I got to work with the awesome Melanie MacDonald last week on this giant Google G. Mel needed a tight cutter to get this pop-up shop job done in a hurry, so she gave me a call. Cool job to work on, and the installers and project designers were super nice folks.
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.
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
April 18 to May 1, 2015
Reception: April 18, 7 – 10 pm
Refreshments and snacks will be served
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.
Andrew Horne puts it concisely to every curious person who walks by the Bazaar Bizarre Collective’s workshop on Rhodes Avenue.
“We’re making art. We’re blocking off the street. You have to come back on Saturday.”
All of that is true. Andrew and I have been spending the week assembling a colourful, anarchic, 20 foot high thing. The timber-and-board construction is equal parts cartoon and carnival. Festooned with lights and flags made from sari fabric, the installation will make a lively addition to this year’s Festival of South Asia. The tower-like construction will be located on Rhodes Avenue at Gerrard Street, and will be installed with the help of volunteers by 2 p.m. Saturday.
In addition to the installation, Andrew will be showing Bollywood film highlights projected on the wall across from his gallery and coffee shop, Flying Pony, on Saturday evening.
The Festival of South Asia runs on August 23 and 24 from noon to 11 p.m. along Toronto’s Gerrard Street Bazaar (directions).
St. Catherines artist Melanie MacDonald will also be opening her exhibition at Flying Pony on Saturday night, featuring highlights from her recent solo show at the St. Thomas-Elgin Art Centre. These scrapbook-based paintings should be seen in real life to be appreciated. If Pigs Could Float runs from August 23 to September 27 at Flying Pony.