Robert Nowacki makes you look – The Health Benefits of Gazing @ Fran Hill Gallery

I was back at Fran Hill Gallery last night, checking out the Robert Nowacki The Health Benefits of Gazing exhibit, which opened on Thursday night. It’s an eclectic pseudo-retrospective of sorts, featuring works that span across the past decade. With works in oil, chalk pastel, mixed media and digital print, many of the pieces feature a subdued palette, but vibrate – often dramatically – in composition and execution.

Nowacki’s work seems to keep the viewer on his/her toes, with canvasses ranging from abstract figures, to graphic delineated shapes reminiscent of stained glass windows to dancing, electric brush strokes to an especially large digital abstract bursting with primary colours in “Port Hole.”

The unusual use of chalk pastel on canvas makes for a unique texture in the drawing “Our Mentors,” an organic, almost anatomical rendering. And “The Mistake” appears to be two abstract figures entwined, an intimate piece hung in portrait format – but you can’t help but turn your head to view it in landscape perspective.

The Health Benefits of Gazing is up at Fran Hill Gallery until October 27. Gallery hours: Friday – Sunday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. or by appointment: 416-363-1333 or email

These are my three favourites from the exhibit:

Robert Nowacki – The Mistake
Robert Nowacki – Our Mentors
Robert Nowacki – Port Hole

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


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:

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