One of my favourite annual events is the big outdoor art show at Nathan Philips Square in downtown Toronto each summer. This weekend, the artists gathered there this year will not disappoint – lots of new and emerging artists enjoying their first time at the rodeo, many of my favourite painters have returned and loads of stunningly beautiful, unique and provocative works of art with price tags to suit every budget. it runs until Sunday evening and it’s FREE!

Here are some of the featured artists, many of whom have become friends over the years – please drop by their tents and say hi if you visit.

20140704_120504Anna Clarey (above) was the first tent that caught my eye upon entering the Square – beautiful landscapes, vibrant colours and Anna’s big smile welcomed me in.

Then just across the aisle was Becca Wallace (below), a long-time favourite of mine whose work is proudly displayed on my office wall. I LOVE her robots, toy trucks and now wee beasties doing crazy gymnastics!

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Brock Irwin (below) was a new discovery for me. I was drawn to his large format red seating picture (actually inspired by seats in Union Station). Brock also has an art-for-home-staging biz, too, so all you interior decorators, home stagers and realtors – give this man a call!

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I was amazed by the beauty and delicacy of Charles Paul Savoie‘s glasswork. He’s up from the States (Happy 4th July, Charles) with his handblown art glass.

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Jessica Lin showcased some lovely whimsical pieces, many with horses and sheep – lots of great miniatures that would look great on my wall!

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Beverley Hawksley is a mixed media artist who incorporates copper into many of her pieces. She’s also a wicked equine artist, too, and the 2 horse paintings below are large format drew quite a crowd.

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Laura Elliott featured some cool posters and painting, many of which she completed during her visit to Japan. I found a number of them very manga-inspired (which I love) and I hope to see more of her work at other Toronto shows.

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Lovely to see Nancy Farrell (pictured below in blue, with her daughter Alana) one of my favourite regulars at the TOAE. Last year, I was lucky enough to snag one of her canvases and it’s now pride of place over my desk…where I write this blog! Nancy has developed an even bolder colour palette and I found two more pieces I would like to have (already on Santa’s list)

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Susi Walters is a new discovery this year. I love chickens and I’m always attracted to rustic farmyard subjects. Susi’s photos and paintings are multi-layered on metal and I hope to add one of her chick pics to my home gallery really soon…or maybe the gorgeous Lipizzaner (I also love horses). Susi’s adorable daughter helped out looking after the $$s for mum.

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Jewellery designer Pamela Lauz had a fabulous tent displaying gorgeous girly bling. Here she is helping a new customer try on one of her stunning necklaces….hope she bought it, she looked great in it.

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Rob Croxford (below) had tons of eye-catching mixed-media pieces, including some Scrabble tile paintings and fifties-inspired space boxes…I gotta go back and get me one!

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Another new discovery for me was Gordon Stamper whose bold colourful canvases drew me into his tent. A very humble and charming artist whose work really stood out for me today.

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Next to Gordon was the always cheery Emily Millar whose work I remembered from last year – so light &  airy – and I caught her mid set-up. This girl can handle a power drill as well as a paint brush!

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And here’s my friend, Pamela Mingo, who has a loyal following and I’m happy she had lots of art to showcase…her pieces don’t last long so if you see something you like, buy it now!

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I LOOOOVE this lady’s work – Thelia Sanders Shelton featured work obviously inspired by Picasso but very much of her own imagination.  There were several big canvases I want…must have…NEED… so hopefully I can pull in a few new clients in the next month then I can afford one.

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Tommy Cudmore creates some of the cutest glass robots ever! I’ve seen his work at Liss Gallery in Yorkville and have long wanted to add one of these to my robot art collection (from Becca Wallace). Hello, Santa, can you stick one of these in my stocking this year?!

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One of the best art photographers in town, Tanja-Tiziana showcased her B&W photos of unique architectural scenes – sadly, her Facebook notes that her dad got a massive parking ticket when dropping off her work early this morning so let’s all go buy something so Tanja’s weekend isn’t a complete write-off. Damn those parking vultures!

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Jodi Shuster’s work was so full of joy and fun…great watercolours and oils of beach scenes populated with “real” people – hello, Cabana Lady!! Jodi was a blast to hang out with…great sense of humour which can be seen in her work.

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Now here’s a bold statement! I’d never met Robert Kamnatnik before but his work will bring me back for sure. I found the simplicity, his use of 2 or 3 colours and geometric shapes quite hypnotic. Another one to add to my wish list.

20140704_132621 20140704_132627 20140704_132631 intrigued me with her provocative, edgy, eerie portraits, illustrations and designs.  Don’t be afraid…come on in. And I did and I loved her work. Again, another artist added to  my list for future collection. Will definitely go with my Playdead Cult pieces.

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Kate Taylor (below) featured some of her unique botanicals – floating petals over stained birch panels – presented in unusual shapes and while I was standing in her booth several other ladies commented on exactly where they would hang her work. Lovely to hear how much her work is appreciated. The colours bounce off the surface making each piece come alive.

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Stewart Jones Stewart Jones Stewart Jones (below). LOVE this guy’s work (can you tell?)  Since moving up to Wellington County (just the other side of Belleville), Stewart has been hard at work setting up his home studio and creating quite the name for himself in his new community (great article in the local arts magazine). Moody urban street and alley scapes with a bold palette, memorializing Toronto’s  great old buildings…before developers bulldoze ’em down.

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Tori Smith is another brilliant local artist with a deft touch – I gotta get me one of her big grader/excavator paintings as they’re so powerful yet so simply executed on canvas. Had a nice chat with her about dogs in cars and why you shouldn’t bring your pooch to the art show – the concrete surface there is so bloody hot it will burn their paws. And yet we saw so many doggies being dragged around by their owners…sad.

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Peterborough-based Lisa Martin-Dunk uses the scratch technique to create her elaborate pieces. Lots of butterflies…who doesn’t love butterflies…and each piece will keep you intrigued with the intricacy of each tiny detail.

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Last year, I captured some cool photos of uber hipster artist Richard Ahnert’s humanized beasties, and this year, he’s brought lots more new works including regal portraits of foxes, dogs, goats…a veritable barnyard who’s who of critters, all turned out in their tailored finery. Very cool paintings.

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Carol Nesbitt of the Glen Williams Glass Studios brought along the most beautiful art glass – colourful vases and these cute wee birdies on branches.

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And then there was Kelly Grace. Another long-time favourite of mine, and I was pleased to walk-in on a sale. A young girl was starting her art collection with a KG original, a cute pic of a girl getting ready for a date! Mother was helping with the finances and the young lady proudly handed over the $s as Kelly wrapped the art up. So nice to see youngsters getting into art  and bravo, Kelly, for treating her in such a grown-up way.

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Judi Meyers was an inspiration – she showcased a series called “Fragments” made up of …fragments of previous works, cut down and presented beautifully in gallery-quality frames. I broke down and purchased one in a gold frame and it’s now propped up on my desk to the right of my laptop. I love it, thank you Judi.

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Here’s Catherine Mills, contemporary still life, old master copies and figurative paintings. We had quite a nice chat, especially about English 19th century master, JMW Turner and the fact we both watched a TVO show about Turner and 3 potential new art discoveries of his. Intrigue upon intrigue!

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I found another fabulous young painter, Lorette C. Luzajic, I had not seen before. Her bold use of colour and large canvases were quite spectacular and my photos don’t do them justice. Fun, light and happy images that would fit into any trendy hipster loft.

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And finally, I ran into another old friend, W. Stephen Cooper, whose fine art photography of rusted out old cars and trucks are not only stunning but an incredible statement on our disposable attitude towards vehicles…even those which are works of art themselves. Stephen leads photographic tours across the south western US and has an upcoming Bio Photo Experience Tour of the SW deserts coming up in September.  and

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Overall, I must admit the heat was quite exhausting so by the time I met up with Coop, I was dragging my sorry ass around Nathan Philips Square but I refused to pay $5 for bottled water – I suggest you take your own supply.

What did disturb me even more, tho, was one young artist whose work I wanted to include here (and promote for FREE!) who was extremely rude when I approached to photograph her in her booth. She screamed at me “no photos, no photos..” which I found ridiculous as all the tourists were busy snapping away and here I am, in a position to get her name and her work out to my thousands of readers and she decides to insult and humiliate me in public. I always ask an artist if I may include them in my blog but as she was busy with a potential sale, I did not interrupt with my usual personal introduction. When I asked her to calm down as I wanted to add her to my media blog, she launched into a tirade about asking permission and how dare I approach her…huh? I guess even psycho bitches can rent a space there….LOL  What a pity as her work was quite different to most of the work on show and I would have liked to include her here. Perhaps this young lady will learn a little humility and understand that not everybody is there to exploit her or steal her images, but perhaps they are willing to promote and support her as an emerging Canadian artist.




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