Case Study: Is ‘Gallery Girls’ on Bravo as Horrible as Expected?

Kenny Schachter, the unique curator and dealer from New York now based in London and known for his ROVE series of art programming, offered a sarcastic and hilarious rant in the Observer about just how bad the new Bravo chanel “reality” show ‘Gallery Girls’ is turning out.  After just two episodes, Schachter slams the show:

“…a few minutes into this program I wished I were doing just about anything else, including having my teeth drilled with no anesthetic and getting shot in the face by a .38, at close range.”

But Schachter is just getting warmed up. In the next paragraph, he drills in further:

“This is lowest-common-denominator television at its cattiest, bitchiest best. I’ve changed diapers on more articulate kids.”

Is the show really that bad? Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately?), it’s not available on Bravo in Canada, so we’ll have to just live vicariously through Schachter’s eyes.

You can read the full article from the Observer here. 

Case Study: iPhone Art Fair in Los Angeles

The lasting legacy of Steve Jobs extends deeply into the visual arts. For decades now, the Mac computer has unleashed and enhanced the visionary qualities of artists working in film, music, painting and photography. But with the launch of the iPhone in 2007, the ability to be spontaneously and powerfully creative has been overwhelmingly pervasive and has gushed into the mainstream. By some estimates, more than 200 million iPhones have been sold. With each app-enhanced device packing superior computing ability practically tailored artistic purposes, many millions of people who previously neglected their creative impulses now dedicate chunks of their day to creating digital masterpieces.

One reflection of this phenomenon is the Los Angeles Mobile Arts Festival which kicked off last weekend at the Santa Monica Art Studios. Showcasing more than 600 pieces, all of the works displayed were created on mobile device, the vast majority of which produced on iPhones. In addition to photography, more than 100 of the works are digital paintings.

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Recap: Insider: MoCCA & trans/FORM

On August 7th, members of the Ministry were invited to the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art for an intimate look at their latest group exhibition trans/FORM. A tour of the work was led by Museum Director David Liss who explained the concept behind the show and spoke about each artist involved. The result was an informative and fun introduction to 8 toronto conceptual abstract artists who all have interest in materiality and process based art.

View more photos from the evening after the jump.
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Essay: From dOCUMENTA 13 With Love

(For the essay that follows, the Ministry of Artistic Affairs invited Toronto artist Bogdan Luca to discuss his recent experience at dOCUMENTA 13, the highly important exhibition of modern and contemporary art that takes place in Kassel, Germany, every five years.  He sent this essay from Berlin on July 27, 2012.)

Located in the very center of Germany, Kassel is a city where history has a tangible presence, both in the sense of two world wars, and the cummulative history of the twelve Documentas that precede this one. Here you may happen to lean on a basalt pillar, one of 7000 Oaks planted by Joseph Beuys across dOCUMENTA 7 and 8. In the center of the city there is a brass rod driven into the ground during dOCUMENTA 6: Walter deMaria’s Vertical Earth Kilometer. Only the top surface of this metal column is visible, appearing as a small disk on a granite plaza and leaving the actuality of its real dimension invisible and only comprehensible as an act of faith. Reaching deep through geological strata, this piece is a good symbol for an entire exhibition which often pairs new art with select 20th century works as a way to question the new coordinates of the world we inhabit in this 21st century. Kassel becomes part of a network of historically, politically and artistically active sites connected by an effort to redefine and understand anew our roles in creating the world.

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The Ministry: Studio: Anders Oinonen and Susy Oliveira

We have just listed a new event to our calendar.

Join The Ministry for an intimate studio visit with two of Toronto’s most exciting emerging visual artists, Anders Oinonen and Susy Oliveira. These artists have generously invited members in to their home studio to discuss their imagery and approach to creating art.

Anders Oinonen’s facial constructions are both precisely crafted and mysterious. Working with oils on canvas, Oinonen creates images that are ambiguous and can be read as either figurative or as abstract landscapes. A MFA graduate from Waterloo, Oinonen has exhibited his works in galleries and museums across North America. His work can be found in collections such as the Musee d’art contemporain de Montreal and the Canada Council Art Bank. Oinonen is represented in Toronto by COOPER COLE.

Susy Oliveira creates sculptures, paintings and installations that examine human’s preoccupation with controlling and re-producing elements of nature through artificial fabrication. Often using digital images that attempt to capture or reproduce elements of nature, the artist repurposes the images to give new life and form to artificial versions of natural and organic material. As humans continue to manipulate and impose unnatural systems onto otherwise natural elements of the world for personal pleasure and consumption, Oliveira’s work underscores our perpetuated distance from a world that is undisturbed by our existence.

To see a full list of upcoming events please visit our events page.

Case Study: GO Transit and Toronto Artists Borins & Marman

GO Transit, the Province of Ontario’s mass public transportation system, has teamed up with local Toronto dynamic artist duo, Daniel Borins and Jennifer Marman, to install contemporary art inside and outside train corridors throughout the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).  In a brilliantly out-of-the-box way to encourage discussion about sustainable transportation and the serious transit issues facing residents of the GTA, this new public art partnership combines technology, fresh thinking, and colourful aesthetics.   Video clips, an Android app, abstract billboards, and bright vinyl train wraps will be accompanied by human docents on board to explain the project and encourage participation.

“What we’re trying to do is to reach out to the public to get things started,” explained GO Transit President Gary McNeil, “to talk about why public transportation is important. A lot of people out there just take it for granted that it’s there.”

It’s about time.  Toronto is at least twenty years behind where it should be in the development of its public transportation system and recent public discussions at the municipal and provincial government levels have been marred by shameful and wasteful infighting and lack of grand vision.  This effort by GO Transit to harness the power of contemporary art to push the discussion in a positive direction is a very welcome initiative.

You can read more about this moving, mobile public art project, called “Art Train Conductor No. 9“, at the special website launched by Borins and Marman here and listen to the artists discuss their intent on CBC radio’s Here & Now here.

By Randy Gladman for The Ministry of Artistic Affairs.

You can see more pictures from the project after the jump.

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Exhibition: Souther Salazar at Narwhal Projects

California-based artist Souther Salazar arrives in Toronto this week for the opening of his new exhibition “You and Me (and the Mouse in the Moon)”. His first exhibition with Narwhal Projects, this series of drawings, paintings, and sculptures is drawn from a loose, dreamy, and poetic narrative about a pair of charming, joyful characters as they explore the wonder of the world. Part of Salazar’s “The Trading Tortoise” mobile trading post, this exhibit is one chapter of a year long travelling art installation / community-oriented barter market. The Trading Tortoise, as activated by Salazar and his collaborator Monica Choy, offers temporary spaces for guests to create, barter, and tell stories.  This exhibition is recommended for children and anyone else with a sense of wonder and amazement.

Salazar, who lives in Pasadena, California, has recently had solo exhibitions at Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York City and Giant Robot Gallery in both New York and Los Angeles.

The Ministry of Artistic Affairs will offer its own welcome to Souther Salazar at our next event. On Monday, June 18, at 7:00p, members of The Ministry are invited to an after-hours session at Narwhal Projects’ home in the Junction neighbourhood of Toronto for a meet and greet with the artist, who will discuss the show, his collaboration with Monica Choy, and his artistic practice. Kristin Weckworth and Steve Cober of Narwhal Projects and Magic Pony will be on hand to join the discussion and speak about the role of creative curating shops like theirs in the Toronto cultural fabric.

You can learn more about the event here and find information about joining The Ministry here.

Souther Salazar
“You and Me (and the Mouse in the Moon)”
Narwhal Projects
2988 Dundas Street West, Toronto
June 16 – July 15, 2012

Case Study: Influence vs. Plagiarism in the Creative Arts

One of the primary roles of good art is to push culture to move forward into new, previously unexplored territory.   The purpose of the “avant-garde” is to lead via innovative expression of truly creative thought.  Accordingly, it can be argued that the most legitimate way to properly judge the relevance of artists is not by the commercial value of their work but rather by the influence they have on their peers and followers in the creative fields.  When the market system works properly, monetary value of artworks follows this flow of influence, not the other way around.

With the benefit of hindsight, we clearly perceive the marks great artists’ efforts imprint on society and their directional impact on the flow of culture.  Beethoven, Lennon and Cobain are proper examples of great leaders in music whose leadership and influence can be compared with Kubrick, Spielberg, and Tarantino in film and Manet, Duchamps, and Warhol in visual art.  Damien Hirst, on the other hand, who showed so much promise in earlier stages of his career, has recently offered a mega-series of inane spot paintings that may achieve spectacular hammer prices but, because they will leave no durable effect on the psyche of important artists to come, these works will be forgotten except in footnotes of art historical discussions about early 21st century art market fluctuations and excess.  These ridiculous works are the visual equivalent of Britney Spears’ discography; well-known Pop constructions that reach a mass audience but offer nothing of value nor interest for future generations to emulate.  His recent still-life paintings, largely ridiculed by the critical art world, continue this declining trajectory into gross commercial soup.  (Oops, he did it again.)

So, greatness is best revealed over time through clarity of influence.  What, then, is the difference between influence and plagiarism in the creative arts?  When an artist borrows and makes clear reference to earlier work, how are we to judge this as a good or bad thing?

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Case Study: Values in Contemporary Art

One aspect of art we are very interested in at The Ministry is how artworks are valued by the market and how this system operates.  Writing yesterday for The New York Times, Adam Davidson (co-founder of NPR’s “Planet Money”) makes an interesting argument that the contemporary art world is a proxy for the fate of the superrich themselves and that the current conditions in this market are similar to the Gold Rush.  ”In the late 1840s, there were tons of people who wanted to find gold,” he writes, “but it was mainly the middlemen, who sold the pickaxes and gold pans, who made money.”

You can read the entire article after the jump.
(Thanks to Ministry of Artistic Affairs member Kevin Kelly for the tip about this article.)

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Event: The Curator’s Image: A Conversation

Another interesting event is happening this Friday evening in Toronto. Lucas Soi of Soi Fischer has organized a conversation with a group of Toronto’s leading curatorial minds at YYZ Artist’s Outlet.

Recent public dialogues such as The Curatorial Today, Art Basel (2011); Are Curators Unprofessional?, The Banff Centre (2010); and Curators In Context, ARCCO (2005) have established national and international conversations around the practical, theoretical and conceptual approaches to contemporary curatorial practice. The Curator’s Image seeks to do the same on a local level, providing a vehicle for conversation between emerging professionals who curate contemporary art in Toronto as part of institutional, commercial, artist-run and independent platforms.

For more information about the participants please see below.

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Video: Phil Frost on Bob Marley

In celebration of the upcoming release of MARLEY, Kevin Macdonald’s epic feature length documentary on the life of Bob Marley, artist Phil Frost (who’s known to be incredibly reclusive) participated in a terrific short video in which he, for the first time, talks about how his work and life has been influenced by Marley. MARLEY hits theaters and all the digital outlets (including Facebook) on 4/20 and includes never before seen footage and music.