Thursday, December 20, 2012

It certainly is a 'Merry Christmas!' on the world wide web ...

The internet is changing us. It permeates nearly every aspect of our conscious lives. It is altering not only the way we think, but the way we perceive the world: past, present, future and dream-time too.  Cumulatively, this is both a good AND a bad thing. But now is not the time to digress on a strident polemic ‘pro’ or ‘con’. Rather, in the short term, (and since you’re here anyway), consider these viral internet Christmas ‘treats’. To be sure, none would have the success they have had without our perpetual ‘clicks’ or ‘hits’.
Ho Ho. -- Surf’s up. (Adjust your audio to skip the YouTube adverts … ) 

Christmas Lights: GANGNAM style. 2 million hits, and counting. (Don’t shoot the messenger!)

Amazing Grace: Christmas Lights. Another festive folly at 23 million hits.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: an adapted Pachabel’s Canon. Visuals include a few cheesy velvet paintings, but hey, who cares, it has near 4 million hits.

Again, Trans-Siberian Orchestra: The Nutcracker Suite (like you’ve NEVER seen or heard it.)  Not as well known, but still pretty impressive at 250,000+ hits and climbing.

‘Santa Baby’ by The Good Lovelies (audio only) from Kingston Ontario. Obscure, with 4,000 hits, but delightful just to listen to their lovely harmonies.

Chipmunks Christmas: Jingle Bell Rock (audio only.) Ok, ok, it’s a stationary cartoon, but it’s still had 3 million hits. (Clearly many miss these delightful little animated high-pitched rascals…. )

Christmas Carols by the Westminster Abbey Choir. Lovely choral arrangement with 118,000 hits. Not much of a visual, but again, this majestic music does impress, even on the web.
‘O Holy Night’ by Carrie Underwood. Guaranteed to send shivers down your spine, with the added bonus of sing-a-long script (… pity about the ‘devine/divine’ typos though.) The poor script and visual design may explain the surprisingly meager 124,000 hits.

A ten minute cosy wood-crackling fire with 2.5 million hits. (Time now for you to supply the Hot Rum Toddies or spiked egg nog.)

Why all this ‘feel-good’ webby Christmas fuss? Well, seriously, there was this child born approximately 2012 years ago. The Story of Jesus Christ: Full Length Movie (2 hours). With a paltry 214 hits.

Draw your own conclusions … 

Merry Christmas One & All.

Margaret Lindsay Holton  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Conor Harrington, Street Artist from Cork, Ireland

Detail from a Rodney Smith image ...
I was looking at some gimmicky Rodney Smith photographs recently - (in particular the background detail of an interior shot that evoked a somewhat predictable interpretation of another time & another era - look left) - and was also looking at an assortment of abandoned euro-castles shot by urban explorers ... when, by chance & consequence, I stumbled on the wonderful contemporary 'street art' by Conor Harrington.  WOW! To my eye, these images are a lovely fusion of traditional and contemporary that document the omni - 'colonial' decay of Western civilization as well as evoke a surprisingly uplifting 'future in-the-making'.  

On the other hand, it could just be the weather ...    
Samples of Harrington's work follows:

Marvelous, no? 

 p.s. I am trying a larger type size on my posts. 
You like? or not? Let me know. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Exhibit 10: Art in the Workplace @ MIP, Hamilton

I'm 'in' with a pinhole photograph - 'Hawthorn Tree & The Fence Post' .
Dates: November 19th, with OPENING on November 29th.
Closing March 7th, 2013. All welcome.

 A few of my pinhole images were recently published in the 
wonderful HAL: Hamilton Arts & Letters Magazine  

Also, my brother, Luther Holton, is offering his first public art installation: 

This shows his provocative stone work about 1/4 of the way through.
(... photo portrait par moi tweeked in my 'White Out' way ... )

Opening Night: 

(A full & festive occasion, but not everyone was interested in the art .... )

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tara Krebs: Visual Enchantress ...

As I've mentioned before, periodically I stumble on a 'new' talent who is so evidently REALLY talented that I've got to toot their horn for a bit. Last week I popped in on the STELLAR solo show of Tara Krebs.
I didn't know much about her (and still don't really), except that I REALLY like what she's doing at the moment. Her works are so poignantly whimsical ... And if that seems a contradiction in terms, well, yes it is. But that's the FUN of her efforts. The earnest playfulness that immediately engages the 'viewer' is intoxicating. You just can't help yourself as you delve deeper and deeper into her striking 'small format' pieces.

Called, 'Narratives', these 'stories' seem like torn illustrations from some hybrid children's book, but on closer examination, there ain't anything 'childish' about this work. Masterfully executed, with a precision seldom seen these days, the 'stories' are intellectually and emotionally evocative, and oddly, very timely.
I guarantee that you will not come away from this exhibit 'bored'.

After a brief email chat, Tara has given me permission to mine a few shots from her website and post them here for you to consider. The following particular image worked its magic on me, especially after seeing a few 'preliminary' un-finished steps on Tara's blog, sample follows -  (Look closely in the 'unfinished' smoke-scape ... enchanting, isn't it? )

And another ...  (not my best 'copy/paste' repro ... )

 And another ...(better yet, go to HER SITE to be further tantalized ...)

 It is possible to procure these, and other of her engaging works, at very reasonable prices as 'photo prints' via Red Bubble. You just might want to do that. This is one to WATCH.

When compared to some of the Top 300 on Artnet, or the top 100 iconic artworks of the past 5 years one often does wonders ...To my mind, Tara certainly gets it.

Tree Wolf and Other Stories, 
Now showing at Hamilton Ontario's  
Show runs from Nov 4-30 - See it.

Update: In March 2014, I wrote this article about Tara's work, for Raise the Hammer.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New Oil Paintings: Fall 2012

 Fall Foilage, Hamilton Beach - oil on board

 Tree Tops - oil on board

'Salmon Running, Bronte Creek, Burlington' - oil on board

Sunrise over North Burlington - oil on board

And, my second 'political pic' ... 

'Birds of a Feather'

Photo transfer, highlighted by gold ink & oil

If interested in purchase, (including size & price),
please contact the artist.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Capture Oakville 12: Oakville Camera Club

Friday, November 23rd
7-9pm - FREE
Oakville TOWN HALL
Showing until January 2013. 

   In the Fine Art category -  
...  'Paint by Pixels' ... 
by yours truly 

The Oakville Camera Club hosts the 6th Annual Photography Exhibition, Capture Oakville 2012 * bringing together artists and art lovers from all over the GTA. 90 images will hang in the North Atrium of Oakville's Town Hall. Entrance is free and Open to the public. Oakville's Melissa Bel is playing live! Drinks are $4. Catering is complimentary.  Join us to celebrate local photographers and the town of Oakville *

Date: Friday, November 23rd, 2012
Address: 1225 Trafalgar Road
Time: 7:00pm

Update, Nov.24th: Great OPENING!! Lots of variety!

 Update Dec 3rd, 2012: 
Thrilled to have my image selected  
by the Town of Oakville  
for the Spring/Summer 2013 edition of 
their Parks &aRecreation Guide. 
25,000 copies will be distributed ...  woohoo ... :)
 Coming soon!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

MLH Fall FUN Raiser! on-line Auction - Join in the FUN!

Prince William Visits Alberta, 2011: Blind to the Tarsands
( Oct 26th Update: GREAT NEWS!! My pinhole photographs have been featured in Fall/Winter issue of Hamilton Arts&Letters Magazine. woohoo! )

It's been a great, hot and BUSY summer. .... As I mentioned in my spring newsletter, I am now planning a 'private' MLH Fall FUN Raiser on-line Auction. To that end, I am offering you TEN unique MLH artworks:

3 memorable oil paintings by yours truly
3 riveting pinhole photographs
3 of my ever-popular photo-collage images

and, to start, ONE large black & white framed giclee print
of a fantastic view of the western end of Lake Ontario

Hosted by the reputable 32 Auctions Inc, this secure custom-tailored PRIVATE AUCTION will give you the chance to 'bid' on these TEN items for the NEXT FIVE(5!) days. Fun, eh? Take note: the on-line auction STARTS at 9AM, Thursday, Oct 25th and CLOSES at 10PM on Tuesday, October 30th.

You can VIEW all items anonymously. When ready to bid, you MUST register on the site to place your bid. Your name & email will remain private throughout the process. Payments can be made by credit card (via Paypal), OR, if you prefer - you can pay me directly, but you MUST BID on the auction site. I have chosen this route to save YOU money. Just think, it is possible that you could own an original MLH item at 50% off retail.

Join the MLH Fall FUN RAISER! on-line Auction - HERE 

 Once the auction closes, the pick-up or delivery of my TEN art works will be organized directly with the final winning bidders. I can deliver items within a 50 km radius of Waterdown, Ontario, Canada. Otherwise, a Shipping & Handling fee will apply.

In closing, the advent of the internet in our lifetime has resulted in a tumultuous social transformation. The challenge, for me, as a mid-career artist from Southern Ontario, Canada, is to not only remain 'current' but 'critical' of the global issues that are increasingly impacting all of us at the local level. As one of millions of species, we are in the beginning of a necessary & bumpy 'transition' to a more sustainable relationship to our Planet Earth. It is a transition that not only requires global Good Will but impassioned Positive Thinking at the local level. We're ALL twirling on this globe together!

And Fall is now upon us in the northern hemisphere of this continent. It is a wonderful time of year to look at new colours, new shapes & new ideas - sooooo -

Join the MLH Fall FUN RAISER! on-line Auction - HERE

Have Fun! - And THANK YOU!
Very best - Lindsay
Margaret Lindsay Holton
Golden Horsehoe Artist & Author
On Twitter, LinkedIn and Wikipedia.

 p.s. If you're not interested in the admittedly 'better investment' of the on-line Auction, I have also put up some items from my NEW 'WhiteOut' series on my FineArtAmerica PRIVATE GALLERY. Samples shown below. --- And many thanks to all! xo mlh

'White Out Series', 2012 by m.l.holton

Monday, October 22, 2012

Country Roaming: Fall Shots 2012

 Misty Morn ...
 Burlington Skyway Bridge from Kerncliff Park

 Harvest Time 

 Back Steps

 Miller's Wheel 

 Autumn Reflections on Rocks in Stream 

 Bronte Creek - South End

 Salmon Fishing, Bronte Creek

 Bird Habitat

 Milkweed Landscape

... hey, contented pigs napping in the autumn sun ... 

ENJOY  the Fall... :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday, October 8, 2012

Douglas Coupland: Gets it Right Again ...

As I mentioned earlier this year, I intend to post links to other items and artists of current interest. When I saw this 'poster' from Douglas Coupland's latest exhibition, 'Slogans from the 21st Century' at the Daniel Faria Gallery, I just went 'yup' ....

Exhibited at Daniel Faria Gallery, Toronto.

Coupland will next 'appear' at the Serpentine Gallery in England for their inaugural 'Memory Marathon'.
Running next weekend, oh, I'd LOVE to be there for that one!

Friday, September 28, 2012

New Pen & Photo Series: 'White Out'

'Garden Portal' - by m.l.holton
Very excited by this new work - 'The White Out Series: 2012' 
A quixotic photographic journey into gardens.
Available at the end of October. 
More images coming soon ... 

If you like, and want to learn/see more, 
please add yourself to my 'newsletter'.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mayor's Cabaret, Burlington Performing Arts Centre, Sept 29th

Mayor Rick Goldring of Burlington, Ontario, Canada is hosting the Mayor's Cabaret this Saturday, Sept 29th, 8pm. 

Featuring Lighthouse, The Arrogant Worms and local talent of varying genres. In addition to an entertaining show, there will be a cocktail reception, a silent auction, a live auction, and to conclude the evening, a post-show "sweets" party with an opportunity to meet and greet with the Mayor. Proceeds from the evening will support The Burlington Performing Arts Centre as it continues to present performances that inspire and delight.  

 Dress code: polished casual. More info and tickets here;

 I have donated my well-liked photo collage - 'Sleeping Apple' ... all for a worthy cause.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Art Gallery of Hamilton's SUPER AUCTION, Oct 23rd

The Art Gallery of Hamilton is having a SUPER Fundraising AUCTION on October 23rd, hosted by Sotheby's of Canada, at the gallery. Some really FANTASTIC items are available for purchase. Don't miss out. Featuring Bush, Braque, McEwen, Pudlat, Ensor, Riopelle, Astman, Whiten, Urquhart, Bateman Morrisseau and yah me - Holton - among many others. (See: Lot 125 - my ever-popular pinhole image, 'Granny's Lounger' (2005) - with a list value of $1200 (Cdn). Kindly note: this is NOT a digitized 'ink jet' print, but rather, a paper-print pulled from a paper-negative, shot with a home-made pinhole camera, made by yours truly. Yes - It is Rare AND Original.) 

As a warm-up prelude to the BIG one, three on-line auctions are also happening via the AGH.
More info here: 

To purchase tickets, pre-register and obtain absentee bid forms for the SUPER AUCTION, please call 905.527.6610, ext. 248 or email

Super Auction Live Exhibition ON VIEW 
September 22 through to October 23rd.  
Check it out!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

HELP WANTED: Public Art in Burlington seeks Burlington Imagination. Apply Elsewhere.

Actor & Comedian Jim Carrey grew up in Aldershot, a community within the City of Burlington.
According to the City of Burlington’s Public Art Master Plan 2009-2018 (aka PAMP), the most important thing about public art is its purpose. “Public art is a force for place making – for expressing and evoking connections among people and places that are meaningful to the community and civic life.” It goes on, “Public Art has been recognized as a significant tool for building livable cities, for urban beautification, and for economic development. A successful Public Art Program makes public space more attractive, interesting, and comfortable, resulting in benefits for both residents and visitors.  Beyond these tangible results, the process of creating public art within a framework, that includes community input, can lead to far-reaching social benefits. This is not simply about creating something for the community; instead, it is about creating community”. (Italics theirs.)

It concludes, “By reflecting a community’s values, and its past, present, and future, public art can embody and symbolize a community’s sense of identity.” (Italics mine.)

According to the public survey done for this Master Plan, Burlingtonians overwhelmingly identify with the thematic subject of “local history”, followed closely by “the natural environment”.  Take note of that – ‘local history’ and the ‘natural environment’.  We will be coming back to those two heartfelt perfectly natural themes of identity in a moment.

So, just so you know, the above was, and remains on the City of Burlington website as, the stated purpose of the City of Burlington’s ‘Public Art’ initiative.

However, most interesting about Burlington’s Public Art Master Plan was City Council’s abdication of the responsibility for actually running the Public Art program. Instead, Council voted, in 2009, to let an ‘external body’ handle it. And there, to my mind, lies a bit of a problem. An ‘external body’ active in Burlington, is one thing, but an ‘external body’ outside of the City limits is quite another.

In 2009, the City’s Public Art Reserve Fund had $186, 578 on account, with another $190,000 ‘pending’. Today, that annual fund, topped up by various agencies of the Government of Ontario, has allocated approximately $250,000 to that ‘external body’ in the form of one Jeremy Freiburger, Chief Cultural Strategist of Cobalt Connects, of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Mr. Freiburger was hired by the City of Burlington to implement not only Burlington’s Public Art program but, latterly, a Cultural Action/Policy Plan too. Jeremy certainly is an engaging and charming fellow who is struggling somewhat to ‘make it happen’ here, BUT, why didn’t City just align with the long-established ‘Creative Burlington’ group? You know, the group that had to close shop in 2011 because there was insufficient City funding for them to continue to operate. With no track record in this community, Jeremy Freiburger’s Cobalt Connects, has, within just three very short years, received over TEN times the funding that the grassroots ‘Creative Burlington’ group was begging for from Council to stay afloat.

…. hmmmm ….  

How can a Public Art program in Burlington, one that is both meaningful and significant for developing a ‘rooted’ Burlington identity, be developed by, and decided by, an ‘external body’ from outside the City limits?  In other words, WHY does the City of Burlington have to go to a self-professed “entrepreneurial” Hamilton-based arts-bureaucrat to FIND the Roots of our own cultural identity?

Something is missing in this cultural equation. That missing component is, in fact, us, the actual living breathing communities that comprise the City of Burlington - from established Aldershot to the newcomers of Alton, from rural Lowville to the developed Lakefront, from tony Tyandaga to solid Mountainside, from sprawling historic farmlands of the north to the apartment blocks and heritage roosts of the downtown core. Within this Public Art ‘dialogue’ we, as Burlingtonians, are sadly missing the one element that makes Burlington so culturally unique, our very own voices.

 Fishy fish find a home in Burlington Public Art bike racks.

One recent Burlington Public Art initiative, of 2010, administered by Jeremy, was the development of these bike racks. Yes, that is what they are. (Promise, you won’t get arrested or ticketed for locking up to one.) Over 180 designs were submitted by 76 ‘international’ artists,  until 10 designs, chosen by Jeremy and his appointed ‘independent’ jury, were placed on a shortlist. After a public vote, six finalists were paid $1500 each for those designs  - Martyna Dakowicz, Jen Hsieh, Zhiyang Mao, Kyle Reed, Wesley Tsang, and Xiaojing Yan. Not one is an active Burlington-based artist, or has ‘roots’ here. Perhaps that is why these bike racks have FAILED on two accounts: 1) as bike racks - [have you ever seen ANY bike locked up to these objects over the past year?] and 2) as ‘local’ Public Art. Admit it Jeremy, few here have any idea what these cut-out metal thingys bolted to several downtown sidewalks are all about …  

The Palladium Park Public Art Benches Competition of 2011 was no different. A talented artist from Kitchener-Waterloo received the commission, not one of Burlington’s own.

Sure, call me parochial, but how, exactly, can the heralding of Burlington’s cultural spirit, local history and natural landscape begin with ‘outsiders’? It’s like having a paid professional singer sing our favourite childhood lullaby from a hastily composed score, rather then singing in chorus, with one heart and soul, by rote, what we all know and love so dearly. (A tad hyperbolic, but methinks you catch my drift.)

Surely the point of this exercise, in all its forms, is to celebrate our own, to support and promote the struggling ‘grassroots’ art community here, and by so doing develop and reflect a truly Burlington-based arts culture. No?  On the other hand, perhaps the REAL Public Arts objective, as the ambitious Jeremy Freiburger and his select ‘external body’ of jurors interpret it, is not at all about the nurturing of, or the reflecting of, Burlington’s ‘sense of identity’, past or present. Rather, perhaps their end objective is simply to create a generic ‘urban beautification’ of Burlington for well-heeled out-of-towners (and investors) using titillating ideas by “recognized” artists who have no cultural or spiritual connection to this place. Or, perhaps, the purpose is to create a roster of “recognized” artists who, hopefully, (no guarantee), will someday garner an international reputation that will substantially inflate their monetary worth, and thus, increase the investment holdings of the City of Burlington Corporation’s Public Art Inventory. Perhaps. Who knows. One thing is clear, the PURPOSE of Burlington’s Public Art program is slowly, and somewhat stealthily, tip-toeing away from the standing Public Art Master Plan.

Anyway, for sake of argument, let’s assume for a bit that the REAL objective, (not the one so meticulously outlined in the PAMP), is to develop a no-name ‘pretty suburban city’ dotted with public art works by artists-from-elsewhere whose careers will continue to develop far away from the City of Burlington. With this revised concept in mind, we can better understand Mr. Freiburger’s jury’s choice of three finalists for the Burlington Performing Arts Centre Public Art Competition.   

The three finalists with concepts are (clockwise, from upper left): Cooke-Sasseville from Quebec City. Concept: ‘Stay Connected’, 15ft x 7ft, an abstract ‘technical console with cables’. Peter Powling from “the hills of New Brunswick”. Concept: ‘Spiral Stella’, 16 ft high x 30 inches wide, sky reflecting bronze obelisk. and Aaron Stephan from Portland, Massachusetts, U.S.A. Concept: ‘In the Round’, circular 28 foot disc covered with 15,000 pixel-people on globe.

Not one of these evidently talented artists is from Burlington, or even the Golden Horseshoe region of Southern Ontario, Canada.  

Obviously each artist has devoted a great deal of thought to develop a ‘Public Art’ concept that ‘reflects’ Burlington’s identity back to itself (sort of) and each idea stands as an indisputable ‘Burlington Public Art’ monument that will eventually engender local community pride and a long term legacy of some kind.  Still, it seems a great pity to me that not one of these fine artists is from here. I mean, there isn’t even a finalist design concept from the very talented, locally-minded and “recognized” Les Drysdale, who, though admittedly not a Burlington native, is, at least, from the Golden Horseshoe region. 

How appropriate it would have been to have one of Les’s evocative story-telling ‘local history’ statues grace the square at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre of, love him or loathe him, the indisputably talented Jim Carrey. Imagine a multi-dimensional fully animated vignette by Les - of Jim – as ‘The Mask’, the ‘Grinch’, and the ‘Joker’ characters all rolled into one piece. It would celebrate local talent on multiple levels, successfully promote the Centre as a ‘living’ arts showcase, inspire local and visiting performers, and nudge all of us, as a community as a whole, to identify with the ‘Dream Big’ ‘Just Do It’ persona of Jim. It would also, I believe, be an engaging and memorable tourist attraction ... And it could all be done for the $90,000 commission prize fee. Ah well, simply put, this kind of ‘from here’ idea has not been “recognized” by the jury. 

And more’s the pity, I say.

Let’s re-consider all this, for a moment, from a slightly different perspective.

ZimSculpt is currently showing at the Royal Botanical Gardens (until October 8th). Two talented and soulful sculptors from the Shona tribe, Passmore Mupindiko and Patrick Sephani, are carving up million year old rocks especially imported for this exhibit from their home country, Zimbabwe, Africa.  Now imagine that. They have imported huge hunks of stones from their own mountains to carve here. Voluptuous stone sculptures crafted by their own tribemen’s hands abound throughout the Hendrie Gardens. These bold sculptures really are powerful art objects: thematically, technically and culturally. Cumulatively, these Shona-made sculptures reflect a profound ‘sense of identity’, from a wholly unique place on the planet, Zimbabwe.

 Sculpture by Shona artists reflect their homeland culture & sense of identity.
Now, flip it. Imagine a roster of Burlington-based sculptors (or artists), who are supported and “recognized” by our very own City Council (or equivalent ‘external body’ made up of Burlington art enthusiasts). Imagine them going to Zimbabwe (or France, or anywhere else) to showcase their powerful works in a high-profile public art space. Imagine them as they chip away at their own imported ‘mountain’ rock – the Niagara Escarpment. All who see - and buy from them - would know these talented artists reflect an equally profound ‘sense of place’. Why? Because these respected artists reflect another far off Earth location, one with a wholly unique natural and local identity. And yes, these soulful and talented artists ARE from that wonderful place of Burlington, Ontario, Canada. 

…. Get the picture?  

 If we don’t believe in our own, nobody else ever will either. 

Raw Rock from our very own 'mountain': the Niagara Escarpment
Culturally-diverse earth roots are not only important, but essential.  Without them, we just become rootless, isolated and detached global misfits, flipping the dials, pushing the buttons, endlessly searching ... searching … searching … for the one place we so studiously ignore at our own communal peril – Home. 

Ask Patrick, ask Passmore, those soulful Shona sculptors representing their far off village communities of Zimbabwe. Now, ask the diverse voiceless village communities who live harmoniously within the City boundaries of Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Ask the artists who live, work and play here. Heck, go ask Jim Carrey. They, and we, all know: not only does ‘Charity begin at Home’, but home really is where our Heart - and Art - is.