Showing posts with label interviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label interviews. Show all posts

Oct 12, 2012

I went looking for jeans and found 145K art instead

Tuesday was a great day, number one - it was the first day I hadn't had a headache in a month, and number two, I stumbled upon an exhibition of BC Binning, Karel Appel and Alexander Calder paintings - for sale. As I was starting my search for jeans on South Granville, I walked by a space with a midcentury Danish modern living room set in the window and backtracked - then I caught a glimpse of a BC Binning piece on the wall, and in I went. I was greeted by Kate Barron, the gallery manager, who let me wander around in peace. The further into the space I got, the more I was blown away by the exhibit's calibre of art. When I reached the back of the room and saw a Binning work that I'd previously only seen in books, I couldn't handle it anymore; I had to ask Kate what the heck was going on.

The current exhibition is entitled 'ABC: Outlining Abstraction.' What should we expect from it?

Everyone who comes to visit us should expect to see a world-class exhibition. We have three artists from three different countries, painting abstract art in their own way. The show is full of bright colours and hung in a salon style, forcing viewers to interact with the works rather than simply walking a circle around our gallery. The show, our collection speaks for itself, and so far, everyone who has come in has had his or her expectations surpassed.

Can you tell us a little about what thoughts went into curating this show? How was it pulled together?

We thought for a long time about having this show and which artists and pieces we would put together. Our goal was to use artists that we believe in, strong, international and work together smartly. It was literally pulled out of our collection, which should speak to how strong the collection of The Art Emporium really is.

You'd mentioned that Karel Appel is proving to be the stand out attraction of the show. Why do you think he is and not Vancouver's favourite BC Binning?

BC Binning is almost always a favourite; he’s sort of a local hero, but we’ve seen his work at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Auction Houses, and other galleries. Karel Appel isn’t seen every day in Vancouver. I can’t think of anyone who has the collection of first-rate Appel’s that we do. His work feels current, interesting and very different than anything being shown in the city right now. I think it’s interesting but not surprising that Karel Appel is a standout because his work is powerful and timeless.

This is The Art Emporium's first exhibition in 20 years. Why?

To clarify, this was the first opening we've had in 20 years and a large-scale exhibition. Still, in 2010, during the Olympics, Merete Kristiansen (former gallery manager) hung a great exhibition on historical Canadian masters.

We’ve been focused on building art collections for private collectors, and our clients generally appreciate that we’re low-key and a little more casual than other galleries. Our gallery is always open to the public Monday – Saturday 10am – 6pm, and we love having visitors, but we’re a little hidden from the street. Torben Kristiansen, the owner and head dealer at The Art Emporium, has done a wonderful job building our world-class collection, and we’re constantly told that we should have shown because it’s not fair to keep what we have a secret. We also wanted to take a stand for “Gallery Row.” There have been a few galleries that have left Granville, and we’re saying, hey, wait a minute, Granville has built this reputation for a reason, and there’s still amazing art to be seen here. Galleries have left, but more have stayed on Granville and those that have, are in great company.

Galleries seem to be vacating 'Gallery Row' on South Granville. Where should we go to see up and coming talent now?

Firstly, “Gallery Row” is still one of the best places to see up and coming talent, but we’re fortunate in Vancouver to have Gastown, Main St and East Vancouver hosting such wonderful emerging talent too. I use online resources like The Art Market to find new artists and shows and make a point to visit studios during the East Side Culture Crawl, etc.

If you could recommend a local artist for us to invest in now, who would it be?

Just one…?!? Ahh, there are so many great artists in Vancouver, Jessica Bell, Yared Nigussu, Fiona Ackerman, Sarah Gee, Zoe Pawlak, Nick Lepard, and Brian Boulton … to name a few. Because of my budget and taste, I collect mostly emerging artists in my own collection. I wish I had more walls for the talent that we have in Vancouver and throughout Canada. 

Are there any other shows lined up for 2012?

Nothing planned as of yet… but you never know. I would love us to start producing two or three powerful exhibitions each year.

I always hear of these multi-million dollar hidden collections in Vancouver homes, businesses, and underground tunnels. The Art Emporium has been around since the late 19th Century (and is Vancouver's oldest gallery). Your catalogue must be huge! Would you care to divulge approximately how many pieces there are in the collection?

Ha Ha, no! We do have a large inventory – that’s no secret. Torben has been collecting for 50 years; use your imagination… and then double that.

If you could curate your dream exhibition, what would it be?

Honestly, ABC: Outlining Abstraction has been a dream come true for me. The works are strong, cohesive, colourful and first-rate; you can’t ask for much more than that. My dream would be to curate a powerful group show made up of emerging talent mixed in with very established artists, with each holding their own.

The show ends Saturday, October 13th so go check it out while you can - 2928 Granville St.

You know, I never ended up continuing on my search for jeans that day and ladies, you can relate to this; it probably would've ruined what was turning out to be a perfect day anyway.

images © Christopher Thorn and Kate Barron

Apr 3, 2009

From Vandalism To Home Decor - Graffiti Interiors

Graffiti Pillow
image © lovegrove & repucci

n. 1. (usu. in pl.) a piece of writing or drawing scribbled, scratched or sprayed on a surface. 2. Art a form of decoration made by scratches on wet plaster, showing a different colored under-surface. The Concise Oxford Dictionary.

I had first come across the work of Lovegrove & Repucci while thumbing through an art mag a few months back when some photos of graffiti tableware (NY Delft) caught my eye. I contacted Demian Repucci and Nick Lovegrove, the duo behind design collaborative Lovegrove & Repucci, to ask them a few simple questions about some of their new pieces; 'Graffiti Pillows' and 'Urban(e)' silk scarves. Their answers were so eloquent, specific and significant that I've chosen to publish them in their whole.

Who did the graffiti? Was it done on one big medium and then transposed digitally?
'We photographed graffiti in its natural habitat - delivery trucks, walls, alleys, etc. Then we manipulated the graffiti with Photoshop to make it into our own amalgam of sorts. Once the section was selected it was then digitally printed on the cotton twill covers (Graffiti Pillows).
'Urban(e)' Graffiti Silk Scarf
image © lovegrove & repucci

The same sort of process was used for our 'Urban(e)' Silk Scarves. I think the scarves are especially lovely in that the graffiti is done in fine silk. Quite a juxtaposition.

Both projects take what could be considered banal, culturally 'base' or vandalism even and put it in a different context. High fashion or home decor. Elevating one's perception of it (hopefully) from eye sore to art.'
Graffiti Pillow
image © Lovegrove & Repucci

Like the graffiti that inspired them, the Graffiti Pillows are a limited edition. There will be 500 of each. You may order them online from Lovegrove & Repucci by clicking here.

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Mar 19, 2009

Forgotten Trinkets Find High Fashion

What's beautiful about passion is that it's a contagious cycle. Shereen de Rousseau has breathed life into long forgotten trinkets and sentimental medallions by giving them a new purpose - fashion. By resurrecting these found objets d'art de Rousseau not only pays homage to their creator but also to the individual who wears them. I had the pleasure of speaking with the designer, whose pieces grace five pages of the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, about who and what inspires her and the stories her designs tell.

Shereen de Rousseau

Your childhood was quite nomadic. You grew up in Brazil and spent time in various Canadian cities before settling in Vancouver. Have your travels inspired you?
Immensely. I've never quite recovered from a visit to St. Petersburg, specifically the Hermitage years ago. I was a changed person. I get lots of inspiration from art and architecture. I make a yearly trip to scrounge through Paris looking for trinkets and jewelry.
You were inspired to create your own designs after becoming disenchanted with the selection available, a common motivation for designers. Do you feel your designs speak to the mainstream or a niche market?

I'd like to think I sell to a niche market but I have such a variety of characters who like my jewelry I couldn't tell you what that niche is.

Design can be a very personal art form. When you design, do you design for you or a particular muse or theme?
I always design for myself. I wouldn't have a clue how to design for someone else. My fashion idols are all rock star girlfriends from the late 60s early 70s.

Who, in the realm of jewelry design, inspires you?
I love the work of Philip Crangi. He does this amazing stuff that looks industrial yet incredibly feminine. That's hard to pull off.

What kind of stories do your pieces tell? Does Colibri Noir speak something different than M├ędallions Antiques?
The found treasures in M├ędallions Antiques have their own story. The coins I use have amazing history. Some of the medallions are baptismal and have dates engraved on them. Some were given when family bought property. All have interesting stories behind them. I have a fellow I visit in Paris who takes the time to explain what all the different medallions were for and who the artist was who designed them. I have decided that coin collecting is an incredibly cool thing. The artistry and history is fascinating. Maybe in my next life. The collections are grouped together intended to be worn together or just aesthetically compatible.

When you started working in fashion what was your dream/desire? What about your dreams today? 
The entire time I worked in the crazy fast paced world of fashion, I dreamt of leaving to paint full time. I still don't find time, but I'm really happy working in a grubby studio creating things I love.
Why jewelry?
It was an accidental career change. I had been making pieces for myself and friends when it started getting noticed and a few shops inquired about selling it. It grew from there. I have always been crazy for jewelry. It is the easiest and coolest way to individualize your style. I can wear the same clothes but change my look completely with the jewelry I wear. It's also like my security blanket.
What does your intuition tell you about forthcoming fashion trends in jewelry?
I never follow trends in jewelry. I loathe mass production as I can't imagine how it would ever make the wearer feel special. I hope the trend is towards small production, more unique jewelry.

What material would you love to work with?
Gold! Big bold beautiful gold pieces are what I dream of. Unfortunately, with gold nearing $1000 per ounce this isn't going to happen. My designs are big and heavy and would require a second mortgage to produce them in gold. I'm experimenting with bronze right now.

When you're not living and dreaming fashion, what do you do?
I try to spend every minute I can with my son. I am also a collector of badly behaved dogs.

Shereen de Rousseau is available online at and at Provide in Vancouver. All images © Shereen de Rousseau.

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Jan 12, 2009

Trends - Thrift Shop Paintings - An Interview With A New Yorker

With the barrage of social networking, virtual communities and urban densification brought on by the latter 20th century, the comfort of anonymity is developing into a romantic ideology fit for the 21st century.

French artist, Magdalena Gerber, explores anonymity in her work Tellerstories, British creative consultant to Swarovski, Graham Hollick, exhibits his anonymous portraits in his home, American musicians Fleet Foxes, pen lyrics such as Tiger Mountain Peasant Song and New Yorker, Chris Gallagher, shares his collection of anonymous portraits with the world.
I discovered Gallagher's collection of anonymous portraits while reading the Brooklyn Flea blog.
Being a collector of anonymous pet portraits I was inspired to track him down and explore the lure of anonymity further.
The interview that follows transpired over email the week of January 5th 2009. I began by asking Gallagher some background questions which developed into an exploration of stories, spirits and moods that will, no doubt, transcend time.
I sincerely thank Chris Gallagher for taking the time to explore the questions on the level that he did. Please lose yourself in a sampling of his collection.

When did you start collecting portraits?

I bought my first two in the nineties at the 26th Street Flea market in NY. It was two portraits by the same artist, a Winston Churchill and a Dwight Eisenhower. I was young and broke and probably couldn't afford them at the time but I bought them anyway.

How many do you have?
Probably around 100. In addition to the portraits I have other types of found paintings (landscapes, outsider type stuff).

Were they all acquired in the US?
All of the paintings so far were acquired in the US. I do look for them wherever I travel and have bought things in NY, Portland, LA, New Orleans etc. They make great souvenirs because they can really evoke the spirit of a place, more so than a t-shirt or coffee mug.
It was in Paris at the Cligancourt Flea Market though, that I first saw a grouping of them and it really inspired me to start a collection. I don't think I bought any there because they were out of my price range and the exchange rate wasn't great but the idea of them stayed with me. I would like to add some from outside the US in the future.

What motivates you to buy a portrait?
It's variable. Ideally I buy something because it's technically a good painting- it's just really well painted and captures a personality and mood. Sometimes I'll buy things that can be more technically crude but captures a spirit of some sort. I also have an interest in contemporary/modern art so sometimes I'll get a portrait that reminds me of another artist like Picabia or David Hockney or something like that. If a portrait can capture a past era really well but look contemporary at the same time- that will really motivate me to pursue it.

The Exploration:

The portraits capture an intimacy that provokes questions of the before and after, each with their own story. Have you become a story teller? Whose story is your favorite? Who provokes the most questions?
They can definitely tell a story and depending how you can group them, the story can change. If you group all "WWII people" together or the "robber barons" together or "the college students" together or the "families" together they tell one story but if you mix them all up the stories change. Individually, there is a portrait of a black woman that looks like it was painted in the 40s or 50s. The woman evokes a very jazz era feeling and there is a certain melancholy in the way she looks off. It's almost like listening to a Billie Holiday song (listen to Strange Fruit here)There is a painting of a not too attractive middle aged woman - she looks like a society matron from 1960's - which always elicits a comment. It kind of looks like if Goya did one of his royal portraits in the 1960's, this would would be it.

The portraits are considered anonymous, however, you've brought them together in a collection, a new family per se, giving them a new identity. Do you feel that your collection marks a single point in time or that it transcends time?
I hope it transcends time. I think that's what makes portraiture interesting- the fact that these faces endure long after their situations change or their lives end.

You're having a cocktail party and can invite only five of the anonymous sitters in your collection, who are they?
Chosen just because they all look like big personalities who've had some interesting life experiences (portraits of the invited below).

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