And You Thought You Were Weird

Creative people are often a bit odd – I know I am. Fear not creatives, even geniuses can be a little strange – in some cases, really strange.

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ABOVE: Albert Einstein (duh!), Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Let’s face it, we all have our quirks. The following geniuses are no exception:

Andy Warhol

Warhol was a confirmed foot fetishist and even owned a mummified human foot. No one knows where he got it.

Leonardo da Vinci

da Vinci was a practitioner of polyphasic sleep. What’s that you ask? It’s the practice of taking multiple naps throughout a 24 hour period. He rarely slept more than two hours a day.

Edgar Allan Poe

Poe liked to write each of his works in a scroll fashion, on a continuous strip of paper, sealed with wax. He also proclaimed his cat to be his literary guardian.

Albert Einstein

Einstein refused to wear socks, no matter how formal the occasion. He also asked his estranged wife to sign a contract with the following clause: “You will stop talking to me if I request it.” Apparently, she agreed.

Charles Dickens

Dickens would only write at a desk facing north and when he slept, his feet had to point south. He always carried a compass, and would re-arrange the bed if necessary.

Salvador Dali

Dali was obsessed with Hitler and when asked about his obsession said: “I often dreamed about Hitler as other men dreamed about women.”

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The Best of Dundas Street West

If you’re looking to gallery hop in Toronto, one of the best ‘hoods in town is Dundas Street West. Here are some of the area’s finest galleries.

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ABOVE: Photo of the Hashtag Gallery courtesy of Wllnttz

While it obviously can’t compete with a city like New York, Toronto galleries are by and large, friendly and accessible.

If you’re looking to gallery hop, one of the best ‘hoods in town is Dundas Street West. The following galleries show top-notch art, often at affordable prices:

Cooper Cole

A great space to view art, Cooper Cole shows cutting edge work by national and international artists. Mostly mid-career. Mostly awesome.

Hashtag Gallery

Probably the least intimidating space in the city, the Hashtag Gallery showcases emerging talent at emerging prices. Perfect for first-time buyers.

Erin Stump Projects

One of the most experimental galleries in the area, ESP earns bonus points for championing female artists. Respect.

LE Gallery

Arguably the best of the bunch, LE Gallery showcases the work of artists skilled in both craft, and discourse. You will be impressed.

Loop Gallery

One of the cities top artist collectives, Loop Gallery promotes the careers of those with a strong artistic practice. With 39 artist members, there’s something for everyone.

Artist Talk: Matthew Barney at Toronto’s Luminato Festival

As part of Toronto’s Luminato Festival, acclaimed artist Matthew Barney gave a Q & A at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Here are some of his best quotes from that day.

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This past weekend, I attended a Q & A with internationally renowned artist Matthew Barney.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from that day:

“My interest in storytelling was there from the start, but I don’t think I knew what to do with it really. I think what I did know what to do, was to use my body as a tool. I understood that and so, I think by default, I started setting up these situations with my body, and experimenting that way on my own, and asking a friend to videotape it.”

“I was educated in a period where the post-minimal tradition was the work we were all looking to. That kind of dialogue was how I was schooled, and I think the idea of making a cast bronze piece was just…not available.”

“I’m interested in…(and) I think any sculptor has to be…the investment of the spirit into the object.”

“People tend to ask what my relationship is to that material (Pop Art) and I always feel…I don’t have a very strong relationship to it, although I think you can find it in the work. I think that my influences are much more to do with the language of sculpture, the  language of performance based sculpture. So, I think it’s more about the way that language collides with the sensibility of Pop, and then trying to keep the work from not functioning as image, but functioning as form.”

“I think, when I start to feel my work being overproduced, it gives me a lot of anxiety. When you start to think about work that you’ve seen more reproductions than you have in person…there’s some images you know, and I think that’s something that scares me, because I’ve pushed my work so far out into the realm of…say cinema, or performance, or something that functions more in the world of art. So, I do have an anxiety that sometimes I feel I’ve pushed it too far, and that at some point, it’s unrecoverable. If it becomes an image, then I’ve failed.”

“I’m ambitious for sure, but I think that my ambition is to do with scale and complexity, and I think it always was.”

“When I started exhibiting work, that initial impulse was really as much about rejecting what was around me. At the time in New York, the kind of pictures artists and the kind of Neo Geo work…this was what was in galleries. So, I think what I was doing, and what a lot of other artists from our generation were doing, didn’t have a place in galleries at all. We all finished school thinking we would be exhibiting in alternative spaces. That would be our path. What happened as I was graduating college, is the art market collapsed. I think it’s something that affected my trajectory a lot. It opened things up in New York, and people from my generation were able to show publicly very early.”

Photography as an Artistic Tool

Of all the tools available to an artist, none is as important as the camera. Here is how it can take your art to the next level.

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ABOVE: David McDonough, White Elephant, digital photograph

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“For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.” Henri Cartier-Bresson

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” Dorthea Lange

“The more pictures you see, the better you are as a photographer.” Robert Mapplethorpe

“Wherever there is light, one can photograph.” Alfred Stieglitz

“The pictures are there, and you just take them.” Robert Capa

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Whatever the medium, I firmly believe that all serious artists should have a decent camera.

It doesn’t need to be a professional model. It needn’t cost an arm and a leg. It can be purchased used, and you can learn how to use it via the internet.

By no means, do you need to master the craft. Just get out there and have fun – it’s amazing what you can learn when you’re having fun.

Some of the advantages of owning a decent camera are:

  • It makes you look at things you otherwise wouldn’t.
  • It reinforces the importance of composition.
  • It leads to a better understanding of light, shadow, and texture.
  • It is a great way to fill the void left by artist block.
  • It gives you ideas.