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Month: August, 2015

Fury Road

Fury Road 2015

Fury Road Digital Image 2015

When I started this piece, all I knew was: I really wanted to play with red. I made this back in April and it remained untitled forever. Then George Miller’s film came out and the name stuck with me. The piece is in no way an interpretation or reflection of the film (because I actually made it before the movie’s release), but now having seen the film (best movie of the summer) I’m kinda happy with the loose abstract parallels.

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The Peacock Room

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One thing is for sure, wherever art goes commerce isn’t far behind. In this day and age they are almost interchangeable. Both art and money can definitely be deal breakers, turn friends against one another and develop creative rifts that can even expand across centuries. But then again, who doesn’t love a little historical art drama?

The American painter James Whistler had a tendency to do what he wanted when he wanted to. This was certainly the case in his art practice and it also bled over into his personal life. His behaviour at one point had gotten so out of hand that his mother felt she needed to move to London where he was living to reign her son in. The end result of this unwanted chaperon would help inform and produce Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist’s Mother; this definitely goes a long way to explain her dour expression and portrayal. Personal life aside, Whistler was a sought after artist who pushed the story of painting forward with his philosophy of “art for art’s sake“. His use of reduced palettes, atmospheric nocturnes and single person sitters helped to cement his reputation and acquire wealthy patrons.

One such patron was Fredrick Leyland of Liverpool. In 1876 Leyland had commissioned architect Thomas Jeckyll to design a room to house Leyland’s collection of Chinese porcelain in his London home. Jeckyll created a series of carved walnut shelves and adorned the walls with antique leather. Also included in his design was Whistler’s painting La Princesse du pays de la porcelaine — or The Princess from the Land of Porcelain. Nearing the completion of his original design, Jeckyll asked Whistler to consult on a colour choice for the dining room doors and shutters. Whistler fearing some of the wall treatments were clashing with his painting offered his assistance to add some minor touches to help finish off the room.

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Leyland assuming the room to be nearly completed left for Liverpool. Whistler’s ‘minor touches’ included: covering the ceiling with Dutch metal painted in a peacock feather pattern, he covered the shelves with gold gilding and painted the shutters with four large peacocks. Whistler urged Leyland to stay away until the work was done in order to appreciate the full impact on his return. In the meantime Whistler used the room as his own personal salon entertaining guests and the press to come watch him work. When Leyland finally arrived home, he was flabbergasted at the changes and even more so by the bill. He refused to pay for the alterations he didn’t agree to. In the end he wrote Whistler a cheque for half the amount he had requested. This gesture was infuriating to Whistler who perceived it as an insult. He convinced Leyland that he would go back to the room and make it more to Leyland’s liking.

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Instead, Whistler decided to paint over the antique leather on the opposite wall to his painting the Princess with a mural of two fighting peacocks among scattered coins. One peacock represented the offended Whistler and the other the furious Leyland. Whistler entitled the piece Art and Money. This grand gesture or Filthy Lucre (golden scab) successfully terminated Whistler’s relationship with Leyland who then banned Whistler from ever stepping foot in the room again.

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Leyland surprisingly kept the room as Whistler intended and lived in the house until his death in 1892. The room was dismantled and sold to Charles Lang Freer in 1904 who had it moved to his Detroit home. In the beginning, Freer wasn’t a huge fan of the room itself but felt that it had importance in the story of James Whistler. He later came around to its charms and used it to display his own collection of ceramics. The room was again moved in 1919 to The Freer Gallery in Washington DC where it is now on display. In the city of museums, it’s fun to stand in the heart of art and money.

Leo, Marty and The Devil in the White City

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Resurrected from development limbo; it was just announced that Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio were teaming up again to bring Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City to the big screen. So on this occasion, I thought I’d revisit 3 posts that feature our 3 main players.

A must read for anyone interested in everything Chicago, Architecture, History or Serial Killers. The true life events will fascinate and repulse you in equal measures. My full review here. The Devil in the White City Book Review

THE GREAT GATSBY

Before Leo will sink his teeth into the monster that is HH Holmes, he wore the suit of Fitzgerald’s consummate chameleon playboy. Baz Luhrmann turns up the Jay-Z and inspires prom themes for the next 3 years. My review here.

The Greatness of Gatsby 

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Last but not least,the best way to describe this next post about paintings found in movies is all in its title:

I like this one: One dog goes one way and the other goes the other.”

Arbor Nimbus: Paintings by Joseph and Matthew Catalano

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A little over a year ago, I got it into my head that I wanted to have an exhibition with my father. The idea of a father/ son show seemed engaging and kind of unique. We have both been working away for years now and I thought it would be nice to show our work together. When it comes to art making; we have very different approaches and working styles from one another, but I felt the work might dialogue in an engaging fashion.

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I then began to look for possible venues for this potential exhibit. A week into the process I opened my email and found a notification that this new Gallery A was excepting exhibition proposals for their upcoming schedule. I have no idea who sent me this or how I got on this mailing list but, works for me. Oh and the proposals, they’re due in a week.

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I immediately started to brainstorm an exhibition proposal that tied our work together in some coherent and meaningful way. My father is a very versatile painter who loves to experiment. His subject matter ranges from the purely abstract all the way to the representational with all stops in between. I didn’t want this to merely be a survey show and was looking for a common thread. I decided to focus on his love of nature. The landscape and nature loom large in his work with the tree being one of his favourite subjects. In his paintings, he is endlessly reinventing and abstracting this form. This is where the Arbor comes from.

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In my own work, I’ve been playing with a variety of symbols and motifs that find their way in again and again. One of the earliest symbols to show up would be a graphic cloud like shape (Nimbus). In some cases it resembles more of a flower or variety of other things but I like it to have weightlessness to it. My work is intended to be purely abstract, but over time elements and attributes of the landscape were slowly presenting themselves.

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These two elements of the land and the air or the tree and the cloud would be the foil to wrap the show around. The show is also meant to explore two generations of painters that approach the medium from two different directions. One steeped in history and tradition and the other playing with technology and working methods.

Overall we were very pleased with the results and the two styles seemed to play nicely together.

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The show runs from Aug 5 to Sept 10th.

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Whether Pattern

Whether Pattern 2015

Whether Pattern 2015

Got my images from the printer, so today’s a framing day. Hanging Tuesday – show opens on Wednesday.