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. 


Friday, September 7, 2012

The Waggle Dance of Honey Bees

Sometimes I come across something that just blows me away ... 
this short video is an such an example: The Waggle Dance of the Honey Bee. 
The innate intelligence & survival instinct of these busy little critters is just, well, amazing. 

The natural world continues to teach us, 
if we would but watch, listen and learn ...

Monday, September 3, 2012

Zimsculpt @ Royal Botanical Gardens, 2012

Zimsculpt at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Ontario, Canada from canadada on Vimeo.

Not overly happy with this VIMEO 'upload' above. A few musical glitches grate - BUT I think the images of the sculptures are well worth the agra. All in all, this showcase of Shona sculptors & sculpture from Zimbabwe is a wonderful outdoor exhibition packed with Talent & Soul.  Highly recommend. All sculptures are 'For Sale' ranging in price from $40 to $4000. Well worth it, in my opinion, plus $12 Admission. Runs until October.

 Music in the slideshow above by the irreplaceable B.B. King.
(Recording & sync'ing gaffs all mine ... ) 

 'Black & Whlite ... Still Life'
by m.l.holton

Sunday, September 2, 2012

First Oil Painting at my NEW Location

'Mourning Doves on the Garden Gate Under the Wisteria' 
oil on primed mahogany board

Contact artist for size & price