Art, design, kitsch and commerce – it all comes together under the patronage of Honest Ed’s. The visual vocabulary created by the store’s hand-painted signage is as poignant today as it was when my mother visited in the 1960s. Applying tools of commercial design, contemporary works by Carlson, Collyer, Gilmore, Hutton, Lazarovic and Terada reinforce how the words and images of advertising and sales infiltrate all aspects of daily life. Appropriating these devices for their artistic vision rather than sales, the artists remind the viewer that, in the words of Honest Ed Mirvish:
ECONOMICS MAKES THE MARE GO. BUT HISTORY AND ESTHETICS MAKE THE WORLD LIVEABLE.”2
1 For ideas on museums as entertainment experience, see Julia Noordegraaf, “The Museum as Experience: The Hybridization of the Script,” in Strategies of Display: Museum Experience in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Visual Culture (Rotterdam: NAi Publishers and Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, 2004), 206-10.
2 Ed Mirvish, Toronto Sun, March 21, 1972.
Katherine Dennis is an independent curator and writer living in Toronto. She completed her MFA in criticism and curatorial practices at OCAD University. Recently, Dennis curated NOW: A Collaborative Project with Sean Martindale and Pascal Paquette, the 11th installment of the Toronto Now series at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Corinne Carlson is a multidisciplinary artist based in Toronto. She attended Emily Carr College of Art, was a resident in visual arts at The Banff Centre, and earned an MFA from York University. Carlsonís outdoor artwork Used Cars was exhibited in Guelph and Toronto and in Glasgow, Scotland. After premiering at Blackwood Gallery, Mississauga, and being exhibited in Stratford, Ontario and Buffalo, New York, Billboard is on permanent display on the exterior of Monforte Dairy in Stratford. Recent exhibitions include 20plus3, Manchester; articule, Montreal; Mercer Union, Toronto; and Buffalo Arts Studio, Buffalo.
Robin Collyer is a Toronto artist exhibiting sculpture and photography since 1969, both media playing equal roles in his practice. Public works include the Canadian Embassy in Berlin and the TTC and the Uptown Residences in Toronto. Collyer represented Canada at Documenta 8 and at the 1993 Venice Biennale. His work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Collection of France, and Siemens AG, Germany. He exhibits with Gilles Peyroulet, Paris.
Barr Gilmore is a Toronto-based designer and artist. He earned a BFA in sculpture and printmaking from the University of British Columbia and completed his MFA in design at OCAD University in 2011, winning the prestigious Governor Generalís Academic Gold Medal. Gilmore was the studio assistant to General Idea (1991–95) and a senior design associate at Bruce Mau Design (1996–2005). His book and exhibition designs have won numerous awards. He was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts for graphic design in 2009.
Jen Hutton is a Toronto artist currently living outside Los Angeles where she is working towards her MFA at the California Institute of the Arts. Hutton completed her BA in studio art at the University of Guelph and has exhibited her work at MKG127, Toronto; Parker Branch, London; Harbourfront Centre, Toronto; Access Gallery, Vancouver; Blackwood Gallery, Mississauga; and Truck, Calgary. Her reviews and critical writing have appeared in C Magazine, Border Crossings, Canadian Art, and on Artforum.com.
Sarah Lazarovic is an artist and filmmaker based in Toronto. She has a BFA from Concordia University in Studio and Digital Print Media and an MA in Media Studies from the New School in New York. Her work aims to reconcile digital and handmade technologies. Lazarovic has exhibited at Luminato, Harbourfront Centre and most recently, Mississauga Parking Days. Her drawings appear weekly in a handful of national and international newspapers and websites.
Ron Terada is a Vancouver-based artist whose recent solo exhibitions include the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver; and Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Toronto. Group exhibitions include the 4th Guangzhou Biennial, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China; CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco; Meessen De Clercq, Brussels; and VOX Centre de líimage Contemporaine, Montreal. Terada is represented by Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver.
Design: Tony Hewer | Editing: Meg Taylor | Photos: Nick Kozak
Digital publication to the exhibition Summer Special
Presented by the Koffler Gallery Off-Site at Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor St. West, Toronto | June 21 to November 11, 2012 | Curator: Mona Filip
© Koffler Centre of the Arts, 2012, in collaboration with the individual contributors. All rights reserved.