Randy & Friends opens this Friday

Four artists' versions of two East German egg cups. Clockwise from top left: Ernest Harris Jr., Christine Cosby, Rob Elliott, Melanie MacDonald. (Images not to scale)

Four artists’ versions of two East German egg cups. Clockwise from top left: Ernest Harris Jr., Christine Cosby, Rob Elliott, Melanie MacDonald. (Images not to scale)

Ours is a world of stuff. We admire it, collect it, hoard it, and cast it off.

Four artists (Christine Cosby, Ernest Harris Jr., Melanie MacDonald and Rob Elliott) have made art to give pause for thought about our world of stuff. Meeting around a St. Catharines kitchen table back in January, we selected five objects from an assorted pile of favourite things. Each artist set off to make art inspired by these objects, creating at least four artistic responses to each item.

Settling on animal-themed stuff, five curious objects have inspired this exhibit: an otter-topped statuette with “RANDY” stamped on its base, a plastic honey-bear squeeze bottle, a handful of fishing lures, hen-shaped egg cups from the former East Germany, and a rabbit puppet head still in decades-old shrink wrap.

For the past four months,we’ve worked on paintings, drawings, watercolours, and assemblages, sharing photos of our work as it progressed and talking about what we were doing.

Entitled Randy & Friends, the exhibit offered a unique opportunity for the artists to surprise and challenge one another, and to make work that pushes in new creative directions, both in terms of subject matter and technique.

A dense and colourful riot of creative energy, Randy & Friends features the original objects alongside the multiple artistic products inspired by them. Melanie MacDonald made breakfast, served soft-boiled eggs in the egg cups, then photographed and painted the scene as a monumental landscape. Ernest Harris Jr. has painted formal watercolour studies of each of the objects. Christine Cosby and Rob Elliott have invented a 40-year history of the rabbit puppet head and have designed a parody of big museum celebrity retrospectives, complete with costumes and timeline. A pair of oversized textile fishing lures also will hang in the gallery.

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Randy & Friends
Subjective Looks at Selected Objects
Christine Cosby, Rob Elliott, Ernest Harris Jr. & Melanie MacDonald
Dennis Tourbin Members Gallery at the Niagara Artists Centre

354 St Paul St, St Catharines, ON
(905) 641-0331
April 18 to May 1, 2015
Reception: April 18, 7 – 10 pm

Refreshments and snacks will be served

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Getting to the show: We really want you to see Randy & Friends. It’s a smart, funny show and we’re all pretty excited about it.

The Niagara Artist Centre is located in downtown St. Catharines, less than 90 minutes south of Toronto. It’s in the heart of wine country, there’s a massive flea market in town, and plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities. Make a weekend of it!

Drive: Take the QEW (exit 47). Print out this QEW Bingo card for your passengers.
Bus: Megabus and Go Transit both stop in St. Catharines. Megabus is the better bet – it stops a block from NAC. Go Transit stops at Fairview Mall, so you need to take a bus or cab to NAC.

randy&friends-card-480px

The calm before the storm

Small-Feats-tote-board

The tote board read “80” when we finally locked up NAC on Saturday night.

Small Feats, the fundraiser for the Niagara Artists Centre, was a packed house. The local arts community lined up to see and buy 150 pieces of original work and bid on some amazing pieces donated by Shary Boyle.

Work is still available for sale until Thursday at NAC during regular hours, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The Tin Drum paintings

German author Günter Grass died this week. I’ve read his novel The Tin Drum a couple of times – 20th century history through grotesque allegory is one of my favourite things. (Other great examples of this kind of writing: Irish author J. G. Farrell’s Troubles and Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.)

I did a couple of The Tin Drum-themed paintings in 2004, and thought I’d post them today.

Oskar Matzerath, Rob Elliott. acrylic on canvas, 4"x6", 2004.

Oskar Matzerath, Rob Elliott. acrylic on canvas, 4″x6″, 2004.

Lucy Rennwand, the Fox-faced Girl, Rob Elliott. acrylic on canvas, 4"x6", 2004.

Lucy Rennwand, The Fox-faced Girl, Rob Elliott. acrylic on canvas, 4″x6″, 2004.