and where you've come from is normal.  My parents were always telling stories about their families. When I was very young the feeling I got was that the two cultures were inclusive, but when I reached school age the harder questions about my two cultures became evident."
Avian Wanderer II 2015
Giclee print 20 x 30" by Meryl McMaster

Her performed photographs show us characters who embody attitudes - she calls them temperaments.

Time's Gravity 2015
pigment print on watercolour paper 30 x 45"

About Time's Gravity:  "I came across the tradition of "winter counts'.  Winter counts are drawings, usually made on a hide, that represent a significant thing that occurred in the past year, whether a successful hunt or some sort of battle.  They are very beautiful, simple drawings with a lot of meaning.  I wanted to do my own winter counts, so I made all these journals.  Each journal represents a year that I had been alive.  So I have all these journals representing the story of my life and thoughts, and I'm holding them.  I'm trying to hold onto these memories and I push them together to hold onto them.  Time's Gravity, the title, references how I think about life.  It goes so fast, but it feels like such a weight and it's too much to even think about."

Phantom Science 2015
ink jet print 18 x 62"

She paints her face, sometimes red, sometimes white, sometimes dotted.  

She gazes away from the camera. 

dream catcher 2015
ink jet print  32 x 66"

"I use winter a lot.  It feels like a magical time.  Everything is frozen; it feels like it's being held in that moment.  It's like sleeping.  There is also the solitude.  When I go on winter walks, I feel like I do a lot more reflection than on my summer wlaks.  Winter is also a hostile time.  It brings an urgency to the images.  I push myself.  I have been in quite a lot of pain in my fingers, toes, and extremities from being out in the cold too long.  But I keep going back to winter.  There's something about that time of year." 

under the infinite sky 2015
ink jet print 30 x 45 "

There are always gaps and biases in our relatioinship to the past, and it was through my art that I could explore and expose them.  It was a way of creating a conversation with myself as well as with other people.  First of all, it comes from a very personal place.  Most of us have a mixed background, so we're all asking similar self-directed questions.  I've learned that my two different heritages are not always going to completely align, and in order to move forward I have to celebrate those differences."  

"In my teens I was learning about Canada's difficult past, a past that could have involved my own ancestors.  So if I wanted to be proud of my mothers' family and connected to my European roots, I realized I might be abandoning my Indigenous side.  It was as if I was involved in some kind of betrayal.  I struggled with how to acknowledge and be present in both sides of myself."  

Sources for these images and text:  

Picturing the Red Line, An Interview with Meryl McmMaster by Robert Enright in Border Crossings magazine in 2018 and Confluence, the exhibition catalogue for Meryl McMaster's solo exhibition curated by Heather Anderson in 2016.  All italics are quotes by the artist, Meryl McMaster.

Although it is interesting to find out about the artist's personal background, it is possible to respond to her images without knowing the back-story.     

As Immense As The Sky is a more recent exhibition, (catalogue available)