October 28, 2010

Top Girls

Could somebody please explain to me why there are so many exceptionally gorgeous female opera singers performing these days? They’re not just young and talented; they maintain a beautiful appearance, and they even have slim waistlines. The waistline issue is particularly puzzling. Back in the day, opera divas would be snacking on pastries backstage, telling the tenors and ballet dancers that the voice has to be supported by something. What excuse would Montserrat Caballe come up with today?

My three favourite contemporary opera singers - Elina Garanka, Anna Netrebko and Cecilia Bartoli - are so beautiful that, when talents were being given out, it wouldn’t have been unfair for them to get something simple. Like cross-stitching. But no – they have the voice, the talent, and beauty to add to that. Fine, the rest of us are just mere mortals. 

In consolation, I’d like to tell a story that happened several years ago, before the Bolshoi Theatre was closed for renovation.
The building became very old, and it was rather seriously infested with mice. In order to keep the mouse population under control, the theatre acquired a few cats. The cats made themselves quite comfortable, and began living under the stage. One fine moment, when one of the prima donnas was hitting a high note, the cats couldn’t stand it, and began to sing along from underneath the stage. The audience laughed so hard that the performance had to be cancelled.

October 24, 2010

French Toast

I think that the popularity of the blogosphere stems from one basic human trait - curiosity. It's not really about the desire to communicate with others. It is well known that only a small fraction of users leave comments, compared to how many readers the post actually gets. People read blogs because they are curious. And I am no exception.

Another way to satisfy your curiosity is reading other people's memoirs. I don't just pick anything - I like to read about the experiences of the people who have had to deal with culture shock after moving to another country. I particularly love reading about people who have moved to France. I avoid reading books by Peter Mayle, even though he pretty much started the whole movement of writing about "how it really happens", of taking a bite out of life in that country.

Instead, I have read books by just about all the reckless Americans, Canadians, and Brits with the tiniest grain of literary talent who can be found at Chapters or in the library.

Here's a brief overview of one of them - French Toast by Harriet Welty Rochefort. After reading this book, I have come to the conclusion that Russian people are practically French, judging by how many national traits they have in common. For one thing, they're very similar in their behaviour on the road, their lack of desire to smile spontaneously, in their attitude towards professional clients, and in their attitude towards education. The phrase "It does seem like everyone's always fighting over something" brought back so many memories and a fit of uncontrollable laughter.

Another aspect that was so familiar to me was the absurd degree of bureaucracy and all the unwritten rules about how to act during dinner when you have guests over. And then there's also the love of discussion that end up going nowhere. And the gender relations.

Overall, I have really enjoyed it, and I would recommend this wonderful and hilarious book to anyone.

October 22, 2010


I would like to tell you about one excellent and subtle photographer - Kamelia.

The two main areas of her interest are people and still life. She work with a black and white technique in her photography. This technique is the conscious choice of a professional, whose aim it is to reveal the character of the person or object through the heightening of emotion. The colours are left out because sometimes they might impose a suggestion of what we ought to feel. We don't need any clues, because it's more fun to solve the mystery ourselves.

The information about the people in Kamelia's portraits consists of a few details. This leads us to continue asking questions. Who are they, these people? Why did the shot capture them this way? What are their secrets, and what can they communicate about themselves?

Meanwhile, Kamelia's photos of plants might make you wonder about their backstory. How did they enter the photographer's life? Why are they so subdued and unobtrusive?

What draws me to Kamelia's work is the rhythm of her compositions. The horizontal and diagonal lines in the background drift away into the space beyond the picture. Maybe they're traveling to the same place from which the main subject of the photo had appeared.

I haven't yet figured out what exactly makes Kamelia's characters so intriguing. I think I will ask her when we see each other.

Kamelia  is now taking part in the following group exhibition:
El Almacen, 1078 Queen St. West, Toronto

October 19, 2010

After BST

It’s just my luck that I had to get sick right at the time when all the artists who have finished the Beach Studio Tour are relaxing and drinking champagne. I’ve already been sick a short while before the tour, and now, once again, I am coughing, and speaking in a voice that would make me not afraid to walk around the most dangerous neighbourhoods at night. Now, in response to the classic question of “Your money or your life?”, I can just say “What?”, and they will run away screaming.

According to the laws of the creative process, every project should end with catharsis or liberation. Maybe these laws don’t apply to me, or maybe they just haven’t discovered all of them yet. At the time of the tour, I felt wonderful, and I only used two tissues for the entire time. And now I’m sitting with herbal tea, sick once again.

This once again confirms my old idea. It may be interesting to study other primates, but the least understood creature on the planet is the human. And the most incomprehensible subspecies is the artist.

October 11, 2010

Beach Studio Tour - Fall 2010

For yet another time, I have the pleasure of participating in the Beach Studio Tour.
This tour has earned a significant place in the life of the Beaches community. It unites the artists that live in that area, along with some guest artists from other parts of Toronto. The Beach Studio tour is organized twice a year, and it’s always been a lively and popular event. I am lucky to be able to return with my works to the Beach Studio Tour this year.
This time, I am going to unveil my newest project – polymer clay sculptures. Since this is a new direction for me, you will be able to see all the works that I have created in this medium so far.

In my Birds of Paradise series, there are seven birds of varying shape and design.
My Opposites Attract series features six colourful dogs, inspired by Art Deco.
I’ve also sculpted three tiny experimental models of cheery, chubby cats, whom I prefer to imagine singing “What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor?”

And finally, I am going to present my one-of-a-kind collectible doll entitled “The Horn Player”.

The Beach Studio Tour is taking place on
  • Friday October 15th, 6 pm - 9 pm
  • Saturday October 16th, 10 am - 6 pm
  • Sunday October 17th, 11 am - 6 pm
You will be able to find me at 51 Brookmount Road. Rachel Taggart has generously invited me to exhibit my work at this location with her. All the Beach Studio Tour artists (including myself, of course) would love to chat with their audience, and answer any questions. Hope to see you there!

October 3, 2010

Nuit Blanche in Toronto

Yesterday night was Toronto’s Nuit Blanche. The event that brings so much excitement to art lovers of all degrees. We spent it at the ARTA Gallery in the Distillery District. Unlike some other galleries, where people only seemed to stick around for a minute or two, the exhibition at ARTA came across as extremely well thought out and planned just for this sort of event. Its lineup of international artists presented many diverse movements in modern art. The idea that united the main part of the exhibition was violence in the modern world. Many visitors stayed to chat with the artists and share their impressions. I think that this serves as a motivating factor for art collectors and art lovers to wander out of their dwellings at such odd hours – they like to feel that they are eagerly awaited at the galleries. It seemed that they didn’t regret coming out to enjoy the art, instead of lazing around their homes with a bowl of popcorn on their stomachs, watching Hot Fuzz for the hundredth time.

The ARTA Gallery completed its educational mission; it also played the role of the place of intellectual pilgrimage during Nuit Blanche.

October 2, 2010

Books About Art Business

Having spent several years on the frontlines ... I mean, after several years of making a living with art ... no, wait ... having spent several years in communication with gallery owners and not having cried once, I can safely say that you will not find anything new in these books. And yet they are quite interesting to read.

In Molly Barnes's "How to Get Hung" there is a sense of intrigue, a bit of non-malicious gossip, and some sound advice from a former gallery owner. There is almost no snobby attitude. It is written in a language that people can be expected to actually speak, not in the language of pretentious art critics. The author is the girl next door who, due to a lack of parental supervision, became an art dealer instead of an orthodontist.

In Daniel Grant's "Selling Art without Galleries" there is a lot of practical information for beginners. I particularly liked the artists’ feedback. It is not always polished or edited, so, you come across a few unexpected, enlightening details from time to time.

I also liked his discussion of the ridiculous amount of skills (many which have nothing directly to do with art) that an artist must have.

While I was reading both of these books, I often found myself thinking “Yes, yes! That’s absolutely right!”

Hence, even though I didn’t learn anything I haven’t already experienced firsthand, I really enjoyed the reading.