Luzajic at the Flying Pony

Basquiat, Rauschenberg, Jim Dine … ,” was Lorette C. Luzajic‘s ready answer when I asked which artists were her biggest influences. “As you can probably see, New York artists.”

Danica and I were fortunate to arrive at the Flying Pony Gallery/Café while Lorette was in attendance. She was very good about taking us around to talk about her show, which includes two large, unstretched, raw canvasses. They are practical … relatively easy to hang up and work on, even better for transporting. Buyers can stretch them as they wish, at the receiving end.

Luzajic works with mixed media including photos taken from printed sources and collaged onto surfaces. Female figures, alone or repeated, show up frequently, with added images – especially roses – covering faces. Marilyn Monroe makes a couple of appearances.

Stencilled letters and embedded words hint at Luzajic’s other art form; poetry. I thought of my evening at the Free Times Café and Suparna Ghosh, another painter/poet. Of course, Lorette was well aware of The Art Bar that has been presenting poets and poetry in Toronto for well over 2 decades.

Proudly posting …

I just received this photo from my baby sister Joni, showing her new automatic garage door. She’s been working on the project for the past couple of weeks, framing in the opening, installing the door and motorizing it.

Joni lives in Salmo, a gorgeous part of British Columbia. It’s up in the mountains. Time for outdoor work is already running short. As you see, everything is nearly finished. The triangular space above the doors is reserved for a plywood panel that will get an art mural treatment. That will probably wait for Spring.

Not only did Joni install the door, she fitted recycled windows above it and added a new white side door in a pocket on the long side. Baby sister, yes, but also a senior citizen and good with tools.

Company doesn’t like misery

Sleepers sheltering from bombs in the London underground, by Henry Moore

I had a print of this drawing hanging in my living room in the 1970s. Guests surprised me by asking why I would want such a thing on my wall. It’s a wonderful drawing by a great artist. Why wouldn’t I want to … oh, I get it … sort of. (but not really)

The memory returns after yesterday’s visit to the AGO’s powerful exhibit of Kathe Kollwitz prints and drawings. Her subjects are relentlessly grim reminders of human suffering in times of war and disease. They are beautiful.

Some slides are details of larger images.

Kollowitz worked between the world wars, becoming an anti-war artist after losing her son in WWI. Hitler’s regime classified her work as “degenerate” and sold it off, along with masterpieces by similarly designated artists, ironically raising money for war.

Truth to materials

Enhancing our visual awareness is one on the things artists do. We all spend time consuming from our various screens, hardly noticing the screens themselves.

Rebecca Belmore‘s room-sized wall of mist and water cannot be ignored. It is big, makes noise and fills the room with the smell of chlorine. It is an actor itself, in the drama being projected upon it.

[My video samples are taken from a 2:45 minute loop. Above is just a small taste.]

My poor camera was confused by light sources. Real eyes had no problem.

In another room, Belmore performs in a video piece about murdered and missing Indigenous women. Again, she draws our attention to the flat screen and the light that flickers on it. She studs the surface with a grid of incandescent bulbs, filaments glowing yellow, in contrast with the bluish projected video.

Detail of one of the incandescent bulbs studding the video wall

Belmore is a perceptive, inventive user of materials. Very smart stuff. Look At this totem of shopping carts.

We’ve all seen nested carts in horizontal rows. Belmore stands them erect, their contents spilling onto the floor. Mud? Excrement? Whatever it is, it is the base of the monument.

Go see. There’s much more, all equally well thought out, conceptually clear and skilfully made.

Show closes October 21st.

See Toronto by bus

Photo by Danica

Seating was obviously a low priority for designers of the newest Toronto buses. Nothing says that better than the two spots shoehorned in behind the driver’s seat. You climb up into them from floor level to sit facing a blank wall.

A cautionary sticker (lower right, above) warns that the bus lowers. What? Expectations?

Compare, contrast, the best will last

If you drained the egotism and eroticism out of Egon Schiele but kept the skill and talent to draw expressive line with bold originality, would you have Ben Shahn?

Two self portraits by Egon Schiele

Reclining Woman with Green Stockings by Egon Schiele

A show at the AGO once compared the visions of Francis Bacon with those of Henry Moore. A similar counterpoint is possible with Schiele and Shahn. While the “bad boys” are intense and personal, their counterparts are, perhaps, more broadly accessible. I admire the work of all of them for different reasons, but this post is really about Ben Shahn [more examples], because I want to remind myself about him.

Ben Shahn drawings. Left, one of his many Sacco and Vanzetti pieces

Shahn’s work is often unfashionably didactic and his social realism seems quaintly earnest in our present climate of ethical expediency. Sometimes he flirts with the merely decorative, and well enough to mask serious intent. Sometimes he is too sentimental. Nevertheless, I see fundamental formal values in his art that will probably last.

Ben Shahn is not paid much attention at present, but artistic reputations ebb and flow. Some well-regarded artists fall into perpetual obscurity, but I don’t think Ben Shaun will be one of those.

Ben Shahn, Wheatfield His art does not always carry a social message.

Bourbaki, the Banksy of math?

Loyal reader Mr Spiffle recently commented on my theory that graffiti artist Banksy is not one person, but a collective. My notion sprang from awareness of Nicolas Bourbaki.

Fictitious Bourbaki and the European mathematicians who invented him.

If a collective of mathematicians could form a secret society and publish under a pseudonym, why couldn’t artists?

Nicolas Bourbaki makes a good story, funny and nearly deadly for one founder.

A Toronto angle and an art angle.

Bourbaki members were sticklers for abstraction and generally derided mathematicians who drew pictures … except for one … Toronto’s Donald Coxeter. [13 page PDF]. They had to recognize his genius.

Coxeter is regarded as one of the greatest geometers of the 20th century. Wikipedia

The art part of the story relates to Coxeter’s collaboration with M.C. Escher. This interview with David Suzuki will fill you in on that …

Here is a good documentary about Coxeter.



Inspired by previous post

Why share only one Danica saying? Here are more from my collection. The last one’s a favourite.

Are you quite sure you want to eat that?

Don’t worry, something will happen.

I accept this gift in the true spirit of receiving.

Receiving an employer’s generous parting gift:
“If I knew you were going to be this nice to me, I would have left sooner”.

Her boss complained, “Since I took over, things have only gotten worse.” Danica: “Are you going around telling people that?”

Danica: “I can’t think of anything to do.”
Danica’s mother (in Czech): “Take off all your clothes and run around naked.”

Danica observed that an ambitious colleague was “clawing her way to the middle”.

The stem of an apple is on the bottom, not the top. Corollary: The Apple logo is upside down.

Old school chum who hadn’t seen Danica in years: “Do you have any children?”
Danica: “None to speak of.”

A one-armed chap was having difficulty with some chairs he purchased at our yard sale. Danica: “Need a hand?”

Coined word: Having introduced her sister to meditation at a local yoga studio, Danica decided that Anna practiced “fidgetation”.

Coined word: Danica’s adjective for a mentalist who wasn’t very good… “telepathetic”.

Question: Are you two friends?
Danica: “We’re friends most of the time. The rest of the time, we’re married.”

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