Energizing & inspiring: Eclectic – September Group Exhibition @ Fran Hill Gallery

It had been a while since I’d been to the Fran Hill Gallery, so I was very happy to get the heads-up from Fran that the gallery was mounting a group exhibition: Eclectic – September Group Exhibition, which opened last night and runs until September 29.

Located at 285 Rushton Road, Toronto near St. Clair/Christie, Fran Hill Gallery is just around the corner from a lively and diverse stretch of St. Clair. The shops range from the Good Will to the vintage shop Gypsy, from pubs like Dave’s to more upscale eateries like The Rushton, and chain coffee Starbucks to the indie Noir and Pain Perdu. There’s a great neighbourhood feel to the gallery, but you don’t have to be a regular to receive a warm welcome. It’s also a clubhouse of sorts for the artists represented there, to hang out with Fran and other artists, and meet art lovers and prospective collectors.

The participating artists are as distinctive as their work, creating art in a variety of media, and coming from various professional and cultural backgrounds. Pieces done in oil on canvas (Alex Wu’s Untitled lady), pencil or watercolour on paper (Blair Sharpe’s watercolour abstracts), wood (Rosalie Lam’s Canada geese and Lynn Cumine’s nude woman); collage (Steve Rockwell’s thumbnail installation); with digital cameras (Jim Ingram’s NYC photos); sculptures in glass and plaster (Leon Rooke’s “Who’s Your Daddy!); the images ranging from the abstract to portraits and landscapes, to homage to other artists (À la Pablo Picasso’s abstract nudes). “Eclectic” is the perfect title for this exhibition.

The Eclectic – September Group Exhibition artists are, in alphabetical order:

Steve Armstrong

Christopher Arnoldin

Robert Chandler

Tien Chang

Linda Corbett

Lynn Cumine

Michael Warren-Darley

Michael Gerry

Gerald Gladstone

Frederick Hagan

Inez

Jim Ingram

Rosalie Lam

Derek Liddington

Barbara McGivern

Bhashkar Mooljee

Robert Nowacki

À la Pablo Picasso

Leon Rooke

Brian Saby

Robert Schwager

Blair Sharpe

Lanny Shereck (who also has an exhibit opening at loop tomorrow, running September 14 – October 6)

Steve Rockwell

Y.M. Whelan

Alex Wu

Sean Yelland

Standing in the centre of the showroom, immersed in these images, is both an energizing and inspiring experience. And you can feel it too. Eclectic – September Group Exhibition is on at Fran Hill Gallery until September 29. Hours: Friday, Saturday & Sunday 11 – 6 or by appointment. Contact: 416-363-1333 or email: franhillgallery@bellnet.ca

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Fran Hill surveys the gallery & exhibit patrons from the doorway
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The Fran Hill Gallery neon sign glows in the window
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Steve Rockwell’s thumbnail installation
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Alex Wu’s untitled lady gazes at us over her shoulder
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The north room of the gallery
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Lynn Cumine’s nude woman, painted on wood
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Leon Rooke’s plaster sculpture “Who’s Your Daddy!”
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Opening night guests enjoying the patio in front of the gallery

Current & upcoming visual arts feasts

Wanted to shout out some current and upcoming visual art exhibits – in Toronto and Ottawa:

Photographer Pamela Williams has an exhibit up at Sunderland Hall GalleryFirst Unitarian (175 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto – west of Avenue Road, south side of St. Clair). Running now until April 21. Hours: Sun. Noon – 3 p.m., Tues. 5 – 9 p.m., Wed. 5 – 9 p.m., Thurs. 7 – 9 p.m.

Multi-media artist Victoria Vitasek’s MFA thesis exhibition Anxiety (a self-portrait series of photography, video and text) will be going up at Fran Hill Gallery (285 Rushton Rd., Toronto – St. Clair and Rushton Rd., west of Bathurst). Runs from April 9 – 20, with the opening on April 11 (6 – 9 p.m.). Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. or by appointment.

Visual artist Blair Sharpe presents new works from his On Some Faraway Beach series at Wallack Galleries (203 Bank St., Ottawa) April 13 – 27, with the opening on April 13 (meet the artist 2 – 4 p.m.) and an artist talk and tour of the exhibit on April 20 at 3 p.m. Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Vivid colourful escape to a faraway beach – Blair Sharpe: Recent Paintings @ Fran Hill Gallery

People like – and buy – art for a lot of reasons: they like to collect, it goes with their couch, they like the style, they like the artist or they just like a particular piece. For me, it’s about style and artist, and especially just liking the piece. It moves me, it draws me in, it takes me to another place. Use of colour is really important for me – and not because it goes with my couch. Though, hey, if that’s what you’re into – enjoy.

On Some Faraway Beach 17 – Blair Sharpe

I like Blair Sharpe’s paintings a lot, so I was very happy to attend the opening of his latest Toronto exhibition Recent Paintings at the Fran Hill Gallery last night. When I arrived, the opening was in full swing, with folks enjoying beer, wine and snacks while chatting outside in front of the gallery. Inside, the viewer is treated to 12 vivid and colourful variations of “On Some Faraway Beach,” the fields of richly applied colour bringing to mind the multi-coloured wooden slats of Adirondack chairs, and the spaces where beach, treeline, water and sky meet. Looking at these paintings makes me long for the cottage and puts me there at the same time.

While I was there, I got to meet some of Blair’s family, who invited me to be in their family photograph (which I guess makes me an adopted Sharpe), as well as gallery owner Fran Hill, who I had a great chat about tattoos with.

Blair Sharpe: Recent Paintings is up at the Fran Hill Gallery until September 30. The gallery is located at 285 Rushton Rd., Toronto and is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. – or by appointment (416-363-1333) Thanks to Blair for the pics from the opening.

You can find Blair Sharpe at his website here: http://www.blairsharpe.com/Blair_Sharpe/Home.html

p.s. – As promised, I’ve added some production pics to yesterday’s post about Cabbagetown Theatre’s production of Cinderella…if the shoe fits! Thanks to playwright/director Kim Sprenger for the photos.

Coming up this week: arts & culture & our four-legged friends

As I start to think about changing gears from a lovely long weekend to the upcoming week, I’m thinkin: Busy fun times coming up kids, with a whole lotta music, spoken word/poetry, comedy and art happening this week. Please check the respective websites for location and other info:

Best of Open Stage @ Free Times Café – Tues, Sept 4 @ 8 p.m. $6 cover. Featuring Victoria Carr, Amar Ghelani & Lizzie Violet http://www.freetimescafe.com/

Blair Sharpe: Recent Paintings @ Fran Hill Gallery (285 Rushton Rd, Toronto) – opens Thurs, Sept 6 @ 6 p.m. (until Sept 30) http://www.blairsharpe.com/Blair_Sharpe/Home.html

Little Creatures for Little Creatures (fundraiser for PAWS) @ El Mocambo – Sat, Sept 8 @ 9 p.m. sharp $10 cover. Featuring Tom Wilson, Noah’s Arkweld, Angela Saini, Sarahbelle & Little Creatures. http://littlecreatures.deezproduction.com/

Come out and support indie artists and PAWS.

Enjoy the rest of the long weekend, all!