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September 21, 2013

Oshawa’s downtown core is invaded by artists. The inaugural Oshawa Space Invaders (OSI) saw huge crowds for yesterday’s ARTCRAWL. Hundreds of visitors came through selected spaces replete with visual art and home-grown studio production cultivated in Durham Region. Well over a hundred artists are featured in vacant commercial spaces and storefronts in downtown. OSI covers the full range of artistic involvement as only a community event can. The event embraces established artists, professional designers, arts enthusiasts, collectives, college and high school students.

Professor McQuay with  Silver Elvis

Professor McQuay with Silver Elvis

Hats off to Steven Frank, Gary Greenwood and Will McGuirk for their visionary leadership. The trio was supported by a committed team of enthusiastic volunteers and like-minded community players and artists.

The Schembris and I

The Schembris and I

Yesterday was a real homecoming. Lives converged, trails crossed. Juno Award winning bluesman, Jack de Keyzer rocked the stage and Silver Elvis mingled around his scintilating space craft. What a terrific verve–the Invasion lasts for another week. Share your experiences and comments below…

Garfield Ferguson and Me

Garfield Ferguson and Me

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April 26, 2013

For the sixth year in a row, Durham College (DC) art and design students showed their year’s output at Station Gallery (SG). Every spring, I personally look forward to this dynamic, engaging exhibition. Nothing else looks like it. A huge range of material and conceptual investigations come together under the gallery roof, on the gallery walls. Along with one of this year’s jurors, Elizabeth Sweeney (Robert McLaughlin Gallery), Professor Sean McQuay presented over 30 awards to his students involved in the annual juried exhibition.

This year was bigger and better than ever. For the first time, all gallery spaces are devoted exclusively to Durham College projects. We may have even broken a gallery record for number of works in the house: well over 200 projects on display!

And of course there was the ceremonial “exchanging of the ties”. This ancient and arcane ritual has a deep history dating back to 2008. Every year since, Prof. McQuay and I have exchanged skinny, vintage neckties — a symbolic gesture representing the vital ties between the college and the gallery (thanks for the pic, Steven!). The show continues through to this Sunday…

2013 Tie Exchange

2013 Tie Exchange

March 9, 2012

It was a full-house at Bowmanville’s Visual Art Centre last week for the opening of Sean McQuay’s solo exhibition playfully titled Lingeresque. It really was a “linger fest.” Gallery visitors, students and McQuay fans stuck around the gallery long after gallery hours last Sunday to chat with Sean. This was no surprise given Sean’s long-standing profile as an artist and educator in Durham Region. Whitby’s very own son has maintained a studio and teaching practice in the area since graduating from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. He’s a professor at Durham College’s ever-expanding Fine Art and Design programme.

McQuay and I compare ties

Sean’s conceptual and artistic exuberance is infectious. Year after year, he passes this positive energy to his students. This collaborative spirit weaves through his Bowmanville show. I’m sure he’ll speak more about this during his artist talk scheduled for Sunday, April 1st. No foolin’!

I really enjoyed seeing the wide-breadth of the artist’s production ranging from paintings, artefacts from his performances, conceptual pieces and lens-based media. His acetate-filled light-boxes are amazing studies in depth perception. But to get a real perspective on the depth of Sean’s career, there’s a video interview of the bearded artist from the early eighties. Thirty years later, the beard may be gone, but Sean’s art is going strong!  

McQuay back in the day, c. 1980

May 07, 2011

In these days of hyper-active paradigm shifts and quantum-paced changes, it’s refreshing to press pause. This type of reflection is happening at the Gallery these days. A trio of complimentary exhibitions ponder the stages of personal development in the life of an artist.

Then & Now is inspired by key works from the permanent collection. In many cases the works are from the late seventies and early eighties. These works are paired with recent studio production from those same artists. I really enjoyed working on this show, since it familiarizes me with the practice of established artists. All six artists are paragons in their field. For those of us working as visual artists, they show something to aspire to: a tenacious devotion to visual production over the decades and a restless curiosity in keeping with contemporary practice. Then & Now tests the boundaries of studio production and how it folds together and/or evolves over the years.

The seductive photographs of Holly McClellan line the walls of the Yourspace Community Gallery. Her images synthesize the investigative impulse of photojournalism combining this with the aesthetics of art photography. McClellan’s lens has consistently focused on ecological concerns. Her current series explores how municipalities process one of our most precious natural resources, water.

A perennial favorite is the year-end DurhamCollege show. Now in its fourth year at Station Gallery, the College’s foundation programme is a one-year “crash course” in the full range of disciplines including drawing, painting, print-based, sculpture, digital and performance. What’s more, this year’s offerings are much more than manual and retinal exercises; they demonstrate a conceptual engagement for both the maker and the viewer. The highlight for me is what has come to be called “The Traditional Exchanging of the Ties,” a ritual that Professor Sean McQuay and I partake in every year. It’s a symbol of how our two institutions are tied together (sometimes with a triple-Windsor knot).    

I can't believe my eyes, it's the "Traditional Exchanging of the Ties!"

May 7, 2010

Last night I had the pleasure of announcing to 125 people gathered at Station Gallery that we were at the epicenter of the world. “I haven’t seen this many people at the Gallery since… last week, for our Drawing for Art fundraiser!” I spoke addressing the crowd of familiar and mostly new faces. These back-to-back events bolstered massive attendance numbers at the Gallery in the span of a week. Selections from Durham College’s Fine Art & Design programme juried student show opened with the best works to come from that programme in the three years that the Gallery has hosted this event.  What has now become a yearly ritual, College art instructor Sean McQuay and I partook in the The Annual Exchanging of the Vintage Ties. For the third year in a row we’ve traded neckties as a symbol of brotherhood between two sister institutions, and the way Durham College and Station Gallery are tied.

The College show caught up with the Before & After show which opened a few weeks earlier. This exhibition saw key works from the Gallery’s permanent collection displayed along with fresh, recent works from established artists Ron Eccles, Liz Parkinson, Libby Hague, Lotti Thomas, Akira Yoshikawa and Otis Tamasauskas. Related to this permanent collection show was the unveiling of Peter Kolisnyk’s reconditioned work from 1977 Ground Outline. Over a hundred people came outside to pay tribute to Peter’s legacy and his contribution to Canadian minimalism. It was a moving ceremony with Peter’s daughter and her family in attendance.

We didn’t stop there–in the Yourspace Community Gallery hung the exquisite photos of regional photographer, Bruce Livingston. Titled These Synthetic Shores, Bruce’s photo essay corresponded with the Contact Fest. His pictures of washed up debris on the Lake Ontario coast are immediate and topical as we become very conscious of our shorelines in light of the BP oil disaster currently hitting the news. Workshops and classes were chugging along in the box car print studio and in the downstairs studio. What a great night it was! What a verve! It was the intersection of past with the future, and what a present it was!

April 15, 2010

The coming of spring seems to stimulate creative thinking and innovation. It’s the time of year that sees new beginnings and the simultaneous passing of old things. For many colleges and universities the academic calendar is winding down. Students who are enrolled in art programmes, for instance, are finding patterns in the studio production that have accumulated over the semester. I had a chance to review students’ artworks at both the Ontario College of Art and Design by sitting in on year-end critiques, as well as seeing the year-end juried show at Durham College yesterday (selections of which will be shown at Station Gallery for the month of May). Ask any educator and he or she will point out the ebb-and-flow cycles of student aptitude. From my experiences, the college kids are certainly on to something this year, and are stretching the bounds of creative thinking. Check out the shows and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Today kicks-off global celebrations of creativity and innovation. Imagination, ingenuity and divergent ways of thinking are all honoured during this week-long celebration. Here are a few postings to help awaken your inner Leonardo da Vinci. 

Check-out: Street Painting: Juvenile Hall, Creativity can happen anywhere…

Bicycle Ice Cream Maker – Innovate or Die: