Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Found 'Lost' Art: Photo Transfers

I thought I'd lost these during last year's move. Turns out I'd carefully packed them away in a box that has been in art storage for awhile now. Phew. The process? Scans of living autumn leaves were transferred onto hand-made paper sheets (made over a period of three months.) A time-consuming & fun 'project'. Phew.
Step 1. Scan  fragile autumn leaves to make photo transfer images
Step 2. Photo transfer onto hand-made paper sheets

Tried more conventional photo imagery too (see above), then framed all in between acrylic sheeting. They look great.
Image on lower left shows sample of leaves artfully piled up before they were scanned to create a 'flat image' to transfer onto the paper sheets ... Lotsa serious fun!  All hand-made sheets are signed & dated, 2009. All leaves were collected at various locations around Burlington, Ontario, Canada.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Stephanie Vegh: Beating a Dead Horse? Or, Emerging from an Academic Chrysalis?

'Scratchings: Talon, Sting and Claw’     
Now showing at the Nathaniel Hughson Gallery.

Stephanie Vegh, the artist, was born in Hamilton, studied Art and Comparative Literature at McMaster University before leaving for the Glasgow School of Art to complete a Master in Fine Art.

This background is essential to understanding the ink drawings, watercolour sketches, cut outs and literary tidbits that she inserts into arcane 'history' and 'science' books. As she writes, "My labour-intensive articulation of diminutive subjects at an excessive scale in relation to their illustrated environments subverts the logic of these books, forcing a fusion between their history and my own."

Still with me? Take a breath, it's not as tough as it sounds. Meaning: she looks and reads, she thinks about what she's looking at and reading, and she integrates that studying into her evolving persona. All quite normal self-development when you strip away the sophistry.

As for contemporary relevancy, as a country gal born and bred, I couldn't help but think that, cumulatively, these works were 'much ado about nothing'.  Rather then stating the obvious, like the now well-documented global collapse of bees or the on-going eruption of mutating amphibians, we are teased into believing Vegh's quixotic renderings of the historically side-swiped minutiae of Nature is a  'NEW DISCOVERY' of some kind. - Well, it isn't.  

Note: All children, all over the globe, still marvel at the intricate antenna twitching of ants and the buzzing of bees. Bugs, at eye level, remain fascinating.

Perhaps Ms. Vegh's point is that all that child-like awe and wonder is lost as the head, through excessive years of myopically confined book learning, hardens the ever-curious heart. This is commonly known as the ‘ivory tower’ syndrome.

As a visual 'critique' of how, we, as a species, relate to the rest of the species of the world, Vegh seems, to me, to overstate the obvious. Drawing on once revered academic tomes dating from the 1700’s to 1850’s, Vegh has, somewhat mockingly, illuminated their deficiencies. Ok, we get it, those tomes are old hat.  

But one still wonders. Why would anyone study book works that are clearly not relevant today, except, perhaps, as a prologue to understand where we are now? In that regard, Vegh's meanderings in these dusty illustrated tomes appear as 'superior' musings on the atrophied thoughts and illustrations of dead people.   

To give them some credit, if these authors and accomplished artists were alive today they could well be at the forefront of their respective disciplines.  Imagine, for example, Charlotte Bronte writing as a contemporary of Margaret Atwood, or Carl Linneaus  working on The Genome Project ...  

It is very easy to be critical of the dead.

Aside from the overwrought obscure intent of this exhibition, the execution of Vegh's drawings and the pairing of words do have some resonance.  Thoughts ricochet and muddy emotions swirl into the murky eddies of Time Past. Individually, we journey inward - and backward - to cultural backwaters that are now very far removed from the opened floodgates of the internet. 

We all KNOW these dusty tomes are ancient and anachronistic. We can SEE Vegh's tender (not abusive) engagement with them. And, consequently, we can't help but come away wondering if, perhaps, Vegh's miffed chastisement of their inherent failings today doesn't better reflect her greater disgruntlement of her own years of isolated and isolating 'higher learning'.

An essay she wrote seems to give credence to this observation: 'Dwelling in the Windowpane: The Futural Transition of the University'   (PDF link) Therein, metaphorically speaking, she's banging on the doors, flinging open those windows and overall reasonably attempting to up-end the logic of traditional 'reasoned' learning.  

In that sense, these re-fashioned book works, on exhibit at the Nathaniel Hughson Gallery, could be construed as a rebellious 'breakthrough' for Vegh. Yes, she has now graduated into Life. She is, after all, the Executive Director of the Hamilton Arts Council and a member of Hamilton's Supercrawl Curatorial Committee.  

Hopefully, she will soon give herself lasting permission to ‘put away the books’.  

It would be grand, for example, if she funneled her talents into the little appreciation earth-rooted physicality of the web. Andrew Blum's excellent and enlightening book, 'TUBES: A Journey to the Centre of the Internet'  might be a good place to start. She would have to be quick and precise though. His practical ‘field’ research and pertinent cross-fertilized understanding of 'the way things are' will be just as obsolete as our pioneering forefathers insight, knowledge and know-how - given another year or two. 

'Scratchings: Talon, Sting and Claw’ at the Nathaniel Hughson Gallery closes April 6th, 2013.    
Hours & Directions to Gallery: here. 

(Photos of Ms. Vegh's imagery were shot by MLH during the opening on Thursday March 14th. )



Saturday, March 16, 2013

Rhythm & Colour @ Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts

'Spring Creek' (2012) - oil on board  by m.l.holton

'Every day we are surrounded and influenced by Rhythm & Colour. Both are created by design - either by Man or Nature - making one no less important than the other. Be it repetitive in Nature such as the perfectly shaped petals of a dahlia or the precisely placed telephone poles along the road; each ultimately represents a visual rhythm. As for colour, nothing in this world is free from its influence. It can either be lacking or totally engulfing by a myriad of awe inspiring hues. This beauty that we are fortunate enough to experience is the inspiration for this exhibition, showcasing the elements of Rhythm and Colour'

Please join the Women's Art Association of Hamilton 
for the Opening of  Rhythm & Colour 

Sunday, March 24, 2013 at 4:30 PM.

The show runs from March 24 to April 27, 2013 at the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts.  Directions/Map: HERE.

... well attended Opening ...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Recent Acrylic Paintings ...

First off, I must make clear that 'acrylics' are not really my thing, but current circumstances have necessitated that I use them if I want to continue painting in the short term. Oils will always remain my preferred medium, but until I can get back to them the way I want, I'll just have to mess with acrylics. Consider the images that follow as explorations of an assortment of 'ideas', some borrowed, but most my own. I WILL warm to the medium, but right now, it's a bit of a 'love-hate' - 'push / pull' relationship ...

'Cedar Hedge Passageway' - acrylic on primed board

'Back fields'- acrylic on stretched canvas

'To the beach ...' acrylic on primed mdf
'Flock of Seagulls' - acrylic on mdf

For more information (size, price), please contact the artist.

Monday, March 4, 2013

32nd Royal Botanical Gardens' Orchid Show & Sale - Wow!

There is something irrefutably splendid about orchids. Certainly the turn-out over the weekend to the 32nd Royal Botanical Gardens' Annual Orchid Show & Sale attests to our on-going fascination with these exotic long-blooming plants.  I was personally gob-smacked by the variety, and quickly realized I knew NOTHING about them. So, rather then get bogged down in the technical names 'on route', I shot what appealed to me -  ( did a not-so-good  5 minute slideshow of those images ) - and did some background reading on the plants when I got home.
For die-hard enthusiasts, join the Royal Botantical Gardens Orchid Society - lots of care-taking tips, and you can learn much more about native Canadian orchids.

A few composite shots follow: orchids truly are a visual (and fragrant) delight ... 

I found the following orchids on the way 'out' via the gift shop. 
At first I was 100% fooled by their beauty .... but wait ...
They are fake. 
But there is no question that the artistry involved in their creation is splendid too.

Here's the slideshow I did: and, in truth, it's not so splendid ... sigh
Something is wrong with the text slides  - and the sound. (Turn DOWN your volume!)
Still, if interested in orchids, you'll love it ...  :) 

Friday, March 1, 2013

A few back-country shots ...


In answer to a few queries, I shot all three images FROM MY CAR while going up Centre Road to Carlisle. No 'photoshop' on 2nd image, that's just a good crop. (I don't use Photoshop.)