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

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The beauty & power of nature with a touch of whimsy – Inez/Recent Paintings @ Fran Hill Gallery

It was a lovely evening to be at an art opening last night, out of the rain and inside the warm, intimate exhibit space at the Fran Hill Gallery for the opening of Inez/Recent Paintings.

I’d had a sneak peek of the exhibit when I dropped by the gallery to pick up my Blair Sharpe painting a couple of weeks ago – and also met Inez – and I was struck by the vibrant colours, the contrasts of light and dark, and the strong strokes in these beautiful renderings. Inez’s canvasses celebrate the awesome power of nature, as well as its beauty, and with almost whimsical touches – details like the red canoe in “Mazinaw Rock,” dwarfed by the enormous rock face behind it. There are also canvases featuring Fraser Lake – and each has a different mood. Lighter colours – pink and orange – in some, while primaries and darker blues and purples dominate in others.

When I returned to the gallery last night for the official opening, there were lots of folks present – friends, fellow artists and folks from the neighbourhood – also friends of Fran and the gallery – a great, diverse group of people coming out to support the artist and admire her work. The gallery itself has a cozy, intimate feel where strangers make each other feel welcome – this is thanks to the gallery’s convivial owner/host Fran Hill, who is always happy to meet new people, introduce you around and make sure you have a beverage. And the fancy sandwiches served at the opening last night were made by the artist, with the help of some friends. While I was there, Fran introduced me to artists Alex Cameron, who has a show on at the Moore, and Brian Saby, one of the other artists she represents at the gallery.

Another great night of art and friendly folks supporting the artist at the Fran Hill Gallery.

The Inez/Recent paintings exhibit is on until November 4. For more info, visit the Fran Hill Gallery website: http://www.franhill.ca/

And check out these websites for the locations that inspired Inez’s exhibit:

Bon Echo Provincial Park: http://www.ontarioparks.com/english/bone.html

Fraser Lake, Ontario: http://www.bancroftontario.com/index.cfm?vNavID=5&vSubNavID=84&vSub2NavID=43

For more info on Alex Cameron’s current exhibit – A Decade in Review – at the Moore Gallery (on until Oct 27), please visit: http://www.mooregallery.com/MOORE_GALLERY/main_gallery.html

For Brian Saby’s work, check his page on the Fran Hill Gallery site: http://www.franhill.ca/?page_id=37

“Mazinaw Rock” – you can’t see it here, but the little red canoe is at the bottom right
Gallery owner/host Fran Hill
Three more paintings from the Inez/Recent Paintings exhibit
This is one of my favourites – and it sold last night!
Artists Alex Cameron, Brian Saby and Inez.
Fran Hill (centre) and guests – this is another of my favourite paintings

Art, words & stage

Busy times continue, but I wanted to give a shout out to some upcoming events and shows, including two that open today:

Inez/Recent Paintings: this exhibit has been up since October 5, but has its official opening tonight (Thurs, Oct 18 from 6-9 p.m.) and runs until November 4 at Fran Hill Gallery (285 Rushton Road, Toronto). For more info and gallery hours, please visit the gallery site: http://www.franhill.ca/

International Festival of Authors (IFOA): Also opening today (October 18 – 28) at various locations, including venues at Harbourfront Centre and the Ex. Check the website for full programming, venue and reservation info: http://www.readings.org/?q=ifoa

Act2 Studio production of Dinner with Goebbels: October 25-28 at Red Sandcastle Theatre (922 Queen St. East – at Logan). Written by Mark Leith and directed by Les Porter. For more info, visit the Studio2 site page: http://www.ryerson.ca/~act2/activities.html#goebels

I’ll be back at Alumnae Theatre next week, working with designer Ed Rosing on the set for Alumnae’s upcoming production of The Drowning Girls, which runs in the studio November 16 – December 1. Written by Beth Graham, Charlie Tomlinson and Daniela Vlaskalic, and directed by Taryn Jorgenson, with assistant director Antara Keelor – and featuring actors Jen Neales, Tennille Read and Emily Smith. For a peek at this show, take a look here:  http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/1213drown.html