J.W.M Turner at the Art Gallery of Ontario

I recently visited the Art Gallery of Ontario to see its latest exhibition, J.W.M. Turner: Painting Set Free and came away impressed. Here is a short review.


ABOVE: J.M.W. Turner, War. The Exile and the Rock Limpit, 1842, oil on canvas, 40.5 x 40.3 x 4.7 inches, © Tate, London [2015]

BELOW: J.M.W. Turner, Peace – Burial at Sea, 1842, oil on canvas, 43.7 x 43.6 x 4.7 inches, © Tate, London [2015]

I’ve written about J.M.W. Turner in the past. First, about his painting The Slave Ship, and then, about his biopic film Mr. Turner. Suffice it say, I am a huge fan, and as such, I was super excited to see his works up close and personal in J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO).

As usual, I went on a Saturday afternoon, and as is the case with most of the AGO’s blockbuster shows, so too did half the city. Despite the turnout, I was able to maneuver my way through the crowd and take in all the show had to offer. Which was a lot.

While I would have loved to see my favorite painting The Slave Ship, this exhibition does perfectly well without it. Many of the works on display are stunning, and the curators did an excellent job of showing Turner’s  progression as an artist, as well as his many influences.

From maritime scenes and mythical stories, to sunrises and sunsets (who doesn’t love those) there’s something for everyone in this show. If you’re already a fan of Turner, or if you’re hearing about him for the first time, you should go.

J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free is at the AGO until January 30, 2016.

Opening Night at the #Hashtag Gallery

A very big thanks to everyone who attended my opening last night at the #Hashtag Gallery. For those who missed it, show runs until Sunday, November 29, 2015.




November 19-29

#Hashtag Gallery 830 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1V3

Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Friday 4-10pm, Saturday 2-8pm, Sunday 12-5pm


My First Solo Exhibition

I’m happy to announce that a week from today, my first solo exhibition will be opening at the #Hashtag Gallery in Toronto. Details are as follows:



November 19-29 // Opening reception: Thursday, November 19 (7-11:30pm)

#Hashtag Gallery 830 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1V3

Gallery hours: Tuesday – Friday 4-10pm, Saturday 2-8pm, Sunday 12-5pm

My Artistic Process

As I’m currently getting ready for an upcoming show (more details to come), I thought I’d give a behind the scenes look at the creation of one of my pieces.


After many alterations, I eventually arrived at a finalized design. This is the first step in all of my projects.

With the design finalized, I was ready to start building the piece. I worked on the back panel first as it was the easiest part of the project. It consisted of a 16 x 20 inch gesso board painted with an iridescent pearl wash.

Next, I set to work on the middle panel. First, I taped off the edges of a 16 x 20 inch sheet of plexi-glass with painters tape, then I applied a thick layer of pearl mica paste with a palette knife.

Once I had finished applying the pearl mica paste, I removed the painters tape and put the panel aside to dry.

Three coats were needed to complete the middle panel.

Once I had received the mirror paint in the mail, I taped a mirror imaged version of the design to a 16 x 20 inch sheet of tempered glass and began applying the paint.

It took four coats of paint to complete the mirror effect. Once the paint had cured, I cleaned up all edges with an x-acto knife. Then, in order to make the tree stand out, I put a thin black outline around all the edges with a marker.

Here is the completed piece: David McDonough, On the Outskirts of Tokyo, Mixed Media, 17 x 21 x 2.5 inches

Autumn at the McMichael Art Collection

I recently took advantage of a free pass and visited the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario. I’m glad I did. Its current exhibitions are excellent.


ABOVE: Simon Daniel James, Frog with Frog Headdress, 2000, alder, cedar bark, abalone, horse hair, acrylic, paint, 22.6 x 16 x 7.3 inches, Gift from the Cameron/Bredt Collection, McMichael Canadian Art Collection

If you’ve got a car, or know someone who does, you should jump in it and head down to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Klienburg, Ontario. While the museum’s permanent collection is itself a must see, its current exhibitions are exceptional:

Transforming Spirit / September 19, 2015 to February 15, 2016

The collection of Jamie Cameron and Christopher Bredt contains 28 artists from Canada’s Northwest Coast. As is the case with most Aboriginal art, the works in this exhibition are intricate, bold, and above all else, spiritual. This show alone is worth the trip.

This House was Made For Christmas / October 3, 2015 to January 31, 2016

A collection of Christmas greeting cards designed by some of Canada’s greatest artists, this exhibition includes works by members of the Group of Seven and the Painters Eleven. It may be a bit early for holiday cheer, but fortunately, this show extends through the Christmas season.

For Every Season: A re-installation of the permanent collection in 4 galleries / October, 2015 to January, 2016

As the title of the show suggests, this isn’t so much a new exhibition as it is a re-shuffling of the deck. Heavy on the works of the Group of Seven, each gallery in this show represents a different season. While many of the collections best works are on display, the McMichael’s most famous piece, AJ Casson’s The White Pine is nowhere to be found. They haven’t shown it in years. I wonder why.

Video Art Worth Watching

If you’re like me, you’re probably quite leery when it comes to video art. Fear not, there are actually some great works within the genre, Reel-Unreel being one of them.


ABOVE: Francis Alÿs, Reel-Unreel, 2011, single channel video projection, dimensions variable with installation

Full disclosure, being unfamiliar with the genre, my guard is often up when it comes to video art, and when in galleries, I’m rarely able to sit through a full showing. Maybe it’s me, but I find most of it to be pretentious and nonsensical. That was until I came across Reel-Unreel by Francis Alÿs in an off the path room at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Stumbling upon it by accident, I was quickly compelled to stay for the full 20 minutes.

Based on the street game ‘trundling a hoop’ – which is common among Afghan children – the film consists of two boys reeling and unreeling two spools of film through the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan. As the first boy unwinds the film, he is followed by the other who rewinds it onto a second reel. While the action takes place on screen, the film itself reels and unreels in its projector.

Although simplistic in nature, Reel-Unreel provides an insider’s glimpse into the daily life of Kabul as the boys run through the oldest parts of town, over the rubble of war, and up a hill overlooking the city. Throughout it all, the sights, sounds, and people of the Afghan capital pass in and out of the frame, and the city itself becomes one giant movie set.

I really liked Reel-Unreel. If you’re going to the AGO, I suggest you see it.

Nuit Blanche 2015

Last Saturday, Nuit Blanche took over the streets of Toronto. While you can find plenty of complainers online, I really enjoyed the 2015 edition. Here is a short review.


ABOVE: JR, Inside Out, 2011-15, interactive photography installation (a socially engaged project, participants lined up [for hours] to have their picture taken and pasted to Nathan Phillips Square)

Every October, Nuit Blanche – an all night art party – comes to town, and every year, I stay up past my bedtime trying to see as much as possible.

This year, Mother Nature threatened to rain, but while an umbrella was needed to start the night, she held off, and the temperature stayed comfortable. Thanks Mom! And thanks for keeping the crowds down too.

While no one piece stole the show, the 10th edition of Nuit Blanche was definitely one of its best. Many of the works were conceptually strong (even when the execution wasn’t) and their messages were timely and relevant – especially those that addressed the environment.

In addition to the JR piece shown above, here are some of my favorites:

ABOVE: Heather and Ivan Morison, The Cleaving, 2015, sculpture (a wooden barricade across Queens Quay)

ABOVE: Los Carpinteros, Frío Estudio del Desastre, 2015, installation (a three-dimensional reconstruction of an exploding wall)

ABOVE: Anandam Dancetheatre, Glaciology, 2013/2015, performance (over the course of 12 hours, a human glacier drifted across the city)

ABOVE: Robert Wysoki, Lava Field No. 2, 2015, installation/performance (the product of 5 years of experimentation, this ‘mobile volcano’ used a coke fired cupola to produce a geomorphically accurate lava field)

ABOVE: Sean Martindale and JP King, There Is No Away, 2015, sculpture (an examination of our consumer habits, and Toronto’s waste management strategy, done with [smelly] recyclable cubes)