Sunday Painter February 23rd, 2014

Sunday Painter is a term I’ve always liked. I just looked it up and the Oxford definition is really quite disparaging. I prefer to think of a Sunday Painter as anyone who works away diligently at an artistic endeavour but has an occupation that takes up most of their waking hours that is not related to their practice. In my definition a Sunday Painter isn’t necessarily an amateur, crappy at what they do, or who produces uninteresting work.

I’m thinking about creative things and how they relate to my practice every day of the week but often never produce anything. Photography is one aspect of my practice and perhaps the most tangible. The rest of the time I’m conceptualizing, observing and dreaming away about things I’d like to produce and may actual produce when I’m retired and don’t have to spend 50 hours a week at work. A lot of that stuff is photo-based.

Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself  a “serious” artist now.  but retirement will work perfectly into my plans. I dream about the new full time job I’ll have when I’m sixty-or-so and in the meantime I’m doing the groundwork by observing the world in a different way and building a catalogue of things of execute when time permits. Experience is a good tool. I’m also just not prepared to disrupt two people’s lives at the ripe ole age of 50 for something I love but that might be financially unwise : )

Today I walked around the neighbourhood for a few hours. It’s been pretty cold and miserable for the last few months so this hasn’t been that practical.  It’s the first in a series of perpetual Sunday walk-abouts that I’m excited about executing.IMG_0819

This photograph above was taken in the parking lot of the new condominium that’s going in on Dundas West between Annette and Keele. Years ago this vacant lot had a building on it that housed McBride Cycles, a relatively large and well shopped Motorcycle store. For the past few years it’s been home to the Junction Flea Market, or as we like to call it the Hipster Flea Market. Now it’s waiting to be converted into a modest condo building that will be far too expensive. The metal umbrella is a left over from the Hipster Flea Market. There’s also a bunch of derelict storage containers still there that were used by the Hipsters to display their goods. Several of these have folding chairs in them and look to be used by vagrants as a place to socialize. I’m pretty sure there will be more photo ops in this parking lot over the next few months.IMG_0864

This is the side wall of a storage mart on Keele just North of Dundas West. It’s got to be on one of the dirtiest and most depressing stretches of roadway in the city. Keele is a real shit show above Dundas West and perhaps the most pedestrian unfriendly walk I can imagine. It tends to be full of stuff I want to take pictures of.

This Sunday Painting Day I was also planning on purchasing a fifty pound box of 3″ ardox spiral nails. For some reason I’ve been obsessing about an exhibition based around the ardox nail for about  two years. The problem is i t might have to wait for next Sunday because we lent our car out and I don’t think it’s such a practical idea to be walking a 50 pound box of nails around.


1. Sculpture/Photograph – Pile of 1000s of nails on the floor on a black square of wood or material. Maybe highly polished wood gloss. taken on white and black backdrops

2. Photograph – Triptych of a nail macro shot across three frames

3. Sculpture – 18 karat Golden nail hammered into wood

4. Sculpture – Nail hammered into a flat object like a penny on a railroad track

5. Painting -that depicts the hole that a nail makes when hammered into a material. White with black hole

6. Sculpture/Photograph – Pile of nails that have been individually bent into a circle

7. Painting – A nail chasing it’s own tail like the dragon infinity symbol

8. Drawing – nail in black charcoal on white hard pressed watercolour paper.


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MaRS (on Photography)

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The new MaRS building at University and College.

We live in an age of film. An age of action and narrative. Every motion or emotion we experience can be mentally viewed from above, beside, in front or on an angle. It can be seen as a slow pan, dissolving into the next shot or scene. I think this is the common imagining of our generation, and it’s been amplified to be even more commonplace with each year since the invention of film and the availability and proliferation of the medium.

Photography—in contrast—helps me break from this mould or habitual way of seeing. Although it’s still intimately embroiled in the illusion of capturing, it’s distinct lack of duration helps to break the cycle of common seeing. Photography is still firmly rooted in time, but to me it’s inherent sentimentally is inescapable–and that’s a key characteristic of how I see.

I could take pictures of sunsets or other wonderfully complete moments of stereotypical beauty, but those things just don’t interest me. I prefer to experience those things and commit them to memory no matter how infallible and inaccurate that memory can be. I still appreciate what might be considered the picturesque, but I don’t need a record of it, and I’m not engaged to talk about it. Beautiful photographs have their own value, but to me they touch a little to close to a common consensus on what beauty is. I think that delusional in a way.

I love the everyday. I enjoy the passed over. There’s nothing more rewarding for me than passing by a very pedestrian tableaux year after year and finally seeing it with the fresh realization that “this is captivating”. That moment will never be the same again, so I give in to the sentimentality and through my photographs strive to remember how I felt when I truly saw something for the first time despite seeing it hundreds of times.

There’s nobody in my photographs, but I think they are all full of people. At the very least they are full of me looking at something. I populate every image I take. It might be interesting to take pictures in a way that removes me from a place completely. Maybe I’ll buy an intervalometer and experiment with taking pictures of the subjects that interest me from a removed location. Sort of like ‘If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there, does it really make a sound?” For now tough I’m happy to be included in the images.

Most of what I take has been seen or will be seen by thousands of people and nobody will find it fascinating enough to capture, but I hope–however presumptuously– that’s another way my image making differs from the norm. How it hopefully becomes unique.

I’m interested in places that are typically populated or were once populated at specific times when nobody is there. Despite this lack of the human, I hope my photographs are embed with people, the thought of people and how a place changes when those people not present. Hopefully everything I shoot is full of the spirit of people. Not in a mystical, or metaphysical manner, but in a logical way. People leave traces of skin, footmarks, dust, memories, and those things fill the picture plane.

Lately I’ve been more and more interested in making photographs rather than taking photographs. I’ll explore this process for a while and I have a sneaking suspicion that after thousands of hours I’ll finally figure it out. It will however still be rooted in the everyday, the common.

I don’t want to be known as a photographer. That’s not because I don’t believe in photography, or I find it limiting, or somehow wanting. It’s simply because I envision myself learning to write, paint, sculpt, act, and a myriad of other things as  I grow older, as I think about things more. That excites me. I’ll always make photographs. I would however just prefer to be known as an artist. That term seems to me a less constrained and defined term. I see myself as the jack of all trade–maybe never the master of any of them–but that diversity will help me to see. To change.

This is an essay in progress. I can’t imagine it making too much sense until I think about it a lot more.

March 13, 2014 I was thinking I might look at existing paintings, photographs or other art and try to commit those pieces to memory. Over a course of time I could then try to recreate those images by finding existing scenes that mimic the subject matter of those things. I can print these then compare the actual original and my “new” version. This came about by seeing a Jeff Wall image that I’ve somehow marked as my favourite by him years after first seeing it and how different int now appears than I’ve imagined. I changed it in my head over time until it became almost unrecognizable. Very strange. The piece in question is Clipped Branches

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SNAP! 2014

It’s been too long since I worked with SNAP! the annual photography auction event raising funds for The Aids Committee of Toronto or ACT. The last time I had a piece in the auction was in 2011. It seems like forever ago. Strange how time flies when you’re in it, but when you look back it’s seems so expansive.

This years physical catalogue is out and both the Live Auction and Silent Auction lots are up online on their well organized site. I’m very happy to be involved. It feels great to be included with such an amazing variety of spectacular images.

This year SNAP! selected a piece from my Wandering show in Vancouver which I had intended to show in Toronto last month. I’m not the most organized of artists so it turns out I couldn’t show the piece in Toronto because I donated –Club Monaco – Bloor and Avenue Road–to Snap!



I would love to have the work of Paula Gortazar, EU Parliament, Brussels, Paul-Henri Spaak Building, Room 03H01 from her Common Space series that I saw for the first time in the Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward exhibit of 2012 in Regent Park.

Andrew B. Myers piece Lego is also a favourite, as is Yuriko Kubota’s  On Earth -Kara-. Yuriko’s work I was first familiarized through a Gallery 44 workshop. It’s really quite hard to get an idea of what it’s all about online, but it’s spectacular in person.

There’s also Elise Victoria Louise Windsor - Untitled (Wood Pyramid), Jason Gowans - Landscape 2, Robert Burley - Film Coating Facility, AGFA-Gevaert, Mortsel, Belgium (#1), and John Cyr - The Photo Studio of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Developer Tray. I’d buy any of these… but I have too much photo based work already!

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re a seasoned collector with deep pockets or you’re just starting–or thinking of starting a collection–with a limited budget this is an amazing event, for a good cause, with a huge selection of work to offer.

You can get tickets for the March 6th main event itself from the SNAP! website or you can preview all the pieces at Arta Gallery (14 Distillery Lane) from Friday, February 28 – Sunday, March 2, 2014.


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