A Few of My Favorite Things

For several years now, I’ve written exclusively about art. Today, I’m going to take a breather and write about some of my other interests. I’m more than just an artist.

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Toronto_Maple_Leafs_primary_logo_2016Sports

I’m not much for playing sports, but as a white boy raised in a small town outside of Toronto, I am a die-hard Toronto Maple Leafs fan. I will jump on the bandwagon for any Toronto team in the playoffs, but I watch and support the Leafs through thick and thin. On the flip side, I hate, hate, hate the Montreal Canadiens (love the city though).

Music

I can’t function without my tunes, and as a city slicker, I’m never without my ear buds. There are way too many musical acts to list here, but some of my favorites are: The Beatles, Bob Marley, The Clash, The Cure, David Bowie, Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin, Massive Attack, Metallica, The National, The Notorious B.I.G., Pink Floyd, Portishead, Public Enemy, Radiohead and Tupac Shakur.

Film

I love all types of movies, but I especially love dramas and documentaries. My favorite drama is Goodfellas. My favorite doc? Much tougher. Hmm, off the top of my head…Lake of Fire.

TV

Favorite drama: The Sopranos

Favorite Comedy: Seinfeld

Books

Although I don’t read nearly as much as I used to, I am still a huge bookworm and I read every day. While I used to consume mostly classics, in recent years, my tastes have become more contemporary. I’m currently reading Infinite Jest. I love it.

Food

I am a huge pig and I’m not even remotely picky (I’ve eaten bugs). That said, I love everything from Mexican to Sushi.

Other interests

Beer, politics and swearing (usually about politics).

The Bata Shoe Museum: A Review

Two weekends ago, I visited the Aga Khan Museum. This past weekend, I visited the Bata Shoe Museum (yup, there’s a shoe museum). Here is a short review.

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ABOVE: A pair of sneakers worn by David Bowie during the 1984 ‘Serious Moonlight’ world tour. The shoes are autographed by Bowie and were acquired by the Museum in 1989.

Despite having lived in Toronto for over 15 years, there are plenty of attractions I’ve yet to visit. This past Saturday, I crossed one of them – the Bata Shoe Museum – off my list.

Before I give a quick review, here is a little about the place:

Founded in 1995, the Bata Shoe Museum collects, researches, preserves and exhibits footwear from around the world. It has over 13,000 items, and is the only shoe museum in North America.

Now, a quick review.

Growing up just outside the city, I was in high school when the museum first opened and I remember chuckling (as many did) upon hearing of it. How interesting could a shoe museum possibly be? Surprisingly, quite interesting.

The first floor is by far the best. It looks at footwear through the ages and does a good job of explaining not only their function, but also their place in various social hierarchies. The exhibits here could be shown in any museum, shoe or non-shoe.

One floor up, are the sneakers, boots and flip flops of various celebrities including Marilyn Monroe, the Dali Lama and David Bowie. This section is fun by default, and serves as a relaxing break from all the reading downstairs.

I’ll spare you a detailed account of the other floors (there are four in total) as they are non-permanent and depending on when you visit, could be completely different. Suffice it to say, they were well put together and complimented the rest of the museum well.

From start to finish, it takes about two hours to visit the Bata Shoe Museum. If you’re looking for something to do on a cold and windy winters day, I suggest you go. It’s far more interesting than it’s name suggests.

The Aga Khan Museum: A Review

This past weekend, I visited the Aga Khan Museum for the first time. For those who’ve never heard of it, or those planning to check it out, here is a short review.

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The Aga Khan Museum opened in Toronto on September 12, 2014, and although I’ve been meaning to check it out for a while, it wasn’t until this past weekend that I finally did.

Before I give my two cents, here is a little about the place:

The Aga Khan is a museum of Islamic art and heritage that includes artefacts from the private collections of The Aga Khan IV, the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London, and Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Khan. In addition to its permanent collection, the museum also host travelling exhibitions.

Now, my two cents:

The staff are very friendly, the building and its grounds are beautiful, and the permanent collection is well curated and worth seeing. That said, if museums aren’t really your thing, or you only go to blockbuster shows, you might find yourself a bit bored. This is a ‘museum-goers’ museum if ever there was one – it’s not flashy or sensational.

As for the travelling exhibitions it hosts, the museum appears to do a great job of attracting good ones. ‘Contemporary Art from the Barjeel Art Foundation‘ (which closed on January 3rd) was very well reviewed, and its current show ‘Abbas Kiarostami: Doors Without Keys‘ is a nice compliment to the permanent collection.

In summary, if you’re a regular museum goer, you’ll probably dig the Aga Khan Museum. Depending on when you go, you’ll probably dig its travelling exhibitions as well.

Goals for 2016

Every January, I write a bunch of goals for the upcoming year. I was recently looking at last years list and I’ve decided to keep the same ones for 2016. Here they are.

 

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  • Start new projects
  • Explore new subjects
  • Reduce production costs
  • Raise money for my art business
  • Pay off debt
  • Create and monitor a budget
  • Expand the type of distribution channels where my art is available
  • Develop my brand and increase brand awareness
  • Get new clients
  • Spend more time networking
  • Learn more business skills

2015: The Good, the Bad and the Funny

From appropriation to plagiarism, and vandalism to artistic destruction, 2015 was a busy year. Here are some of the art world’s highs and lows.

 

ABOVE: Pierre-Auguste Renior, Dance at Bougival, 1883, oil on canvas, 71.6 x 38.6 inches, © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston [2015]

The Good

The Chinese government gave Ai Weiwei his passport back after taking it away from him four years ago. His first trip was to Germany, where he visited his son.

Canada picks Geoffrey Farmer to represent them in Venice. Being chosen is a huge honor. Here’s hoping Farmer’s ready for the 2017 edition.

While former mafia boss Egidio “Brutus” Coppola sits behind bars, his former villa on the outskirts of Naples is set to play host to exhibitions from various galleries, among them, the Uffizi  in Florence.

The Bad

This summer, there was a show of appropriated Instagram shots “by” Richard Prince. Now, there’s a lawsuit against Jeff Koons for his appropriation of a 1986 gin ad. This isn’t the first time Koons and Prince have been accused of stealing.

ISIS continues to destroy heritage sites. Evil, pure and simple.

First, Anish Kapoor’s iconic sculpture ‘Cloud Gate’ was duplicated and unveiled in the Chinese city of Karapay. Then, a sculpture (on display at Versailles) was vandalized three times. To make matters worse, a French court ordered Kapoor to clean it all up.

The Funny

This fall, an anti-Renoir group protested outside the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Their goal? The removal of all Renoir’s paintings from the museum collection. This is pretty silly, especially when you consider what passes for art these days.

Courts upheld a ban that would prevent a man from entering the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. The accused had threatened to urinate on paintings by Marlene Dumas and Luc Tuymans. His goal? To “improve them with a well-aimed stream.”

In May, Saltz and David Wallace-Wells wrote an article titled How and Why We Started Taking Kim Kardashian Seriously (and What She Teaches Us About the State of Criticism). I’m a big fan of Saltz, but man! That’s too much.

The World’s Top Art Prizes

There are far too many art prizes to list in a single blog post, so to keep it brief, here are a few of the art world’s biggest and most prestigious awards.

 

ABOVE: Poster for Artprize 2012 (the year I participated).

Artprize

ABOUT: An international art competition held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. There are no restrictions on nationality or age. Artists apply to show at various venues around the city and are judged by the public and arts professionals.

WHEN: Held annually from September to October. The winner is announced in early October.

PRIZE AMOUNT: $200,000 publics’ choice. $200,000 critics’ choice.

Hugo Boss Prize

ABOUT: Awarded for outstanding achievements in contemporary art. There are no restrictions on nationality or age. Shortlisted artists and winner are chosen by jury.

WHEN: Held annually. A shortlist of 6 or 7 artists is announced in late October. The winner is announced a few months later.

PRIZE: $100,000 and a solo exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

Sobey Art Award

ABOUT: A prize presented to a Canadian visual artist under the age of 40 whose work has been exhibited in a public or commercial gallery within the last 18 months. Shortlisted artists are chosen by nomination and the winner is chosen by jury.

WHEN: Held annually. A shortlist is announced in June and a show of the nominees’ is held from September to January at the National Gallery of Canada (formerly held at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia). The winner is announced at the end of October.

PRIZE AMOUNT: $50,000

The Duchamp Prize

ABOUT: A prize presented to a French visual artist whom the jury believes is worthy of foreign recognition. Shortlisted artists are chosen by nomination and the winner is chosen by jury.

WHEN: Held annually. A shortlist of 4 artists is announced in February. The winner is announced in October.

PRIZE: The winning artist receives €35,000 personally and up to €30,000 in order to produce an exhibition of their work at the Centre Georges Pompidou.

The Future Generation Art Prize

ABOUT: An international prize awarded to an artist under the age of 35. Artists apply online and a selection committee chooses the shortlist. The winner is chosen by jury.

WHEN: Held bi-annually. Artists apply from January to April. A shortlist of 20 artists is announced in June and a show of the nominees’ is held from October to April at the PinchukArtCenre. The winner is announced in December.

PRIZE: $100,000

Turner Prize

ABOUT: A prize presented to a British visual artist under the age of 50. It is the U.K.’s most publicized art award. Shortlisted artists are chosen by nomination and the winner is chosen by jury.

WHEN: Held annually. A shortlist of 4 artists is announced in July and a show of the nominees’ is held at Tate Britain in late October. The winner is announced in early December.

PRIZE AMOUNT: £40,000