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: 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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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.


Interview: Joe Fig

In his second solo exhibition at Cristin Tierney Gallery in New York City, Joe Fig offers a series of intimate-scale paintings depicting scenes pulled from Hollywood film adaptations of famous artists’ lives. The moments of inspiration he selects are kaleidoscopically represented through a linear breakdown of various media; an imagined tale from a real painter’s life scripted by a screenwriter, performed by an actor and filmed by a director, finally re-interpreted by another painter. With these small canvases, Fig continues his practice of exploring the lives and creative processes of artists in his own works.

Before the exhibition Cinematic Paintings ends on October 20, 2012, The Ministry of Artistic Affairs reached out to ask Joe Fig a few questions about inspiration, his newest work, and plans for a sequel to his highly successful book Inside The Painter’s Studio.

The Ministry of Artistic Affairs: How did your ongoing interest in artists and their inspiration lead to this latest body of work?

Joe Fig: Inspiration and the creative process have been integral to my work for years. My book (Inside the Painter’s Studio) evolved out of my desire to get a better understanding of artistic process. Inspiration is a very mysterious thing. Are there really artists today who torture themselves like Kirk Douglas when he portrayed Vincent van Gogh? Are there actually big moments of divine intervention as there are in Agony and Ecstasy? Not really. Great art honestly happens in the quiet, contemplative moments. In doing the book project I found –to quote Chuck Close– “Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us show up and get to work.”
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Case Study: The Launch of Art.sy

Attempting to do for art what Pandora did for music and Netflix did for movies, Art.sy is a new web-based art appreciation guide. Launching to the public today after months of beta-testing with art world professionals, Art.sy is on a mission “to make all the world’s art freely accessible to anyone with an internet connection.” Similar to the goal of The Ministry of Artistic Affairs, the site seeks to popularize visual art (of all eras cultures and genres) and expose it to as many people as possible.

Art.sy’s rapidly growing collection of artworks has surpassed 20,000 individual pieces by more than 3,000 artists. 275 galleries and more than 50 museums have helped the site build an online reference system. Called the “Art Genome Project”, the database provides a system similar to that used by Pandora. “If you like that, you might also like this…” Works deemed similar, based on 800 different categories, are served to visitors in a stream of informative text-accompanied images. Just as Pandora has an army of musicologists deconstructing thousands of songs and feeding their information into a massive algorithm leading to recommendations, Art.sy’s massive team assigns categories and values to each piece of art.

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Case Study: Eric Clapton’s Richter at Auction

It appears that in addition to being one of the greatest guitar players of all time, Eric Clapton is also a savvy art investor. At Sotheby’s Fall sale of Contemporary Art this coming October 12 in London, the rock legend will sell a painting by Gerhard Richter. With an expected hammer price of $14-19 million, his profit will be exceptional since he purchased it and two other Richters at Sotheby’s for $3.4 million in 2001.

Though the piece, an abstract canvas called “Abstraktes Bild (809-4)”, is not expected to set a record for paintings by Richter (currently $21.8 million), it is considered equal in quality to the best works by the artist currently held in museums around the world. The fact that the provenance will include ownership by Clapton will make it that much more desirable.

I wouldn’t mind owning the Richter, but I’d still prefer to have a few of Clapton’s guitars.  Just sayin’.