Farewell: Indefinite Hiatus of The Ministry of Artistic Affairs

Dear Members and Friends of The Ministry of Artistic Affairs,

It is with sweet sadness that we write to you today to announce that The Ministry will be going on hiatus for an indefinite time period, starting today.

After three years of successfully programming fun social and educational art events in the community, we have decided to end our programming as a result of time considerations and competing interests. As the Co-Founders and Co-Directors of The Ministry, we speak with one voice in a massive thank you to everyone who participated. During our series of 40 events, we met so many amazing people, enjoyed incredible access to the spectacular local art community, experienced some of the best art to ever be created in Toronto, and made terrific new friends.  Special thanks to all of our dedicated members and the artists, curators, writers, dealers, and collectors who partnered with us to make our events so special.

We have decided to put The Ministry into deep freeze for very positive reasons. Because of great changes taking place in our lives, as Directors we feel that it is best to wind the program down rather than try to continue without our full attention and commitment.

As many of you already know, Randy Gladman is expecting his first child in May and needs to step away from his Ministry duties for the next little while to focus on his family. He promises to continue to participate in the local art scene as much as possible but felt that he would not be able to dedicate himself to event programming and managing our blog.

Simon Cole will continue his role as Director of COOPER COLE. The continued growth of this gallery and its increasing participation in international art fairs is demanding increasing attention.  Simon is also entering his second season as a Director of Spectrum Art Projects, a  not-for-profit organization that uses murals and public art initiatives as tools to empower individuals and reshape neighbourhoods.

Noah Earle will continue working within the arts community as a Partner in Able, a design studio providing creative direction and graphic design for galleries, artists and organizations.

For all of our dues paying members, please note that in the next week you will each receive an individual email containing the details of refunds for the unused portion of your membership fee.  All refunds will be paid promptly via email money transfer or Paypal credit card reimbursement.

On Saturday February 16 2013, between 4 – 6pm we will be hosting a farewell party, open to everyone, to celebrate 3 years of The Ministry.  The party will take place at COOPER COLE where Simon Cole will discuss his gallery’s current exhibition featuring a selection of young artists from New York City. Glen Baldridge, Colby Bird, Patrick Brennan, David Kennedy-Cutler, Sam Moyer, Sara Greenberger Rafferty, and Ryan Wallace explore ideas of materiality and process through photography, collage, painting, and sculpture. These artists are all enjoying impressive success in their careers with participation in important institutional exhibitions around the world.  We hope you all come by to hang out, share contact info, and celebrate what we accomplished together.

We hope that you will all continue to take an active interest in the Toronto art scene and support our local galleries, institutions and artists.  If you have any specific questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact any of us.  We hope to stay in touch with all of you!

Thank you so much,

Simon Cole, Noah Earle and Randy Gladman
Co-Founders and Co-Directors
The Ministry of Artistic Affairs

RIP: A Tribute to Arnaud Maggs

November 17, 2012, marked a tragic day for the Canadian contemporary art world when it lost one of its most prominent, talented, and acclaimed photographers, Arnaud Maggs, at the age of 86.  His passing comes after many notable achievements in 2012 including his exhibition “Identification” at the National Gallery of Canada and the receipt of the Scotiabank Photography Award, one of Canada’s most prestigious art prizes.  While many familiar with Maggs think of his multiple-grid photographs of faces, it is perhaps his final body of work that deserves the most acclaim, as seen in “After Nadar,” his last exhibition, displayed at the Susan Hobbs Gallery in March this year.

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Case Study: Alice meets The Clock

This past weekend was one of closure for several shows on offer within Toronto’s artistic programme. The Clock, Christian Marclay’s champion effort to evoke the romantic and elusive nature of time as regarded through the cinematic lens, saw its final moments at The Power Plant on the evening of Sunday, November 25. The single channel video and sound work is cleverly comprised of film clips displaying timepieces – analog wristwatches, digital alarm clocks, and the sundials of bygone days—as well as less obvious indicators of time’s passing, such as burning cigarettes and changing clothing. Over the course of Marclay’s 24 hour film loop, these fragments of cinematic history trace every minute, inscribing images on the rote of daily living. When Eastern Standard Time registered midnight last Sunday, the collaged narrative concluded with a coordinated time stamp of 12 AM. Luckily for Canadians, omnipotent art lovers Jay Smith and Laura Rapp facilitated the National Gallery’s purchase of one of six editions of the art work, guaranteeing that it will only be a matter of time before The Clock strikes again.

Christian Marclay’s appropriation of Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last, 1923
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Case Study: Christo’s $350million Sculpture in the Desert

Christo, known for his massive installation projects such as the “Surrounded Islands”, “Wrapped Kunsthalle”, and “Umbrellas”, is now closer than ever to realizing what will almost certainly be the largest and most permanent project of his career.  “The Mastaba”, a flat-topped pyramid made of 400,000 multi-coloured oil barrels, will be installed in the desert 100 miles south of Abu Dhabi.  At an estimated cost of nearly $340,000,000, The Mastaba will be taller than taller than the Great Pyramid in Egypt and become the world’s largest permanent man-made structure.

There is an argument to be made that this project is going to be one of the most important and awesome cultural expressions of the 21st century, perhaps a defining moment of the entire modern era.  But the flip side of that same argument would suggest that, at a time when billions of people are starving and the oil industry inspires wars and environmental degradation on a colossal scale, this is an quixotically ridiculous and utterly wasteful idea bordering on international criminality and insanity.

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Exhibition: AJ Fosik at Guerrero Gallery

We first took note of Portland-based artist AJ Fosik’s amazing wall-mounted sculptures at Miami Basel in 2006 and have tracked him carefully since. Made of wood, paint and nails, Fosik’s metaphorical and metaphysical creatures seek to betray the process by which lies and fallacies are propounded by religious zealots, shysters, and proselytizers.

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Recap: Studio: Luke Painter and Faith La Rocque

Ministry members were invited to an intimate and informative studio visit at the home of artists Luke Painter and Faith La Rocque. Each working in an entirely different manner in terms of their chosen media and conceptual concerns, the artists toured The Ministry around their home, discussing their art practices and providing an illuminating perspective of their work.

Read on for more information on how to become a member and to check out photos from the evening.

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Exhibition: Chelsea Lately

Every autumn the urban area inscribed by 12th and 6th Avenues + W 14th and W 34th Streets—New York’s Chelsea district—offers up its fall programme to art lovers thirsty after summer’s annual drought. At this time of year, Saturday’s order of the day becomes promiscuous trysts amongst partners like Marianne Boesky, Galerie Lelong, Andrea Rosen Gallery, and Mary Boone Gallery. Depending on the gallery’s stamina, each encounter might last between 7 and 20 minutes. Paused by lunch at Pepe Giallo and ending with refreshments at The Half King, gallery-goers return home well sated, visually and gastronomically.

Thomas Hirschhorn: Concordia, Concordia, 2012
Gladstone Gallery, NY

In the wake of the tumult that Hurricane Sandy recently waged on this internationally important art district, my tour back in late September has taken on uncanny prophesy. Thomas Hirschhorn’s upended ship hull at Gladstone Gallery and Rosemary Laing’s sky-born trees gripping half-built houses now seem to have forecasted the impending deluge. Reading Jerry Saltz’s sobering account of flooded ground level galleries and the reticent discarding of unsalvageable, water-logged art reminds me that Chelsea remains a unique environment where commercial enterprise abuts critical engagement. Moreover, a dialogue surrounding artwork that is indulgent, as is sometimes presented by superdealers like Larry Gagosian, has a place among discussions of more compelling work.

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Recap: Tour: Art Toronto 2012

The Ministry of Artistic Affairs held their third annual guided tour of Art Toronto, offering members the opportunity to experience the fair through the eyes of experts in the contemporary art market and art theory. With stops at the booths of important galleries and engaging discussions about the significance of various pieces, it proved to be an insightful experience for both dedicated collectors and general art enthusiasts alike.

Read on for more photos from the fair.

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Case Study: Toronto’s War on Graffiti Gets Increasingly Ridiculous

In their most recent effort to extend the spindly arms of bureaucracy to every conceivable aspect of the city while simultaneously proving just how out of touch they are, Toronto’s City Council will call a meeting of the newly formed “Graffiti Panel” (…seriously) to discuss whether certain murals will be allowed to remain on the private property on which they were painted. If it is deemed that the works in question are cases of vandalism and not art, they will promptly be painted over. The fact that the graffiti in question is on buildings whose owners either commissioned or entirely appreciate the work on their walls seems to be of little to no consequence for the Panel, who will debate the aesthetic value of the pieces in a meeting on November 2.

Click here for an article by the Torontoist and to see photos of the pieces in question.

Case Study: Art Fair Expense Breakdown

Artinfo published a breakdown of some of the various expenses associated with participation in an art fair, comparing booth prices for several events (the upcoming Toronto Art Fair not included) along with estimated costs for things like hotels, airfare, and art shipping costs. The resulting figures are, like anything else to do with contemporary art, staggering, but unsurprising. For an up-and-coming artist or gallery, is the exposure garnered through participation in an art fair worth the hefty price tag?

Read on for the full write up, courtesy of Artinfo.

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Case Study: Authenticity and Jackson Pollock’s Final Work

Red, Black & Silver is considered by some to be one of the last paintings to be made by Jackson Pollock shortly before his gruesomely fatal car crash in 1956.  His mistress, Ruth Kligman, claims to have seem him paint it.  However, the Pollock-Krasner Authentication Board questions its authenticity.  Unsigned and small by the artist’s standards, the work is the subject of “an explosive, decades-long battle, a saga that has drawn in some of America’s best-known artists and the power brokers of the art world.”

The work was headed to the auction block on September 20, 2012, at Phillips de Pury & Company in New York City but it was pulled practically at the last minute because of the ongoing questions about its authorship.  It is expected that the piece may finally find its way to the auction block in the Spring of 2013, following additional efforts to prove its origin.

Vanity Fair recently published a smart exploration of the challenges faced by the owners of this work and the difficult path the painting is facing on its way to the market.  Lesley Blume’s “The Canvas and the Triangle” can be found here.

Video: Alex Prager’s Touch of Evil

Alex Prager is one of the most exciting young photographers in Contemporary Art.  Influenced by classic Hollywood cinematic conventions and fashion photography, her works explore melodrama in its most high-keyed aesthetic.  Though best known for her photography, her short films are gaining equal recognition for their visionary brilliance.  The New York Times recently produced and published an amazing series of 13 short films directed by Prager titled “Touch of Evil”.  A video gallery of cinematic villany, these mini-movies each feature one of the best performers from the past year in film and television.  Starring Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Kirsten Dunst, Glenn Close, and others, these featurettes are gorgeous, emotional, funny, creepy and definitely evil.

You can see all 13 films at the New York Times’ website here.


Exhibition: Man Ray at National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery in London has announced they will be holding the first-ever retrospective exhibition of Man Ray’s portraiture. A pioneering and influential Surrealist, he was also an accomplished portrait photographer with work often published in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Vanity Fair. The exhibit will feature hundreds of his portrait images that span nearly five decades, including both his commercial and more experimental pieces.

Man Ray: Portraits
February 7-May 27 2013
The National Portrait Gallery
St. Martin’s Place, London